Monday, June 5, 2023

Fontana Days Run Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 17; 7th Editions
104.8 miles raced in 2023 races
Race: Fontana Days Run
Place: Fontana, CA
Miles from home: 1882 miles
Weather: 50-60s; slight wind and dry with bright sun

Every time I have travel problems going to a race I think back to my 52 marathons in 52 weekends and still can’t believe that it happened. Yes, running a marathon for 52 marathons in a row is what most people find impressive, but to me it is two other things.

1. Averaging a 3:21 for every marathon while working a full-time job with some seriously difficult marathons in there (e.g., Leadville); and

2. the fact that I made it to every race when the race started on race day. 

That’s why I always cringe a little bit when I hear someone say they are doing so many "marathons" in so many days when they’re actually just running 26.2 miles and not actually going to a race. Getting there on race day is almost half of the accomplishment. As I have said for a long time, you can't get to the finish line if you don't make it to the starting line. Which almost didn’t happen for me this race this weekend.

Can anyone explain this logo to me?

Two days before the Fontana Days Run I was looking at my schedule and realized that the race I thought was on Sunday was actually on Saturday. Therefore, my flight that got me in at midnight to LA, then me needing to get a rental car and drive to Fontana would probably get me in around 2 a.m.  That means I would likely get three hours of sleep, max, and that was even if I could find a way to get my packet and bib number. Egads. Fortunately, I was able to change my flight to Friday morning but that still didn’t leave me much leeway. The leeway then got even less (smaller? What is the measuring amount for leeway?) After landing, I had the absolute worst rental car experience I’ve ever had when it took over two hours just to get through the line at the Thrifty car rental place. Then I was booked for an electric vehicle. I am all for the EVs but I had no idea where to charge one so I had to "upgrade" (in cost) to a gas guzzler.  Doing all this finally got me on the road...right into the thick of Los Angeles Friday afternoon traffic

Nearly three hours later I finished the 67 mile trip to Fontana. Hell, I can RUN 50 miles in ~6.5 hours. This left me just enough time to go pick up my packet, check into my hotel, grab some food, and climb into bed. Suffice it to say, I didn’t have many good feelings about how this race would go.

Race Morning:


After what was actually a good night's sleep I got up, drove to where the buses would take runners to the start of this downhill Half Marathon, and parked my car. I quickly used the bathroom and got on the last bus. My stomach was grumbling from the WAY too much food I had eaten the previous evening as I was starving but I tried to ignore it. An uneventful ride the the start popped us out not much more than 10 minutes before the race would start. That was a pretty darn seamless transition, especially when compared to the previous day.


Lining up, I didn’t have any of the normal jitters because I had more or less decided that this wasn’t going to go well. As such I just kind of stood there looking at everybody else feeling nervous or excited and waited for the starting pistol. The pistol was actually an airhorn which I think many races need to learn has to be fired once or twice before its first use. Even then it can't be a timid use. You have to push that button down nice and hard. Otherwise, you get the the "dying duck" signal we got to go.  


But away we went!


First 5k:

I immediately had to make my way through three or four lines of people who shouldn't have been at the start line. I will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever understand why people do that. Ever.


As we made our way down this winding canyon, I felt extraordinarily out of breath. The stomach gurgling

continued. I had a feeling this was not gonna be a good day at all. I decided I would use the opening downhill miles the best I could and just see what happened after that. When I hit the 1st mile in 5:55 I realized part of the reason this felt labored was because I was about 25 seconds faster than I thought that I was! I instantly throttled back to conserve because I knew after the first 5 miles was over, while the race continued downhill, it would not be the same amount per mile and would feel flat. The next 2 miles presented me with a 6:24 and a 6:27, which was closer to the average I wanted to run but definitely were slower than I was expecting.


The canyon was providing us shade from the sun, the air was dry and the temps were cool(ish).  I vividly recall thinking that if I was in decent shape this would be easily be a day where I ran 1:22. But you can only run in the shape you currently are so I left right continued.

To the 10K: 


As we continue down the winding canyon road, I again marveled at how bad people are at running the tangents.  If you read my recaps, this is a constant refrain but it remains true.  Why run further than you have to?! After the first mile I had watched the first overall female slide past me and right around the third mile the second female had done the same. I kept expecting more to pass me any second now but none did even as a runner here and there did just that. I also thought I might begin to reel in a few runners here and there who went out faster than they should have and that did indeed begin to happen.  I also began some see-saw battles with some runners who would surge in front of me, and then I would pass them and we would continue this dance as the miles went on. I love playing these little games in the middle of races.  Who is in better shape? Who is running the course better? Who will eventually have the best kick? People who say the ones in the back of the pack have the most fun have no idea what they are talking about.  This is serious fun at 6 minutes per mile.


The mile markers were a little askew here and there, so it was hard to really get a feel for where I was, but I simply kept pushing what felt good without pushing too hard. Right after the 5th mile we more or less flattened out and came into the sunshine at the same time. I could see fairly far in front of me and began to memorize the shirt colors of the runners in front of me.  It always feels good to think "Ah yes, bright orange shirt.  I have been tracking you for three miles. Oh don't worry, purple tights, I haven't forgotten about you either." The miles here all hovered right around the 6:30 mark which again made me bummed.  Maintaining that pace when the hills flattened was going to be hard.

To Mile 10:

This next section really frustrated me greatly as No matter how hard I continue to push I kept coming up with less than mediocre miles. 6:49, 6:50, and 6:52 is what I netted even as I tried to pick up the pace. I had a few people passing me here and there. They would pull me along for a little bit, but then I would fall back, unable to maintain their pace. At one point there was a cyclist coming at me on my side of the road. This raod is completely closed to traffic (excellent stuff by the race organizers, for real) and he seem to be filming something with his phone. The entire road was open for him but for some reason he felt he needed to continue right at me. I finally had a few choice words to him, and he finally moved. What ended up being the third place female, who was happening right beside me at the time, let out a little bit of a laugh. I think she saw what was going on and agreed with my assessment.


We soon passed under the freeway after an unscenic but also uneventful past two miles.  Doing so meant that the remaining 4.5 miles would be one single straight shot to the finish.  Two young fellas passed me, including one who I had been playing cat and mouse with a few miles before. The other, I think named "Maverick Chamberlain" (now that's a name) looked quite fresh and was listening to music on his iPhone in his hand. I was in no mood to race kids who could easily be my children, so I let them go. But about a minute later I heard some footsteps behind me and I said to myself that I was not gonna let whoever that was past me until the 9th mile. I did just that, and in the process passed both youngsters again, and never saw them the rest of the way. That little spurt felt so good giving me a 6:33 mile.  It didn't even feel that hard and I felt if I could keep it up for the last four miles I might still eke out a 1:25. When the footsteps did pass me, I threw myself in behind the guy and decided to use his energy. We passed more than a few runners and I felt wonderful.  Then I saw my split for the next mile was 6:45.  Damn it.   I still had a 5k left to make up the distance.  Let's go, Dane!


To the Finish: 


Not so fast, Dane! In spite of staying with my pace car human, I ran an even slower 6:49 for the 11th mile. This was confounding to me on this straightaway. And when I say "straightaway" mean, one long street straight through Fontana. It was so enjoyable to just simply turn off the brain, and do left right, repeat for mile after mile without having to worry about one turn, or one curve, or any traffic at all. This race is part of the Fontana Days festival and they shut down this long stretch of multiple lane highway to all traffic, which is pretty impressive. 


Yet even while I was passing a runner here and there (and oodles of 5k walkers, grrrrr, stop walking many many abreast) My next mile was AGAIN slower at 6:50.  Not only had I lost any chance of 1:25:xx but now I was in danger of not running a 1:26.


With a mile to go, I passed the third overall female. She didn't look like she was slowing so maybe, just maybe, I was finally speeding up. I could see the finish line way in the distance with about five minutes of running left and tried to dig deep. Weaving in and out of the 5k walkers, trying to run the shortest possible distance, I knew it was going to be close. With about two blocks ago, I looked at my watch, and I couldn’t tell if I was going to break 1:27 or not. I got a little deflated for a few seconds and actually laid off the throttle. What's the difference, I thought. Then a fire lit under me again, and I answered myself:  the difference is you WANT it. So I gritted my teeth and pushed one final time. But just a few yards short of the finish I could see the clock tick over to 1:27. I gave too little too late. Crapola. 


I finished in 1:27:04.

This was good enough for my 25th fastest half marathon and five seconds faster than the Ventura marathon back in April which also pissed me off for being over 1:26. What can you do? Just a few days after my 47th birthday, I finished 46th overall.

This was my fourth half marathon and marathon in the past five weeks. Mixed results overall but I will take what I have and learn from it. A summer of training awaits me as I attempt to do something I haven't done in 12 years and hopefully faster than I did even then!

Overall this was a very well-run event. Just big enough to make you feel like you have some people around you but not so big that you get overwhelmed by all the business going on around you. There's a reason this is the 68th running of this race and it is clear that the city gets behind it, which I always love for an event. When it is clear it inconveniences some people with a road being closed for a few hours on a Saturday morning and there is still a good turnout, you know the city takes pride in what they have. I don't know if these temps are normal for this time of year in this part of the country but for a June race, this is one I would recommend.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Prairie Series Half Marathon South Dakota and North Dakota Recaps

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 17; 5th and 6th Editions
91.7 miles raced in 2023 races
Race: Prairie Series Half Marathon South Dakota and North Dakota
Place: Baltic, SD and Wahpeton ND
Miles from home: 246 miles and 201 miles
Weather: Mid 50s; humid; kinda smoky

A year ago on the day when I started these back to back half marathons, I was on my third straight day of running six back-to-back half-marathons in New England. I can tell you today as I relax back home, that I’m very happy I’m not running another half marathon! Which is more a testament to how it is amazing what people can do when they decide to do a specific goal than anything else. Knowing going into the endeavor last year that I was doing six in a row last year, I am convinced I couldn't do another. But if I had planned to do seven, well, I am sure I would have. So much is about mindset.

When I was putting together my year for racing, I had a lot of different things in mind, some of which have stayed the same and some of which have changed. Running these two half marathons on back to back days in South and North Dakota was a relatively recent addition. it checked off both me racing a half marathon in those states for the first time as well as another geeky thing that I am doing where I am trying to visit every county in the United States. Having said that, even though I was to one extent, simply checking the box for a race in a certain state that doesn’t mean that I also don’t want to run as fast as I can on a well designed course.

I knew both of these races would not exactly be my favorite type of course going in, so I’m hardly surprised to say that both more or less fit my expectation. There’s no way I can say this without someone still reading into it incorrectly, but I am going to try anyway. The people who put on the Mainly Marathons seem to be very nice people indeed. They know what the vast majority of their runners want and have provided that.  A warm and welcoming atmosphere where even the slowest of the slow receive a very neat medal attached to an even neater medal holder with plenty of support along the way. However, it’s quite clear that at least on the courses that I ran, these courses skew quite long and are also not meant to help people run their fastest. This might not mean much to most of their clientele, who are obviously there just to do the check-in of a box or meet a life goal without much pressure, but for me, when I am racing, I don’t want to run any further than I have to. Again, I knew all of this going in, so I am not surprised, and I am not lambasting the organizers. The events just weren't my cop of tea. And I won them both. So it's not sour grapes.

South Dakota:

The course for what was Day One for me but Day Six for many participants, was shaped like a shepherds crook.  We began in the curly portion at the top, looped around a few twist and then ran along the "staff" portion for a bit.  Up the smallest of a hill we turned around a cone and went back. The thing is, if we didn't actually go up that tiny hill, I think this might have actually been close to the right distance.  That's what happens when you run the same course 12 times for a half! 

As we were given final instructions by the amiable race director,as to how the course will be run, it was mentioned that they purposely measure these courses long to make sure that they fit Boston marathon qualifying standards. This is exactly what many races do that in order to make up for the fact that a cone might be miss placed somewhere and they don’t want people to get short-changed on their run. But when you have such a short course and each loop is a little long, you end up with way more than you need. 

I noticed at we listened to the directions a man who had run the previous two states in the series was on hand to run his third marathon in as many days. Having just run on either side of three hours the previous two days (2:58:373:04:32) I was surprised he was still standing.  That's a heck of a run with no rest. I could tell he was looking at me like "Who is the new guy?  He looks fresh.  Damn it." because that's exactly what I had done on day four of my six last year. I figured he would soon figure out I was running the half and to not worry too much.

We directed that all of the Mainly Marathon races have runners grabbing a rubber band at the end of each lap to help them keep track of how many they have done. This seems far simpler than it actually is, especially if you are trying to maintain speed. Before much longer, we were off.

The race director led us out on the course like a rabbit showing us how to run the course.  I stayed in his back pocket hoping to run right around 7 minutes per mile. I could tell the fast marathoner was just off my shoulder and I wanted to tell him I wasn't in his race but as we passed the first 180-degree turnaround, he passed me. I had zero desire to race him today even if he was doing double the distance that I was, because I was here to run as fast as I could and hopefully win. I was surprised, however to see a small young lady behind me not too far pushing the pace as well. As we went back down the course and made the first turn to grab a rubber band, I instead grabbed two.  I didn't know if this was a foul so I tried to toss it back onto the table. I think I hit another runner/walker in the back. Whoops.

The course was all on dirt or crushed gravel, which definitely slows you down compared to running on the road.  I saw some people parroting the physically incorrect statement about how the dirt felt better on their knees that the road races they usually run and just shook my head. Sometimes, just ignoring people is best.  (What are you talking about, Dane? Well, your foot hits the ground with the same force regardless of what surface you are running on. Running on softer or uneven surfaces like grass or dirt do nothing for the impact, but they actually DO make you work harder, and can hurt your ankles and joints because of said unevenness. Which actually tires you out more. But I will just be over here with my correct but unpopular knowledge. Because people "feel" something does something regardless of what it does.) 

That said, I was pretty pleased how in the first 3 to 4 miles I was maintaining a 1:35 marathon pace. As the fast marathoner continued on, actually increasing his lead increase on me, I noticed that the female runner behind me was running the 5K. I was a little bit bummed she was as I was hoping for someone to push me along other than just the marathoner. However, that’s how the rest of the race went. Me occasionally making up a little distance on the guy running the marathon, but mostly just going through the motions. 

The weather was pretty humid and a low-level fog and hazed continued on for most of the day. It was only later I learned that the wildfires in Canada were creating this haze. I don't feel it affected my running and at least kept the sun at bay for most of the day. It also made for a lovely sunrise.

On at least two other occasions, I had a muff up on trying to grab a rubber band as my had was too sweaty. Also, with lots of people coming in at their own paces, and the feed table being right in this tight spot, there was plenty of milling around going on. When I am running hard, I really don't like milling around. Alas.

When it became clear that I was going to run much longer than a half marathon I was a little bummed. Granted I was using these races as hard training runs but I also didn't want them to artificially inflate my lifetime average. This is beyond nitpicking but all of racing is. This is all frivolous. But that doesn't mean it doesn't matter to me.  I have been trying to get my lifetime average under 1:30 for a few years and running a 1:39:06, like I would end up running today, when the course was a half mile (3.5 minutes worth of running) was a bummer.

I got my very nice medal, wished all those still running good luck, and headed back to my hotel. Time to shower, pack, and drive four hours to the next state.

After driving through all of South Dakota I got to North Dakota did a little bit of sightseeing, including checking out the "Wahpper"; a 40-foot long fiberglass sculpture of a catfish beside the Red River of the North in Wahpeton, ND (get it?) and also the Tent Pole Monument to Circus Dead. Yes, I am still single. Why do you ask?

Then it was time for bed. Fortunately, I was much closer to the start of this race than I was the previous day.  I had to drive 20 miles from Sioux Falls to Baltic and also pick up my bib number. For this race I was less than three miles away, had my bib, and as such could catch an extra 20 minutes of sleep! 

This course was a little different than some of the others the Mainly Marathons people put on as it included a slightly different first lap due to some changes in the park we were running in that didn't allow them their normal starting point. 

Like the day before, and I’m assuming every day, the race director took the lead runner on a tour of the course. It’s clear he is quite speedy and it was nice to have this rabbit for the first three miles of the course.  as we approached the end of the first loop,the RD told me that I did not have to grab the rubber bands off the table this time as long as I could remember how many laps I was on.  I think it was clear to him I had difficulty the day before so this was greatly appreciated.  I said "I think I can count to five."

And then, from there, on out, it was simply the same thing as the day before. Dodging runners and trying not to get in their way as well (they paid for the race, too) while also not trying to run too much further than I had to on each lap. People were very friendly and encouraging. I tried my best to do the same. I sometimes got in my head and didn't say it to someone I had just seen in the opposite direction four minutes earlier but I hope they will forgive me.

I could tell that today's course was going to be even longer than the previous day and with absolutely no competition whatsoever it was hard to push myself that fast. The same runner doing the 5K the day before I was again doing it today so that was a nice little push.  That only lasted  for 25% of the race, however.  I did see her out running the course with a marathoner which was nice of her to do. But for me it was simply concentrating on running hard on the one mile of each loop that was paved and then trying to find the best places to run on the back half of each mile which was gravel and dirt road.

In spite of the wildfires in Alberta, we lucked out in the weather department. Mid 50s with mostly cloudy skies helped combat the relatively high humidity. Nevertheless, I was completely drenched in both races. I was also doing an experiment of sorts by running both of these half marathons without taking a single drop of liquid. Being these were also my third and fourth races in the last past 19 (one marathon and three half marathons) I was surprised how unsore I was even if I wasn’t necessarily running as fast as I would like. That’s something to look into for sure in the coming months when I try to change my training up and see if there still are some fast races in these old legs. The lack of soreness tells me that I can run faster but I don’t know if that engine still burns as hot to turn the legs over and allow me to do so.

My mind drifted to my mom here and there. Most of what I am writing here I would bore her with in a post-race recap. Then in a nanosecond I would remember that I can't tell her any of this boring stuff anymore. I would then try to shake that feeling off and find something else to think about.

All told, my GPS, which usually skews low, told me I ran 13.55 miles (I later measured it online and came up with 13.85 miles) for a near-identical-to-yesterday time of 1:39:13

Two more races in two new states, two more wins, 23 new counties visited, and some snazzy medals. These were my 110th and 111th (out of 118) slowest marathons ever but likely closer to 90th and 91st if the courses were right.  Either way, I have another half in two weeks where I hope to set the course for the rest of the year with my first race as a 47 year old. I am making a prediction here of a 1:24. Let's see how right I am.

(Oof, just looked at the forecast and it looks like it will be in the 70s during race time in Fontana, California. Let's hope for low humidity and some tree cover!)

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Colorado Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 17; 4th Edition
65.5 miles raced in 2023 races
Race: Colorado Half Marathon
Place: Fort Collins, CO
Miles from home: 854
Weather: Mid 40s degrees and party cloudy

When I had originally signed up for this race, I had a much different plan in mind. But then I DNFd my first ever marathon and with that gnawing away at my psyche, decided to throw in an impromptu marathon a week ago. 

That race's success cleared many of my ills but undoubtedly left me a little bit tired for this half marathon. When I initially threw the Redemption Marathon into the mix, I figured that I would be absolutely decimated for this race. But somehow I felt surprisingly good not only after the race but all week.  My shakeout runs were tragically slow but I figured some of that was me being at altitude from Wednesday on. But when I feel good for seemingly no reason that only means I will simply expect more out of myself than is reasonably smart to do. I’m sure I can look back over about 20 different recaps of races where I said something akin to “just because there’s no reason to believe I should’ve done as well as I hoped doesn’t mean I wasn’t disappointed anyway.” Is it any better if I recognize the insanity?

As one of the sponsors of the race weekend, we were happy to meet and greet runners at the expo and get them excited for the pending launch of Sherpa.  The continued feedback we get from people of all skill levels tells me we have a homerun on our hands here. Cannot wait to let everyone use it!

Race Morning:

I have raced four times this year and three of them have required me to get up at an ungodly hour. This race was no different as even with staying close to where the buses would pick up the runners and take them to the start, I still had to get up at 4 A.M. Just not a good start for Mr. Nighttime Circadian Rhythm. I felt I had done an excellent job getting to bed at 10 p.m. but still didn't fall asleep until after midnight. That said, I woke relatively refreshed. Took a very comfortable bus ride to the start that went by too fast, and then got into the bathroom line basically three consecutive times just trying to kill the hour from when I got there to when the race would begin. 

As time drew near for the start, a director had us all line up at the 13th mile marker. Then, when it was time to get started, we moseyed down the the starting line en masse.I  heard some runners behind me giving each other the business so I joked with one of them that their timing chip wasn't on their shoe. It wasn't because it was attached to our bibs. They still freaked out for half a second. I'm fun to be around in the mornings.

First 5k:

This race course boasts a mostly downhill run, but is rather gradual in its descent for the most part. The biggest downhill section comes in the first 2-3 miles, and I decided to try to take advantage of that the best that I could. My 1st mile went by in 6:39 but felt like a 6:30 effort. I sat back on my haunches for a little bit of the 2nd mile and this netted me a 6:52 mile. I wondered how long I would be able to keep a sub 1:30 pace, and simply decided to see where the day took me. The 3rd mile ending with a 6:56 told me I was going to hold on to the desired pace for a little bit more at least.

In these first three miles, while super speedy runners took off, a couple of less speedy but still fast groups formed. Occasionally one runner would get spit out of one group and join the one behind or one would spurt forward and leave the one they were in. I always enjoy watching these little games within races and wonder what everyone's plan is and how much it changes on race day.

To the 10k:

After the third mile, I was simply trying to get to the 6th mile. From five to six, the biggest uphill of the course was on my mind. But I had forgotten about how the 4th mile also had a little bit of a bump. When I got that 4th mile under seven minutes I felt pretty happy. I sped up a touch on the mostly flat fifth mile as we continued to run on wide open roads. I love a long open road where I don't have to spend  one calorie of thought on where I am turning or if I have to hug a turn. But for the most part, this course had its fair share of long twists and turns. I was always shocked to see how few fast runners seem to know how to run the tangents. I ran every single possible "shortcut" possible and still was having my GPS ping right at the mile markers. All those people running on the long curve outside were only adding more distance to their day. And would undoubtedly say the curse was long.

The climb at mile six did a number on me, giving me a 7:20 for the mile. This was definitely slower than I wanted it to be but not as bad as it could have been. At just over halfway, I was ready for the race to begin.

Onto Mile 10:

I tried to make up for that lost time on the next mile and really pushed it hard, passing a female runner who passed me going up this hill. Unfortunately, I only ran a 6:46 mile and felt a bit of a stitch in my side. I figured maybe I could still hold onto that sub 1:30 but it all depended on how I responded to the last 5 miles. For all intents and purposes, these last five miles are flat with just a net total loss of 100 feet. I will take that over a gain of 100 feet but it was basically imperceptible. As such, the course wasn'tgoing to help me if I was faltering at all.

As we continued running down the road on this partially cloudy, perfectly temperatured, excellent day for racing I was struck once again about how I have seemed to have chosen races that leave me with virtually no spectator support. Don’t get me wrong, the volunteers were great, and the people who did come out I appreciated, but the latter were definitely few and far between. One shouldn't rely on spectators to get you through but it sure helps at times.

When we left the road and joined a bicycle running path at mile eight, I was bummed. Not only was this mile way slower than I expected at 7:13, but the fact that we would spend probably the rest of the run on this bike path was not to my liking. You see, these bike paths have always been the bane of my existence. They mentally challenge me with their twists and turns and quick ups and downs. Somehow they are just extremely difficult for me to excel at. Only fittingly, the 9th mile was the slowest so far at 7:20 and now I was beginning to wonder if I would even run a 1:31. A few runners would pass me here and there as they were able to keep up their pace and I only seem to be slowing. In fact, it was very odd how basically five of the first 7 miles were within seconds of each other and then there was a quick jump up about 20 to 30 seconds. Then that became my new normal with no intermediary slowing down. No gradual reduction. Just a big jump and that was where I stood. As much as I pushed along is bicycle trail I basically ran a 7:15 mile.

To the Finish:

I was hoping that I would be able to pick up the pace over the final 5K because I would be able to smell the barn, but the legs simply weren’t responding. It didn’t help at this juncture we joined the 10K runners who were making their way back to the finish line. Obviously they have every right to run however they see fit as they paid for their race as well. Yet, when you know you’re going to be running up the back of people who are often running two or three abreast on a narrow bike path you spend way too much energy trying did not run into them and not enough energy on your own race. Fittingly, as I maneuvered through runners, one came to a dead stop and there was almost a big ole collision. It would have been my fault even if he was the one who stopped because I was the one approaching the runner, but either way it would have been bad. Fortunately, I side stepped them and continued on.

I had another couple of runners passed me in these last three miles and I hung with them for a little bit, but I simply didn’t have the juice.There was quite a cruel mile hill at the 12th mile as we left the bike path and join the city streets that really suck the energy out of me. But once back on the streets, I found my groove again and was able to run my fastest mile since the downhill at seven. 

Even four right-hand turns in the last half mile didn't stop me from picking up the pace a little bit. I wish I would have picked it up just a smidgen more to get her 1:32, but unfortunately, I crossed the finish of my 116th lifetime half-marathon in 1:33:04. Good enough for 46 place overall and second in my age group, this was quite a stunning turnaround from just a little over a month ago when I could barely walk after my DNF marathon. Now I am disappointed that a week after my first marathon in 3.5 years that I didn't run a stellar half-marathon.

Running sure is a weird sport and one I enjoy continuing to explore its weirdness!

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Run for the Lakes Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 17; 3rd Edition
52.4 miles raced in 2023 races
Race: Run for the Lakes Marathon
Place: Nisswa, MN
Miles from home: 137
Weather: 38 degrees and party sunny; shifting winds

I was nervous. 

I can probably count on one hand the number of times in my life I’ve actually been nervous. Anxious, excited, maybe even trepidacious about what lay ahead, but rarely am I nervous. The night before this marathon, I was tossing and turning, wondering if I could even run 26.2 miles. 

If you don’t necessarily follow all of my exploits and travels just know that four weeks ago I DNFd my first ever marathon. 164 times I started a marathon and through whatever came my way, 164 times I finished. Death, taxes, and me finishing a marathon. But, in what was supposed to be my first marathon finish in 3.5 years and also my first marathon since my mother passed away basically everything went to crap and I had to pull out right after the halfway point. It left a bitter taste in my mouth, even though I knew it was the right thing to do. 

I spent the next few weeks recovering from that race even though I knew that I had to quickly find another marathon or this was going to weigh on my mind. I originally thought about a marathon about 90 minutes away from my home in Minneapolis but when we had a freak streak of hot weather here, I decided I would wait until closer to the race date to make sure I knew what the weather was going to be like before I signed up. About a week before the race, it appeared the weather would be fine. I went to sign up but the race was full. I sent an email to the race director but didn't get a reply.  Not even a "Sorry, we are full!" which I would have completely accepted. 

So, I looked around and found a smaller race a little bit further way in Brainerd, Minnesota. Well, technically the race is in Brainerd but the race benefits or is sponsored by a Brainerd organization located just south. I quickly looked over the course and saw that it was two loops and looked relatively flat. Chilly weather was in the forecast but not too cold. I figured there is no time like the present and signed up for it just a few days before the event. 

I drove up the day before the race, had a litany of small town encounters which just made me laugh and grabbed a quick pasta dinner with some other racers. I was ready for an earlier night and some good sleep.  And unlike last marathon, I didn't have to be up at 3 a.m. to catch a bus. Getting four more hours of sleep, driving two miles and parking at the start line was looking like a much better deal. However, the night before, as I tossed and turned in a fitful sleep, things didn't feel good. I thought perhaps maybe I was going to DNF two marathons in a row. I thought maybe I should see if I could drop to the half-marathon. I contemplated missing my alarm and not even going.  I have never had such worries. But I finally fell asleep.

Race Morning:

When I woke the morning of the race, I was surprisingly rested. Getting to the starting line, I was happy with how the weather looked and began reading myself for the race. It was a small event with not even 100 marathoners and I knew it was likely I would spend much of the time running all by myself, making it not much more than a glorified training run. As I parked my car less than a block from the start, I decided to simply wait there until literally five minutes before the start of the race before getting out and walking to the start line. The announcer gave almost a WWF wrestling style over-the-top selling of how the United States was "the greatest country in the world" before introducing the person who would sing the national anthem. After she finished, but before the countdown for the race began one of the older gentleman presenting the colors of the flag of the local VFW or whatever seemingly accidentally fired his gun. Everyone froze wondering if that was the start of the race. We all looked at each other as the announcer assured us we would begin in just a few second. My only two questions were:

1. Since we soon learned that the guns were not how we would start the race, why was the gun loaded?


2. Sweet baby Jesus I hope it was loaded with a a blank. 

Soon thereafter, a countdown from ten started, and away we went.

First 5k:

As the race had a marathon Half Marathon and Marathon and a Marathon Relay, all running the same way, I knew it was going to be difficult to tell who was running which race. But as all I wanted to do on this day was finish, it didn’t matter to me really what place I finished in. I could tell, however, that two of the runners in front of me were running the marathon, so as we hit the first mile, I simply assumed I was running in third place. If it stayed like that, great. If it didn't, I didn't care.

As a few tall, lanky young fellas disappeared into the distance and I guessed they were either running the half marathon, or running so fast, it didn’t matter because I would never see them in my race anyway.  I had driven the course the night before, and realized that my thoughts of how flat it would be were incorrect. Hardly what one would say were killer hill,s it was nonetheless quite rolling. The half of this loop wasn't too bad and I was pleased with my splits for the first two miles. As we hit the 3rd mile, it dawned upon me that barring unforeseen circumstances, I was going to finish this race. I simply felt far too good to have the bottom fall out later on. I let out a huge sigh of relief, even with 23 miles to go, almost tempting the racing gods.

To the 10k:

Right around the 5th mile I heard footsteps from behind, and soon a guy was passing me. I did not get a chance to look at his bib to see what color he had in order to ascertain whether he was in the Marathon but given how quickly he had passed me, it seemed quite evident that he was only doing the half.  I decided I would use his energy to pull me along without going out of my own comfort zone. Before too long one of the two Marathoners in front of me was coming back into sight. The crisp air felt wonderful on my skin and just enough sun flitted through the trees.  The scenery was gorgeous and there was still mounds of snow on the ground in places with trees limbs fallen on the side of the road.  The record-setting winter this year in Minnesota had obviously not spared the foliage in Nisswa.  But the roads were clear, well-paved, and dotted with the occasional sign encouraging runners.  

One older gentleman stood off of the road, no where near a car, or a house, or anything else which would give one a reason to see why he was there exactly. As I passed by gave me the quietest "Go get 'em" that you have ever heard. Like it was a secret.

Onto the Half

Within a mile or two the guy that I was trailing passed that marathoner ahead of us. I soon found myself at mile 11 doing the same thing. I hadn't expected to catch up to him this quickly but another half-marathoner had passed me and I was using his energy now as well.

As the marathoners reached our halfway point, we peeled off from the half marathoners and went a slightly different direction away from the finish line. I was surprised to hear another set of footfalls behind me. Another marathoner? I crossed the timing mat for the halfway point and heard this guy say “is this the finish for the half?" I turned around and told him he was in the wrong place and tried to point the way he had to go. I then asked the people at the aid station to make sure he got where he needed to be. I don’t know how he missed his turn, but I felt awful for him. I hope if he crossed the half timing mat they would give him a time for that instead of having to back track to the actual finish.

To Mile 20:

There is something about running a loop that really suits my running style. Even though I had just started the second equidistant loop, I felt I was already 2/3 of the way done with this race. I already knew exactly where all the hills were which took out the mental aspect. All I had to do was execute. As I got to one section that was an out and back which would allow me to see the runners in front of me, I was surprised to see the gentleman who I thought was running a half marathon zip by. Soon there after I saw the marathoner I knew was running followed suit. They had a couple of minutes on me, but I thought perhaps if things broke my way, maybe I could move up the leaderboard. As I passed through one intersection, I asked what place I was in and the one guy said I was fifth overall. Now I was completely confused and decided to put what place I was out of my mind and simply keep running. 

At the 17th mile I went through a aid station that was manned by two lovely mothers with their young daughters (I am assuming), and one of the mothers said to me, "You’re in third place!" Now I had really had no idea in the world what position I was actually in. But within the next mile one of the runners appeared on the distant horizon. I figured this might get interesting later on in the race. I looked behind me at one point just to get an idea of where the other runners were, but they were no where to be seen. As I near the 20th mile I noticed, even though I wasn't picking up the pace and was in fact slowing down, that the runner in front of me was slowing down even more.

The Run to the Finish:

Each twist of the run revealed I was getting closer and closer to what I had been told would be second place. As I didn’t care either way between second and third I wasn’t exactly trying to overtake the runner in front of me, but as we ran through the back half of the course which was decidedly more hilly than the front half, and also with a steady headwind in our face, I soon found myself in that runner's back pocket. A little downhill section with a cool glass of water in my throat made me decide to make a definitive move and put him in my rear view mirror. I figured I was simply going to finish second overall for the fourth time in my last seven marathons. 

Little did I know that the runner in front of me who I formerly thought was running the Half Marathon seem to be battling some stomach issues. Poor guy had to stop on multiple occasions to evacuate what was inside of him. I’m glad I didn’t know that he was as close as he was because I probably would’ve done more damage trying to pass him then good. You see, as I continued on, the wind really took a toll and dashed any hopes of running a sub 3:10 marathon. For me, that’s the gold standard of a Boston qualifier. In fact, this is the first time in my life my Boston qualifying standard hasn’t been 3:10. Every year that the Boston marathon has tightened up the standards for the race has been the same year that I got into an older age bracket. So from my very first marathon 21 years ago until now 3:10 has always been what I have shot for. Now, I get 3:20, because I am old!

Regardless, as I hit the homestretch and saw that I was, in fact, going to finish this marathon, I really thought that I was going to be overwhelmed with joy. Instead, I simply finished the race pointing up to the sky thinking of my mom, cross the finishline in 3:12:44. This was only my 83rd fastest marathon ever but few have meant more to me.

After asking around and not finding any definitive results, I hopped on the results pages and saw that I had in fact finished third overall. Still good enough for a podium. It ends up that one of those tall, lanky fast Half Marathon hers was also in the marathon. In addition, this young fella is the same running club that I am in Minneapolis. So, the Mill City Runners took a 1-3 on the podium. Not too shabby.

Couple of quick thoughts about the race:

1. This is a surprisingly challenging course with lots of little ups and downs. It's not "tough" but it is not easy. The second loop really felt like they jacked up the hills from the first loop.
2. In spite of it being sparsely populated with both runners and spectators, you didn't necessarily feel all that alone. The two loops helped you feel like you weren't all too far from anyone.
3. This was very well-run with volunteers at all the turns and cones to keep you safe. Plenty of liquids including actual Gatorade and not some random energy drink you have never had that the race took because it was free.
4. Looks like Olympic Trial qualifier and super speedy Dakotah Lindwrum (2:25:01 PR) paced someone through the first half of their marathon. *Napoleon Dynamite voice*: "Lucky".
5. Two runners ran some ridiculously even splits with a 1:44:44 first half and1:44:26 second half. And they finished hand-in-hand. That's cool.
6. It appears I ran the fastest second half of the marathon with a 1:38:21, a four-minute positive-split

I cannot tell you how relieved I was to finish this race. I am shockingly not sore the day after. My energy is not drained from me at all. I am quite surprised that I was so unbelievably nervous given how easy this race was for me. I know well-meaning friends told me "I knew you could do it!" but I sure as hell didn't know that just 7 hours before the race started.

But I lowered my lifetime marathon average by a whole two seconds (3:18:24), nabbed my 78th Boston Qualifier, and really shaped my racing for the rest of the year with this marathon off of my back.

*whew* Thanks for getting me through this, Mom.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Mt. Charleston Marathon (and Life) Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 17; 2nd Edition
26.2 miles raced in 2023 races
Race: Mt. Charleston Marathon
Place: Mt. Charleston, NV
Miles from home: 1687
Weather: 18 Degrees at start and steadily warmer

I have DNFd (did not finish, for those who may not know) races before. 

In 2018 I pulled out of the USAT Off-Road National Championship in the middle of the mountain bike portion that the overall winner called one of the hardest he had ever done (I wish I could find the article where he was quoted.) I was just a few months out from having surgery on a broken thumb (after getting attacked by two men one night in Austin) and after like my fourth crash not even halfway through the first of two loops of the bike I said enough was enough.

Later that year, after doing a half-marathon on the scorching sand of Galveston Texas (my slowest half-marathon by a LONG SHOT), I was scheduled to do a 10 mile road race the next day. A little over halfway through that race, my insides already boiling in the heat, I called it quits and walked back to the finish.

In 2017, I had, for all intents and purposes, stopped half way through the half-marathon leg of a three race morning (5k, 10k, half-marathon) before finally getting back up after about 20 minutes and dunking my entire body in ice water and finishing the race.  So not a DNF but real damn close.

Back in 2010, two laps through the three laps of the Rocky Racoon 50 miler, and still sick from the flu, I called it a day. A week later I ran and set the course record of another 50 mile race in Florida. So I have that going for me.

But I have never had a DNF in a marathon. It has been a point of pride to me. Other race distances I might show up to undertrained or give into to the elements but a marathon was where I drew the line. Even when they blackflagged the Green Bay Marathon in 2012, calling the whole race off when I was at mile 20, I still finished it, even though I walked most of the last 5k. When I separated my shoulder a few days before what was going to be my 100th marathon, I (probably quite stupidly) ran with my arm in a sling and finished that. It was also Pikes Peak Marathon.

As such, I assuredly did not think that the Mt. Charleston Revel Marathon, my first in almost 3.5 years was going to be the race that ended my marathon streak at 164. But it did. 

Before I get to that, as I see all of my recaps to be almost  public services, given I hope to share hints and tidbits about the race to help others (I can only tell you how fast and/or slow I ran in a race before that gets real old real fast), let me do some of that here.


The Revel race series is known for providing runners with races with almost insane amounts of downhill. Some people feel these give an unfair advantage to those looking to set new PRs or get a Boston Qualifier. My thought is that after a certain distance, a great deal of downhill takes away more than it gives. (This is what they call "foreshadowing".)  Regardless, while the marathon boast nearly 5,000 of downhill I do want to point out a few little things which if one is running, they might not know.

First, in the first 13 miles, there are four uphill sections. Right off the bat, after a little horseshoe start, there is a rather cruel hill of about 40 feet.  Doesn’t sound like much but at nearly 8,000 above sea level, RIGHT at the start, this one hurts. Right before the fourth mile there is another quick rising 40-foot hill which similarly is not the most fun thing in the world, especially if you don’t know about it. On one little backtrack about a mile later, there is another quick rise. Then again between miles 9 and ten there is an uphill. Finally, around mile 12.5 there is one last rather large hill to contend with.

None of these are necessarily that hard, and if you scrutinize the elevation chart with a magnifying glass, you will see them, but they are there nonetheless. But if you weren’t expecting them, and they show up, the mental block which could take hold might be worse than the actual leg fatigue. Just letting you know so you know. As for the second half, unfortunately can’t really speak to it because, as pointed out earlier, I didn’t finish this race. 


I thought this would get a little bit better to swallow as a day or so went by but it hasn’t. This was the first marathon I have run since my mother died in October. I had trained fairly well. I don’t have a sub-3 in Nevada where this takes place. I had all but written my glorious return to running marathons in my mind, showing how I was dedicating this to my mom and how we can overcome so much when we put out minds to it. Then a month ago I had a less than stellar warm-up half-marathon, the winter in Minneapolis made running outside a bit of a chore, and I showed up to this race with great trepidation.

But I like butterflies. I like feeling like I have something on the line. I have not, and will not ever, understand why people race races without a desire to run as fast as they can. I have talked about it ad nauseum. Running is joyous. Racing is joyous because you want to run as fast as you can. So I get nervous before every single race because I want to give all I have. And I hope all I have is enough to give me a time on the clock commensurate with what I think I had that day. Sometimes it works. Many times I think I can do better than I did. Sometimes I am disappointed. Some very few times, I don’t finish. But never with a marathon.

Until Saturday. My legs were aching from the downhill barely four miles in. I had been dealing with a left quad issue this year which is a little new to me. But usually it was after a race or hard run, never during. Also, if I do anything well in running it is run downhill. I stink to high heaven at running uphill but when it comes to gliding down the other side, there are few I race who do better. So, when I approached the 9th mile and had just run a solid 6:14, I figured the pre-race jitters were over, the first four miles of finding my legs were behind me, and it was time to start writing that glorious recap.  Then within two miles, I was done. 

It is a testament to my ability to often push past pain and recover in the last portion of the race that I didn’t stop at the 11th mile. But as the next two miles went by, I went from doing the math which told me I could slow down a minute per mile and still run a sub-3 to realizing I might only get a Boston Qualifying time to wondering how many more times my legs were going to feel like they were giving out on me until I couldn’t use them anymore.  

I passed the 13th mile where I expected there to be some sort of race official or something but only saw the volunteers and bathrooms. I pushed further to go across the timing mat at the halfway point just so I knew all the people tracking me at home would see a split. I knew this would give me more time to make my next decision and they wouldn’t have to worry about what had happened if I didn’t hit it.

But then I stopped. I pulled over to the side and some helpful fellow runners tried to cheer me on.  Some less than helpful others told me to “Goggins it” in reference to the ultradrunner David Goggins who is know to push through extreme pain and discomfort and has more than few acolytes who embrace that attitude. 

I don’t. No race is worth my health. I don’t pay my mortgage with my race results. No terrorist is going to kill my family lest I finish a race. “Just” finishing has never appealed to me. I remember when some runners lambasted Ryan Hall for pulling out of the London Marathon at the tenth mile because he wasn’t representing his country the way he should. “I would walk the last 16 miles if I had to” was the basic gist of these people who didn’t seem to grasp how ridiculous that would be for an Olympic athlete in the marathon. Sure Derek Redmond hobbled home the final 150 meters of a 400 meter in Barcelona during the Olympics after pulling his hamstring but that’s completely different (and also just a dumb thing he did, his father’s helping him along the way notwithstanding). But to keep running when your legs aren’t working is just stupid. Yet here I was still contemplating it.

As I went through the mental gymnastics of figuring out how I could possibly keep running downhill when each step was sending shockwaves through my quads, I wondered if maybe I could just go a few more miles and THEN quit. But what sense would that make? Suddenly a pickup truck pulled up beside me and asking me if I needed help. I asked if he was with the race and he said he was. He asked me if I wanted to get in.

I stood there. A full five seconds passed. Count it out. That’s a long time to not answer someone. Finally, I did.


I gingerly undid the door to the bed of his truck and pulled myself in. I had quit the race.

I know this is the right thing for me to do. I do not think that this is the end of my running career. I am aware that well-meaning friends will tell me that they’ve never done one fraction of what I have done and I shouldn’t be disappointed. I get that this is hardly the biggest problem in my week, let alone in the world. But to me, on Saturday, with my first marathon in nearly half a decade, wanting to run to honor my mother, this sucked. A whole flipping bunch.

Maybe my best running days are behind me. With 164 marathons and 115 marathons and some fairly decent times for a 180lb guy without a great deal of natural talent, and a body that actively works against him (see: Gilbert’s syndrome) this wouldn’t be a surprising thing. I turn 47 in May. Older people tell me I am not old, but I sure as hell am not young. I’d like to think this isn’t the case. I’d like to believe that I can still maybe eke out a few more personal bests before I have to look for more tangible “bests” (e.g., my best marathon as a master runner). Regardless, even if those days are behind me, I am still going to do my best to rage against the dying of the light. I will keep trying to go faster. I will push myself as far as I can, while still keeping in mind that I won’t push myself so far that I actually injure myself.  I am not a stupid man. I am quite practical.

 But right now I am sad and pissed. It will pass. I know that. I will get back up and try again. But if it is ok with everyone, I am just going to upset for a little bit.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Mapping Minneapolis: Running Every Single Street

I moved to the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis just over a year ago and was faced with a dilemma: Footing. 

The previous five years in Austin, Texas had me having to worry about cold or bad footing on so few occasions I could count them on one hand. However, moving to the Twin Cities in February meant that if I were going to run outside, I was definitely going to have to re-learn how to ice skate while running.  Growing up in NW Pennsylvania, this was kind of second nature and fortunately didn't take me long to remember how to run on slipper surfaces. That said, while I thoroughly enjoyed the ease of running alongside the Mississippi River just a few blocks from my loft, the slippery conditions were a bit tough.  But it was the wind off the river, combined with the frosty temps, which drove me to find some different routes during the colder months.

 The places that look on fire are where I ran the most.
So one day I decided to venture to a part of the city that looked quite grid-like. I thought if I ran up and down the streets and then back and forth, then no matter which way the wind was blowing, it could only be in my face for so long. (Of course any runner or cyclist will tell you that unassailable logic is often proven wrong when you somehow have a headwind in every directions.) I luckily had a great run, (even with 13 mph sustained winds!), enjoyed this back and forth style running, and an idea popped into my head. I pulled up the map of Minneapolis and noticed how virtually all of the city was one big grid. I decided right then I was going to get to know my new city the best way I knew how: by foot. I had spent most of the five plus years I lived in Austin running the two same routes. I didn't want that to be the case in Minneapolis.

Running every single street is a thing I talked about in an earlier post when I did the same thing in my hometown last summer. But doing so in a town that’s barely 1.5 square miles of runnable streets is one thing. Running all the streets in a city nearly 50 times larger than that is another. 

While I wished to accomplish this task of seeing every doorbell in Minneapolis as soon as possible, I also wasn’t making it my only priority. With racing opening back up again post-COVID, I was traveling more than usual. In fact, it took me a month just to get my first 17 mapping runs in as I travleed to Colorado for a week, ran a half-marathon nearby and then took on six half marathon races in six days in six states. (Two wins and four second places, in case you cared to know.)

I was also spending time on the road working on the app I an launching here very soon, called Sherpa.  Then, in August, my mother’s health began to fail. This wasn't the biggest of surprises, as I wrote here, but it was shocking how quickly she deteriorated. Since that time, I have spent over two months back in my hometown either tending to her health, watching her pass away, or eventually having to clean out her house. As such I wasn’t in Minneapolis nearly as much as I thought it would be in 2022.

After she passed, it’s quite clear that when I was home, I grieved by putting one foot in front of the other. I began knocking out much larger chunks of the city. Runs got longer, I mapped a bit better cutting down on overlap, and generally, I was doing more than just chipping away at the 1,000 miles of Minneapolis streets. When snow fell at the end of November I knew it might get a little bit rougher to run on the sidewalks in town and picked up the pace even more. It appeared that I might actually finish this entire endeavor before the year ended. I was a bit excited about finishing this project in the same calendar year that I began it. 

Then a few different things, including a sprained ankle, and a couple of speaking engagements which took me out of town, put me into a situation where I realized it would take an unnecessary amount of running to finish Mapping Minneapolis before New Year's Day. I figured if I couldn't wrap this up as timely as I had hoped, that I would go another route and go out in style. 

You see, I had for quite some time been avoiding one particular street in Minneapolis. I wasn’t avoiding it for safety issues or anything else other than the fact that it is the longest street in the entire city. At just over 11.2 miles Lyndale Ave more or less bisects the side of the city west of the Mississippi River. Seeing a potentially exciting opportunity, I reached out to the mayor of Minneapolis‘s office to see if the mayor himself Jacob Frey, and extraordinarily accomplished runner in his own right, would like to finish my final run with me. Run through 20 of Minneapolis' 87 neighborhoods and six of its eleven communities would be one heck of a way to get a worm's eye view of the people and its environs. Much to my pleasure, he seemed quite keen on the idea. It then simply became a matter of coordinating schedules (his, obviously more than mine) and trying to find good weather that would allow us to get outside and safely navigate some streets. Four rescheduled dates later and Sunday, March 5th was when I could finally close out this project.

I was extraordinarily flattered that the mayor took time out of his weekend to join me on this quest, and I speak only for myself, but I think we had a jolly old time. I had the unique pleasure of meeting his wife Sarah, and their adorable daughter Frida as well, as they dropped us off at the North 53rd Avenue and
West Lyndale Ave North intersection. One quick picture for posterity with Brooklyn Center behind us and away we went.

The first mile or so was a little touch-and-go as a bright sunshine was melting some of the snow and ice and creating a bit of a mess on the sidewalks. I was attempting to lead the way as I had spikes in my shoes to deal with this slop. In addition, I figured not letting the Mayor go first and potentially injuring himself was a savvy move on my part.  I am all about PR, baby.

 But we soon found our groove and as we passed through the neighborhoods of Lind-Bohanon, Camden Industrial, and Webber-Camden. We picked our way from sidewalks to bike paths to different sides of the street in tandem as even runners who just started running with each other can do without even a word of direction. The sun was seemingly making people happy as we were given wide berths on the road, a few cries of "Watch out for that ice!" and just general merriment from citizens in the neighborhoods of Minneapolis which some would save are a little less savory.

A little further down, as the sun became surprisingly warm, and we both shed a layer of clothing, the Mayor said he wanted to get a drink. So we popped into the Winner Gas Station on the corner of W Broadway and N Lyndale Ave.We barely had a foot inside the door before the Mayor was greeted by the security guard there who recognized him even with a winter hat on. It was clear the Mayor also knew this gentleman by name and chatted with him and a few other patrons. We posed for a couple of pictures (I was graciously asked to join even though it was clear they were not aware of how much of a celebrity I am as well) and then proceeded to drink our fluids outside in the sunny weather. (The Mayor thoughtfully shared his drink and I made sure to pour it into my mouth from the acceptable two inch distance as to not pass along any germs.) No less than half a dozen people stopped to talk to the Mayor showing nothing but happiness towards seeing him out and about. 

"These are some of my favorite neighborhoods," he said while pointing out various building being constructed for housing projects and giving me a history of the area.  I laughed and said "I've heard this is the worst intersection in Minneapolis, but that Cub is my grocery store!" sweeping my hand across the street.

We soon were on running through one of the only two areas that is not a straight line as we passed through the Lowry Hill neighborhood and into Loring Park. (As Lyndale Avenue splits these neighborhoods in many places, I am counting them both as neighborhoods we ran thorugh whenever that happens. Fight me on it.) The surprisingly warm and sunny day chilled off a little bit right around here and I put my headband back on.

One of my fave houses.
I asked the Mayor some questions about his time on the Hansons Project for elite runners and he shared some stories one could only get if they were there. We both felt the day was going by rapidly. When I said we only had roughly four miles to go, we suddenly threw down a 7:29 mile in the South Uptown and East Harriet neighborhoods, even while waiting for stoplights and pedestrians. For the most part, we were able to run side-by-side and share thoughts and stories on running in general as well as the city of Minneapolis. He reminisced on door knocking for his first campaign for Mayor on what is one of my favorite houses in Minneapolis (5152 Lyndale Ave S; and if you know how often the number 52 pops up in my life you won't be remotely shocked at this address) and I told him Diet Mountain Dew should be the official city drink. (I didn't, but I should have.)

Before we knew it, we were soon approaching the end. In our conversations, I had happen to mention the passing of my mother. With a block to go he said “This one is for Barb." I said that Minneapolis ended right at Rt 62 but if it was OK with him, we would run under the 35W overpass and give my mom an extra block just for good measure. Once there, we shook hands and he gave me a real nice hug. We then posed for another picture and the difference between this one and the other just 85 minutes earlier felt like a lifetime.

This was my 133rd dedicated run to mapping Minneapolis. All told I had run 1305.85 miles of Minneapolis streets on these runs. The first 50 runs I did netted me 448.45 miles for an average of 8.869 miles per run. The next 50 brought in 499.05 miles, with an almost 10 miles per run average of 9.981miles. The last 32? Well, I ran 358.3 miles for an average of 10.58 per run. Most of those were in subzero temperatures of December and January. As I told the Mayor, I am only moderately fast but I get stronger as the run goes on. Know your strengths.

If I were to ever do this again in Minneapolis (I will not) or be consulted as to how to do it better (I am for hire) I could definitely get the miles down closer to the supposed 1000 miles of streets that comprise this half of the Twin Cities. (I started using the apps Strava and CityStrides far too late into this endeavor, as both would have made this much easier. They are the ones I created the maps at beginning of this post with.)

 I’m looking forward to speaking with people in charge of a variety of different departments within the city to share with them what I have seen, what I have learned, and what I find to be extraordinarily amazing about Minneapolis.

Regardless of info shared with others, my goal was to see my new city in a unique way. I can now say that if you live within the boundaries of Minneapolis, I have seen your porch.  

I've like what you have done with the place.