2019: Bridges & Bluffs Half Marathon

I would have never known that this event even existed if not for a conversation with Jan Haase in last week of August. Opting to race it required re-arranging the week #09 schedule of my training towards Fall marathons: Thursday’s 9 tempo miles would be run during this event. A good portion, if not all, of Friday’s easy 10 miler would be repackaged as a recovery run on Sunday. Saturday’s 20 miler was swapped with last week’s 13 miler. Assuming that the weather angels and the course cooperated well, the plan was to start slow-ish through mile #3, and reach and hold the tempo-like ponderous pace rest of the way. I expected the by-product of a proper execution of this plan to help me earn a new PR for this distance (below 1:32:22) … preferably at or below the 1:29:59 mark that seems to be within reach.

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2019: Marquette Half Marathon

Currently in week #05 of a training cycle towards a Fall marathon, my original plan for this event (like, when I first registered in December 2018) was to run the full distance as a supported long training run. Over the last 2-3 weeks (and even as late as Tuesday of this week), I flirted with the idea of sticking to the full distance at a fairly good pace … assuming the weather angels blessed us all with a day made for racing. As much as I believe in pushing the limits, I believe that I am a stronger believer in the process and its transformational power. Coupled with the advice Stephen Eles offered halfway through week #04, I decided to run just half the distance but almost entirely in an unwieldy zone. Doing so would have the added benefit of having plenty more time to cheer on John Farquhar as he punches his ticket to 2020 Boston and Bill Sved completes his 300th (yes, three hundred) marathon!

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2019: Paavo Nurmi Half Marathon

Currently in week #02 of a training cycle towards a Fall marathon, my original plan for this event was to run the full distance as a supported long run. But the collective wisdom of my mentors suggested that I no longer had as much of a need to train for full distance (the comfort zone) as I did for holding the desired needed pace for longer-ish distances (the discomfort zone). So, the new plan and its goals were to (a) reproduce the pacing strategy used in 2019 Canal Run Half Marathon (i.e., hold back in the first half and then push the effort in the second half) on what has historically been a hillier course with warmer weather and (b) earn a PR as a result. This year’s edition included a change in travel plan as well: a day trip instead of the usual overnight trip in an attempt to keep to more home-cooked meals.

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2019: Canal Run Half Marathon

Reasons to participate in this event haven’t really changed over the past several years: a very well organized and attended race in my own backyard, the potential to see and be with a lot of friendly faces from the awesome community I am so fortunate to live in and a chance to sleep in the comfort of my house the night before, and show community that its investment in helping me run (better) has been worthwhile. This year was no different either.

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2018: Trinity River Run Half Marathon

Ever since SC14 in New Orleans, when I accidentally learned that many nerdy/geeky members of my Supercomputing (SC) / High-Performance Computing (HPC) family are avid runners/athletes, it has become a practice to look for and participate in organized athletic events in conference locations. It adds a bit more spice to and with an opportunity run with and learn from some of them, helps me extract more value from what would otherwise be a purely academic trip punctuated with delicious pit stops. Supercomputing (SC18) in Dallas, TX, was no different. As the conference date drew closer, I started searching for Dallas running races in November and found a flat-coursed event – Trinity River Run Half Marathon – outside of the conference schedule. After some trepidation (it wasn’t an inexpensive endeavor) and doing some running mathematics (training plan was calling for 16 LSD miles), I bit the bullet and signed up for the half marathon.

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2018: Great Turtle Trail Run Half Marathon

Great Turtle Trail Run Half Marathon was one of those events that got on my bucket list during the early formative years of my running … like 5 or so years ago. Around those days, I had wanted to do every half marathon within 6-8 hours of Houghton, if not anywhere and everywhere. I let life get in the way and I put this event on the backburner of bucket list items. Then again, the stove in those days had so many backburners that it was too easy to forget what I had on them … and needless to say, I forgot all about it. That is, until a week or so ago when Stephen Eles brought it up in a conversation, explained the course profile and expected low temperature and encouraged me to sign up!

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2017: Green Bay Half Marathon

Owing to the organizers’ unique three-year medal strategy that started in 2015 and my innate inability to let certain things go (one of them being the want of materialistic memorabilia since there is no display case for memories), I had signed up and completed the 2015 and 2016 editions. And the quest (read: want) for the final piece ensured I at least signed up, and would find ways to complete it given my very limited training.

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2016: Marquette Half Marathon

Fond memories of my maiden marathon attempt in its 2015 edition and not so fond memories of a squandered opportunity 300 some miles south a couple months later were still pretty fresh when I signed up for the 2016 edition of the Marquette Marathon. With this being the only chosen Marathon in 2016, all my eggs were in one basket so to say, and hope was that I would actually follow a training regiment to improve my PR. Maybe even bring it under the four hour mark.

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2016: Canal Run Half Marathon

As per usual, Hancock Canal Run signals the completion of two full years since I took to running half marathon distance and marks the beginning of a new year (#4). Reasons to participate in this event haven’t really changed over these years: a very well organized and attended race in my own backyard, the potential to see and be with a lot of friendly faces from the awesome community I am so fortunate to live in and a chance to sleep in my own couch the night before, and show just about everyone in this community that has ever helped me run (better) that their investment in me wasn’t a wasted effort.

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2016: Green Bay Half Marathon

Signing up and participating in this event has turned into a tradition of sorts. Owing to the organizers’ unique three-year medal strategy that started in 2015 and my innate inability to let certain things go — one of them being the want of materialistic memorabilia for there is no display case for memories, this tradition will continue at least through its 2017 edition.

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2015: Mount Bohemia Trail Running Festival

Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grass and gentians of glacier meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of Nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but Nature’s sources never fail. … The petty discomforts that beset the awkward guest, the unskilled camper, are quickly forgotten, while all that is precious remains. Fears vanish as soon as one is fairly free in the wilderness.

– John Muir, Our National Parks (1901)

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2015: Canal Run Half Marathon

Hancock Canal Run signals the completion of two full years since I took to running half marathon distance and marks the beginning of year #3. Reasons to participate in this event haven’t really changed over these three years: a very well organized and attended race in my own backyard, potential to see and be with a lot of friendly faces from the awesome community I am so fortunate to live in and a chance to sleep in my own bed couch the night before, and show just about everyone in this community that has ever helped me run (better) that their investment in me wasn’t a wasted effort. Additionally, how the event spreads the event-awareness through social media outlets and periodic reminders, invite local running groups to contribute articles and gives back to the community helped the cause as well. So, including this event in the planned list of races for 2015 didn’t cost any brain cells, and neither was signing up for it as soon as the (mail-in/paper) registration opened.

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2015: Lake Trout Festival Half Marathon

Had everything I planned for 2015 — life and running events alike — panned out as I had planned, this particular journal entry should have been seeing the light of internet a few days later, and I should have been just about done exploring the wicked(ly awesome) wilderness in Forever West and Big Sky Country planned around a half marathon each in the vicinity of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks: witnessing stuff that I have only watched in various Ken Burns’ documentaries (Roosevelt Arch, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Old Faithful in action, Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, Tower Falls, Willow Flats and Teton Range, Moose Junction, Snake River Valley, Jenny Lake and a plethora of wild flora and fauna), hanging out with friends (Sara and Dustin) I haven’t seen in quite a long time, tracing and living many a fond memories of dear friend Kyle‘s 2008 adventures, re-tracing and re-living many more of my own from the 2010 Great American Road Trip with buddy Nils, visiting the Stickelmyers (Kari, Steve, Anna and Tommy) and Stenvigs (Tom, Annie and Alexa) in South Dakota — the birthplace of my pesto obsession during the aforementioned 2010 Great American Road Trip, adding some more photographs to the somewhat stale portfolio, flooding the instagram feed with images of food and beverages, and making more friends and memories to last few more life times.

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2015: Green Bay Half Marathon

The 2014 edition of this event made me the recipient of yet another unexpected, undeserved and unrewarded act of kindness from a lady at about the 11.75 mile mark. Courtesy of a miserably failed experiment — of using my body’s stored fat reserves in lieu of energy gels during the run — I was seeing more than one star in day light. And courtesy of my super-massive ego taking a back seat to my common sense for once, I stopped in someone’s front yard asking for a fruit. In ran the lady and out she came with a plateful of freshly cut berries of various kinds and a bottle of water. It was and still is a very humbling experience to have even completed the race, and realize how much this random act of kindness played a role that day (and has since then) — especially when I look back and remember how many more runners fainted under the scorching sun (and couldn’t complete the race) over the last mile or so, and understand the stupidity of the said maiden experiment.

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2015: San Francisco Half Marathon

As noted in my looking ahead post posted several weeks ago, I had registered for several running events in 2015. Unlike the 2014 edition of this event, I procrastinated much less and was far more disciplined in keeping up with eating, sleeping and working out routine — in spite of being somewhat sick during the first half of January. The decision to participate and do better in the 2015 edition of Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon, much like the 2014 edition of Madison Half Marathon, was finalized several strides before I had even finished the 2014 edition. All I knew then, as did I when I was approaching the finish line with clock ticking past 2:43:xx, was that I had to find ways to do better in 2015 edition — much much better than 2014, and that Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon, as it was in 2014, would be the first half marathon of 2015 calendar year.

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2014: Madison Half Marathon

The decision to participate and do better in the 2014 edition of Madison Half Marathon was finalized several strides before I had even finished the 2013 edition. Support from dear friends, organizers, volunteers, law enforcement officials, members of communities and neighborhoods through which the course snaked around was quite overwhelming even though much of it seemed undeserved (by me) and unrewarded (to them) given the lack luster performance from yours truly. So, I did officially sign up for this edition on new year’s day.

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2014: Detroit Half Marathon

It was a chilly chilly day many many moons ago in February, and I was on my way to Ashland, Wisconsin, with dear friend Bryant to participate in my maiden cross country skiing race: The Book Across The Bay. Couple hours into our drive and almost near the Black Cat Coffeehouse, the Facebook app on my iPhone became the platform for a very brief conversation with dear friend in lower Michigan, Jess.

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2014: Mount Bohemia Trail Running Festival

Following the debacle in mid-July with Great Lakes Endurance folks in relation to the Grand Island Trail Half Marathon, the decision to not participate as a runner in the Porcupine Mountains Trail Half Marathon or any other race organized by the said folks ever again didn’t cost me more than a few brain cells. Contact me in person or in private, if need be, and I will gladly share the details and more importantly, the lessons I learned from the experience.

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2014: Marquette Half Marathon

I don’t have a specific reason or a story as to why I signed up for this race in early July, except that I was looking for half marathon events to get the count up to ten, and I wished to keep as many such events in the Yoop as possible. Marquette Marathon, not too far from being a home area event, seemed to satisfy all such requirements with the added bonus of a new point to point — mostly downhill — course, making it a very good candidate to test my legs in different conditions and potentially earn a new PR.

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