2019: WhistleStop Marathon

I was on track for a finish time in the neighborhood of 3:20-3:25 in 2019 Whitefish Point Marathon (Paradise, MI) and would have bested my then best time of 3:35:46. But a more rewarding opportunity had presented itself in the second half. I had no regret (I still don’t) accepting it and finishing with a time of 3:49:25. Teetering a few seconds per mile (or about a second for every 400 meters) on the wrong side of my then threshold pace in 2019 Grandma’s Marathon (Duluth, MN) had me on track for a similar finish time through mile 18. Once over the cliff, I had bonked hard and had ridden the struggle bus for the final 8 miles … eventually finishing in a time of 3:46:16. Though I was somewhat disappointed knowing that I had the potential for a faster finish, both were times – a year or so ago – that I’d have gladly kissed anybody’s feet to have earned. And the process of training for and participating in  both these events were a memorable set of experiences on several fronts. 

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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: Journeys Marathon

The half marathon associated with this event should have been my maiden half marathon when I got into running several years ago. Nancy and Josh had tried their best to convince me – to sign up and train. I didn’t even sign up in 2012, let alone train. Though signed up in 2013 and still didn’t train, I had favored the hometown Hancock Canal Run to be my first half marathon. So, instead of Eagle River, WI, being the site of my maiden 13.1 attempt, the town just remained an occasional pit stop during adventures deep into the heart of Wisconsin … until now.

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2019: American Birkebeiner

140 km base training [for a ~30 km event] seems low … remarked Jan in the aftermath of 2018 Birkie festivities. Consciously work on your downhills and turns … suggested another Jan a month or so later in Washington, DC, during the 2018 Spring Meeting of CASC. How much base training would have been sufficient? … I inquired the encyclopediac minds in and around our community. Deciphering their collective answer, though it led me down an entirely new rabbit hole of time-based training, hinted towards a training plan that included some long/long-ish outings. Coupling that with the sneak peak I got into Jessie Diggins‘ annual training plan, courtesy of Team USA’s Olympic Coach of the Games, I settled on putting in at least 300 km of base training ahead of the 2019 Birkie weekend.

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2018: American Birkebeiner

Even after a year, it still feels very unfair that Mother Nature chose to reward my utter unpreparedness and punish thousands more that had very diligently trained for nearly a year with unseasonably warmer temperatures (and even rain) in days/weeks leading up to the 2017 Birkie weekend. In hindsight, we (the collective phrase to represent all of us and not just the Royal plural) are quite fortunate that this lack of snow thing happened in 2017 and not in 1206 in Scandinavia. Should that have been the case, as one unknown racer put it in 2017, the Prince couldn’t have been saved, and we wouldn’t have the event in 2017 … or in any other year.

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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: Ragnar Trail Northwoods

Running events for the most part are solo endeavors — runner against the clock, runner against an older version of her/himself, and occasionally, one runner against another — irrespective of whether another runner knows about it or not. Relay events of the running kind have a knack for blending the individualist aspect with the concept of a team. Though the very reason I took to running many moons ago was to move away from team sports, there’s a part of me that enjoys the team concept every once in a while, necessary to instill a sense of accountability: that I need to do my part, and have the confidence that others on the team will do theirs. Being the runt of the litter when it comes to running, there is never a doubt about my teammates and the onus is always on me.

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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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2016: American Birkebeiner

Until about two years or so ago, Birkie was something I couldn’t care less about. So much so that I thought and truly believed that Birkie was a real physical town somewhere in Wisconsin. And I even tried looking for a sign to this town on my way to Red Wing, Minnesota, to participate in the 2014 Ragnar Relay Great River, and I don’t remember being disappointed at my inability to find it.

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2015: Madison Half Marathon

Science … often defined as the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the structure and behavior of the natural/physical and social world via a systematic methodology based on documented observation, evidence and experiment. Such a scientific methodology almost always includes the following aspects and almost always is accompanied by an image of a mad scientist who, according to Wikipedia, is an aging male with crooked teeth and messy hair wearing a lab coat, spectacles/goggles, gloves and holding an effervescent test tube:

(1) Objective observation — the measurement and data possibly although not necessarily using mathematics as a tool (2) Evidence (3) Experiment and/or observation as benchmarks for testing hypotheses (4) Induction — reasoning to establish general rules or conclusions drawn from facts or examples (5) Mindful repetition (6) Critical analysis (7) Verification and testing — critical exposure to scrutiny, peer review and assessment.

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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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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: Ragnar Great River

Every once in a while the child (or the childishness) in me gets the better of me, and the day of Breakers To Bay in May 2014 was one such occasion. I happened to see a handful of my friends proudly wearing their hard-earned tee shirts to run the aforementioned race, and talk in high regard about Ragnar Relay — sowing the seeds of thought in my head that may be, just may be, I could do it with consistent training over the next two months or so. Four more days of thinking later, some more of them wore it for the weekly Keweenaw Running Group run and to the post-run gathering in the Copper Island Beach Club. That was pretty much the last straw — next thing I knew I had signed up to participate in the 2014 edition of the Ragnar Relay Great River with team 200 Miles of SISU and had promised to run at about 10:45 min/mile pace.

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2014: Book Across The Bay

Courtesy of all my blabberings in social media outlets, Bryant Weathers got the wind of me acquiring a new pair of skis and shot off this email on a balmy fine Friday in January. I tried ignoring it for a while but it seemed to have some serious haunting features and just wouldn’t go away. With nearly every skiing mile in my life ahead of me, it wasn’t easy to make the decision — to take my skiing talents to Ashland, Wisconsin, let alone on to the frozen Lake Superior for a 10k.

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2013: Madison Half Marathon

Making up mind to sign up for this race was the least painful task: last of the organized racing events for 2013, opportunity to travel, meet good ole friends and share some laughs, participate in my maiden half marathon outside my home state of Michigan and the first of its kind in a big city with hundreds (if not thousands) of fellow participants, run a little and earn some bling, take stock of the 2013 running season, eat some good food and may be even drink some — just some — beer … made the pleasurable aspects that much more pleasurable compared to a little pain. And the mind was made up a little less than two months ago. Exchange of few texts over a short period of time saw my dear friends Nils, Chelsea and Kevin sign up as well – the last two for their maiden half marathon attempt.

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