2016: Noquemanon 12k XC Classic Ski

About a week had passed by since my maiden attempt at skiing and dear friend Carrie suggested that I should consider partaking in one of the events at the Noquemanon Ski Marathon (referred to hereafter as just Noque — somewhat for the purposes of brevity but mostly to sound cool). The aforementioned maiden ski attempt had taken over an hour to cover less than one mile on relatively flat trails. More so than skiing, it was a battle between yours truly and formidable laws of gravity and friction that the latter two won in a merciless beatdown. Given the sheer lack of information, expertise and/or experience, the chances of me surviving the wild and presumably treacherous Noque trails let alone making it out alive were very very slim … if not non-existent. So, it didn’t happen in 2014.

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Looking back at 2015, and looking ahead to 2016

Much like 2014, life in 2015 has been great — I still have my dream job and live in a place that I love amidst people with whom caring is more than a two-way traffic. Thanks in greater part to my friends in and out of this community, and their seemingly never ending unexpected and unrewarded acts of kindness, 2015 became my first ever full running season — learning a lot more than I had imagined in and about the process. Mileage, at least for running, was distributed throughout the year, and that for biking was clustered around the summer and fall months. Skiing and swimming made more than a guest appearance making 2015 my first year of taking a crack at triathloning.

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2015: USA Half Marathon Invitational

It was the Spring of 2015. If you know where I am local and the weather therein, italicized Spring should be self explanatory. Teaching responsibilities for the academic year 2014-15 had long been wrapped up, and the preparations for the then upcoming Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon were about being wrapped up too. With qualifying for and participating in Boston Marathon being far too distant and far too difficult to even dream about (sub 3:10:00 finish, 7:15 min/mile or faster) and with over a dozen half marathons in the rear view mirror, I started doing some literature search (read: google-ing around) for Boston’s equivalent of half marathons: a race that didn’t just let me in for fun but expected a little more by requiring qualifying standards in spite of having to pay the registration fee. Several days and many combinations of keywords and phrases later, Google led me to exactly what I was looking for: Race Raves‘ article on an inaugural qualifiers only half marathon event … in November … in San Diego!

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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: 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)

It’s not a snowcapped mountain, at least not year-round. Its highest peak, at least on the course, barely reaches 1,500 (yes, fifteen hundred) feet above sea-level with the basecamp stationed less than a thousand feet below the top. And yet this thing is called a mountain? When touching just 2,000 (yes, two thousand) feet has been a Sisyphean task even for the highest peak in the entire state, 1,500 ft doesn’t sound all that bad. Unlike the real mountains elsewhere, this one (with a handful of its siblings/cousins) is right in our own backyard. And quite importantly, it (and each of one its siblings/cousins) offers the same lessons my favorite wilderness prophet talks/writes about in his 1901 book.

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2015: Marquette Marathon

Haven’t you done enough half marathons? Are you ever going to do a full? If so, when?

 

Seven (one each in Detroit, Marquette, Porcupine Mountains, and two apiece in Green Bay and Madison) of the 17 half marathons I have had the good fortune of participating in so far since 2013 had featured a full marathon as part of their festivities. The course for many of these seven aforementioned half marathons had partly, if not entirely, overlapped with that of the corresponding full marathon. The often interesting and inspiring but always entertaining and hilarious signs that people held along the side for the marathoners, as such, were quite hard to miss. And so were the aforementioned questions that many a friend, in and outside of my community, frequently and caringly put forth over the past many months to put me outside of my comfort zone, and in turn, make me better — a whole lot better.

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2015: Swedetown Trail Run

All of my familiarity with the Swedetown Tails, at least until the beginning of this Summer, had to do with cross country skiing as part of the The Great Bear Chase festivities. And by skiing, I mean my desperate attempts to stay upright and minimize the number of falls/wipeouts. With 25+ falls/wipeouts in 2014 (2:13:26 for 10k) and 7-8 more in 2015 (1:22:18 for 10k), it’s safe to say I have been on my behind and back more on these trails than I have standing up on my feet.

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2015: Copperman Triathlon

It was about a year ago that I had the first opportunity to be actually a part of Copperman Triathlon festivities, as a (slow running) member of Two Wolverines and a Badger, from inside rather than just looking on in from the outside. And if you have been fortunate enough to be in the start (or transition or finish) area, you would be quick to know that there is more than just the colloquial meaning to the previous sentence. It was quite the experience, a memorable one at that, and it did motivate me to some day do it all by myself. I’d be completely lying if claimed that I knew that that some day would be during the very next edition of the event.

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2015: Hancock 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: Run The Keweenaw, A Festival of Trails

Run The Keweenaw, A Festival of Trails marks the first multi-part running event — trail or otherwise — in its entirety that I have had the opportunity to progressively and continuously build an additional stage each year. The last two editions of this event, 2013 and 2014, had gone on to teach me quite a bit about myself, bringing in me touch with a plethora of wonderful people from around and outside the region, and making the uphill portions of Hancock Canal Run course the week after seem flat or even downhill.

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