#1 and #2), I signed up for this year’s edition as soon as the organizers opened up registration. Each winter, this event serves as the first of many mini reunions of my nordic skiing family and provides the first real race atmosphere to put to test newly acquired skills. While this year was no different in those aspects, it had a significantly higher value in light of the pandemic-forced separation and limited opportunities to see my family and hang out with them – on and/or off the race course.
I’d be lying if I said an injury resulting from one missed step in the 2021 Blue Mound Trail Run would have taken twenty extra weeks than the two I thought it needed to heal. I’d also be lying if I said the longer path to recovery didn’t bring unexpected but much needed lessons along the way. Most of them were variants of letting go – being my own medical doctor, being a knucklehead and bluntly pushing through obvious physical pain in races, and so on. Some others helped fine tune the Assistant To The (Chief Timer, Race Director, Volunteer Coordinator, and so on) and the guy behind the camera skills at events I had signed up to race. Yet others – myriad of emotions on the faces of people of varying ages and abilities along the course and in the vicinity of finish line – helped reset some forgotten perspectives. Best of them all was … drumroll please … the affirmation that I have a lovely family of supportive friends: none of them made any kind of funny (or negative) remark or gave me a hard time for DNFing (not once but twice – Marquette Marathon and Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon) instead of pushing through the pain!!
When I completed the 2020 Sunday Lake Marathon in October, little did I know that I’d have to wait nearly a full year before getting another opportunity at the marathon distance. The 2021 Milwaukee Marathon I had been training towards from early 2020 December (scheduled for early 2021 April) was postponed to sometime in 2021 October. The ever evolving COVID-19 situation kept me from looking for alternate events to replace the Milwaukee Marathon. Though I had signed up and been training towards the 2021 Whitefish Point Marathon (scheduled for mid June), the marathon deities had other plans and decided that tuning up my Assistant To The Chief Timer and Other Duties As Assigned skills was the priority. Continue reading … “2021: Marquette Marathon (DNF)”
The previous training cycle – spanning about 26 weeks from late April through late October of 2020 – wasn’t my first time following a training plan. But it was my first time doing a good number of other things along the way that represented an athlete lifestyle. The training cycle included several virtual events and I was even fortunate enough to be a part of some in-person events … something I didn’t think would happen once the world as we knew of came to a screeching (or screaming) halt due to COVID-19. Looking through the training log and being honest with myself, there were a handful of other things that I needed to do consistently – not only to continue living the athlete lifestyle but also to earn the performance (or result) that I know I was/am capable of. This training cycle – spanning about early December 2020 through
early April mid June 2021 – primarily focused on addressing these and see what it’d lead to in performance … should there be an in-person marathon towards the end.
While I had been a part of 3/8/12-person teams in relay races (lap-based or not) in the past, I had never done a time- and lap-based 12 (or 24) event before. Getting to be a part of it so close to home and doing so in the company of many friends made it very appealing … and started swinging my mind back towards the first edition of the Back 9 Endurance Run held on the premises of the historic Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. To say that I showed up late to this party is an understatement. Many in my family of friends had signed up, been training methodically and spreadsheeted their laps in detail for weeks, if not months … and then there was me, needing a special invitation from the kind-hearted race director to sign up. It was special (and not special) because I had waited until three days after the registration had been closed to make up my mind.
The last time I participated in a real and in-person running race was about two weekends ago – Lake Monona Run in Madison/Monona, WI. As noted in its journal entry, if all (or at least most) had gone according to the plan, I’d have run the Milwaukee Marathon about five weeks ago. Googling for a now defunct event (details later), I found this event as another potential Spring racing opportunity. It too was difficult to pass up – especially since it lined up well with modified Summer marathon training plan. Given the safety measures I and the organizers had put in place, signing up was a no brainer.
The last time I participated in a real and in-person running race was over six months ago in the Sunday Lake Marathon in Wakefield, MI. If all (or at least most) had gone according to the plan, I’d have run the Milwaukee Marathon about three weeks ago. When Stephen suggested this hitherto unknown event as a potential Spring racing opportunity, it was difficult to pass up – especially since it lined up well with modified Summer marathon training plan. While there’s nothing wrong with virtual events and time trials, there’s only so many one can do. I signed up for this event as it’d give me a chance to travel outside of my region well after two weeks past the second COVID-19 vaccination and serve as the first real and in-person running event of 2021 calendar year.
Swedetown Trail System groomers rose to the occasion, worked their tails off with what Mothership provided and produced the best course they could!
COVID-19), this was an event neither I nor the organizing body was sure would take place. But the North End Ski Club, the parent organization, did a fantastic job of complying with guidelines from health departments, reducing the field size, and put on a successfully safe event for parties involved. Once registered (courtesy of a timely tip from Maureen), traveling to be a part of this event – that I have come to love because of the people associated with it and the idyllic setting of its course – was a no brainer.
last year in Wisconsin’s Northwoods and with #BirkieFever running pretty high, I made up a goal: to participate in both the Kortelopet (on Friday, 29 km) and Birkebeiner (on Saturday, 55 km) in 2021. The very real and not so spectacular #BirkieHangover that lasted a full week or more after returning home did nothing to change that audacious goal. Part of the motivation came from wanting to experience a wave #1 start (hence the Korte) and start the Birchlegger journey (hence the Birkie). The rest came from needing to maintain and improve my healthy lifestyle. The ability to complete the combination on back to back days reasonably well would be one tangible metric of improved fitness derived from a healthy lifestyle.