Thursday, December 30, 2010


I've been away from the writing desk for a long time now.
Life has been busy.
I haven't been "adventure" running.
I have been non-adventure running. That means that I've been running 3 miles every morning in the basement - while watching movies with the subtitles turned on. This morning, I started "Patton." Eli checked it out from the library. He also checked out "From Here to Eternity." I ran to that last week. I'm not going to let Eli watch it. It's more about an affair than about the war.

Oh, yes. The reason for this post...
Yesterday, this blog received the 13,800th hit. I know that some places get that many in a day. However, I'm really grateful for those who stop by to read. And those who stop by to see if anything new has been posted in the past, well, month or two.

And I actually did do some adventure running last week. I ventured out on the river right here in town. The river is wide here and tends to freeze well. We'd had two weeks of sub-15 temps. I figured it would be safe. I failed to figure in the effects of snow on the ice.

I got out onto the river - right in the middle, and started to sink into 6 inches of slush with every step. There was no evidence of open water or moving ice. But the snow has insulated the top of the ice and everything was still warm. Needless to say, I furtively ran back to the safety of land and finished my run on the roads.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cold, Hair and Discipline

I'm running again. It isn't much, but it's running.

We've moved Sadie upstairs into Grace's room. No furniture moved, no freshly painted walls or designer motif from Pottery Barn for the one year old. It simply means that Sadie no longer sleeps in the basement. Her downstairs crib sits empty; her crib in Grace's room gets more action.

We moved her upstairs so I could be more disciplined. As a father of seven, trying to make a decent living, I've decided that part of the solution needs to involve waking earlier. And running when I wake. Actually, the running is necessary else I would never wake earlier.

This's downstairs on the treadmill. While watching tv or a movie. With subtitles turned on so that the noise doesn't wake the sleeping. Yes, for the past two mornings, it's been me, my shorts, water bottle, shoes and "Runaway Bride." I've decided to let my hair grow and look like Richard Gere.

Tomorrow, I'll start "Europa, Europa." I'll soon be sporting a short cropped Hilter Jungend hair style.

One advantage to running right now: I'm showering twice a day and my hair is soft.

I'm also tracking the temperatures. Looking for the first stretch of cold that will justify stepping out onto the St. Croix River. Last year, I just waited until the snowmobile tracks appeared. This year, I'd like to be out first. Don't worry, I enjoy living, and my new long hair, far too much to be foolish.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Being Tailed

We went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art. We had a late start, so my patience was already pretty thin.
I was looking for some specific pieces as we strolled around on the third floor.
We found a few.
We were followed the entire time. By museum staff.
We were not just followed. I could feel their breath on my neck.
It made the Institute not so fun.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Online at 35,000 Feet

Delta is offering free Wi-fi until Christmas, so, always eager to get the good deal, I bought a ticket to Denver, then on to Phoenix to join the family at Marty's parents' for Thanksgiving.

Being online while in-flight provides for many great opportunities and several challenges.
First, the challenges:
• do I really need to use Google's Chrome as my browser? Turns out the answer is "no." That makes me happy.
• I've succeeded in spilling the crumbs from a free pretzel bag onto the keyboard of my Mac.
• I adeptly spilled stale coffee on my iPhone. Thank goodness it was not GOOD coffee that I wasted.
• I had hoped to take a nap during this flight. Now I feel compelled to be "productive."

The Benefits:
• I was able to go through all my email. Turned out to be only 2.
• I am able to research what all the fancy possibilities are associated with the Google Mobile App, like Well, now I know that if I ever find myself in need of strong social networking connections in India or Brazil, I've got the capability on my phone!! Whew. I can sleep well tonight.

I couldn't leave with Marth and the kids on Thursday because of several commitments, all of which were better than I had anticipated. On Thursday, I was allowed to go to the gate with the family. This was critical as all seven kids carried their own backpack and pulled a carry-on. Well, okay, Sadie didn't. Plus, there were three car seats to bring along. We were quite a sight.

Thursday evening was a donor "thank you" reception for HOPE Adoption & Family Services, held at the Grain Belt Brewhouse and hosted by RSP Architects. I moderated and said a few words at the end. I met some incredible folks, all with big hearts and great stories about the impact of adoption(s) in their lives.

Friday had me in a Ramsey County courtroom for a small civil trial. Opposing party didn't show, but the judge had us "run through the motions" to get everything on the record. We won, which is not terribly difficult when the other party doesn't show and was really quite a scoundrel.

Friday night was the St. Croix Concert Series' first concert of the season. You can get to their website from my website. My law practice supports the Series. It is a great contribution to life in the valley. Piers Lane performed works from Chopin. I'm not a big Chopin fan. His works are not soothing and are extremely "busy" to the ears. However, Piers was absolutely incredible. He is a piano genius, and quite likable to boot.
Afterward, there was a donor's reception at The Dock Cafe, where I met some very nice people.

Saturday was a superb day. A complex mixture of relaxation and intense activity. Got much done around the house; started with most important things and worked through my list.
Emma and Grace, sorry. Painting the last part of your door and getting your mirror up did not make the cut-off. We'll do them when we get back.
Yummy stuff too! I had some left-over Korean food.
Mirror of Korea - great place for bi bim bop.

Everything was covered in ice this morning. As I loaded my suitcase, I had to slowly work my way down the Suburban, holding whatever I could, to avoid sliding down the driveway.

It was a pleasant reminder that the St. Croix River will soon be frozen.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I'm a Slacker

It's been nearly a month since my last post.
It's been nearly a month since my last run.

I was piercingly reminded of that last night as Twix wrapper number seven fell in shreds to the floor. I must add that they were the mini-Twix wrappers.

My need to run is most crushing when:
1. something hurts,
2. the mid section looks and feels a little, or a lot, too big,
3. the moon is full and the spirit moves, and
4. I need time to get out, not think, think, and feel alive.

The outsides of my knees hurt. They don't hurt when I run. I think it's because the patella glides in the proper place while running because of the shoe supports.

The mid section is too big. Last night's raiding of the children's candy bags did not help!

No full moon until November 21.

It is probably time to get out to think, not think and feel alive.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Black Dog 50 - this Saturday

Saturday is the annual Black Dog 50, a 50 mile run through western WI.

I can not wait! It's a day filled with beauty, outdoors, trees, leaves, trail, dirt, hills, roots, sweat, sun, wind, rivers, streams, and lots of good time with running friends.

Am I prepared? Nope. Does it matter? Not really.

It's strange; at this stage in my running life, I can (knock on wood) run 50 miles a lot more easily than 5.

I think this could sound proud, but it really isn't. Most of the ultra runners I know could say the same thing and not be saying it boastfully.

I've developed a mindset to running that is so completely different than when I was running marathons. It's a mindset of enjoyment first, appreciation second, priorities third, endurance fourth and speed way, way, way down the list. It's an attitude that enables one to think at mile 5:

"Well, the day is young, the run is young. I will experience incredible things throughout the day that will change me, even if ever so slightly. But I know that when I'm done, I will be more appreciative of family, friends, and my health. I need to run right now in such a way that I don't short-change the potential experiences that I will experience in 5 hours or in 9 hours. Enjoy. Take it in. Don't run without experiencing as much as possible right now."

So, how am I preparing? I'm doing sit ups this week. I'll eat some spaghetti on Friday. I'll make my run checklist. I'll buy food and supplies on Friday sometime, including lots of Coke. And I'l try to go to bed early.

Can you join us? Can you join us for a section of the run? Please join us: you can do more than you think you can!

East of Eden

Elia Kazan. "A Letter to Elia," by Martin Scorsese. Fascinating show tonight on PBS. I was enthralled.

East of Eden is one of my all time favorite books. The movie was not.

But after watching about 10 minutes of "A Letter to Elia," I'm ready to try watching it again. I also now want to watch "Wild River" by Elia Kazan.

It's funny how interacting with a good show makes me terribly interested in its topic.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Eli the Business Man

make custom gifts at Zazzle

Eli recently stuck his head in a local shop. He stayed awhile. He talked with the owners. He fell in love with the store and the owners, "Lost Treasures." I think they fell in love with him.

The owners asked Eli to make some postcards featuring shots from around town to sell in their shop.

Not being one to pass up an opportunity to make money, and bug the heck out of dad in the process, Eli set about finding a way to make postcards.

The above is his most recent find. Buy some online. Eli gets a 20% profit on each card. Click here to buy online.


come to Stillwater and buy his postcard in a great little store just off Main Street called "Lost Treasures."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Night Running

My most recent run was at night.
My description was mundane. Mostly the facts.

Yet, I really want to be able to describe what I experience in a way that enables another to feel and experience what I experienced. Even better, I always hope that I can write in a way that causes another to go try it (night running, running on a frozen river, running on grass, running barefoot, walking while running, slowing down and taking photographs while on a run...).

Others can write this way. A good friend recently wrote about night running in a way that will put you right out there with her under the moon. Go read her account and enjoy: "at night..."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday Morning Run

I woke at 2:10. Ate. Decided to run in Cascadias and not the new Montrails. If I kept on my slow pace, and left the house at 2:30, I could get to church (within stones throw of the MetroDome) at 9:00. Left the house at 2:46. Arrived at church at 9:16. I know my pace pretty well.

Dark. Starry. Saw two shooting stars. Ran to Gateway Trail. Gateway Trail to State Capitol. I ran mostly without headlamp. I could tell where the tree covered trail was because it was solid black while the surroundings were not solid black. Near Highway 36, a bicyclists with headlamps as bright as a locomotive went by, heading north. We met again near Interstate 35 later in the morning. He was now going south. I was going south both times.

The sun came up as I neared Interstate 35. St. Paul buildings glistened. I ran across the Capitol mall.

Summit Ave gave me renewed vigor. Running the opposite direction of the marathon always does. The bottle of Coke in a Big Gulp cup of ice also renewed me. So did my new Running Playlist, including incredible songs from Lifehouse, Theory of a Deadman, Green Day, Coldplay and Tyrone Wells.

Walk, run. Repeat. All the way down Grand Ave.

Below a 12 min/mile pace until hour 5; then slipped to 12:14. But I just had to stop for that Coke. Spent hour 6 reclaiming the 12 min/mile pace.

Up West River Road, along with every single possible runner in Minneapolis. I was the least fashionable.

West on Franklin. A great avenue, just not a great running avenue. Saw some 8:20 min/mile pace during the last half hour.

Eli handed me a bag of clean clothes at 32.29 miles, 6 1/2 hours after leaving home.
I changed and lingered in the coffee and doughnut area of the church as long as church etiquette allowed. Thank goodness for the Fees, who helped me stretch that a long time.

Then, entered sanctuary and "caught" last 15 minutes of sermon. I actually comprehended most of what I heard. Also able to stand for last song. And go down stairs afterward to get little one from nursery.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lessons I Need To Learn

I have learned many things in the past five years as I've transitioned, no, jumped in without looking back, to ultra running (I'm not running Twin Cities Marathon this year - no more road races for me?). Most of what I've learned has meshed well with the attitude of grace that we've experienced since attending Bethlehem Baptist Church, almost 5 years ago as well.

However, I have learned and changed more from my wife's mostly gentle proddings than anything or anyone in this world. That's how it should be. There is much about me that needs to change. Most of those things directly impact my wife, and not for the good.

Here's an example. I generally get home pretty early in the day by the standard of most. I do so because the hours between 4 and 6 are awful for Marty. So in this area, I'm doing well.

However, tonight I ran into the office to get a phone number and promised I'd be back in time to help put the toddlers to bed. I wasn't. I forgot. Yes, it was a good, important phone call. And I had lots of other excuses, like I needed to straighten the notes on my desk, and check for messages, blah, blah , blah. I could even say that I was away for the sake of earning a living for our family. But in the end, I said I'd be back to help put the toddlers to bed and I wasn't.

I'm not characterized by unkept promises. But I learned tonight that even one is one too many.

Tomorrow, I'm putting everyone to bed, by myself. Have a great night, Marth.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

One Reason I "Ultra" Run: Fashion

Tonight, I got a run in. 3 miles. That's the longest run I've run in about a month.
It was a glorious run at the end of an incredible day.

But do you want to know what I really liked about tonight's run; and so many of my runs?
I did not have to "dress up" for it. I attribute this to the "ultra mindset."

Well, certainly, because it was dark out, there was no need to look runnery (or runnerish?). Spell check is going crazy on both of those words! Running in the dark is sort of due to ultra running.

But I would have worn a ragged t-shirt, non-matching shoes and socks, and ratty shorts even if it were light out. In fact, I would have intentionally worn grey, wool sock (or black ones) if it were light out.

Running long distances has changed the way I think about what I wear. Instead of, "Does this make me look more muscular, more thin, more tan, more fast, more runnery?" my questions are more like, "Does this smell REALLY bad after 5 hours or just sort of bad?" (or using MST3K dialect, "Does this smell bad bad or just bad?"); "How easy is it to get these short off when nature calls?" "What rubs best against my skin for hours on end?" or "Would this shirt make a predatory animal in the night think I look more like dinner or more like the alpha male?"

If this makes no sense, and you want to see a good contrast between the running attire of an ultra runner and that of, say, a more typical runner, let me suggest this exercise:
buy a Runner's World magazine and an Ultrarunning magazine.

Start by comparing the brightly color-coordinated, airbrushed, photoshopped-into-some-resort-styled-background-running scene, floating-off-the-ground, sparkling model on the cover of Runner's World with the sweaty, dirty, earth-toned clad, laden-with-at-least-a-water-bottle-but-most-likely-a-pack, feet on the ground runner on the cover of Ultrarunning. Then start turning the pages and hang on!!

Do you want to know what my favorite piece of running clothes for this winter is? You'll never see it in Runner's World. A pair of dark wool dress pants that I bought from Goodwill for $3. They look like something straight out of a Dicken's novel. The wool is the tightest and thickest wool I've ever seen. I'll get them hemmed for around $30. If I were to buy wool running pants from Smartwool or Ibex, they would not be as thick and they would cost me over $100. It will need to be at least -20 for me to wear these wool pants cause they'll be so warm.

So, with no shame, because of ultra running, I may not ever appear on the cover of Runner's World. However, you'll recognize me out on the frozen St. Croix River as the sharply dressed English chap.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Great Photo

This exact bottle has been a part of my life for nearly 4 years.

Actually, lots of these exact bottles have been a part of my life for nearly 4 years.

In fact, there is one drawer in our kitchen that looks a lot like this picture.

About 4 years ago, I stumbled upon Nuun tablets as a solution to my grave electrolyte needs. They were a life saver for my running. Unlike Gatorade, they have no sugar, so no more sticky hands. Unlike Gatorade, they are much more concentrated and I can use more than one tablet to a water bottle. Like Gatorade, Nuun is an electrolyte supplement. And a tasty one.

I don't use Nuun so much any more - not since I found Hammer Electrolyte tablets. Tablets allow me to drink straight water and regulate my intake of salt, potassium and magnesium easier, I can lightning-speed get electrolyte into the blood stream by dissolving a salt tablet right in the mouth, and finally, salt tablets don't fizzle like Nuun and cause the water bottle to overflow as it gets bounced around.

Nonetheless, along the way, I bought a Nuun bottle to hold my dissolved Nuun tablets. Then I bought two more bottles. And, like many thing in my life that I've found that I really like, I got more and more Nuun bottles. Maybe I have an insatiable appetite for good things.

So, while I don't take Nuun tablets very often anymore, I have about as many Nuun bottles as in this picture. One last thought, I have a friend who runs almost everyday. I'll see if she could use my extra Nuun tablets.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Goo Goo Dolls

It's possible that 97.1 is giving away tickets to the Goo Goo Dolls concert, even though the concert is far away.
Madison, WI?
How about Toledo, OH? or Fort Wayne, IN?

Well, I don't think I'll be going to a Goo Goo Dolls concert any time soon - unless there is a unpublished concert in the Cities. I'll keep hoping.

Phantom Concerts

OK. Every day, I hear about the upcoming Goo Goo Dolls concert on the radio. I can't find any information about it.

Tonight, I check the 97.1 web site. Nothing. However, Needtobreathe is playing at First Avenue in November. First Avenue! Do they realize that Needtobreathe is a solidly Christian band. You don't have songs entitled "Signature of the Divine" or "Washed by the Water" and get mistaken as simply pop rock.

I've attended one concert at First Avenue: the Violent Fems. Much different than I suspect the Needtobreathe concert will be like.

And then, I find the U2 concert date for 2011: July 23.
We have 8 tickets for it. Actually, we have 8 tickets for their June 2010 concert that was cancelled. But we've been assured that our tickets will be honored next year. I have the letter.

But no Goo Goo Dolls! They give away tickets to this elusive concert every single morning!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer is Leaving; Winter is Coming

I love living by a river. It's 4 minutes by car and about 30 minutes by run to get to the river. When we lived in Iowa, we would visit the Twin Cities as oft as we could in order to attend Bethlehem Church and Stillwater. We'd sit along the river and wish desperately to be back here. Now, we sit and are so thankful that we are back here.

The St. Croix River is an incredible river. In places it flows slowly and says to the world, "I'll move as slowly as I wish." In other places and at other times, it says to the world, "I will go and flow and rise wherever I wish."

In Stillwater, she is wide and entertaining. Near Lakeland, she is very wide and basically a lake. Near Marine, her islands make her appear like a swamp. Near Taylors Falls, she is fast and exciting. In the spring, she covers the trails at Wild River and invades Afton State Park.
This winter, I began running on her ice. I was drawn to run on the river-regardless of the temperature. Actually, the colder, the better.

As warmer temperatures came, I found myself growing sad. I would drive north on 95 after work and watch the ice from the Boom Site. In fact, during one series of about 5 days, I watched the progression of a major ice flow as it moved from the Boom Site down into Stillwater and under the lift bridge.

While I desired the warm days of shirtless running, I hated to see my icy path depart.

Yesterday, as I sat downtown and watched the entertainment from a perch in Stillwater, I realized why I love running on the river so much:
Wide open vistas where the view is unhindered except for the bend in the river.
The ability to run anywhere I wish across the width of the river; and then across an island, or on the shore, or right in the very middle of the ice.

This summer has passed quickly. More quickly than any I can remember. It passes with sadness. I think summer passed quickly because of the adoption of Sadie and Lizzie. Or maybe because of work. Maybe it has passed quickly because I never really wrote a summer to-do list like I have done for the past 20 years.

However, I am kind of glad summer is passing. Yesterday, I actually wondered if there were any way to run on an unfrozen river. I pictured myself getting about 2 strides in before sinking.

Honestly, I can't wait for it to get below zero out, for a week straight, so I can start testing the ice up near Arcola Mills. I can't wait to be out on the ice, the wind biting my nose, and all alone, listening for dangerous sounds, running from demons, looking for paradise in snow-covered forms. My goal for this winter: put in at Taylors Falls and run to Stillwater on the river. If you want to join me, we'll pack a picnic lunch, insulate our water, and carry lots of salt tablets, and bring cameras.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Duluth and the iphone

We are in Duluth. I'm in the hotel room listening to Sadie cry/scream from her crib in the bathroom. Marty and the kids ate down at the pool.
I can now post pictures to my blog from the iPhone. I can also now upload multiple pictures from the iPhone to Facebook. This is good because there is no free Internet here at the Sheraton.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Yes, I Can Get Really Crabby for Really Silly Reasons

Today, I was reminded of two things that make me crabby. Real crabby. Now, Marty would argue that a few more things than two make me crabby; and she's most likely correct. I tend to think far too highly of myself.

So, the first thing that will make me crabby is golfing. I went golfing today. I went golfing to join the BNI group I'm in on its monthly social activity. I really like the people in my BNI group. They are really great people. So, last week, I decided that, inspite of my hatred for golfing, I would really like to spend time with my friends from BNI, and could tolerate 2 hours of golfing.

I did have a great time with my friends at BNI. I played with Sandra, Heather and Matt and got to learn a little more about each of them.
But oh, at what cost. Two hours, nine holes.

Why do I dislike golf so much? It's slow, it's long, it's hot. I hit a ball - it rarely goes where I wish and the amount of time and effort it would take (not to mention money) to get that ball to go where I want it to, is limitless. I do not have limitless time, effort or money. So, I hit a ball. I walk to where that ball is, rather than where it should be, and I hit it again to another place where it shouldn't be. After about 3 of these hits, I'm about as frustrated as when I watch Levi attempt to pour out milk from a full, plastic, gallon milk container into a Dixie cup. It's a slow-motion wreck in the making.

The problem is that improvement in golf is so subjective. "Stand with legs apart." "No, legs together." "Elbows bent." "Elbows straighter." "Twist at the hip." "Keep hips straight."
And which ever technique I use to actually end up hitting the ball, sometimes it's a dead-on hit and sometimes it slices right into the trees. Crabby source #1. On to #2.

The second thing that makes me crabby is walking around the block. Marty loves this. I do not.
Now, I have schemed on numerous occasions of attempting to run around our 1.2 mile block for 12 or 24 hours, just to see how far I could go on a closed loop. But ask me to walk around the block and I get hives. Occasionally, I accept the hives and go walking, usually to placate Marth.

Tonight was such a night.
Toddlers in strollers, Sadie in a stroller and off we went. We had a good time. The boys love pushing the toddlers by catapulting them in such a way that they go rolling down the road ahead of us and then roll down into the ditch. We all watch with anticipation to see if the stroller will tip over. The toddler in the stroller does as well - but for different reasons!

I really don't know why I dislike walking around the block. It's not that I dislike walking. In the 50 miles that I've run at Leadville, I walked at least 15 of those miles. Of the 92.75 at FANS, I must have walked 40 of those miles. It doesn't really matter as long as I suffer every once in a while in order to give Marty some company.

Tonight's walk was blessed by a treat when we got home: a young buck in the front yard. We were able to feed it from our hands, pet it and rub its antlers.
Not much to be crabby about anymore.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Running Long? Really?

I have a friend who runs, like everyday. Not far, but almost everyday.
That blows my mind. I can't do that. Over the course of a year, they will run way further than I will run over the course of a year. Seriously.

Add it up:

Daily Runner Friend
4 days a week, say 2-3 miles.
4 X 52 weeks = 208 days of running
208 days X 2.5 miles (we'll split the difference) = 520 miles

pre FANS runs
(some frozen river runs in Jan, a couple night runs between Feb and June) = 45 miles
Ryan's Valentine's Day run = 55 miles
Shawn's underground = 23 miles
Fans = 92.75 miles
Afton = 31 miles
maybe Superior = 50 miles
Pete's Underground = 50 miles
maybe some runs in the fall = 45 miles
TOTAL = 391.75 miles

Look who actually runs more!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Running While Vacationing

This weekend, Marty and I stole away to Chicago. Our 2oth anniversary was earlier this month. Marty's parents have Emma and Eli for this week. Grace was traveling to AR to spend time with the Vadens who had been at our church this past year. So, last week, I decided we'd try to farm out the other 4 and get away. The Sarnas from church were so kind as to take the bottom four.

So, we headed to Chicago on Friday.

I do not run every day. In fact, I typically run one time a week. Right now, I'm running even less than that. In fact, my training this year has been the races I've run: FANS and Afton. The point here is that I do not run every day.
However, when we go on vacations, for numerous reasons that I will try to flesh out, I do run every day.

I think this started many years ago when Marty's parents invited us to CO to ski. As I would look at mountains with distinguishable trails on their sides, I couldn't help myself but want to see how far I could run up them. Since our days were packed full (mainly with watching our younger children while the older ones learned how to ski), it became important to get my run in early in the morning so I'd be around during the day. As a result, there are many years of early morning, cold, snowy, mountain runs; many explorations up the mountain on the other side of I-70 from Vail.
This little morning ritual has carried over to almost every vacation we've taken. This weekend, on Saturday morning, I took a stroll through Downer's Grove before anyone was up. On Sunday morning, Marty joined me. We started at our bed and breakfast just off Montrose and Clark in the far north of Chicago. We ran east to the Lake, then north a mile and re-traced our steps.

This morning, I was wide awake at 5, but decided to not get up until 6. Ran to Wrigley Field, then the the Lake and back to the B & B.

So, here's why I run regularly while on vacation (in no particular order):

• It helps to get out early, do something unusual or challenging before the day sets in.
• It allows me to see a new place or area. Yes, being on vacation in itself is a chance to see a new place. However, running in a new place allows me to see things that I would never see later in the day, with all the demands of the day.
• In the morning, there are few people out, the city is waking up, and I get to see what a neighborhood (or mountain) looks like while calm.
• I'm also able to see more by running than by walking.
• I can run pretty much wherever I wish. I'm not constrained by car, road, the children, or any one else.
• I have time to think about the day behind, the day ahead, sort through weighty matters.
• Running in the morning actually gives me more energy for the day.
• I can eat more. We usually eat more, and richer, foods while on vacation.
• We usually swim while on vacation. Running helps keep me in shape.
• Having smelly, wet running clothes hanging around makes me feel a little more at home.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Today was a day of traveling. I drove Emma and Eli to the airport. Marty drove the 4 youngest to the doctors to see if the Ethiopians have TB. The nurse said they did. Marty asked for a doctor to check. They don't have TB.
I didn't have any coffee until after dropping my charges off at the airport. And then, a glorious rendezvous with espresso, actually several shots of espresso, with a splash of hot water.
Then both Marty and converged on the Sarnas. The Sarnas have Levi, Zeke, Lizzie and Sadie for the weekend. This is such a blessing. I am praying that our children are a blessing to them.
Then, Marty and I headed east to Chicago. That put our family in 4 states today: grace in AR, Emma and Eli in NV, the little ones in MN, and the parents in IL.
Marty and I stopped about 20 times between Minnetonka and Chicago, primarily because my bladder is the size of a Barbie doll purse, and I'm not too keen on filling empty water bottles just so I can brag about how few stops we made.
We stopped in Madison for supper. Marty suggested something other than highway food. So, we went in search of the area by the campus where we've gone with the kids on previous trips. It turned out to be Maxwell Street Days, something similar to Grand Ol Days in St Paul, with lots of food, shops selling in the streets, music and excitement but with a lot fewer drunk people than one finds on Grand Ave. We had a delightful pesto pizza while sitting outside.
Returning to the car, we stopped in a local coffee shop where we heard a really interesting, and earnest, college aged, nicely groomed young man singing. It was very nice so we bought a cd. Kevin Paris. "Mangos for Breakfast". Acoustic reggae.
Then 2 more hours into Chicago. Debby Laslo was waiting up for us with delightful greetings, conversation and snack.
Much to be thankful for today and much to be in prayer for today.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Trying to post a photo

This is my attempt to post a photo to the blog from the iPhone

iPhone blogging

Ok. I might get real excited if this works.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Talking with My Daughter

Tonight, as I returned home from a UMTR board meeting, I drove through Stillwater. Since Marty wasn't answering her cell phone, I called and talked with Emma. Everyone was still downtown for Summer Tuesdays.
So, I parked at the office and walked to where they were sitting next to the river.
And I sat and talked with Emma. There were lots of people around I could have talked with. But most enjoyable of them all was my own daughter.
We joked about the band, talked about the book that we are reading (or should I say, not reading) together, committed ourselves to reading again and meeting to discuss it, and talked about a certain YOUNG boy that also happened to be downtown with his parents. Unlike his peers, he sat with his parents.
I really had no desire to talk with any one other than Emma. That is a blessing.

Friday, July 9, 2010


After a small battle/skirmish, we've decided to stay at home for our kidless time.
The North Shore was just as expensive as going to Chicago. This way we can have fun in the Twin Cities.
So, for the first time ever, we booked a hotel for Friday night in downtown using hotwire. This means we had no idea of what hotel we'd get before we bought it. Like gambling. We don't gamble often. Ever.
We got the Hyatt Regency, on Nicollet Mall. I used to walk by this every night on my way to classes at the University of MN.
Now to fill in the weekend:
art museum
boat rental on St. Croix River
restaurant in Mnpls
Nicollet Ave Friday afternoon.
a movie
painting the house

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chicago or North Shore or Home

The Laslos in Chicago

Chicago. Last year when I took the four oldest to the U2 concert.

The North Shore, Lutsen Lodge beach.


About every three years, the stars align and we find ourselves with a number of the children someplace other than in the house. This is usually in large part to grandparents. At these times, Marty and I scramble to jettison the other children and get away together. Past successes have resulted in trips to New York twice and Boston once.

Well, the stars have aligned again: Grace is going to AR, Emma and Eli to grandparents, and friends from church are graciously willing to take the other four. So, to celebrate our 20th anniversary, Marty and I are going to... we don't know.

Cabins up North are expensive right now. But it's so restful and serene.
Great family friends in Chicago have said we can stay with them. In fact, spending time with them is much more precious than anything on the Magnificent Mile. However, that's a seven hour drive.

Tonight, we wondered if we shouldn't just stay home. We have large trees in our back yard, the trail through the forest is restful and serene, and with enough agitation, the pool can sound like Lake Superior waves. And to get the big city feel, we could drive into Minneapolis for a night on the town.

Regardless of what we decide, one thing is absolutely clear to me: we are old. A young couple would bolt. Staying home sounds so good.

My Ultra Video Debut

Matt Patten took video of the Afton race. I make a short appearance at 47 seconds.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Blogging and Life

Someone recently commented that I hadn't posted in a while.
I was stunned to realize that I hadn't realized that I hadn't posted in a while.

I guess I've been busy since last week; I haven't even posted about the Afton 50K from this weekend.

And so I thought, you know, I blog in a similar fashion to how I run. In fact, I run in a similar way in which I live.

And it's actually not really how I imagined myself to live, or have striven to live. I've always thought of myself as being more disciplined, more orderly, regimented.

But the truth is, that's just not how I am. And it's taken me 42 years to realize that.

I blog when I feel like it or am inspired, rather than every day.

I run when I feel like it, when I get too itchy to stand it any longer, and when it fits with the rest of the family schedule. I don't run every day. I used to. It wasn't as great as I thought it was.

I wish I were more regimented; especially in a few areas. But it's okay. Every run is a good run. Every day has turned out to be a good day...for 42 years.

Actually, some days have turned out to be incredible.

Friday, July 2, 2010


This is a bog THANK YOU to all of you who read this blog. This afternoon, I received a blogcounter update. Today, someone was the 11,200 hit on my blog. That's like the size of most of the towns in Iowa.

I'm not certain why some of you read this blog. Others I'm quite certain.

Most of what I write comes to me during the day, and then I forget about it and have to try to reassemble the idea/story later in the evening. I really try to be funny and light, and I try to write about things and in a manner that, if I were reading it, would not put me to sleep or absolutely bore me.

So, to all of you who read here, thank you. I really enjoy your comments. In fact, most of the time, the comments are much more enjoyable than my posts.

Sleepless Racing

I'm going into tomorrow's race very tired. This has not been a good week for sleeping. I'm typically a deep sleeper but have been waking like clock work almost every hour of the night this week.

One of the benefits of running/training at night is that by the time the run starts I'm already tired. All those runs have gotten me somewhat used to running while tired.

So, tomorrow will be a good day. I'll spend some time while racing thinking about why I couldn't sleep. There are no bad runs.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pre Race Eating

Since starting to run long, I've found that I typically gain weight during runs. In high school, I remember going out on a particularly hot day, running about 8 miles and losing about 8 lbs. Now, when I go out on a particularly hot day (or cold day) and run 8 (or 30 miles) I typically gain about 5 lbs. I don't gain that weight by eating lots of food after the run, I gain that weight while running!

I'm tempted to bring along an extra pair of shorts one size larger for the second half of the run.

I think all of this weight gain is because I eat so much during the run. I have to. After the first two hours, I am starving. I've learned that if I don't eat a considerable amount of calories around 2 hours, I bonk real bad at 2:30 - 3 hours. In fact, the most difficult part of most of my long runs is at the 2.5 hour mark.

To compensate, my typical breakfast before a long run includes several of those hideous pastry strudels that are so absolutely scrumptious, as well as an egg McMuffin, a bowl of cereal, MoJo bar, and a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. And I'm still starving at 2.5 hours.

Also to compensate, I have typically started to power-eat the week before a long race. For both Leadvilles, I must have gained 7 lbs in the week leading up to the race. I'm certain that the race officials had to check the rules to see if the Dough Boy was actually allowed to run. And then, I continued the eating, weight-gaining frenzy through the first 50 miles. And I guess it continued after I DNF'd... for several days. Well, actually through to the next Saturday.

One aspect of this pre-race eating changed as I prepared for FANS. Actually, it was the only preparation I did for FANS this year, as I didn't put in one single training mile. This year, I prepared by not power-eating the week before.

I'm not sure why. I knew that I could eat continuously during the race as by this time in my short, long-running career I've learned what to eat while running and how to eat so as to not get sick while eating and running. Yeah, I'm real proud of that.

So I went into FANS relatively not-fat. And it worked. I wasn't unusually hungry, my body didn't start consuming itself (there's still plenty of fat in this body to consume), and I actually felt a little more light and nimble on my feet.

So, this week, part of my race preparation - in fact my only race preparation (I just have not had time to run) - has been to eat less.

I think I will try to drink more, though. The forecast for Saturday is 90, the hottest day in the next seven days.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Tonight on FB, I noticed Helen Lavin's status was a link to her Bighorn 50M race report. Helen, I'll read it tomorrow, need to get to bed tonight.

However, I then realized that I did not have a link on my blog site to Helen's blog. I can't believe it. How insensitive of me.

Helen is one of my greatest ultra running heroes, primarily because she is so down to earth. I really started to get to know Helen this winter when she participated in my little underground, night, full-moon run on the frozen St. Croix River from Marine down to Stillwater. She was a great help as she and I ran out looking for another runner who had missed the halfway aid station. Then she ran with Marty to the high bridge. All the while, tending to the conversation, the path, the perils, the cold with great grace.

Lots of other nice things to say about Helen, but you'd be better served by just going over and reading her blog. Helen, you're a great person and runner.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Busting with Posts

I have three blog posts just busting to get out. I just wrote one. I was going to get out of my suit, but Zeke is asleep in our room, so I can't change. So, here I am with a little time to crank out another post. Wait, Eli wants to show me something now. Maybe it'll get written tonight. What's left:

Pre-race eating

Ultra-Running & A Prig's Heart Slowly Changing

We have recently become friends with a great family from church, Sean and Julie. It turns out that Sean's brother is the lead singer in the band Fee. This has caused a number of memories to come flooding back to me and reminded me of yet another beneficial aspect of running long that I'll now relate.

Prior to five years ago, I was a running prig and prick. (I won't make a link to any definitions of prick as most are R rated. The G- rating would be: a person regarded as highly unpleasant.) While prig is a more accurate description, my priggishness resulted in being a prick, including the R-rated aspects. I was a prig and a prick because I looked down on other runners who weren't as good or worthy as myself. I scorned people:
• if they ever walked during a run
• wore headphones and listened to music while running ("It isn't natural, they miss the sounds of birds, traffic, or anything other than their music for that matter")
• who stopped at aid stations to take a break
• who carried fanny packs
• whose running form was even just a little off
• whose heads bobbed too much
• who ran with tight fists, arms swinging too high
• who ran in the wrong shoes.

It wasn't just that I had priggish thoughts; I had a prig's heart. This meant that all my thoughts toward others were condescending when it came to running, and a few other areas of life, and no one was safe from my judgment. I was confident that everybody could learn from me.

As Leadville 100 approached in the fall of 2008, it became apparent that my good friend and running partner, Pete, was not going to be running. This left me to run the first 50 miles alone. Now being alone is one of the bittersweet aspects of running long. I love and I hate being alone. But the thought of running those first 50 miles alone and trying to make the cut-offs was too much for me. So, I decided that I would break one of my cardinal rules, buy a cheap mp3 player, and listen to music while running.

And here is where the band Fee comes in. I created a playlist called worship. It contained a lot of songs. I burned the same songs for Marty and it took up 3 cds. I burned them for Marty so she could in some way be a part of that week with me (she stayed home). She later told me it really helped her. The first two songs were songs by Fee; "All Because of Jesus," and "Beautiful the Blood." There were other songs by Fee on that Playlist. In fact, I can even picture certain places on the Leadville course where certain of those songs played.

I hope that I'm not as priggish and prickish as I used to be. I think that bands like Laura Story, U2, Cold Play, Taylor Swift, Switchfoot, Goo Goo Dolls, Leeland (oh, Leeland!), David Crowder, Starfield, Tomlin, Andy Park and Fee have all played a significant roll in that transformation.

So, Sean, tell your brother that his music has traversed Hope Pass (hopefully one of these years it will traverse both directions), has been played on many a full-moon night, has been sung too on many a leaf-strewn trail, and has played a significant roll in making me a better, more gracious runner and person. Tell him thanks from me, so if he ever wonders if it's worth it, he'll know of at least one person his efforts have impacted.

A Cost

The past few days, I have actually been reminded of one of the costs of ultra running. It's not that big of a deal. Shoot, several years ago, one of the runners of Arrowhead 135 lost several fingers.

And this running long is certainly not like mountain climbing, white water rafting or sword juggling where one's life is part of the gamble of participating.

However, several years back, Pete and I would meet once a week for our long run. At that time, we were meeting in Taylors Falls and either running right there in the WI park or driving up to Wild River.

It was a badge of honor to be out in the cold. The colder the better. During most runs, despite heroic efforts, my water tube would freeze and Pete's bottles would turn to slushies. During this time, I learned the value of wool.

One particularly cold morning, I could not keep my face warm, particularly my nose. A week later, I noticed that there was a tiny spot on my nose where the skin was dry and flaky.

Guess what? To this day, and strangely more often when it is warm, that frost-bitten spot on my nose burns and flakes. SO, there is a cost of running long.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

One Final Post

Tonight, my blog counter sent me an email.
I've now had 11,000 visits.
I greatly appreciate all those who read my blog.

I had intended to blog to publicly determine why I love to run long. After almost five years, I still don't think I am able to say definitively why.

The why is always there. I am always evaluating how running long affects the family, work, health, my attitude, my hope, my relationship with Christ. I'm always trying to determine the costs.

In the end, I continue to find that the benefits are still outweighing the costs.

Some of these posts have been running or race reports, with awful, boring details about pace, heart rate, food intake, and all those things we think are so important while running. But most of the posts have been about me fighting demons, joking about the mundane, talking about my wife and or kids, posting photos, and dreaming about the next long run.

Oh to continue to do what I memorized and used as my mantra for many a road race before running trails, "...and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame..."

Messages in BIG LETTERS

My last post reminded me of another suit incident.

About two months ago, I found a great designer suit at Goodwill. Yes, Goodwill.
Inspite of hanging the suit outside, in the garage and several other highly volatile areas, the suit still smelled.

Now, the label states in large letters, DRY CLEAN ONLY. Nevertheless, I threw it in the washing machine.

I would never throw a suit in the dryer. No way. That's stupid. But the washer? It's just water, right?

Was I ever wrong. The suit came out small. Really small. It wouldn't fit on many dogs.

So, I've learned my lesson. When a message is in LARGE PRINT, it's serious.

Fitted Shirt

It's come to this. And it's just the beginning.

Several weeks ago, while sliding the iPhone into my dress slacks, I ripped a corner of the pocket. I really only have two functional suits at the present time, and since I had a custody hearing the next day, this meant that I would not be wearing the blue suit. While the rip was small, visions of bigger splits went through my mind, and I figured why take a chance.

This past week, I went looking for a new suit. Now, I'm going to get the rip fixed, but it really is time to get a new suit as I spend most of my days wearing suits.

So, I found a nice, relatively inexpensive suit and while it was getting fitted, two major developments took place. First, the tailor suggested that I try a 39 regular rather then my normal 40. Since there were no 39s, she suggested that I just try a 38. I did. It fit great.

Now, I must define great. I like wearing loose fitting clothes - I want to be able to move my arms and not have the shirt pull too tightly. Suits are notorious for being tight. Consequently, I have always purchased suits based on how much looseness I can get.
The 38R is not loose. In fact, it's tight across the back of the arms. But it looks great. I've always been told that a suit should fit a little tight, but I have rebelled against that until now.

So, the second development... as I'm getting fitted, I point out that my dress shirts are always bulgy at the waist. The tailor told me exactly what I expected and did not want to hear, "You should wear fitted shirts."

I tried a fitted shirt many years ago. I could barely breathe. I have not worn one since.

After getting fitted for the suit, I bought a fitted shirt. I was going to wear it to church this morning for a trial run, but it was much too formal. However, it felt great. Yes, it was tighter than I like, but here's the point of this blog.

I'm getting older. It's time to wear fitted shirts, to wear a suit to the office a little more, to feel a little restriction.

However, if you see me on the trail wearing spandex, shoot me and claim you thought I was a deer. It will be a mercy killing.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

One of the things I love about having so many children is the number of relational dynamics that exist. In fact, most of these exist without my even knowing about them.

Read Emma's blog about one sweet relationship inside our family.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Kitchen Chair

The Twins are sitting on the chair next to my side of the bed. Oh, yes, the chair. There's a chair there instead of a bookshelf because the bookshelf is temporarily downstairs. The bookshelf is typically bulging with an assortment of books, each with a bookmark sticking out of the pages, rarely closer to the end than the beginning. The bookshelf got relegated to the basement when Lizzie and Sadie came.

We thought it best that the two girls begin their new life in America in our bedroom. Our bedroom size has its limits, so out went my bookshelf and out went the drying rack upon which all my running things get piled. But I still needed something upon which to place a few, at first two and I now count six plus a few running magazines, books. So, a kitchen chair seemed like a good idea.

This chair is actually quite famous. We purchased it from an antique store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It served as a kitchen chair for our family and the dorm girls living in our home for nearly five years before we brought it with us to Minnesota. Here, it was used as a computer desk chair, a home school chair, a chair for when guests would come over, and occasionally a chair at the kitchen table. Somewhere along the way, in 2006, it became the chair upon which I set my running clothes and packs to dry. It's not a big chair, so it was often overflowing with gators, a Camelbak pack, wool socks, wool shirts, shorts, speedos, a drying water bladder, baggies filled with salt tablets and cubes. If I used it while running, it ended up on the chair.

So why is the chair famous? In 2007, after perusing some of my magazines and living through my early morning jaunts with Pete, Marty wrote a funny little article about my stepping into ultrarunning. It was so funny that people encouraged her to send it to some papers. One of our now good friends, who at the time was a reporter, showed up and wrote an article about the family and the running. Marty then sent her funny little article in to Ultrarunning Magazine. Tia Bodington liked it and "it used to be a kitchen chair" appeared on page 9 of the November 2007 edition.

That same kitchen chair, with many a recent wine stain, now serves as my temporary, make-shift night stand. As such, the Twins are on it, waiting to be read. The Twins are "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall and "Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner" by Dean Karnazes.

Dean's book got me into ultrarunning by helping me understand that 1) walking is just fine while running, 2) the body can do much more than we think it can and 3) running longer can make life greater and actually be better for the family than the marathon distance. I reread this book every spring.

Christopher's book has challenged me to consider barefoot running and to not see running as a separate compartment of my life. Plus, this book is so well written and so immensely informative and provocative as he delves into the life of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico that at times I wondered if the book was really about running.

So there they sit, the Twins. It's time that I reread them both.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Incredible Blue Grass Concert

sTonight, as part of the Lake Country Fiddle Pal Camp week, there was a concert in Marine on St. Croix. It featured all of the instructors from the camp and then the members of Ten Penny Nail.

Now, I've taken the kids to some incredible concerts: for rock, U2 in Soldier's Field and for bluegrass, Chris Thile, formerly of Nickel Creek and now with Punch Brothers. Nickel Creek is sweet bluegrass music, dominated by the almost supernatural talent of Chris Thile. And Punch Brothers are completely and to a band member, almost faultless in their uncanny abilities.

But this concert tonight was even better. Punch Brothers' music and themes are so dark. And each member can sound similar, except for Chris. But tonight... it was happy, dancing, clapping, hooting, and sheer pleasantries. Each musician brought their own style and emphasis. So, here are some videos:

First, one of the favorites of the evening:
Ten Penny Nail, performing "After the Rain"

April Verch

April Verch singing about a flower. Don;t know name of song.

David Keenan

Rona Wilkie, singing a Gaelic song about a girl drowning. Yeah. But it was great.

One last clip:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I rented Invictus this evening. Most likely it will take about 4 nights to get through it.
However, I started it, watched about 10 minutes of it, and already my heart is in my throat. I have a strong feeling that I will be tearing much throughout this movie.

I'm reading "The Power of One" right now. It is about South Africa around the time of WWII. It is very descriptive in its portrayal of apartheid in the tiniest matters of life.

I didn't think Marty wanted to watch, but I will happily be starting it over later this evening to begin it with her.

It's Officially "no"

At the beginning of the year, I had said that since we were pursuing adoption, this would not be the year to fill a racing calendar. I haven't. There are aspects of my well-being that feel this deeply.
But it's been a good decision. It's a good year to scale back.

Nevertheless, this week I've been thinking about Leadville. See, over the past 3-4 months, I've nailed down my mistakes and determined how to re-pass Hope Pass.

Last night I brought up the subject.

I have a great wife. We sat by the pool after she had had an exhausting day directing a great first-day of fiddle camp. In her lap was Sadie drinking her bottle. In the pool were four screaming and wrestling boys - two not our own. Two toddlers frittered about on the deck, always on the verge of falling into the sea-of-drowning-death, and two older girls coming in and out of the conversation with various IMPORTANT questions.

In spite of all that confusion and kid-fusion, and with the prospect of me spending a week in the mountains by myself, she didn't freak out. She simply reminded me that this would probably not be the best year because it costs so much money to make that race happen.

She is right. And her response was what I needed to be smart.
That has been happening in many areas of my life right now. I am very appreciative.

Marty did suggest that I could look for a closer 100 miler.

So, I'm considering the race that I vowed I would never attempt. Yes, you guessed: Sawtooth 100. From what I have heard, and compared to my experiences at Leadville, Sawtooth is more difficult.

So, Steve G, Bill and others, I need to start getting your advice?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Emma: The First Born

Thus begins a series of blogs about the kids.

Emma is 16. She is about to get her license but we need to practice the parallel parking, and entrance onto the highways a little more. And she just needs to drive more. She and I have spent many hours driving; though she would say that we have not spent enough. She is correct. We have been using Drivers Ed in Box which is very good; but I got sick of it. Emma dutifully figured all its nuances out, then took me through it, then patiently fretted when I got tired of its repetitive exercises.

Emma and Sadie

Emma, me and Levi splitting wood at the cabin on the North Shore

Emma and Zeke

A gift not so well received!

Zeke, Grace, Eli, Lizzie, Emma and Zeke (Sadie not pictured)

Emma and Lizzie

Sadie, Jeanna and Emma
one of Emma's best friends
read Emma's blog about her

Emma will be in 11th grade next year. I used to tease her often that I wanted her to enter college when she turned 16. Emma lines up all her school work and dutifully does it in order and far ahead of time. I finished my high school senior paper at 6am the morning it was due. I started the paper at 10pm the night before. I completed my college junior thesis during my senior year, and my senior thesis in the sixth year. Emma has most of her papers done weeks before they are due.

And she's bright. Since Christmas, we have been trying to meet once a week to discuss our readings in a book. Our goals is to make it through 4 theological books by the end of this summer. If we don't, it will be because dad can;t keep up. Our first book was Duties of Parents, by J.C. Ryle. This delightful 19th C primer on parenting is quick but chock full of good stuff which Marty and I strive to implement. I want Emma to have a strong vision for what parenting is about. The book that we are working through right now is The Sovereignty of God, By A.W. Pink. It is more substantial, but lucidly written. Emma has been wrestling with an Armenian and this book has been a great read. Often, Armenians have simple analogies that leave the Calvinist stumped, because analogies and little stories are not the way to develop a theology. It has left Emma quite frustrated. I've forgotten what our next book will be, but it doesn't matter. I'm far behind Emma in Pink's book, and we're about 3 weeks behind in meeting - all my fault.

Emma is also great at math. Some concepts don;t come easy, but Emma is a hard worker and she sticks with a problem until she understands it. We've spent several nights trying to navigate our way through an Alg II or geometry problem.

Enough for tonight. I'll continue with Emma again and talk about her ability to engage with all of her siblings, an incredible skill that will help her throughout all situations in life.

A good running thought.

I have learned many lessons from running "long" these past 4 years. One of these lessons finally got described last night. It's a thought that Pete and others have taught me, but naming it has eluded me until now:

Any run that is good is a great run. Run in such a way that all your runs are good.

It came out as ..."and all runs should be good" but I've never liked the word "should" since attending Cono Presbyterian, and "are" still infers that I should run in a manner so that the run is good.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Running this Year

My plan for this year has been to take each day, each week, each month as it comes. Consequently, I did not, in typical January fashion, fill in my 2010 race calender, sign up for all my races and then start fretting about how little running I was actually doing.

Instead, with the possibility that we would be adding kiddos to the family, I decided to wait. So, I decided to run and got into FANS 24 Hours about two weeks before the event. Zero training. And currently, the only race for which I'm signed up is Afton. I missed the Twin Cities deadline - my annual road marathon (just to get the tech t-shirt).

The point is, this is the year to play it by ear; to see what each month, each week allows.

But you know what went through my mind tonight as I dogged my way through 1 mile on the treadmill? "I should see if Leadville 100 in August still has openings?" Silly, isn't it?

Capitalist Sense of Personal Responsibilty

That was in my last post but it just isn't the right way to describe what I was getting at.

What I was describing doesn't have anything to do with capitalism or with a notion of creating wealth.

What I was attempting to say was that the way I deal with people heading down a wrong moral path is wrong. I think things like, "They need to change. I need to tell them they're wrong, and if they don't change, then leave them to their own devises." I think, "They need to take personal responsibility for their errors."

What I meant to say in the last post is that God's grace doesn't deal with us that way. God enters the path of error with me in order to draw me out of the path of error.

That's what I recently saw and experienced. That's what I'm not good at. That's what rescues people.

A Friend at All Times

I have a good friend who taught me much about marketing, recruiting, administrating, dealing with sin, relationships, smoking a cigar, and many other things.

A long time ago, he hired me to take his place. I "fired" him, and he willingly left, in order to save his marriage. His marriage was saved. I later hired him to replace me.

Two months ago, he gave advice that I detested. In general, the advice was to remain a friend to the one who is running toward danger, the one who is intentionally choosing, in spite of confrontation, to go down a wrong path.

I detested this advice because I didn't want to be a co-conspirator, a facilitator in the other's path.
• If I listen to this person's retelling of the story, reshaping history, am I not endorsing their behavior?
• If they are continuing down a wrong path, isn't it better that I cut off the relationship and let them know how mad I am at them?

I was wrong to detest my good friend's advice. The grace of God is much more complex than my limited sense of justice and capitalistic sense of personal responsibility.

I have just now amazingly seen how one friend, sitting with the other, entering the path with the other, drinking a beer with the other, staying with the other, and not leaving in disgust or judgment, can be used by God to save the other. A person wise and understanding enough to save another by not leaving.

My good friend, you are right. I am wrong. I will strive to go down that path with the other, because I am down that path myself far too often. I am rescued only by those who go down it with me in order to save me.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

FANS 24 Hour

Finally, a few words about the FANS race.
Again this year, as the day approached, I wondered if I really could run around Lake Nokomis over and over again. And again this year, I wondered if I would be able to do so in rain and puddles.
I prepared an iPod with songs and sermons, hoping that as a last resort, I could at least drop into a U2 induced coma. By noon, I had listened to Matt Chandler, R.C. Sproul and 2 Piper messages.
For the first couple of hours, I ran steadily at a 6 mile an hour pace. By noon, I had unwisely fallen into a bad habit of running too fast when I would run. Fortunately, Kevin Martin jumped in and with great care, helped me back off to a more steady running pace that enabled me to run longer between each walk. This set a great tone for the whole race.

Christian Jakob Burmeister Hicks. I met Christian during an underground 50 miler several years ago and he's impressed me ever since. He balances life, family, sports and all so well. I'm pretty confident that he did a lap with me because the conversation I remember having with him seemed long.

Steve VerBeek. As the sun set, Steve from church came with his wife and two boys. He intended to do one lap and ended up doing many. His wife drove to get me espresso. By this time, it had stopped raining.

Steve Grabowski and Bill Pomerenke and Brent. Steve told me he'd join at 10pm and run until 3am. He brought along Bill and then stayed until 7am. Bill let me borrow his lighter headlamp, and Steve was able to get in a full marathon. I hadn't known that Brent was going to join.

Dean Malley. Dean is my great friend. We met at church about 2 years ago. Dean and his wife have spent many a night at our house after spending a Saturday afternoon watching parenting videos. Last year, Dean did a few laps with me. This year, Dean arrived around 3am and said he might be able to stay until 4:30. At 5:20, after no one at home was answering the phone, he decided that everything must still be okay and continued with me until 7:30. It was a great reunion with him and his wife as they met me (what was left) in the church bookstore later that morning. Mara-Liisa, thanks for letting me have your husband. His sharp, and ever poignant discussions actually kept me awake. He is a sharp thinker even in the wee hours. At 4, before the sun came up, I was slurring my speech. At 7:30, as he and Helen Lavin made the last lap with me, I was literally swaying between the two.

Helen Lavin. Helen was at the beginning and the end. Helen weighed me in in the morning. She stayed around for awhile. Then, she drove to the Kettle race in WI to pace someone. Then all of the sudden, I saw her again later in the race. She had come back due to the severe weather over there. Helen ran the last lap with me and Dean.

Nobody really wants to read the details about the miles, etc. Suffice it to say that there were so many there who accomplished more than they could have imagined. Like the runner who walked with one leg in a cast using crutches, the entire 24 hours. I could never have done that.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Run with Zach

Zach is a recent friend and fellow Christian. We have some incredible connections from about 20 years ago. Zach is an impressive guy.

He told me last week, after I asked about his shoes (Salomons I believe, or maybe Adidas), that he would join me for a trail run. I assured him that it would be slow and enjoyable.

Zach and I ran the outer loop at O'Brien this morning. Zach ran like he'd been running trails for years. Zach is accustomed to running every step of a run, even if it results in problems. This morning, with a combination of running and walking, I think he had a great time. And great conversation to boot. And how can any run be bad when running in the woods and through morning fog?

A Year in Review

I'm preparing to get my blogging juices flowing once again. Here's the primer. A quick, down and dirty, non-comprehensive look at the past 6-8 months.

Truly one of my favorite places to run: on the frozen St. Croix River. As the river thawed this spring, I was saddened to see my running highway, by which I could run from downtown Stillwater to just north of our house, disappear. Next winter: a 20-25 mile run from Stillwater to Taylor's Falls!

The kids joined me on the river for an afternoon of river running and checking out the ice falls across from the Boom Site.

Runners in the first annual Full Moon River Run in January. In the entry way before taking off.

The day after Valentine's Day, Ryan Carter and I ran 55 miles through the Cities. For me, it was a great way to drive out the jitters before Marty traveled to Ethiopia.

One of our infamous Uno tournaments.

At the airport waiting for Marty and Lisa to board the place for Ethiopia. Still had five children at this time :)

And then there were.....SEVEN!

Friends from church greeting Marty and the girls at the airport on Feb 27

And thus began our families increased use of Kleenexes.

And clever ways to stay productive.

Finally, the Two Rivers Shuffle underground run hosted by Shawn Tracy (partially pictured) in May. 23 miles with Pete Grimes and Shawn running some of the most treacherous and single-tracked trails right in the heart of the Cities.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What We Won't be Seeing

photos from last summer when I took the kids to Chicago to see U2

We had tickets for the upcoming concert here in Minneapolis.
We hope to not lose them, because we've been told they will be good in 2011 when they try to tour again.