St Croix 40 Winter Ultra – RD quick recap

This weekend, my wife and I put on our first race. We didn’t just decide to put on something simple like a 5K or 50K foot race. No, we opted for one of the most complex things that we could come up with, a winter ultramarathon with foot, bike, and ski divisions. To make it even more complex we did the entire event overnight, meaning that just like the participants, we got almost no sleep for the entire event.

PC: Cole Peyton

Overall, the event went off amazingly. Almost every single participant came up to us and told us how much fun they had, despite the challenges. We managed not to lose anyone, and there were no serious injuries. The weather was amazing with temps in the mid-20s. Our only complaint was that it wasn’t clear skies overnight for a view of the stars. It cleared up for about an hour around sunrise, but other than that, it was overcast.

The trail conditions weren’t as ideal as we would have liked them to be, with freezing rain in the weeks leading up to the event. About 70% of the course was good, but then another 10% was really bad with glare ice that the participants had to navigate. Despite all of this, many people came in to the finish like saying that, based on our descriptions, they were expecting a lot worse, and actually found the conditions to be pretty darn good.

We have a whole list of Trello cards that we’ve started to keep track of around tweaks we want to make next year. Lots of little things that we know we can improve on to make everything work easier. However, one of the biggest compliments we got all weekend was from someone who said that they couldn’t believe this was a first year event. They felt that everything was going so smoothly that it must have been going on for a while. That’s a huge testament to the mentoring and examples that we’ve followed from the race directors we admire in our life. Without their help and support, this wouldn’t have gone as well as it did.

PC: Mike Wheeler

I have a lot more I could write, but I think it’s going to take a few days to process everything. There were a lot of emotions this weekend as we saw people try something hard and succeed. Seeing the joy on their faces was so fulfilling. Hearing their stories made us feel like proud parents who did something right when raising their kids. For now, I’ll just say that this was an experience that we’ll never forget, no matter how many years we do this.

There’s a lot more work to do in the coming days. Many of the boxes are still just packed in our garage. I decided to go in to work today, because I actually needed a break from race stuff. In the coming week we’ll finalize everything and complete our lists, and start the process of thinking about what’s next!

2018 Biking Year In Review

Although not quite as big as my running year, 2018 saw me biking a lot more than I ever have in the past. I’ve really come to love the idea of two wheeled transport, and wish that my job was close enough for me to actually do it as a commuting option. I did commute a couple times this year, but not nearly as much as I would like to. My wife and I also didn’t get out quite as much as I had hoped together, but I did get her a new bike seat, so hopefully that will help encourage some additional adventures next year.

IMG_2248.JPGAt the beginning of the year I picked up some studded tires for my hybrid bike, and gave a little bit of winter riding a try. I only got out a couple of times, but it was a lot of fun, and showed me that you can actually do this year round. Once the snow cleared I was able to start getting out a bit more regularly.

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PC: Michael Tangen

One of the most consistent times that I ride is on Wednesday nights with our Beer & Bikes crew. My friend Michael started this years ago and it’s been a great way to keep consistently riding each week. Our little group grew a bit this year and we’ve added a few new regulars. It’s been fun getting to know more people through the biking community, as it’s still a group that I’m not quite as connected to.

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PC: Abe McEtheron

I also managed some nice weekend rides, including a trip down to Saint Paul to cheer on the Twin Cities Marathon. I had a ton of fun on this ride and might make it a tradition. I also did my third annual Fall Fifty+Five ride. This is a 50 mile bike ride that include stops at 5 different breweries. This year we had a ton of people join us, and from the sounds of it almost everyone had a great time.

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PC: Michael Tangen

One of the other joys of biking this year is learning more and more about how to maintain and fix bikes. I spent a lot of time learning about how to tune up my ride and even make some slightly more in-depth repairs, such as shifters and disc brakes. I then got to practice my skills with the wonderful organization Free Bikes 4 Kidz. They take donated bikes and fix them up to give away to kids who don’t have bikes. It’s a great thing to be a part of, and I’m super happy that our Beer & Bikes group did this activity again this year.

DSC08967Finally, this fall I took the plunge and purchased a fat bike. I’ve only managed a handful of rides so far this winter, but simply knowing that I have the option is awesome. Plus, I feel like I’m much more likely to connect with the adventure/off-road biking community than the typical road bikers. Similar to how I’m more of a trail runner than road runner. Maybe it has to do with the beer and beards?

Screen Shot 2019-01-01 at 12.09.07 PMAt the end of it all I had a new high mileage year of 735 miles, which is not too shabby for someone who also ran 1602 miles throughout the year. I’m hoping to break 1000 next year with my ability to get on wheels in the winter time now. The biggest challenge I’m currently facing is trying to sell my old bike rack so that I can buy one that will fit my fat tire bike. Hopefully, I’ll have that squared away soon.

Cheers to all my fellow beer loving bikers, and can’t wait to do more rides in 2019!

 

2018 Running Year In Review

2018 was the biggest, and most different running year I’ve had yet. As I entered the year, I had to make some changes to my mental state if I was going to have more success than I did in 2017. After coming off some incredibly big years in 2015 and 2016, I ended up spending a lot of 2017 trying to push a reset button. When I started out in January of 2018 I was still battling some injuries, some illness, and some questioning of what I wanted my year to look like in running.

IMG_2344Early on I decided that I wasn’t going to sign up for any races in 2018 until I was sure I was ready for them. In fact 2018 ended up being one of my lowest number of race years ever. I wanted to get back to the joy of running, and continually banging my head against the wall of races I wasn’t ready for wasn’t a good idea. All of that needed to change.

IMG_2456I started the year out slow and steady and built up some good long runs as the weeks progressed. By February things were starting to really click again, and I was feeling great with having zero pressure about an upcoming race day. In March I managed a couple really solid 20+ mile runs, one of them with my good friend Mike. It was after that run with Mike that I decided I was ready for another shot at an ultra. I went home and signed up for the Chippewa 50K which was a little over a month away.

31880916_1004097819714989_4681658212569579520_nRace day came and I was tremendously nervous. Once I got on course I started to calm down, but at the start I still had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t ready. In the end though I managed to get it done, and despite not setting any PRs, I came away from the race with a lot of knowledge about myself, and how to continue to move myself through the dark places we fall in to on ultras.

33781994_1983613511649334_4959292251567030272_oI decided to join my wife at the Treasured Haven Farms 12 hour run, and once again knocked out a 50K+ distance race. If it hadn’t been for the horrendous heat and humidity that day I probably would have hit 40 miles, but I decided to just take what I could with the conditions. Once again, I felt like I learned a lot about how you should never decide that how you feel at one point in a race is how you will feel throughout the entirety. I had a wonderful comeback at the end of that race that showed me things can change incredibly quickly.

The rest of the year only had 4 other races, a couple of which were just little fun 5Ks. The real story of the year though is how strong I was able to be throughout. I managed to set multiple PRs on the Afton 25K loop, and found myself in a position to simply “choose my own adventure” for most of my long runs. Sometimes this would result in 2-a-days, simply because I felt good and wanted to get out again. Other times I found myself discovering new places, and having little adventures that were simple but meaningful.

Screen Shot 2019-01-01 at 9.31.32 AMPerhaps the biggest story of 2018 for me is that I finished up the year with a new all time total of 1602 miles on the year. This is a HUGE milestone for me, as my previous high mileage year was 1160 miles. One of the biggest reasons I was able to do this was because I chose to run with my wife Lisa on many days. This accomplished two things. It got me out more often, since she was on a training plan, and I wanted to spend time with her. It also meant that I was running a lot slower in my training runs, and that allowed me to really pound out a lot more miles, a lot stronger than I had been able to in the past.

IMG_20180708_084140I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in 2018. I have signed up for a couple races in 2019 already, but I’m approaching everything much more cautiously, and looking to try and just maintain and build slowly. I don’t know if 2019 will be as big or bigger than 2018, but I’m not really all that concerned. My attitude towards running has completely changed, and I’m finding joy in the process again. It’s a great place to be, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

2018 Year in Review

Like clockwork, it’s New Years Eve and time once again for me to work on my 2018 year in review. This year was a big year in many ways, but for the most part, much of it was good. I didn’t blog as much in 2018, and that was intentional. I had been doing a daily blog post for 3 years straight, and I simply needed a break. It was a great mental exercise, and sometimes I miss it, but I was happy to have less pressure to create content on a daily basis. My plan for 2019 is to move towards a more scheduled, and regular, approach to posts, but it won’t be daily again in 2019.

My lack of blogging, and a very busy weekend, meant that I still need to do my yearly running and biking review. Despite being 2019 tomorrow, I think I’ll post those in the coming days as a reflection of the past year. I’ve got some big news to share in my running one in particular.

2018 was a year of changes and self-discovery for me. As my kids have gotten older I’ve found myself questioning more and more what I want to do with the second half of my life. I’ve mused about this on multiple occasions on this blog, but still don’t have any solid answers. However, I’m feeling more secure that I’m on a journey that will soon find some enlightenment.

At the end of 2017 I wrote the following words:

My job is still a job. I struggle with being interested in corporate IT anymore, but it pays the bills, and I’m actually a really good manager, which gives me some satisfaction. There are days that I want to just get rid of it all and buy and RV and live on the road, but then other days I look at my paycheck and realize that giving that up is harder than you’d think.

Those words are even truer this year than last. I changed jobs in 2018, making a lateral position move to a place where I assumed there would be less stress and more opportunity. However, just the opposite has happened. My final months of 2018 have been some of the worst times I’ve ever had in my IT career, and I’m more and more determined to make some kind of change in the coming year.

This year I also had the milestone of celebrating my oldest son’s graduation from high school. Although he’s not quite on the college path that we had assumed he would be on, he’s making progress and is learning more and more what it means to be an adult. He’s a smart kid and I have no doubt that he’ll work it all out in time.

We managed some travel this year with our annual trip to Vegas in the winter, a bunch of trips for races, and a nice camping journey in the Porkies. I also took my oldest with me to Milwaukee where I got some new tattoo’s and we got to spend some father-son time together. Despite these trips, we didn’t get the camper out as much as we had hoped, and next year we need to spend more time relaxing in natural places.

One other exciting part of 2018 is that my wife and I started a small company to put on trail races, and our first race is coming up in January 2019. The St Croix 40 Winter Ultra is a winter-survivalist race, overnight in the cold. It’s meant to be a training ground for tougher races like the Tuscobia 80/160 or the Arrowhead 135. It’s also meant to be a place for Lisa and I to start developing our chops and hopefully expand to other events in the future.

I continued for another year as the President of the Board for the Upper Midwest Trail Runners Association, and plan on keeping that up for a bit longer. I love giving back to a wonderful community, and feel proud every thing this group has been able to accomplish in 2018. I’ve found that I love being a part of vibrant communities that bring joy to people.

A few other notable items from 2018 in no particular order

  • Got back to brewing some beer for the first time in a while
  • Visited dozens of taprooms and had lots of fun brewery trips
  • Got an awesome portrait lens for my camera which has been amazingly fun
  • Went to lots of MN United FC games and am really stoked about the new stadium next season
  • Read more books than I have in a long time

Finally, I did end up finishing the year with a tougher bout of anxiety than I’ve had in a long time. It came with all kinds of strange new symptoms, but from all my medical tests (and I’ve had a lot of them), I’m mostly healthy. I’m hoping that like in the past things will slowly calm back down and I’ll be able to return to a more normal feeling body. I know a lot of my issues relate to my sense of identity and purpose in my life, so perhaps as my job/career situation gets more settled things will get easier.

Here’s to wishing all of you a happy new year, and a happy 2019. Thank you for everyone that’s shared this journey of 2018 with me, and I look forward to more adventures to come.

 

Quick Review: Ant-Man and The Wasp

The wife and I finally had some time tonight to sit down and watch a movie together. Lately it’s been hard to invest in anything other than TV shows or YouTube videos. However, as luck would have it, the holidays mean that we’ve got some time without a lot of commitments. On tonight’s agenda was Ant-Man and The Wasp.

We enjoyed the first movie when we saw it many years ago, and a bit part of that was due to the quirky humor of Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang. Having a character with such a fun approach to life is a breath of fresh air for such serious super hero action films. That same humor was on display again in the sequel, although at times I felt like Scott Lang was a sidelined character. This movie was most certainly not about him.

This movie is about Hank Pym and his quest to find his wife, lost in the quantum realm. But more than that, I felt like this movie was a way to show us that Hank really isn’t a great guy. Many of the problems of his life were his fault, including pushing people away, and using people to get what he wanted. This film doesn’t change that image of him, which left me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. You want him to win, but at the same time, you kinda wish someone would just smack him around a bit and burst his ego.

Despite Hank, I enjoyed many of the characters in the film. I actually really liked the Burch side-plot, and loved how it allowed the X-Con gang to get more involved. It gave the movie a certain human element that showed that not all superheroes have super suits or powers. Sometimes, the ordinary guy can actually be a part of something good.

As usual the effects were top notch, and the production was typical Marvel style. Lots of big images and CGI effect scenes, that were done incredibly well. It’s almost to the point now that if a Marvel movie has only “adequate” CGI it’s considered bad. They’ve raised the bar for themselves over and over again to a point where everything they produce has to be excellent.

I won’t give much of the story away, but suffice it to say I mostly enjoyed the plot. There were a couple glaring plot holes that bugged me to no end, but I was able to suspend disbelief enough to enjoy what I was being fed. In the end I still enjoyed the film quite a bit.

Obviously, there were a couple mid and post credit scenes that flow into Infinity War, and we’re all ready for that ship to finally sail. I’m a little concerned on where they might be taking the next Avenger’s movie, but hopefully it’ll be done well. Overall, Ant-Man and The Wasp is a fun addition to the Marvel Universe. Just like the first film, it proves that you can have a lot of fun action, and quirky humor, but still be a super hero movie that can fly with the best that Marvel offers.