Friday, June 27, 2008

motor mouths

It's been a good year for people yelling stuff from cars. A lot of drivers must think runners are interested in their opinions. The comments I hear the most are "Run Forrest, Run!" - a true classic - and "Get a car!"

I hear 'get a car' mostly from redneck-ish guys in big pickup trucks, usually when I'm biking. There's often a "Git-R-Done" sticker & some NASCAR memorabilia in the back window. I can't figure out why they don't yell "Get a truck". Maybe I'm not macho enough for a big truck. You've got to be really tough to get 12 miles per gallon while wearing a Def Leppard T-shirt with the sleeves torn off.

However, MDRA office manager Heidi heard the best vehicle to exerciser taunt ever while biking this week;

"The other day I was riding and hear some car start to slow down and pull up near me. I start to think, now what (as it has been that kind of summer) and this kid rolls down his window and shouts "my girlfriend is HOT!" Okay....she was in the passenger seat. Guess he just wanted someone to know."

Wuh... just, wow. Amazing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

you're a poetic bunch

The Grandma's haikus are rolling in! The deadline is Monday, July 7.

We did get a Bjorklund half haiku - so the contest has been expanded to include the half. It's all part of the same experience, so why not? If a half marathon haiku wins, we'll send you half a hat. Please specify which half you want. I'd opt for the bottom half. That way it will still function as a visor!

Just kidding, by the way.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Coupla things

First off, this is our 200th blog post. Welcome to it.

Next, don't forget to send us your Grandma's Marathon Haiku for a chance at winning an MDRA hat. A herculean effort this is not. You could have your kid write it for you. We won't tell. "No dessert until you finish mommy's haiku. And clean up your room!" Kids these days...

Also, there's an article in the Strib about barefoot running. I cross that same railroad bed on my lunch hour runs, and my feet get dinged up in shoes. Crossing that barefoot can not be pleasant.

Finally, we got a request from a MN runner Steve K. who is looking for some traveling companions:
"I'm a competitive marathon runner and I'm planning a two week trip to the mountains in August (8th-24th) for some altitude training. Unfortunately none of my serious running buddies can take the time off or miss prior commitments, etc... So I'm looking to find one or two people to come with me."

If you too would be down with some high-altitude butt kicking, drop us a line & we'll put you in touch with Steve.

Friday, June 20, 2008

reporting from Duluth

MDRA Office Manager Heidi just sent along this info from Duluth, where she's setting up for the Grandma's expo:

"I have never felt it so warm and humid at 10 am before, supposed to be cooler tomorrow but a perfect day today for hanging out. Get up here early -one lane traffic coming into Duluth is going to be a nightmare."

There you have it. Leave early & hydrate well.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Sexy Limp

A lot of things about runners could be considered sexy. Our totally awesome legs & butts come to mind first. Most of us marathoners have pretty rockin' abs as well. A sexy limp? Definitely not at the top of my list. In fact, it isn't even on my list of sexy things about runners.

Strange as it sounds, I've been told that I have a sexy limp.

It was on the way home from Grandma's Marathon. We stopped at a gas station, and I shuffled in to buy a Gatorade while my friends pumped gas or waited in the car.

Upon limping back to the car, my buddy Chad's girlfriend Chris announced, "That was really sexy."

An awkward silence followed.

I had to ask, "Uh...what was sexy?"
"Your limp." Chris replied.

She went on to explain that she didn't usually find limping sexy. She knew the cause of my limp (Grandma's Marathon) and thought that it was pretty cool that I ran it, so it became sexy in context.

Yeah, I don't get it either.

I just wish I'd used the sexy limp to my advantage. If Chris thought it was sexy, odds are a few other women would have too. I should have gone out bar hopping... or bar limping, as it were.

fall marathon class starts Tuesday!

I know Grandma's is on everyone's mind, but the TCM is closer than you think. The MDRA Fall Marathon Class starts Tuesday June 24 @7:00 at the ECC - room 351. We do have TCM entries available. Be there.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

another chance to win a hat is here!

Once again it's on! Last year we ran a competition after Grandma's with an MDRA hat as the grand prize. We're bringing it back for 2008.

Here's how it works. Email with a race recap in Haiku format. That's right. Haiku.

For the unfamiliar, it's a 3 line poem with 5 syllables in the first & third lines and 7 syllables in the second line.

Here's two examples:

Bonked so very hard
Good thing I had Gu with me
Slow walk to finish


PR in the bag
All my training paid off huge
Runner's high is great

There you have it. Recap your Grandma's experience in Haiku & win yourself a sweet Headsweats MDRA hat.

Bring the prose, runners
Free running schwag is way cool
Make us laugh and win

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Best. Cheering. Ever.

A bit of set-up is required for this story, but it's worth it. Trust me.

I went to Grandma's '02 marathon with three friends from college; Chad, Pete and Tim. They weren't running, but they had nothing going on that weekend and wanted to see what a marathon was all about. Chad's girlfriend at the time had family in Duluth, so we had a place to stay.

As previously mentioned, 2002 was the year the Grandma's start was delayed about a half hour due to dangerous thunderstorms to the South. I heard (but never confirmed) that the aid station tables at either mile 7 or 9 blew over & had to be reset. The race directors made the right call. Unfortunately, they made the call after I dropped off my sweats.

So there I sat, at the start line, shivering in a singlet in a light rain, waiting for the race to start. After what felt like hours, the race finally began.

The shivering took it's toll - my legs were heavy from the get go. I was out of the race mentally by mile 5. It didn't help that I was borderline over-trained going in.

By mile 7, I knew I couldn't make it. I also knew I was miles from anything & I had to hang on a little longer so I could find an aid station with some space blankets so I wouldn't freeze. I didn't know it at the time, but mile 7 was the worst I'd feel all day.

I chatted with other runners & tried to stay positive. I saw some spectators wearing Luther sweatshirts at the halfway point, and that cheered me up. I knew my friends would be between mile 17-19, so I convinced myself to run to them & then drop out.

I spotted my buddies a bit after mile 17. I was sure they had lost their minds.

They were standing in a line, just screaming their heads off & clapping for every single runner that passed by. These usually stoic, Mid-Western Lutherans had transformed in to enthusiastic mad men. My friends weren't runners. They weren't really sports fans in general. For whatever reason, watching thousands of runners stream by lit a fire under their collective behinds.

Then they spotted me.

Chad saw me first. He sort of hunkered down & leaned toward me, turned bright red, and began swearing encouragement like you've never heard swearing before. It was something along the lines of, "F**k yeah Colin, you g*dd**n m**herf**ker! Keep that s**t up! You f**king kick f**king a*s!!" ... and I'm toning that down. Fortunately there weren't any kids around. It may sound offensive, but it was exactly what I needed to hear.

Pete yelled some encouragement similar to Chad. He also did an arm-waving jumping-around maneuver not unlike a jumping jack. Now I know I was tired, and my brain was low on glucose, but I'm certain he was floating 4 inches above the ground. I will swear on a stack of whatever holy book you put in front of me (Bible, Qur'an, Lydiard) that Pete was levitating above highway 61 while cheering like a mad man.

Tim had just spent a year in Norway, so he was cheering in Norwegian and English, just to switch it up. He was yelling in Norwegian before I arrived, so he stuck with it. To this day, I have no idea what he was screaming about. It could have been a grocery list for all I know. Whatever it was, it made me want to go faster.

I spent over 2 hours wanting to be done...then they happened. Two hours of misery vanished in seven seconds of high-energy freak out. My mindset went from "I can't wait to walk off the course" to "I'm going to kick this course's ass and it's going to stay kicked." If I dropped out, I'd be letting them down.

I was still grooving on their cheering when I crossed the finish line.

Cell Phone Chicks

Grandma's '02 was my second marathon. It was also the first, and only, time I saw cell phone use during a race. I'll repeat that.

Cell phone use. During a race. Wha???

It was at mile 22-ish. I wasn't having a particularly good race. My legs felt heavy from the start, but perked up a bit at mile 17 due to some amazing cheering (more on that tomorrow). Since my pace picked up, I started catching & passing people.

I caught the cell phone chicks just after Lemon Drop hill. They were in their early 20s, wearing lots of makeup (that tells you something) & on pace to run a 3:50 marathon, give or take.

One of the girls reached in to her water bottle belt pocket & pulled out a phone. She called her mom & said "Hey, we're at mile 22 so we'll finish in about 30 minutes."

I thought, "Well that's pretty clever." Then she called her boyfriend & chatted for a while. Then the other cell phone chick called her boyfriend & had a minute-long conversation about where to meet after the race. Then she gave the phone back to the original cell phone chick, who made another call!

Call me old fashioned, but when I'm running a marathon I like to concentrate on running the marathon. Post race meeting plans are best finalized before the race is underway.

Great leaps in cell phone technology have been made since '02. Now the cell phone chicks could buy little bluetooth headsets & yak with their friends the entire race. "Omigod, I'm totally running a marathon! Did you watch The Hills last night? Omigod, I just spilled blue Powerade on my cute top..."

Friday, June 13, 2008

Jesse Ventura on a Trampoline

There are some things you expect to see along a marathon course. Volunteers. Spectators. Police & traffic control.

Jesse Ventura on a trampoline is not something I expected to see, but there he was.

I think he was around mile 8 or 9 - not the real Jesse, but some nut in a costume. He had on a crazy flesh-toned muscle outfit & was wearing a neon Speedo. I think there might have been a feather boa involved as well. The guy adorned his upper lip with a great fake Jesse mustache...or maybe he grew his own for the occasion. I hope so. I admire that kind of dedication to your craft.

He was hopping around on one of those mini trampolines. Not sure why. All the while he encouraged runners in a deep, Jesse-inspired baritone. He did a decent impression.

A few yards after I passed him, I heard a guy behind me say something to the effect of, "Well that was weird".

The guy who said it was running in a US Postal Service uniform.

That was a really trippy race.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

the caffeine man

It's time for the first installment of fine Grandma's Marathon memories. Enjoy.

Part 1 - The Caffeine Man
I met the caffeine man while standing in the port-a-potty line at the Grandma's start. I didn't really meet him I guess. I experienced him.

For those of you who remember, '02 was the year that the start of the marathon was delayed 30 minutes due to really bad thunderstorms near the halfway point. Most of the conversation in port-o-john lines was centered around weather. There was one notable exception - the caffeine man.

He was in the next line over from mine. The guy was about 5' 10", skinny & spoke with what I think was a Texas accent. He was bouncing up & down and talking with his buddy, who was also from Texas. They weren't so much talking with each other - caffeine man was firmly in control of the conversation.

He talked about Minnesota accents (he thought we sounded 'neat'), storms, shoes, socks, anti-chaffing solutions, blister prevention and at least 30 other things in a span of 2 minutes. All the while he was jumping up & down like a kid on a pogo stick.

After a few minutes, the woman standing in line in front of him turned around & asked "What got in to you this morning?"

He quickly announced, "500 milligrams of pure caffeine, ma'm!"

For a sense of scale, that's 10 cups of black tea, 20 caffeinated GUs, or about 30oz of Caribou or Starbucks coffee. I'd like to call to your attention some other drugs that, like caffeine, end in 'ine'. Morphine. Codeine. Draw your own conclusions.

What really cracked me up was that he knew the exact dose! This dude was likely eating his morning bagel while reading the back of the No-Doze bottle. He probably said to himself "If 100 mg will wake me up, and 200mg will keep me up, 500mg will make me fast!" He then popped 5 pills, almost certainly against the advice of friends,loved ones, and the poison control center. I bet his wife has them on speed dial.

Not long after making his 500mg proclamation (like, maybe 20 seconds) the caffeine man turned to his Texas buddy & said "I can't handle standing still right now" and jogged off. They were one person from the front of the line.

I don't know whatever happened to the caffeine man. I would like to know if 500mg is still enough to fire him up before a race. If you told me he now snorts a few lines of powdered caffeine before a 5K, I'd believe you. I bet he has a big pile of it on his desk at work, a la Scarface.


Have you ever dreamed of being a certified USATF level 1 coach? Of course you have! Here's your chance; there's a coaching class June 16-17 in Stillwater.

The MDRA always needs coaches, so get certified & work with us!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

could be worse

I realize the weather has been less than ideal as of late. I grew tired of soggy slogs in rain a few weeks ago. However, it could be worse. The picture below was taken this morning in Park City, Utah, by my buddy Chad.

Our rainy stretch has been dreary...but not nearly as bad as finding 2 inches of snow on your patio mid-June.

Side note... my buddy Chad will come up again next week. With Grandma's Marathon around the corner, I'll recount some of my favorite memories from when I ran it in 2002. Chad's name will pop up in a post tentatively titled "Best. Cheering. Ever."

Other Grandma's memories I'll regale you with include "Caffeine Man", "Jesse Ventura on a Trampoline", "Cell Phone Chicks", and "The Sexy Limp". Stay tuned.

Friday, June 6, 2008


I found an answer to my red winged blackbird question (previous post) after a bit of online sleuthing. Here's the answer, from the fine folks at Wild Birds Unlimited.

"Red-winged Blackbirds fiercely defend their territory during the breeding season. Over a quarter of the male's time is spent vigorously defending his territory from other males and predators. They do not hesitate to attack much larger animals, including people."

That's the prefect setup for a joke about defending my territory during mating season if there ever was one. However, my wife reads this blog.

I'll just let you write your own punchline.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Just a quick public service announcement for all you runners...

It's officially red-winged blackbird dive-bombing season.

I don't know if they do this because its mating season, or baby bird raising season, or "let's be a bunch of jerk birds" season. Whatever the reason, they've lost it. They were amiable enough on Saturday morning. Yesterday they flipped out.

If there's a running ornithologist out there, we want to hear from you. Why do those punk birds wig out every summer & attack runners?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

we're still alive...

Sorry about the lack of posts lately here on ye olde blog. Work (both the 9-5 gig and freelance) has been nutty lately. Normal blogging will resume in the near future.