An insightful run

“It hurts up to a point and then it doesn’t get any worse.” – Ann Trason

About 10 a.m. Saturday, as I drove to my brother’s house, my thoughts settled on my most recent gravel road adventure.

I had just finished running more than 18 miles in the hills southeast of Hawley, Minn., with relative ease. Long-time readers may recall I dubbed those hills as the Manmaker Trio, and found myself humbled by them a number of times. I’ve run them in all types of weather and they never are easy. But, on occasion, they aren’t as difficult as they look.

The day went so well that I ran one of the massive hills twice, near the end of the run. When I finished, the experience reminded me of a 22-mile effort there prior to the the 2010 Grandma’s Marathon.

On Friday, a trip to the chiropractor set me up for a great long run.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time: familiar aches and pains had returned. In particular, a troublesome ankle resurfaced and I found myself hobbling a bit. Not on Saturday, though.

It allowed me to finish a phenomenal month on a high note. My runs on Saturday and Sunday helped me top my previous monthly high for mileage – a total I set back in March 2012 in preparation for my best Grandma’s Marathon to date.

But the trip to the chiropractor also proved insightful: a discussion about diet revealed my nutrition and eating habits were not only fueling my run, but acting as an anti-inflammatory for the pounding my legs were taking on the roads.

Now, there’s just 9 more weeks to my Central Park destination, and I hope the legs hold up for the miles I’m planning in September and October.

Not broken, just bent

A bond forged over miles and miles, along roads and trails alike, is not easily severed.

Neither are the memories of my time with Riley, my original running buddy and Golden retriever during my marathoning years. With a heavy heart, I look back one year ago to the last day we spent together.

In anticipation, several weeks ago, I began thinking about putting together a short video tribute. Below there are a few of Riley’s pictures, which I’ve shared in posts long ago.

Before leaving the house this morning, I watched the video. Then I stepped into the brisk, calm air to reflect on a year without Riley. He ran aside me while training for each of the 15 marathons I’ve run. We shared lake time, McDonald’s french fries on weekend drives to Walker, Filthy 5K runs north of Moorhead, and ice cream. Every time I went to lace up my shoes, Riley tapped his feet and stood in front of the door, determined to make sure he followed in tow. During our last run together, before he became too weak to join me, I injured one of my calf muscles. Weeks passed before I ran again, but we shared a few last walks around the neighborhood.

Time doesn’t really heal. Read more about Riley here and here.

But it has given me a chance to redeem my running, and reflect on all on the reasons to be thankful. There are plenty, including irreplaceable time with a big, red dog who touched the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Everyone who met my special Golden retriever loved him.

Grateful for those memories, including so many people who stopped me at races and airports across the country to talk about Riley. And appreciative that I’ve found another Golden retriever. Still a pup, Coby is maturing – slowly – through the stages of puppyhood. But this amazingly athletic and energetic companion makes me smile, and I look forward to miles and miles with him.

Below are some recent photos of Coby, including three from his birthday run last month.

 

Catching up, again

“You already have everything you need to be a long-distance athlete. It’s mindset, not miles, that separates those who do from those who dream.” – John Bingham

So many miles have passed – again – since my last post, and I pledge that I’ll do better as my buildup to the New York City Marathon reaches the halfway point.

For months, I’ve known that I’d be running, I just didn’t know what the journey would look like. It was late June, after more than a month of regular running, that a turning point came in my training. It marked the beginning of my dedicated marathon training. Soon after, a Fourth of July race in Minneapolis gave me hope and reinforced progress was happening. And since then, I’ve piled on plenty of miles, and my gratitude for the blessings in life is abundant. I’m looking forward to the Wild Hog Half Marathon in Grand Forks and running a 26K loop around the lake during the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon.

Along the way, I’ve built up my weekend long run, re-established my morning running routine, racked up a streak of consecutive days running, and had a blast meeting up with Grand Forks runners for Wild Hog Wednesday at the race’s namesake restaurant.

There’s been some tragedy: Lisa Knudson, another well-known and respected triathlete, died when a vehicle struck her bicycle. I didn’t know her, but I recognized her. Some of my friends knew her well. And my thoughts and prayers go to those family and friends who will miss Lisa.

There’s been some fun: After an Ice Bucket Challenge from WDAZ TV, I had a chance to experience a 5-gallon bucket of ice water being poured on my head – raising some dollars and hopefully some awareness for ALS.

It’s impossible to catch up on all the happenings and thoughts from my recent running adventures. But I’ve booked the airline ticket and hotel for New York, and I’m feeling godo about the progress of training. In part, I feel lucky that I’ve been able to continue building miles, and still sidestep and train through some injuries and other aches.

Expect more frequent postings in the coming days and weeks. Before signing off for today, though, I want to give a shout out to former and current running pals for their awesome performances at last Saturday’s Go Far Half Marathon in Fargo: Mandy Elseth (2nd), Gwen Mars (9th) and Rachel Hellyer (13th). Awesome job, ladies, and congrats to all the finishers.