No faking it

“When you have the enthusiasm and the passion, you end up figuring how to excel.” – Deena Kastor

To keep alive a streak of consecutive running days, it takes a more than wishful thinking. It takes a lot of motivation. Or guilt. But it also takes determination, focus and discipline.

For any meaningful streak, it takes a lot of consistency. And it has to be about more than a number. But numbers do play a part of it for me – there are streaks within the streak that are impressive for me. And those numbers mean something, and keep me motivated to wake up early each morning.

There was one day, in early August, where I convinced myself it wasn’t important to run. The guilt of missing my morning run wore on my mind, and by lunch time I decided to run instead of eat. The streak hasn’t really been in jeopardy since.

Beyond the numbers, there’s an important concept: I’m building up to something big. Yes, the New York City Marathon is just 8 weeks away. But there’s more to it than that. The journey is being mapped out daily, on the roads and trails, and the destination is far beyond the finish line in New York’s Central Park.

Fall racing

Is there really anything that beats running in the fall?

The calendar is packed with tons of races, and those events expose who did their work during the heat of the summer. There’s no faking it.

Spring races are great in that it takes a lot of grit to make it through the winter. You need focus, and discipline to avoid the distractions of summer, to run well in September and October.

When you are committed, it gives you a chance to perform well when the weather is spectacular – like this past Saturday. A number of friends and running pals did really well at the 2014 Dick Beardsley Half Marathon in Detroit Lakes. Find the results here.

A well-deserved congratulations also go out to Grand Forks brothers David Uhlir and Trevor Uhlir – both finished the Superior 100 near Lutsen, Minn., known as one of the toughest ultramarathons in the U.S. Here’s the link to searchable results.

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.