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Grandmas weekend was a blast, and the race wasn’t too bad, either.

As I reflect on what transpired, the moments that stick out had to do with people. Things started for me Thursday afternoon. After arriving at the Radisson, I went out for a run to loosen up. At the street corner I met a skinny guy in running gear that was looking for a good route to run. I volunteered to help him, even after admitting that I hadn’t been down near Canal Park for many years.

I quickly sized this guy up as being much faster than myself, but we did fall into a common pace and conversation easily. This gentleman was from Ethiopa by way of New York, and had been invited to run the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon. He was a little cagy about his projected finishing time, but the end result is that he finished 3rd in the race.

After working at the Expo for a couple hours, and receiving very positive feedback from those sampling pork, I grabbed my race packet and wandered around. I was greeted by a guy seated behind a table “You must be Brett and Adam’s dad.” (We were wearing the same Pork Power shirts). This man was Dane Rauschenberg, who had run 52 marathons in 52 weeks during 2006. Quite an accomplishment, and also an inspiration to many runners.

On Friday the boys and I spent time talking to Vali Tomeschu, the coach of the Romanian women that won gold at the Beijing Olympics marathon. He had some coaching tips for the boys, and wanted to hear how they finished at the William A. Irvin 5K that night.

Friday afternoon we watched Beth run her Whipper Snapper race, along with Callie and Shayna (Joe and Teresa’s daughters). Their races were short and fast, and the girls looked strong running. It is a thrill to see them finish so well.

I stayed at the Expo Friday afternoon, and reached the people-meeting zenith for me. Dick Beardsley was signing his book, and I talked to him for about 15 minutes. Various topics were farming and running, UM-Waseca, where Lori also went to college, and our promotion of pork at Grandma’s. Later, I made it to the presentations, catching the tail end of Kara Goucher’s talk, then Dick’s talk. During the question and answer period for Kara, a lady 15 feet from me said that she had something to give Kara that has been around for 25 years. She was talking about a laurel wreath (given to winners of the Boston Marathon), and that she was Lisa Weidenbach, the last American woman to win at Boston. Kara politely declined, since she wanted to earn hers.

The 5K race went about as I expected, with 1500+ runners causing a traffic jam and a slow start. The 5 Stevermers, Brett, Adam, Lori, Joe and Jenna, foundtheir stride and ran good races. Once again, it was so exciting to see family members working hard and having success.

I will save a blow by blow review of Grandma’s for the next time. My bus ride to the start went quickly because the person seated next to me was a good listener and experienced marathoner. A resident of Boston, he had helped a friend re-qualify at the 2010 Boston, so had traveled to Duluth to qualify. He is a physical therapist, and gave a few pointers on the miniscus tear that I am dealing with. I enjoyed running past the Bacon Section and proudly pointed out my Pork Power shirt. I also met up with some runners from Rochester that I had met 3 weeks ago at the Med City half.

The most important people were the ones I spent the rest of Saturday with: my family and friends that were in Duluth. Thank you for your support, and thanks to the MN Pork Board for spurring me on to run my 7th marathon, a Boston qualifier.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

A couple of the closing quotes I have used here have been attributed to “Vies.” While he needs no introduction to the residents of Faribault County, or to long-time followers of high school running in Minnesota, there are some readers that do not fit in those categories.

Kent Viesselman’s reputation as a teacher preceded him. The kids paid attention, because not doing so would result in a trip outside the room, where lockers would get banged about. I remember learning geometry proofs as a 10th grader, being guided through the process, yet allowed to flounder enough early on that I wondered if I would get it. (I did). Also, Vies ran marathons! In 1980, that was a big deal. I couldn’t imagine running 5 miles, to say nothing about the full 26.2 distance. The man was insane!

The next fall, as a junior, I became a member of the Wells-Easton cross country team. I joined the team for 2 reasons:: 1) to get in shape for wrestling season, and 2) because I noticed the respectful relationship between the coach and his runners. I had not put in many summer miles, using the THINK method instead. I floundered through well enough, ran a few races on varsity, and learned more about racing and competition than I thought I needed to.

As a senior, I repeated my summer mileage technique (walking chest-high beans gave my legs a good workout), and actually whipped into shape pretty well. I did develop some knee issues that sidelined me during some practices, but I was there for the races. I remember racing in Mountain Lake after not running in 3 or 4 practices, felt great and did about 11:30 in 2 miles, then a quarter mile into the cool down, my knee hurt. Try explaining that one to Vies. Our team was his first State qualifier for cross country, and we placed 9th at the State meet.

Many of the training tips and in-race comments he gave stayed with me when I started running for fitness after college. A desk job had softened me, and running was an obvious way for me to change that. I am still amazed while in a race that I use the techniques he drilled into us – run past the top of the hill, focus on the next runner ahead until you can pass them, cut people off at the corner with a good apex, try to stay with the guy/gal that just went past you. At a local 3 mile race last summer, I praised my son Brett on a corner that he took, and accelerated through, just as I was catching up to him.

While my career as a high school runner was short, I am proud to say that my boys are now being coached by Vies. Yes, even though he retired from teaching about 10 years ago, he has not given up coaching. I continue to feel his competitive fire at meets, still enjoy his comments on runners and how they’re doing, and love to watch his interactions with his team members. Middle school kids hang out with upperclassmen, and become part of a team. Ability is admired, but so is leadership and dedication. Alumni runners come back and are greeted and regaled as if they were champions. Current runners are pushed and cajoled to get faster or try harder. I know that as they look back on these years, they will truly appreciate the man they had as their Coach. Thanks, Kent.

There’s a big difference between backbone and wishbone.

Setting the goal is not the important part. The important parts are determining what you must do to reach that goal, and then doing it.

Wave when you go by. This is one of those days when you gain a day on everyone else. (It was about 0F that day)

The world is run by those who show up.

I gave a couple extra nuggets by Vies for your enjoyment.

Today Dale and I ran 2 miles together, which is something we haven’t done for years. For him, it was an easy training day. For me, it was a chance to run outdoors for the first time this season. Quite frankly the strong winds were intimidating so I figured having him run with me would help. It did.

The run felt good. Yes, the winds were strong as we went out, but Dale helped me keep an even pace. Coming back, I felt like I could open it up, but once again he encouraged me to keep a steady consistent stride.

My knees feel fine and I felt like I could have pushed myself more. But Dale says I shouldn’t push myself to the point of exhaustion. Feeling good and wanting to run again is important and that pretty much hits the mark. My run felt good and I want to go out again and try a little longer distance.

We think of running as an individual sport. But having someone to run with you, to guide and encourage you, can be a real asset.