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Our big weekend in Duluth is just days away. Dale is ready to run the marathon, although with work projects his training hasn’t been as intense. Adam is running the 5K this year after having competed in the Gary Bjorkland Half Marathon last year.

New to the Pork Power team is our daughter Beth, who will be in 7th grade. She’s planning on running cross country this fall, so as she works to get in her summer miles, the William R. Irving 5K provides a great opportunity. Dave and Suzie Olson along with their two daughters will also be running in Duluth. They are pork producers that live near us.

Having just spent last week in Des Moines at the World Pork Expo combined with other end of the year school activities has not allowed me much time to focus on this race. I sense that will change as we get closer to the actual day. Grandma’s Marathon is a great event and being part of the health expo as pork producers is a wonderful opportunity to talk about pork as a lean protein for athletes.

Beth asked if I would run with her during the race and of course I agreed to. But I have a feeling that once we get a mile or so into the race, her pace will quicken and I’ll be telling her to go ahead without me. It’s exciting to think of her starting her running career. I’m sure there will be many exciting races in store for her.

This week Brett & Adam registered to run the Gary Bjorklund 1/2 Marathon as part of the Pork Power team during Grandma’s Marathon weekend. I am excited for them, but also a bit nervous. This distance is considerably more than what they have done before. While they will be doing it as part of their Cross Country training, I hope they don’t hurt something that would affect their season. (Boy, doesn’t that sound like something a Mom would say?) 

Really though, I am proud of them for making the commitment. It’s something they have been talking about ever since they found out the MN Pork Board would be a sponsor and the Pork Power team would return to Duluth. They still talk about what a great time they had last year and although their race will be different, I hope they have just as much fun.

Perhaps I’ll even get them to share a few of their training experiences through this blog. Stay tuned.

The city of Mankato held their first marathon this past Saturday and Dale, Beth and I were volunteers at the Ridley Inc. water stop. 2000 runners signed up for the events which consisted of the marathon, ½ marathon, relay marathon and 10K. All indications are the weekend was a success.

The fun started for us on Friday night, when Beth ran the KidsK. It was a nice race and other than a few small toddlers taking a spill, seemed to go quite well. Afterwards we attended the Scheel’s Health Expo and the highlight was listening to Dick Beardsley speak. Dick shared stories about his various running experiences, which certainly are motivational. Adam was captivated while Dick spoke and a highlight for him was getting an autographed picture.

Dick ran cross country at the University of MN, Waseca, back when it was a 2 year college. I also ran CC at UMW about 5 years after Dick. It was fun to share a few memories and a few laughs about our coach and the school, now a federal prison.

Saturday morning we were at our water stop by 7:15 to help set up with the rest of the Ridley group. We eagerly waited for the runners and as we caught a glimpse of them approaching, we ran to our spots. I passed out water. Dale had instructed me to place the cup on the palm of my hand, since it would be easier for the runners to grab. He was right.

Things got busy and then before we knew it, we were told the last runner was approaching. We cleaned up the tables, raked up the tossed cups and took down the decorations as our job was done. When Dale and I dropped off the extra supplies downtown near the finish line, there were joyous sights and sounds as runners filtered through the crowd after finishing. Looks like Mankato’s first Marathon was a success.

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 marks the first day of summer vacation for all the kids, although Brett says it doesn’t officially start until Monday, because they wouldn’t have had school today anyway. For those of you that have been following the boys during track season, I’d have to say that both boys had a good season. Brett ran the 3200 m race and his best time was 11:29. Adam competed mainly in the 1600 m run and his best time was 5:49. Both gained a great deal of experience that they will be able to build on in the future.

 But the running isn’t done. Now it’s time to get their base summer miles so that they will be ready for cross country season in the fall. The coach expects them to log their summer miles. They will be working to get enough miles to join either the 200 or 300 mile club. Cross country camp, which involves camping and running in Forestville State Park is a highlight of their summer.

 All of us are looking forward to Grandma’s in two weeks. It’s not just the running, but the activities that will take place and a chance to visit with friends we’ve made along the way.

 The boys have their goals for the summer and looking ahead on the calendar; it looks like it’s going to be busy. Here’s to summer!

Well, Sunday morning was an early run. After a warmup jog, I turned around and ran 3.11 miles hard. The course wasn’t spectacular, just 1.5 miles either side of our farm. I also ran into a 8 mph headwind, mostly so that I wouldn’t get too cold running back home.

The neat thing – my time was 20:24. I don’t know how that calculates on age-graded charts, but the effort was hard. My legs felt strong, but my lungs didn’t quite seem like they could keep up. I sounded so bad I was glad I was alone the last mile.

One other thing – I have more appreciation for cross country runners. Brett has a 9:17 PR as a 9th grader, and Adam ran 20:44 as a 7th grader. On grass. In crowds. Now that I know how hard I worked to get there, I will give them more support and encouragement as they run.

There is no shortcut. Success lies in over-coming obstacles everyday.