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Last night was our end of the season track awards ceremony. The coach uses this time to recap how the season went and then spends a little time acknowledging each team member. The senior members of both the boys and girls team also have the opportunity to get up and say a few words.

USC was fortunate enough to send to athletes to the State Individual track meet. Our discus thrower placed 7th in his event and our 800 m runner placed 7th in her event. What I found interesting and heartwarming was that while these two individuals commented that being at state was a great experience, they placed greater emphasis on the support they received from team members, parents and the community. My interpretation was that while being at state was great, having the love and support of family and friends is even better.

As other kids spoke during the evening, their message was similar. The support of their coaches, teammates and parents directly contributed to their success.

These kids get it. Each one of us enjoys having the spotlight shined on us occasionally, but what gets us through the ups and downs is the love, encouragement and occasional kick in the butt, from those around us. We are better when we surround ourselves with good people.

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.

          Michael Jordan


Track is an interesting sport. Most of the events, except for the relays, are judged on individual performances. Yet, at the end, it’s the collective scores of these individuals that decide which team has done the best.

All season Adam has been running the 3200 m. run. His times have improved and he’s set some pretty aggressive goals for himself. Therein lies the challenge. For the True Team meet, the one that decides which team gets to go to the state tournament, the number of entries is limited. In order to get the best team score, the coach must choose the individuals that can run the fastest, even if it means some of these guys are running multiple races like the 800 and 3200, which they don’t often do during the season.  

Despite Adam’s improvement, he’s not one of the fastest 2 guys on the team. In his heart he knows it’s best for the team if the other 2 guys to run, but he’s still crushed by the fact he couldn’t run fast enough.

As we discussed this the other night, my own heart was breaking. Adam is unselfish and he wants the team to do well. Yet you could see the disappointment in his face as he realized he wasn’t going to be the one to run that race to help the team. He had given such a great effort, yet in his mind he fell short.  As I repeatedly told him how proud I was of him, I also reminded Adam that he’s an 8th grader and that the other two guys were a Jr. and Sr. He’s done quite well and his time will come.

I know that Adam will use this as a learning experience and it will motivate him to run even better. Perhaps one day he’ll be on the other side of the fence and as a Jr. or Sr. he’ll be looking into the eyes of an 8th grader and remembering that he was once in that spot.

“Sports do not build character. They reveal it”

          John Wooden

Although sites like this snowpile in our yard indicate that winter has not completely left, the signs of spring are here. The robins are back and you can hear birds chirping in the morning. The temperatures are warmer and the spring winds are blowing. I have an urge to clean my kids closets.

Track season is underway for the boys. The past 2 Saturday’s they have had an indoor meet at MSU in Mankato. This Thursday they will have their first outdoor meet in St. James.  Brett has run in the 4 x 800 relay , the 3200 m. run and triple jump. Adam has done the 1600 m. run. The events may change depending on the needs of the team, but they will generally do longer distances.

With Dale’s help and encouragement I’ve run some longer distances outside. Increased exercise through the winter months has given me a better base to train from.

Spring is a time of new beginnings. After the cold, quiet winter, plants and animals (and people) come to life. We have a new found energy that makes us want to do things, especially outside.

Welcome back Springtime!

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.

“I’m not afraid to”. Those were the words my 13 year old son Adam said to Dale, before he stepped to the line for his 800 meter race. Just a little while earlier, he had finished the 1600m run, with a personal best of 5:50. Dale had encouraged him to lay it all on the line for his race and Adam responded beautifully with a 2:40 time and first place.

If you recall my earlier blog, this is a busy track week for us. Adam has branched out by running a leg in the 4×100, 4×200 and the 800 m run. Brett ran the 1600 m with a 5:35 time and continued to improve in the 3200 m run. They aren’t winning the races, but they are improving their times, gaining confidence in their abilities.

Go back and read Monica and Maddie’s blog on May 4. Maddie started her run a bit tentative, disappointed she was missing the grand march for Prom. Yet as she ran along the trail, she met people who had the same goal she did, to run at Grandma’s. You can see how her spirits are lifted. Her excitement grows with the new circle of friends she meets, each with the same goal, to compete at Grandma’s.

It’s not about being the best. Very few of us will ever “be the best”. It’s about having the courage to challenge yourself and the discipline to succeed.

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

Mary Anne Radmacher

 This week we have 4 track meets on 4 separate nights. Next week it’s 3 track meets on 3 different nights. With such a busy schedule, preparing and eating a nice sit-down meal is just not possible. Plus, we live 10 miles from the nearest grocery store and any type of convenience store, so “take out” food is not a good option. The kids can only eat so much frozen pizza and macaroni and cheese. They will even roll their eyes with the “not again” look when we’ve had too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

One thing that works well for our family is pulled pork. Slow cooking a shoulder roast until it’s fork tender creates a meat that works well in a bun, between a flour tortilla or even on a salad. It’s a quick meal without all the disadvantages of typical fast food. We roast a large quantity of pork at one time and then freeze it in small packages. This allows us to pull out a package from the freezer and have a nutritious meal in only a few minutes.

Another thing I try to do is to prepare a good meal on a day when I have time and then have leftovers for another day. Sunday I doubled my recipe for meatloaf and actually prepared it on the grill. I formed a loaf, put it on an aluminum foil covered flat baking sheet and then put it on the grill for about an hour. We had meatloaf for supper and enough left over for sandwiches or a quick meal.

Sometimes life moves pretty fast and taking time for a relaxed meal around the table isn’t an option. But fast food doesn’t need to be filled with empty calories. With a little planning, pork can be the answer to a fast, flavorful and nutritious meal.

Ever had a task you knew you needed to do, but it still overwhelmed you? If you recall, I’ve been increasing my running mileage to get closer to a 5K. But the time had come when I knew I needed to run the 3.1 miles, to break through my barrier. Fortunately the other day Dale’s training called for an easy workout; a perfect opportunity for us to run together. When the time came, I’d been busy with other tasks, plus the wind was blowing; again. It would have been easy to postpone the run, but I knew I wouldn’t be happy with myself. I admitted my nervousness to Dale as we started out down the road. Well, 3.1 miles later I had completed a great run, filled with confidence, knowing I’d overcome my fears.

My son Adam is experiencing the same situation as he faces the possibility of running the 4×100 relay for an upcoming track meet. When I asked him about his apprehension, it had to do with never having run that short of distance. He isn’t confident that’s he’s fast enough. Time will tell how things turn out.

What don’t we do because we are afraid? How do we teach our kids to face up to their fears and apprehensions and to help them understand that in the end, they will be a better person for doing so?

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing, which you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Brett and Adam are entering into the “thick” of the track season. Brett has been running the 3200 meter (2 mile) race at the varsity level. His time has been right around 12:00 minutes, with his best being 11:55. He hasn’t placed very high, but seems to be improving as he runs against older, stronger guys.

Adam runs the 1600 meter (1 mile) race mostly on the Jr. High level, but has competed in 1-2 varsity races. His time has been right around 6:10 minutes, with his best being 6:02. His goal this year is to beat 5:55.

A track meet has a very different tempo compared to other sports. When you watch a football or basketball game, there is almost constant action. Track however seems to be periods of inactivity interrupted with a race. However, as you look over the field, there is always something happening. Runners are warming up or cooling down. Field event people are jumping or throwing.

Short distance events take place in front of the grandstand. This allows for a great deal of audience participation as they cheer their runners towards the finish line. However, when you’re a distance runner, there are a lot of quiet spots around the track as you circle the 4 or 8 laps it takes to run 1600 or 3200 meters. I always felt it was particularly challenging for the 3200 meter runners as their event is second to last. The meet has been going on for 3 1/2 to 4 hrs and the sun is ready to set. People are anxious for the last event, the 4 x400 relay and to go home. Yet here we have these dedicated kids who have waited all night to perform their event. The crowd is thinner and the cheering might not be as loud, but that doesn’t stop them from “leaving it all on the track” as we say.

Once you understand how a track meet flows, it really is a great event. Listening to the crowd roar as the lead runner crosses the finish line can send shivers down your spine. It does mine.