Living History Farms Run

Saturday morning, November 23rd, was the day of the Living History Farms Run; one of the premier and largest off road races in the country. There were 7000 entrants in this years event, and the event was sold out in less than 24 hours. I have been told that I had to do this race, and how much fun it was. I had a friend actually begging me to sign up, and texted me during the night of the sign up to be sure that I didn’t forget.

I am usually a road or bike trail runner. I am not fond of uneven ground, and ruts and limbs can quickly lead to injuries unless you are very careful. Since I wear Vibrams, the risk is somewhat increased because of the minimalist shoes. But, I was intrigued by the almost fanatical devotion to this race, so on the evening of the signup, I got online and registered. What’s a few streams, hills, and wooded areas, right?

The race, being in November, has a wide range of weather possibilities. It could be wet and muddy, warm and dry, cold and frozen, or any mixture of them. It just so happens that this years race, the temperature at the start was a balmy 10 degrees with a windchill of -6 degrees. As we stood in the line to start, we were asking ourselves if we were crazy to do this. Looking around, we could see how fanatical these runners are. There were costumes galore; everything from Mario Kart, various superheroes, and even King Arthur and his knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But even with the costumes and the tailgating in the parking lot, the question remained: were we nuts to run cross country in freezing temps, across hills and streams, through wooded areas, just to say we did? One thousand people were no-shows, mostly due to the weather. We were starting to notice that our toes were going numb when the gun went off: it was time to run.

The first part was easy enough, a gravel path that was only half covered in ice. I could see some people sliding and slipping, and I wondered how many people were going to get hurt or trampled if they fell. I determined that I did not want to be the one to find that out, so I watched the ground closely for anything that could cause me to fall.

We made it to the first hill. It wasn’t too bad, as long as you knew how to keep your balance when going up. The back of the hill was another story as if was snow covered and people were falling all over the place.

The trails were icier after that point, and it was nice to see that people were helping each other so that no one fell. Some people actually started sitting down and sliding down the hill. I had to laugh at that idea, because if there’s a will, there’s a way. These people found their way.

We made it to the first of three streams. I could hear screaming in the distance, and realized that these people were getting soaked. Remember, it’s only 10 degrees with -6 wind chills. Yet these people were laughing and wearing their freezing wet clothes like a badge of honor. My friend and running partner Kara found an area off the path where there were some rocks that we could walk across. We had to jump down a couple feet of uneven ground to get to the path, and I slipped when I jumped. Thank goodness Kara was there, as she grabbed me and saved me from an icy bath. She then hopped over the rocks and scrambled up the hill. I started to follow, but I missed one rock, and I went into the water with both feet. Boy, that was a wake up call, as that water was so cold that it should have been frozen solid! But I scrambled up the hill and kept moving.

After a few more hills and a stream, we arrived at the last river crossing. This one had a choice: slide down the mud chute and try to stop short of the water and jump across only to have to pull yourself up to the path; or try your luck at crossing a fallen tree that traversed the stream. Kara headed for the tree crossing, but I thought with my wet shoes that I would be certain to slip off. The fall would be approximately 15 feet and onto rocks. I opted for the mud slide.

The mud slide down was rather easy, and I stopped short of the water. So far, so good. But there was no where to jump across because so many people were trying to crawl up the other side, and the mud wasn’t helping. I finally saw a spot and jumped – I made it! I started clawing my way up the other side when, buried in the mud, I grabbed a rope! It was there the whole time, yet it was to muddy to see! I started pulling and scrambled up the side to the path, and turned to see people now waiting to use the rope!

I looked over and saw that Kara was stuck on the tree. Two teenagers (dressed as dalmations) got on the tree in front of her, and then realized they had no idea on how to cross it. Kara was giving them instructions, and I went to the other end to grab them as they got close. After the kids crossed, Kara made short work of the tree. We started to take off when Kara started to turn back to help others. I grabbed her arm and said “We can’t save them all. The zombies have to eat something!” She laughed and we took off to finish the race.

At the finish line, there were volunteers who were cutting off the timing chips that some runners wore on the trail. That had to be the worst job, as some shoes were so caked with mud that the chip wasn’t visible. I didn’t wear a chip, so I got my medal and went into a tent to enjoy some beef stew and biscuits.

All in all, it was a fun time and a great run. My friend Kara made it really fun, and showed the way like a seasoned trail guide. Hopefully next year it will be a bit warmer, but then that’s part of the fun.

Now to see who we’ll dress up as next year . . .

Live healthy, be happy.


Half for a Half

It was a day that most people dread; hitting the half century mark. Some people mark this occasion by crying in their beer, lamenting on missed opportunities, and the fact that they are somewhat closer to death than they are to the day they were born. They see it as a burden, not as a celebration.

I am fortunate enough not to have that view. I actually took the day off on the occasion of my 50th birthday, and spent the early morning hours thinking about how blessed I was to have spent another year above the roses; the fact that after years of abuse to my body I am in reasonably good health; I have a loving, wonderful wife who puts up with me, and that I have wonderful upbeat and energetic friends that are always encouraging me to push myself further and make me feel like I am special. With blessings such as these, who wouldn’t be thankful for turning another year older?

So, after enjoying a light breakfast, I started getting ready to celebrate the special occasion in a special way; by running a half marathon for a half century. I bundled up as it was a little chilly and headed out. The run wasn’t any different than the runs I did before I turned 50, but my mental focus was on how lucky I was that I was able to run, able to just get up and decide to run 13.1 miles, and thankful that I could do these things when so many cannot.

So now I’m 50, or as I like to call it, the youngest in my age division. Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way, offered well wishes, or liked or read my blogs and exercise posts on FaceBook.

When my wife got home, she asked how I spent my birthday. When I told her, she smiled and said “It’s going to suck when you turn 100 then.” I hadn’t thought about it before. A century run for a century of living? Could that be doable??

Time to start training 🙂

Live healthy, be happy.


Weekday Runs and the Red Kettle 5k

I know I’ve said before how much I enjoy going on a lunch break run, but I’m trying to incorporate it into my daily routine even more so now. I enjoy getting away for a bit, looking at the lake and the fall colors while I run. It helps me to feel refreshed and renewed, and ready to tackle the rest of the day. But now it offers even more, as I can run during the lunch hour, and then hit the gym in the evening for swimming and spinning. Hopefully, if the swimming improves, I can add a whole new list of events to next years calendar. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Red Kettle Run 5k was Saturday, and I met up with my friend and mentor Stephanie and my buddy Larry for the event. I also ran into quite a few friends there; Coach Loran, Erin, Andy and a few others that were running to support the Salvation Army as they kick off their red kettle Christmas fundraising.

The event was at Raccoon River Park, and the trail around the lake is 5k in length. The fall colors were magnificent and the path was beautiful as the gold and red leaves were falling to partially cover the trail.

I finished ok, 26:15, but wondered if I had pushed myself too hard the day before. I did 5.7 miles on my lunch break, and followed up with a 45 min spin class that evening. Maybe I should have rested a bit, but it was for fun and the time really didn’t matter.

I did talk to Coach Loran for a bit. He’s the one who runs the iCan Marathon group and trains a group of people for their first full or half marathon. He asked how I was feeling. I told him that I ran the Komen 5k the week after the marathon and, although I finished ok, my legs felt tired and sore. He explained to me that when you run a marathon, it can take up to three weeks to recover. He reminded me of what I put my legs and body through, and that it needs time to heal. He was glad I was out running, but to give my body time to recover.

I was glad we were able to talk and that Coach Loran told me that. Now I know why it seems a little harder running lately. It’s getting better, but it’ll take time.

Today (Sunday) my friend and running partner Kara and I went for a 8 mile run. We kept a conversational pace and averaged a little over 10 mins per mile. But we chatted as we ran, looked at the fall colors and before you knew it, the 8 miles was done! A beautiful way to end the weekend!

Live healthy, be happy.