Posts Tagged ‘Marathon’

I set a new personal record – a PR, to those of us in the biz – in the 5K on Sunday morning. But I didn’t realize it for more than 24 hours, time I spent wallowing in mild disappointment about what I considered to be an uninspired result.

And that was the moment I realized that I’m not the athlete I sometimes believe myself to be. And that the training I’d done – running at least a couple of miles for 135 days in a row – wasn’t as intense as it could have been.

Of course, there were extenuating circumstances. For starters, it was warm and humid by September in Sioux Falls standards. At least, that’s what my buddy – a legitimate runner – told me. As you know, I’m all in on natural heat yet I’m more than willing to blame Mother Nature for slowing me down. (more…)

Mark Covert, I am not. Never heard of him? He’s a 62-year-old Californian who jogged at least one mile every single day for 45 years, a foot-crushing run streak that ended in July.

I’m also not Scott Nelsen, a friend and loser of roughly 100 pounds over the course of a nearly year-long streak that ended cruelly due to a car accident. He’s the inspiration for starting a streak of my own.

On Sunday, it reached 101 days. Again, no big deal in the grand scheme of things. But it’s by far the most I’ve ever strung together – probably 10-times over – and an interesting ongoing experiment.


Team Tiny Miracles shirts: Now with extra swag.

Team Tiny Miracles shirts: Now with extra swag.

Things have been normal or something close to it at home for nearly a month. No difficult pregnancies, life-threatening illnesses, births, deaths or extended leaves from work. Just six people – half of them under the age of 3 – playing and laughing and eating and sometimes bickering and hardly sleeping. It’s been mostly glorious, the least eventful stretch my family has had in 3 years.

But now it’s time to pick a scab.


I had planned to write about the weather today. The stupid weather.

Oh, the Boston Marathon was on my mind from the start – one of my best and oldest friends participated, and I followed his path and times online. Had been planning that out for a couple days. He’d won North Dakota state championships in high school, qualified for NAIA nationals in college and earning a spot in this event – and performing well – seemed on par with that, one of the highlights of his running career. And, let’s be honest, running at that level for that long is a lifestyle as much as a sport. Couldn’t be happier for him.

To think that a few hours later I’d be sending him a poorly written text message to ask if he was safe? That was never part of the plan.


By Mark Harming
Guest blogger

I don’t do stuff like this. While I’m (fairly) healthy and in pretty good shape, I never really considered myself a “fitness guy.” For most of my adult life, I’ve been a runner. I was (and still am) proud of being a runner. I liked going outside and pounding the pavement.  Doing a home-fitness program like Insanity wasn’t a bad thing, but it wasn’t for me; it was for other people.

Then, the injury occurred. After reading the phenomenal book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, I decided that barefoot, natural running is the way to go. Hey, it works for the Tarahumara, it will work for me right?

I made the classic mistake of too much too soon and ended up with tendonitis on the top of my feet. At first, I tried to push through and survive with icing and stretching and anti-inflammitories. It didn’t work. So, an extremely slow half marathon this May (a personal-worst time) prompted me to do some thinking. (more…)

For the first time in the history of this website, it’s Fury starting off The Tapes. Lots of pressure.

Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski is one of the best baseball writers in the country and he tried to make some sense of Wednesday night’s craziness, when millions of people realized that, hey, even though baseball games seem to last an average of five hours these days and the season makes the NBA look like a sprint, it can still produce magical moments. I will say that I never feel more like a real New Yorker than when I revel in the downfall of a Boston team. I hated the Celtics long before I came to NYC – I started hating them about the time I started preschool – but it’s fun watching the Sox and Patriots fall.

* Really interesting story in the new Esquire. One of my favorite writers, Tom Junod, profiles one of my favorite performers, Jon Stewart. The story’s not what you’d probably expect and takes a fairly critical look at the Daily Show star. Those who don’t like Stewart’s persona or performances will probably really enjoy the piece. But even unabashed fans of the TV host will find it fascinating.

* The Onion caused a bit of chaos on Thursday when it tweeted that a hostage situation was underway in Congress. People thought the fake news agency had broken a real story. And then they got upset at the Onion for pulling an Orson Welles. It’s not the first time the Onion’s fooled people. It is one of the first times I can remember people being so upset, which seems very odd. It’s The Onion, folks. No matter how straight-sounding a story or tweet appears, if you see it’s from the Onion…wouldn’t you assume it’s satire? People reacted as if the Wall Street Journal pulled this off. It also shed a bit of light on just how crazy it is when news breaks these days. There’s no longer a 24-hour news cycle – it’s more like 24 seconds, and even that might be pushing it. It’s on Twitter? Go! React! It’s true!

* The Johnnies face the Tommies on Saturday and for one of the few times since John Gagliardi took over SJU, St. Thomas enters as an overwhelming favorite. The Tommies are confused, trying to figure out what this means to not be the underdog (they’re Tommies, things have to be explained slowly). My totally impartial prediction: SJU 28, St. Thomas 24.

* Big thanks to Fury for leading off this week. Looks like he taken some of that Midwestern work ethic back to New York. Speaking of hard workers, NBA player Delonte West may or may not have taken a job at a furniture store. This if funny if West is trying to be funny. It’s also funny if he’s not trying to be funny given that he was once rumored to be dating LeBron James’s mom. That one never gets old.

* Tell me this isn’t the best name – and maybe the best bio – in the history of college football.

* The Twin Cities Marathon is this weekend. A few friends are participating – and I am in awe. Seriously. It’s one thing to play in a softball league or try a spin class, but to willingly participate in endurance sports as an adult is fascinating. There’s more preparation and strategy involved than I ever imagined. And, obviously, it’s a huge time commitment, but it’s not like that time is spent doing something easy. The mental tenacity required first to get going and then to push through the wall blows my mind.
So good luck to everyone. Don’t forget the body butter.

I completed a 5K on Sunday – the second one I’ve done. Running 3.2 miles doesn’t sound like much – especially on a picture-perfect fall day – and it wasn’t. In this case, the impetus was to raise money for charity rather than to break any land-speed records.

Still, I prefer to do well in most ventures and this was no exception, particularly since I work in a semi-athletic arena and see myself as something of an athlete having played several sports in high school (tennis, baseball, basketball, golf) and one (briefly) in college.

The race results: a new personal-best time of 23:57 and a spot in the top-10 percent in a field of 575. That’s despite twice having to stop to retie a shoe and rarely training outdoors. (I’m a self-proclaimed treadmill chump; that will change as soon as Mother Nature starts hanging flatscreens.) Decent, right? Not upon further review.

Turns out I got beat by two 11-year olds, two 60-year olds, five older women and one U.S. Senator (John Thune). Plus, I finished only in the top third of men ages 30-35. Plus, my right calf muscle/Achilles is still swollen and sore days later that I walk with a limp (as opposed to walking with a swagger like Tom Green).

Talk about humbling.

See, in my mind, I still think I’m a fair athlete – reasonably fast, strong and coordinated. I work out six days a week and have roughly the same body composition I did upon finishing college a decade ago.

But this race was a walk-up call: I’m probably lying to myself about my fitness level. What’s more, I may be getting older, jogging toward death at roughly 7:43 per mile.

The idea of overestimating my physical ability is probably not uncommon. For starters, most of us think we’re better than pretty much everything than we actually are. Plus, every male has a little bit of Uncle Rico in him.

"We could have won state."

Still, did not see this coming. At least, not yet.

Sure, I could train a little harder and eat a little better and I don’t have a ton of race experience, which I’ve come to learn does matter. But, again, it’s not like I’m a total slug and haven’t yet hit the age (34?) where men start to leave their physical prime.

I blame some of my distorted self-view on my job. If you spend enough time around college athletes, you start to lump yourself into that group in terms of fitness. (I’m willing to bet the same goes for people who hang around models or musicians – you start to see yourself as that to a certain extent.) But that, it turns out, is a lie.

The truth is this: I’m not in excellent shape; I’ll have to settle for good. I’m not young; I’m merely not old. I’m not an athlete; I just write about them on the InterWebs.

Guess I’m going to have to rely on my intellect from here on out. It’s too that a blob of brain matter doesn’t look as good as toned arms in sweat-wicking shirt.

During his farewell speech as host of the Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien urged his viewers to avoid becoming cynical. Along those same lines, it seems like people are reluctant to be inspired anymore (unless it pertains to getting rich).

Maybe they’re disillusioned by corruption in politics or cheating in sports. Even art has taken a hit as music and film seem more interested in recycling than creating. Still others see the idea of looking up to someone else as cheesy or weak.

That’s sad if not dangerous.

So let me make this very clear: I was inspired this weekend. Over and over again.

My wife and I organized about 50 friends, family members and relative strangers to participate in the Sioux Falls Marathon, Half Marathon and Miracle 5K. It wasn’t so much about wellness as raising funds and awareness for premature babies. We called ourselves Team Tiny Miracles. Got shirts made and everything.

Here are some of the inspiring parts:

  • One team member, Aaron, ran a half marathon – that’s 13.1 miles – for the first time. Why? Because he was inspired by the fight that our premature twins showed and wanted to do something difficult – even though he’s plenty busy with a wife, three kids and 1.5 jobs. He then enlisted another rookie, a co-worker, to make the same new journey. They succeeded and seemingly without breaking a sweat. They deserved those finisher medals.
  • My brother and his wife made the trip from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. That’s a long haul for an event like this. But the truly incredible part is that they recently adopted an almost-1-year-old girl from Ethiopia. This was our first time getting to meet her, and she is incredibly sweet, content and playful. To think that they rescued someone from a country facing a famine said to rival those from the infamous 1980s commercials and a continent that’s plagued by rampant rape is absolutely incredible and heroic.
  • The last man to our cookout was our team’s only entrant in the marathon – Charles. He stood out not just because he finished the marathon, his first, but because he joined Team Tiny Miracles at all. See, I’d never met him before. He follows my work and attended the school I cover, but we were basically strangers before Sunday. Yet he felt compelled to support our cause even though he’s in the process of completing more schooling – no cheap endeavor – and then stopped by our house with his gregarious 3-year-old daughter for a veggie burger and a really nice chat. (I’d never cooked one of those before. Think I nailed it.)

Beyond that, some longtime friends attended from the Twin Cities, one member of our crew ran his guts out to the tune of a second-place finish and – as always – all sorts of family members were on hand to lend support.

The whole thing was overwhelming. In fact, it was more emotional than I expected. Seeing an old NICU friend volunteering on the course threw me for a loop and I nearly curled up in the fetal position at the 57th St. underpass. But I managed to finish with a new personal best for a 5K if short of the goal I had set.

What’s more, all of this took place on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a date that – at least temporarily – restored the idea of public servants and everyday people as heroes.

Inspiration, for the sake of helping others and/or bettering yourself, was alive and well this weekend in our corner of South Dakota. And it felt good.

Team Tiny Miracles