Ear Today, Gone Tommorow

If you haven’t heard from me this past week, don’t worry.  It isn’t anything personal. I can’t hear from me either.

As per the norm, I caught a cold right after the marathon.  This is something I expected.  When you beat your body up like that, the immune system is weakened.  Toss in sub-50 degree weather, cold, wet, damp, and nice strong winds coming off a big body of water and you’ve got yourself the perfect conditions for a cold.  So on Tuesday, the cold settled in and hasn’t left.

Unfortunately, and not per the norm, I lost hearing in my left ear.  Everything is dull and muffled, swallowing brings crackling sounds, etc.  I have to remember to make sure my left side isn’t facing people when they talk to me.  I even had some trouble with the right ear for a while but that faded away and I didn’t think much of it.

This happened to me once before when I flew back from my brother’s wedding while having a cold.  That cleared up after a couple of days.  This one has lingered for over a week and I started losing the right again this morning.  So off to the doctor I went.

Verdict?  No damage, no infection.  Just lots of fluid in the eustachian tubes.  Decongestants are the order of the day.  Oh, and it might take 2 to 3 weeks to clear up.


I said, PE … oh, forget it.

Follow Us To Grandma’s

Grandma’s Marathon, that is.

You can follow our progress as we run.  None of this creepy stalker stuff.  Seriously, don’t do that.  It freaks me the hell out.

Any who … the advance of technology has infected Marathons but in a good way.  You can now track runners via text or e-mail as they progress through the race.  It sends out messages at miles 13.1, 20, and 26.2 so you won’t get spammed.  Grandma’s even has an interactive map (not sure how that works since it’s not live yet).  Just follow the link below to sign up for either:

2011 Runner Tracking

Matt – Bib #1058 – Goal: Sub 3:38 (previous PR – 3:38)

Steph – Bib #5713 – Goal: Sub 4:00 (previous PR – 4:43*)

Of course, if you live in Duluth or are nearby, don’t follow us via technology.  Get your butt out on the course.  Cheer us (and a few thousand others) on.  Give us some water.  Give us a ride in your car from miles 10 to 20.

Okay, I’ve been told that you can’t do that last part.  But the cheering does help.

* This PR is from an injury riddled race.  Steph spent 16.2 miles swinging her leg like a club in order to finish.  Efficient for gaining sympathy, not so much for running a marathon.

Getting It Right – Where to Start


A rare post on writing in a sea of running entries.

For the better part of the past month I’ve been working on the synopsis for Genie Memories.  Long story short – torture, horror, despair, and new swear words learned as well as how to use them.

As much I hate writing this thing, I have to admit that it may have pinpointed a glaring flaw in the story.  A synopsis is supposed to be written in Third Person, Present Tense (regardless if the story is in First Person) and as I’ve been writing this, I’m finding myself having to do a lot of backtracking and Past Tense.

This leads me to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, the story starts too late.  It may be necessary to add a couple of chapters about what came before.

I’m hesitant on this.  For starters, the opening chapter is quite good.  It’s got a strong hook and delves right into the action.  On the other hand, it begins years after several defining moments in the main character’s life, all of which are referred to in past tense by other characters throughout the story.  A couple of my Beta Readers made comments along these lines.

There are books that start in the present, then jump backwards.  One  on my shelf right now is The Clone Republic by Steven L. Kent.  Chapter One actually fits in somewhere in the last three or four chapters. It opens in AD 2510 and Chapter Two takes us back to AD 2508.  It works quite well.

In my case, I’d be starting 12 years in the past in Chapter One, skipping ahead another ten years in Chapter Two, and finally a few more years in Chapter Three.   I’ve already started sketching the outlines of the chapters and depending on marathon recovery, should be able to get them onto paper late next week.

Here’s hoping it works.

Today’s Filler Post

I contemplated writing up a nice long post today about the relay race before realizing how burnt out I still am from the weekend.  This isn’t too surprising.  On Saturday alone, I lost about 6 pounds.

I’ve been a runner long enough to know that most of that was fluids.  Judging by the soreness of muscles, I know that I’m still not fully hydrated and I’m in no shape to be creative or think about what lessons I’ve learned.

Instead, I’m going the cop-out route and providing a few race photos.  Enjoy!

Steph showing what she'd do at the finish.

Finishing Up on Day One
Marissa - Our Team Captain (we were the Tufted Mazurkas)
Steph on the first leg of Day 2

The Tufted Mazurkas (left to right): Amanda, Greta, Marissa, Me, Andrew (running the final leg), Scott, Dean, Nichole, Steph

(We made sure every team finished with their final runner.  In our case, it was Andrew.  I met him half a mile out and ran the rest of the way until we met the team just over that dike in the background.)

Behind the Scenes of a Relay Race

Luther's 150th

If you ask me how many races I’ve run in my life, I wouldn’t be able to give you a number.  I’ve been running most of my life, about 27 years (started at 10 and I turn 37 this month).  Between cross country and track and everything afterwards, the number has to be in the thousands.

If you ask many how many races I’ve RUN, I can give you a number – One.  The Luther College Sesquicentennial Relay Race.  The race takes place this weekend (June 4 & 5) and covers the distance between the college’s birthplace in Holmen, WI to its current home in Decorah, IA.

After having experienced this, I can safely say that I probably will never organize another race in my life and I will have the utmost appreciation for anyone who has organized a race of any size.

Here’s a glimpse into what goes into making a race like this:

Day One

Preparing the Route

From the start, the Relay Race was supposed to be 150km in length. After all, the college is turning 150 years old with a motto of Transformed by the Journey.  Holmen and Decorah are indeed 150km apart, so why not do a race?

Well, for starters, it’s impossible to run 150km between the two cities.  That route follows interstates, crosses major highways, and takes you on stretches of road that no sane runner would even consider for a Sunday morning jog, to say the least about race directors who have insurance to worry about.

So the route had to change.

Day Two

We opted to take our runners on a slight detour to follow the Root River Trail for a good 40+ miles (64+ kilometers) and through two states.  Of course, the Trail is a bike trail, not a car trail.  So this meant that the race directors had to get out onto it and bike the length over the course of several days to pick out the rightexchange points.  After that, we kept our runners on county highways and other sparsely traveled roads.  Every turn has to be inspected to make sure its not dangerous and there’s no chance (or a minimal chance) of a runner getting lost and turning what should be a 4 mile leg into 10.

Actual course distance?  178 km (110 miles).

Yes, it’s a longer route but its safe and quite scenic.

Picking a Date

We had our date all planned out – June 4th & 5th.  We figured this would work out pretty well.  It’s the start of the summer and before it’s gotten too hot.  School would be out (for the most part) and we could tap into the recently graduated alumni who still had that college spirit.  The date was picked in November of 2010, well in advance of the actual race date.  We were set.

Until Wisconsin decided to pick that same weekend to hold the State Track & Field Championships in La Crosse, a mere 15 miles away.  Every hotel room for 60 miles was booked.  Event equipment was no longer available.  This was one of those things we just couldn’t control.


Telling people about the race was easy.  Advertising started 10 months in advance and was publicized in a lot of locations.  We had a huge number of teams express interest, enough that we were actually starting to talk about putting a cap on the number of teams that could run.

Getting people to sign up?  That’s another story.  Long story short – of the 35+ teams that expressed interest, less than 10 signed up.  It was highly disappointing.

The reasons varied.  Some complained about the cost ($60 per person), which I personally don’t think is a valid issue.  Marathons generally cost $80+ and those are single day events with 1/3rd of the distance.  One person mentioned the price of gas.  Others talked about graduations or soccer tournaments or some big track meet.  Sometimes valid, sometimes not.  Either way, we didn’t get the numbers we were expecting.

Race Packets & Logistics

How best do you package information for a two day event?  Race bibs … where do you get race bibs from (RoadID, as it turns out).  And safety pins.  Has anyone ever purposely bought safety pins or do they just breed in drawers?

One for you and one for you ...

Who gets how many shirts?  Which team gets what sizes?  How many extras?  Are they going to be here in time?

Signs for the course?  Who was responsible for printing that? What do you mean we need permission to use the Sesquicentennial logo?  Okay, let’s get that.  Who puts them out on the course?

Course breakdown?  Did it get printed off?  And every team has one?  What about the race directors?  Do *we* all have a copy of the race course?  Not all of us have gone over every mile of the course.

What do you mean the company can’t make the medals in time?  Do we have an alternative?  Great.  Okay, the medal image has changed a bit but we’ll get them in time.  They’ll be here Thursday.

Emergency contact numbers?  Got it.  Stop watches?  We’ll need that too.  Let’s hit up Athletics.

The Rest of the Stuff

Mixed in there is putting together the website for the race.  There’s communicating with the Team Captains, answering questions, providing interviews for the press (!), and coordinating with other departments on campus.

At some point in all this mess, you sit back and take a look at everything that you’ve done and wonder what it is you’re missing.  That’s when you realize you’ve done just your part.

The other race directors have been working on the permits and coordinating with law enforcement over multiple counties and three states.  They’re dealing with catering.  Getting a pastor to do the blessing before the race (we are a Lutheran college after all).  Visiting Rushford to find out where people can camp and what there is to do that night.  Finding volunteers, where to put those people, and how to get them shirts.  Dealing with budget issues.

But at some point, all that has to end.  For us, that’s Saturday morning at 7:30am.

At that time, all that is left is to start the race and see what happens next.  I’ll let you know how it goes on Monday.