I Miss The Chase

Early morning in Madison, WI – Ragnar Relay Chicago 2016
Advertisements

2020, man. I had so many plans for this year for the running team as well as myself personally. Running, admittedly, hasn’t been at the forefront. Part of that has been that motivation hasn’t been great. This year has just worn on me. My head hasn’t been where it should be to drive ahead and get the mileage in.

The other part has been life and work. Work has been insane. For those that don’t know me, I am responsible for the treated lumber sales of a national lumber and hardware cooperative. If you’ve not noticed, treated lumber, especially decking, is like toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic…you can’t find it anywhere. People have been at home and looking to improve their outdoor spaces since they’re spending more time at home. To say that my time working at home was nuts would be an understatement as well as increasingly frustrating because I couldn’t find product to sell. Additionally, I probably didn’t manage my time as well as I could have. I was so work focused that I just didn’t step away to get a run in to blow off some steam.

Then as well as now, with the kids home, the extra time we’ve had, we’ve spent with them. We’ve had more quiet nights snuggled up on the couch watching America’s Got Talent and The Titan Games than I can count and I love it. Now with the weather warmer and a new patio ourselves, we’ve spent a ton of time outside while the kids run through the sprinkler. It’s been so, so nice. The pace of life, at least at home, as slowed and I couldn’t be happier about that.

It’s about time for my running pace to stop slowing. 🙂 I’ve always done better with a target on the board. The picture above is one of myself from our second Ragnar Relay. I was the first runner for our team that day and it was a beautiful run. I miss those types of runs.

Being that today’s the start of July and I’ve struggled so mightily to get going, it’s time to focus on the Fort 4 Fitness. I’m as excited about this year’s race as any in awhile and determined to do well. It may not be the first one I’ll get to experience as things come back but I love that event. I’m not sure what it is. I think it’s a combo of being a huge baseball fan, proud of my town, and just the enjoyment of the event because it’s so well organized. Add it all up and it’s a wonderful time.

So here’s to the thrill of stretching your limits and feeling the breeze on your skin as the skin as, hopefully, the running community comes together again this fall. The target is on the wall now. I’m tired of being tired because I’m not in the shape I’d like to be in. I’m tired of not getting after it. The chase….it has begun!

Advertisements

RDG’s Top 10 – #1 RNW ’15

Advertisements

Whenever you approach something new, nerves abound and EVERYTHING about Ragnar Relay Chicago was new to us in 2015. Looking back on it and what we did back then compared to how we approach these now, it’s fairly amazing. Also, because it was such a new experience, there’s a certain fondness that I look back on it with and can’t help but smile. Here’s why….

It was our fastest team but not because we had the speediest of runners. Don’t get me wrong, the Wisconsin Van could scoot. They were no doubt younger, lighter on their feet, and more accomplished runners than Van 2, the one I was in, but with the exception of a good rain at the beginning of the race for the first couple runners, EVERYTHING lined up. The weather was warm but there was a nice breeze throughout the weekend. The sun was out and people were just in a great mood. It was easy to fall in love with the course as there were just so many areas were you’d see rolling, lush, green fields and the finish line at the beach was an awesome experience with people packed around it celebrating each others’ success. Everything just lined up for a great day and we clipped through it quickly and it’s been hard to duplicate that experience since. In the end, we were hooked.

The fundraiser….we had no idea what we were doing other than reaching out to folks to see what we could do. We knew our charity of choice well enough but none of the people there very well. That would come later but in that first year, we were doing it just to support something we believed was a great and worthwhile cause, which it was and is still. We threw a goal out there and proceeded to double it and then some. It almost seemed easy at that point and again, we were hooked to do it again to do it even better.

The team roster was pretty special. I’m very grateful for the friends of my cousin Sarah for jumping aboard. If they hadn’t, I’m not sure I could have fielded a team. Of that group, I’ve only seen one since that first year but I will always appreciate them. They were rock stars.

For myself personally, the group in my van, it was just about as good as it gets. There was my cousins Brandon and Joel, whom I’d grown up with on our family farm with them just a couple rows of trees away. Joel’s girlfriend at the time, now wife, joined us too and I could see why he liked her. Despite being surrounded by our stupidness, she fit in great as she joked and carried on with us throughout the race.

Nerk, Brandon and Joel’s cousin on the other side of their family, who had come to play on the farm at times, I’d known since we were little too and played a lot of baseball with and against him throughout our childhood. Again, a friend that was like family. Add in Adam, my godmother’s oldest son, just 10 years younger than I am, and his youngest brother Ryan, one of my godsons, and my best friend Artie, and I had a crew that was maybe the closest knit that I’ve ever had. All of those stupid inside jokes you had as kids and throughout your college years that you carry around as a group? It was a weekend full of it and it was great to catch up.

Throw all of that together and you have an event that goes off without a hitch with great weather, a fundraiser that wildly exceeds expectations, and a group to do that with that which is that close, and it’s an experience that has been incredibly difficult to duplicate to the point where I oftentimes catch myself trying not to compare a fundraiser or team against this first group.

Our process has been improved multiple times since then and proven to be a formula for success a couple times over but the feeling of that team and that weekend may be something we’ll always be chasing but it’s why I keep trying to refine it and coming back.

Advertisements

RDG’s Top 10 – #2 Artie ’17

19030432_10155449857121289_975987642689998010_n

When you’ve known someone as long as I’ve known Artie, when you see them accomplish something like this, it’s special. 2017’s Ragnar Relay, our last year in Chicago, featured some moments that were definitely special.

Leading up to the race, we had an opening pop up late in our preparations. Artie, who’d helped by driving in the past decided that he’d fill one of those spots so that he could be a part of the team. I loved the idea because he talked about wanting to run because he’d seen us do it and wanted to be a bigger part of the team. I promised not to load him up with too many miles since we were shorter on time and he’d never run a race of any type before so tackling a Ragnar definitely stepping outside of his comfort zone.

Fast forward about a month and we had another opening pop up and Jenn took that spot. She hadn’t run in nearly 10 years as she’d had our little ones during that span. He volunteered to let her take his spot with the easiest legs of the race and he’d take the next easiest. So we shuffled the deck slightly and pointed everything towards the race.

There was one problem though…because of a change of work, Artie had little time to train. In fact, by the time the race came, he may have only run/walked a few miles. You could argue that having a runner who’d never even run a 5k with only about that total mileage take the spot was crazy or that he was crazy. Part of it was a combination of both but we had a good conversation about it and agreed that we’d take it one run at a time. I told him that I didn’t care about speed and that I just didn’t want him to get hurt. We figured out how we’d break it down if he could only do 1 leg of the race and how we could cover the other two and he said he’d see what he could do and let us know after the first one.

It was still crazy but what happened during that race was amazing to me and it’s why I’ve rated his story and determination as our #2 moment or memory of our races. He ran every mile. He toed the line, took the baton, and ran.ever.last.mile.

He didn’t have to at all. What it came down to, though, was that he made a commitment to the team and he wasn’t going to go back on that. We gave him an out. We actually gave him multiple outs and he never took them.

I remember one leg specifically. The elevation map made it seem like it was flat but that was incorrect. It might have netted out to a negative gain but that road, including a crossing of a busy intersection was anything but flat. It was an all out roller coaster for about 4 miles. At one point, we stopped to cheer him on and then went up the hill to the finish and waited for him and we waited awhile and wasn’t sure he was ok. Someone drove back and he was still chugging and told us to meet him up there and that he’d be there as soon as possible. He never gave up.

The determination and grit he displayed that weekend choked me up then and it wasn’t because he was overcoming an injury or beat a PR and was proud of himself and us for him. It was that he looked everyone in the eye that weekend and followed through with that commitment when he didn’t have to out of care for us so that we’d not overextend ourselves. As a friend, it meant a lot, and despite not truly being ready to go and the worry I had for him and how we were going to pull it off at the beginning, everything worked because he wasn’t going to let us down. It was incredible and I will never forget the effort he put in that weekend.

RDG’s Top 10 – #3 The Heat ’16

In 2015, we ran and completed our first Ragnar Relay. It felt like an amazing accomplishment and rightfully so: 200 miles of running over the course of a 31 hours was, and still is amazing to me. Not knowing how good we’d be and despite varying distances over the following years, that is still our fastest team.

Going forward, we raised $2,250 that first year and felt like we could do better and we felt the same way about our running. With a year of experience under our belt, we just felt that we would be more comfortable and consequently, be a better running team overall. We had a few people who were eager to get back out there, hit the course, and take a little revenge on it and show it we were tougher than it was.

The funny thing about that type of attitude, which is a great way to be, especially when you get a second chance at something, is that the second time around, it’s never exactly the same and 2016’s race, was no where near the same.

That couldn’t have rung more true with Ragnar Relay 2016. Approximately half of the team was new but with the guys we had, we really expected it to be a faster team than that first year. Everything on paper always looks better but in reality, we were set.

Between the Schortgen and Koehlke boys, Nerk going all out, and Chris Ravenscroft, we had some top end speed that was greater, overall, than what we had in ’15 but heat can make a huge difference in how well those best laid plans play out.

The morning was perfect. It was low 60’s, partly sunny, with a cool breeze. It really was extremely nice. That only lasted so long though. By the time we got through 4 runners, you could just tell that things were heating up. I was fortunate to be in Van 1 and by the time it was really starting to warm up, we were almost done. Cherri got the brunt of the heat when it hit.

She took off for a 5 mile run and it looked nice but you could just feel someone turning a knob as the sun bore down on us. Unfortunately for her, the leg of the race she was running was virtually completely 100% exposed. She had zero shade anywhere. The one thing we were took a massive step forward in ’16 was our support stops. Anywhere we could stop to help each other, we did. Whether that was to provide a drink or cheer someone on, we took that time in a completely 100% better way than we did in 2015, at all.

The picture in the lower right was Cherri’s run, as mentioned above and you can just tell it’s hot and there’s not a cloud in the sky. It was on a blacktop road in the middle of the country and you just baked. She handed off to Ryan, who looked confident in his top middle picture but his 9.9 miles of 85+ degree heat was largely unaided. There was no way for us to get to him. The one saving grace for him during that run was that there were water stations along the route.

Poor Van 2 though…from beginning to end, they got it bad. The only reprieve they really had was their 2nd runs of the day was at night. That wasn’t before casualties hit.

One guy went out and practically got heat stroke on his first run and quit completely after his first 4 miler. That left us wondering how we were going to handle the rest of the race as he had 2 more runs. It wouldn’t belong and things would figure themselves out for us.

When Van 1 took the baton, I ran nearly 5 miles at a 9:30 pace for my first run. It was cookin’ and I was determined to get through it as quickly as I could without hurting myself. The rest of the van did as well. Ryan was about to run when the radar looked like a hurricane was about to hit Milwaukee although there was hardly any wind and not a drop of rain in sight. Unbeknownst to us or Ragnar, it was heat lightning but out of safety, the race held us for 2 runs. Ryan missed one and Greg missed one. That fit perfectly as those were 2 of our fastest and we’d fit those slots in for Ben’s last 2 runs.

In all, we finished, minus Ryan as he hopped in and ran with Van 2. Those of us in Van 1 felt bad as we were at Buffalo Wild Wings drinking beer without him but wow. It tasted soooo good.

At the finish line, it wasn’t at the lakeshore and at a Chicago City park which was face of the sun hot. It just held in all of that city heat and we just sat there, waiting, and baking. Prior to the hold, we were well ahead of pace but after, we fell behind. We lost 2 legs, counting them as 60 minute runs a piece when in reality, Van 2 was fast enough to run 4 legs in that period. Such is life though.

What mattered most was that we overcame it all. It was an incredible effort and despite the adversity, we persevered. That’s what Ragnar is about though. It’s about coming together as a team and getting through it.

While I would never wish that heat on anyone, I am going to miss the push and effort that it takes to pull that off this year. 2021 better watch out because Ragnar Trail Michigan, we’re coming for you!

RDG’s Top 10 – #4 Finish Line ’18

img_0312

Open Space Park in Traverse City, despite it’s cold, was the most fun finisher we’ve ever had. * Spoiler Alert * 2015, our first team’s finish meant more, but this was easily the most fun. ’18’s team was just special in a lot of ways.

As close as other teams were, this team was new and fresh and we battled through a ton during that race. We’d been hit with HEAT 2 years prior and it sapped the energy and will out of you. The 40 degree temps with 15-20 mph wind overnight in Michigan? Combine it with the hills of Michigan and there was a spot where I nearly felt broken.

As much as I love Ragnar Relays, there’s always a time where I’m sitting there thinking to myself, “Why do I do this to myself?” There’s always a time that’s redeeming too. The finishline in Traverse City, when I came in, it was absolutely joyous.

I was tired and sore from my hip issues the night before and it was a slow but enjoyable run. I ran, power hiked some of the hills as everyone else was, and enjoyed some incredible downhills as I came into Traverse City. When we ran together at the finish line, we were a team and people seemed to truly enjoy each others’ company.

It was then that the showering of joy began. I’d always felt we never took enough time to enjoy what we accomplished and celebrate it. Everyone was so tired that we just rushed to get home and in our own bed before we fell asleep. If there was one thing missing those first few years, it was the celebration and acknowledgement of the accomplishment.

In ’18, we celebrated. Ragnar gave us 2 pizzas and we were all cold so having something warm hit the spot. Nearly immediately, I think, Chris handed me a beer and we had a toast. We all sat around some tables and just talked for probably 30-45 minutes and just shared our experiences together. It was, by far, one of my very favorite personal memories because of how I had felt that was missing. It was great to have that be a part of our team finally.

10,000 Challenge: Let’s Do This!

http://www.teamneighborlink.com/blog/2020/5/18/tnl-amp-friends-10000-challenge

In between our Top 10 Moments & Memories postings over the next week or so, we’ve tried to sprinkle in some other content. Consider this one an invitation:

Join us wherever you are and run, walk, bike, or whatever gets you moving on June 13th and 14th to help Team NeighborLink, collectively, hit 10,000 miles and raise $10,000 in the same weekend.

We have some unfinished business with our fundraising for NeighborLink. They’re a wonderful organization and when the pandemic hit, we were just kicking off our campaign and having the best month we’ve ever had and then everyone stopped.

So currently, we’re at $3,032 raised between our Facebook fundraiser and our NeighborLink Fundraising site. Our goal is $5,000 and we treat that more as a promise than just a goal we’re trying to hit.

They’ve thrown out a pretty remarkable challenge and Team Runners Doing Good is going to try to answer the bell and help with those miles and hopefully some dollars as well.

To participate, do 2 things:

  1. Get out, move, and rack up that mileage however you love to do. Then, hop over to Team NeighborLink’s site and log them in. You might even win some cool NLFW swag.
  2. Donate. Visit our sites: NLFW project site or on Facebook.
  3. Let us know! If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, use hastag #DoGoodRunGood to let us know you’re helping out!

That’s it! Make an impact through your running and help a lot of folks in the process!

RDG’s Top 10 – #5 Pre-Race Meal in ’18 & ’19

70918766_2354347341546504_6934100918434529280_n

This picture was taken from dinner this past year in Whitehall, MI. I rate these two dinners so highly because they really were the beginning of another phase for the team. We’ve had change on the team and I think that’s something which brings growth.

For us though, from ’17 to ’18, the team really turned over in a big way. When you’re a bunch of adults doing this kind of thing, this needs to find in and amongst life for it to work. For Jenn and I, it’s lasted this long because we’ve made it work but we’ve not felt that anyone from any year is beholden to doing it the following year. There’s certainly no contracts involved in this.

So from ’17 to 18, like I mentioned, change happened. Jenn, Michael, Andrew, and I were the only runners from ’17 to commit to ’18’s team as runners. Artie stayed on but as a driver, bringing Amanda with him. We brought back Cherri and Ryan, who’d run in ’16 so there was definitely some familiarity with how we operated there for them but as far as newbies went, we added Ashley, Kelly, Chris, Melissa, Matt, and Amanda. In total, 8 of our 12 hadn’t run the year before and with going to Michigan vs. Chicago, change was the name of the game for us. We event lost Andrew a few days before the race which kept things interesting for how we approached the race so again, more change and adaptation.

From ’18 to ’19, we saw some change, but not nearly at the same level. We lost Ashley and Melissa and gained Chris and Amy-Jo, only to lose her to a last second emergency as well.

Why these dinners rate so high, though, is while we had had dinners in Madison in years passed that can’t be ignored, having so many new people that the majority of the team was getting to know all at once, especially that first year in ’18, it was extremely cool to see how quickly the team came together and it’s why those teams will always be special. Those dinners kicked it all off.

Halfway Through Our Top 10!

It’s amazing that we’re now half way through our Top 10 Moments and Memories of Runnin’ Not Walken / Runners Doing Good. It’s truly been enjoyable to look back on these memories, people, and places.

If you’ve not had an opportunity to check it out, you can always visit our blog page or just hit up these links individually:

#10 – Night Runs

#9 – Brandon’s Helmet Run

#8 – Courtney’s Kick-Off!

#7 – Night Moves

#6 – Shake n Bake

That’s the bottom 5, what can you expect in the Top 5? Without a ton of specifics, expect to hear about teams coming together, overcoming adversity, and the feelings of accomplishment.

RDG’s Top 10 – #6 Shake N Bake ’15

These two. There’s so much about that 2015 team and the experience that I look back on and smile. I think the newness of it all was something that made it special. No one, and I mean no one had an idea of what it’d be like really. We saw Ragnar Relay as something that was a daunting physical challenge that if we could get in shape for it, it’d be great. We noticed something though, in pictures leading up to it, we noticed a ton of costumes. It just seemed like it was a bunch of adults acting like kids, all while running 200 miles.

Adam and Artie provided that level of entertainment for us. The cool part of it is that neither one of them had ever met before the race…ever. When they both comitted to driving for us, I told them if they wanted to do something, it’d be a lot of fun.

The next thing we know, Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton, Jr are driving our van. They were immensely popular with the other teams and had quite a few pictures taken with other runners. They even ended up in the post from Ragnar showing pictures.

In all, having those guys around just made the whole experience a lot better. There were certainly a lot of nerves and they helped take the edge off and for that, they make the list.

RDG’s Top 10 – #7 Night Moves ’19

NeighborLink Fort Wayne‘s Night Moves series of runs is pretty awesome. Being that 2019 was our first year running to benefit them, we wanted to make sure that we were able to participate in some of the events that they were putting on and we LOVED IT.

You can find a review of that race here.

What made this run special wasn’t because the course was awesome, which it was, or that the weather was so great, which it was, but because of the vibe of it and what it meant to the team.

2019 marked the 4th year the team was together, last as Runnin’ Not Walken, as well as the 5th Ragnar Relay that we’d be training for as part of our epic running efforts to make a difference in the community. That all said, it was the first time that anyone on the team got together to run together prior to the Ragnar.

We had Matt and Amanda, Chris, Kelly, Jenn, and myself and then Artie and Amanda showed up as we were finishing to enjoy the atmosphere there atFort Wayne Outfitters, which was really neat. Everyone that ran that night, ran for the fun of it. There was no official distance so how could you aim for a PR? It was about doing good and having fun and boy did we.

We got to run through Fort Wayne’s new Promenade Park, the weekend it first opened, and then all around through downtown seeing some of the beautiful murals that have popped up doing the last several years, all while the buzz of a couple day food and arts festival was winding. The atmosphere which is constantly building in downtown Fort Wayne was just wonderful that warm August night.

We even walked down to Hop River for a drink there after it was all over to catch up and hang out. As far as nights as part of this team go, this was pretty special.

%d bloggers like this: