Monthly Archives: May 2013

BEST IN SHOW

One of the funniest films I’ve ever seen.  Also how I feel about my dear sweet Jedediah Strong Kunasek.  He and sister Savannah Jane Weeks are two of the finest looking Treeing Walker Coon Hounds you’ll ever see.  Their tri-color pattern most desirable.  Their dispositions loving.  Their strength unquestioned.  Their noses simply amazing.

Shorty today as I’m rolling down through tornado alley to sign some legal documents in Indiahoma, OK.  With the way things have been roiling and boiling through the plains it should be an interesting trip.

I’m leaving enough time on the return trip to visit the Wizard of Oz museum in Wamego, KS.  Could care less about Dorothy’s slippers, I’ll be all up in the Omaha Circus Balloonist artifacts.  Those of you that have seen previews of Phineas Taylor and the Dandy Road Show Boys (A Romp Over Omaha) know much of the farcical humour of my future best seller stems from that kind if misunderstood old man.

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Jedediah and Savannah.  The two finest looking hounds in Nebraska.

HISTORY LESSON

I moved to Lake Jackson, TX in 1992.  During my first year there I measured 16 existing race courses in the area for USATF Certification.  I measured 2 more that were of my own design.  Formed the Brazosport Area Road Runners Association, which still exists today.   Coached every Wednesday morning (5:00 am!), the only way to ameliorate the stifling heat and humidity.

There was a young lady named Melissa that lived in the area, was perhaps the fastest person at the time, bar none.  I began racing and her top spot on the totem pole was mine with little fanfare from me.  But she didn’t take it well at all.  Worth noting that she had six marathon efforts that were within :30 of qualifying for the USA Women’s Olympic Trials standard of 2:50:00.  It was wrenching to see her get so close, so many times.

I offered to coach and train with her, guaranteeing her the sub 2:50 that she so desperately wanted.  She declined.  I went on to run 2:46 at the Houston Marathon, her time of 2:50:06 yet another disappointment.  Our friendship (?) waned further after that.

In the meantime I started bringing my San Antonio buddies to the local races.  Ridiculous to me that I was running in the mid-high 16s and winning races, with prize money.  Enter Jose Iniquez (14:30 5K and 2:17 marathoner) and Tabitha Dominguez (16 mid 5K and 35:00 10K).  They started lighting up the Gulf Coast road races, winning by wide margins.

That summer the duo came to Freeport, TX to run the Shrimp Boil 5K, a sweet little race with a couple hundred in prize purse.  And a race Melissa had owned for 5 years in a row.  Jose and Tabitha were running 1-2 overall, I was making my usual move at ~1 mile to catch Melissa, she always went out hard.  I caught her on the causeway bridge at about 1.5 miles.  She started screaming at me, “I hope you’re f****** happy now you S.O.B.!

So, what is the lesson you might ask?

First is that if you are a big fish in a little pond it is easy to have a clouded perception of the big competitive picture.  I had no designs that my 16:45s were actually worth the prize checks I was cashing.  Any more than I thought Melissa’s 18:00 5Ks were for the cash she was accustomed to.  Second, there are some people that will hate you if you disrupt their self inflated, rose colored egos.  And third, I will always be For Real Competition.  Matters not who you run for, where you run, why you run.

Luka Thor scored the $1000 payday at Sunday’s Atkinson Half Marathon.  Eric Rasmussen reported having cramping shortly after the mid way point, just about the time Luka started dropping 5:10s-5:15s.  Luka went on to run 1:10:xx, Eric second overall in 1:13:xx.  My field reporter relates that a “C or D” level Kenyan woman from the Kansas City area ran 1:20:xx for the women’s payday (quotation marks and grading are mine.)  I haven’t seen the official results but understand there were a mere 50 runners total in the half.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Logan Watley for sending the link to the results.  http://www.allsportcentral.com/results/results.cfm?EventID=51188

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CATBIRD SEAT

Fourth year in a row as Lead Biker for this morning’s Boys Town 5 Miler.  Always the best view to see who’s the most serious about winning the 2nd largest Real Race in Omaha (behind the Corporate Cup).

The times, they are a changing.  For the first time in at least the last 7 years my former club failed to place a runner in the top 3.  A male Good Mate won in ’07, ’08, ’09, (2nd in ’10, 3rd in ’11) and first again in 2012.  The female Good Mates went 1st in ’07, ’08, and ’10, and 2nd in 2009.

This morning it was 17 year old Millard West phenom Joe Harter taking the win in 26:22.  And then 14 year old 8th grader Seth Hirsch (representing Ndorfnz racing) in 26:47.  Sixteen year old Austin Post of Gretna was next across the line in 27:23.  Jason Zakaras, also of Ndorfnz racing was 4th in 27:30 (and first non-high school runner).  The first Team Nebraska runner was next with Justin Mollak crossing in 27:53.

Two Ndorfnz runners crossing before Team Nebraska.  Not taking anything away from young master Hirsch and certainly Jason has been running well all year.  Still, my heart aches.  The first and only Team Nebraska female was Emily Langdon who finished 16th overall woman.  On a brighter note one of my Wednesday night track runners, Lindsey Brezenski finished 2nd overall female in 33:39, and another, Krista Palm, finished 10th overall.

An era has passed.  And I would think that every non Team Nebraska competitor is celebrating.

This is what I saw from the best seat in the house.

I’M BEAUTIFUL!

I was out for a nice little jog this morning, hey now two days in a row!  Decided to doff the technical top and let my new happy (fat) flag fly.

You’ve got to be comfortable in your own skin to be truly beautiful.  Bald baby.  Smiling with a not too perfect bridge.  Two and a half inches shorter than the national average for males.  Real and Beautiful.

I’m dealing with a 16 year old that insists that the tanning salon is making her more attractive.   She also somehow ended up with a pierced belly button.   I’m so upset with both of these stupid decisions.

But I’m mostly pissed that Nebraska has no laws on the books to protect young ladies from these harmful rays.

My last Real Job was as health inspector for the Will County Health Dept.  Granted that was in 1992, but even then the State of Illinois recognized the hazards and the permanent damage these facilities do to the skin.

Try telling that to a West Omaha high schooler that is constantly bombarded by media and friends ascribing to Artificial Enhancements as the key to beauty.  Too much money for their own good health is a big part of the problem.  Parents that want to be friends instead of authority figures are another.

I’ve got my work cut out for me but am in the battle for the long haul.

THEY SELL YOU THIS:
1.-A-Tan-Will-Make-It-Hot

THEY DON’T TELL YOU THIS:
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PRECOCIOUS

Reflecting on my arrival to Omaha in 2001.  I didn’t necessarily get off on a good foot.  I read the World Herald’s coverage of local high school track and field.  Saw where an extremely talented young lady named Meredith Snow was being run, in my opinion, into an early retirement from the sport, either from injury or burnout.  Made my opinion known and was soundly chastised by the principles to mind my own business.  My experience as USATF’s Women’s Athlete Development Program Coordinator notwithstanding.  I’m not sure she ever ran collegiately.  If she did it was not with the same promise of achievement and success on a national scale.  I’ve often wondered if she runs at all anymore.

Celebratory dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants last night.  Dante’s in the Legacy strip mall is a real gastronomic find.  Appetizer was Fried Plum Creek Chicken Livers with chili honey aioli and sea salt.  Main course was Crispy Skin King Salmon with braised oxtail & mushrooms, green garlic, and pea tendrils.  Desert, ah, made from scratch cinnamon rolls from another of my local faves, the Heartland Cafe in Elkhorn.  As a bonus, Dante’s has select bottles of wine for half price on Thursday nights.

Want to know a secret?  The Atkinson Half Marathon is Sunday morning.  The overall male and female winners will each earn $1000.  Yes, you read that right, one thousand samolians.  One thousand clams.  One thousand greenbacks.  I know my boys Eric Rasmussen and Luka Thor will be battling it out on the men’s side.  Of course the women are playing it Very Close to the vest and not tipping their hands.  Hopefully today’s column will bolster the field.  A little nudge to my facebook friends and letsrun.com might help too.  Wouldn’t want it to be a cakewalk.  Does that make me an ass?
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Hee Haw!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAKE 6

This is the 6th year that I’ve conducted track workouts on Wednesday nights at Millard West.  The first 5 years I did this as a freebie, the program grew to a consistent 40 runners per week last year, several weeks attendance was in the 50s.

I’ve asked for a small $5 donation this year to help offset some minor expenses (Upstream).  We’ve been getting a consistent 6-8 runners.  That’s cool.

Linda’s Kids Fit Program is taking the opposite tack, it is burgeoning, thanks to our sponsor Gretna Family Health.  No charge for the little tykes, getting their fit on for free, as it should be.

What hasn’t changed is the hard work and results.  Or how proud I am of how deep these athletes are digging down.  Or how privileged I feel that they trust me with their goals.

Special thanks to Coach John Tully, whom I couldn’t do this without.

Last night really reinforced all this.  I authored/offered the most difficult workout in the history of the program.  And to a person they rose to the occasion, achieving and surpassing results any would have thought possible yesterday afternoon.

From the highly competitive to the aspiring novice, each put up numbers that had them shaking their heads.  Asks Kelly Hennen, ” How is it that I run 10-11:30ish min pace normally and ran that papillion 10k in 1:12. But when I get on the track and run your speed workout I ran a 1:59 quarter mile that last lap?”    And the last 1/4 was a Real Bear.  A scientific mix of 800/400s/200s preceded the final tour of the oval and to a person they nailed it hard.

After the warm down I asked them if they knew why the repeats were set up the way they were.  I answered for them.  “So you can RACE”.  

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Geena, Amanda, Kelly, Kristen, Krista, Lindsey, Tammy, and Jeff all wait for the answer.

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Kelly looks at her watch and marvels at her new found speed.  In the far background is 6’11” Brian Conklin, former standout at UNL.  His first Wednesday night but not his last.

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Amanda (grey) has been a great addition, Lindsey (black) too.  I want them both on my team.  Kristen  of Team Nebraska (lt. blue) and Geena (far right, fit, and fifty) all busted their butts on the most difficult of nights.

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Jennifer Greer has been making excellent progress.  She had her own special “hell” of a workout as she prepares for the Dizzy Goat 6 hour run.  Her last mile of the set of three was a mere :22 off her personal best for the distance.

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Jeff has some incredible turnover, he’s just beginning to scratch his potential.  Tammy right behind him has impressed me all spring with her gains.

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$5 worth.                                           All photos courtesy of Coach Tully.

GREEN ACRES

Is the place for me.  Farm living is the life for me.  Land spreading out so far and wide.  Keep Omaha just give me that countryside!

I became a land baron this morning, pulled the trigger on nearly 3 acres of the finest, most fertile sandy loam you could ever hope to turn.

Comes with a farmhouse built in 1938.  Updated but still very quaint and comfortable.  Great front porch, views of the bluffs.  Two car garage.  A huge barn.  And a separate studio apartment.  Wuuut?

Linda & I have stepped into no fewer than 50 houses, driven by another 100+.  This is the gem we have been searching for.  Unlisted and happened upon whilst upon a country drive.  Cash on the barrel head, reward for 20 plus years of child rearing, I’m keen on the deal.

Having my hands in the Good Mother.  Has always been in the top 5 of my life’s passions.  Self sustainability, a bonus that sounds pretty good.  Might be a year before my agrarian vision bears fruit (pun intended), but at least now I have a canvas on which to work.

Gentleman farmer and animal husbandry.  Those that thought I was a one trick pony never knew me at all. I made a lifetime’s work out of running, it has been very, very good to me.  But that was only a single aspect to a very complex organism.

I do though remain your Run Guru and will continue to extol, expose, and expunge as I see fit.  Just with dirt under my nails now and  a contented smile that no one, no way, no how can erase.

A good woman, a good dog, a good piece of land.  Does it get any better?

 

FRAIDY HOLE

Called my dad in Indiahoma, OK yesterday afternoon to make sure he was a-OK.  The devastation was north and east of there, counting that blessing while saying prayers and meditations for those in Moore.  I heard that 80% of the homes destroyed had no basement.  Dad doesn’t either but he does have a “Fraidy Hole”.  Basically a storm cellar outside of the house with a heavy door.  He also has a gun safe room inside the house constructed of steel, that wouldn’t have helped much with yesterday’s 200+ mph winds.

Got in a 32:00 run yesterday, my first since the 10K in Grand Rapids.  It was slow and non taxing and just right.  Easy running for the foreseeable future and that’s cool.  My comeback is a long ways away but I’ve earned this little break by golly.

Scoreboard:  Husker 2, Chickens 0.  I spent the afternoon out at the 2 Lazy 2 Ranch, the garden is coming along well.  A little landscaping too, but the best time was spent naming the chickens.  Over there is Luka, the one with the black band around his neck and fast as can be.  And here of course is Run Guru, the cock of the walk to be sure.  And his constant partner, that’s Linda.  And Stacy is never far behind.  The one over there is Tiny Dancer (aka Dr. Weeks), he’s always off to one side seemingly alone.  Three more to name, I’ve got to study them a bit for inspiration.

Old Husker the black lab feasted on his second bird.  Wily and old and patient and slow and quiet, he nabbed another yesterday while the two rambunctious coon hounds were whooping and hollering and yelping at the horses, nice distraction.

Looks like I’m making an offer on an old farmhouse and 2.5 acres of prime river bottom land.  Hoping to reach an agreement on price as this little parcel is exactly what we have been looking for.  Don’t fret, I won’t be too far from Omaha, just far enough.

 

 

GRAND FACADE

Things are rarely as they seem superficially.  Sometimes it takes a just little digging to get to the core.  I pondered two examples over the weekend of how something started out full of vile and bile, nastiness and putrescence, and somehow came up smelling like roses.

I’ll speak to one of them.

One of my favorite places in Omaha, in fact the place I always take my out of town visitors, is Lauritzen Gardens.  I’ve long called the Gardens a jewel of Omaha and indeed an afternoon among the flora and fauna never fails to be idyllic.

Yes on the surface everything is pretty as a picture.  Neophytes and newbies only see the result of expert groundskeeping, carefully manicured, every odd bloom or non conforming branch edited out of the scene.  But those that have been around long enough know the Real Truth.

The place is a dump.

I was shocked to find out that the Gardens were built on top of a landfill.  My old buddies Bruce Newton and Dan Warren educated me as I sat in disbelief.  How could something so wonderful, so community oriented and supported by so many people, have started out as the detritus of Omaha?  How long did it take for the refuse to be transformed into the regal?   Maybe 15 years.

Thanks for letting me wax philosophical.

Congratulations to David Bohlken, winner of this past weekend’s Papillion Half Marathon.  He missed the entry deadline for Lincoln and decided to make PHM his spring “long” effort.  He’s been knocking down the speedwork I’ve been giving him, it was no surprise to me.  Look for David to continue to progress through the summer.

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One of my favorite places to ponder, my old meditation lodge in the Zorinsky Preserve.  I explored the trails and Box Elder Creek on many an afternoon long before it became a popular trail running destination.  photo circa 2001.

I reach out from the inside.  In your eyes.  In your eyes.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WWUaNnkb-A

 

WRITER OR BUM

“Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen.”

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”

“Every blunder behind us is giving a cheer for us, and only for those who were willing to fail are the dangers and splendors of life.”

“Often I look back and see that I had been many kinds of a fool-and that I had been happy in being this or that kind of fool.”

“I’m either going to be a writer or a bum.”

Omaha

Red barns and red heiffers spot the green
grass circles around Omaha–the farmers
haul tanks of cream and wagon-loads of
cheese.

Shale hogbacks across the river at Council
Bluffs–and shanties hang by an eyelash to
the hill slants back around Omaha.

A span of steel ties up the kin of Iowa and
Nebraska across the yellow, big-hoofed Missouri
River.

Omaha, the roughneck, feeds armies,
Eats and swears from a dirty face.
Omaha works to get the world a breakfast.

Today’s quotes and poem brought to you by Carl Sandburg.  Multiple Pulitzer Prize winning author, he actually lived in Omaha for a time, penned the above while working here as a laborer.

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Linda & I made a stop through historic Galesburg, IL and visited the birthplace of one of my favorite writers.

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We also visited Geode State Park in Danville, IA.  Some great trails to run around the lake but came up empty handed on my quest for morels.  Our return to Omaha via Route 34 provided a completely different perspective on our neighbouring state, thoroughly enjoyed.

Waffle Tacos for breakfast!  Now we’re talking!
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