Monthly Archives: June 2013

WHAT AM I

Well that depends on whom you ask.  Athletics Patriarch, sure I guess I can handle that mantle.    A******, well you’re entitled to that opinion too.  What I want to be known as though is a good father, good man, good lover, good steward of the land, and good friend.

This week’s little, who, what, why, where, and how am I has been a fun introspection of my life today.

castironInventoried my cast iron cooking collection last night.  Two dutch ovens, two 14″ skillets, two 12″ skillets, one 10″ skillet, one comal, one large rectangle griddle, one large round griddle, two cornbread pans, one muffin pan, and one egg skillet.  I am digging the original hard wood floors in the old farm house.

redhomeThis little beauty is next on my wish list.  Home away from home, where the heart is.

 

 

 

WHY AM I

A little nostalgic, and a little, dare I say, disappointed.

This weekend is the USA Club T&F National Championships in New York City.

Team Nebraska first competed in the Club Champs back in 2008 (Olathe, KS).  Jenni Steiner (Shot, Discus), Angee Henry (400, 800), and Sarah Glatt (10,000) were the first women to represent.  Levi Ashley (10,000), Tom Nichols (10,000), Matt Pohren (Steeplechase), Aaron Bozarth (Hammer), Chris Hadden (Shot Put), Shannon Stenger (800) and Dustin Llewellyn (Relays) were our first men’s contingent.  Men’s Team finished 10th, Women’s Team 6th.

The meet moved to NYC in 2009 and Team Nebraska began establishing itself as one of the top Elite Development Clubs in the United States.  From the dozen athletes sent to compete Angee Henry pulled an amazing double winning both the 400 (53.30) and 800 (2:07.05).  Matt Schneider would win his first Club Champs Steeplechase title.  Shannon Stenger, Nick Suing, Evan Knight and Schneider took the Men’s DMR title.   Team Leader in 2009 was Gary Bredehoft.  Men’s Team 7th, Women’s Team 12th.

In 2010 the meet was held in San Francisco.  Team Nebraska took close to 15 athletes to the left coast and really shined.  Our men wound up 4th overall team, our women 5th.  Angee Henry would repeat her 400/800 double and also finish 3rd o/a in the 200.  Her time of 53.18 in the 400 earned her the Performance of the Meet.    Michaela van der Westhuizen made her Clubs debut with a nice 4:37/17:22 1500/5000 double.  Aubrey Baxter would win the Shot Put and Discus and finish 2nd in the Hammer.  The club’s first bona fide sprinter LeRon Williams competed in the 100 and the Long Jump.  Randal Carter won the National Champion title in the High Jump with a leap of 6-09.75.  Paul Wilson won an uncontested championship in the Race Walk.  Our Men’s Distance Medley Relay team of Shannon Stenger, Michael Saalfeld, Nick Suing and Matt Schneider set a Championships Record in 10:14.46.  Luka Thor made his club debut taking 3rd in both the 5000 (14:53) and 10,000 (30:28).  Matt Schneider won his second consecutive Steeplechase National Championship.  Men’s Team 4th, Women’s Team 5th.

2011 found the competition back at Icahn Stadium in New York City.  Aubrey Baxter was named Female Athlete of the Meet by virtue of winning the Shot Put, 2nd in the Hammer, 3rd in the Discus and 4th in the Javelin.  Whew!  Virgil Mitchell won the 110 High Hurdles and was 4th in the 400M Hurdles.  Men’s Team 5th, Women’s Team 7th.

And now it it is almost 1 year ago exactly that I brought the 2012 USA Club Championships to Omaha.  My very first effort at directing a track meet and it went flawless if I may say so.  Great staff and great volunteers receive all the credit.  As expected, Team Nebraska’s highest turnout ever and best results with our Men finishing 2nd and our Women finishing 4th.  Highlights included a 1-2-3 sweep in the Steeplechase (Pohren, Schneider, Logsdon).  Aubrey Baxter continued to show her dominance with the weights taking 1st in the Hammer, 2nd in the Discus, 3rd in the Shot Put, and 4th in the Javelin.  The Lincoln Running Co. Racing Team made their Championships debut a good one as well.  LaLonde Gordon of Zenith Velocity Track Club set a new Champs record of 20.63 in the 200 and parlayed that into a Bronze Medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

2013 and the meet again moves back to Icahn Stadium.  Only two athletes from the Great State of Nebraska will be competing.   Matt Pohren (5000 and Steeplechase) and Eric Lund (400M Hurdles), both representing Team Nebraska are the sole entrants.

As one of the architects of the USA Club Championships, and Father of both Nebraska’s LDR Program and Team Nebraska, I will sit back quietly this weekend and reminisce.

That is Why I Am.

 

HOW AM I

In a word, busy.  There is never a shortage of chores here at the Bar None.  Still a lot of fences to take down, and hey that’s the easy part.  Its digging up the posts that is adding girth to my arms and shoulders.

The previous owners had a couple of boys and they converted about half the property to a moto cross  training field.  Replete with jumps and mounds and swails.  Up today is getting my back into those and redistributing the dirt as the Good Mother had intended it.  If you’ve got a Bobcat and a trailer let me know…..future gardenSome of our parcel.  This will end up as some of the best rhizosphere in Douglas County.  Every home out here has an incredible garden.  In a strange way it is reminiscent of Hawaii, things grow to their potential due to the soil and lack of predation.  I was very surprised to see that no fencing is necessary to discourage critters, apparently not an issue.

back 40The back forty.  I’ve been slowly removing the fencing, preferring instead to open up the property to unobstructed views.  Another long stretch to go between the strawberry patch and the Cottonwoods and I’ll be happy with my work.

Jed in driveJed is ever vigilante.  He went from a cooped up, apartment dwelling hound to proud guardian of our 3 acre slice of heaven.   He too is flourishing and is as happy as a dog can be!

Linda & I have run twice in the last three days.  Every other day for now as we ease back into our love.

Going to be HOT at tonight’s Wednesday Night Track Work so be sure and bring your water bottle!

 

 

 

 

 

WHERE AM I

So far we have met a half a dozen of our neighbors.  Several times they have pitched in, helping to ease me into the workaday experience, and the tools therein that allow labor saving.  I’ve got a lot of catching up to do in that department, I’m big on work and short on devices.  Big thanks to Coach John Tully for helping me out towards that end.

This is a completely different bio-socio-scape than West Omaha.  The flourishing fauna to be sure but even more so the genuine members of our little tribe of solitarists.  There’s an unspoken dictum that allows for free and easy conversation between these staunch individualists.  We are content to sit and listen, being mindful and respectful of those that have overseen the vibe of the hood for the last 4 decades.

This development started in the 1930s as 10 acre plots.  Several remain to this day, the rest once or at the most twice divided.  Nice room to stretch and enjoy one’s own company.

That’s where I am.

We saw a runner at dusk last night.  Accompanied by his young daughter on her bike.  Passed by the Bar None twice so must have run at least 3 or 4 miles.

Big kudos to Nik Wallenda.  His traverse of the Little Colorado River Gorge was nothing short of mind blowing.  If you missed it, find it.  I really thought it was suicide but after just 2 minutes I knew he had it beaten.  The Mind is the Athlete!

WHO AM I

“Who I am is no mystery.  There’s no need to tap my phone or open my mail.  No necessity to submit me to psychoanalysis.  No call to investigate my credit rating.  Nothing gained by invading my privacy.  There is, in fact, no privacy to invade.  Because like all human beings I have no privacy.  Who I am is visible for all to see.’

“When I was young, I knew who I was and tried to become someone else.  I was born a loner.  I came into this world with an instinct for privacy, a desire for solitude and an aversion to loud voices, to slamming doors and to my fellow man.  I was born with the dread that someone would punch me in the nose or, even worse, put his arm around me.

But I refused to be that person.  I wanted to belong.  Wanted to become part of the herd, any herd.  When you are shy and tense and self-conscious, when you are thin and scrawny and have an overbite and a nose that takes up about one third of your body surface, you want friends, you want to join with others.  My problem was not individuality, but identity.  I was more of an individual than I could handle.  I had to identify with a group. ”

RUNNING & BEING, The Total Experience.  Dr. George Sheehan, 1978 Simon and Schuster

Leafing through one of my favorite books this morning.  I had loaned it to Justin Mollak a while back and he returned it a couple of days ago.  More on Justin in a moment.

Dr. George Sheehan has always been in my estimation the one true Run Guru.  And while I’ve read several hundred books on our sport, it was George that made the best descriptions that I identified with the most.  If you are in need of a summer read, do go to the library or kindle or whatever and either reconnect or discover for the first time what so many of us feel but are unable to put into such eloquent words.

Justin ran Grandma’s Marathon on Saturday and delivered a fine 2:39:06.  Jason Zakaras was right behind in 2:39:23.  Lily Kaftan scored a huge pr running a very solid 3:11:34.  My old buddy and a Team Nebraska mate back in the early aughts, Tracy Lokken finished 25th overall running 2:21:34, pretty fast for his 47 years of age.

Luka Thor ran the USA Men’s Half Marathon National Championships component of the race.  Luka finished in 1:07:30 for 77th overall.  Team Iowa Ablaze mate Jason Flogel ran 1:06:34 for 59th.  My new buddy Mo Trafeh won in 1:01:16 and my old buddy Meb was 2nd in 1:01:22.  The top 18 men were under 1:04:00, whew!  Mike Morgan was 28th in 1:04:34.  The Women’s Champs race saw a couple of locals competing with Lisa Baumert finishing 39th in 1:18:46 and Bridget Easley 50th in 1:20:34.

 

TIME FOR TIME

Different place, different pace.  No clocks up just yet, no tv until tomorrow no newspaper until next Monday.  Some morning radio but mostly the birds and frogs and crickets to mark time.  And always the rustling cottonwood leaves, so I can hear what I feel, the cool breezes blowing through the many windows.  That and the giant native trees with their cooling canopy make air conditioning completely optional so far.

I’m taking time for time.  Frequent pauses to appreciate all that is Good about me.  Wide open spaces with friendly faces.

A slower, gentler pace.  Carl across the street is 82, Tom is 65, Gene 62.  I’m the new with the emphasis on kid on the block.  They’ve all moseyed over to introduce themselves and describe the proud history our little piece of heaven.  Each dropping by astride their riding lawn mowers, trusty steeds, lamenting days of glory for the property that had been unattended for nearly 4 years.  Linda & I worked hard on fences during a day long rainstorm last week.  That didn’t go unnoticed and gained us instant acceptance by the Old Guard.   They’re as anxious as we are to see the Bar None blooming.

view

The view from the new home office.  I added a loft during the renovation just for it.  West Shores in the distance, the bluffs overlooking the Elkhorn River in the far distance.  Long glances provide deep thoughts.

A hot one at the track last night.  Jenni Greer reacted with determination when I prescribed her one mile time trial.  Dropped her personal best from 7:43 to 6:59.  Forty four second improvement for one mile, that is worth repeating.

watermelon

We all celebrated Jenni’s new Mile PR with cold watermelon, she surprised us at the conclusion of the evening with the tasty treat..  Linda had 10 tough kids show up for Kids Fit Program.  All smiles!

 

COUNTRY CORRESPONDENT

We’re trying to get the final things moved out to the Bar None.  Movers were here yesterday and I’ve got to give some big props to Flat Rate Movers.  Two young studs, Tyler and Rich, sprinting up the 3 flights of stairs after every load down.  I encouraged both to run Trek to the Top next February.  Packed, moved, and unpacked in 3 hours, they wore me out just watching.  A few remaining dishes, clothes, and lastly this computer equipment.  HughesNet is coming out tomorrow to hook up internet.  They join the Dish Network, Knudsen Propane, Scotts Well & Septic, and Papillion Sanitation as replacements for services I had grown accustomed to.  Country living.

But having spent our first night in the country I don’t see ever moving back to town.  A leisurely jog and walk with the dog last night, under open skies, zero traffic or distractions, only the sunset and dusk denizens for company.  Hard to beat that.

Looking very much forward to doing some training on these flat roads.  The closest hill is the climb out of the Elkhorn River Valley and that is formidable.

hardway2If anyone has a Ford 8N or 9N, or maybe a Kubota, I’m intersted!  I mowed over an acre of this tall stuff with my push mower, nearly 10 hours over two days.  Plans are to mow a path/trail around our brome grass field, should be near to a quarter mile “track”.

allihomeWhat a wonderful Father’s Day surprise I got!  My dear sweet Allison home for a break from the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute.  She cooked us supper and that was just so much icing on the cake.  Our final meal in the apartment, yum.

 

 

A MOMENT WITH LOGAN WATLEY

Logan Watley is the President of the Lincoln Running Co. Racing Team.  Logan discusses this year’s success and upcoming plans for LRC Racing.

 

Will:  The Lincoln Running Co. Racing Team is over a year old now and the team has come a long way.  What is the highlight of your first year?

Logan: We are actually coming up on the three year anniversary of LRC Racing becoming a formal team. It’s hard to pick just one highlight of the past three years but having our men and women’s teams win the Team Challenge at Hospital Hill was pretty cool, as well as having the top Nebraska finisher in 3/4 races at the Lincoln Full/Half marathon this past year.

Will:  Will you be sending a team to New York City for next month’s USA Club Track & Field Championships?  Who’s on the traveling roster?

Logan:  We will not be sending anyone to NYC at the end of this month. We would definitely like to send a team, but we have limited funds available to us and going to NYC just isn’t financially viable for us at this time. Hopefully next year!

Will:  What is the size of your group now?  Are they primarily located in Lincoln?

Logan:  Our team is now made up of 8 women and 16 men. I would say that the team is primarily based out of Lincoln, but we really are all over! We’ve had or currently had members in Kearney, York, Seward, Beatrice and of course a small contingent starting in Omaha.

Will: LRC Racing seems to be dialed in on the local team competitons, congratulations on the club wins at last weekend’s Hospital Hill Half Marathon.  How are your teams selected?

Logan:  Our team places a lot of focus on local/regional races. Along with being a financial issue, one of the goals of our team is to help promote running in the community, and what better way than supporting our local races? Teams are primarily split by the individual’s themselves, and really any team competition is open to anyone on our team.

Will:  Is LRC a group based training program?  Who is the Head Coach for the club?

Logan: We are definitely a group-based training program. We realize that everyone’s schedule is a little different, but we have a few different groups that train together during any given week. It helps when those groups are training for the same distance and the same race. We don’t have a “Head Coach”, but we do have a Board who helps run the team’s activities and several high school and college coaches who provide additional resources to our athletes, specifically in the form of training plans or workout ideas.

Will:  You have a nice mix of talent, both your men and women have represented well this spring/summer.  Any up and comers we should look out for?

Logan:  Lots of improvement has happened in our team this last year. Eric Noel has ran two marathons at 2:30 or faster, Neil Wolford ran a 3 minute PR in the half at Lincoln (1:08:30), Michael Rathje cut 2 minutes off his half PR at Lincoln (1:10:45), Hannah Kinberg debuted in the Lincoln marathon at 2:53, Frankie Petersen cut 6 minutes off her marathon time at Lincoln (2:54) and Nora Youngs PR’d by 4 minutes at Lincoln (1:26). Lots of other improvements and great times and those are just a few examples of the members who help make our team standout.

Will:  How would you describe the competitive landscape in Nebraska? With Team Nebraska always on the line it sounds like a good time to be a Real Racer.

Logan:  Oh, definitely. Team Nebraska has been so good for so long, and NDORFNZ represents well at races too. I think that the competitive landscape is definitely improving with the addition of new teams to the racing landscape.

Will:  What are the club’s competition plans for the rest of the summer? Will you be sending a team to Midnight Madness in Ames next month?

Logan:  We leave competition choices up to the individuals. We may me sending a team or two to Midnight Madness in Ames, as well as a strong contingent at the USATF NE Association mile championship (Lincoln Mile July 7) and the 5-mile championship (Columbus Downtown Runaround). I’m sure we’ll go to some places next fall, but we won’t have a clearer idea until later this summer/early fall.

Will: What is something you would like everyone to know about Logan Watley, the runner.

Logan:  I really enjoy training with other people. Ever since my wife and I moved to Elkhorn, it’s been tough to find a consistent training group that fits my work schedule.

Will:  What is something you would like everyone to know about Lincoln Running Co. Racing Team?

Logan: We are a team made up of like-minded individuals who really just enjoy running. It can be really easy to just stop running, and our hope is that our team helps provide the opportunities that will keep those runners running.

BAR NONE

The name of our little piece of paradise.  But why the Bar None you might ask?

As homage to the original Bar None Ranch in  Indiahoma, Oklahoma.  My dad’s 140 acres in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains.  A great story, dad bought the land for $27,000 in 1972.  Holds several of his favorite fishing holes and some trails he ran and climbed as a child growing up during the Great Depression.  He sold it in 2009 for a cool  $400K.  Not a bad investment for a self described Oklahoma Ridge Runner that spent his life as a laborer.

treasurelake

 

fish1

A couple of the sweetest little honey holes in SW Oklahoma.

True to the skeptical sentiments shared by many of his generation, dad refused to trust the stock market or even the safest of investment instruments.  Instead he stashed his cash in a box in a vault in a local bank.  Where it sat for the last 4 years.  I finally convinced him to invest in a simple money market fund while on our trip down a couple of weeks ago.

28large

I might be the only cat you’ll ever know that has held $280K in his hot little hands.

eoxfarm

The original ranch is now a wild game hunting property managed out of Dallas, TX.  I was saddened by the size of the fences that now encompass the land.

I spent nearly 8 hours yesterday taking down fencing.  The previous owners had dogs and cattle and were compelled to compartmentalize the 3 acres of prime and fertile land.  A Real Cowboy abhors fences.

The Bar None.  You know I dig the double entendre and this suits me to a T.

Bar None.  Meaning Everyone is welcome.  No exceptions.  A sanctuary where all can be forgotten.  The idyllic and peaceful countryside beckoning relaxation and appreciation of the finest things in life.

Bar None.  Meaning none better, the best.  The standard.  Excellence.

Yeah, I’m going to dig this new gig as run/farm guru.

 

 

GRANDMA’S MARATHON

Its not Grandmother’s.  It is Grandma’s!  Or en Espanol, Maraton de Abuelita.

My love for Grandma’s Marathon goes back to the last century, ha!  I first met Executive Director Scott Kennan in the mid 90s.  His event has been a stalwart in hosting USA National Championships for half marathon.  It is one of my favorite races anywhere and with good reason.  The amenities offered by Scott and his staff are unparalleled.  I had made a commitment to him many years ago to run “One of the Great American Road Races.”  And so, Linda & I trained up last year, toed the starting line in perhaps the best shape of my life, and danced for 18 miles with the Cruel Mistress before succumbing to hypothermia.  But that is not today’s story.

Scott Keenan was one of the founders of Grandma’s back in 1977.  This year will be his 37th year at the helm of the race, the longest tenure of any marathon in the country.  It will also be his Grand Finale.

From the Duluth News Tribune: ”

“I know you can’t go on in a job forever, but sometimes I think I wear an S on my shirt. I still think I’m Superman,” Keenan said at his office on Canal Park Drive, near the marathon finish line.

“There’s been a turning point for me the last three years. When I’ve left the house each morning of the race I’ve told my wife (Carrie) that it was my last year. It’s been on my mind, and this year I finally decided it was in my best interest to move on. It’s hard to let go, but I’m not willing to take that stress anymore.”

“I’m a perfectionist, I’ve never wanted the race to fail, and the pressure I put on myself is much more than the reality of the race,” said Keenan, who often dabbed away tears during a half-hour interview. “I’ve thought ‘Do I do this the rest of my life?’ But unless I move on, there won’t be a new chapter, and I’m looking forward to a new chapter.”

Keenan says he’s also sensed his mortality in recent years with the passing of friends closely connected to Grandma’s Marathon, including Don Fennessy, Alex Ratelle and Kevin Peterson.

So here’s to you today Scott Keenan.  Thanks for the thrilling memories of Real Racing, my final marathon attempt, for showing that it is OK after all to step away from something you created and loved, and for being a Real Friend.  Your proclivity for great racing, great wine, and easy smiles will always be a fond memory.

StaffandBoardPhoto2012

 

Scott Keenan, front row right.  Duluth and Grandma’s Marathon have been lucky to have him!