Monthly Archives: November 2014

BIG BOOTS TO FILL

The world moves in wonderful circles and a fine one was completed this morning.  I’m honored, will cherish, and try and fill the gift that has come to me.

Robert Jorgensen was a man’s man.  Born November 27th, 1934 from Hurley, South Dakota. Graduate of SDSU with an Agriculture Degree.  He put it to the Good of Man.  A two year U.S. Army stint in Japan before coming home and making a difference.  Robert spent 1965-1998 working for the Omaha Livestock Exchange.  Western Area Supervisor, his territory from the Missouri River to California.  Traveled to Washington, D.C. too, always striving to advocate and serve, received numerous service and industry awards.  Was a key figure in Livestock Market News, covering all facets of his passion.

Mr. Jorgensen also had a global impact.  Spent time in both Poland and Kazakhstan helping those govenments and people develop sustainable livestock farming.  As too often happens, he passed just a year after his retirement.  But his works, deeds, and words still echo through South Omaha and beyond.

I was having a beer at my favorite watering hole last night.  Talk turned to my diminuitive stature and then my shoe size.  Eights in running shoes, 8.5 in Cowboy Boots.  An old friend overheard and mentioned that she had a collection of her father’s boots, treasures all, that would fit me perfectly.  That was my introduction to Robert Jorgensen.  Michelle was kind and keen enough to say she felt I would be the perfect person for them.  If I was moved then, I am even moreso now.  Drove to Millard this morning, tried on 8 pair that fit as if they were hand tailored for me.  These boots, painstakingly cared for during a man’s career and after by a daughters love, seem to have been destined to end up at the Bar None.  I’m not often at a loss for words but came close this morning.  A birthday gift, my own just a day after his.

Thank you Michelle.  Thank you Robert Jorgensen.

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Lucchese, Tony Lama, Laramie, Olathe, Nocona, and Justin, boots that built the livestock industry both in Omaha and around the world.  I’ll do my best to fill them well.

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Robert Jorgensen.  Your legacy lives.

WHOLE HOG TOO

The Polar Plunge caught most of Omaha with its pants down, oopsie.  Not so out here on Our Little Slice.  I spent the last couple of weeks using what I learned last year and mimicking what my neighbors were doing.  Getting things done.  Winterizing.  All the leaves raked and into the compost pile.  Those late fall stragglers- carrots and onions and beets and parsnips and pears and dried pole beans and coriander all completely harvested over the weekend,  the unseasonal mid 60s our ally.  When the temps, and snow, dropped we were ready.  I’ve had my wood burning stove going for close to 48 hours, bring it on.

So the larders are fairly bursting with good produce.  Our freezers too now filled to brimming.  Our half a beef sharing quarters with a whole hog.  My old buddy Brian Bergt (The Amherst Flash) has a 1500 head operation and I’ll tell you I’ve never had better.  He was kind enough to deliver the processed and frozen pork to me at this weekend’s GLH.  Thank you Brian!!  You’re amazing running skills no less than your farming prowess.
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Fifty four and flying!  Brian ran a 1:25:15 on less than 20 miles per week, the farm life, especially with winter approaching, taking precedent over all else.  photo courtesy of Mandy Sue

Real Gun Show.  As Linda and I were finishing the harvest Sunday afternoon we noticed an unfamiliar truck pull into our long driveway.  Unusual, if you’re not invited you’ve got no business.  And we don’t cotton to strangers.  I approached the truck and a hepped up, hopped up fella emerged and said he wanted to give me the horizontal freezer in the back.  Said their semi had broke down and they needed to unload this so they could get back on the road.  What?  Oh, and by the way it happens to be full of Iowa grass fed steaks.  I was born at night, but not last night.  Nor did I just fall off the turnip truck.  Suspicion and hackles immediately raised.  Told him I had no interest.  “But how can you pass this deal?”  Again, “I’m Not interested, got no money for you.”  He then coming within inches and demanding “You’ve got a check don’t you!?!?”  Told him to hold on a moment and I’d go confer with my partner.

Returned a moment later with my strongest counsels, Mr. Westernfield and Jedediah, now worked up to 110 pounds of extremely pissed off.  Chambered a shell, fired a 12 gauge warning shot over the bow, and watched those thieving suckers scramble off the property post haste.  Jed fast on their wheels.
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The Bar None, where everyone is welcome, as long as you’re invited!

WHOLE HOG

All in.  100%.  Aye aye Capitan!  Jump?  How high?  Train how?  OK.  Race when?  OK.  Race where?  OK.  Go after who?  OK.  Always wear my singlet?  OK.  Only represent our own club?  OK.

Nothing less acceptable.  For you.  Or me.  That’s why you’re here.

Had our mate Craig and his lovely wife Brandi out for the afternoon yesterday.  Gave them a bit more history on how the Competitive Forces in Nebraska have been shaped over the last 10+ years.  The successes.  The failures.  More of the latter than the former.  Easy early, much tougher later.  This younger, self entitled, spoon fed generation not willing to go the Extra Mile.   Big Fish in Little Pond Laurels going to their heads.  Swimming around with their cockiness preservers, not a clue as to the Bigger Picture of Continued Development.

Ah, but not all is lost with our 20-30 year old set.  There are still those that are getting to where they need to be through Respect.

Respect for Real Leadership.  That now holding sway and swagger in NRGE.  Appreciating everything that Kyle and Pete and Jerrod are doing for them.  Linda and I merely a sidebar, a footnote, wink, wink.  How our tiny little band of Giant Slayers have emerged into a Real Threat every time they toe the line.  Now there’s a pride of lions to draw to.

Tweet this Big Fella:  If I beat you on my worst day, I own your ass.  Pure ownage.  Here kitty kitty.

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Craig Donnelly.  You thought maybe my report of his puking blood was an excuse for his 8th place finish on Sunday?  Nope.  His worst day.  Ever.  Gave everything.  And more.  Nothing less.  No Excuses.   Two weeks of solid training, no more, willing to lay it all on the line.   This Nebraska Run Guru Elite team willing to go there.  Where others feared to tread.  Yeah, we’re coming to get you.  Sooner rather than later.

photo courtesy of Gary Dougherty.

GOOD LIFE RECAP

Pink Gorilla sold me yesterday.  Their managerial efforts unparalleled in Nebraska.  The most professionally conducted event that I’ve seen since moving here in 2001.  Fulfilling my wishes for a competitive race, while addressing the masses.  No detail left unturned.  I’ve been around the world, blah, blah, blah, but have finally seen my vision come to fruition in my own back yard.  And I had not a whit to do with it.  So Big Tips to Ben Cohoon and Jason Bakewell for doing what I just never could.  And what no one else in Nebraska, for that matter, has ever done either.   With all due respect to the Lincoln Marathon and my own efforts with the Freedom Run, The Bar is way up there now.  Not as fast as Freedom, but deeper competitively and with 3500+ for the first year, no arguing it put the GLH on the map.

Four of the top 5 clubs in the midwest racing, Iowa Run Ablaze, LRC Racing, Nebraska Run Guru Elite, and Team Nebraska, only the Kansas City Smoke lacking.

Nebraska Run Guru Elite had great representation.  I’d hoped this would be Craig Donnelly‘s Big Splash on the scene.  While just about anyone else would have been thrilled to finish 8th (1:12:06), it was the slowest half he’s ever run and didn’t set well with him.  He did run a ballsy race though going out with the leaders.  Ended up puking blood in the final half mile, no questioning this kid’s heart.  Still able to hold off hard charging 34 year old Chad Sellers by :02.  And Chad schooling young York Thomas, 10 years his junior, on the ways of finishing kicks, rounding out the top 10.

Home is where the heart is.  It was exciting to see Luka Thor make his final move coming down the ramp, passing crowd favorite Tom Nichols, also by the slim two second margin.  Luka doesn’t run for me any longer, not on the outside.  Ah, but on the inside he’s still my son.  He’s never forgotten his roots and that is all that matters to me.

Our NRGE women, while not included in the official Team Results (needed 5 to score), ran stellar races.  Amber Sargent (5th, 1:25:40), Jessica Pape (8th, 1:27:04), Lindsey Brezenski (13th, 1:28:26), and Stacy Shaw (22nd, 1:30:43, 1st 45-49) impressed the hell out of me.  For what they Didn’t and Did do.  What they didn’t do was continue training after they kicked ass at the Des Moines Marathon a couple of weeks ago.  Paid attention to their Coach.  Did what they were told to do.  Took the prescribed and necessary time off and recovered completely.  And still toed the line and gave it all they had.

NRGE was also behind the scenes.  El Jefe Kyle Clouston and Badwater Badass Pete Kostlenick were not only in charge of setting up the course but were Ben’s Operational go to guys.  Nearly 30 hours of work over the weekend, damned proud of you guys.  Even Jerrod Anzalone got in on the act serving as an official pacer.  And Linda and Jimmie Doherty (and you too Mandy Sue) all providing support and cheering, not only for ours but yours too.  And yeah, I was there.  But only to bare witness.  To the dawning of a new era in competitive racing.  Brought to you by Pink Gorilla.

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Our NRGE ladies.  Tough as nails, their races yesterday only the tip of the iceberg that is coming to change the landscape.  The common thread shared is their ability to listen, their respect.  That final and most important piece of the puzzle.  I can’t give them money or buy their shoes or lavish them with fashion shows, but damn I can coach and advocate for them.  These are the athletes I want.  Those that are in it to win it, not interested in what material goods or social climate that comes with the kit.

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Craig’s got big balls.  Fears no runner.  Wants to win.  Badly.  You got just a hint yesterday.  More to come.

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Luka, surrounded by friends and second family.  Craig has a picture of he and Luka competing side by side in a collegiate cross country race.  Something you’ll be seeing more of, you can count on it.

FARMER BROWN’S FRIDAY

Passionate kisses.  Cooking.  Eating.  Now that the garden has wound down these three things have moved up a spot on the priority list.  Always been in the top few, just behind family and running, now more fully embraced.  Like me some kisses, still getting used to and marvelling at the fact there is someone in the world for me.  Lucky boy and wouldn’t be here if all the other good and rotten things hadn’t come first.  B’rer Rabbit ain’t got nothing on me.

Passionate kitchens.  Carnivore.  I have rarely deigned others to cook a steak for me.  I’m that good with meat.  I know what I like, how I like it, and how to do it.  My experience from another lifetime as a meatcutter making me a kabob snob.  Open flame or cast iron griddle, I’ve the answer to your medium rare riddle.

But hey now!  Linda and I had a celebratory dinner at Farmer Brown’s in Waterloo.  One of the classic Steakhouses in the Omaha metro.  I’d heard of it when first moving here in ’01 but hadn’t been there until Tuesday.  Damned fine job on my filet I must admit, exceeding my expectations and perhaps my own skills.  Salad, soup, bread, potato and vegetable all included.  That’s what I’m talking about.  Very reasonable lunch menu and they grind their own meat daily for the hamburgers.

Meat and potatoes.  That’s what competition is vis a vis running.  Social aspect a side dressing, nothing more.  The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner still my guiding beacon.  I’ll run all my days with or without group hugs.

Hoping for a veritable feast on Sunday.  The GLH (I’m loathe to even say or type the word “halfsy”, too cute a bastardization, so far out of my realm of understanding of something so painful when done correctly) is loaded.  B&J once again solving the riddle of how to combine elite running with costumed lemmings.

Iowa Run Ablaze is coming.  So is LRC Racing.  And Team Nebraska.  And Nebraska Run Guru Elite.  Might end up being the second fastest half marathon of the year behind the Freedom Run.  I’m hoping NRGE serves notice up top and takes home the men’s crown (Get some Craig!). That would be so much gravy.  And I like me some gravy!

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Chicken fried steak.  No way to describe the perfection of crunchy batter, juicy steak, and the ambrosia of peppered gravy.  I was thrilled to see it on the menu at Farmer Brown’s and can’t wait to weigh in on the Texas classic.

 

 

 

FORTY YEARS

Some very good folk out here on our little slice.  One in particular has demonstrated a golden heart.  Has come over with his tractor to mow and plow and disc, setting me up Bar None Produce style.  Appreciative of the fact that it may take a while before necessary implements find their way into my shed.  I could not have had this successful year without him.  He’s got every tool and tractor and piece of equipment that decades of farm life requires.  Single handidly built all of his outbuildings.  Completely remodeled his old house into one of the nicer properties out here.  All in his spare time.

Tom had his sixtieth birthday a few weeks ago.  And retired from BNSF this past Monday.  He hired on with the railroad as a mere twenty year old, spent 40 years working for the same company.  Hell of a pension piled on top of a burgeoning retirement account.  He deserves it all. That stuff just doesn’t happen anymore.  A throwback to be sure.

I spent yesterday afternoon sitting with him.  He still a little antsy, not sure what to do.  Me the perfect foil, wizened beyond measure in the ways of leisure.  Talk turned to winterizing and I queried how best to handle the sand point well out in the barn.  Gadzooks!  He jumped up and was immediately out to his own and began draining the pump, thanking me for the reminder.  His lovely wife Becky and I shared a knowing smile, this cat needs to keep busy.

Linda and I have been out here for almost 18 months now.  I’ve never been so comfortable.  Our daily runs introducing us to the entire cast of characters, some had never met their other neighbors, ever.  Good people.  All.   Atypical as it might sound, I, we, are actually bringing people together.  And a new scene, getting them out for exercise.  Answering questions about bikes and shoes and gear  and diet and sundry health related issues.  Introducing them to what we know best, how to take care of our blessed bodies.

Two Rivers Homestead.  Our little slice.  We’re being encroached upon from every direction as Omaha’s sprawl continues its march to and through Elkhorn, soon to gobble up Waterloo and Valley and Yutan and Mead and then Wahoo.  Lanoha’$ just announced a new multi million dollar development in Valley.  Another one in Fremont.  West Shore$ to the East, Curtis Acre$ to the North, Mallard Landing, venerable Ginger Cove, all within minutes.  But we may as well be a hundred miles away from it all.   Proud and strong individuals that will keep to ourselves amidst all the hubub, bub.  Our precious acreages still set in another time.  Forty years ago.  Just as we like it.

 

EYE POPPING

I’ve sung the praises of Jim and Carol McLatchie for years.  They’ve touched most of you and you don’t even know it.  Jim’s coaching has trickled down through me to many Nebraskans.  I however don’t pretend to assume any credit for his brilliance.  I was just the first conduit.

Minutes on, minutes off.  It all starts there and anyone can do it.  Well, not everyone.  You have to be a Real Runner.  Willing to be utterly Honest.  Willing to accept current fitness levels over idealized or past performances.  Starting there.  Willing to push the boundaries.  Slowly and measured.

These rascals that are “selling” his program as their own, tsk, tsk, tsk.  I know better and now you do to.

Regular readers know his program has developed Olympians and World Champs caliber athletes.  And again, if you are really Honest it can develop you too.  I used the program with  Kaci Lickteig and Dylan Wilson when they both ran 17 minute personal bests at the Lincoln Marathon several years ago.  They’re just the tip of the iceberg as dozens of Nebraska runners have enjoyed varying degrees of success under the Master’s plan.  The more Honest, the more success.

But none so much as Matthew Maton.

But first, The Summit Storm High School (Bend, OR) boys won their 4th consecutive State Cross Country title under Jim.  His wife Carol guided the Summit girl’s team to their 7th consecutive state title.  Chew on that a bit.

Back to Matt.  You’ve never heard of him, but ah, you will.  Jim’s star athlete won his 2nd consecutive individual state title.  In style.  Like this: Touring the Lane Community College course in a record 14:45.  Besting the runner up by nearly a minute.  Big deal?  Yep!  Here’s why- Maton’s mark wiped clean the previous record of 14:55 set in 2003 by Galen Rupp.

Now get out there and get a good mile and a half warm up.  Go one minute at 5K pace, one minute easy, times 5.  After number 5, jog easy for 5 minutes, then repeat one minute at 5k pace, one minute easy times 5.  Be Honest with yourself.  And know that you are following in the footsteps of Greatness.  And recognize Jim McLatchie as the architect.  Not me, not he, not she, not any other.

 

 

 

SHOW STOPPING

I hope today’s column spurs you, satisfying my credo of stimulation.

In 2006 I was contacted by a dear friend from Austin, Carmen Ayala Troncoso.  She was coaching a very talented 37 year old female and wondered if I could get her into the 2007 Lincoln Marathon.  Why sure!  Chris Kimbrough showed up race weekend, very windy and very rainy.  I knew she was going for the sub 2:46 Olympic Trials qualifier (back then we had much too lax standards) and asked how the weather would affect her performance.  “Not at all” was her reply.  Hell yes!

Chris went on to run 2:44:57 for the win, finishing 10th overall and besting the next finisher (Christy Nielsen) by a whopping 10 minutes.  I’d catch up with Chris again in Boston ’08 at the Trials.  We’ve been fast friends since.    **Of special note on the 2008 Trials, Robyn Friedman 9th, 2:35:02 and Erin Moeller 10th, 2:36:51 both came out of Iowa, how bout them apples**

And then this came across the wire yesterday:  The 45 year old mother of six set a World Record in the Beer Mile on Sunday.  6:28.  Six twenty eight.  Don’t try this at home folks, she’s a professional.  And is now the favorite for the Flo Beer Mile World Championships next month.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACassandra Henkiel (L) and Chris Kimbrough, two of my favorite Texans!  From my photo archives of the ’08 Trials.  Cassie would run 2:48:54 for 87th, Chris 2:42:54 for 39th.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy gig as champs chair put me on the front line of our Olympic Trials administrative efforts.  Here Race Director Dave McGillivray embraces Deena Kastor and Joanie Samuelson.  Blake Phillips (#17) looks on as the starting gun nears.  Man I had the best seat in the house.  Interesting to note that Joanie, like so many others was duped by Lance Armstrong, sporting his Livestrong kit.  #6 is Samia Akbar, she was on the team I took to the 2006 Yokohama International Ekiden.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChristy also qualified in ’08 (and ’04, & ’00).  Shown here at a pre race soiree with Deeja Youngquist and Teddy Mitchell, two of the more controversial athletes I’ve known.  Deeja was an air traffic controller that had a top ten finish at the ’04 Trials wiped off the record when busted for performance enhancing drugs.  She’d served her suspension and came back in Boston but was a DNF.  Also a bad day for Christy who DNF’d.  Teddy keeps hanging in there, surviving clouds of suspicion and accusations, serving on the Athletes Advisory Committee, the most powerful committee in USATF.  I’ve got a ton of stories about him.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHanging out post race with Cassie and Kim Pawalek.  I’ve always considered Cassie one of the most eligible bacholerettes in the U.S.  Kim and I go back to when she won our USA Marathon Champs at Twin Cities in ’99.  She too had a bad day in Boston, finishing next to last in 3:07:27, one of the gutsiest efforts I’ve seen.  She is now married to my old buddy and 1996 Olympic marathoner Keith Brantly.

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Yep, one of the best seats in the house.  From left to right Magdalena Lewy Boulet (2nd, 2:30:19) Deena (1st, 2:29:35) and Blake Phillips (3rd, 2:32:40).  Our 2008 Women’s Olympic Marathon Team.  Stories and pictures, I’ve got a ton of them.

 

 

 

 

NAME DROPPING

Cruel mistress.  The marathon.  Sixteen to twenty weeks dedicated to a single race, the Good Mother puts the smack down on the best laid plans.  New York City in a nutshell.

Thrill of yesterday’s race, at the Bar None at any rate:   Zach Hine parlaying his 1:04:48 Freedom Half Marathon win into a ballsy effort on the streets of the Big Apple.  Running second Overall at around mile 11, we were plenty jazzed you can bet.  Ended up as 6th American, not shabby on the most difficult of days.

Network host for yesterday’s broadcast  Hannah Storm and I go waaay back.  She got her start in media as an overnight DJ on a local radio station back in Houston.  I worked the night shift, would call in requests almost nightly.  Was also a frequent winner of the free tickets used to promote upcoming acts.  Would go down to the station in the morning to collect, her smile hasn’t changed since 1977.

New York Road Runner CEO Mary Wittenberg and I go way back too.  I’ve been a dinner guest. And returned the favor.

Desi Linden of the Hansons and I go back to the 2004 Women’s Olympic Trials Marathon in St. Louis.

Meb Keflezhigi and Linda and I enjoyed a celebratory hot tub after he won the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston back in 2009.  Took thirty minutes the next day to give my dear sweet Allison a motivational speech that still sits with her.  I first worked with him at BIX in 2002.  Old buddy.

Men’s race announcer Toni Reavis and I go back too.  Some of my favorite USATF annual meeting memories include Toni and Larry Rawson‘s stories of tramping across the globe covering our sport.  They’ve truly been everywhere and seen it all in running.

Deena Kastor served on the WLDR Executive Committee with me for many years.

The further I am removed from those heady days the more I’ve come to appreciate the friends I made and places I’ve seen.

Slightly eidted comment from the fastest Nebraskan most of you kiddos have never heard of, Tim Dooling:  “the girl named sara was my all time favorite when it comes to female runners. she did all the work in the middle of the race while the africans just sat back and took it easy, she still finished 3rd, just 40 seconds back.  all time fav female so far.”  

Yeah, Sara Moriera of Portugal showed how to make your 26.2 debut.  Its called confidence in your preparation.  And balls.

Women’s winner Mary Keitany is 5′ 3″ and weighs 88 pounds.  But she has muscles.

Men’s winner Wilson Kipsang collected a cool $600,000.  $100K for the win and another $500K for winning the World Marathon Majors title.  That’s a lot of goats.

Locally our Mike Wasson ran 3rd overall at Beer and Bagel.  Three of the top 4 finishers are well into their masters careers.  1792 finishers, 1039 women, 752 men.

El Jefe‘s race report from Mountain Masochist 50:  “Got it done today, it slept with my girlfriend, gave me a wedgie, kicked me in the balls then stole my lunch money but I’m the dumb ass that signed up for it. Thanks for the support and big thanks to Jon Clouston for crewing!”

And the sandwich boy scratched his head, doo doo doo doo doo, duh duh duh duh duh.