Damsels In Distress!

I have been a victim! In the past my personal property has been violated by crooked vandals and thieves. Let’s face it, in the world we live, not everyone is bound by the same moral compass. For many years I patiently waited for the opportunity to catch a wrongdoer and deliver swift justice. The following story tells the tale of when MarathonJake sprung into action to save the day!

Here is a picture teaser that will be explained throughout this adventurous blog!


Here is a story collage teaser, now read the rest of the Damsels in Distress blog below and be amazed!

The Preface:

On May 18, 2011, I was visiting my girlfriend Nellie at work. She is a true ‘Bebe’ diva and has been working retail and recycling most of her earning back into that store for years. It was about midway through her shift when I decided to pop in and say hi to her, usually bringing her a smoothy and a kiss. After quickly saying my hello and sneaking a kiss, I was shooed out by her manager.

As I was casually waltzing my way around the first floor of the mall and finishing my coffee, I decided to give my best friend Russell a call and see what he was up to. I am not much of a ‘talk on the phone’ kinda guy, but for some reason I made an exception. Probably because I know my buddy and he is the exact opposite and thinks that texting is very impersonal. Anyways, I was chatting with my buddy, throwing away my empty Starbucks cup and about to leave the mall, when I heard some people shouting!

Instantly instinct kicked in and I knew that something wasn’t right; I could sense it in the pitch of the panicked voice.  My head turned and I saw a couple of women shouting ‘stop’ and pointing past me.  Luckily I caught a glimpse of a figure bolting for the doors right past the escalators leading down to Underwater Adventures. In no more than a nanosecond I took pursuit as this was my chance to pay it forward finally. I had the necessary scrapping skills provided by a life of activity in wrestling and other contact sports that I would be able to handle my own. In hindsight, I would receive a motherly lecture after all was said and done for what I was about to do.

The Pursuit:

At tip-toe top speed I took off after the perp.  I was able to clear the exit door and saw him heading for the parking ramp structure across the street.  He was a good 40-50 yards in front of me at this point, but I knew that I would catch them.  My mind became very centric during the chase only focusing on making my way closer and closer.  At one point I realized that I still had my phone in hand when this was happening and humorously enough my friend Russell listened in as it was unfolding. Eventually we made our way across the street and the went up two floors of the parking ramp. We then proceeded to run the entire length of the ramp.  I recall shouting to the male I was chasing, “You cannot outrun me! You will not outrun me!”… If only he knew that he was running from MarathonJake.

Moments later the suspect turned towards the stairwell again and decided to ascend another flight; close behind him I was charging up the stairs 2 to 3 steps at a time. He must have known that I was gaining on him. In a last-ditch effort to run faster the assailant paused briefly to jump out of his shoes that must have been loose and slowing him down. By this time I was within 20 feet of catching him and this long chase was about to be over.

Halfway across the third floor lot the chase came to a screeching halt as I made contact with the man and with generous force I ‘introduced him to the concrete’. Immediately I raised my voice to a booming roar and jolted him with some emotional terrorism.  I let him know that if he moved that I would dump-truck him into next week. By being loud and aggressive the man was quickly intimidated into submission. This was a tactic that I had employed before while security bouncing as a deterrent to fighting, and it worked.  The man was terrified, still extremely winded and probably a bit dizzy from being put down. Just a few moment later as I was waiting for the police or some other good samaritans to assist me with the arrest, the strangest thing happened.  Uncontrollably the man began vomiting.  Perhaps his body was so freaked out and scared that he just couldn’t help it.

The Arrest:

I patiently waited for about two minutes with the perp sitting on his hands before a mall bike cop appeared.  He was quick to radio the Bloomington Police Department and requested that they send over a squad car.  He quickly then pulled out his mini pad of paper and pencil and began asking me what was going on. Honestly at that time I didn’t have all the facts to the story, but of course I told him what I knew.  Within the next five minutes or so the Police arrived.  The suspect whom was more aware of the situation now decided to resist having his wrists handcuffed, this was a big mistake! I watched as one police officer flattened him with force and another pull him by his neck by grabbing him under his jaw, seriously ouch! Once the police had custody of the suspect they brought him to his feet to walk him to his car.

Just when I thought things were wrapping up, a really bizarre twist in the story unfolds.  A little green car slowly drove by us, which no one really thought twice about. However, when the suspect saw it he broke made a mad dash for the car.  The bike cop, police officers and myself then chased after the man who was running like a duck.  Do you think he made it to the car, well no of course he didn’t.  He was ‘reintroduced’ to the cement and then lifted and slammed into one of the parking lot pillars by the cops whom were now much less forgiving. Before I knew it they had put out an APB for that green car to see what their involvement was with the man in custody. With the perp securely locked in the back of their CrownVic, the police formally took my statement.

The Crime:

Shortly after telling my recollection of the encounter, the police officer informed me that they might touch base with me in the future if a court case was necessary.  He didn’t think that was likely as the man was caught in the act.  Thankfully, I did never did get a call to appear in front of a judge or jury.  So what did exactly happen that day?

Well fortunately the two victims of the theft that day had stuck around to press charges and wanted to meet me and say thank you.  I quickly tucked my dress shirt back into my slacks and straightened myself up as I walked to meet them.  Funny, that all that action had happened in my business attire, slacks and all. When I met them, I came to realize that it was a mother and her daughter. They were still a bit emotional upon meeting me and expressed their sincerest appreciation for my quick action.

They went on to explain that they had been at the mall that day to purchase a cellphone from a buyer that they had met on Craigslist. They agreed to meet and transact at the MOA. Normally this would be an ideal place to do the exchange considering it is such a public place, so you would think something like this wouldn’t happen. Unaware that they were about to get robbed, the two ladies met with the man.  They asked him if he could show them the cellphone and he asked if they had the cash.  As soon as they pulled cash out to show their intent to buy, the thief grabbed it and took off running.  Had it not been for me, the thief would have gotten away quickly with his friends in the little green car that was earlier mentioned.

All of this for $100! It was just pathetic. Mall security had been having trouble with these types of crimes. This particular group had an effective system going until I came along. Essentially this was a Craigslist scam that victimized innocent people trying to purchase used goods at a fair price. Learning all of this made me feel really proud that I grounded their operation to a halt.

A Year Later:

Sitting at the office busily working on some project assignments, I received a strange phone call in early May of 2012.  I answered, “Yes, hello is this Jacob Carroll?”, I responded that it was indeed, then the person on the other end said, “this is the Bloomington Police Department”. Immediately I stood up and walked into a conference room to understand the situation in private.  The woman explained that she was calling to inform me that the City of Bloomington was awarding me a Medal of Accommodation for my actions in preventing the theft from occurring at MOA! I was very shocked and really did not expect to be honored for my actions from the year prior.

I was informed that there was going to be a ceremony a week later to formally honor me for my actions and that I was allowed to invite a handful of people to be present. Given the short notice I let my close family know of the ceremony and both my mother and sister were able to attend in person with me that day.  I pulled up on my bike NASTY that afternoon met both with my mom and sister and received the ceremony program and got ready to take our seats.  Unbeknownst to me, it was going to be filmed and an article would be published in the Sun Current, see the article here.

After being briefly interviewed by a reporter we were asked to enter the ceremony hall and to take our seats.  I was sat up at the front with several others that were also being recognized that day.  Before I knew it I was walking across the stage and shaking the hand of the Bloomington Chief of Police, Jeff Potts.

The presenters read our stories aloud and recognized us for our heroism!

The presenters read our stories aloud and recognized us for our heroism!

I received a medal and a certificate for my actions and my story was read out loud to the audience and I was publicly recognized.

I was presented with this medal and award for my 'heroic' actions!

I was presented with this medal and award for my ‘heroic’ actions!

After the awards presentation we were encouraged to remain after to meet the police department staff and also to meet the Mayor of Bloomington who wanted to personally thank those being honored.  While waiting many of the police officers asked me if I was in security previously.  The police staff joked with me for a few minutes asking me about the incident. They told me to let them know if I was ever wanting a job in law enforcement, lol.

Shaking hands with the Mayor of Bloomington!

Shaking hands with the Mayor of Bloomington!

I found it quite funny that while I was meeting the Mayor, that my moms was being flirted with by the Chief of Police. Yeah I know I have a hot mom, but seriously?  Well it transitioned to a cool photo opportunity with my two favorite supporters and Mr. Potts.

Left to Right: My Sister -Janeen, My Mom - Bobbie, Me - MarathonJake, and Chief of Police - Jeff Potts!

Left to Right: My Sister -Janeen, My Mom – Bobbie, Me – MarathonJake, and Chief of Police – Jeff Potts!

If all of this wasn’t cool enough, about three weeks later I received a letter in the mail from my Congressman Erik Paulson thanking me for my actions that day!  I thought it was pretty cool that my recognition reached such a high level!

A personally signed letter from Erik Paulson, a Member of Congress from the third district of Minnesota!

A personally signed letter from Erik Paulson, a Member of Congress from the third district of Minnesota!

At the end of the day my faith in the justice system was renewed and it felt good to pay it forward and to protect my fellow community.  I had been waiting for this moment.

A good friend of mine text me in response to this story, “That is some real Batman-type s***!”, – Jesse Kunes.

I couldnt agree more!


Forever Ink

Tattoos are a reflection of oneself! Each of mine is distinct and reveal a glimpse into the stories that compose my life. Deep, I know right? Well regardless of whether you have any tattoos or not, you are probably familiar with some of the stereotypes and perceptions that they come with.  This blog is my take on permanent ink and what artwork I have had placed forever within my skin. It is not my intent to persuade anyone with my take on this lifestyle choice, but to give a positive spin to how some choose to express themselves.


Permanent ink can be trashy if it is given little-to-no thought before a lifelong commitment is sealed.  They can also be frowned upon if placed in visable sight, especially in the professional arena.  I always made a conscious effort to ensure that the ideas that I had stewing about potential ink work remained desired for at least six months before I got them.  Additionally, I would make sure that the ink shop was high quality with top notch artists.  Ideally I like to see a good portion of an artists work either on the shop’s website or in person; the best case scenario I am able to meet the artists and match their specialty with the work I am looking to have done. A person must get there ink placed perfectly and the first time, so this little bit of research is incredibly important!

What better way to enjoy your tattoo than to say that’s mine, I created it and love it. The point that I am trying to draw out here is that as the soon-to-be owner of some fresh ink, it would be an added bonus if you were really a part of the artistic process.  So don’t be afraid to dabble with a pencil and some paper. My favorite and most personal pieces of body art have been or were partially crafted by me. Trust me I am no Michelangelo, but I do treat my body like it is the Sistine Chapel and only put the finest and most meaningful art upon it. Though this process can take several attempts, it truly has been a fun one for me and was a great stress reliever.

The big caveat to this of course is to not get or design an arbitrary tattoo that carries little to know emotional value or story telling. I could potentially draw a beautiful sunset, but if it did not come with an amazing story about how my life changed then it is carries considerably less value (to me).  There are exceptions to this rule of course mostly when the tattoo is meant to be symbolic and many carry the same (i.e. the Irish Clover, US Marine Corps, etc).  Another exception often would be a sleeve which is a big fad these days.  I have nothing against them, however, I would likely not get one as I do not have that much relevant story narrating to take up an entire arm.  So what do people do, they add in fillers and that’s just not for me.  Don’t worry, I still love all my sleeve slanging brothers and sisters out there; again, it is just a personal preference.

Next, I would like to share some of my art and provide the stories that show how they came to be. Oh yeah and also to see if I have really practiced what I have preached about in the above abstract.

Forever Ink #1 – ‘F***, Keep Going!

My first piece of art was driven out of a time in my life where there was huge change happening all around me and I needed a healthy way to keep pushing through the tough stuff.  The artwork itself was a tribal piece.  I find this humorous now because I basically jumped on a fad bandwagon and went with the style of ink that so many were doing at this time.  However, this piece originated with a friend of mine when I was still working at North Memorial Hospital.  My friend Nate was always expressing his talents via tribal pieces. One holiday when I decided to return home from Eau Claire and plug in some extra hours to earn a few extra to attend to some mounting life debts, him and I were doing our routine at work and he began the early workings of my tattoo.  I left with a brief outline of what I would come to know as my 1st (of 2) motivating tattoos.

A year or so later I decided to pull that scrap paper out and start tooling around on it. I was smart enough to have it photo copied several times so that I could work on it.  I would end up shading in parts of the tattoo so that it look more layered instead of purely solid tribal, which made it a little unique.  When I got done working on it I felt a sense of accomplishment.  It would be a few months later when life was really challenging for me that I would give my self a little boost by going and getting it placed on my right shoulder. At that time I was 1) Powering through my undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, 2) Working almost full-time at Menards Distribution Center driving forklift trying to make financial ends meet, 3) Doing my very best at being a new father and learning the ropes of a heightened level of responsibility. To say the vary least I was burning the candle at both ends and I knew that it was only a matter of time and life would get better.

You make your bed and you must lay in it, and I did. During that critical moment when I chose not to throw the towel in, I needed a boost.  It came in the form of that tribal ink piece that I worked on, symbolically to me it represents “F***, Keep Going!” I found a great place locally in Eau Claire off of Water Street called Midwest Tattoo.  The gentleman that worked on me was very professional and had a lot of experience.  It took him and I a couple attempts at scaling the tattoo before I was confident with the size and placement on my arm.  Sidebar – I don’t know how many great tattoos I have seen that were just placed awkwardly or were obviously too small for the area that they were placed.  Once we got it just right we were off and running. A couple hours later and a wallet $200 lighter, I was left permanently with my first tattoo.

The tattoo artist also did a great job at explaining the healing process. This sensitive period of tattoo ownership shouldn’t be taken lightly if you want the quality of your new ink to last.  “Be sure to use a good tattoo wax to keep it from drying out, keep it out of direct sunlight and don’t go swimming till it is healed fully. Most importantly keep it clean and don’t pick at it as it begins to shed”, he said.  The final result can be perfection if you follow those simple steps, and I did.

Everyday since getting it I have been proud to wear it and know that I accomplished something great that couldn’t be taken away. It reminds me of the process of growing up and learning about the bigger picture. Not to mention the design and placement are perfect (in my biased opinion). Here is what it looks like on my arm.

This ink was my focus and way of pulling through a tough time!

This ink was my focus and way of pulling through a tough time!

Forever Ink #2 – ‘MRC

My next piece of art would come approximately a couple of years later, when I was around 23. I was looking to get was my daughter’s initials, Madison Rose Carroll. This was going to be a special tattoo because my daughter was a child born from love, not a meaningless accident with someone I cared little about, but with someone that I experienced my first love with. Ever since her birth, Madison has meant the world to me, so this was to be my Forever Ink tribute to her.

Getting some initials placed sounds easy enough, but what I had envisioned would be a tastefully complicated piece.  I wanted people to be able to enjoy what they saw on my skin (the initials MRC) without readily understanding that it has a deeper meaning. The purpose was to keep its special meaning between myself and only friends and family, to ensure that the average onlooker couldn’t see what I knew was there without a conversation and further explanation.  The meaning was going to be cloaked in design.

So once again I drafted my artistic version of her initials. I used a tribal motif originally when drafting the first version of this tattoo and after my first iteration, I knew that it was going to be a fairly sizable tattoo. Next, I was going to need to find a good artist in the area that had the right kind of skills to pull this off.  Eventually I found a quality parlor called Tattoo Asylum in Fridley MN. It was close to where I was living at the time and it had a the right guy for the job.  Winfield (the artist) was eager to work with me on my tattoo and was pleasantly surprised by the nature of my drawing.  I could tell he was fond of my tattoo’s uniqueness and quickly went to work on drafting another version of my ideas but with more of a graffiti look and feel. The ending result was exactly what I was looking for.  It was again a layered tattoo that incorporated all the elements that I wanted and was able to camouflage the ‘MRC’.

MRC drafted in a graffiti style to hide the true meaning. Even harder to solve without color and shading!

MRC drafted in a graffiti style to hide the true meaning. Even harder to solve without color and shading!

When it came to getting this art placed, I specifically chose a place on my body that would show sacrifice and pride, naturally the ribcage was the most ideal real estate. This tattoo was going to take three different sessions to complete given the size, color and shading that it required.  My first appointment with Winfield was the most painful as it required the solid black outlining of my tattoo to be completed.  Getting ink on the boney rib area was quite painful and he had to remind me a few times to be sure to breath as he didn’t want me passing out. about a month or so later when the outline had healed I went back in to get the remainder of the tattoo shaded.  This is where I was really able to see the different dimensions and see the flow of the art. Finally, we got to add a splash of color to the mix on my last visit.  I chose to use some blue shades to make it stand out; Winfield knew how to feather in the color changes and taper them off as needed.

When all was said and done, I had spent a pretty penny but had a lasting quality tattoo that has ever since been a symbol of my love for Madison. To give you an idea of the art that was put together and how it evolved to become my ink, here are some pictures.

Layered, shaded and colored, it was my perfect tribute to Madison!

Layered, shaded and colored, it was my perfect tribute to Madison!

Forever Ink #3 – ‘Believe In Myself

The tumultuous transition of going from full-time college student, dad and fiancé  to becoming a single, part-time carter and career professional was a challenge to say the least.  I stuck through it and kept striving to cope with my issues and press on with life in a positive direction.  Similar to my ‘F***, Keep Going!’ tattoo, I had a desire to mark an end to my past turmoil and to reinvent myself.  The outcome was to be a epic journey where I would let go of my regrets, fears and wash away my lingering pain from the past. I had to once again ‘Believe in Myself’. This would in turn be developed into my next permanent body marking, but the path in getting there required planning and patience.

Many people have to escape their problems through some sort of activity. Whether they choose a healthy route like fitness or a destructive alternative like mind altering substances. For me, I needed to run away and be immersed in a world that I knew nothing about.  I would decide to travel halfway around the world to Shanghai, China to get my next artwork and to find peace with myself.  I will save a deeper dive into that story for another chapter in my Autoblography.

While abroad, I knew that I would be taking a risk in getting ink.  China, though a developing powerhouse, was much more like a 3rd country than the States. People there didn’t get medical treatment unless it was paid for upfront.  It was imperative that I was choosey in the selection of the parlor. Why get it abroad you ask?  I felt that to capture the true authentic spirit of my tattoo that it would need to be done there at the exact time I was neck deep in a new world.  Again in true MarathonJake fashion, I didn’t want to let the whole world know its meaning so I chose to mask it through leveraging Mandarin characters. The style would be a blend of the four characters but with jagged tribal edges and some haze-shadowing around it.

The end product turned out beautifully. There was a downside of getting the ink, timing. It would have to begin healing in China, which is not the cleanest place. I was uber active and walking ever where so naturally a combination of sweat and dust eventually led to part of my tattoo becoming somewhat infected. I made sure to manage it the best I could until I got back to the states. It ended up healing fine and to this day it is one of my favorite pieces. I was a new man when I returned, ready to conquer life and renewed with positivity.

This tattoo is a three-quarter ankle wrap and it totally turned out amazing!

This tattoo is a three-quarter ankle wrap and it totally turned out amazing!

Forever Ink #4 – ‘Triathlete

It would be a couple years later when I would earn my next badge of honor.  I had decided that I wanted to call out my love for sport and competition and express it through ink. At this point in my fitness career I had transitioned from strictly run races to competing in triathlons.  They presented me with a balanced mix of entertainment!  Each I loved indvidually but putting them all together presented a very difficult challenge.  When I chose to jump into competing in these types of races I went for the olympic triathlon distance: swimming .92mi, biking 26.2mi and running 6.2mi. As you can tell this is a great feat and I wanted to present it in a very cool way.

I accomplished this by doing a bit of research about triathlons.  I felt that many people had different symbolic interpretations that called out the different portions of the race.  Most found were really not my style and I had to keep looking.  Then eventually I found it.  It was to be a round medallion that broke out each section of the race through different images.  For the swim, bike, run tattoo it would be interpreted by waves, spokes and a foot.  For the actual placement I looked to what put in the effort to accomplish my races.  I chose to place it on my calf of my left leg facing the outside.  I did this to let the world know how proud I am to be an athlete.

This time around I found a different shop in South Minneapolis called Twilight Tattoo and reviewed the artists previous work and felt confident.  Eventually it was sized correctly and we were able to cover all the basics.  Soon my leg was shaven and he was off to the races on buzzing this ink into me.  I was a bit nervous about the bike spokes because it is very challenging to complete such detail, but he did terrific.  Take a look!

Swim, Bike, Run - forever!

Swim, Bike, Run – forever!

After Thoughts:

Do I have future plans to continue my body art and depict my life stories on flesh, well yes of course.  I will always do what feels right. I will continue to trust my gut and be sure to do my homework on the artist and their shop! As a minor spoiler, it is in the works to get some art that will show my love for my beautiful wife Nellie and the adventures that we have taken in the last several years traveling!

Men’s Health Urbanathlon – Chicago

In the last few years I have made it a point to blend my hobby of running with my passion for travel. I really enjoy ‘newness’ you know? It’s that feeling that you get when you see, smell, touch, hear and feel something for the very first time. It seems more exciting and it makes me feel more alive; this is probably why I love to travel. Partner that with a challenging 10 mile run through a major metro and you have one happy MarathonJake! It just so happens that the Men’s Health Urbanathlon (MHU) race series provides this unique experience for me. This race in hosted in three different cities domestically: Chicago, IL; San Francisco, CA; and New York, NY.

Within this blog I will recapture my experiences in Chicago (2010 & 2011).

Posing for the camera in my mock Men's Health magazine cover shot! LOL

Posing for the camera in my mock Men’s Health magazine cover shot! LOL

Chicago Recap

I have always been fairly fond of Chicago. It’s the biggest major metro next to Minneapolis and it has an amazing atmosphere. I had spent some time out there for consulting training when I was at Deloitte and later for work when I was with U.S. Bank. During one of those visits (I was still fairly new to organized run races at that time), but was training for my goal of running a marathon later that fall. I decided to run from Wrigleyville to the John Hancock building downtown and back (~half marathon or 13.1 miles). Ever since I have been hooked on running through different city’s downtown areas.

A couple of years later I would come to find out about the Men’s Health Urbanathlon. Soon after doing my research on this race, I knew it was something that I wanted to try. The next season I put a plan in motion to make that happen!

So what really is an Urbanathlon? Well to me it is essentially a cross between a timed run race and an obstacle course. One of the coolest parts about the race that it is located in a densely populated city. The Chicago race was mapped out all along Navy Pier, so on one side of you there was the beautiful city skyline and on the other was Lake Michigan, loved it!

During the morning of my races, I mentally prepare by having coffee, stretching and getting a light sweat. I wake my body up and get limber. This is especially important when you throw obstacles into the mix. I am a fan of caffeine as it gives me heightened alertness and almost giddy reflexes. This comes in especially handy when you are in a race with hundreds if not thousands of other competitors and you need to avoid stepping on others or being trampled over yourself.

Loosening up and stretching during my pre-run warmup! It's GO TIME!

Loosening up and stretching during my pre-run warmup! It’s GO TIME!

When it came time for me to compete in this race I was really excited; I had put in the time and work throughout the summer around Lake Calhoun and was ready. I remember being focused on having fun and pushing myself. It is usually my internal nature is to be aggressive and this characteristic sometimes is viewed as a flaw, however, I have learned how to harness it and rise above many difficult challenges because I do not back down. I am relentless and my abilities are only limited by my mental willpower.

Both times when I competed in the Chicago MHU there were moments that were more draining and there were gaps where you were able to regain your breath while performing at a good pace. The obstacles are something that I ravel at the opportunity to tear through. Fortunately, before I ever became a runner I was more heavily into weight lifting and body sculpting. This gave me a big upper body and the strength to match, which really helps when you need to pull your weight over a wall or do other more body balanced activities.

Don’t get me wrong, on purely run races I wish I could take off my armor suit, but for this it’s close to perfect. I found myself able to quickly demolish the obstacles on the course and come out the other side a bit winded but I kept shuffling my feet and pushed through it. I found that during the stair climb at Soldier Field, that my upper body was used to my advantage as I was able to swing my arms and use that momentum to keep shooting up more and more flights of stairs.

I would end up completing the race with at a decent clip. My time would prove to be better my second year. Probably because I had my Nell with me to cheer me on, lol. It also helped that I had a better idea of the race and the different obstacle stations. A few of the things I liked the most about the race include:

  • monkey bars
  • hurdles
  • blockades
  • tractor tire wall
  • stair climb @ Soldier Field
  • traversing taxis and bus
  • running along Navy Pier

Overall this race has been my most enjoyed to date and have actively recommended it to many fellow runners. Between the city, the time of year and the atmosphere, there is nothing that beats it! To wrap things up, here are my official times for both 2010 (left) and 2011 (right).  Look for an upcoming post that explains my next adventure doing the MHU in San Francisco!

Here are my official MHU - Chicago race results! Love it!

Here are my official MHU – Chicago race results! Love it!