TC Medtronic 10Miler – 2014


My 2014 racing season was significantly scaled back compared to prior seasons. This is simple cause and effect; multiple weddings, baby showers and family celebrations has meant a very limited amount of time for organized races. That said, I was not going to miss the opportunity of running in the TC 10Miler especially because I was not selected for the lottery the last two years. That being the case, I was auto allowed in this year and love this race. I was in!

This particular race is great for many reasons and I would strongly encourage others to look into it. If you are not ready to step up to the 10 mile distance, they also offer 5K and 10K options the day before. I would like to compliment the Twin Cities in Motion organization for another successful execution of the races and associated tasks. They must have a real power house of a project manager. There are also really great sponsors that help out by donating their time, energy and finances.

In order to prepare for the 10Miler, I was consistently running in the gym and weight training. The later, probably did me no favors but I do like to maintain my muscle suit. However, for race days, I wish I could take it off. The extra 15-20lbs really can slow me down, especially on the climbs throughout the course. My complaint is my own doing and honestly the course is mostly flat with a few down hills and the slight climb on Summit Avenue.

Race Day:

My early morning alarm woke me just as intended (5:45AM) and I quickly made my way downstairs to fix my race day coffee and simple breakfast. After making my peanut butter toast, I laced up my laces and asked my new Moto X what the temperature was outside. With it being a cool 36 degrees I decided upon a long sleeve over my race shirt and bib. It proved perfect for the beginning few miles of the race.

My wonderful wife Nellie and cutie daughter Madison gave me a lift to the starting line. After a quick stretch and my favorite, the national anthem, it was time to race. I was positioned in corral 1 (green) and tore out of the gate shoulder to shoulder with over a thousand other participants. With the streets already lined with cheering fans, we made our way out of downtown. It took over two miles into the course before I felt like I wasn’t tripping on the heals of other runners.

The Course:

They call it the short cut to the capital.  I call it the best race in the Twin Cities!

They call it the short cut to the capital. I call it the best race in the Twin Cities!

I started off the race chewing gum so that I wouldn’t burnout my throat and to keep my pace throttled. It proved to be very effective and as my body broke its initial sweat (3 miles in), I kicked the gum and my long sleeve. It was my hope to steadily hold a sub 7:30 mile pace and contend with my best 10Miler time. I seemed to hold a consistent speed as I ventured pass the halfway point. Periodically I would catch a quick swallow of water at the water stations. I knew my body needed it in order to prevent cramping.

At around six miles I ate a couple of strawberry blocks and hammered up the Summit hill climb stretch. My legs were now entering the numb stage and my second wind was upon me. I was defeating the pavement and enjoying the crowds of fans and the beautiful views. I had switched on my iPod around mile 4 and had been rocking out as I made my way. Nothing like music and the beat to match the cadence of your stride.

With the bulk of the course long behind me, I realized that I was nearing the final decent to the capital building. My favorite part was running under the American flag that was held over the race course by two fire trucks. With fans lining both sides of the road, I sprinted my was down the final stretch. Just as I approached the finish line, I saw the official race clock and was ecstatic to see it at just under an hour and twelve minutes.  I was about to beat my best time!

I finished and felt great about it! I soon wrapped myself in a heat shield and began nourishing my fatigued body with Cliff bars and bananas. I came across a former colleague and shared pleasantries and briefly made small talk before making my way. I got my Brooks T-shirt and medal and made my way to grab coffee. Caribou rocks!

My Biggest Fans:

Supported by my loving family. Really happy to have these two little mommas in my life! GO JAKE!

Supported by my loving family. Really happy to have these two little mommas in my life! GO JAKE!

It took me a bit of walking around before I found my wife and kiddo. They both hugged and congratulated me on a job well done. My reward was to be a hot meal at the Uptown Dinner with my family. Super happy with another TC 10Miler under my belt, it was well worth my efforts!

Final Results:

I beat my best time and was pretty pleased with my overall results! The distance, fans, weather... all were perfect!

I beat my best time and was pretty pleased with my overall results! The distance, fans, weather… all were perfect!


Until next time, happy trails!



Men’s Health Urbanathlon – San Francisco

Having enjoyed myself with the MHU – Chicago experience, I decided that it would be a lot of fun to plan and complete their entire domestic series. This left Nellie and I to chose between San Francisco and New York. Our choice was an easy one given the factors motivating us. We selected to visit Cali and then in 2013 we will round out the races in NYC!

I think we were both excited to visit the west coast and see what all the hype was about. During the planning of our trip we decided that the race would be the primary motivator, but really this trip was about sight seeing and enjoying time with each other. All things considered, after a bit of research and asking around, I knew all the places and attractions that I wanted to see. From this the details and itinerary began to fall into place. Here is the story as it unfolded chronologically.

The planning of all my vacations and trips thus far has consistently been done on a budget, and this would hold true. Luckily, the two of us were able to use some free round-trip flight vouchers (from our Atlanta / engagement trip) to get us out there and back; that was a burden lifted, cause flying can get expensive. I remember that we booked an early morning flight which usually means I am dragging unless I get my coffee.  Here is us on our way out there!

We took an early morning flight to L.A., where we would soon meet up with YoYo.

We took an early morning flight to L.A., we walked around downtown for a while to do some site seeing.

Nellie wanted to visit her girlfriend Yolanda while we were out that way, so we decided to fly into Los Angeles and checkin and see how she was doing. It was also pretty cool because she was able to show us around a little and enjoy a nice dinner with us at the Lobster in Santa Monica. I remember the great conversation, food and walk on the pier from that night. I felt so calm and really let myself enjoy the moment.

Dinner @ The Lobster in Santa Monica with our good friend Yolanda. Amazing night, great food and even better company!

Dinner @ The Lobster in Santa Monica with our good friend Yolanda. Amazing night, great food and even better company!

Afterwards we went cruising Hollywood Blvd. before we called it a night. Neither of us were that impressed.  Perhaps it would have been better to visit during the daytime. We got back to YoYo’s place and she put us up for the night, which was very kind of her and easy on our budget.

The next day was a beautiful friday. We got up fairly early and kindly YoYo dropped us off at the car rental before 9AM. We said our goodbyes and in a flash she was off to work and we were picking out our rental car. Lol, funny how Nell and I can be so indecisive at times. She wanted the Chrysler 300 and I wanted the Nissan Maxima, well eventually after going back and forth we tore out of the place in the little Maxima. We would spend the next several hours driving through the California countryside. I was really surprised to see all the agriculture fields along the way. The red sandy roads were a new site to see and I really just enjoyed driving.  It was an added bonus that the car was fast and torquey.

When we finally arrived in San Fran, it was important that we swing in and get my race packet so that I was ready to go come Sunday morning. After getting the packet we quickly dropped off the rental and jumped a taxi to our hotel. The really nice thing about staying at the Marriott we booked via Priceline was that it was just a couple blocks from Navy Pier.  I booked a hotel in that vicinity specifically because it was near all the action and we could essentially walk out the front door and be at the starting point of the race in five minutes, perfection.

After the travel day and driving 5+ hours, Nell and I decided to have a chill evening and went for a walk along the Pier.  We were pretty hungry but the selection was kinda slim picking because it was pretty late.  We stumbled along a pizza place and caught a slice and some wings.  Satisfied with our evening we walked back to the hotel and got some rest.  We knew the next day would be a busy one.


I decided to let my love sleep in while I laced up my running shoes and stepped to the streets.  It was a bit nippy out, so I started off at a Starbucks nearby and had coffee.  I warmed up, got a good stretch in and made tracks.  I ran about four miles along Navy Pier and took in the sites and smells.  There was so much going on!  An open market for people to purchase fresh fruits of the sea, other tourists taking photos, and there I was getting my sweat on as I jogged on by.  On my return back to my love I made sure to stop in and get another coffee and to grab her a croissant filled with chocolate and a vanilla steamer, her favorite.

She was happy to see me return and we got cleaned up for our day.  We then took a nice stroll along the Pier and took some pictures.  They had their huge Christmas tree already up for the holidays which was pretty cool.  We also had to take the opportunity to ride on the trolly which was pretty cool.   Eventually we mad our way downtown to do some window shopping.  Big momma got a bit salty with me as she wanted to shop but I kept reminding her that we couldn’t.  She saw a Louis Vuitton store and it would be in my ear the rest of the day. This is the woman I would be soon marrying, lol, that’s my diva.

Walking the Pier, enjoying the sights and each other's company!

Walking the Pier, enjoying the sights and each other’s company!

Walking around all day really gave us a big appetite, but we had to avoid snacking because we had dinner plans.  Prior to the trip, I had made plans with my good friend Susan and her husband Michael. They had moved out there a few years ago and it was finally my opportunity to connect with them both.  We met up at a really great asian-centric restaurant.  We arrived a bit early and got a beverage.  I was super excited to see them and knew that things were going to be changing for both of them soon.  They were just a few short months away from becoming parents.

Dinner with Susan and Michael in San Francisco! YUM!

Dinner with Susan and Michael in San Francisco! YUM!

When they arrived we took a moment to get a few pictures and say our  hellos.  It had been a couple years but they looked exactly the same They were happy as they always were.  Having known them for a while and even being a part of their wedding day, I could tell that they were happy! Next, we reviewed the menu and decided to order a few different plates and then just pass the food around, which was awesome!  My big race day was in the morning so we chatted a while and said our goodbyes to head back and get some rest.


Race Day! We woke up early and got ready for the big race.  Luckily we were already close to the starting line and had plenty of time.  We left the hotel and were quickly surrounded by hundreds of runners getting ready to start their race.  I was in the 7th corral and therefore wouldn’t start for another half hour while the spread out the participants.  When it was my turn to begin my MHU adventure, I lace my shoes up tight and pealed off my tank.  It was go time.

The starting line of the MHU - San Francisco!

The starting line of the MHU – San Francisco!

The weather was a little bit cool which would make for a great run. Immediately out of the race shoot I took it up a notch and passed many of the folks in my wave.  I would be finding my comfort zone for the next mile and catching my breath as I found my runner’s stride.  It is important to find a good pace and hit your equilibrium so that you can perform thoughout the race.  It is important to mentally focus knowing that you have another 10 miles ahead of you packed full of obstacles, oh and don’t forget the crazy hills throughout the city.

About two miles into the race I realized that something wasn’t quite right.  Quickly a cop on a motorcycle zooms past us to the guy leading us and rerouted us.  Apparently we got off the race path and lost about a mile of running until we reunited with the rest of the racers.  Seriously annoyed, I just had to do my best knowing that my finish time was going to be off about seven minutes.  I don’t blame the guys that got off track because the course was not as clearly defined as the MHU-Chicago.  In fact, I thought that this one was much less organized overall. The upside of the race was sweet challenges presented every few miles.  I remember just championing my way through each of them.  I darted though the monkey bars, army crawls, stadium stairs, hurdles and anything else that came at me.

Obstacles have met their match... MarathonJake @ MHU - San Francisco!

Obstacles have met their match… MarathonJake @ MHU – San Francisco!

In fact, after doing a bit of searching I found the official 2012 MHU – San Francisco video posted out on YouTube.  Guess who would play a quick cameo at 1min 19seconds, yours truly! In all the race was a ton of fun and I gave it my best.  At the finish line I met up with my #1 cheerleader.  Kisses from my Nellie, which are always amazing!  My overall results were eventually posted and read as such:

MHU - San Francisco Race Results; I did well overall and had a great time doing it!

MHU – San Francisco Race Results; I did well overall and had a great time doing it!

We stayed and enjoyed the Urbanathlon celebration for a while, and at about 9:30AM we left to make the most of our last day in San Francisco.  It was still early and we wanted to do accomplish a bit of fun site-seeing.  We found a cool place close by to rent us bikes and with the Golden-Gate Bridge off in the distance we mounted our loaners and were off to start an adventure. It took us a while to get close to the base of the bridge, but it was cool to see that there were some surfers out there catching some waves.  Btw, surfing is totally on my bucket list!

We took the bikes over the bridge and on the way back Nellie had a bit of an ‘incident’. She basically ran some guy over, lol talk about a scary bike collision.  No one was hurt, but it was definately a scare. We captured some really cool memories, check out below!

Nellie & Jake riding around sight seeing at the Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco, CA.

Nellie & Jake riding around sight seeing at the Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, CA.

After our riding around we made our way back to the hotel so that we could get all cleaned-up for our final day in the city.  We jumped in our street clothes, checked out of the Marriott and started our final round of sight seeing before our flight later that evening. We had enough time to go to Lombard Street (notorious for its many zig-zags because of how steep the street is) and do some walking around.  Later we had a nice dinner and I was able to finally enjoy some fresh crab from the bay, seriously yummy! Overall we had an amazing trip and did as much sight-seeing as we could with the time we had.

Checking out Lombard Street and enjoying our last beautiful day in San Francisco!

Checking out Lombard Street and enjoying our last beautiful day in San Francisco!

We rounded out the trip loving each other and creating lasting memories, mission accomplished! More to come as our final leg of the domestic MHU races will be sending us to New York!

CampTITAN 2013

This morning I participated in the “extreme BlackOps style” 5K obstacle course race called CampTITAN.  I participated in this event last season and gave it another shot because it had some of the best obstacles and was pretty challenging. Since this is not nearly as commercialized as Warrior Dash or ToughMudder, it usually draws a smaller audience, but also means you wont be stepping on people every time you try to take a full stride.  The remainder of this post is dedicated to my overall race preparation and then the deeper dive into the pros and cons of this course.

Pre-Race Preparation:

This morning I did my normal Jake ‘race morning rituals’ that I always do; this usually consists of waking up early enough to have a cup or two of coffee (black), enjoy putting something in my stomach and yup I top it off by slapping on my board shorts and shoes. Food-wise, I made myself a blended shake consisting of bananas, a bit of chocolate protein powder, a packet of chocolate breakfast shake (well-balanced nutritionally), some ice, a little water, a bit of Silk almond milk, and top it off with a raw egg. After it was well blended, It was delicious. Side note, I left some in the fridge for the wife; I let her sleep in from a night out with the girls. Then as always, I jumped on my bike (NASTY) and peeled out for Buck Hill Ski Resort to take on this foe once again.

Gotta love being used in a Race's advertising pictures! I took it to that tire - FLIP! ;)

I am in the Race’s advertising pictures! I took it to that tire – FLIP! 😉

Check-in and Warmup:

Upon arriving, I am in a really good mood.  It was a slightly brisk ride out to Buck Hill and I was feeling really good, but when you ride for 40 minutes or more your legs get a bit stiff.  So I went through the check-in process, which was a bit of a drag but the line went quick enough. One thing that i didn’t like too much were the generic bib numbers that they give you and they had us adhere them with duck tape instead of pins. In addition, there were no T-shirts this year, so you can forget walking away with any swag. But I am not really upset that they went a cost-effective route.  All the proceeds of this race are donated towards Haiti earthquake relief, so at least I know why they are more  frugal.  Upside – parking was free!

Next, I made sure to get some good stretching done before my wave time (@ 10AM). I got a solid warmup and took time on my ankles, as they have been hurting ever since the ToughMudder, likely due to all the downhill impact during the race.  Next, they corralled us together in our wave which were identified by different color wrist bands. Lastly and perhaps my biggest gripe is that they did not provide a timing chip and so the race was not technically timed.

Race Experience – Green Wave

After the necessary precautionary speech our wave was let out of the gate.  Normally I shoot right to the front, but this time I figured it would make most sense to not gas myself right away.  Within the first mile I was only behind 3 other guys; two were military and one was a younger kid (and man he was quick).

The obstacles for this year’s CampTITAN were weak at best. They consisted of several ‘mud mounds’ and some army crawl activities and of course the 8-9 foot walls that you had to pull yourself over.  None of the obstacles I thought were very difficult but the overall course itself was the biggest challenge.  There were six different paths in which you had to go from the bottom of Buck Hill to the very top and then back down.  It really tested the strength and endurance of your legs.

Remember those three guys that I said were ahead of me?  Well I took the marines out pretty much at the same time as I was scaling one of the tough uphill stretches of the course.  The younger guy was a formidable competitor, It took me until approximately the 2 to 2.5 miles into the course before I surpassed him.  It was the 20 lbs sandbag that we had to carry up the hill and back down that seemed to take it out of him.  I passed him on the way down and never looked back again.  I was on a roll and wasn’t about to give up the lead.  The last ascent of Buck Hill seemed unending and when I finally hit the apex I “Rocky danced” for a couple of seconds and then hit the decent.  The rest is history, I blew through the finnish gate – 1st in my Green Wave!

The feeling of completing this race was really good, it was really mentally challenging and pushed you to remain positive and keep putting one foot in front of other the whole time.  When I finished I got a pretty cool dog tag as my medal of completion.  I will add it to the stack from the many races that I have laid to rest!

Overall Race Experience: B-

I think I did it in about 32 minutes, but without the timing chip I cannot be sure.  I had a decent time on the cource, however,  this years obstacles were lacking and hope that they focus a bit more on that piece. Greater participant / fan crowd base would have been nice too.  Another one down for the 2013 season!

Warrior Dash 2013

About a month ago I was fortunate enough to participate in the Warrior Dash 2013 @ Afton Alps. This is the third year in a row that I was able to compete in this obstacle course. This race is owned and hosted by Red Frog Events, which in my opinion is one of the first companies to commercialize these type of obstacle course style races. Overall a pretty cool company.

Originally it was not in my plans to complete this race as the previous year I truly didn’t enjoy the obstacles as much as some of the other courses out there (i.e. Rugged Maniac, CampTITAN, etc.). However, I was tapped by my friend Patrick as he wanted me to run in place of his wife as she was not 100% good to go, so I took him up on his offer. Once I gave him confirmation, he looked into changing the registration over to me. Do you think that was possible? Well it wasn’t, so therefor, for that day I was to be running as his lady. Oh well whatever I thought. No one ever follows all the rules at those races; sometimes you play it by eat and jump into whatever wave time that works best for you as opposed to your specified time.

When the day came, as tradition calls for, I rode my motorcycle out to Afton bright and early. With my board shorts on, red bull and a granola bar all in my draw-string backpack, I paid for parking (which always annoys me as I feel I deserve a pass for such a small vehicle) and made my way to the busses to meet Patrick and his wife down at the race grounds. After meeting up he was able to get me the bib that I needed and he was able to check his bag in.

With only a minute or so before the race wave for 10:30 to go, Patrick and I decided to jump in. Unfortunately the race shoot was packed with people. Many of which I knew were there for the fun and social aspect of the race. Me on the other hand I had shown up with a goal of beating my time from last year (~30 minutes). Therefore I have my best to Patrick and took off for the front of the pack. The race had already began, so this meant that I had to zig-zag amongst the other participants. Soon I was through the thick of it and onto the obstacles.

You have to love that this years course made all the runners immediately dash to the top of a very steep hill.  Now that I have been through several obstacle course races I have learned that it is not worth it to sprint to the top and come out of it completely winded and unable to jog it out once you hit ‘unchallenged’ flat terrain.  So instead I will sprint two-thirds the way to the top of majority of the larger hills and then walk the remaining portion until I hit the apex.  This allows me to catch my breath a bit during the part of the hill that by the time I would get there running my running would be essentially the same pace of a brisk walk, so it’s essentially a wash.

With mastering the hills my next challenge became the periodic obstacles on the course and then the other participants. I have done my best to be respectful by calling out ‘on the left’ to folks as I pass, but on occasion I folks do not get out of my way in time especially at the obstacles so I have to improvise.  Luckily, I am able to think on my feet and get through quickly and without crushing others. One suggestion that I have for the folks at Red Frog Events would be to put in a ‘Fast Lane‘ on each of the obstacles.  That way those there for the competition can blaze through while the others can meander at their own modest pace.

This warrior dash had several fun obstacles including: cargo nets, fire to jump over, trestles to climb over and go under, walking planks, and the final mud pit to victory.  However, I am somewhat disappointed that the course creators have abandoned the section of donated cars that you would run over; I always liked that!

Upon completing the race which I felt pretty good about, I received my metal and waited for my buddy Patrick to finish. Soon thereafter we went over to the beer tent and got our beer.  He had the famous turkey leg and I afforded myself a beef hotdog, lol.  We were both victors but overall I was unsure of my overall time, I thought that I was close to beating my last year’s time but needed to wait for the official results. A few days later, Pat sends me a text saying the results are up.  This is where it gets funny and somewhat depressing.

My buddy’s wife (Me) placed 47th out of 8311 competitors.  Not only that but his ‘wife’ placed 2nd overall for all the women in the race.  This they still like to give me a hard time about because essentially it means that I got beat by a girl.  I do get a laugh about it, but my official time is noted below!

47 Heidi Tatro 62333 30 F 2/1550 30-39 27:39.70 8:45/M

Pretty proud of that time and it will definitely be one for the books! But I think that the real gain for the day was spending it with a fairly new friend and getting to know him better.  He is a very good person and is a very smart guy.  We probably stand to learn a lot and both benefit from a good friendship. Overall, I am glad I took him up on the offer!

Here is a picture of us all after we had completed the race! Good Friends = Good Times & Many Laughs!

Patrick, Heidi, and Jake - Warrior Dash 2013

Patrick, Heidi, and Jake – Warrior Dash 2013

MarathonJake Defined

Since graduating in 2006 from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and leaving my past behind me to start a new beginning, I found myself in need of an outlet to dedicate myself to. I had always had a passion for fitness and health. Quickly I became involved in several activities including weight lifting, mountain biking, playing in a flag football league, and eventually found my way into different kinds of races.

Nellie coming out to show her support for me at the Twin Cities 10Miler!

Nellie coming out to show her support for me at the Twin Cities 10Miler!

In 2007, I had decided to run the Twin Cities Marathon, I trained for six months prior to the race and eventually the day came and I completed it. I felt an incredible sense of accomplishment, and from that day forward I was hooked. I had found my feet! Over the next several years I competed and excelled at various types of races.

A few of the races I have done include:

Warrior Dash (5K – Obstacle Course)
Rugged Maniac (5K – Obstacle Course)
Get In Gear (10K Race)
Trinona (Triathlon – Olympic Distance)
CampTITAN (5K – Obstacle Course)
Men’s Health Urbanathlon (10M – Obstacle Race)
TC 10 Miler (10M Race)
TC Medtronic Marathon (26.2M Race)
Lifetime Fitness Triathlon (Triathlon – Olympic Distance)
Torchlight (5K Race)
MS Mudrun (10K Mud Race)
Gran Fondo (50K Bike Race)

My tastes have changed several times in the last 5-6 years when it comes to races. I started with simple run races, then transitioned to triathlons and now I have gotten into obstacle course races. I think that as I mastered each style of races I began to get bored and so I keep evolving. Who know what’s next to come but I am always hungry for adventure! Please follow along as I post more specifics of my race experiences!