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!




The thing I love about blogging is that it allows me to share some pretty cool experiences with my friends and family and record it for looking back and reflecting.  That said, in this page of my autoblography, I take us all on a family road trip to visit my dad, or “Papa” as Madison says.

Many of you know that orchestrating a family trip can be like herding cats! It may be a real challenge, but I knew that it had to be done.  My dad has been living in Iowa most of his life, and yes, my early upbringing was in the land of the Hawkeyes.  I do not shun or smear my home state too bad, but if you know anything about the transition from Minneapolis, MN to Cedar Rapids, IA then you know it is like hopping in your DeLorean and going back a decade or two. I digress…

As grown kids, my brother Justin and my sister Janeen and I knew that we needed to repay my father for the countless times that he has commuted to the cities for holidays and family gatherings.  A many thanks are due.  Therefore, we finally got our priorities straight and put a plan in action.  It was to be a covert in and out operation, 24-36 hours tops!

Our trip promptly began at the end of the work week. This is typically when I leave out of the office about an hour early and chase out to Wisconsin to pickup my little peanut butter Madison. Once I got her and delivered the news about a weekend road trip with her cousins to Iowa, she flipped (in a good way). So excited she literally was shaking in her seat. It made me feel great to have the means and desire to bring our family together. I had already taken the liberty of packing her things for the weekend, so next stop was to swing by and snatch up my sister and her girls Chloe and Scarlet.

Thankfully everyone had there things ready to go and once we got the girls from daycare we began southbound to our brother’s place in Winona. He graciously offered to put us up for the night and to feed us. On our way down we played the radio rotation game where we all took turns sharing and singing along to our favorite tunes. From my sister’s sizzling hunk Bruno Mars to my nieces Disney theme songs we stayed entertained the whole time. When we pulled into town and made it to my brother’s we were eagerly greeted and yes, I parked my car in the wrong spot again! Justin and Liz were busy preparing dinner for us and had arrived just in time to put the finishing touches on a couple of hand made pizzas.

Sidebar – It has been nice seeing them work together and be a team. Especially now that they are planning their wedding!

Great din din thanks to Liz and my bro; Super glad to see my nieces; Probably the most awesome blanket fort on the planet (one night only, hehehe)!

Great din din thanks to Liz and my bro; Super glad to see my nieces; Probably the most awesome blanket fort on the planet (one night only, hehehe)!

Once we ate it was already close to 9PM and the girls hopped into their jammies and crawled into their fort made from blankets and sheets. This was complements of my sister, she goes the extra mile to make memories for these girls that will last forever. Soon it was lights out for them and time for the adults to enjoy a few glasses of wine and a game of Yahtzee and Clue. Admittedly I am terrible at both, however, Justin apparently had colluded with both Janeen and Liz. I was oblivious to all of this and it made for some good laughs at the end. Who was it again, Mrs. White in the Kitchen with the Revolver? Yes, I lost and to that I say goodnight!

The next morning we woke early and enjoyed breakfast prepared by Justin and Liz. I had also brought down a fresh half loaf of banana bread, compliments of my Grandma Barb (rest her soul in eternal peace). Everyone had a slice and much to the chagrin of my sister, they loved it. We have a little rivalry going at the moment. Sorry sis, you can’t top perfection, lol muahhaha!

With the cars loaded up and some good-eats in our bellies we hit the road; we were Iowa bound! It was decided that we would take two cars, so I rolled with Justin in his Vibe while Janeen and the girls tailed us in my Sportage, doing it this way just gave us all a little more sanity and allowed for us to be legit, car seats and all (later this decision will have proven us wise). As we rode down, my brother and I were able to catch up on some things and jam to some good tunes, what up AWOL!

Traveling through IOWA will almost certainly make you think of slitting your wrists from sheer boredom. Every time I visit, I prepare myself to shave a decade of technology and progress off of society, but I do not care to go overly negative on my home state, but it was obviously enough to have Justin calling our mom and leaving her a VM thanking her for bring us to the burbs of Minneapolis.

Upon arriving at an interesting trailer park in Cedar Rapids, early reminding me of my first memories as a child, we were greeted by our Dad. I have come to understand that my father is just the most comfortable in places like these as he likes life moving at a slower pace, hey sometimes I can’t blame him for that. Quickly he invited us in and his ‘lady-friend’ Mary offered us up some sandwiches for lunch. Adamant not to eat the nutrition-lacking sustenance provided, Justin politely refused and a weekend long joke had unofficially started.

As planned, we all soon went bowling at a local alley and got a chance to comfortably catch up. Pops had easily put on thirty or more pounds and was looking happy. His demeanor is always pleasant and he loved helping the girls get their bowling balls and shoes. We decided to play a couple of rounds and we all fared rather well. I still laugh about Dad’s thumb getting stuck in the bowling ball; that’s been happening since we were kids, lol. Must be his painting fingers or something.

Good times at our Dad's local bowling alley.  Apparently he still cannot beat me, lol!

Good times at our Dad’s local bowling alley. Apparently he still cannot beat me, lol!

I was bowling with a spin as usual and catching several selfie-style pictures with the family. Everyone was a good sport, well except for Justin. The whole time he was distracted with his phone and overall had the appearance of being inconvenienced. I knew that my grumpy brother wanted to hurry up and make our way to the hotel so that we could drop our bags and go for a jog. So we made haste and hit the road for the Double Tree in DT Cedar Rapids.

Once we arrive and unloaded, we checked in and saw our new digs for the evening. It was going to be comfy living which is what I wanted! So as planned, BT (Janeen’s nickname) took the girls and adventured around the hotel to find the pool, meanwhile eating warm cookies from the check-in desk. Now it was our chance to go do a run before anyone could stop us.

Justin and I got our running attire on and made tracks. I was determined to run the moodiness out of him! He starts out of the gate pretty hot, but no sweat we quickly found our unison pace and really had a fun time. His run and preferred shoe is much different from my style. He sports more of a natural barefoot sole type of shoe and practices a shorter (and more skimpy) stride. I think his style is best suited for the trails and not the concrete jungles that I prefer. On the other hand, I have nice cushion-soled shoes and have a longer stride. Neither seemed to be the better and the just both worked.

We actually were having fun and were able to crush just over 7 miles in less than an hour. I recall the weather being perfect and there being enough sun shining on us to feel the warmth through my shirt. Probably my favorite part of the run was destroying a sizable parking ramp structure on the outskirts and heading back into the downtown space. The fresh air did us good and when we returned we saw a cute note from BT on the flat screen, “took the girls to the pool”. Quick as a flash we hoped into our trunks and headed down to meet them.

Swimming with the girls was a blast.  They have really begun to open up and trust me a lot, #loveit!  They were also very happy that Papa jumped in and swam around with them!

Swimming with the girls was a blast. They have really begun to open up and trust me a lot, #loveit!
They were also very happy that Papa jumped in and swam around with them!

My sis was watching as the girls were splashing about. Madison the only true swimmer out of the bunch was sure to look out for both Chloe and Scarlet whom had reserved the right to cling to the pools edge. That was no longer the case after I jumped in. It was slightly colder than I expected, but decided to get warmed up by wrestling with the girls and getting splashed. Finally, my Dad and Mary made it back and joined us. Given the opportunity to swim with his grand kids, he couldn’t refuse, and thankfully Justin was there to capture some of these family treasures.

Waterlogged, we headed back upstairs to get cleaned up. It was about seven by now and everyone was getting hungry. I figured that we would be stepping out for a bite as a family but to my surprise Mary had prepared more than was expected, so we decided to combo ordering some pizzas and eating in. Apparently Justin isn’t a fan of the Dominos (my preference) so we got a Hawaiian and a pepperoni from Pizza Hut. Once delivered we are as a big family! We had a full spread of wings, salad, and Pizza!

*Travel Tip*
If you are in a hotel room and need a table, leverage the rooms ironing board is a good alternative!

With the remaining energy the girls had, we played ‘Go-Fish’ and chatted! Meanwhile, the adult kids cleaned up while Pops and Mary once again ran home to let their dog out again and to bring back popcorn for the girls. By the time they got back the girls were knocked out and Janeen and I were already into playing a few hands of Gin Rummy.

We decided to clear out of their room so they could get settled and hit the hay. Once next door it was the three of us adult kids and a deck of cards. Justin totally whooped Janeen and myself in cards, but in true Justin fashion, he quit early and tried to sleep. Not an easy task for him with sissy and I making a bunch of noise. We went around the table swapping old stories and childhood memories. It was the best reconnection moment that I have had with my sister since my undergrad days! Cracking up hysterically at some of our adolescent shortcomings we were at peace just chatting and rekindling our close bond. This went on until about 2:30AM and finally we both agreed to get some sleep. Awkwardly we bunked up back to back. Justin was happily asleep by this time so we decided to tuck into bed with him, his beloved ham and white bread sandwich, hahaha!

Frustratingly we were awoken only a few short hours later to our father and Mary packing up. Apparently Mary had to go to work that morning early and also had to let the dog out as well. At this point I am just super agitated but before I had much time to digest and react, they were gone. Nicely, Justin offered to go and sleep in the room for the rest of the night as to not further wake the girls. When we woke a couple of hours later our Dad requested that we meet at his place for breakfast. Previously we had agreed to eat at Perkins so all the grand kids could order whatever and we enjoy a stress free conversation. Guess that plan was ruined, oh well; much to our reluctance we decided to pack up and rendezvous at his place for our meals and to say our goodbyes.

By the time we made it to the opposite side of Cedar Rapids we were less than pleased to see that Mary had gone to great lengths to cook an elaborate breakfast for us all. In and of itself, it was a sweet gesture but not what we had wanted or expected. We sat and ate that which appealed to each of us. Which for me wasn’t much, but I ate it anyways. Dad reassured me that this is one of Mary’s love languages, however, our eating and cooking habits are different but I digress. We all finished up and said our farewells.

We said our goodbyes and made tracks.  Love my Carroll family!

We said our goodbyes and made tracks. Love my Carroll family!

One last pic was snapped and were headed north on the fastest route possible. I doubled up with BT and the girls and made tracks home. I wish this were the end of my tale bit it is not. After a short while of driving and chatting with little sis, apparently my foot got heavy and I was nailed for speeding 82 or so in a 60 (I think) anyway the officer gave me a warning after double checking all of my information. Janeen and the girls get the credit for getting me outta this one! How could anyone give a ticket with all these cuties in one car! 🙂

Look at these cuties... and Madison's hand creature???  No wonder I got off with a warning!

Look at these cuties… and Madison’s hand creature???
No wonder I got off with a warning!


Since I first picked up running races as a hobby it has always been a solo adventure, which has been okay for me because I am very independent and really like to not talk or think.  I just run.  However, the 2013 season has been quite different and I have a few people to thank for that.  Mostly I have to give appreciation to my friend Pat Tatro for pulling me along on several different races this year.  Props buddy!

So RAGNAR is a race that most of us have either heard about or at least seen the interesting symbol / logo plastered on a handful of cars around the cities.  It is a relay race that begins in Winona, MN and ends in Minneapolis, MN (~200 miles).  You plan and prepare for this race by establishing a solid race team.  Teams can be any combination of up to twelve runners; if a team choses to just be 6 runners they are dubbed ‘Ultra’.  There can be quite a few details to manage so the team captain has a lot to organize.  A big thanks to Kevin for spear heading these tasks for our 2013 race.


According to the instructions provided by Kevin, we were to meet at Pat’s place at approximately 10:15AM, when I arrived majority of the guys were there and loading up the van with supplies and their running gear.  I had chosen to pack light, really light. Most of the guys had brought more than one change of clothes and many additional additives to comfort along the way.  Pretty smart of them, obviously I didn’t really know what I was in for. I did bring what mattered: running shoes, socks, shirt, shorts, and a headlamp. Soon we lined up in our respective vans  runners 1-6 in the first and 7-12 in the second. I was slated with the 6th race spot in the first van which I was really happy with. My legs were to be 7.6 miles (very Hard), 5.6 miles (Hard) and finally 4.1 miles (moderate); this was great because I was stoked to get the toughest stretch done first, everything was to get easier from then on.

We had a quick ride down to Winona, which was cool because we were able to chat and get a bit more acquainted. We arrived and checked-in and our team went through the safety review with the course instructor.  Soon it was time for us to get started, but before we got underway we got a quick pick of the crew in Van 1.

Van 1 Race Crew at the RAGNAR starting line!

Van 1 Race Crew at the RAGNAR starting line! Left to Right (Jake, Connor, Alex, Pat, Phil and Robby)

Race Start Date/Time: Friday August 16th @ 2PM

We had one of the later race times that day and there were only about five other teams that were going to begin the race at the same time.  Robby started us off and while we were waiting for him we decided to decorate the van and to mark the team name “Dirt McGuerts” and each of our race legs on the sides of the van. When it was all done it looked great!

The cool thing about this race is that the other racers in the van will support you along the way.  You look at your race legs and see where you would like the van to encourage you and give you water.  Since it ended up being quite hot that day (~89F) we often needed water drops. Plus each time you saw your van it was like another push to keep going and to keep a swift pace.  Being there for each other was a cool way to bond, and when it wasn’t your time to race you had time to enjoy the snacks in the van and chat.

Not too much later and it was time for my first leg; it was approximately 5:15PM.  It was a very challenging leg of 7.6 miles which was littered with mentally challenging hills. There were several points during this stretch where I wanted to stop but my pride wouldn’t left me.  So I kept my feet shuffling. I finished Leg 6 with around a 7:30 pace and for the type of hills and heat, I consider that quite the accomplishment. I like that the relay race used essentially the old school 80s/90s slap bracelet style baton.  Pretty cool.

From start to finish I pushed through each of my legs and came out victorious!

From start to finish I pushed through each of my legs and came out victorious!

My next leg was to begin at approximately 2:15AM. This was to be my first night run and it was quite different from running during the day.  By now the temperature from the day had dropped significantly and was quite brisk.  I remember putting my headlamp on and gearing up for the transition.  It was a bit strange running at night and I was always on the lookout for cars (especially for drunk drivers).  I could easily see my breath as I ran, but that didn’t break my focus.  I was looking for other runner’s via their tail lights.  I was able to get 6 ‘Kills’ on this stretch which felt great.  I finished with a brisk pace of closer to 7:00 minute miles. Once this leg was completed our crew drove to Stillwater, MN where we were able to get a little shut-eye and rest our legs.

Rise & Shine its Van 1 time! Starting our last and final leg of the race!

Rise & Shine its Van 1 time! Starting our last and final leg of the race!

By 7AM the next morning van 2 had completed their legs of the race and now it was time for us to complete our last stretch (see picture above).  My last one came at approximately 10:30AM.  It was quite hot out and I remember my leg was a straight path through a local town.  My legs were beginning to fail as I sprinted through the finish line. I had a total of 10 kills on that stretch! Mentally drained and physically tired, I was super excited that I completed the last leg (again close to 7 minute miles). We then took off and headed back to Pats to cleanup and unload the van.  Before we did that we had to admire the van and all the kills we made along the way (~93 teams).

Back at Pat's we counted our Kills and got cleaned up to meet up with Van 2 at the finish line.

Back at Pat’s we counted our Kills and got cleaned up to meet up with Van 2 at the finish line.

Afterwards, we were to meet at the race finish line down by the U of M. When we arrived we had enough time to relax a bit and enjoy conversation before Kevin (the last runner in Van 2) was to arrive. We brought along our official RAGNAR race shirts so that we could run across the finish line together as a team and have our team photo taken.  It was a big accomplishment!  Personally I ran approximately 17.5 miles in total.  I was a bit tired and sore, but I sat down and enjoyed a complimentary couple of pizzas.  Thanking all of the team members for a great experience I soon took off only to later connect with the team on Facebook and share our story.  In all, it was a unique team relay race experience and I had a lot of fun!  Here is our finish line picture!

The Dirt McGuerts arrive victorious!

The Dirt McGuerts arrive victorious!

Late the following week we received word that we placed 9th overall for the race.  Our final time was ~24hrs 30mins.  We were pretty excited to have done so well and though we didn’t crack the 24 hour mark, we cannot complain about our performance.  The average mile pace for our team was 7:32.

Who would have thought at 28 I was going to band with a group of guys and run from Winona MN to Minneapolis MN.  Blessed in life!

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

Tough Mudder 2013

This past weekend I had the opportunity to complete the Tough Mudder obstacle course in Somerset, WI. Thanks to my friend Patrick, I was brought onboard a team of 8 total Mudders! The team consisted of Patrick, Jake B., Jake C. (Me), Ryan, Dan, Kevin, Tresa, and her friend. All were very nice people and had a positive outlook for the day’s adventure!

This was the first time I had been able to participate in a military-style obstacle course with a team.  I have in the past avoided team races because I am typically very competitive and enjoy setting my own pace and pushing myself to a limit where I feel I have given it my personal best.  Luckily, this event is truly not a competitive race but instead a group event in which you need your teammates in order to accomplish some of the obstacles.

The course itself was approximately 10 miles of off-road hilly terrain that had a plethora of challenging obstacles (20+). The pace of the group felt close to 11min miles but this was fun because we were able to have fun banter as we jogged from obstacle to obstacle.

Below are some of my favorite obstacles that we overcame during the TM course.

  • Bail Bonds (pyramid of straw bails)
  • Everest (half-pipe)
  • Mud Mile (hill of mud x10)
  • Walk the Plank (high jump into water pit)
  • Funky Monkey (monkey bars up and down)

Lease favorite ones:

  • Electric Eel (hard-hitting electrical shocks while sliding on your stomach)
  • Arctic Enema (ice/water pool, shocking as it drops your core temperature)

By the time our group had hit mile 7 or so, a couple of our crew had some pretty stiff cramps in their legs. We then dialed it back a little bit which was good to keep the group together and gave me a greater sense of ‘team’ and not the individual (me). After about 3.5 hours we completed the course and were immediately rewarded with a Dos Equis beer and a couple of protein bars, both were delicious and shared in good company!  We accomplished a great feet and going forward, I will wear my headband when I am drinking and rock my Mudder shirt when I am working out!

We got our stamina back up again after a 30 minute stretch on a hill just outside the main TM grounds. It was a beautiful day and we totally got blessed.  It must have been perhaps 80 degrees and sunny outside but these were welcomed conditions after rolling of a 90+ degree stretch for the last couple of weeks. Soon after we stretched and took off our mud-caked shoes we got up and headed to Patrick’s to enjoy a barbecue and get cleaned up.

As a good host, Patrick and his wife set us up with towels and a hot shower.  While we cleaned up they were busy preparing food which was very kind of them.  I had a few drinks and some amazing food (great burger and a brat), the guys took the opportunity to get to know each other better. Glad I met them and after our conversations, I concluded my day and headed home.  What began with a 7:30AM motorcycle ride to Pat’s lasted until 5:30PM, that day will not be soon forgotten.  I hope again to enjoy another Mudder season with this crew!

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!