Thursday, January 01, 2009

The 2008 "Jeany Awards"

1617 total miles and 11 different races over roads (mostly dry, some snow-covered), trails, golf courses, and even through swamps; not a bad way to spend 2008!

Since the year's end is sort of a neat and tidy milestone, it serves an opportunity to reflect upon some of my more interesting running experiences over the past year. I will even throw them into a few self-defined award categories. And to make the ceremony completely pretentious, I can give the awards a cutesy name, such as the "Jeany Awards," and have Joan Rivers stationed at the entrance asking ridiculous fashion questions to the fellow runners in attendance.

So roll out the red carpet! The ballots have been tabulated, and there will be no recount (the MN Secretary of State's office is a little tied up at the moment).

The envelope, please...

Greatest Accomplishment Award: Community First Fox Cities Marathon – Appleton, WI

Yours truly, at the Fox Cities Marathon finish

Of course, this category had to go to finishing the Fox Cities Marathon back in September. I made a nice weekend trip out of this race. The Fox Cities area was quite beautiful with some great restaurants, and the race was well organized and a tremendous amount of fun. I set a new marathon personal record time, and I enjoyed every moment on the course. A lot of hard work went into preparing for the race over the summer, and it paid off in the end. Very satisfying.

Messiest Race Award: Runnin' In The Ruff 10k - Milaca, MN

Mud + Water + Swamps = These shoes and socks

Not even a contest. This past spring saw some incredibly wet weather in central Minnesota with a tremendous amount of late-season snowfall. The trails and swamps along the edge of the town of Milaca offered up enough mud to suck a shoe clean off your foot, along with some knee deep water crossings. And let me tell you, that water was cold! The shoes and socks in the picture above never fully recovered.

Most Difficult Race Award: Superior Trail Race 25k - Lutsen, MN

Wiped out after the Superior Trail 25k

Again, not even a contest. I ain't built for hills! :) This was the hardest race I have done, period. There is very little flat ground as you are dragging yourself up and stumbling down Moose Mountain on the Superior Hiking Trail. I was exhausted, beaten up, bloody, and I still have the ever-so-faint remnants of a scar on my leg from scraping a branch. That being said, it is still probably the most beautiful race I have ever run. A difficult challenge in some gorgeous country.

Most Satisfying Race Award: Freight House Road Race 10 Mile - Stillwater, MN

Yours truly, before the start of my best race of the year

This would have gone to my marathon except for the fact that the Freight House Road Race at Stillwater’s Lumberjack Days summer celebration was one of my best managed races ever. I felt great, I felt fast, and I had enough gas left in the tank for a very strong finish. It was my fastest pace for a "longer" distance race, and I destroyed my previous 10 mile personal record. Everything worked on this day. Good times!

Most Fun Race Award: Chester Woods 10 Mile Trail Run - Rochester, MN

Yours truly, hoofing it up the “Big Dam Hill” in the midst of a thunderstorm

When I signed up for this race, I had no idea how cool it would be. The Chester Woods County Park is extremely scenic. The trails were easy to run on, and they offered some pretty incredible views of southeastern Minnesota bluff country, as well as plenty of challenging terrain (particularly towards the finish). The added drama of a thunderstorm in the last few miles of the race proved to be quite interesting as well. A fantastic event all the way around. And if I recall, the entry fee was a ridiculously cheap $15. Money well spent!

Most Memorable Run Award: August 30, 2008 – My neighborhood

A fantastic sunrise taken during my favorite run of the year

It wasn't a race. I recall this August morning as being one of the most memorable runs of 2008. This was the day of my longest training run (21 miles) in preparation for the Fox Cities Marathon. Appropriately enough, I had an encounter with an inattentive red fox, which led to one of the funniest things I have ever seen in the animal kingdom. Couple that with a number of bunny sightings on a downright beautiful summer day with a gorgeous sunrise, and you have one fine morning run. Here is to many more days like this in 2009 and beyond!

Happy New Year to all!

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