Monday, June 13, 2016

Belated 2016 Fargo Marathon Post-Race Report!

Marathon again this year since I enjoyed writing up a post race recap on it last year. I want to discuss two big races in 2016 for me in this blog. 2016 marks my third completion of the full marathon race at Fargo, ND. It also marked the 4th time I did a race of the minimum full marathon distance because a few months earlier in March I competed in my first ever 50k that transpired just outside of Lisbon, ND in the Cheyenne Grasslands which is where I raced in my first 25k the year prior. That race is known as the Sandhills Ultra Racing Experience (or END-SURE for short).

Doing two races of at least 26.2 miles within two months of each other took a lot of hard work and training. For about six weeks leading up to the 50k I was increasing my weekly long run distance from the usual 12 miles until 24 the week before the race. Because of lovely North Dakota winters, it was still too slick to run outside until early March, which meant most of those training runs until a couple weeks before were executed on the good ‘ol treadmill. Ever do 20 miles on a treadmill before? I do not recommend it.

The first half of the 50k course in the Cheyenne grasslands was entirely new to me. I was a little worried about fresh snow being covered over the track because most of the snow gradually melted away by beginning of March, but come race time in mid-March a few light flurries in the previous days got me worked up, but thankfully none of it stuck nor did it get the trail course all muddied up either. At race time it was a brisk 33 degrees out with tolerable winds of around 13mph. I remember it was mostly cloudy and for about the six and a half hours I was racing, the sun only peeked out for about no more than 10 glorious minutes of temporary heat all together. Minutes in though, the blood was flowing and body temperature was not a problem.

The first half of the race was surprisingly pleasant. It was almost entirely flat, and the challenge was trying to keep my eyes peeled for the trailhead markers around every 150-200 yards because I remember a handful being somewhat easy to miss in some parts of the grasslands where the trail blended in with its surroundings. Luckily for almost the entire first half of the race I was within eyesight of another competitor which helped tremendously keep me on track. As I got to the halfway aid station I was making fairly good time considering I was running on dirt and carrying a 2 liter water pack on me too.

The second half of the race however really kicked my butt. I remember that half was the 25k I did last year minus a couple little tweaks, and just like I remembered that half was filled with a lot of constant mini-hills throughout. It was not too terrible last year tackling just that half of the race on its own, but going into it after already running 16 miles made it a whole new beast. Each new climb up a hill got incredibly more difficult and I really started to slow down. I kept plugging away, and definitely took several walking breaks in that final half to help get through it. As disastrous as the second half of the race went, I was expecting the breakdown to happen once I hit these hills so I did my best to persevere through it while listening to a couple special podcasts I saved to help get through this race.

There were only four aid stations for this race, which I knew going in and was why I was required to wear a water-pack. The aid stations were thankfully well-equipped with all kinds of goodies to snack up on to keep my energy flowing. Props to ENDracing again for having a nice post-race grill out too that I took advantage of. I had a fun little chat with another runner after the race I was trying to stay in front of, but who managed to pass me in the final mile. I devoured a well earned veggie burger and brat at the grill out that hit the spot! It was at this time though the adrenaline wore off and I started getting the chills from the cold again and I quickly jumped in my heated car for the drive home.

I somehow made the near two hour drive home while recalling that my legs were extremely sore and took a couple days to recover from. A 50k is the minimum distance of a ultra marathon so I am glad I can say I achieved that feat, but I think if I were to compete in END-SURE again I will opt for the 25k option instead as it served last year as the perfect tune up race in my training plan last year to get my body conditioned to the marathon distance.

The next week I had to get my body re-adjust to start training for the marathon again and the two month gap from END-SURE to Fargo gave me just enough time to gradually increase my end-of-the-week long runs from 12 to 20 miles. I remember previous years getting worked up as I increased my distance each week, but there was something odd this year as I went into each training run mostly anxiety free, and was more or less thinking “yup, today I run X miles.” I did not know what to make of this, but it was pretty much my mindset going into the Fargo marathon.

As race day approached I was starting to get excited again about tackling the beast that is the marathon because the Fargo Marathon race day experience is still my favorite of all the races I compete in. It is a flat course that features an awesome start and finish inside the Fargodome, with plenty of well-maintained aid stations every mile or two. The community support is in a class of its own as it is hard to pass up a city block where there are at least a few people out there all day clapping and cheering on the runners. Asides from official aid stations there was at least an unofficial aid station or two every mile from the awesome people of Fargo setting up their own water/lemonade/jolly rancher/orange slice stands! I will emphasize again this year there is nothing like the feeling of getting a high-five from a little kid to give you a morale boost and keep spirits high in those final miles.

The day before the Fargo marathon they host one of the biggest 5ks in the country. The last few years I usually enjoyed being in the crowd and cheering on the runners and a few friends I know who tackle that race, but this year my friend Lyzz asked if I could run it with her. Lyzz and her husband Chris are two awesome friends I have known forever and are always super accommodating to me and let me crash at their place in Fargo whenever I am in town so I was thrilled to be there by her side giving her encouragement and helping her get through that race!

The next day was the big marathon race day and I went in with a similar strategy as last year. I lined up near the 4 hour 30 minute pacer for the race and told myself no matter what to stay by her and do not pass anyone at all for the first 11 miles of the race. I queued up another podcast I had for race day which helped me keep my adrenaline at bay and maintain that pace like I planned. Shortly after hitting 11 miles I gradually increased my pace and started to make my way through the pack. Hats off to my runner of the day that was a guy decked out in a full-on Scooby-Doo costume! I can only imagine how much he was roasting in there.

On race day we were blessed with tremendous weather! It was clear, bright skies with very little wind and a race day starting temperature in the 50s. By the final hour of the race for me though the temp was getting well into the 70s and I was definitely feeling it. The race director anticipated this and encouraged residents to have sprinklers running on the streets and countless citizens obliged and I made sure to get soaked by many sprinklers in that final hour.

At mile 21 I started to feel the race get the best of me and my legs. Like last year instead of suffering non-stop I took a few short walk breaks after grabbing a cup of water in the final series of aid stations to help keep me going and to make sure I would not overdo it and that helped a lot. Last year I finished with a time of 4:26 and I was hoping to finish with a time of around 4:15 this year, and I thought I had an outside shot of making it. However, with about a little over a half mile to go in the race I got my first ever charlie horse while running. That was an awful experience I do not want to relive, and I had to instantly stop running and it took a good few minutes to walk it off. Somehow, I was able to shake it off and at least able to finish the last third of a mile running across the finish line. I did not hit 4:15, and the unexpected hiccup resulted in me finishing with 4:24. I may have missed my goal, but I was glad I finished, and I still barely managed to beat my time from the previous year.

Chris, Lyzz, my mom, my sister and her kid were all there to root me on at the finish line! I remember seeing them shortly after the race and gave them all a big hug because I was so happy to see them! I was so psyched to see them that a second after the hug I yelled, “come back here we are not done hugging yet!” Those good race sensations did not last for long however as shortly after the race a quick fever hit me and I think a combination of the heat and consuming too much water/Gatorade in the final miles got the best of me and I quickly made my way to a bathroom at a restaurant I met up with at my family shortly after the race to hurl! Once I got that out of my system though I felt exponentially better! However the last thing I wanted to do after that was eat, and instead I just wanted to rehydrate.

Like the last few years I went on my marathon diet of giving up beef burgers and pizza for 100 days and only eating healthy when eating out leading up to the Fargo marathon and we celebrated by hitting up my favorite pizza joint, Rhombus Pizza in Fargo! So imagine having this fresh hot pizza right in front of me, but not having an appetite to eat it at all!?!? It was bizarre, but a couple hours later I got my appetite back and I wolfed down some delicious cold fridge pizza! After resting at Chris & Lyzz’s home for a couple hours I finished off the day meeting a few co-workers for a victory drink back in Grand Forks as the perfect way to celebrate another marathon in the books. Sorry for babbling on forever, but if you made it this far in another insanely long blog then I salute you! See you again next year!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My Struggles and Triumphs at the Fargo Marathon

It has been a long time since I posted over here on my Resolutions Quest blog, and since I posted many times here before about my running endeavors this seemed like the best place to give an update. As I detailed in this blog at the end of 2013, I ended that year conquering my running goals by averaging at least one run a month and competing in my first half marathon. As of this writing I have now competed in five half marathons, and a few days ago I completed my second full marathon.

2014 was another big year of races for me, I nearly competed in all the 2014 editions of races that I did in 2013. The biggest though was my first attempt at the full marathon. I did it where I competed in my first half marathon in Fargo on May 10, 2014. I picked out a training plan from my Runner’s World Guide to Marathon Training and gradually started increasing my mileage over the course of the 12-week plan. It maxed out with two 20 mile training runs which I knocked out and I felt good going into marathon race day, but the beast of the marathon got the best of me that day and I was in for quite the learning experience.

By May 10, 2014 I already ran in four half marathons and for three of them I was averaging a 8:30min/mile pace, so I made the fatal mistake on race day thinking that my training conditioned me to run that pace for a full marathon. I ran three of those four halves with a time of 1:52 or 1:53, and made another incorrect presumption that I could run the full marathon within four hours so I lined up right behind the pacer holding the ‘4 Hour Finish’ sign. Usually for the half marathons I take the first two miles easy before stepping up my pace, and in hindsight that is what I should have done in 2014. I felt fine until mile 15 where I felt myself start to slow down and I had too much pride to take a immediate walk break and instead felt myself slowing down faster and faster as the miles ticked away slower and slower and I was really starting to feel it.

Finally around the 20 mile mark I took a few walk/stretch breaks, but by that point it did little to help my legs that felt like ten tons of lead and my joints that were incredibly tightened up by that point. My run turned into a mini-scuffle for the last three or four miles of the race, but at least I managed to finish which felt like a huge weight off my shoulders. Instead of the four hour finish I was shooting for, I wound up barely sneaking in at under five hours with a 4:49 finish. I had to take a week off from running as I felt quite sore for several days. Immediately after the race I told my dad that I would never run another full marathon again, but as the months ticked away I kept thinking of new ways I could tweak my training and all the race day mistakes I made that I could correct and sure enough, by the end of the year I signed myself up for my second marathon.

Going into my training season, I did not go with another training plan from a guide, but made some tweaks to how I wanted to run during training season on the fly. I stuck with my normal two to three runs during the week which were usually four or eight mile efforts, and I gradually increased my long runs at the end of the week which were usually ten milers, but as the weeks went on they increased by a mile or two each week. I competed in my first 25K outside of Lisbon, ND in the middle of March and it coincided perfectly into my end of the week long run progression. That race, put on by the awesome people at North Dakota ENDRACING, was an awesome experience as it was my first race filled with hills, and running in the beautiful scenic Cheyenne Grasslands made it a memorable experience.

For my long run progression I really wanted to improve my conditioning and endurance so instead of just two 20 mile runs, for my last four weeks heading into the end of the week long run I did four straight runs of at least 20 miles. First a 20 miler, then 21.5, then up to 23 miles and finally down to 20 miles to taper down a smidge a week out before the marathon. All of those runs took a lot out of me, but I feel it paid off big time as by that final big training run I felt comfortable at cranking out distances of at least 20 miles, and I looking back now I am very happy I upped my longest distance to 23 miles to be better prepared for the 26 miles on race day. I will give a shoutout to my sister on one of those long training runs, where I did not bring enough water with me on a warmer than expected day and I ran out with several miles to go, and she drove by me in the final miles and thankfully pulled aside and thank goodness she had a spare bottle of water in her car to save me from dehydration.

Another thing that paid off was doing my annual marathon training diet from the day after the Super Bowl until marathon race day. I did what I did the year before where I completely gave up burgers, fast food and pizza during that timeframe which was roughly 100 days. If I ate out at all it had to be healthy options so it was either grilled chicken, salads or chicken wraps. There was one time I had a turkey and broccoli omelet and I felt extremely guilty about it. Doing the diet again this year, but with a little more added weekly mileage this year paid off by going into race day about 10 pounds lighter than in 2014 as I weighed in on race day at 166 pounds.

2014 had perfect race day weather, while 2015 was not exactly ideal, it was definitely tolerable. It was a brisk 35 degrees out at race time. I had a long sleeve tech shirt and stocking hat on, which provided just enough warmth so that by a mile in my body heat kept me warmed up for the rest of the race. Major props to the race coordinators for adjusting the race start and finish at inside the Fargodome so I did not have to wait outside in that cold for a half hour before race time.

So race day came this year on May 9th in Fargo and I set myself two goals. One, I wanted to maintain a steady, but gradually improving pace so I can finish strong and not in agony like in 2014, and two, finish with a more realistic end time of four and a half hours. If I do more future marathons I still want to eventually shoot for a four hour goal, but I want to work my way up to that time instead of going for a goal a bit out of my reach. Instead of lining up by the 4:30 pacer though, I lined up right in front of the 4:50 pacer and I told myself no matter what to maintain that pace and do not attempt to pass anybody for the first seven miles. I did exactly just that by not listening to any of my usual race day playlists on my trust old Zune MP3 player, and instead listened to podcasts for the first 11 miles before putting on some music. Even at that nice conservative pace, those first seven miles breezed by and I gradually started to increase my effort at mile seven and started to consecutively pass people for the remainder of the race.

At 14.5 miles in I finally caught up with the 4:30 pacer and passed her and continued to increase my effort. It was about a mile later when I realized I still was in good spirits and that I had a really good chance of finishing strong this year. Once again, the Fargo race day experience proved to be my favorite race atmosphere of the year as a good portion of the course was filled with many spectators with encouraging and funny signs and bands every mile or two to keep the vibe electric. I lost track of how many little kids I high-fived which were definite morale boosters. Besides aid stations every couple of miles, there were plenty of spectators with their own mini-aid stations with orange slices, jolly ranchers, water and lemonade. The awesome Fargo crowd was another factor that helped keep me in good spirits and racing strong for a majority of the race.

That is right I said I raced strong for a majority of the race as there was a brief moment around mile 23 where I started to feel my calves start to feel heavy. I momentarily debated on not walking so I could at least say I ran nonstop the entire race, but I then remembered how that decision bit me dearly last year so a couple minutes after my calves started acting up the next aid station approached and I decided to take a quick minute walk break after downing some water, and I am glad I did as I felt much better immediately and raced strong and continued to pass people for the rest of the race. I do not want to come off as bragging by talking about passing people a lot, but I mean it as more that it helped provide a big mental boost to keep my focus strong as I managed to maintain that pace and effort. I have read and listened to interviews with other runners before that is a huge factor for race day performance, and especially after how I did at the marathon a few days ago I can fully vouch for them.

Approaching the Fargodome at the end felt tremendous. I rooted on a friend racing the 5K the night before, and I saw her holding up a sign rooting me on as I approached the finish line right outside the Fargodome and it only helped give me that boost for that extra little surge towards the finish line. As I crossed the finish, I did my poor attempt at a Michael Jordan-esque playoff celebratory leap over the finish line. It felt great to have a few of my friends and family there at the finish line to celebrate and hug as the endorphins were kicking in high gear for accomplishing my goals that day. Not only did I finish still racing strong and in good spirits, but I beat my goal time of 4:30 with a time of 4:26!

Unlike last year, I was not in pain and hurting all over for several days. Sure, I was a little sore for a couple of days, but felt fully recovered soon enough to the point I was back to running with a quick four miler yesterday just three days after the full marathon. At the beginning of 2012 I started running to lose weight, little did I know a year later I would be competing in my first 5ks, 10ks and half marathons and in 2014 I would be in my first of two full marathons. I think it is safe to say I still have a few full marathons left in me and I will not be giving them up anytime soon, but I still will look forward to competing in local 5ks, 10ks and half marathons whenever possible! If you made it this far, thank you for indulging another insanely long blog with me!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye!

It is the final day of 2013, and thus time to wrap up this blog. 10 out of the 13 core resolutions completed is not too bad, right? This was one heck of an experiment, and I am in disbelief I stuck through consistently updating this blog at least a few times a month throughout the year. Just a few moments ago, I wrapped up my annual New Year's Eve tradition of watching the cheesy, ensemble cast flick New Year's Eve. What can I say, it is a guilty pleasure of mine. I can thank the character Ingrid in that flick for inspiring me to come up with a list of resolutions for the year.

Thank you to whoever you are for coming here and taking the time to check up on my progress. I gave it my best shot, I wish I could have came through on all of them, but some are just not meant to be. I do believe, a quick resolution recap is in order. For you readers coming to this blog late to the party, feel free to click on one of the numbered resolution tags/labels on the right hand side navigation bar, and it will display all the appropriate blogs associated with each resolution! If you do not feel like sifting through the 50+ blogs I typed up over the years, I do not blame you, so here is a quick summary of how I fared on each resolution:

Resolution 1 - Run Half Marathon - Complete After going on a 100+ day diet/training regimen, I went in and ran my first ever half marathon race in Fargo! I also ended up running two more halfs later on in the year, and just a couple days ago I registered for my first ever full marathon this coming May in Fargo!

Resolution 2 - Drop 23 Pounds in 104 days - Only dropped 15 I wanted to get to 170, but I only ended up dropping 15 pounds to get to 178 come half marathon race time, but finished the year at 175! I have another 100 day diet plan set up in prep for the full marathon, and would like to be in tip top shape for my most ambitious race yet and weigh in at 165 come race time, so more aggressive training and dieting is in order!

Resolution 3 - Start Seeing Someone - Fail Rest assured, I will have my day in the sun, I will just let fate decide when that day is.

Resolution 4 - Learn to Dance - Fail? I danced a few times throughout the year, with actual people too, and tried to learn it somewhat properly via Just Dance 4, but I am certainly no competent dancer at this point, and I could have gave this resolution a better effort.

Resolution 5 - Go Back to College - Decided I went to the campus and talked to the advisor and gave this a lot of serious thought for a good week, but ultimately decided if I do go back for more schooling it is going to be for something I 100% want.

Resolution 6 - Catch up Printing Photos - Complete I gots me photo album all up to date! And not no Facebook album, but a real life, honest to goodness, tangible, real photo album!

Resolution 7 - End the Podcast - Complete After cranking out a few last episodes at the beginning of the year, we ended On Tap's seven year run with a four hour epic final episode. I would link it here but our archives went down a couple months ago.

Resolution 8 - Knock 6 Specific Games out of the Backlog - Epic Fail As you recall in the previous blog, I whiffed quite horribly at this goal and only finished one of the six games I was shooting for by the end of the year.

Resolution 9 - Watch all 10 Clint Eastwood box set movies - Complete Just knocked this one out yesterday, you film buffs make sure to check out the blogs under that resolution as I wrote a review for all 10 films in the collection, as well as a bonus 11th review too

Resolution 10 - Return to MGC - Complete I made my return to the annual video game convention in Milwaukee as part of my epic March vacation that also consisted of....

Resolution 11 - Go to DC - Complete ...I always wanted to vacation in Washington DC, and I had a blast there checking out the museums and other sites. Still so much more I want to see there, and I hope to one day return again.

Resolution 12 - Have an Amazing 30th Birthday - Complete A few awesome friends pulled through on this one in the final hour for me and made this day extra special for me!

Resolution 13 - Defeat Suppression - Complete Defeated!.

Bonus Resolution 1 - Live to see the 49ers Appear in Another Super Bowl - Complete Unfortunately the game ended in heartbreak and I went bipolar for a day.

Bonus Resolution 2 - Get Back into Baseball - Complete I reconnected with my sports pastime, and managed to average watching one Twins game a week and made it down to Target Field to watch their final game of the season!

Bonus Resolution 3 - #30daysofrunning - Complete A local running community encouraged everyone to run as many days as possible for month of June, and I did not do 30, but I think I will chalk up 26 as a win considering I was out of town for a few days.

Bonus Resolution 4 - Finish the Year Competing in 12 Races - Complete I participated in 14 by the year's end, and somehow, someway managed to win one of them too!

I know I hinted at possibly doing a 2014 resolutions quest blog, but I do not know if I have it in me to do all this regular updating again. I am glad this got me back into some form of writing again, as it was much different and a fresh change from what I was accustomed to what I described I use to do in the intro blog. Maybe I will take a year off from blogging, or maybe take a couple weeks off and return fully charged, who knows? I do know of at least a few goals I have in mind for 2014, and I will at least be trying my best for those, with or without a blog at my side.

Keep checking back here for future blogs and updates, but in case I do not return, well, as a wise man once said....

Monday, December 30, 2013

Resolution 8 - Beat 6 Specific Games - Super Epic Fail

Two years ago I would have guaranteed that this would have been at least the one resolution I knew I would have completed. My, how times change. As I stated in my previous blog under this resolution, I was just making a little headway when I finished the last DLC expansion for Fallout 3, making it the first of six games I crossed off from my massive backlog.

I made a decent amount of progress in two other games this year, and a little bit into another, but did not even touch the other two. I failed miserably at this resolution. What can I say? I guess I am just losing my drive at playing video games, but I think that is more of a good thing in the long run. I would rather be more active in having a social life and in sports than sitting at home by my lonesome on the couch with a controller in my hand. I think there will still be a place in my life to game, but just with nowhere near as much time as I use to dedicate to it.

I guess I shall recap what progress I did make in the games I was chipping away at. I did play a good chunk of Mass Effect 2 this year, the timer says I invested just over 25 hours last time I checked. I made it into disc two, and where I got the second set of dossiers of squad members to recruit for the be-all, end-all suicide mission. I also knocked out a few of the DLC missions for it as well. I am going to guess I was about 60% of the way through that game. This unfortunately meant I did not get a chance to start the campaign of Mass Effect 3, though for what it is worth, I did bust it out a couple of times to play the online multiplayer with a couple of friends.

The 4th Ace Attorney game, Apollo Justice, saw me halt my progress at day two of the trial of the third case in the game. I still find myself enjoying that game in 15 minute chunks right before bed. Who knows when I will finish this game at the rate I am playing it, let alone start the 5th Ace Attorney game. Last month the 6th one was released in America for the 3DS. I cannot explain why I love being a videogame attorney with such an extraordinary cast of characters.

Finally, I only busted out Skyrim once this year, but that was when a friend was over and he showed me how to exploit several glitches and really improve my character in the game. I felt a little dirty in doing so though afterwards as it felt like it made all the time I invested into my character thus far a waste, but I did end up with far more better spells, weapons and armor at disposal as a result of it. I still do have a save right before he hooked me up with that stuff though, so we shall see where it takes me.

I want to give props to two other games I want to recognize, but we were not on my to beat list. I played a bit of Forza Horizon throughout the year and came close to finishing the single player portion of that game as I was on the final wristband level of events that were available to me. I also played a good chunk of the core Borderlands 2 campaign in online coop with a friend. I have no idea how far we are because I am sure a ton of time was spent on side quests and not the main storyline quests. But we were having a blast with it before we got sidetracked by the holidays.

That wraps it up for this resolution. A big 'ol epic fail, but at least I gave this one somewhat of an effort, as pitiful as it was.

Resolution 9 - Clint Eastwood Quest - 100% Complete

With only a day to spare of 2013, I have finally vanquished the 10th and final film of the Clint Eastwood collection with the 2006 classic, Letters from Iwo Jima (trailer). This is the second film of the collection of which Eastwood only directs and not stars in, with the other being Mystic River. This is the third World War II movie of the collection. However this one was made a few decades after Where Eagles Dare and Kelly's Heroes, and takes place on the Japanese front.

Eastwood makes it pretty clear the Japanese are done for, as the first act of the movie is the troops preparing fortifications and defenses on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima. The troops know it, the officers and commanders know it too, yet the film is also clear of them dying for honor of their country, and conveys this through various letters from the featured officers and soldiers throughout the film. The main soldier featured goes by Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya), and I could not help but grieve for him throughout the film as island of Iwo Jima falls and the film fills out Saigo's backstory.

The other main featured Japanese actor is General Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe). Him and Saigo have a few brief encounters sporadically throughout the film, but they are extremely well done exchanges for as brief as they are, especially in the film's closing moments. I did not see this as a politically driven "why did we invade here" movie, like Green Zone, but more of a empathetic look at what it is like to be from the soldier's perspective of going into a battle you know they are going to lose, and what they are laying on the line and why they are doing so. It reminded me a bit of the last battle in The Last Samurai, but this was far more well done.

This was probably one of the few movies I can think of only watching and having this emotion of nonstop sadness throughout from beginning to end. I know what is coming, it is bleak, and the film pulls no punches. I hate to recommend watching a heartbreaker of a film, but there is a part of me that loves powerful movies, and this one is incredibly powerful. As with all the Eastwood movies I have covered here, Netflix has the disc, but it is not up on streaming, but if you want to follow along on the Clint Eastwood collection fun with me, here is a link to the box set I have off Amazon.

Thanks again to everyone for joining me throughout the year as I reviewed almost one Clint Eastwood movie a month for 2013. Going by my traffic stats, this was the most popular resolution by far on the blog. Even one person recently got me two more Clint Eastwood DVDs for Christmas last week in the form of Blood Work and Paint Your Wagon (Thanks John!). I have no idea if I will review those ones, but I have been bouncing around the idea of reviewing one Star Trek film a month next year since there are exactly 12 of those in existence as of this writing, so we will see where 2014 takes me! Shoot me a tweet on Twitter @Gruel if you have any requests!

Past Eastwood Collection Blogs

Million Dollar Baby
Unforgiven
Trouble With the Curve
Mystic River
The Rookie
Absolute Power
Dirty Harry
Kelly's Heroes
Where Eagles Dare
Gran Torino

Friday, December 6, 2013

Resolution 9 - Clint Eastwood Quest - 90% Complete

I originally bought the DVD for today's Eastwood Quest entry, Million Dollar Baby several years ago but it unfortunately sat in the backlog forever. I eventually sold it to the local used movie and game shop in town after I picked it up as part of the Eastwood BluRay collection last year. Today I finally got around to watching it. You can ask me a million times why I let the 2004 Oscar Winner for best picture and 175/250th ranked best movie of all time from IMDB.com sit in my collection forever without viewing and the best response I could muster would be to just stare at you blankly and state "I have no idea." I should KO myself for committing such a sin.

Million Dollar Baby features late boxing bloomer, Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) trying to win the respect of and gain the tutelage of long time boxing trainer Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood). Dunn is adamant about not training girls, but after showing enough fortitude and determination, and after the encouragement of his associate Eddie Scrap (Morgan Freeman), Dunn takes her under his wings and works her up the ranks of the female boxing world to a prestigious WBA title fight where the unthinkable happens and the film takes on a whole new turn.

Swank is fantastic at portraying the good 'ol southern girl from Missouri who refuses to quit, and scrape and claw her way from the bottom rungs of life to become a top ranked contender. The whole time I was rooting for her to win over Eastwood's character. Eventually it happens, and Freeman and Eastwood are amazing at being the old wise guard that provide her the knowledge to make her an amazing fighter. The three of them just jive together perfectly.

I feel this blog about the film is going awful because I simply am at a loss of words at how to go about the unexpected turn this film takes about 70% in, and how it plays out following it. It plays out unbelievably well, and I love how the final act is pretty damn rare out of sports movies, and it just goes to show the risks Eastwood took with this film instead of going with the cookie cutter sports film ending. Do not be an idiot like me and wait nine years to watch this classic, it does not matter if you are a fan of boxing or not, you will undoubtedly love Million Dollar Baby. As with all the Eastwood movies I have covered here, Netflix has the disc, but it is not up on streaming, but if you want to follow along on the Clint Eastwood collection fun with me, here is a link to the box set I have off Amazon.

Past Eastwood Collection Blogs

Unforgiven
Trouble With the Curve
Mystic River
The Rookie
Absolute Power
Dirty Harry
Kelly's Heroes
Where Eagles Dare
Gran Torino

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bonus Resolution 4 - Finish 12 Races in a Year - 14 Down!

I just managed to squeeze in a race in November a couple days before the end of the month on Thanksgiving morning! It was a 5K and called the Turkey Trot which took place on a part of the greenway bike path by Riverside Park. Even better, I got to run the race with friends Adam and Justine. This race had a special gimmick to it where you predict how you finish ahead of time, and all smartphones, and GPS watches were banned from the race so you cannot tell how fast you were going. The three people who got the closest to their times would be declared the winners and awarded with a Pumpkin Pie.

It was a fairly chilly and brisk day with a race temp of around 15 degrees I believe so I made sure to rock extra layers and my face mask. I was thinking high hopes for this 5K and shooting for a new PR and thought I could beat my old UND 5K record of 26:22, so I forecasted myself with a 25:55. I ended up finishing just over four minutes off with a time of 29:58. I thought I had a pretty good pace going and shortly after the halfway mark I trailed about 50 feet behind a runner for the remainder who I felt was running about a solid 8:30-8:40 pace, but I presumed way wrong. For what it is worth, I did not bring my MP3 player out of fear of it being called out as a smartphone/GPS unit used to gauge time, so not having my usual running times I feel definitely hindered me in the grand scheme of things.

I feel a little guilty not running along with Adam and Justine for the race in hindsight. This would have been the perfect race to run with a group on a holiday that is all about coming together. I made sure to wait up for them at the finished line where we all shared high fives all around. Shortly after I finished my sister stopped by to congratulate me on the run, which was a nice surprise. It was still a fun time, and always great to run with friends. I believe there is one more local 5k/10k race later this year, so I may just finish the year with 15 race. Keep checking back here to stay posted!

5K

UND Autism - 4/20/13 - 26:22 - 23rd out of 74
Arthritis Foundation Zombie Run - 10/12/13 - 29:06 - 1st Place Survivor, 2nd out of 67 overall
Turkey Trot - 11/28/13 - 29:58 - 19th/64
Uffda Mud Run - 9/7/13 - ??:?? - Finished
Color Run - 9/21/13 - ??:?? - Finished

10k

Hillsboro Run - 6/13/13 - 50:17 - 23rd out of 55
Dewey Memorial - 6/1/13 - 50:21 - 15th out of 56
Firecracker - 7/4/13 - 53:13 - 42nd out of 92
Frozen Feat - 2/16/13 - 53:57 - 50th out of 108
TRF Pioneer - 9/14/13 - Disqualified

Half Marathon

Fargo Mini - 10/19/13 - 1:52:11 - 162nd out of 528
Grand Forks Wild Hog - 9/28/13 - 1:53:25 - 184th out of 649
Fargo Rocks - 5/18/13 - 2:02:48 - 2062nd out of 5526

MISC

ENDTRAILS 12 Hour Endurance Race - 10/27/13 - Finished four 6.1 mile laps in 7:13:00 - 23rd out of 36