Year in Review

Friday, December 30, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Like usual, the beginning on 2016 started out very quiet. We spent Valentine’s Day and Easter with Kim’s family.

In May, Kim completed her first solo triathlon. It was a women’s only race and she had a blast. She can’t wait to do more in 2017.

Spring is also graduation time and at the end of May and the beginning of June we attended the graduations for Allista Ward in Pahrump, NV and Ethan Harris in Mankato, MN (Eric’s niece and nephew). While in Nevada, we travelled to the Grand Canyon with Eric’s parents.

Eric’s brother, Phil, and niece, Katelynn, visited in June. Eric and Phil ran the 40th Annual Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN. This was Eric’s first full marathon. Kim ran the half marathon. Eric’s sister, DJ, came along to cheer us on. Kim was very surprised at her first mile when she saw her brother, Mike, and his girlfriend, Linda, with a sign for her. They left Arcadia, WI at 2:30am to get to Duluth by 6:30am for the start of Kim’s race. Kim was so shocked and happy they came to cheer us on.

Juliette, Eric’s niece, came up to see us in August and we ran the Minnesota Half Marathon. It was her first half marathon and she killed us, finishing way before us. 

Also in August, Kim’s brother and mom hosted a family reunion for her mom’s side. It was nice to catch up with family.

Our big trip for the year was to New Mexico and Arizona. We drove over 1,700 miles and visited 11 national parks/monuments. We saw cliff dwellings, white sands, caves, petroglyphs and much, much more. We met a new friend, a bull snake, on one of our hikes on our 13th anniversary. We also rafted down the Rio Grande River, watched an Albuquerque Isotopes and an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball games and helped Juliette move some stuff from storage to her dorm room. We also had lunch with Eric’s niece, Samantha, and her fiancĂ© CJ.

September was a big month for Kim’s family. The family spent Labor Day weekend at Kim’s niece, Danielle and her husband, Bradley’s house in New Ulm, MN. Followed by a weekend in Milwaukee to see Kim’s nephew, Dylan’s new house. We met his girlfriend, Melissa and her two cats and also ran the Brewers 10K race which started and ended at Miller Park. And the following weekend Kim and her mom went to Austin, TX to see Kim’s sister, Nancy and her husband, Greg and their dog, Frankie.

The last weekend in September, Kim’s friend, Mary Linda came up to Minnesota for a visit. We went to Grand Forks, ND to run the Wild Hog Half Marathon.

We ran quite a few races in October. Like previous years, we ran the 5K and 10K at the Mankato marathon. DJ ran the 10K with us. Phil visited again and ran the marathon along with Eric’s brother, Byron and his wife, Paula. It was Byron’s birthday. The night before we had a pizza party and cake to celebrate. Kim’s family was also there. It was a fun weekend.

We flew back to Vegas in November to run the Rock ‘N’ Roll Las Vegas half marathon. We meet Phil there, he ran the marathon. Our race was great. It was at night and it ran up and down The Strip. It was a lot of fun and our finisher’s medal glows in the dark.

We spent Thanksgiving this year with Kim’s family. We switch Christmas and Thanksgiving this year. We are spending Christmas in Omaha with Eric’s family.

Our last race of the year was in Tucson. Again, we met Phil. He ran the full marathon. We are ran the half marathon. It was hard to leave the sunny 70 degree weather in Arizona for the snow and single digits in Minnesota on our return flight.

We hope you had a great 2016 and that your 2017 will be even better.
Love Eric, Kim and Swirl

Tucson Damascus Bakeries Half Marathon Race Report

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Better than I expected!

Expo, Saguaros and Course
The expo was very small. I was surprised how empty the expo was. We picked up our stuff and bought a tank top and that was it. I thought this was a larger race, I was wrong! After the expo we went to Saguaro National Park and drove the up to the start line of the marathon and followed it back to the finish line. Near the half marathon start we saw some cows and bulls. It was very rural. I was expecting something total different. We got a sense of what we were running and it wasn’t that exciting. I was a little worried about running down a highway but it really wasn’t that bad. Only once I felt like the traffic was too close.

We boarded our shuttle bus at 4:45am from Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort. It was about a 20 minute drive to our start. I’m not sure why the shuttles started so early, we were at the start line an hour and a half before we actually started! I can say the half marathon starting area was chaotic. Nobody knew what was going on. We could hear the radio communication between the buses and seriously, nobody knew anything!  There were buses everywhere near the start. There was a general confusion as to where the actual start was. It wasn’t marked! LOL! They allowed us to sit on the bus to stay warm as it was in the low 40s. But I had to pee so I hiked the almost half a mile up hill to the port-a-potties. The bag drop was also up there. Nobody knew what was going on with that either. This was not a very comforting start to the race!

Finally we made our way down to the actually start and bang we were off.  The started us in waves of like 200. I can understand why, once we turned on to the main road it was a bit narrow. I never felt squeezed but the field spread out pretty quickly. The course is a point-to-point. We started up the hill and ran down. We had beautiful desert scenery around us the whole way. It was pretty but I can see how some say it is boring.  My first mile was a bit slow, I guess I was warming up? Miles 2-4 were great. There isn’t much to talk about as it was the same thing, slight downhill, desert and cars. My time for these beginning miles were (1-4): 13:19, 12:53, 12:59 & 13:07.

The Middle
Nothing really stands out about the middle miles either. Lol! I kept passing this older woman, “the speed walker” from Maryland. I really don’t know how she walks that fast. Sadly she finished before me!!  A speed walker!  Ugh!  Miles 5 and 6 were still good but like always I start to fall off at mile 7. My time for the middle miles (5-8) were: 13:13, 13:07, 13:23, 13:55.

The End
Around mile 8 I ran into a Judy, a woman from Portland. We started talking and had a great conversation. We talked about everything and the miles kind of flew by. She was 66 years old, she didn’t look that old. I was amazed! Her husband was 70 and running the marathon. By the time I caught up to her, she was mostly walking. I stayed with her the rest of the way. I quite honestly don’t remember much about these miles. I know that I was slower than miles 5-8 but considering we walking more than running, I was impressed my times were still under 15 for most of these miles. This is the first half marathon, since my first one last year that I didn’t have a mile over 15:30. I was very happy with that. I could have left her and kept running but to be honest, she was such a fast walker that I think my time would have sucked more if I continued on with my running. Yeah, I could have had a couple more 13 minute miles but I know that I would have petered out and end up walking 20 minute miles to finish. My time for the ending miles (9-13) were: 14:33, 14:14, 14:51, 15:24, 15:24.

Overall time was 3:02:15. My fastest this year!  I’m happy with that. I don’t have a desire to do this race again. However, I really like this run even though it was lonely for the middle miles. There weren’t too many of us slow pokes and before we got to the finish we were being passed by the really fast marathons.



Share the Warmth 2016

Monday, December 5, 2016

Eden Prairie, MN

C'est Noel
Whisper to their Souls
Fum, Fum, Fum
Away in a Manger
A Christmas Festival
Hanuka Fantasy 
Halleluja Chorus
We Three Kings
Variations on a Shaker Melody
A Christmas Portrait