Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Time Machine

Have you ever held a thought in your mind and as you process the thoughts, you have a strong desire to record them. I experience this almost daily. Sometimes they are random thoughts born out of my life's experience but sometimes they are divine thoughts generated through my imperfect life. Almost always they come to me while I am running, biking or swimming. It is these divine moments that weigh on my conscience and it is about time that I start to reflect on them via this blog. So much time has gone by since I have posted in this blog that I wish I had a time machine. Not to go back and relive but to go back and record what God was doing in our lives specifically in those moments. Since 2009 I have experienced three different "career changes." None to performances issues which leaves me to ponder so many things. It is in these moments of pondering that I have grown much. I have kept up on my endurance life with mostly running and some swimming. The bike has become a expense that will not fit our current lifestyle. I am so thankful for the time to listen and process life's blessings and challenges. To sum up all the time gone by I will put it into one word...FAMILY. I am so blessed by my family. My beautiful wife that keeps me sharp and makes me go weak in the knees. My fantastic children so fun, sweet, crazy and wonderful in every way! My parents and extended family that support us in so many way both thick and thin. The extended family of God that supports us is overwhelming at times. Our friends that we share is a blessing beyond words. To sum up so many great experiences I have had over the months, I will share last night. We now live on a beautiful lot in the city of Buffalo MN. It is a full acre, complete with a hill, a shop, a garden, a canopy of mature trees, a creek that leads to the lake, a meadow with our "hiking/running" trail, a fire pit and a shed that houses Adams old Honda 3 wheeler. Last night we had Adison (Adam's son) and his little brother Rider for a sleepover. After another amazing dinner by Janet that the kids devoured (steak, rice, veggies) we went out for a 3 wheeler ride up and down the hill and around the meadow. Followed by a fire that we all built together. Janet set us up with smores as Armand told spooky stories. The key moment for me was watching Adison start to climb a pine tree that was not an easy climb. Immediately my mind went back to the days Adam and I climbed every tree within 2 blocks of our house in Maple Grove. There was no easy way of getting up to the first set of branches but he figured it out. After he settle in on the branches I joined him and was transported back to one of the strongest bonds I shared with my brother. We took our time looking at the different options to get higher and higher. With the strong request of Janet we began our decent, helping each other find the best way down. What a blessed moment with my kids running wild in the yard and Adison and I doing what his dad and I did every moment we could when we were kids. After more running around the yard and putting away the 3 wheeler we went in for movie night where the kids were going to camp out. This life can sure be messy but this is our life and it is our is beautiful. God has walked with us in the mess and in the moments that shine! That is his promise to all of us as we navigate our time here in this place.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What Running Taught Me About Life

This is a copy of a speech I gave at the Minneapolis Marathon Pasta Party for Team In Training June 4 2011

Many, many of us run for similar reasons…we all have stories to tell…and those stories are often times painful in the TNT family….but those stories that we have… are part of our lives..they are important because it is those stories that make us who we are today.

I was invited here tonight because I have a story to tell and I am honored to share it with you in hopes…that it encourages you…to challenge yourself a little more tomorrow during the race. More importantly, that my words tonight might challenge you a little more the days after that…and each moment after that. If there is one thing that all of us runners can understand…is that a race is not just about race day. It is about training, discipline, commitment and mental toughness. If you are sitting here tonight…and you are racing tomorrow…and you don’t feel that you are good at one of those things…no worries….you have all day tomorrow to get better at it.

I joined TNT the summer of 07 after the loss of my brother Adam to Cancer on November 10th of 2006. I will never forget the feeling that I had the moment that he drew has last breath. I just wanted to run. It was a rather bizarre and intense feeling because I was not a runner. Running was a fantastically boring sport to me. But in the intensity of the moment…my emotion caused me burst out of his house…and all I wanted to do was run forever. I took about three strides and collapsed by a tree and sobbed…it was a moment that never seems too far away and it will be five years ago this November.

I wish I could stand here and tell you the story of his life because he was a fantastic man. He was 11 months 353 days older than me. A newly married man, and an even newer father. We lived the story book lives as neighbors on the Crow River in Dayton, MN. We both were in the construction trades and we were always working on house projects together.

Our houses, the neighbors house, a friends house, it didn’t matter we just loved to work on things…often together. Life was grand until that day cancer entered our lives. Not too say that the nine months that he lived with cancer were not joyful from time to time…but it no doubt changes things. I would love to have the time…to share with you details about hi…and his life…and the adventures we lived…but I have so many other places to go in tonight’s talk..that I have to move on to another chapter.

Just three years prior we went through a similar loss when our close friend and pastor died from cancer on his 33 birthday. His life was so amazing to me. He was a magnetic person that loved to serve others. I connected strongly to Dan Roelofs and it was fantastically sad to see his life end…yet he taught me so many things about life…and as he died, he intentionally used his experience with cancer to teach everyone around him about life. When Dan left us March of 2003… I prayed that I would never have to go thru that experience again but if I did that I would remember the things that I learned as we experienced life to its end with Dan.

As you know, it was only three years later that Adam life was cut short…but I sadly…we knew how we would get through it.

Many of us here tonight have lived through…or are currently living in the shadow of cancer…and as you all well know there is nothing anyone can say to make things better. But tonight I want to encourage you with some simple things that my experience has taught me.

At that point of extreme loss with my brother Adam I was at a clear crossroad in my life.

I had a choice - To continue to live in the shadow of that cancer and his death. Or I could choose to honor my brother’s life and reflect his goodness in each moment going forward.

That is never an easy choice when you are broken. And at times that brokenness seems to come out of nowhere. There is an amazing hole that is left by someone that dies that can never be filled. Time can sometimes be a healer but there are still times that emptiness comes out of nowhere that can overwhelm you like it all just happened.

There is a phrase that I was blessed with as I prepared to speak at my brother’s funeral…You see, he was never one to desire the limelight and he despised the fact that his death would cause anyone pain, yet that was inevitable. There was a common thread between Dan and my brother. They just wanted everyone to be happy.

It is and odd situation when you are caring for someone on their deathbed and their only concern…is for you and your own well being. That is an amazingly unselfish thing! If I could only remember half of the jokes they told as their days grew shorter. Only wanting everyone around to smile and be happy.

It was clear to me as I mourned Adams loss and prepared some words for his funeral. His death was going to change me as a person…and I had a choice.

I could choose to allow the sadness to keep hold and cause me to be bitter.

Or I could honor his wish for me to be happy…thus I would choose for his death to make me better. A concept that I still cannot fully understand, but I knew in my heart …what was…and is the right decision. So the phrase has stuck with me.

“BE BETTER NOT BITTER.” It is a choice I have made not just every day but every moment.

Loosing someone close is a fantastically sad and painful thing. It is a game changer. But consider this for a moment. For one moment…would that person you lost feel good about the fact that your life changed for the worse because of them. Because of something that no one could control. NOT FOR ONE MOMENT. I cannot fully understand how this is accomplished on your own. I fully rely on God above to give me that strength because when Dan and Adam were living in the shadows of cancer…their only hope and strength with in Him. That is how they lived and that is how they died...relying on His grace and power because they knew that they could not do it alone.

I know that that GRACE AND LOVE will more than suffice for me too. Beyond that I fully know and trust that it is my duty to reflect their greatness in my life now that they are gone. Regardless of your circumstance you can never be to good at that….and that is not the important thing…that important thing is if you try…because it is not all about me it is about us….it is about them…it is about everyone I come in contact with from this moment forward and the attitude that I portray.

Always ask the question….IS IT POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE.

Be positive.

These are ideas that I knew to be true in my head but when I joined TNT in the summer of 07…but I was still in a bit of a fog. I was brought up more of a pessimist that an optimist and being a competitive person that causes a ton of challenges in the endurance world.

My first coach for my first event was and is a passionate TNT supporter. I am so thankful for the positive influence she had on my life. A wonderful person… but to me she came across a bit crazy. She was always preaching “positive energy” everything is “positive” “everything is good.” Those were not concepts that I identified with at all…nor was I in much of a positive mood…but as time went on I knew I needed to trust her theory. I had no Idea about endurance sports and my only option was to buy into to her philosophy. I began to pay attention to my attitude and the attitude of others around me. I saw how I was able to finish ahead of far superior athletes simply because of the attitude I had with anything that happened training or racing. I quickly realized that the concept had much more value in life than it did in racing and training.

For example: Did anyone here experience less than perfect weather conditions during you training?

Now if you allowed that bad weather to dampen your spirit and keep you from giving your best performance that day… what did you gain? On the other hand, if you looked at that weather and told yourself, “Race day may be a bad weather day, I should be prepared for that...most people are not crazy enough to be out here…I will have an advantage in this experience…and for nothing less…this is what today gave me….so I will enjoy what I have and give it my fullest effort and encourage everyone around me.” How different would that experience be? Your attitude allows yu to engage your mind and body to be stronger….although I can remember many, many uncomfortable training days…that could not be classified as fun but rather something that I could be proud of for being consistent and committed. I can say that those days did make me stronger as a person and as a racer. I can say that Dan and Adam would be proud of me…and I know they would give anything to experience just one more day regardless of the weather.

In any of my life challenges I remember the seriousness of Adams pain…the reality of his situation..and the smile on his face….the jokes that he told.

Life is full of challenge…enjoy it! Embrace it.

Training is important…the details are important. Anything you do…be it big or small is worth doing to the best of your ability…The attitude you carry as you do anything is important…do it all with joy…regardless of how you feel…regardless of the weather…life is full of joy if you allow it…it is a treasure…you are never alone.

I do not like racing alone..that Is one of the many reasons that I love TNT…Running a marathon is not easy…why do it alone…Life is not easy…why do it alone.

Tomorrow will be hard…good! There will be tremendous struggle…good…you are ready for it…you have been inspired all season.

Run with Joy tomorrow…through the pain and through the struggle…allow the positive things you know flood your mind as you run. Plan exactly what you will think about in different sections of the race. Allow those experiences and memories to inspire your run…and inspire those around you. INSPIRE THE TEAM!

And when you are done…be proud of what you did….not just on race day…but all season long. Look forward to the next challenge in life and inspire others with a positive attitude because after you survive tomorrow…you can do anything!

If you come up short…be positive…never in any circumstance…feel the affect of negativity…it is a waste of time…learn you lesson…keep you head high a… know your race is long …there is no time to hang you head…there are too many good things to do…so many races to run.

You are proud of an amazing group of people that inspire people in the shadows of cancer…do your best…inspire everyone around you…be patient…be strong…and do it with a smile…because you are amazing! What you have done this amazing! What you will do tomorrow…will be amazing!

God belss you tomorrow as you run….but more importantly be a blessing all the moments after that. Life is so worth giving it your all!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Yesterday kicked off day one of training for the San Diego marathon. This year I am ahead of the curve slightly because I got out the running shoes about 6-8 weeks ago. This year is proving to be a year of new beginnings so far. I was blessed with full time employment at Turnkey Corrections last week and am really enjoying the challenges of learning a full spectrum of new things. It is a career that will take advantage of all my strengths and I am extremely excited and blessed. There will be many challenges with my training schedule as the office is in Hudson Wisconsin and we are still in Champlin.
I choose to simplify my race schedule as my new schedule will involve much travel and a ton of extra work learning my new position as an operations trainer for new installs. I can't thank all those that supported us over the past 14 months. It was a difficult challenge but I can say that we found blessing at every turn. Having to sell our house was difficult but we were blessed by being able to sell. We continue to be blessed by my parents as we are still living under their roof. There are many challenges to moving back home but I can say that the positives out weigh the negatives as we have had the opportunity to grow closer after loosing Adam and with Mom and Dad retiring at the end of the month from their business of 22 years.
I have learned much from my years of racing and training with TNT and one of the things that I am routinely reminded of is the choice we have to challenge ourselves and continue, or quit and loose the opportunity to learn and grow. That challenge has been so beneficial in the past year. So many things that happen in life don't come with answers and those things can sometimes paralyze our hope and joy. Life is so often about the simple things. Our expectations and business get in the way of understanding that blessing are all around us at every turn.
You and I have today....what a blessing! To me, waking up is a gift, what next! Be a blessing to someone else and see what happens next. Chances are you will be blessed beyond measure in return. If you don't see it keep looking, it's there at the end of every breath.
If you think you want a extra challenge this year, it is not too late to join me with Team in Training. Pick your sport. Marathon with me at San Diego or stay local for the Minneapolis marathon half or full. Join the Triathlon team for the Lifetime event or do a century bike ride around Lake Taho. Have an adventure of a lifetime with professional coaches while saving the life of someone else. They are the most flexible organization out there so give me or them a shout and check it out.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hot Summer

What a summer it has been! Another TNT season has passed and we are head long into summer.

My lifetime race July 10 was great this year. The 2010 Triathlon teams raised $280,000 for the Leukemia, Lymphoma, Society!
It was an honor to serve as a "Team Captain" this season as we guided along many new athletes to the world of triathlon. I have so many highlights to the year, just like every season. I will share a couple that really stick with me. Racing with survivors of cancer really touches me. It inspires me to keep up the fight and get others to join. This season we trained and raced with eight survivors. Matt Haley a good friend from past marathon teams crossed over to the Tri world and had an exceptional race. Matt was in stage four cancer just two years ago and the new therapies backed by LLS have his cancer in remission. Josh Bertleson, our honored teammate, was working overtime this season as we watched him race Ironman Utah ( After his triumphant finish at Ironman he came back to race with "team" at Lifetime in the sprint division and metaled in his age group. Josh is another person that has directly benefited from LLS backed treatments. Those are just two of the many stories that I was close to this season.
The other point of major inspiration this season was the Wilk family. Darrell Wilk had lost his wife just this past Dec when their family decided they would fundraise and race in her memory. Darrell, his son David, his daughter Jeanine and her husband Mike Roddy all trained and fundraised in the wake of tremendous loss this season. They all inspired the team to amazing heights this season and finished with incredible finishes on race day. I count myself lucky to have gotten to know the Wilk family and pray their continued healing.
Personally my race was one of my favorites for the listed reasons above. Numbers wise is not at all where I had trained to be, but you get what you get race day and I chose to love it! The swim was to warm for wet suits so that means slower swim times. That being said I loved the swim and was extremely happy with my swimming efforts. The bike felt great as I put out the strongest most consistent bike I could. It was a solid bike on a beautiful day. The run I found complications that allowed me to enjoy the course a while longer than I would have hoped. I had been experiencing some signs of a chest infection earlier in the week but was not concerned. Race day brought me a more restricted airway as I attempted to push as hard as I could on the final event. My body was ready but my airway would not let me push as hard as I wanted. Four weeks later and the chest infection still lingers.
Even though race day did not match my exceptions in terms of race time, I can say that it was my favorite season yet. I put very little stock in race time, it is the overall experience and the quality of training during the season that is the key. My season was amazing with incredible people striving to put more cancer survivors in the race.

With the season over I look forward to sleeping in Saturdays and not having to drive around town for training's, but I always do really miss group workouts.
The next race we need to finish is "Job Search 2010" it has been a challenging season in the job search field as my continued efforts to secure full time employment continues to elude me. The things I have (and continue) to learn about endurance training have come in handy as the search is now into its eighth month.

If there is a connection out there that may yield an opportunity out there for me I would appreciate any contact you would have.
We are very mobile in terms of being able to pick up and move. My background would translate well into most any field.

Thank you all for all the prayers and support over the last four years. Eight races and thousands of miles of training has been wonderful for me and my family.

"The miracle isn't that I finished...The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
-John "The Penguin" Bingham

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Fathers Day!

Hard to believe summer is now in full swing. So many things to do so little time to do it all with. Not a bad problem to have. As training ramps up for me I am reminded even more, of the value and the necessity of perspective.

One of the most valuable lessons endurance training reminds me of is perspective. There are special skill/talent sets that we all have uniquely, and on top of that only so much
time to to it all with, so finding a way to enjoy exactly who you are, and where you are at, is key to enjoying the blessings around you. Stress is such a joy stealer! Things never go exactly the way you want them to, and there is not much youcan do about it. Choose to accept it, or be crabby and affect everyone else around you. So often I see people that I train and race with that have good realistic goals for their training and racing. But once they get pulled from their goal it wrecks everything else they do. It happens everyday
to everyone no matter what you do.

I could make this the longest post ever if I started to explain all the things that have not gone the way I could/would have expected life to go in the past five years. It is what it is. These are the challenges I have been faced with, and I have been promised that I have the skills to handle each and every challenge weather I want to or not. I have lost great friends, Grandmothers, my brother, wisely chosen to move from the house we
built and loved,
excused from my job with no explanation, and I will never get an answer to
why on any of it? Is that unfair or what? I don't think so, not for a minute! This is what life has given me, and I know that as tough as much of it is, I am blessed beyond measure. There are hardships out there that make my situation look like a beautiful summer day.

It's fathers day today, and I went for an early morning jog (5am) with
my dear friend Angel that I had the honor of racing my first TNT race with in 07. As we ran and talked I reflected on Adam and my Mom and
Dad. I thought about how I could never possibly un
derstand the gravity of loosing a son. He was my brother and my longing for him grows stronger every year he is gone. But to loose a son....I marvel at the strength they have. The support they have given us. The joy they find in every day. Even if is just
a little. To find any joy after that loss is a marvel.

It's fathers day today and I miss my brother. It would have been so fun to see him with his son Adison as he grows up into the big boy he is today. It's the simple thing that are so precious. I am reminded of
it every time I hold my kids and am overwhelmed by the joy they bring to my life. The innocence they have, the seemingly limitless joy and excitement they have in the simplest things. It feels embarrassing to know that we loose so much of that joy as we get older, but I know it is never lost. We just have to slow down.....relax....turn off the distractions and find the joy all around us. I feel foolish every time I am tempted to turn the TV or radio on when my kids are around as if they are not worth all my attention.

Today I am jobless and my heart feels great loss, yet I look around and I am blessed beyond measure. My wife is my everything and is so amazing and trusting with our situation and were we are in life together. We live at home with mom and dad and sister again and I must say as challenging as it is to have seven in one house, it has brought us a level of healing together that would have never happened any other way. Funny to s
ay that I don't struggle to wonder why nothing has been working out for me these past six months. I know where I am at and it is a wonderful place, as difficult as it is sometimes.

I don't think it was God's plan for all this junk to happen in our lives. I do know that it is exactly His plan for us to trust that He will be our strength to get us through it and bless us beyond measure on the other end. I know what it is that gets my parents through the day after loosing their son, it is the grace and the passionate love of God and their choice to accept it. Honestly there is no other answer. Great things will likely be in store for us soon but I reflect on today and I feel blessed. I know we are exactly were we need to be and I am excited to see the doors open for us in a new and refreshing way.

I am in control of today and what I will do with it, and soon I am going to take a nap :) It's fathers day and soon we will enjoy the company of family and friends at the house here. Today started with my run with Angel at 5am for two hours then a swim in the river with five more friends from TNT for 2 miles. This daddy needs a nap!

Happy fathers day to all those fathers out there and a blessed day to those whom fathers day has a tint if sorrow. I pray that you find grace and peace where you are at, and make the time to see the blessings around you. It may not be the way you wanted it but it is exactly were you are at and I promise you it can be a good thing.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Season Opener!

Today was the Buffalo Triathlon, the unofficial season opener for the MN tri scene. It is a fantastic race that is super family/spectator friendly. This was my third year racing at Buffalo as it is a good practice race for the Lifetime race just six weeks away. Buffalo is a great race for first timers and I love to see their excitement when they finish the race. For many it is just the beginning of a wonderful and healthy past time that adds to the summer fun.

My training this year is solely focused on the Lifetime race and the Olympic distance (.9Swim/ 26Bike/6.2run). In years past I have done far too much and all over the map with Half-Iron distance Tri's and Marathons and half marathons. With life in such a major transition I felt it best to have simple focus. Two races shorter distance. With the help of specific coaching from my good friend and TNT coach Scott Beesley, I have really found a good mix of quality workouts that maximize my training schedule and keeps my priorities with my family and my job search. What a blessing he has been!

This past week has been packed with constant unpacking as we prepared for our TNT garage sale that helped me get close to my fundraising goal for this season. It was a great success as we raised all most $1400 for LLS. As touching as it was to see the generosity of friends and neighbors, it was equally touching to hear the personal stories of triumph and tragedy with cancer from people that we had never meet. Cancer, like many struggles in life, is one of life's unfair tragedies. It leaves us with the option to be better or bitter. I continue to race and fundraise because it helps me to be better. No amount of training or racing nor any level of success with it will ever fill the hole that we were left with when Adam left us. But I know that his legacy of goodness is reflected when I choose to help others in simple or great ways.

Today my race reflected comfort. This is my fourth season racing and although the race day jitters never go away, I was able to really enjoy the day and comfortably put fourth my best effort. Nothing this week went "as planned". Sleep was less then remotely ideal and the stress from the sale was a good factor. But race day is what it is, and there is no changing it, so you can take it for what it is and like it or let it get you down. I have gotten good at fooling myself into believing, "no matter what happens it only helps me to be stronger."

The weather was great. My swim was strong but I did not want to get too hot so I kept things in check in the water. My transition time was good from swim to bike. The first half of the bike was a struggle to find my legs. A bit of a head wind made it work. I did manage to find a groove by mile 21 that felt great but little to late to keep up with the big dogs. Transition from bike to run was great with one of my fastest times ever. The run was a challenge with slight cramping in my diaphragm and as the run course steadily climbed up hill I had to be careful as my quads were beginning to tighten up. Be that as it may I felt really good. Everything was manageable and I was able to keep the "wheel house" moving turning out a strong run to the half way point. The second half of a run is mental. After two hours of pushing the physical limits you really need to pay attention to the simple things and go far beyond yourself mentally to finish strong. Today was basic, drawing off the quiet strength that Adam always had. Cheering others on in their efforts and appreciating the ability (the gift) that we have to participate in such a challenging event. Be it first or last, finishing is the important thing. Appreciating who you are and where you are at and liking it is paramount. Focusing on the efforts of those around you is key as we fight our own physical and mental battles race day.

This year I improved my time my four minuets overall and even better felt great after the race all day long. Granted I have not gotten in a nap yet today and I am struggling to keep my eyes open right now but today was a great day. We finished!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Garage Sale!

What an exciting time of the year. Summer! The tri season starts this Sunday in Buffalo and I can't believe where the time has gone. Up-dating the blog has been difficult this season to keep up but I will promise to be regular from here on because it is going to be non stop action from here out!
Life lessons have been strong this year. Patience and healing seem to be two main things that have been strong for learning. Choosing to move home after loosing my job has been a physical (space) challenge but as time has gone by it seems that it has been a blessing as the continued process of healing after loosing Adam (over three years ago) has been a comfort here at home. That being said it is exciting to look forward to having our own space again when we are blessed with a new job.
Team training has been fantastically fun this season with many new faces and new places to train. An extra special blessing has been the weather. Getting on road with the bikes and in the lake three weeks earlier than past seasons. I can say that I am a month a head of last seasons fitness levels. This is my fourth season focusing on tris and I am excited to see how I do as I am focusing on the Olympic distance (.9 swim/26mi bike/6.2mi run) with speed and efficiency.
My role on the team as a "Training Captain" has been wonderfully fulfilling. Not only have we witnessed new athletes develop before our eyes but they have blessed me with their new passion for fundraising for LLS. It has also been valuable during my personal training to hear myself echoing the "fundamentals" that I encourage the others with.
Yesterday I kicked off the "river swim" schedule. Memorial Day we swam from the Champlin boat launch to Mom & Dad's dock, a two and a half mile swim. It seems like last week we were in the pool for swim training. Seven of us made this years maiden voyage and it felt fantastic. We will do it three other Sundays this month with exception of this Sunday due to the Buffalo race.
The past three weeks have been my heavy load for training and I am excited that things are coming to a crest.
We are doing a fundraising garage sale for TNT this week! THURS-FRI-SAT
Come out and support TNT with your purchases and help us part with the glut of wonderful material things we have accumulated over the years. Adult and Kids clothes, kids toys galore, TV's and lost of other electronics, VHS/DVD/CD's, HOUSEWARES GALORE. The list could go on and on. Come out one and all. Don't forget to tell your friends.
Till next time.

God bless and Good luck!