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I Ran a Marathon!

Posted by Peder on 5 October 2010

Well there it is, I’m a marathoner!

This past Sunday, October 3rd I ran in the 29th Twin Cities Marathon which connects downtown Minneapolis to the Capitol Building in St. Paul. Along the way we ran through some of the most beautiful and iconic neighborhoods of the two cities.

Marathon #1

Starting at 8:00 in the morning we left from a fenced-in corral on the south side of the Metrodome and traveled down 6th St through an abandoned Minneapolis. Of course, the city wasn’t abandoned, but with whatever passes for urban life early on a Sunday morning held back by barriers and drowned out by cheering fans, it certainly felt like the whole city and each majestic reflection of that frosty sunrise from the solemn skyscrapers existed only for us runners. Supporters lined both sides of the street and all of the intersections throughout downtown and the rest of the course beyond. One ingenious group stood up on the third level of a parking garage on 5th Ave giving them an elevated view of the masses starting the race. I wonder what kind of pictures they got?

We continued south on Hennepin Ave toward Loring Park. The bells from the Basilica of St. Mary were in full concert encouraging us along. I passed a man with a tag on his back that indicated he was over 80 years old and I thought to myself, “I know I’m gonna be hurting at the end of this. I wonder how he’s gonna feel?!” But there he was, trudging along like the rest of us. I actually ducked out of the race for a brief moment at that point to use a Port-a-Potty on the course. Apparently I drank too much water before the start. But you know, as far as first-time marathon mistakes are concerned, I figure over-hydrating has to be about the most benign form I could muster. Anyway, as I rejoined the throngs back on the course I passed the same octogenarian again. I offered him my encouragement and he gruffed in my direction. I’m such a whipper snapper.

Night Before: I'm Ready!

The course continued through the Kenwood neighborhood and toward the Chain of Lakes. Around mile 2.5 the Honorable Alan Page, chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and Hall of Fame Vikings lineman, stood on one of the street corners playing his tuba as he has done every year since somewhere in the mid-late 1990s. How fun is that?

via Star Tribune

During that first half of the race I was so happy. Pure joy. I had a smile the whole time. I pumped my fist at the encouraging crowds. I high-fived little kids. I made jokes with other runners. And I enjoyed the reality that after four months, 65 training runs and 469 training miles here I was finally running a marathon. I mean, who would’ve thought I’d ever run a marathon?

But the whole race wasn’t so carefree. Around two-thirds in — at around the 17-18 mile mark — my quadriceps started barking at me. My legs started getting tired. My smile started to waver. I turned up my music hoping to distract my brain from itself and its thoughts of slowing down, walking or even stopping altogether. I had put together a playlist for that race including some Tom Petty and the Rolling Stones and somewhere between the songs “Don’t Do Me Like That” and “Gimme Shelter” I found my groove and got that pep back in my step.

With renewed vigor I caught up with a young woman I had been pacing with earlier. We had briefly chatted around mile 11. She was impressed by how well I was holding up during my first marathon and I was impressed she had qualified for the Boston Marathon (a mark of excellence for any runner) after the 2009 Twin Cities Marathon, her first. In fact I met all kinds of characters throughout the morning. There were a couple of guys dressed up as Twins’ stars Joe Mauer and Carl Pavano (complete with sideburns and mustache, respectively) keeping a running total of who got the most compliments from the crowd. (Mauer was miles ahead.)  A woman with taped up hamstrings told a story of how she had to drop her pants in the middle of the crowded marathon expo the night before to receive that treatment. And, while making the gorgeous crossing over the Franklin Ave bridge I met a man who was on his 100th marathon. Can you imagine?

Halfway There!

After crossing into St. Paul we found ourselves on the home stretch — the infamous run up Summit Ave to Cathedral Hill. Now I’ve run that stretch many times before, but race veterans couldn’t help to point out how different it would feel after 21 miles of marathoning. I now know how right they were. As the elevation data from my running watch shows (scroll down a bit), that hill stands as a near-criminal offense at that point in the race. Whatever sadist decided to include that stretch … But what are you going to do? Stop? No way. There’s only one thing to do and that is to continue. To persevere. For a couple miles already by that point by legs were tired/sore enough that I didn’t feel I could get the full stride length I was used to earlier in the race. So I focused my mind on my leg turn over, the constant chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug of putting one foot in front of the other. I was the little engine that could. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can …

And it worked. I was passing people on the uphill. I’ve always prided myself for running strong uphill. I don’t have any data to prove that I’m any better than anyone else, but in my mind, hills are the places where I differentiate myself from other runners. And it worked! I was passing people along those final miles. I didn’t stop. I never walked. (Well, I slowed to a walk to drink at the water stations, but even after mile 22 I didn’t stop at them anymore.) I had only one goal in mind: The Finish.

Race Shirt and Finisher's Medal

My legs ached. I mean ached! I had never felt them that tired and not stopped to rest before. I knew eventually (days later) they wouldn’t hurt anymore, but that if I stopped at that point I would be kicking myself forever for whimping out at the end. I wanted to run the whole damn race. And as I crested Cathedral Hill and saw the Capitol Building a half mile away I could only think one thing. “Don’t fall on the downhill!” Seriously, that was about my only real concern for the whole race. I knew I would finish, but I didn’t know how my aching, tired legs would deal with the downgrade along John Ireland Blvd. Wobbly legs + downhill can be a recipe for disaster, but fortunately mine stayed beneath me and I “sprinted” to the finish. Success!!

My Shoe with Timing Chip

I finished my first marathon in 3:31:30 which I’m very proud of. (Official Results) I finished in the top 15% of all runners and in the 25th percentile of all men in their 30s. And I even stopped to go to the bathroom and pause for a picture near the halfway point. With continued training the future looks bright!

Even though my legs hurt so bad today that it’s hard to walk up and down stairs, I’m already looking toward future races. Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth is definitely in my future, as are likely the marathons in Fargo, Chicago and New York (pending qualification). Who knows, if I keep at it maybe I can shave the 20 minutes I need to qualify for Boston? After finishing Marathon #1, who am I to say where the limit now lies?


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coldest day in 5 yrs

Posted by Peder on 16 January 2009

On yesterday …

Even the raven
perched on the garbage dumpster
shivers this morning.

Courtesy of Peter “Mr.” B.

Bad Omens originally posted by Mallady

Posted in Around Minnesota, Haikus | Leave a Comment »

Too Cold to Snow

Posted by Peder on 5 January 2009

Growing up in the upper Midwest, there was a little piece of household wisdom that seemed to always ring true.  When the temps were down in the single digits or colder (Fahrenheit scale, here) it would never snow.  It was too cold to snow. This was pretty much the worst that winter had to offer because the snow was often replaced by wind, and Cold + Wind = Stay Indoors. Stupid Alberta clippers.

But thanks to this presentation of snowflakes (via TYWKIWDBI) I now know it is not quite that simple.  Different kinds of snow are produced by different weather conditions, as depicted by the final slide:

Kind of interesting how they cycle between plate-like and tube-shaped flakes as you go down the temperature scale. If I’m reading this correctly the curved line titled “Water saturation” represents the amount of water molecules in each flake. That is, the big dendrites and sectored plates made around 0-10F contain the most water molecules per flake. And if there’s not enough water vapor in the atmosphere, smaller plates would be made at those temps. When you consider that colder air doesn’t hold as much water vapor as (comparatively) warmer air, it makes sense why so little snow is produced below 15F.  But if we had lots of moisture and cooled it to that level, we’d make the biggest snowflakes possible — as the scientists that made this graph did. That’s how I’m reading this, anyway. I found some more information on the topic here and here.

Generally when snow falls around here and the weather is over 20F, well, that’s the best.  Big flakes, lots of them, and you can stand being outside to enjoy them.  If the weather is down in the teens you get whispy, trace amounts of snow.  The snow looks smaller because it is smaller; the needles, columns and prisms are a lot smaller than the plates and dendrites formed at warmer temps.  Much colder than that and the air doesn’t have the carrying capacity for any real precipitation.  Hence, too cold to snow.  At least in practice, if not in principle.

Posted in Around Minnesota, Stuff That Gave Me Pause | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

My Jingle Was Jiggled: Dance Band Rocks!

Posted by Peder on 20 December 2008


davechappelle-dancingfurcapdudeThese are the right first words to use when writing about last night’s headliners at the Turf Club, Dance Band.  I had a great time watching them rock out up on stage … it was almost as fun as watching the crowd rock out on the dance floor.  I swear the dude next to me spent the whole set doing the robot guy from the Chapelle Show.

From <a href=The fast pace was definitely set by the band and it’s four front-people.  The guitar player kept a series of spacey riffs and geeky tweaks cascading over the top of the pounding beats.  Never over-dominant, I’d look over and watch his fingers just fly over the fretboard.  The bass player had some of the fastest lyrical stylings I’ve seen since Atmosphere.  That’s right, besides funking the funk out, the bassist raps — and gives the band a good third sound when the two singers take much-earned breaks from their own intense rocking. These leading co-conspirators of the dance dance revolution consist of a short ball of brunette energy (fittingly adorned in a Christmas tree hat last night) on female lead, and a shaggy, over-bearded Caucasian of rock-persuasion on male lead.  As it happens that guy, Paul, is an old classmate from my younger, formative school years.  It was a real treat to see how he’s crafted his nerdy retro-rocker onstage persona, especially since I know he was a star running back on our freshman football team.  Armor chinked?  Check.

Self-styled “geekfunk” never had it so good. With song themes based on zombies, Sega video games and UNIX code you get the sense these guys don’t have to stray too far to find song inspiration. You can check out their website which links straight into their Myspace page.  For geeks, they should be doing a lot more online, but I was told they have these things called “day jobs” that prevent this from happening.  Dunno, I’m dubious.

Opening for them were the bands Estate and Mystery Palace.  Mystery Palace took a nice chilled, German laptop rock sound and built heavier, dissonant layers on top of it.  It worked, if not a little down-tempo for the night’s theme.  I spoke to their singer/keyboardist Ryan afterward and he talked about how they bring their jazz influences and traditions into their work.  I’ll definitely be watching the wire for any of their other shows in the area, though it sounds like they’re headed to NYC for a while.

So do yourself a favor and go see Dance Band, and shake your baby maker!

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Flickr Memories: How Do You Cook Corndogs?

Posted by Peder on 11 December 2008

Cooking Corndogs, originally uploaded by Peder with a D.

I just spent a fair bit of time uploading a bunch of old pics to my Flickr account.  I encourage you to take a look and comment on any photos you find interesting!

It took a lot longer than I anticipated, but also gave me the chance to listen to the following great albums:

  • MGMT, “Oracular Spectacular”
  • Born Ruffians, “Red, Yellow & Blue”
  • Kings of Leon, “Only By The Night”
  • The Tough Alliance, “New Chance”
  • The Notwist, “Neon Golden”

Good things come to those who wait.

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New German Class

Posted by Peder on 9 December 2008

Last night I started teaching a new group of German students with the Germanic-American Institute. Check out the stories of some of the people in the class:

  • One young woman met a German while working together on an organic farm in Wales. Next summer she’ll be moving to Germany to spend four years with him working on an organic farming compound.
  • One middle-aged man recently inherited his father’s birth home in northern Bavaria. It’s located in a small, rural village of 1,200 which he visits twice a year.
  • A middle-aged woman will be traveling to Germany with her husband next summer. She’s only ever studied the language as a high school student in the early 1970s. Now she wants to get better so she can impress her husband who blends well in Spanish-speaking countries with a similar educational history.
  • A middle-aged man is planning a trip next year to Germany to gather info on his family’s lineage. He has records of his great, great … great grandfather born in 1718, and records on his mom’s side that date back to the 1500s.
  • A young woman recently married a German man and wants to learn the language of her new family. In September she was married on his family’s massive vineyard on the shores of the Rhine River.

Isn’t that awesome?!

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My New Job: The Germanic-American Institute

Posted by Peder on 30 October 2008

Click to Watch the Music Video

Hang on, I gotta crank some 99 Luftballons before I start writing.

Hast du etwas Zeit für mich?  Dann singe ich ein Leid für dich … von meiner neuen Arbeit bei der GAI.

In this great Fall of Change that is my Autumnal 2008, there is one constant I’ve been banking on the last few weeks:  The Germanic-American Institute.  Located on scenic Summit Ave, near downtown St. Paul this organization was originally developed as a cultural/heritage society for local German immigrants around 100 years ago.  Nowadays it still stands at the center of Germanic culture in the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota.  They organize language classes, culture exchanges, dance lessons, wine/beer tastings …

I go there to teach – Ich bin Deutschlehrer.  I was first brought in at the end of September as a substitute teacher for a woman who went on maternity leave.  Seems now, by way of the mid-term course evaluations, the students have selected me to continue with them until the class is over in January.  I’m also starting to get some tutor students.  It appears all is good in the ‘hood.

Teaching isn’t completely new to me, in fact I’ve had a track record of success before.  I taught EFL in Shanghai for two years, first with these guys then with these guys (sorry, regular site is in Chinese & Flash).  I taught ESL and German for Berlitz as well for a stint.

I like teaching this group in particular.  First, they’re adults — infinitely easier to teach than children.  No one’s on a sugar buzz, everyone pays attention and I don’t have to use a “timeout” chair or the Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes song to keep the peace.  Second, they really like being there.  These courses are expensive and everyone is motivated to gain as much as they can from their time there.  Third, I learn so much from them — from travel stories, to cultural experiences, to what interesting things happened at work that week.  (I live vicariously through others’ work stories these days.  le sigh.)

Tonight we move further on our chapter regarding foods and being in restaurants.  We’re supposed to spend three weeks on each chapter, and this is our third week, meaning I have to make sure everything is covered.  Not a problem, normally, but two weeks ago we got behind with some games and lots of questions, and last week we were delayed by those mid-term evaluations and a surprise visit from the regular teacher with her new baby.  Cute kid and a welcome visit, but I couldn’t help shaking a feeling that her real intent was to check out what was going on and figure out why no one was calling her to come back and save her class from the ills of a substitute teacher.  Sorry ma’am, but there’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is Peder the Teacher.

Currywurt mit Pommes

Currywurst mit Pommes

But we’re cool, since we’ve gotten behind I have most of my lesson plan already written for tonight.  We got some grammar drills, a game and a stereotypical song about Currywurst.  All is good in the ‘hood.

– – – – –

(I’m a little surprised we’re covering food topics so late in the course.  I’d cover it first, if I were writing the curriculum.  A couple years ago a friend was leaving for a Peace Corps mission in central Sichuan.  He asked me which words he should first learn in that language.  “Food words,” I told him, “you can learn whatever else you need to know once you get there, but you’ll have to eat on day one.”)

– – – – –

99 Kriegsminister, Streichholz und Benzinkanister.
Hielten sich für schlaue Leute, witterten schon fette Beute.
Riefen “Krieg” und wollten Macht. Man wer hätte das gedacht?

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Posted by Peder on 24 October 2008

Tonight is the (likely) last show of my Rocktober 2008 experience.  I’m going to see Shiny Toy Guns play in Minneapolis.  It’s been a pretty good month, and the only regret I have is missing My Morning Jacket one evening when I had to work.  Seeing The Magnetic Fields could’ve been cool too.  So by way of tribute to the bands of Rocktober, here are some music videos ___

First, tonight is Shiny Toy Guns, who are releasing a new album next week.  I’m a big fan of their first album We Are Pilots, particularly this song, “Rainy Monday”.  It was the first song of theirs that caught me attention and left me wanting more:

Earlier this week I saw TV On The Radio.  Great, great set though I wish they would’ve played the ballad “Family Tree” off their new album.  Whatev, here’s “Staring at the Sun” off their first LP Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes:

A bit of an impromptu show on my part, I saw Broken Social Scene a couple Mondays ago.  They put a lot of musicians on stage and pulled it off beautifully.  Here’s “Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)” from their 2005 self-titled release.  It rocked!

OK, I’m cheating here a little bit by including some acts I saw in September.  But I don’t care because really, it’s all just part of my reintroduction to the Minneapolis music scene. So, this is Ratatat with their popular single “Loud Pipes” off their second album, 2006’s Classics:

And to start it off there was They Might Be Giants.  Here’s “The Mesopotamians,” last song on last year’s The Else.

I also want to give a shout out to Pete and Mike, my main co-conspirators in these extravaganzas.  Good times!

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Pollack à la Peder

Posted by Peder on 23 October 2008

My lunch today was great.  Had some pollack fillets and veggies that I needed to finish up.  So I breaded the pollack in panko bread crumbs with Parmesan cheese, cumin, curry, cinnamon, chili pepper and crushed red peppers.  I sauteed them in a mix of veggie oil, sesame oil, oyster sauce, and minced garlic.  Once they got started cooking I added onions, leeks, and bell peppers.  On the side I chopped some cucumbers and let them sit in Worcester and soy sauces.  Pollack à la Peder!

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Family Weekend

Posted by Peder on 23 October 2008

Last weekend I was with my mom’s side of the family in Fargo, ND celebrating my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary.  (They’ve been married longer than most people I know have been alive.  Wow.)  It was the first time I had been to Fargo since my cousin’s graduation in the spring of 2005. More importantly it was the first time in longer than that we had gotten the whole family together (minus cousin-in-law and proud papa Brandon, who’s with the Air Force in the Middle East.) Most importantly it was the first time I met little McKenzie Jane, my cousin once removed and the newest member of our clan.  In three days she’ll be six months old.  Here are a few pictures, but you can find a larger set on my Flickr account.

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