March 2, 2009

Minnesota and Washington and California Oh My!

My goodness its been awhile since I wrote on my blog, sorry about that! On Monday February 23 I flew to Minneapolis, then drove to Eveleth, Minnesota arriving there around 6pm. Tuesday morning I gave a talk to the students and faculty at East Range Academy of Technology and Science, the students were wonderful and had lots of good questions after my talk. After speaking, I headed back to the Twin Cities and stayed with my sister Sheila and her family, its always nice to see them!

Wednesday I checked into the Millennium Hotel in downtown Minneapolis and that night gave a talk at the Land O'Lakes annual meeting. I got to see my old boss Gary Weber, for a year back in the late 80's, I was a Livestock Production Specialist for Land O'Lakes and worked in the Volga, South Dakota area. Since that time Gary has moved up in the company and continues to do a great job for Land O Lakes! My talk went very well and afterwards I signed a bunch of my books that Land O'Lakes had bought for the folks that were there, all in all it was a very fun night!

Thursday morning I was up early to work out and then onto the airport to catch my 6am flight to Spokane, Washington. I arrived around 10:30am and my good friend Don Kardong picked me up at the airport and took me to my hotel where I checked in and then took a nap, I was whooped! Don, who was a 4th place finisher at the 1976 Olympic Marathon is also the race director of the huge Lilac Bloomsday Run held in early May, they usually have over 50,000 runners every year! Thursday evening Don picked me up along with a friend and we went out and had a great supper, I had ribs and were they ever good! After supper it was time to head to the high school and deliver my talk. They had a nice turnout and my talk went well! It was now time to get back to the hotel and get to bed as I had a very early flight the next morning!

Friday morning I was up at 3am to workout at the fitness center, then grabbed a shuttle to the airport at 4:30 to catch a flight for San Francisco.

I was heading to Napa, CA to speak at the Napa Valley Marathon, and the great thing was, Jill was coming in from Austin and would meet me at the airport! I got in around 1:30pm and saw a message on my phone from Jill, their flight from Austin was canceled and they would be in later.

Jill along with John and Stacey Conley who were special guests of the Napa Valley Marathon arrived around 4pm and I was waiting with our rental car for the ride to Napa. For some reason even with my Garmin I always have trouble getting to the Golden Gate Bridge, I finally got there and it was worth all the missed turns, as crossing the bridge it was kind of foggy and cloudy, it was gorgeous!

We arrived to Napa around 7pm and went right to the restaurant to meet our good friends Paul Martin and his wife Patti and Janet Cain and her husband David. We all had a great time and shared lots of laughs and stories! We got back to the hotel late and needless to say were very tired so we went straight to bed to get some rest for the busy weekend.

The Napa Valley Marathon is one of the best races you could ever be part of! They cap the race at 2,300 runners and it's held on the old Silverado Trail from Calistoga to Napa. The road is closed to traffic and the many volunteers and aid stations along with the stunning views makes it one of my all time favorite races! I got up early Saturday morning and worked out at the fitness center, my knee seems to be getting stronger every day and can handle more and more work. Jill and I then had a nice breakfast with the John and Stacey and met some of our wonderful friends we see every year at Napa. I then spent about a hour and a half at the Marathon & Beyond booth signing books, taking pictures, and chatting with the runners at the expo. At 1pm, I was the keynote speaker and we had a fun time telling some funny stories to a packed house. Afterwards I helped with the incredible gift baskets they raffle off and then it was back to Marathon and Beyond for another hour and a half.

Jill and I were in the 6:30 pm sitting for the pasta dinner, one of the best pasta dinners you will find anywhere! It was fun talking with everyone and listening to some funny stories from folks. It was time for some shut eye after that as we had a early morning wakeup call.

I was up very early Sunday morning to workout and then we headed for the starting line on a cloudy rainy but fairly warm morning. The race started right at 7am. Jill and I then drove our car to the different cross roads along the route to cheer on the runners as they came by. Luckily we were able to buy a couple of umbrellas at a gas station or we would have really gotten soaked! My good friend Mary Coordt won the women's race for a third time and ran around 2:48, Peter Gilmore running the race for the first time and only as a long hard run, won the race in around 2:22. Peter is getting ready for a spring marathon and he really looked good coming across the finish line. Peter is a 2:12 marathoner and he wasn't even breathing hard when he came in.

Sunday afternoon all the invited guests headed up to a bed and breakfast for the night where we also had a wonderful dinner with all of the Napa Valley Marathon board. One of the invited guest was my very good friend Rob Reid and his wife Joan from Victoria BC, Rob, who is the race director of the Royal Victoria Marathon and I are like brothers so it was really good to see him again!

Jill and I would like to thank so very much Rich Benyo, David Hill and the entire Napa Valley Marathon board for the wonderful time we had, keep up the AWESOME work you do!

Here are the pictures from the Napa Valley Marathon.

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