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Up Next…..Tuscobia 150 Mile Ultra – Dedicated to the Memory December 16, 2010

Posted by whereschrisscotch in Uncategorized.

Tuscobia Ultra

Growing up playing baseball, my dad always urged me to visualize hitting the ball.  To mentally create different situations and how I would react to various pitches, situations and events.  A little trick I have employed over the years in many scenarios, athletic and otherwise.  I have been visualizing this race for weeks now.  Playing in my head how this race will go.  Taking third person views of my running form and how it changes when pulling a sled full of gear.  Preparing for the weather, most notably the cold weather.  Trying to anticipate how I will prevent overheating, and the requisite freezing that occurs next as the sweat turns to ice on your body.  I chuckle to myself though, as I know that no amount of visualizing the events of the next 3 days will actually prepare me for what is about to happen, but it might just help a bit….hopefully.


Tuscobia State Trail:  “A mix of history and scenic beauty, the Tuscobia State Trail is a 74-mile abandoned railroad grade that provides four seasons of fun. ”  The trail runs southwest from Park Falls to Rice Lake, WI  through Barron, Washburn, Sawyer and Price counties.


Participants can Run,  Bike or  Ski/Skijour.   I will be running, although I considered skijouring with Cooper, but didn’t feel like I have trained him enough for 150 miles just yet.  Race starts at 7 am tomorrow (Friday).  The cutoff is Monday at 7 am, or 72 hours.

There is a requirement for mandatory gear that must be carried by competitors at all times.  This means a participant can haul a pack or pull a sled.  I will be using a sled.  The 150 miles will be an out and back from Park Falls to Rice Lake.  There will be 5 aid stations/check points that will have water.




Given that I have zero experience with a race of this type, I have no idea what to expect for time.  I finished the Sawtooth 100  in 30 hours, but I am not sure how relevent this information can be.  Add a heap of snow, a sledful worth of gear and a pinch of cold; shake gently, and you come out with this guesstimate:  25 hours to reach the 75 mile turnaround.  35 hours to do the second 75 miles.  Total time – 60 hours.  Huh???


High and all over the place.  Nervous.  Excited.  Slightly fearful.  Anxious.  I like my toes, no matter how mangled and hairy they are.  And I find fingers really useful.  I find my above average sense of smell fun.  And I am sure I would look funny without one of my ears or the tip of my nose.  And my legs, oh my legs.  And back.   What kind of shape will they be in after all is said and done.  Uncertaintly, doubt and real risk abound, but alas, I have received some last minute inspiration that I can pull upon.


I received an amazing donation last night from a couple that is experiencing real pain.  I called to thank them today and we talked a bit about their experience as well as  the work that St. Jude does.   I can’t imagine the difficulty of their  loss.   And their generosity to donate to St. Jude is astonsishing.  They said thank you for the work I am doing and encouraged me to keep it up.   Raising money for St. Jude is something I find to be a worthy cause.  They offer hope for children when there is none.  They do progressive research and share it with others so that more children might benefit.  I feel my part is tiny, but I know every little bit helps.  Each donation brings a small sense of encouragment to keep pushing my limits and to keep spreading the work of St. Jude.  But to hear someone say “thank you” and to tell me this is all worthwhile touches me to the core.  My heart aches for them, but at the same time they leave me full of hope and strength and a renewed passion to do more and bigger things for St. Jude.   I would like to dedicate this race to this couple and their family.  Thank you for making a difference to the children of St. Jude.



Up next, Memphis Marathon December 15, 2010

Posted by whereschrisscotch in Races/Events Schedule, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized.
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Memphis Recap

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The Memphis Marathon was originally the end-cap of  the Where’s Chris Scotch Campaign for Katelyn and St. Jude, but I can do more.  I want to do more.  Stay tuned…

Friday, December 3, I boarded a plane and headed for Memphis.  Helen flew with me and my parents were in route by way of Jeep.  My brother Nick was driving over from Alabama (spending time there for work).  Mari and Jodi were already on Beale dodging the store salesmen.  St. Jude’s hospital campus is in Memphis, and St. Jude sponsors the Memphis marathon.  This past Easter, over a family gathering with my parents, Grandma S., Aunt Mari and Jodi, we started talking about the St. Jude Heroes program.  Aunt Mari and Jodi suggested that I add the Memphis Marathon to the the two I was going to run this year (Grandma’s and TCM).  I was hesitant.  I didn’t think I would be recovered from Twin Cities in October to be able to run Memphis in December.  My how things have changed!!  This marathon will my 15th event in the Where’s Chris Scotch campaign for St. Jude this year.
Perspective is one of those little things in life that can make a big difference, in most any aspect of your life. We can’t control some of things that happen in our lives, but we always have the ability to control our perspective. When I heard Katelyn speak at the Valentine’s Day fundraiser in 2009 I had a sudden and stark realization that the things that were keeping me down at the time really weren’t worth all the angst.  In reality,  I had things pretty damn good.  Perspective.

Fast forward a year later, to this past April. My perspective on running was that I didn’t know if I really liked it all that much and I didn’t think it was possible for me to run 3 marathons between June and December. I felt like I was undertaking a huge task by committing to 3 marathons for the Heroes campaign. Now fast forward to today and I realize again how my perspective has changed. Not only are three marathons possible in 5 months, but 7 ultra marathons can be squeezed in as well. The first time I stepped on the trail, at the Afton 50km race,  I somehow thought that maybe I would spontaneously combust the moment I ran further than 26.2 miles. Turns out a person can run much further than they think. Perspective.

The trip to Memphis was 2 and a half days, and the proximity of the St. Jude Campus, downtown and marathon made for a pleasant logistic experience.  We toured St. Jude on Friday afternoon.  I  was looking forward to  visiting the hospital, albeit with a slight trepidation.  I was eager to see where all the magic happens, where children’s  lives are saved and research is done to save many more.   The hard part is knowing the children go through so much pain.  The hospital campus is big, modern and bright.  The capabilities of the hospital are impressive and there is generally a very happy energy about the areas we saw.

Saturday was the highlight of the trip.  I got a chance to talk with Katelyn for about 40 minutes.  She had done the 5k with her dad and were waiting for me when they finished.  I had been looking forward to the meeting for months.  We talked about life, running and St. Jude.  We laughed a lot and had such a great time.   Not that I needed a renewal of inspiration, but to spend time with Katelyn and let her infectious happiness fill the air was so refreshing.  She is an amazing person and I think about how much my life has changed for the better since I first heard her speak.  I look forward to working with her in the future as she continues to raise funds for St. Jude.

Oh, and it turns out the marathon is sort of a nice little course.  I enjoyed my  run as I toured downtown Memphis, Beale Street, and the St. Jude Campus (at mile 5, but with the arch, the band and the energy it felt like the finish line) on my way into the finish, which is in the stadium of local minor league baseball team.  The stadium finish is really cool (the Boulder Boulder is also a stadium finish) and allows friends and family to spectate the finish with ease.   The trip to Memphis “put a face to the name” regarding St. Jude and the hospital.  It was wonderful to see  the patients  and the place where the dollars we are raising go.  I loved getting a chance to talk with Katelyn and introduce her to my family.  Thanks to Mom and Dad, who drove from Wisconsin to make sure they keep the streak alive (they have been at every marathon I have run).  Thanks to brother Nick, who drove over from Alabama.  Thanks to Mari and Jodi for their continued support with my fund-raising and also getting me to Memphis.  And thanks to Helen for making sure I don’t forget my shoes, for crewing, for pacing and for understanding and supporting  my campaign.  It was really a special weekend.



Surf the Murph Recap December 1, 2010

Posted by whereschrisscotch in Races/Events - Recaps.
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While I may have been dressed as Steve Prefontaine, I sure didn’t run like him!  Surf the Murph was packed with zany fun and a perhaps a bit of a wake up call from my body to my brain.   I took some serious time off the past month since Surf the Murph, only running 3 times.  I felt like I had to decide between serious training or serious rest, and not some combination of the two.  I chose the rest – the pizza and pops have been much enjoyed over the past month!!

The course was three 16.8 mile loops.  I ran the first lap as planned, a good pace but not too fast. The second loop started fairly well but about half way through my feet started to hurt.  Really hurt.  I ignored it and kept on.  I finished the last few miles of loop two with Jim Heebink, a fine young man from New Richmond, WI – Jim had inadvertently added about 8 miles to his 25k race and was feeling a bit less than fresh towards the end.  It was nice to settle in and chat with Jim for a while and kudos to him for pulling through the unexpected.   Spending time on the trail just meeting new people  is yet another reminder that running ultras provides many venues for one to enjoy their time on the trail. Lap 3 was a struggle.  My feet were really, really sore by now.  I kept moving forward and finished the race.  Despite the pain in my feet and disappointment at my finish time, it was still a great day, after all, I got to be Steve Prefontaine and had an excuse for that hideous mustache!!


Surf the Murph 50 Mile – Next up for Where’s Chris Scotch October 29, 2010

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As with all the events I have participated in this year, I am running with intention and for a cause I strongly believe in – St. Jude Children’s Hospital. This will be my 15thth event in 2010 and 7th Ultra Marathon since July 3.

Please consider making a donation at:                http://www.mystjudeheroes.org/cjscotch

Surf the Murph! 2010

Halloween weekend and a race close to home, Surf the Murph will give me a chance to race 50 miles,  in a costume, AND  still be home for dinner the same day!

Having put in a long run last weekend on the Wild Duluth course (had to see what the rest of that course looked liked!) with Helen, Andy, Kim and the pups (Rudy and Cooper) as well as a few shorter runs since the Wild Duluth race,  I am feeling ready for another race.

The weather has been windy and chilly this week (Cooper’s water dish had a layer of ice on it this morning) but the forecast for tomorrow is looking warmer – 50 degrees and sunny.  Assuming I get through the 6am start without freezing to death (my costume is….minimal.   Like shorts in the 1970’s minimal!) it should be a great day.  Pictures of those awful shorts will be coming in the recap – stay tuned!!


Wild Duluth 100k – Recap October 29, 2010

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Wild Duluth turned out to be fantastic time, just not in the manner I expected.  The first hour or so was in the dark and mostly technical uphill climbing, both favorite conditions of mine.  I felt great and started out at a quick pace.  For the next 17 or so miles I felt amazing and was leading the race.  Then I hit the wall, or more appropriately, the wall completely crushed me with a flying elbow off the top rope.

Instantly and simultaneously my body and mind both had catastrophic failures and I found it hard to keep a consistent  pace.  I struggled the next three miles, up and down Ely’s peak and into the Munger Trail aid station at Mile 20, where Cooper and Val were stationed.  (Side note: I couldn’t help but laugh at the quick conversation Dusty Olson and I had as we passed each other.  I was coming down Ely’s and he was going up.  He is always good for an interesting and humorous encounter.  Somehow we managed to compare recovering from Lyme’s disease with recovering from Sawtooth 100 in just a few seconds).

I rested about 15 minutes at Munger as I ate and changed my socks.  Hoping either or both would provide some comfort, physically or mentally.  It didn’t work.  The next five miles seemed to take forever as I oscillated between walking and shuffling, all the while having an internal struggle with what to do when I reached the Grand Portage aid station.   I was in pain, which I tried to rationalize away.  I have had pain in all the other ultra’s, so why couldn’t I push through it this time?  It was a perfect day for running on a beautiful trail with great friends all around.  I just couldn’t seem to muster the mental fortitude, guts or desire to push through.  My body no longer wanted to run, nor did my mind.  I was feeling defeated.    At some point I asked myself how I could best enjoy the rest of the day, and decided that I would get more satisfaction cheering on the other runners rather than be miserable the rest of the day and try to finish the race.  It didn’t seem worth it to me to forgo the chance to be happy cheering for my friends in exchange for being able to say I finished.  I wouldn’t have experienced satisfaction in finishing, as I had already failed in my mind, having reached the point where I couldn’t even run anymore.  My body hurt in ways and places I hadn’t felt before and while the prospect of dropping from the race saddened me,  I didn’t want to cause long term injury.  I knew before I entered the Grand Portage aid station at mile 25 that I would drop from the race, and that is what I did.

I am still replaying the day in my mind, sometimes with mixed emotions.  This was the only race I have ever DNF’d.  And while I failed to complete the race, the lessons learned were ones I needed to experience, if only to know what it feels like to fail,  as to try and prevent it from happening again.  Physically, I don’t know if my body was ready for this course or race.  I hadn’t run on the trail for a month, since Sawtooth 100, foregoing trails for pavement as I trained for Twin Cities Marathon.  I won’t make this mistake again.  I don’t necessarily believe I needed more rest or more training before this race, but I need to learn to learn the balance between the two  as  I plan to keep running ultra’s.  I probably wasn’t mentally prepared for Wild Duluth like I have been for my other races.  Due to a busy work week, or some sort of arrogance towards the course, or whatever it was – I hadn’t prepared myself for the inevitable – that there are going to be really tough stretches for every runner in every ultra.  It could be argued that I started too fast – leading the pack is probably not the right place for me to be in any race.  Something to remember in future races.  The flip side of that coin intrigues me a bit, however.  If I don’t know where the line between pushing myself to the  edge and pushing myself over the edge exists,  I won’t know what it really feels like to feel true success.  Failing provides better understanding where that  line resides.

So I dropped out of the race and focused my energy on cheering the other runners.  I also ran a few errands for Kim and Andy.  It was so much fun to be able to see the race from the other side as friends I have made the past few months dedicated themselves to the race and conquered the trail.  My satisfaction and fulfillment on this day came from their successes.  Thank you.


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Soiree at Tiger Sushi October 19, 2010

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Tiger Sushi Soiree for St. Jude Children’s Hospital

Wednesday, October 20, 6pm.

Fundraiser and silent auction to raise money for Where’s Chris Scotch and St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Get all the info and tickets at:


Hope to see you there!


Up Next for Where’s Chris Scotch – Wild Duluth 100k October 14, 2010

Posted by whereschrisscotch in Races/Events Schedule.

It has been 9 days since Twin Cities Marathon and I have run once, exactly the same number of times I have been to Dairy Queen.  So I feel well enough rested to get back out there and run!  100km.  62 miles.

As will all the events I have participated in this year, I am running with intention and for a cause I strongly believe in – St. Jude Children’s Hospital. This will be my 13th event in 2010 and 6th Ultra Marathon since July 3.

Please consider making a donation at:                http://www.mystjudeheroes.org/cjscotch

Wild Duluth Course description by Andy Holak, Race Director:

“The Wild Duluth course follows the high points and ridges above the northern Minnesota city of Duluth. Along the course you will find amazing views over the St. Louis River, harbor and city below, rocky outcroppings, numerous streams, huge White Pines and hidden places you never thought you’d find in a city of over 80,000 people.  The trail will be rugged, hilly and laced with rocks and roots throughout. This course will surely challenge the veteran trail and ultrarunner and will provide inspiration to those new to the sport. Come see it for yourself!”

Twin Cities Marathon – Recap October 7, 2010

Posted by whereschrisscotch in Races/Events - Recaps, Uncategorized.

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Move the video to 4:24 –  you can see the “Unofficial 3:45” Pace Group finish, successfully under 3:45!

As a member of Team Fitsok, I am proud to being wearing a new singlet! Not only is Fitsok providing a chance to run for them, a great singlet and amazing socks, but they are very supportive of the Where’s Chris Scotch campaign for St. Jude and very happily agreed to allow me to put the St. Jude logo on the team singlet.

Another sponsor, Infinit Nutrition, is also represented on the singlet. They have stepped up large with their support as well. Drop me a line if you have questions about their product and you want to order.

The 2010 Twin Cities Marathon weekend was all about family, friends and fun.  Friday night the Fitsok gang got together for a team picture and some general shenanigans.  I also bumped into a few friends, exchanging words of support, while roaming around the expo soaking in the energy. TCM weekend was off to a great start.  Saturday, after playing a Piranhas game and watching a Twins game, Helen and I settled in to prepping for a dinner party of 10 with family and friends.  Nothing like a pound of steak grilled to medium rare perfection and a couple of Guinness to wash it down the night before a marathon!  The conversation and laughter of the night easily stripped away any nerves that may have been peculating and replaced them with earnestness for the big day.  Getting a chance to see my Godson, Jason, was long overdue and such a joy.

Helen and I had bantered back and forth for weeks leading up to Sunday what pace her and I would run at TCM, and if we would run together.  I don’t think we actually made a final decision until Saturday evening,  deciding to run together at a modest pace of 3:45, assuming I didn’t get antsy and try to beat her 2008   TCM time of 3:24 (the only correlation being that she ran Sawtooth 100 in 2008 (in record time) and I ran it this year (nowhere near record time)).  🙂   My friend Andy stepped to the plate and produced an “unofficial” pacer sign for us, including pictures of bacon and baileys. The two items I tasked myself with finding on the race course.   Unfortunately, or fortunately, I found neither.  But I did come across a donut with sprinkles and a wonderful danish.  Tip – eating sprinkles while running presents a coughing hazard. 🙂

The weather for race day was picture perfect.  Sunny and cool with only a slight breeze.  What I love most about TCM is the magnitude of energy provided by the tens of thousands of spectators, familiar faces and friendly strangers included,  lining the beautiful course.  When I approached the Mile 1 point on the corner of Hennepin and 9th street I started looking for my yoga instructor and friend, Myra.  I was worried I might miss her but she made sure I wouldn’t, as she was holding a “Where’s Chris Scotch” sign in her hands.  It’s the great support of friends like Myra that made running this marathon feel like a Sunday afternoon stroll instead of a joint pounding 26.2 mile beating.  There were many more familiar faces along the way, Mike from MDRA. The hootin’ and hollerin’ Twin Cities Running Co crew raising a ruckus over the loudspeaker outside their RV.  The Ultra-Family members –  Steve Quick, Zach and Jen, Tom and Nancy, and more.  Thanks to Andy, not only for his sign making, but for jumping in and running with us.  And thanks to Shira who did the same towards the end of the race.  You guys are great!  And of course, at the finish line, Mari and Jodi with mom and Dark and my Godson Jason.  Being able to share events like this with family are what truly make them worth remembering.  Your support at is priceless.


Chris and Jason at the Finsh Line



Chris and Jason at the Finsh Line 2


    The unexpected support came from the spectators and runners that created a buzz for the “Unofficial 3:45” pace group.  Throughout the day we had runners joining us who were looking for just that, a 3:45 pace group.  The spectators seemed to love the bacon and Bailey’s pictures and cheered us all on. It was all smiles all day! 

    I want to mention another gentlemen that I hope reads this post.  He was running behind Helen and me somewhere on Summit and congratulated me on my finish at the Sawtooth 100.  I assumed he was there, or that I had met him through some other runners and I asked him.  He said no, that he recognized me from reading the Where’s Chris Scotch blog.   While the blog offers a nice place to provide information about the campaign and provide a repository for the details of my races, it is really about providing another avenue to reach people and share the life saving work that St. Jude provides.  I am elated this person has been following the campaign and that he was willing to offer his support.  Thank You!

    TCM offered another opportunity for me to spread the word about the great work of St. Jude.  All in all, it was a great weekend full of laughter and fun.  As co-leaders of the “Unofficial” 3:45 pace group, Helen and I added a unique and humorous twist to our marathons, and while I can’t speak for her, I had a blast.  And being able to share it with our families makes it all the better.

    My final thoughts on TCM itself, if you have any inkling that you want to run a marathon, you HAVE to go for it and you HAVE to run Twin Cities Marathon. It is so much more than a race, and I guarantee, if you approach the start of the run with a smile, you will look back with satisfaction and an even bigger smile when you are finished!



Next up for “Where’s Chris Scotch” – Twin Cities Marathon September 30, 2010

Posted by whereschrisscotch in Races/Events Schedule, Uncategorized.

I am quite excitedly looking forward to TCM this weekend.  Back in April this was one of the two marathon’s (Grandma’s Marathon was the other)  I planned to run in 2010.  Then I decided to run for a purpose, as a St. Jude Hero.  I am running TCM  (as all the events I am doing in 2010) in an effort to raise awareness and money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital on behalf of Katelyn Atwell.

Please consider making a donation at:                http://www.mystjudeheroes.org/cjscotch

While the distance is less,  my anticipation for the weekend and the marathon are as high as the ultra’s I have done this summer.

In 2009 I ran TCM, my very first marathon, and had a great experience.  My parents came to support and crew.  My dad was actually able to ride his bike for most of the course, taking pictures and offering encouragement along the way.  The energy of this race is unbelievable.  An estimated 350,000 spectators lined the course last year – there wasn’t a stretch of any considerable distance where there wasn’t music playing,  someone ringing a cowbell, cheering loudly or trying to hand out various items that may or may not be beneficial.  The Bailey’s stop at mile 3, while tempting, might not be the best idea when running a marathon.  But obviously I haven’t let the idea slip from my mind over the last year!

I went into the 2009 marathon will a goal of finishing in 4 hours or less.  I was excited for the race, and that was amped by the energy of the spectators, the costume characters along the way (high-fiving or hugging everyone I saw),  the loads of friends I saw along the course and my parents.  I ran with no watch, no real plan other than to soak up the experience as much as I possibly could.  I thought I had trained hard for 2 months to get ready and finishing the marathon was going to be a great payoff.

About mile 18 or 19, amidst all the fun I was having,  I asked my dad what my time was and asked him to do some quick math.  He looked at me sort of strangely, wondering why I needed to know what pace I would have to run to finish in 3:10.  I explained, that inexplicably and unexpectedly, I was flirting with qualifying for the Boston Marathon and would need to finish in 3:10 or better.  He did the math for me and I realized I was not going to run the final 7 miles in under a 6 minute pace, but I decided I would go as hard as I could and get as close as I could.  At mile 20 I made up my mind that I would run the Sacramento marathon in December with the goal of qualifying (which I did not, another story for another day).  I finished TCM strong and completely satisfied.  I had set out with a goal enjoying the run as much as I could and finishing in under 4 hours.  Check and check!  My parents being there to support me as I finished my first marathon topped off the day perfectly.

Pics courtesy of Dark from his blog.

This year is a bit different, but not entirely.   My primary and only goal this year is to have fun while raising awareness about Katelyn and St. Jude.   I have no intention of trying to qualify for Boston.  The past 3 months have been been a wild ride.  My campaign for St. Jude brought me into ultra marathons and through those events I have been able to spread Katelyn’s story and have met so many wonderful people.  The only downside, if you can call it that, is that I have not been “training” for running a fast marathon.  But that is not the purpose of running TCM, or any of the other races this year.  TCM will be another chance to spread Katelyn’s story while enjoying the experience with family and friends. Good Luck to all my friends who are also running TCM and let’s make it one to remember!   I am so stoked for the weekend!!


Bib# 767

Should finish somewhere around 3:45, depending on how many stops I make for bacon, bailey’s and the bathroom.  I will be wearing my St. Jude Children’s Hospital singlet.  I will post my chip number when I know it.

Tiger Sushi Soiree for St. Jude Children’s Hospital September 27, 2010

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Tiger Sushi in uptown is throwing a party for us!  Thanks to Tiger Sushi and GM, Lisa,  for their wonderful support for the “Where’s Chris Scotch” campaign for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Get all the info and tickets at:


Hope to see you there!