Dedicated Runners

It’s January 17th, a Saturday, and my alarm wakes me at 6AM. I get dressed and go downstairs to let the dogs out and am greeted by a blizzard; there’s heavy snow and a howling Northwest wind is severely reducing visibility. I make some coffee and eat a bowl of cereal as I prepare for my morning activity. You may ask what I am planning on doing when it’s so miserable out, but you probably already know: I’m going running… outside!

Today was Red River Runners first Saturday training run. I’m sure all of you realize that the Fargo Marathon is precisely sixteen weeks from today, and that sixteen weeks is just about the right amount of time to train for a half or full marathon.

I arrived at Choice Health and Fitness Center, which is where RRR meets at this time of year and was greeted by many familiar faces along with a few new ones. We exchanged jokes about how crazy, stupid, or hardcore (you pick) we had to be to run in weather like this. While all of the above descriptions accurately describe us runners, I think the best wasn’t included. That description, of course, would be “dedicated.”

You see, at this time of year almost everyone has made a resolution to get into better shape in 2015. While most simply talk about it, these runners are making it happen. If that means running in a blizzard, then that’s what they are going to do! Now that’s dedication!

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Celebrating Bison Football in Grand Forks

Only two states have fewer people than North Dakota. Only one state is colder. In terms of national relevance, few would consider North Dakota important for much of anything. To paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield; “We don’t get no respect!” While this holds true for many things, there is one notable exception and that would be football.

Football is undoubtedly America’s most popular sport, and when it comes to college football, there is tremendous respect across the entire country for North Dakota football, or should I say more correctly, North Dakota STATE football.

The North Dakota State Bison have captured the attention of football fans everywhere with two appearances on ESPN’s “Game day,” a string of impressive victories over larger FBS programs, a 34 game win streak, and three consecutive national championships.

Yesterday, the North Dakota State Football legend grew to new epic proportions.

Playing in their fourth consecutive national championship game, and trailing the Illinois State Redbirds by 4 points with 1:38 remaining, the Bison looked to their quarterback Carson Wentz to deliver something special. The kid from Bismarck completed three long passes to get his team into scoring position, then ran the ball in himself to score the go ahead touchdown. Oh, by the way, the victory was actually sealed a couple of plays later when another Bismarck native, Esley Thorton, intercepted a Redbird pass, ending any possible comeback. North Dakota State is the first college football program in history to win four consecutive national championships!

So, are the people of North Dakota proud of this championship team? I heard several players speak during the pregame, saying that wherever they travel, whether it is Bismarck or Minot, people tell them that the entire state is proud of Bison Football. That would be everywhere except Grand Forks, of course.

I watched the game with a couple of friends at Buffalo Wild Wings in Grand Forks yesterday. While there were many people cheering on the Bison, there were also many people wearing “Fighting Sioux” attire that were cheering for the Illinois State Redbirds. I overheard one person comment to his friend “If anyone in this country really cared about this game, they wouldn’t be playing it at noon.” Nope, I failed to sense any warm, fuzzy feelings flowing out of Grand Forks. I guess a Native American head needs to be on display before any North Dakota pride can be felt in Grand Forks.

There’s a wise old saying: “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Yesterday North Dakota was celebrating how good our state is at football. Too bad you didn’t join in, Grand Forks: It was a fun day!

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Running Circles at the UND Wellness Center

It’s the time of year to be nostalgic. I ran 105 laps today around the UND Wellness Center, equivalent to 13.1 miles, a distance commonly known as a half marathon. This distance isn’t a big deal for me anymore, but today I was continually thinking back to a few years ago when it was something truly special. Please join me as I return to 2009…

June 13th, 2009 is the first day I made an entry in my running journal. I completed a couple of little jogs before I began keeping track, but this is the date I call “official.” I usually give credit to two people for motivating me that first year: Jill Thompson for getting me to start running, and Brian Gregoire for giving me the confidence to continue.

My first race was a 5K benefit run in July called the “Ta-Ta Crusade.” The race was being held by Red River Runners to raise money for Denae Grove, a member fighting breast cancer. I met many runners that day who would later become great friends.

Brian encouraged me to try a 10K (6.2 miles) next, so when I heard Red River Runners were holding a race called the “Fall Frolic” in September to raise funds for the Empire Arts Center, I signed up and ran it.

By the time October came, I was running longer distances as well as running shorter distances faster: In other words, I was hooked on running. I listened to Brian talk about marathons and I began to believe I could do it too. There was going to be a training class in January put on by Red River Runners to get people ready for their first half or full marathon in Fargo the next May. I knew I wanted to be in the class, but which distance would I train for?

In November, I began running 10 miles each Saturday. I felt I should complete a half marathon before I attempted a full, but when I looked at the calendar, there weren’t any half marathon races in North Dakota or Minnesota that winter.

On December 5th, a Saturday, I was running circles at the UND Wellness Center, getting in my 10 miles when it hit me: I wanted to run the Fargo Marathon. I decided to complete my prerequisite half marathon that day, at that time, on that track. I was going to do it!

I have competed in numerous half and full marathons in the years since, but that Saturday, running in circles around the UND Wellness Center, just like I was today, was my first one! There wasn’t a starting gun, because I didn’t even know I was running the race until it was almost over. There weren’t any spectators cheering at the finish line, but you know what? That December Saturday at the Center was just as important as all the others since. It was my first half marathon, I felt elated when I finished, and I’ll never forget it!

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2014 Year of Running Review

I began running in June of 2009, when I was 45 years old. Now, more than 5 years later, I’m still running, and more importantly, I’m still improving, with 2014 being my best year yet. So, what did this 6th year of running see me accomplish that makes me say it was my best year yet? Well, let me give you my annual activity report!

In 2014, I ran over 1,400 miles, biked 600 miles and competed in 8 races, 6 in a competitive manner. Here they are in handy chronological order.

Fargo Half Marathon: May 10th. 1:46:35. Perhaps my most energized Fargo race experience yet with more than 10,000 runners beginning 3 different races at the same time from the Main Avenue bridge. Weather was ideal and I had visions of PR’s dancing in my head. Started off too slow and became very nauseous down the stretch when I tried to make up lost time. It was a beautiful morning to finish up at the Fargo Theater though!

Grandma’s Marathon: June 21st. 3:55:09. My first Grandma’s and my seventh marathon overall. The cool, damp, foggy weather and rolling hills were a little more difficult than I expected. Started out on pace for a PR, but fell apart during the last 4 miles, then focused on just staying under 4 hours, which I did. Turned out that Dick Beardsley’s 30 year old Grandma’s Marathon record fell that day, and it was special for me to just be on the course when history was made. The best part of marathon #7?: Having Sue and her crew cheering me on along the course!

Grafton 5K: June 28th: 22:06. I received an invitation from a blog reader to come to Grafton for this race so I went, even though it was only a week after running a marathon. It was another cool, wet morning, and I had no delusions of setting a PR with my tired legs. Started out fast enough to keep the front five in sight, and eventually passed all but one, taking second place overall!

Firecracker 5K: July 4th: 21:06. I had an emergency root canal the day before, but felt great on race morning. Set out on pace to break 21 minutes, and almost held it until the end, ending up with a new PR in the process. I even won my age division, males 50-59, which had 10 participants in the group, and won a Scheel’s gift card for my effort! This was the first time I won money running, and it felt great! Dreams of quitting my job and pursuing running as a career were quickly dashed by Sue, however.

Dick Beardsley Half Marathon: September 6th: 1:41:26. My summer training had gone phenomenally well and I felt a PR was an almost certainty. I started out on pace to break 1:40, and held a 7:30 pace to achieve that goal through mile 10, but the course got the better of me in the end and I had to slow down. I still held on for a nice PR of more than two minutes, and felt great about that!

Wild Hog 5K: September 26th: 32:02: Ran this race with Angie and Julie from my Beginner’s Running Group. Julie ran her first race with me at Wild Hog the year before, and we both worked with Angie getting her ready for her first race this year. We had such a blast keeping Angie going: Julie took almost 100 pictures of the three us along the way, and I kept encouraging spectators to cheer us all on. It was not my legs that ached after this race, but my throat; it was an awesome evening!

Wild Hog Half Marathon: September 27th: 2:28:22: I volunteered to work this race as a pacer, and it was an extremely satisfying experience! My job was to hold a balloon banner, run a steady pace and finish just under 2:30. The idea was that if someone had a goal of finishing under 2:30, they could stay right by me and I would help them achieve that goal. I had a small group stay with me for the first half, but they all gradually fell behind and I ended up by myself. I spent the rest of the race thanking the volunteers and spectators in addition to encouraging any runners I caught up with. I will do this again if asked, although a faster pace may be preferable.

Twin Cities Marathon: October 5th: 3:45:25: My 4th consecutive Twin Cities Marathon, and my 8th marathon overall. My goal was to finish in under 3:40, and I held a fast enough pace for that goal through 20 miles, but nausea ultimately did me in and I had to slow down. I knew I could still have a new PR, even if I couldn’t reach my goal, by simply continuing to run, so that became my focus for the final 10K. Running a marathon is an emotional journey and I encountered several runners, who were decades younger than I, slumped along the Summit Avenue hill sobbing in defeat. My heart went out to them, as I’ve been in their shoes before, but I was able to keep plugging along. I crossed the finish line with a new PR, but felt ready to throw up as I waited for a medal. This was the first race which I was approached by a medic asking if I needed assistance. I waved her off, but when I saw the look of concern on Sue’s face a few minutes later, I knew I must have looked as bad as I felt.

2014 was a great year, with 3 PR’s, but that’s already history, and I’m looking forward to an even better 2015. Each year I’m getting older, but so far I’m also getting faster. I hope it can continue!

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New Rivals for the Bison

Another Saturday edition of the Grand Forks Herald, and another little jab at Bison Football from the Herald’s Sports Editor Wayne Nelson…

“Debate in Fargo this week centers on NDSU students not using their full allotment of tickets. That’s surprising since SDSU is now NDSU’s biggest rival. Hmmm. Wonder if NDSU student tickets will be turned back next season when UND travels to the Fargodome.”

Mr. Nelson does this almost every week when he makes his prediction regarding the outcome of the NDSU football game. It’s obvious that he does not like NDSU, and I understand that: He was party to the Bison-Sioux rivalry that dates back further than either of us, and old hatreds die hard. But to suggest that NDSU needs The Fighting Sioux (or whatever they are calling themselves these days) on their schedule for ANY reason is ridiculous!

The Bison football program is currently enjoying their greatest run of success in history. Three consecutive national FCS titles. 31 game win streak. Routine defeats of respectable FBS opponents. Two visits by ESPN’s “Gameday.” Home games sold out year after year. State wide television coverage of all games.

Their new rivalry with the Jacks from SDSU has been part of this success. UND has not…

Hmmm… Wonder if it’s a coincidence that the Bison have thrived in the years since the Fighting Sioux picked up the Nickel Trophy, went home, and refused to play? Hmmm?

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Twin Cities Marathon 2014

I completed Grandma’s Marathon in late June, and after taking it easy for a week, started training again for the Twin Cities Marathon on October 5. My first week was highlighted by an emergency root canal, followed by a 5K personal record (PR) of 21 minutes the next day. It was going to be one of those summers…

I always follow my training plan fairly closely, but if I’m having a bad day, I’ve been known to dial back a tough workout, or even skip one altogether if a decent reason presents itself. This time around, however, I did my best job yet at following my schedule, especially tempo Thursdays; by far my least favorite workout.

Strength training is something I usually do early in a training cycle, but as the demands for my time increase further in, it’s the first thing to get cut. I stuck to it this time around, and with the implantation of some new exercises, I became noticeably stronger. A stronger core led to a longer, flowing stride. Stronger legs led to hills being much less problematic. I became a different runner this summer!

My final time trial, a half marathon at Detroit Lakes, resulted in a PR of 1 hour, 41 minutes. Following the table provided by my friend and trainer Martin, I calculated a marathon of 3 hours 30 minutes was possible. I took into account that the Twin Cities Marathon is a challenging course, and set my sights on breaking 3 hours and 40 minutes. I would have to average 8 minutes and 20 seconds per mile to achieve this goal.

I woke up Sunday morning after a good night of sleep, ready to walk to the starting line. I found my way to Corral 1 much easier than expected considering everything was different with the Metrodome gone, and after standing around for 45 minutes, I checked my warm clothes and headed for the chute.

Martin coaches a gradual increase of speed, usually over 4 miles, when starting a marathon, but I planned on 3 miles instead. I would use those 3 miles to fade into a pace of 8:10-8:15, which I hoped I could carry until the hills beginning at mile 22. My average pace would be slightly under 8:20 at that point, and I could slow a bit over the final miles if needed and still finish under 3 hours and 40 minutes; at least that was my plan…

Mile one was 8:56, mile two was 8:30, and mile 3 was 8:10. OK, my fade was 2 miles instead of 3; but 8:10 was feeling good!

The Twin Cities Marathon route is fairly narrow for the first half, so I was in heavy traffic during most of it. I was passing a lot of runners, but having to go around groups of people on a curvy, 15 foot wide section of cracked cement while maintaining an 8:15 pace took a little out of me. I did notice however, that I was feeling great, perhaps better than I ever had early on in a marathon, so I continued on while tens of thousands of people were cheering me on. I even gave a few high fives to children along the way (sorry Martin)!

At the halfway point, my average pace was 8:20, so it was time to start adding a little cushion for the Summit Ave hills coming up. My hands got cold when we turned back north, so I put my gloves back on. My body still felt great, but my stomach was starting to become unsettled.

Maintaining my pace became more difficult with each passing mile, but that’s what makes running a marathon so difficult. My average pace stayed at 8:20 through mile 17, so I failed to build the cushion I needed for Summit Ave. I desperately needed some energy, but my stomach was feeling pretty bad. I felt I had to risk eating something to still have a chance of meeting my goal, so I grabbed a piece of a banana from the volunteers. I didn’t want to take my glove off to roll back the peel so I simply squeezed until some banana popped up. I bit off the chunk and pushed it around inside my dry mouth. I knew I would puke if I swallowed it, so I spit it back out.

At the end of the 18th mile they were passing out energy gels so I decided to test my stomach again. This time I slowed to a walk while I ate. The gel felt better in my mouth than the banana so I swallowed. I gave it a second to settle, and then got back to my race.

I determined at that point that 3:40 was out of the question, but felt I had built up enough of a cushion that I could still break my previous PR of 3:47 if I could simply keep running at some pace. While mile 18 was slow (9:14) due to the banana and gel experiences, Miles 19-21 were all back around 8:30. I headed up Summit Ave. hill for miles 22 and 23 and simply kept telling myself “keep running!” It worked! I passed scores of people walking, including two marathoners who were bent over sobbing. This section of the course is brutal, but I averaged a pace of 9:11 on it, which would have caused me to smile if I had possessed enough energy to raise the corners of my mouth. I had killed the hill!

I kept going through miles 24-26, averaging 9:02 even though I walked through fluid stops. The “Powerade” provided through this this critical area must be improved for next year though. It was dilute as water at one stop, concentrated high fructose corn syrup at another, and properly mixed, but ice cold at another, causing cramps when it hit my stressed stomach.

I picked up the pace during the final quarter mile, averaging 8:00 for that final stretch. I was looking for Sue, but I was in a fog and may not have noticed her even if I had looked right at her. I remember trying to raise my arms in victory, but only managing to hold them aloft for a brief second. My finishing video shows my arms falling back to my sides well before I reached the finish line.

I humped over a few yards past the finish line. I must have looked terrible because this was the first time I’ve been approached by a medic after a marathon. I assured her that I was OK, so she simply signaled for a volunteer to bring me a heat shield. I inched away from the finish line and got my medal. I heard Sue calling my name, and when I looked her way, I saw concern on her face rather than the usual excitement. I was literally struggling to walk even an inch per step, but eventually made my way over to the fence. Carl, Nancy and Jim were with Sue, and they all looked equally concerned. I told them I was nauseous and just wanted to stand there for a while.

I eventually made the usual rounds for my bag and finisher shirt, but I’ve never felt so miserable after a race. I even passed up the free Summit Ale that was being distributed, although I hadn’t carried my driver’s license with me and had witnessed a bouncer making a guy at least 10 years older than me dig his out.

I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder during a race than I did during Sunday’s Twin Cities Marathon and was rewarded with a new PR of 3 hours, 45 minutes and 25 seconds for my effort. Looking back, this training cycle has been my best ever, with new PRs in the 5K, half marathon and full marathon distances. It was my 8th marathon and my best so far: It gives me hope that at age 51, I may still have my best running years ahead of me!

Oh, by the way, I felt that since I had beaten the Summit Ave hill, I needed to celebrate with a Summit Ale. I purchased some, since the hill had made me too sick to enjoy the free one provided. A bit hoppy for my taste, but oh so extremely satisfying!

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2014 Wild Hog 5K

We started back in early July; inviting people to join Red River Runners and take part in our Beginner’s Running Group (BRG). We met for the first week at Lincoln Park with about 15 interested people showing up. We walked one minute, then ran for one, repeating the sequence for a total of 30 minutes. Julie and Joan, who had completed the program the previous year, graciously agreed to help out. They joined in with the new runners, and tried to make them feel welcome by talking with them and answering their questions as we circled around Lincoln Park.

Each year I’ve led the BRG, we end up with fewer runners each week, but the ones that keep returning become more enthused as time passes. This year was no different. By the time we reached the halfway point of the 13 week program, Angie was the only one coming on a regular basis, but you could tell she was really enjoying it.

Each week we ran more and walked less, and each week Angie voiced some concerns about being able to do it. Somehow though, each week Angie got the run done, and with each passing week she gained a little more confidence in her ability. When she finally was able to run 30 minutes straight, without walking, she was no longer a beginner, and was ready to RUN her first 5K (3.1 mile) race! Angie was signed up for the Wild Hog 5K, so Julie and I signed up for the race too so that we could run with her.

It was a warm, windy night on Friday, when we joined up outside Camp Hog to prepare for the race. We laughed, we talked, and we snapped pictures of ourselves to prevent any prerace jitters from setting in. We discussed pace, starting position, and strategy for finishing strong as we ran into a strong south wind. We gradually made our way into the starter chute and started stretching out our muscles prior to the starting squeal. Yes, the races this weekend weren’t started by a starter gun, but rather by a loud pig squeal!

We took off a bit slow due to the congestion of people, but quickly settled into our preplanned pace. We told Angie to concentrate on her running while we talked to her and to the spectators lining the course. Julie immediately began snapping pictures while I worked on thanking the volunteers and getting the spectators to cheer for us.

We finished the first mile strong, but the warm temperatures and wind began to take their toll on Angie so we slowed down. I reminded her that during our training runs we rested by slowing down, not by stopping, and that it would work now too. We slowed down considerably after the water stop at the halfway point, but Angie refused to stop and we continued on. Angie gained back some of her strength during the third mile and was rewarded by passing many people who were walking. I continued to solicit cheers and Julie continued to take pictures as we headed down the home stretch.

As we neared the finish line, Angie was exhausted and told me to run on ahead. I told her that she had worked hard this summer and that this race was all about her, and that I wanted her to finish ahead of me. She got a big boost when she saw her husband cheering near the finish line and ran on ahead for her victory finish.

Angie finished the 3.1 miles in 32 minutes and 2 seconds, placing 157th out of 415 finishers. She was visibly exhausted, but the smile on her face said she was very happy with her effort. The three of us “high fived” each other as well as anyone else in the immediate area who came near. Many of our Red River Runner friends came over to congratulate Angie, and she was soon also joined by her husband and parents in the finisher area. All of us spent a long time there together, laughing and simply basking in the afterglow of what has been a great evening!
Congratulations Angie! I’m proud of you and can’t wait to run with you again!

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Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a problem in Grand Forks, and everywhere else, for that matter. As a frequent runner and bicycle rider, I see it daily, and it scares me!

I’ve recently witnessed people talking on phones, texting, actively engaged in conversation, tending to children, applying makeup, grooming, cuddling with the opposite sex, eating, smoking, changing the radio station, changing CDs, digging through the glove box, reaching into the back seat, and reading while driving. They all think it’s safe to take their mind off of driving for a second or two, and they are almost always correct; nothing usually happens while they are distracted. No harm, no foul, right?

The problem is that when something does happen, it is usually very bad. We allow fast driving speeds in North Dakota, and when a piece of metal, weighing thousands of pounds, is flying down the road it’s not only dangerous for the driver, it’s deadly to everything in its path. Sometimes it is animals, parked vehicles or property like mailboxes that end up destroyed when a driver isn’t paying attention. Sometimes the distracted driver destroys their own vehicle by veering into a ditch, the path of a much larger vehicle like a truck, or into something immovable like a tree or utility pole.

Then there are the times when there is loss of human life. Sometimes it’s the driver or passenger, but sometimes it’s an innocent bystander; a child running out into a road, a runner in a crosswalk, a bicyclist resting along the shoulder of a road, people who are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Was the driver distracted, or was the accident unavoidable? Usually only the driver truly knows the truth. I imagine that if they were distracted, the burden they would carry for the rest of their life would be enormous!

I don’t know how to convince people to pay attention to their driving when operating a motor vehicle. I don’t have answers, but I’m filled with grief each time a member of the active community is mowed down by an automobile. This has been a bad summer for us bikers and runners, and besides grief, we are also full of frustration. We love our various activities, but our loved ones are scared for our safety when we are out about town. We assure them that we’re watchful and careful, but deep down we know that’s not always enough. The city is plagued by distracted drivers, and anyone of us could be the next victim on any given day even if we are doing everything correctly.

I, for one, am not going to let fear keep me from doing what I enjoy doing. I’m going to continue running and bicycling around Grand Forks, attempting to always remain aware of the automobiles I share the streets and sidewalks with. I know my active friends will continue doing the same. Just be aware, all you distracted drivers out there, we are everywhere, we are physically fit, and we are not happy.

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Run Like A Girl

“You run like a girl!” was quite the insult when I was younger. That was, however, many years ago, and before I became part of the North Dakota/Minnesota running community. I now know many fine runners who just also happen to be girls…

There’s Jessica, Miriam, Holly, Auralee, Stacy, Anne-Marie, Rachel, Barb, Jane, Teresa, Joan, Margo, Leslie, Robyn, Julie, Denae, Megan, Leah, Laura and Erin. Of course there’s also Celeste, Kristin, Sheri, Becky, Susan, KaLonny, Claudia, Shannon, Judy, Marie, Kayla, Stephanie, Doni, Heather, Suzie, Melissa, Natasha, LeAnn and Elizabeth. I’d be foolish to not also mention Nicole, Amanda, Sharmon, Peggie, Marla, Ana, Kim, Tori, Mandy, Emily and Jennifer. And who could ever forget Whitney, Maggie, Cathi, Jolie, Amy, Alicia, Michelle, Karyn and Jill!

Yesterday, there was an “all-woman’s” 5K/10K walk/run held in Grand Forks as a fund raiser for Sarah’s Covenant Homes and Stable Days Youth Ranch. 120 women took part in the “Diva Dash” on a beautiful early August Saturday morning, and judging by the pictures in today’s “Grand Forks Herald,” they had a fun time!

I was out on the Greenway later in the morning and found dozens of purple feathers as well as a set of purple beads. It seems like these “Diva Dash” girls were running so fast that they were losing the feathers and jewelry off their costumes. Now, that’s fast!

Speaking of fast… Grand Forks Central student Rachel Cox won the 5K (3.1 miles) event with a time of 19:33! This young lady posted an average pace of 6 minutes and 18 seconds per mile! Run like a girl? Don’t I wish…

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New Thoughts About The University of North Dakota

I’ve had strong connections to North Dakota State University my entire life. Dad worked with the agronomists at the University for years raising foundation seed: Many of the 50 lb bags of seed we would empty into our drill each spring had the University’s golden seal attached right in the seam. When an animal, either wild or domestic, would die under circumstances associated with rabies, we would cut its head off and send it to the University for testing. North Dakota State University was a part of the daily life of many North Dakota farmers like us.

The University of North Dakota, on the other hand, was just this black hole in Grand Forks that I didn’t know very much about. It was the university that produced hockey players, doctors and lawyers. While I had respect for physicians, hockey players and lawyers weren’t very high on my list of admirable people.

Then, in 1981, I began attending North Dakota State University, and suddenly the college in Grand Forks, which I knew very little about, developed a face and personality; that of the drunk, angry, obscenity spewing fans that came to Fargo to cheer on their Fighting Sioux. I realize that the Fighting Sioux fans weren’t the only obnoxious ones during those days of heated rivalry, but the students and fans that came to Fargo for sporting events were the only representatives of the University of North Dakota that I ever saw, and I grew to dislike everything associated with them.

In 1988, I was hired by the University of North Dakota as a contract employee to supply services for the Agricultural Research Service. I’m a University employee on paper, but in reality, I have very little to do with them. I have absolutely no contact with the faculty or students. So, even though I’ve worked at the University of North Dakota for 26 years, my impression of the students and fans hadn’t changed much since 1981.

Something changed this summer, however: My son enrolled at the University of North Dakota and we’ve met many wonderful people during the visits we’ve made to campus. These are people who are dedicated to make Carl’s educational experience at the University of North Dakota a positive one, and they take their job seriously!

We were at the new Scheels on Friday and I was looking for a hot weather running tank top. Sue pointed at one that said “University of North Dakota” and laughed, knowing that I wouldn’t be interested. I’ve never purchased anything with “University of North Dakota” on it in my entire life, and she knew I wasn’t going to start now. But for the first time ever, I wasn’t revolted by the mere sight of something promoting the university, and I actually kind of liked it, so I secretly tried it on.

I ended up purchasing the top, and when I finally showed it to Carl and Sue, they stared with their mouths wide open; they were absolutely speechless! Carl eventually spoke first and asked why I finally decided to buy something like that, and I told him: “I’m proud of the University of North Dakota because that’s where my son goes to college!”

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