“Ten thousand going once, ten thousand going twice, sold to bidder number seven-five-seven.”

~Stu Smith, vinNEBRASKA Auctioneer since 1990

vinNEBRASKA has been a part of my life, and an important one, for many years now. I was originally invited to be a part of the group, the foundation that plans the annual event, by my late friend, Dave. Dave was one of the kindest, gentlest, smartest people I knew. He was as compassionate as he was modest, and did far more good in the community than I think most people realized. He passed away suddenly a few years ago, and I vowed to myself not to let the non-profit organization he had founded die. Today, we offer a full-ride scholarship in his name, and put on the largest and best wine event in a five-state area. For two days and two nights, twenty-five vintners from around the world converge upon Omaha for winemaker dinners, wine tasting, and more. We raise around a quarter of a million dollars for charity in that time, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it. This week, the big event was coming fast, and any “free” time I might have had was devoted to preparing. That didn’t keep me from getting my miles in, however.

Monday morning I ran eight miles, untimed, enjoying the cool morning air and my ability to feel so strong—possibly for the first time ever. At school Monday, senior skip day, and since I teach mostly seniors, a relatively easy day. That night, we had our final weekly planning meeting for vinNEBRASKA.  Tuesday I took off for a dentist appointment, my first in over a year. I have a pronounced fear of dentists, and a serious aversion to anything other than dead flora and fauna touching my teeth. When my last dentist, who was kind, gentle, and generous with the laughing gas, stopped taking my insurance, my first thought was “Well, fine, I guess they can all just fall out then,” however after some nudging from my better half I located a dentist nearby who was touted as being similarly gentle and equally willing to apply liberally the fumes that would allow me to tolerate having another human being root around in my mouth with a piece of metal.

My dentist appointment went well, save for the part where I was informed that I required two fillings and a crown. All the same, the experience was painless and when I finished I had the rest of the day off. I went for a slow, sluggish ten-mile run around two in the afternoon, struggled mightily to turn my legs over, and reflected on the importance of routine. Eighteen miles down this week, and already well over six hundred on the year. Not bad.

Wednesday morning I arose at 4:45 and headed downstairs to the treadmill to try out my “new” race pace of 8:34. In the background, ESPN was focused on the Lakers being eliminated from playoff contention by the previous night’s loss to the Suns. I tried to ignore it, and eventually changed the channel to watch CNN, where an interview with Wladimir Klitschko tore my heart out.  I got eight miles in at that speed without much trouble, but a treadmill makes that a lot easier. I knew I was even faster than that for fifteen last week, but that doesn’t mean I can hold it for twenty-six. My nightmare is to be on pace for most of the race only to bonk so hard at the end that my time is terrible or, even worse, I DNF (did not finish). Wednesday night, with the kitchen still under construction, we watched Fantastic Beasts while we ate our salads for dinner before putting the kids to bed. Then Sonja and I read for a short while in our armchairs, relishing the quiet and knowing that the weekend would be anything but.

Thursday morning I woke up and emailed Cindy, hoping for an update on our families. Then I went for a run outside. It was thirty-nine degrees outside, but a fierce wind dropped that by ten to twenty degrees, depending on how directly it was making contact with my face. The wind was strong enough that running into it was difficult. I slogged out eight and a half miles, and vowed to take the next day off before heading in to cool down on the Peloton and snuggle with the kids in advance of what promised to be a very long day.

Friday I had the day off work, and also a rest day. Instead of resting, however, I schlepped a few hundred cases of wine across Omaha and helped set up for vinNEBRASKA. As I write this Sunday night, I wish I had the energy to tell you all about the incredible event and all of the amazing people who were part of it, but honestly this weekend drained me. It was a thrilling one, but exhausting. The highlights include running a ten-mile race, The Early Bird, at an average pace of just north of 7:30 miles, further bolstering my cocky desire to lower my race pace in a few months, and raising right around $400K for an amazing local charity. Sunday morning, I wrapped the week up running a seven-mile recovery, and then had a Harry Potter marathon with my son that included The Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2. I finished the weekend as I like to finish races: on empty, having pulled off an amazing fundraiser and run fifty-three miles to boot. I hope you’ll forgive my uncharacteristic brevity, but it’s time for me to go to bed. As always, thanks for your support!


Warmly,

Mark

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