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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The 5 Stages of Coping with a Marathon Training Injury

Running a marathon is the epitome of today’s gluten-free, protein-shake, active lifestyle zeitgeist. In Duluth, marathon culture seems magnified. Anyone remotely active cannot escape the excitement and phenomenon that is Grandma’s. Common conversations include:

“Are you running Grandma’s? How’s training going? What time are you targeting? Want to get together for a long run?”

It’s nearly impossible to escape this hype. It’s addicting. It provides community, pride and identity. I may not be fast, but gosh darn-it-all, I’m going to run Grandma’s! I am a Duluthian! Hear me roar!

If you aren’t running the full marathon, there are many alternatives: the half-marathon, the 5k, working a water station, or talking about your loved one that is running. If you’ve completed a half or full Grandma’s, you are in the club for life and can join these training conversations guilt free.

All of this preamble is just to explain- I was really, really, really excited about running Grandma’s. It took several months to build up the courage to commit to signing up, but once I did I was all in.

Run club? Check.
Diet plan? Check.
Training regimen? Check.
Accountability partners to train with? Check.

And then it happened- a knee injury. It was sudden and oddly inexplicable.

DENIAL, knee injury? WHAT knee injury?
I repeated mantras while running like “lighter footfalls” and “DO NOT LIMP, DO NOT LIMP.” I refused to let my knee interfere with my training plan. I was going to train through this! I bought a foam roller! RICE was LIFE! I did all the exercises you are supposed to do when you have runners knee. I discussed possible reasons and solutions for said knee injury with all my friends in training. I was painfully positive, as in high-school-cheerleader slash Elle Woods level POSITIVE. I WOULD BE FINE!  

ANGER- i.e. the I HATE MY FITBIT phase!
I am generally not an angry person…but I was pretty annoyed. I asked my friends to stop inviting me to fit bit challenges. Then I stopped wearing my fitbit altogether. All those steps were coming at a painful price and the fitbit no longer tallied my good days, but rather it seemed to tally up the bad. I emailed my accountability partners and asked them to stop emailing me about their running plans because I just couldn’t cope with their progress while my progress stymied. I looked at their fun-run pictures and snarled. I didn’t respond to any of their training snap chats. Oh ya? You just ran 7 miles ‘like a boss’? and I bet it felt great too, didn’t it!?!

Next up- BARGAINING. I came up with a BRILLIANT solution! I would just get a cortisone shot so I could train pain free! Whatever was wrong could wait until June 21st, TAKE THAT KNEE INJURY!

Current status- the pity party.  
Guys, this is not a pretty phase. I cried when the Dr. explained to me that a cortisone shot is not a great option for a 29 year old, particularly when said 29 year old has already been putting off an inevitable (and pretty crucial) ankle surgery. I pulled it together in the exam room and went out to schedule my MRI. “Wow, double MRI?” the polite woman said with a raised brow, “Do you need a hug?” The tears came unabashed. I tried to cheer myself up with a fancy coffee from the fancy co-op, I made it out the doors and into my car where I broke down again.  

I cried while watching Fixer Upper last night.... Fixer. Upper.

Oh for crying out loud, now I’m crying as I type this up.

Arguably, receiving bad news the Monday morning after daylight savings time and a very long trek into the wilderness on an injured ankle and knee may not have been the best timing. The frustrated tears were just a little too close to the surface.

Waiting for it- ACCEPTANCE.
I know that acceptance will come. I keep telling myself things like, “Amanda, GET IT TOGETHER! YOU DON’T HAVE A BRAIN EATING AMOEBA! DONALD TRUMP DIDN’T EAT YOUR BABY!” but so far, these pep-talks have done little to propel me out of my pity wallowing existence.

Last night I taught yoga. One of the cool-down songs was “Everybody Hurts Sometimes” by R.E.M. Even I had to giggle at the self-indulgence. Maybe that was step one toward acceptance.

So why am I posting this? I guess mainly just to get everyone in Duluth on board with my current training hiatus. I am probably not going to be able to run this year. I am not dealing with it particularly well and I am feeling like a capital L Loser.  If you see me at Evolve or the grocery store, now you know. I guess also to say that I am normally a pretty positive person and I’m kind of in the dumps right now, and I think that is okay to acknowledge.

For all the people with very real problems like chronic illness, sick little ones, lost loved ones, cancer,  etc- I am really sorry for posting about this menial problem. I can only hope that my stupid little experience may  help me be a better friend to you in the future.

In the meantime, I am going to be sure to enjoy the days I can run- carefree and pain-free. And on the days I cannot run, days like today, and many days I am bound to face in the future, I will try to find alternative conduits to joy... like Michael Jackson dance parties, coffee brewed in a percolator, page-turners, and funny people.

Before you ask: I don’t know much more than what I posted here. I will learn more after MRIs. I will fill you in when I learn more. 

P.S. A pic after Grandma’s half last year. This will be my reminder that, at least by my own standards, I’m technically part of the club for life. 

Drew's 2015 Christmas Letter

I’m beginning to wonder if starting the tradition of writing an annual Christmas letter was a wise decision. I have numerous concerns about the whole thing. First and foremost, is the fact that Amanda and I have to continue to try to do cool and exciting things in order to have “Xmas letter worthy” content. That is a lot of pressure. In prior years, we’ve gotten married, bought homes, moved to a new city, accepted new jobs – you know, big life milestones and things like that. Sure, that made writing the letters easy, but it also set the bar high right off the get go. If I was more smarter, I wouldn’t have mentioned any of those things in the first few letters. That way, I could have gradually built the letters up, year after year, until finally, at the ripe old age of 62, the grand climax would occur – which I imagine will be the year Amanda finally kicks me to the curb for a younger, better looking, higher functioning model. At that point, I will be too depressed to continue writing Xmas letters and you (the reader) will finally have one less piece of paper to immediately discard into the recycling bin. 

My other major concern about the pressures of an annual Xmas letter is that we will start doing things we don’t really want to do (or simply shouldn’t do) just for the sake of having something to write about. This concern, I fear, has already begun to manifest itself in the happenings of this past year.
For example, if someone were to ask me what motivated us to start putting uncoordinated and/or aquaphobic people on thin slabs of floating foam and take them out paddling on the coldest lake this side of Pluto, I would only be able to respond: “Oh, ummm, well you see, we started SUPerior Paddle Boarding because there is this Xmas letter thing we have to live up to….” Honestly, I’m not sure there is a better way to explain why Amanda and I decided to start our own paddleboard outfitter. The fact is, we did, and it was a great first year, I think. We were featured in numerous publications, partnered with other local businesses to put on some really cool events, received positive reviews, and no one died. So that was good. But why? Why did we decide that we basically don’t want to have a single minute of free time in the summer if not to get some decent Xmas card content?
The same question must be asked about our trip to Iceland. The place has the word “ice” in its name for crying out loud. Why would we leave Duluth during its only nice month of the year (August) and head to a tiny island country a stone’s throw from the Arctic Circle renown for poor weather, flesh-melting volcanic eruptions, and the tasty national dish of harkal.[1] Why indeed? Again, I’m not certain why, but Amanda and I did find Iceland to be a fantastical place. The only way I can describe it is like something out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth.[2] We camped around the entire (and I mean entire) island and loved every minute of it. Mostly. There was that one night in which I decided to partake in a scientific study of the national pastime of Runtur. As it happens, Runtur mainly consists of staying out all night enjoying a potent variety of schnapps made from a very specific type of highland moss intermixed with sips of some sort of liquor fondly referred to as “Black Death”. As a man of science, I took my studies very seriously. Amanda did not partake in the Runtur, but she did create a new event called the “ranter” when I returned from my studies. Amanda’s “Ranter” has now eclipsed the great eruption of Skaftaredar as the most violent and earth shattering event in Iceland’s history. 

Sadly, we didn’t do anything else worthy of the Xmas letter this year. We got settled into our new home here in Duluth. We went on a ski trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula with old friends, became the first documented paddle boarders in the Boundary Waters National Canoe Area with new friends, cross-country skied to an old logging camp in the Superior National Forest with best friends, and generally had a great year – but nobody wants to hear about that crap. 

So that’s it. There is nothing left to say. I mean, I could say some of the obligatory things like that Amanda is still excelling at everything that she does, such as being a Real Estate Analyst for Maurices corporate headquarters and teaching some type of inferno yoga designed to suck every last ounce of sweat from your body. She also ran the Grandma’s half-marathon this year. I drove it, but still couldn’t keep up. Amanda has also spent a lot of time making friends. I’m from Duluth, and yet somehow Amanda knows more people here. Go figure.

That really is all there is to say. Except that we loved having family and friends visit us this year in our new home. We really enjoyed when our nephew Lane could come visit and steal my childhood toys. He is so cute the way he can find boxes full of my treasured childhood items and walk out the door with them. We also loved it when our nieces from Alaska came down during Halloween. They are so charming the way they pelt you mercilessly with rotten apples when you play “Ghosts in the Graveyard” with them. 

I’m done. Besides to say that we really, truly, from the bottom of our hearts, can’t thank everyone enough for helping Amanda’s mother this autumn when she broke both her arms. It is those acts of kindness that, especially during this busy holiday season, make us stop and think about how lucky we are to have such great friends and family. 

That’s a wrap folks. Until next year. Maybe. After the whole Runtur thing, Amanda could decide to make that upgrade a few years early. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Sincerely, Andrew, Amanda and Loki Imes

[1] A delightful treat consisting of putrefied shark which has been buried in a shallow pit for 12 weeks and then hung outside to dry for six months before it is deemed worthy of testing the limits of one’s gag reflex.
[2] For you cooler people out there, Middle Earth is the world in which The Lord of the Rings books take place. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m not sure you were meant to receive this letter.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

11 things I've learned since starting a small business

  1. I use way more hashtags than I care to admit... because, #marketinng!
  2. I am now that annoying person on Facebook (sorry guys, I’m trying not to flood your newsfeed with events and posts from our business… I know you are looking for pictures of puppies, babies and buzzfeed listicles).
  3. There is an unhealthy correlation between my feelings of self-worth and the number of new "likes" our page receives in a day. Hey, admitting you have a problem is step one, right?
  4. Friends are incredible resources with seemingly infinite skills and talents you may not have even known about (like graphic design, web design, video editing, photography, race organization knowledge, local permit requirements, just to name a few)
  5. Friends & family members will do almost anything to support your small business, just shy of tattooing “our friends’ small business is THE BEST” across their chest- and let’s be real, there are even a few who might do that… 
  6. Oh em gee, I have a network?! I remember how desperate I felt to “make connections” after college because everyone stressed the importance of networking. Now, at 28, I am astounded by the network that has organically woven itself around me. All my bright, goofy, outgoing, fun-loving and talented peers are becoming successful entrepreneurs, academics, government officials and business professionals. 
  7. I’ve learned the value of a dollar. It took months of hard work, planning, investment, anxiety and self-doubt before we finally used our Square app for the first time. I will never buy another sub sandwich or coffee without thinking twice again. 
  8. Warning: the people working at Square,Inc will do nothing to alleviate your start-up anxiety. Speaking of number 7, just a heads up- if you purchase a square app, the square app people will send you bi-weekly emails saying things like, “we’ve noticed you aren’t using your square app” and “is there anything we can do to help you get started with your square app?” right up until you finally process that first payment….
  9. Technology has made entrepreneurship a viable option for young people with limited resources. At every turn, there has been an app, website service, meet-up group, or online company available to meet our small business needs. From marketing, payment processing, and online scheduling to hosting a race, finding sponsors, connecting with consumers, and finding local printing companies, technology has altered the capital requirements that would normally be a significant barrier to young people trying to enter the market. 
  10. People are good, kind and generous. We have been overwhelmed by the kindness and support of the community, strangers, clients, other businesses in Duluth and of course, our friends and family. (Have I mentioned how much this process has revealed to me about the awesomeness of my friends?)
  11. Go for it. Ideas are a dime a dozen- for all your great ideas, there are one hundred others with the same great idea. Be the rare person who takes a risk and acts. Don’t be afraid to pursue that wild idea you’ve been contemplating for the past few years- all the world will conspire to help you succeed.

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” 

“All The Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin’ In The Sun,
Talkin’ ‘Bout The Things
They Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Done…
But All Those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All Ran Away And Hid
From One Little Did.” – Shel Silverstein, Falling Up

Sunday, April 26, 2015

SUPerior Paddle- Rentals, Delivery and Adventure on the North Shore

Some exciting news! We decided to share our love of the outdoors with friends visiting the lovely shores of Gitchi Gumi through stand up paddle boarding (SUP). We will offer a variety of services, from inflatable boards and hard boards, to guided tours, yoga, and paddle board delivery. Over the past year we've had so much fun paddling with friends, and introducing them to the grandeur of the north shore from the vantage point of a board, that we wanted to share this unique experience to those less familiar with the area and the sport of paddle boarding.

The inflatable boards are great for a number of reasons. If you don't want to deal with the the hassle of strapping boards on top of your vehicle, the inflatable boards are ideal. The inflatable boards fit into pound backpack you can easily throw into your trunk. For the more adventurous folks, the inflatable boards are great for hike-in campsites and paddling in more remote locations along the lake. The boards take about 5 min to inflate, and another 5 to deflate and roll up. They look, feel and operate just like a hardboard, with all the perks of easy transportation.

We'll also offer guided paddles, outdoor yoga classes followed by an hour paddle and other fun events- calendar coming soon. For more info, check out our website at or check out our Facebook page

We hope to see you! Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is really amazing on the big lake. The water is deep and clear, offering amazing views into the depths below as you paddle alongside cliffs. We have countless suggestions for great paddles, places to stay, hikes along the way to your destination and places to grab a bite.

I imagine I'll keep y'all posted on the progress as we get our little business rolling. The boards arrive this week, and we can't wait!!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Drew's 2014 Christmas Letter

I really hate to start off this year’s Christmas letter with bad news, but due its magnitude, I simply must. Even now, as I attempt to write this letter, I can feel my blood run cold and my hands begin to tremble.  But after countless hours of therapy, I now understand that the first step to healing is to talk about it with the people you love and trust. So to all of you, my family, friends and loved ones, I confide in you this most horrid news with the hopes that you can help me to regain my trust in humanity. Brace yourself now. My Christmas list has been hacked.

At first glance, it appeared as if the cyber-criminals that were responsible for the Target Store credit card scanner data leak were the culprits behind this grievous crime. However, further investigation showed signs that the original point of infiltration originated from within the borders of North Korea. Whatever the case, it was obvious that these devilish cyber-thugs were attempting to use my Xmas list to undermine the fundamental meaning of this most glorious and holy of holidays– which, as everyone knows, is that I receive hundreds of ultra-expensive gifts. Using highly advanced cyber-trickery, my Xmas list was being hijacked and filled with things like throw pillows and fancy sheets rather than snowboards and skis. Sixty-inch TVs and video games were replaced with hand towels and new plates. Even as I mourned over the idea that Santa would never get my request for a new Fat Tire Bike, I was struck with an even harder blow. My inside contact at the CIA Cyber-Terrorism Division uncovered a code within the deepest layers of the matrix that traced back to an address in Duluth, MN – the very address we just recently moved to. Then it hit me like a sack full of naughty-kid coal. This was an inside job from the very beginning. Amanda was the hacker.

What could possibly motivate a person to do such a thing? To dedicate 5 years of her life getting close to her victim just to fill a poor boy’s Xmas list with girly knickknacks? Perhaps it was her desire to furnish the new home in Duluth we have purchased and will be moving into in January. True, this new home is much larger than the condo we owned in St. Paul and will require more furniture. It is also close to Lake Superior, which Amanda hopes will attract many visitors to fill the spare rooms. And of course, with visitors comes the need for fancy new bed sheets and hand towels.

Or perhaps Amanda was just overly tired from the stress of starting a new job and accidently added stuff to my Xmas list rather than her own? After all, her new job at the Maurices Corporate Headquarters as a real estate analyst does require using massive amounts of brainpower. She helps to determine where new stores should be built by analyzing more data than I knew existed. Maybe, just maybe, her eyes were all loopy after looking at all those spreadsheets and she just didn’t realize she was editing MY list.      

Or was it that she thought that since I’m working as a sheet metal worker I’d be so tired and cold after a long day outside that she took it upon herself to ask Santa on my behalf for decorative throw pillows on which to rest my weary head.

Amanda’s true motivation will forever remain a mystery. Whatever the case, the holidays are a time for peace and goodwill to all, and so, with that spirit in mind, Amanda has been pardoned of her holiday hijinks, with only one stipulation: She has to add a new Fat Tire Bike to HER Christmas list next year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Please come visit us at our new home 2323 Boland Drive, Duluth MN, 55804. I’ll be more than happy to share my plush new hand towels with you. 



Drew, Amanda, and Loki  


Friday, November 7, 2014

Moving North!

Well, I guess this blog might need a new name. Farm Girl in the Far North? Farm Girl on the North Shore? Today is Drew's last day in the office. Below is the email he sent to our coworkers.

To all my dear PropTax friends (and others),

I have had many significant, life-altering things happen to me during my life. But I was either too young or too dumb to recognize them as being significant at the time. I guess I must be getting old, and perhaps my brain has finally developed beyond the adolescent stage, because this is the first time in my life that I remember actually stopping to take the time to think about a decision and how it will impact my life going forward. And I don’t like it one bit.

This stopping and thinking about stuff is really hard. Because now I have to think about how I am going to miss everyone here so much. And I have to remember all the great things that this division does, and all of the acts of generosity and kindness that I have witnessed here every day over the last 7 years.  I have to think about if this is the right choice; to say goodbye to something that has given me so much and to the people that have become like family. Will I ever find a place like this again? Will I ever find someone to hire me again? What the heck am I going to do with my life!


So I am done thinking about it. I will leave the thinking to the philosophers and those really deep, introspective poet-types. Instead, I am just going to do what I have always done: savor the past, enjoy the present, and let the future bring what it will. I’m not worried about it. It’s like my good buddy Danny Kaye said,  “Life is a blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can.”  And that’s what I’m going to do, start splashing paint like I’m Jackson Pollock. Happiness to me is an ever-changing horizon, the thrill of going around that corner and not knowing what is on the other side, and those butterflies in your stomach the moment you drop off into the unknown. And so I’m going to venture down the road and let all those unknown bumps and curves shape who I am. To what end, only time will tell.

So that’s it. This is goodbye for now. I am so thankful for what everyone has done for me, and what they will continue to do for this great state. I was lucky to be part of it. I wish everyone the best in everything that they do. If you find yourself in Duluth, look us up and come hang out. We’ll go jump in the big lake. It’s totally rejuvenating, trust me. Bon voyage!

What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

This is the super cool photo the Department took of me to accompany any articles I submitted to assessment magazines.

Angela and I in front of the state seal, the state flag and the American flag on one of the biggest days of the year for my division (State Board of Equalization).

I will miss the close proximity to the Capitol. I've enjoyed many lunches on the Capitol Mall and was able to head over to the lawn the day the Marriage Equality Amendment passed. Minnesota is awesome, and I am proud to have been part of the public policy process in some small way.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

TBT: Butterheads old and new

One week from today the gates to the Great Minnesota Get-Together will open wide. Today is also Throwback Thursday. What a great day to talk about the state fair, and more specifically, butterheads past and present.

Growing up, my Dad offered to pay us $5 for every calf we successfully trained. At the time, I thought he was funding our state fair dreams. In retrospect, I think he greatly valued the amount of time we spent towing uncooperative calves around the yard “training” them, and as such, leaving Dad to work in peace.

For country kids, the fair was, and remains, a very big deal. The fair is the one week all summer parents allow, and even encourage, their children to spend time at the fair with their 4-H pals. Of course, a good deal of work is required to keep their animals well cared for at the fair, but there are plenty of opportunities for rides, malts, and hijinx as well.

For a dairy farmer’s daughter, the only dream that exceeds a Grand Champion Ribbon at the State Fair, is the opportunity to serve as Princess Kay of the Milky Way. To be eligible to represent the dairy industry as Princess Kay, you must work on an active dairy farm. Each county sends three young women to compete at the state level. Some counties have more than three contestants at the county level; however, the county must narrow it down to three candidates to send to the statewide competition. Of the 261 eligible candidates, only 12 finalists are selected to represent the dairy industry at the state fair. The 12 finalists compete for the title Princess Kay of the Milky Way. They are judged in 7 categories: etiquette, mock media interview, panel interview, extemporaneous remarks, panel interview, speaking ability, writing ability, and a one-on-one interview.

Bonnie, my older sister, was a finalist for Princess Kay in 2001. All 12 finalists have their likeness sculpted into a 90-pound block of Grade-A butter. The process takes 6-8 hours in a 40 degree, revolving room. It is a must-see at the fair.

Bonnie: Butterhead ’01

I was lucky enough to be a finalist in 2006. I was not selected as Princess Kay, but I did receive an ice cream cone charm made of Swarovski crystal, which is basically the next best thing, am I right?

Amanda: Butterhead ‘06

For three blissful years, the butter avatars coexisted in a freezer in my parent’s basement. Yes, my parents actually bought an extra freezer to store all 180 pounds of buttery goodness.

I had big plans for our butterheads. It was a long-term plan. Very long-term. I wanted to save our butterheads just in case my younger sisters followed in our footsteps and brought home their very own malleable statues. When Bonnie was crowned in 2001, our youngest sister Katrina was only two years old. As I said, long-term. Anyway, my big idea was to put all four butterheads together- a Mount Rushmore of sorts. For good measure, I thought we could put Santa hats on the heads and send out the most epic Christmas Card of all time! It would read, "Hope you have a Dairy Good Year!"

But alas, my sisters did not share my dream. More importantly, my parents did not support the idea of purchasing another freezer to warehouse butterheads. So the day after Bonnie's wedding in 2009 we had a giant corn feed and butter Bonnie bit the dust. In 2012, I followed suit the day after our wedding. I was not happy about it.

While it may be too late to create a Mount Thoemore Christmas Card, my younger sister McCayla is a finalist for Princess Kay this year. We are all so thrilled and excited to see her pursue this childhood dream. Princess Kay will be crowned next Wednesday, the night before the State Fair opens. Regardless of the coutcome, McCayla will always be my little Dairy Princess! XOXO Sista!

McCayla Thoe: Butterhead Coming 2014