danieljconner's Blog

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“Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.” Henry James, The Ambassadors.

Five ambassadors, five host families, five days in Dresden. Dresden Sister City, Inc., which was “organized for the purposes of causing the people of the City of Columbus and the people of the City of Dresden to understand one another as individuals, as members of their community, as citizens of their country, and as part of the family of nations”, chose five ambassadors and five host families to represent our cities for five days as part of their Dresden Marathon Exchange.

Throughout the day on Thursday October 16, 2014, my fellow ambassadors Jamie Glavic, Krista Seibert, Sarah Criss McQuade, Shekhar (Shake) Mahajan, and I, were greeted by our hosts as we arrived in Dresden, Germany. Jamie and I traveled by train from Berlin and were met by Jamie’s host Gundula Glasel, and my host Katrin Lay.

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Nervous in anticipation!!

Way back in July, I was busy training for the New Albany Challenge Duathlon when I got a call from Dorit that I had be selected to represent the City of Columbus and that I had an opportunity to go to Dresden and participate in the half marathon there. I was so excited.

That very week I had an ankle injury from over training for the New Albany Challenge. Unfortunately my doctor told me that I had to keep my leg in the boot for 3 weeks and no running for two weeks after that. That was a bummer. I kept my leg in the boot for a week (see pic), removed the boot on Sunday and participated in the duathlon and then wore the boot again. The doc does not know about this and I hope he does not see this blog 😉


 Well, after the duathlon I did listen to him and kept my leg in the boot for two weeks. Boot came off earlier this month and I am back in full training. In fact tomorrow I am participating in the Buckeye Challenge Duathlon in Springfield Ohio. Last year I came first in my age group (see pic). This year, I am not sure since I do not want to stretch myself and jeopardize my run in Dresden.


 Training is going on but it does not seem like the regular training. There is a lot of pressure since – (i) this is my first half outside the US, (ii) I am hoping to make a personal record, and (iii) if I succeed in a PR then I plan to do my first full and first ultra next year. There are some more crazy ideas in my mind right now but they are just there and they are getting stronger by the day. Like doing a 50K at an altitude of 18,000 ft. But well, without a ‘vision’ one is blind to ‘opportunities’. Right??

Looking forward to running in Dresden with my fellow ambassadors !!



Intricate and Voluptuous and Enchanted and Absurd

Today I booked my flight and registered for the race (!!!) so I thought I would commemorate the occasion by writing my first blog post. I was thrilled and honored to be named an Athlete Ambassador for Dresden Sister City this summer. I’ve spent the past couple months preparing mentally and physically for the trip by learning about the city of Dresden and of course, training!

I will be running Dresden Marathon’s half marathon and although I’ve been running for years, this is my first official half marathon. I put together a rough training schedule based on advice from my sister and other experienced runners, including my fellow ambassadors. I’m aiming to run at least three times per week leading up to the race on October 19: five-mile runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and increasingly longer runs on Saturdays up to 13 miles (right now I’m at eight miles). I also lift weights twice per week which I understand is good for training.

This past weekend I stayed at a friend’s cabin out in Knox County where there weren’t any safe roads or paved trails to run on. I was determined to stick to my training schedule, so instead of a long-distance run I ran through a makeshift trail in the woods, up steep hills and over obstacles like branches and rocks and ant hills. I could not breathe! It was grueling but felt good, especially after consuming copious amounts of food and drinks all weekend… carbo-loading, right?

Getting away for the weekend also allowed me to finish the book Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s Vonnegut’s first-person account of his time in Dresden as a prisoner of war during World War II, only from the perspective of an alien-abducted, time-traveling version of himself called Billy Pilgrim.

For many, Dresden conjures images of the infamous firebombings of 1945. But long before Dresden became synonymous with apocalyptic destruction, it was the residence of Saxon royalty. The city was known as the Jewel Box for its gorgeous baroque architecture and lavish arts scene. As Vonnegut describes it in Slaughterhouse-Five:

The boxcar doors were opened, and the doorways framed the loveliest city that most of the Americans had ever seen. The skyline was intricate and voluptuous and enchanted and absurd. It looked like a Sunday school picture of Heaven.”

Dresden's famous silhouette (source: Wikipedia)

Dresden’s famous silhouette (source: Wikipedia)

Much of the city has been rebuilt thanks to grassroots fundraising efforts from all over the world, including Columbus, Ohio and namely Dresden Sister City, which helped raise thousands to rebuild the Frauenkirche. Today Dresden is a cultural, educational, political and economic center of Germany and Europe. I can’t wait to explore this time-honored city and learn more about its people and history (and complete my first half marathon (hopefully!)).

Bugs. Ugh.

This weekend my husband and I went out of town with friends. We drove to New York and enjoyed a whirlwind winery and brewery tour. Needless to say, I didn’t do much running Friday or Saturday (aka NONE). After a five hour car ride on Sunday, and pit-stop at my in-laws, we made it home. We were tired. We were hungry. And the last thing I wanted to do was run. So, I didn’t.

We grabbed dinner. Picked up the dog from the kennel. We even went to the park and played catch.

At 8:30pm, I decided it was time for a run. No excuses, right? So, I laced up my shoes (I really need new ones – that’s a post for another day), grabbed my watch, and out I went. Five minutes in – right as I was hitting my stride – a bug flew into my left eye. I stopped immediately, bent over, and my eyes watered so much, so quickly the bug literally popped out. Whew!

Not again!

Not again!

After a minute I shook it off and started a slow jog for a few minutes until the unthinkable happened. Another bug flew into my eye (or maybe I ran into it?) – my right eye! Ugh. Two bugs, two eyes, one run?! This time the bug didn’t pop out. It was IN there. I could feel it. It was uncomfortable. As I jogged home I was thinking: is this the running gods punishing me for slacking off over the weekend?

An hour later – the bug finally came out. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t pleasant.

Lesson learned? Run earlier in the evening – preferably when I can wear my sunglasses. I do not want to experience that again!

Is this a regular occurrence for late evening runners? And more importantly, what kind of bugs are in Dresden?


danieljconner's Blog

“Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.” – William Ernest Henley.

Eight weeks. Sunday, August 24, 2014. It seems like an eternity. Halfway through a sixteen week marathon training program of interval runs, distance runs, medium long runs, tempo runs, planned racing, simulated racing, and long runs, I take little comfort in the words of Mr. Henley – “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”. I am exhausted.

This week: 50 to 70 miles.

Monday – Rest Day – 0 to 3 miles.

Tuesday – Interval – 8 to 11 miles total. 3 to 4 x 1,600 m at 10k pace 3 minutes recovery.

Wednesday – Distance – 7 to 10 miles.

Thursday – Medium long run – 10 to 13 miles.

Friday – Rest…

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In 50 days I’ll be on a plane to Germany! Before I head to Dresden for the Dresden Marathon I’ll spend a few days in Berlin as a tourist with a dear friend from high school – and I am so excited! I haven’t been to Germany since I was a kid.

As a matter of fact, I started school in Germany. My dad was stationed in Augsburg and I have fond memories of my little brother running around the apartment trying to put sentences together in German. I was still in elementary school when we moved back to the United States but unfortunately we didn’t bring the German language with us. We stopped using it at home and my understanding of the German language is still that of a seven year old.

Fast forward several years later: my high school didn’t offer German, so I opted for 3.5 years of French and a year of Spanish. In college I took a year of French (thanks to my wonderful high school teacher – I was able to test out of the 101 courses!) and attempted to take one year of German. Man, my German was rusty. I struggled through that class – but I finished it. Then I followed up with a Germanic Mythology course – which I loved – but we didn’t have to speak German in class so my German skills slowly slipped away – again.

duolingoI’ve been out of college for a few years now – seven to be exact – and haven’t used much German in my day-to-day. My German is still rusty. In preparation for my trip as an athlete ambassador I downloaded the app Duolingo. This is a free app without ads – seriously, NO ADS! – offers Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, and English. It’s quick. It’s fun. And before I know it I find myself spending 20+ minutes learning new vocabulary words and phrases. After using the app for a few days I quickly shared it with Daniel, Krista, Sarah, and Shake – who have all since downloaded it as well. We’re loving it – and Dorit at Dresden Sister City, Inc. can’t wait to test our skills.

Duolingo has fantastic reviews. And here’s another one: I’m still on “basic” but already I can’t recommend this app enough. It’s fun, keeps score (important for those of us who are competitive), and has an adorable green owl that acts as your coach – reminding us we all need a little push from time to time.

If you’re wanting to learn a new language check out Duolingo.

Two Months to Race Day!

I can’t believe it – two months from TODAY we’ll be representing Columbus and running in the Dresden Marathon (half for me).


We’re training, eating clean (well, mostly clean – who can say no to food trucks?), hydrating, and most importantly – having fun! We can’t wait to represent Columbus this fall.