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Local couple set to run the ‘mental marathon’

By Staff | Jun 21, 2009

Running a marathon is similar to painting. Both start with lots of energy and enthusiasm, but the further along one gets the tougher it becomes.

Getting to the finish line requires a lot of stamina, but it requires an even greater amount of dedication before the runner ever makes it to the starting line.

Blue Earth couple, David and Angie Frundt, can attest to this since they have been preparing for Duluth’s Grandma’s Marathon since February.

Both have a running background, but neither have run much in the last ten years or since their high school years. Angie ran in the Twin Cities Marathon in 1996 and Grandma’s Marathon in 1998 before their marriage and the birth of the couples three sons. David’s last experience with long distance running was while he ran cross country as a high school student.

David was persuaded to run in January when Angie came home one day and announced, “By the way, I picked-up the mail, got some milk and signed you up for the marathon today.”

Says David, “I decided okay, fine. We’re going to do it.” He then decided to keep them on track and began training in February.

“We’re not the stereotypical marathon runners,” admits Angie. “If we can do it, anyone can. We’re running this marathon to get fit.”

Angie is an RN at the Fairmont Medical Center and David is a fourth generation general practice attorney at the Frundt and Johnson law firm in Blue Earth.

What has helped motivate the Frundts the past few months is to see other people within the community of Blue Earth running and biking. Their running seems more normal to them as a result. In addition, there are many running and triathlon events in the area, making them just another pair of people who enjoy the sport.

“We have a five mile loop which involves running around town, the beltline and back to our house near the Catholic Church,” explains David. Many of the routes they run are old ones he ran while on the high school cross country team.

“We post our running schedule on the fridge and it screams out to us,” says Angie of their training tracking technique.

The long runs, the hard workouts, the focus necessary to follow a training plan day after day since February has been fun, it’s been torture, it’s been tedious, it’s been an adventure, and most of all, it’s been a learning process for the Frundts.

They have also had great mentors in Dave and Suzie Olsen who have spurred them on and Robyn Beach-Olson, another local runner, who has made the marathon something the couple thinks is doable for them.

Because the winter was a cold and white one, the Frundts had to do a great deal of their training on a treadmill Angie had picked-up. They have also done runs out to Guckeen, but they have never run more than 20 miles at one time.

A disadvantage to training on the treadmill, says the couple, is their three sons find this an ideal time to want to talk with them. As a result, it is very difficult for them to keep on task and at the pace needed to complete the necessary mileage.

When they do the long runs, they get a babysitter to watch their sons who are age seven, five and four.

“The running part is enjoyable,” says David. “But it’s the getting up and convincing myself to do it that’s the hardest.”

To help relieve the boredom of running mile after mile, David and Angie say listening to music on their Ipods helps immensely.

“For awhile, the organizers were going to ban runners from having the Ipods because they felt it was a safety issue,” says Angie.

Because of this ban, many entrants complained they would not enter Grandma’s Marathon.

Thankfully, say the Frundts, Ipods are again permitted, so David will be able to listen to his “happier songs” including more upbeat rock, country, and the bands he followed while attending college.

Angie says she will be listening to contemporary Christian and current pop rock hits on her Ipod.

“Running is a very rhythmic activity,” explains David, “so it makes sense to take advantage of the rhythm in music.”

Grandma’s Marathon runs point-to-point from the town of Two Harbors on scenic route 61 and continues along Lake Superior into the city of Duluth. The finish line is located in Canal Park, near Grandma’s Restaurant, which is next to the highly visible Aerial Lift Bridge.

Grandma’s was first run in 1977 with only 150 participants. The newly-opened Grandma’s Restaurant was the only local business who would sponsor the then fledgling event, so race organizers thought it was only fitting to name the new race after their sole sponsor.

So far, over 8,000 have signed up for the marathon. Last year there were 9,000 with 6,600 of those completing the course. This is a Boston qualifying marathon, but the Frundts have no intention of entering the East Coast event…they just want to reach the finish line in Duluth.

Even though the sport basically requires only a good pair of running shoes and water, the fee to enter Grandma’s is $89 per person. This is pretty reasonable, but the room rates in Duluth during the event are not.

“We had to reserve our room in January,” says Angie who adds, “then you can’t cancel your reservation. We knew we had to train for this and there was no turning back.”

Marathon organizers discourage entrants from completing the entire 26.2 miles during their training, as they do not want the runners to injure themselves prior to the event.

Angie has run the entire 26.2 miles before, but David has not.

“We are running on hope and a prayer,” says Angie who knows only too well how the body seems to hit a wall at mile 18. It is at this point when the race becomes more of a mind game than a physical one.

For more of this story, see this week’s Register