My First 10K – Polar Dash, MN

Let it begin.

I completed my first task of my uncomfortable journey. I ran a 10k. I didn’t know where to start “race wise” and I have done 5k races before. I wanted to do something new, a different challenge.

I wanted to get in on an early race to start the year. In January there isn’t many foot races in the Midwest. I did find one in the Twin Cities however – the infamous Polar Dash. We have friends in family up in the North Country so Tara and I

Fasting today

decided to make it a fun weekend trip. I signed up for the race after Christmas so I was committed to the 10k –

regardless of snow. I began researching the course and previous year weather conditions.

When researching, I had seen that the last year (2018) had temps in the negatives and it was icy, windy and snowy. Soo…that was promising. My entire goal was to finish the course in under an hour, I was also nervous to just complete the course, I had never run that distance before (6.2 miles) continuously in competition. In the back of my head I was saying “just don’t stop” but in reality I knew I could get a sub hour time if I stuck with training and diet correctly.


Having just a couple weeks before my first race was a bit daunting. I started like anyone should start… I ran 6.2 miles on the treadmill my first day. To my surprise I ran the 6.2 in under and hour (53 min)…on a treadmill…in the confines of my home…in a 68 degree basement. I knew that running on a course in Minnesota would be different from a treadmill but I just wanted to see where I was to start. This brings up my first part about training…in my eyes.

I have said it several times – there are Gurus for everything and in this day in age more than ever. I have found especially in the world of running there are opinions about E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Pretty overwhelming actually. Having YouTube, blogs, Instagram, Facebook – it is very easy to get down on yourself in any realm. I found this with running as well.

The sport of Wrestling has helped me over this mental hurdle.


The ultimate sport of “one on one”. The sport where you literally get out what you put in, and everyone that watches you can see it. There is no one else to blame, no one to run to, no one that loses but you. Wrestling isn’t a glorious sport, it isn’t a mainstream sport, my wife didn’t even know what it was before I met her. She has since adopted the sport and really enjoys it…for those of you that wondered.

What I loved most about the sport of wrestling was the extra time I put in. It sounds silly and backwards, but I knew if I was working while others were sleeping, eating – anything other than working on wrestling, I was getting ahead of them. Every take down was one they weren’t getting, every drop of sweat was a drop they would have to make up to me tomorrow. Every time the Metallica CD would end I knew I have 2 hours more of work than they did. It was my peaceful place. I was outworking the competition.

Now mind you…this is coming from a person who never won a state title, but I wouldn’t have accomplished near what I did without this mentality. And thanks to my old man and his teachings, I can now apply this to another chapter of my life.

It’s a Privelege

I see running in the capacity at which I want to achieve much the same. Anyone can tell you a workout, anyone can give you great advice, and anyone can stick to a great training schedule and nutrition regimen. But it always comes down to work you put in. And not just the amount of work, the quality of work. I attribute my wrestling success to this way of thinking.

Personal Militia for Cells
It’s just running…really

What I am about to share is something that will seem like a broken record…but it is true and there is a reason it gets repeated. Training to be the best in anything has to start with your mind. If you don’t think you can compete, then why even try? In order to attain things – goals, ambitions, money etc. you will have to get uncomfortable. You will have to dedicate and abnormal amount of time to a craft. Sacrifices will have to be made. It is simple really, especially because when you break it down…all you are doing is running.

What makes this even easier for me is that I “get” to do this. I have the opportunity to train to run and fulfill a newly imagined dream. I am not laying my life on the line to save another man in combat, I am not making a crucial decision on where my next meal will come from…I am running and it’s a privilege.

OK…got a little off topic – back to Minnesota.

Roadtrip to Minnesota

We headed north to Rochester, MN to stay with family for the night before heading the rest of the way in the morning to the race. Rochester was about 4ish hours from home so it was a bit of a road trip. I found out real quick that the road trip was all a part of the experience and I enjoyed that. Getting to spend a little time away with Tara was great. We kept the kiddos with the grand parents back home for this inaugural experience.

It was hard getting to bed that evening. It brought up some same nerves that wrestling did and in a weird way – I kind of missed that feeling. Anybody who knows that feeling understands it is a very uncomfortable feeling. It is a battle within yourself. You question everything – scenarios, training, nutrition, attire, attitude. Luckily one thing I was fortunate with for this race, was the weather was supposed to be about perfect running weather.

Race Day morning

Tara and I got up about 4:30 in the morning. We had a little over an hour drive left and I had to pick up my bib packet yet (race events hate that you do this by the way). The race was a pretty early start and we had never been before so we wanted to give it plenty of time.

We arrived in plenty of time, got the bib and goodies. Then it was just hurry up to wait. The weather was about 25 degrees Fahrenheit with a little wind out of the north. It was sunny and gorgeous…cold but gorgeous. I had no excuse now to get a sub hour time.


The nerves were really kicking in with about 30 minutes to go. I looked around the staging area at all the runners. Started comparing shoes, attire, bib placement, posture, sun glasses, facial hair, etc. This is something I did in wrestling also that I subconsciously thought gave me an edge. Knowing the person’s habits inside and out, knowing them just as good as they know themselves somehow made me feel more confident. So I naturally did this with the running crowd, I knew I wouldn’t be double legging any fellow runners…at least I hoped not to, but it made me get in to a rhythm of things.

Before I knew it, we were shuffled out to the staging area before the race. I had never done a race longer from a 5k remember, so I didn’t really know how to line up. I noticed they had predetermined staging areas for pace, that made things easy. The last pace area they had been 10 min mile, made me a bit nervous because I would be right in front of the LAST group with a 9-min pace. I felt like I was out of my league seeing this.

Luckily there wasn’t anytime for my overly analytical process to kick in and dissect this new-found information. I have t minus 1 minute til the gun went off.


My first official race had started. I started passing the 8:30 pace group then the 8:00 pace group and felt really good. I had trained enough to know that I needed to slow down, this wasn’t a couple miles – it was 6, 6.2 to be exact. I slowed down and paced my first 3 miles very well.

The course was beautiful in St. Paul on Harriet Island, bordering the river and a wooded area I couldn’t ask for a better view.

Me and Tara

I ended with a time of 55:17. That is a pace of 8:54. I had gone sub hour and achieved my goal. It was a great feeling and Tara and my aunt and uncle were there to see me finish…o wait…no they weren’t.

The start was different from the finish. My “squad” was waiting patiently at the starting line for me to get there. I found them after I crossed the “finish” line. It’s the thought that counts.

I ended up with a negative split the entire way through the race. Which made me feel very confident, however it also makes me feel like I left some on the table. Nonetheless, I achieved goal number 1.

Thank you Minnesota Support Crew


I have to thank Gina and Andre for hosting us for a night in Rochester. Although I didn’t partake in the adult drinks, the Spaghetti was spot on for the carb load! As always great hosts.

Also I want to thank Kathleen and Kevin for hosting us after the race. The drinks, food and Can-Can Wonderland was a whimsical experience that Tara and I will never forget. Thank guys!

And of course – I want to thank Tara. She is my biggest fan and believes in me when I don’t. She is my rock. Love you.

…You would’ve thought I just won the Boston Marathon (which qualifying for that is on the list by the way). But none of this is ever going to happen alone. It takes a team and a great community to get this running thing kick started.

Hope you enjoyed. I would love to hear a running experience you have had. Please leave a comment below, thanks for reading!


On to the next.

Thanks for reading and have a pleasantly uncomfortable day


Nic Chiri


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