Jim and Lynda Drews at 1971 La Crosse X-Country Meet

Jim and Lynda Drews at 1971 La Crosse X-Country Meet

Ever since 1974, my husband, Jim, and I have returned to La Crosse Wisconsin – God’s Country – to celebrate his X-Country Alumni Labor Day weekend. From my book Run at Destruction: A True Fatal Love Triangle, you may know that the two of us met in kindergarten in Waukesha, but we fell in love in La Crosse. Back in 1970, Jim was a new freshman and Coach Phil Esten joined the team as the new coach. From that point on a winning tradition began and continues today under Coach Don Fritsch.

Part of that tradition has been to honor the alumni by sponsoring this annual weekend. There’s a Friday dinner at Piggy’s, beer at Howies, the Saturday morning race (if you want to call it that for some of the “elderly alumni”), a picnic with a barrel of

1970 X-Country Team - Jim is 2nd from left, Coach Esten is far right

1970 X-Country Team - Jim is 2nd from left, Coach Esten is far right

 beer at Myrick Park, free beer afterward at Eagles Nest, pizza/beer at Big Al’s, and lastly a stop at Dell’s and John’s for you guessed it – more beer. You can see there’s a common thread. When Jim and I came to La Crosse in the early 70’s, the drinking age for beer bars was 18 – so we got an early indoctrination! 

This year in addition to the traditional festivities Coach Don Fritsch e-mailed the Alumni about my book, mentioning that it had been reviewed in Silent Sports and by Runner Dude. They could either bring the ones they’d purchased in advance on Amazon or at B&N for me to sign or, “I’m sure, Lynda, will gladly sell/sign a copy  for those interested.”

On Friday morning, on our way into La Crosse, Jim first dropped me off

2009 La Crosse Alumni Picnic

2009 La Crosse Alumni Picnic

 at the local B&N. For three hours I signed every copy they had in stock. Then at Saturday’s picnic, I went through another half-case of books.   

Both the “old guys” and the “new guys” supported me. Of course they were egged on by “My Love”, La Crosse’s first Cross-Country All-American,  to purchase my “Labor of Love.”

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MacNeil Family in 1984 sitting on Scout

MacNeil Family in 1984 sitting on Scout

Bruce MacNeil – the founder of our Green Bay/Ashwaubenon Fun Runs passed away in Nov. of 2008.  He and his wife Beezie are major characters in my book Run at Destruction that takes place during the running boom of the 1980s. Bruce had fashioned these runs after a 1970’s Runner’s World article.  

 On July 1, 2009, it was fitting that Bruce’s whole family returned to the park where we continue to hold our weekly Fun Runs, to help dedicate a park bench in Bruce’s honor. 

MacNeil Family sitting on Bruce's Bench in Klipstine Park on July 1, 2009

MacNeil Family sitting on Bruce's Bench in Klipstine Park on July 1, 2009

There was a huge crowd that attended. Something that Bruce certainly would’ve loved, especially since we followed up the dedication with a run or a walk. Then of course there was our cookout. Chef Bruce was only missing in body, but not in memory as the entire group stayed late… remembering and celebrating his life!

Our Running Group is such a close-knit family. What’s wonderful is that it’s  something that’s been instilled in our children, who are now passing it down to the next generation. 

Isn’t that the best tribute after all?

Dedication Plaque

What a weekend!  I hadn’t run a half marathon in years, but when Sean Ryan, the race director for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon offered to promote my book, Run at Destruction, in their training newsletter and also asked me to speak at the sponsors luncheon, I thought… I better run!    cellcom marathon logo

Even though Green Bay has more than 100,000 residents, it’s a small town. At the luncheon one of the former detectives from my book, who is now the Brown County Executive was there. Also, a physician that testified at the trial (one of the most heavily attended in Green Bay’s history)  was present. He told me that his wife’s book club was scheduled to read Run at Destruction when it is released on August 7th.   What each of us shared was having been a runner during Green Bay’s running boom in the 80’s.

On Saturday I picked up my race packet inside the Lambeau Atrium and met with Andrew Delzer, the president of the Badgerland Striders Running Club. It’s the largest in Wisconsin, serving Milwaukee and the surrounding area with over 1800 members.   He agreed to have me speak to his club about my book in the fall, if I teased the subject. I assured him it definitely wouldn’t be the normal chiropractor talk!

Then Sunday arrived… the weather was perfect. Sunshine, minimal wind and the temperature in the 40’s. My husband, Jim, and I rode over to the race with Daryl and Kathy Kapalin (a couple that are in my book). After getting in the bathroom line, I squeezed into the throng of excited runners.  I was inspired by the rendition of the Star Spangled Banner while turning to face our flag flying over Lambeau Field. Then we took off. cellcomcupsThe course was flat, the fans were supportive, and I only got toe cramps in the last mile, but forgot about them as I circled inside Lambeau Field before finishing in the parking lot with a time of 2:06:14. I’d been aiming for 10 minute miles so was elated to  run 9:38’s instead – placing 5th in my age division. Kathy ran 2:00:08 and won hers!   My accolades to Sean Ryan and Cellcom for a wonderful race weekend!