Big House Big Heart

Yesterday I ran a 10k road workout/race at the Big House Big Heart run. It was a fun atmosphere especially when I came down the tunnel of the Big House all alone and got to finish the race at the 50 yd line of the football field. With a ton of friends and co-workers from The Running Institute and Michigan Rehabilitation Specialists it is something I will not soon forget.

The next item on my traveling agenda is the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.  As I write this I am sitting in the Atlanta airport on my layover.  I am on my way to get acclimated for my next race, the 5000m representing the United States at the Pan American Games.  My schedule the last 6 months has been hectic to say the least as I have not been in the same place for more than three weeks, but I am looking forward to the challenge of my first international competition representing the United States.

That’s all for now, but I will be sending some updates during my time in Colorado Springs and Guadalajara so that you will all be able to enjoy the experience with me!

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Luzern to Gent

Traveling to Switzerland a couple weeks ago brought some rejuvenation to the stay in Belgium that has become commonplace.  It is amazing to me that living for an extended period of time in another country can become like my normal everyday life back in the States.  I always imagined that racing over in Europe and traveling would bring a lot of new experiences and it has, but I never thought that those experiences would become normalized in such a short time.  This is such a weird realization that I have come to, but it does not make this trip any less memorable.

The last two races have brought mixed emotions for me.   The times are not bad in themselves, but considering mistakes I have made or the way that the race has gone it leaves me wanting more.  But I cannot be to bummed because it cannot be that bad of a day when you run a personal best, an equivalent of a sub-4 minute mile, or your second fastest time over the distance.  This summer has brought a lot of new learning experiences and lessons for the future.  For the results and a couple pictures of the races I have run click here: European Races 2011.  It looks like I will most likely have one more race before I head back stateside, but I am not sure where that is going to be as of now.  So, please be praying for guidance and direction for things to work out the way they are supposed to.

Here are some pictures from my travels these last two weeks.

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Guessing Games, Shower Curtains and Rain…

Running Brandon Bethke Leuven Dorm

The view from my dorm-room in Leuven

Since racing in Dublin over a week ago I have come to appreciate the smaller things in life.  I have been living in Leuven, Belgium this past week or so and it marks the first time in my life that I have been in a country where I do not know the native language, this has made most things much more of an adventure.  Fortunately almost everyone speaks English, but unfortunately not everything is printed in English.  This makes buying groceries, ordering at restaurants, and looking for directions quite an undertaking.  Every now and again things are printed in English on the labels or we can get an English menu, but for the most part its a guessing game about what you “think” it is or what you “think” a certain steak looks like in meats section.  One of my biggest mistakes in this area happened during my first meal here.  I ordered the specialty pizza at the Italian place down road expecting some sort of supreme pizza with local meats and veggies, but I was sorely dissapointed.  It ended up being served with salami, capers, artichokes, cabbage, and an over-medium egg cracked in the middle of it.  I was a little taken back at first and I hoped that I would enjoy it, but much to my dismay it did not live up to its reputation.  So I ended up finishing it, cuz I was hungry, but it was not the best decision I have made.  Since then I have been a little more selective in my orders and it has served me well.

As far as amenities go my dorm-room is not much to speak of, but it is complete with a bathroom, desk, wardrobe closet, shelves, and a bed.  The bathroom is very efficient and useful for me, but unfortunately it lacks a shower curtain.  This means that every time I take a shower water goes all over the place and it takes about 7 hours to dry out again.  I have learned to cope with it and since it’s about the worst thing so far, its been a great trip.

Since arriving in Leuven I have enjoyed about 3-4 days of sunshine and the rest have been riddled with cloudy skies and rain.  For those of you that have kept track of the last race I ran on last Saturday night it was in very windy and rainy conditions.  This did not make for an enjoyable experience for me or any of my competitors.  Although it is not that cold it still is not the most enjoyable weather to be trying to race, walk, or bike around in.  Supposedly there is some better weather coming our way next week, but I’m not holding my breath.

Tomorrow I leave for my next race in Luzern, Switzerland on Thursday night.  I will be racing a 3k, which is gonna be a fun experience in yet another country I have never been to.  The link for the Spitzen Leichtathletik Luzern on July 21, 2011 is: http://www.spitzenleichtathletik.ch/.

There is a new page on this website with pictures and race videos from my campaign under the European Races 2011 page. I hope all is going well for everyone back in the states! Take care, God Bless, and I will be sending out a new one after the race, hopefully with come cool pix.

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Cork to Dublin

Brandon Bethke Running in IrelandAs I sit here on a bus traveling from Cork to Dublin I decided to take some time reflect on the week that has gone by since I left the States.  Arriving last Thursday into Ireland brought a whole new experience for me, as I have never been to Europe.  A warm welcome of a week-long experience of crisp air, fresh food, green countryside, ancient relics and great hospitality have helped me adjust to the time change.

Since the race last Saturday in Cork I have enjoyed home cooked meals and the experience of living in the Irish countryside.  Ciaran O’Lionaird and his family opened up their home for Jordan McNamara and I to stay in until we all headed up to Dublin for the Morton Mile tomorrow.  It has been nice to live with some locals and experience what it is like to live in Ireland.  We ran through golf courses, castles, bridges and buildings all rich in history while enjoying, or surviving, the ever-changing weather.  It would be sunny and 70 degrees one minute then it would turn into 20 mph winds and rain the next.  The last night of our stay in Cork was memorable in that I was able to enjoy my first pint of real Guiness in a proper Irish pub, and yes it is unbelievably better than any Guiness I have had in the states.  It was the perfect end to a great stay.

Looking out over the Irish countryside makes me think back to the history lessons I ignored back in high school.  I have been reminded of the rich history and turmoil that has surrounded this country in the past.  One of our journeys this past week took us to a church that was built in 6th century.  The picture listed above had a special impact on me as I noticed what it said, “Here stood in the 6th Century the cell of Saint Finbarr the First Bishop of Cork.”  I realized that there were men over 1400 years ago that fought for their beliefs on this exact piece of land.  Coming to this conclusion has given me an appreciation for the zeal of the men that came before me and the faith that we share, it makes me remember what we can be capable of if we focus on the right things.

It took a step of faith 6 weeks ago to purchase my flight to Europe without knowing how I would afford the trip or where I would be racing.  I knew that God had a plan although I did not know how it would happen.  Still, not everything is figured out, but it is starting to come together.  One thing I have learned and experienced the last few weeks is that God will provide, but it’s not always in the way you expect.  The uncertainty of what’s ahead is troublesome at times and the provision thus far reminds me this is where I am supposed to be.  One of my good friends once told me that I view my life and faith as a journey, and I couldn’t agree with him more.  So I’m going to keep writing, you stay tuned, and one thing is for sure…it’s going to be a memorable trip.

 

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Flagstaff

With our stay this last month up in Flagstaff it has been great to see different trails all over the area.  At times it has been frigidly cold and unbelievably windy with a chance of snow.  As of the last week or so it seems the cold weather is gone, yet the wind has not seemed to die down.  It doesn’t really bother me to much, but it is definitely a nuisance.  We will inevitably end up running into the wind for the last 10 minutes of the run, not fun.

On a better note we have had some fun times traveling around a bit to see the Grand Canyon and some other sites around the area.  One spots we kept going back to was Sedona.  It was an awesome sight to drive down the 89 for the first time.  Here are some pictures from our time up here.

Be on the lookout for some new Quiksilver Performance products coming up soon.  I could be wearing something new for the US Champs later this month.  Thats about all I have going on right now.  I know its short, but I hope you enjoy the pictures.

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Spring Again

Early Spring in Ann Arbor

A few days ago I arrived back in Ann Arbor and with it came some good weather.  I had the good fortune to miss most of the Michigan winter this year and for that I am grateful.  Although it’s spring, the trees don’t have any leaves on them yet.  Every now and again we can see the trees budding or the green grass starting to grow back.

My travels in the past few months have taken me to New Zealand and back by way of Sydney, Wellington, Melbourne, Aukland, Brisbane, LA, and Phoenix.  The trip down under was an experience to say the least.  Some time soon I am going to post some pictures from the trip, but right now I just cant be bothered.

My training is going well and I’m pumped to be back training with the guys in Ann Arbor.  Other than that there is not to much else going on.  Hopefully I will do a better job of getting some of these blog posts out on a more regular basis. Oh yea, Go Ducks…that is the Anaheim Ducks of course, playoff time!

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Kiwi Adventures

The opposing player recovering from getting knocked-out.

So I have been putting off writing the blog entries for my Australia/New Zealand trip for long enough and here is the long overdue first one.  The experience thus far has been awesome, it truly has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life.  It will be hard to explain all that I have been able to do since heading down under, but I am going to attempt to give you a glimpse of it.

The best way to explain where I will be going and what I will be doing is for you to watch this video put together by my training partner Nick Willis: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150133219289439.  We have had some fun and interesting times thus far.  Right now we are in the week leading up to our race in Christchurch this Saturday.  Training has been going a lot better in the last few weeks, I think all the nice weather down here woke my body up a bit.

Since arriving here we have been warmly welcomed by Nick’s family and the local runners in Lower Hutt.  They have been more than willing to help show us around the area and explain all that New Zealand has to offer.  Along with all the fresh food, grass fields, and sunshine, backyard cricket games have become a staple in our daily activities and the Americans are learning all the facets of the game slowly but surely.  It has been very weird to get used to cars driving on the opposite side of the road, but I think I have the hang of it now.

Last weekend I was able to go my very first rugby game.  The stadium was not much different than anything I have seen in the states, but the game is much more complicated than I thought.  Nick’s brother, Steve, took Will and I to the Wellington Hurricanes game and every few minutes I had to ask what was going on. It might have been a little annoying for Steve, but he didn’t show it.  I have watched rugby on TV before, but it is much faster in person especially the tackles.  During the game two players on the opposing team were knocked out cold and unlike football they kept playing as if nothing happened, it shocked me.  The Hurricanes ended up losing the game and I was told by some locals that it was a very boring game, but to me it was one of the most exciting sporting events I have been to.

Today marks the first cloudy/rainy day since arriving in New Zealand.  It is a nice break from the constant sun we have been seeing for the past week and a half.  I will try to write more often to keep the updates coming.

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