State 16: Minnesota (1/3) – The Birthday Surprise

Hello y’all!  I’ve got another state under my belt – Minnesota!  I didn’t reveal anything leading up to the trip because it was a surprise visit for Popsicle who turned 60 (!) the week after the race.  So now I will start at the beginning for you:



Cali dreams

In June I went to visit my brother and future sister-in-law in California where they lived for a few months during his job training.  Shelby came on a 6 mile run with me and I dropped the idea in her ear that she should train for a half and I’d love to coach and run with her.  We all knew they were eventually going to land in Minnesota and I hadn’t run that state yet.  She floated through that six miler, so we started to make plans for the big race before I left. We had a few picked out in mid-September to try to get everyone together for the big surprise.  I had to call in Momsie to figure out what their chicken-related travel plans were (none, but a big Californian sailing trip was taking up some September time).

Ultimately we landed on the Land of the Lakes Memorial Half Marathon.  Once Momsie committed she and dad, and Shelby committed to purchasing an entry, I got my ticket to MN and signed up too.  It was more of a challenge than it should have been to keep that a secret.  There’s wedding planning going on, we’ve got group texts of various sporting teams and daily chicken updates – I’m proud of all of us for keeping the details of the trip out of those texts dad was included in.  No small feat for this clan.


I trained Shelby over emails and texts for about 8 weeks for her first half marathon.  Normally I wouldn’t advise that quick of a training routine but like I said, she sailed through the six in Cali with no problem so I felt more comfortable pushing it.  And to both of our surprises she turned out to be quite the runner.  I was not at all surprised that she could keep up with the miles but she blew it out of the water.  SO FAST!  She kept up with everything I prescribed to her, sending me screenshots when she finished of her routes and I kept telling her, “You’re doing so great!  Your times are really fast, I won’t be able to keep up with you!”  And she brushed it off in disbelief.  But really, you’ll see, I couldn’t keep up with her.

The week before the race

I was stricken suddenly with some kind of stomach virus the week of the race and wasn’t able to do any running before making the trip.  Shelby was right on schedule, my parents’ trip was right on schedule and I recovered by Thursday of race week.   I was definitely not hopeful of keeping up with Speedy Shelby at this point.


We knew that I would be arriving late.  We knew my parents would be out to dinner with Nathan and Shelby.  We knew I would take the light rail into the city and meet them wherever they were.  But that’s about it as far as having a planned surprise for my dad.  I asked if Nathan could acquire sixty balloons that I could walk in with but that idea was vetoed quickly.  So I started the group texting on my light rail ride in from the airport.  The final plan was for me to grab dad’s drink at the apartment lobby bar and take it to their table.

After a little detour (the light rail was closed for maintenance on the last leg of the trip so we were herded onto buses.  It was the smoothest public transportation transition I’ve ever experienced – good work Mpls!), I made it to Nathan’s apartment complex and was hurried to the front desk where I stashed my bags and waited for the “GO” text.  I had to re-watch Serena battle it out for a shot at the Grand Slam title but finally it was go time.

I approached the bar, and like the well-executing pranksters the Sprenkels are, the bartender knew I was coming.  I had a Manhattan to deliver to my dad, as the rest of the crew had their drinks delivered just before me.  I don’t know why I was nervous but I was.  Didn’t want to spoil the surprise too early, drop the glass on the way, spill it all over me.  You know mess it up.  Turns out I had very little to worry about.

I came up behind my dad, made eye contact with mom and brother, trying not to laugh and said “A manhattan for the old man! Happy birthday!”  He was very gracious and said thank you but didn’t really register that it was me.  So I hung around for a second and continued to converse with him, sliding in a one arm hug and even calling him dad once or twice.  Still didn’t recognize me.  Everyone at the table was stifling giggles at this point, a little incredulous that a dad didn’t recognize his own daughter.  Finally I said, “DAD!  It’s me, Happy Birthday!”.

“Whoa, what are you doing here?!  I was just texting with you a minute ago!”

“Yep, funny how that works, I can text from wherever I am and I was just in the lobby.”

I’d like to cut him some slack – it was dark, he was tired from lots of late nights editing chicken shit and I was wearing makeup. All reasons you might not recognize your first born.  Apparently my hair is extra blonde these days too (it’s not).



The Sprenkel Gang

The Sprenkel Gang

Stay tuned for Saturday’s festivities of touring Minneapolis and wedding dress shopping!  Happy Birthday Popsicle!


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