2020 in the Eyes of Brian “Wandzi” Wandzilak


         •        What have been your greatest successes this year?

Supporting 4 young children and navigating a weird world with them.  Providing a stable, positive, consistent, and somewhat educational environment for the students and athletes I work with at North Star High School. 

         •        What have been your biggest challenges this year?

Supporting 4 young children and navigating a weird world with them.  Maintaining a sense of life balance and meaning when what I love to do as a job was essentially taken away. 

         •        During a year where racing has taken a back seat, talk about what running has looked like for you over the last several months.

I’ve taken on a number of individual challenges that were just that, challenges.  No meaning beyond just seeing if I could do it.  Run around my block for an hour, go do a random marathon distance run, help my friends go for goals, see what I could for 50k (tried this on 12/19), participate in the Goodhue Mile Segment races set up by Ryan Regnier.  There were a few modified races I was able to do as a recently turned Masters Runner that was fun.  I also had some structure with a sort of normal cross country season at the high school level.  That lent some normalcy to my running life, which was nice.

         •        Have you been doing primarily solo running or have you been able to meet up with people?

I prefer running with people when I can. But my life schedule is so wacky it is inevitable that I run when I can and much of that is solo.  Which I don’t mind.  Some quiet time to myself is kind of nice.

         •        What are some things about running that 2020 has made you appreciate more?

Race results really don’t (and probably shouldn’t) matter that much.  You can still challenge yourself without races. Or do the best you can within a racing context and be okay if it goes great.  But you will also be okay if it doesn’t go well.  It sounds cheesy, but everyone is incredible for even lacing up shoes and improving themselves in a whole bunch of different ways. That was always kind of a running philosophy of mine, but 2020 really brought it out.

         •        This year has required many of us to be home, instead of out and about doing normal things.  How have you spent some of that extra time?

It has been awesome (and tiring) being around my kids so much.  But before school started back in the fall we were able to spend so much time together.  They learned to play with each other and we got to see them grow in real-time instead of looking back at the end of the school year and think where did that time go?

         •        In an era where there is a lot of information moving quickly at all times, how do you stay grounded in your beliefs?

I try to remember to approach the world with love and kindness and trying to be a good person.  We are going to vary wildly in how we approach the world (just ask people what the best way to train for a certain distance is).  That is cool and it is okay to disagree. But if you can think of others when taking action, that is a good step towards keeping yourself in a good place. That and talking with other people.

         •        Who have you relied on the most this year for inspiration?

My wife.  The teachers and coaches whom I’ve come to trust for advice.  My friends continue to provide me avenues to vent and talk things out.  Random authors/artists whose creativity continue to provide humor and perspective. 

         •        What is your biggest hope for 2021?

That I can start hugging people again.

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