Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year in Review . . . Running Style

Well, here it is, the year in review for my running. There was the good and there was the bad and there was the OK all wrapped up into 365 days known as 2008.

The year started slowly. After 2 months I was only at 92 miles. Very slow I guess. I keep a running log in Excel so it is easy to look back and see what I did. March 1st though I did a 20.5 mile run so the mileage starts to grow. It is at this time I had decided to run the St. Louis Marathon in April. After a 1 week trip to Panama City Beach, Florida to stay on the beach with my parents, I came back home and left 5 days later for St. Louis with Mike, Chaz, and Paul. Unfortunately, the race came and I was under the weather but since I already signed up and was already down there, I decided to run with a fever and upset stomach. At half way and after 3 stops already, it is just a run to finish and not for time. I end up running 4:27:40 and feel nauseous the rest of the day and the entire 6 hour drive home. But it does count as a completed marathon. Chaz ended up taking 3rd place in the Masters division.

The next month is easy running as I was planning on running a 2 person relay in the Madison Marathon in late May with Paul but he ends up hurting himself so the relay is off. I decide to run the Madison Marathon in its entirety. The race was on May 25th and I was feeling good on this day, at least to start. I decided to join a pace group that was going for 3:45 marathon pace. I must not have been in this good of shape and the course was hilly so after about 9 miles, I drop off the group and run on my own. After 15 miles and a long uphill, I am beginning to slow down. After 18 miles I am, again, just there to finish. I finish in 4:14:16. Don't let the picture fool you, the clock showing is the Half Marathon clock that started 15 minutes after the Full Marathon. The course here is beautiful and I love running in Madison, but the course is also tough with lots of hills. Chaz, Mike, Art, and Laura also run this marathon and Sally and Cherylynn run the Half Marathon.

The next race I will end up doing is a 5K on the 4th of July in Fish Creek in Door County. I end up pushing the youngest Princess in the race, Katelynn. The race started up a big hill so I was lagging a lot until the top of the hill. About 1/2 mile into the race, my Garmin said I was at 10:30 pace but it was all faster from there. The pic is of Katelynn and I in a race a little over a year ago but I thought you may want to see what we look like pushing the Jog Stroller. The last mile I was able to drop the pace to about 6:45 as I pass lots of people. Let me tell you, people DO NOT like getting passed by someone pushing a stroller. It inspires some to go faster and some to make interesting comments, most good. Final Time: 22:44

I continue training over the summer as the next race is suppose to be the Twin Cities Marathon. I incorporate a new interval series called Yasso 800's. To me these are easy but I come from a middle distance background in college. Yasso 800's are an 800 on the track with equal time running as rest. The time you run is your target marathon time. IE, if you want to run a 3 Hr 45 Min Marathon, you run your 800's in 3 Min 45 seconds with the same rest between. Over a few weeks, you work you way up to 10 of these. I end up doing them at 3:20 or faster but that did not correspond to a 3:20 marathon for me.

August 30th, I end up running a local 15K race but I decide to run 10 miles before the race for 22 1/2 miles. I end up running the entire run at 8:35 pace with a 20 minute rest before the race.

September 25th comes and I decide to run the Fox Cities Marathon. This was my debut marathon in 1994 and my PR back then in 3:40:30. This year it is a warm up run before Twin Cities. I still wanted to break 4 hours though. At mile 20 and 3 hours into the race, the sun comes out and gets quite warm and my legs decide to stop working as well as they have the first 20 miles. Once again, I slow and finish disappointed in 4:15:57. And again, I feel nauseous after the race. I do not like this. 2 weeks rest now until Twin Cities. Mile, Paul, Chaz, and Laura also run the full here with Cherylynn running the half. Mike breaks 3 hours for the first time here and Cherylynn breaks 2 hours for the half. Both significant milestones for them.

October 5th is the Twin Cities Marathon. My first National Championship Marathon! Ok, not really, nut it is the USA Marathon Championships. Goal once again, Sub 4 (sensing a trend here?) This was a beautiful course and there is a reason they call it The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon. 3 miles into the race and it starts to drizzle. 4 miles into the race and it starts to rain. by mile 5 it is POURING rain and does not stop until I get to mile 17 or 18. I like running in the rain, but not THAT MUCH rain. It is fun though but very cold as it is windy as well. At mile 12, i meet up with some lady and we talk for a bit. We run together for the next 9 miles keeping a great pace until the hill at mile 21. My legs are getting tired so I slow and she goes on. By mile 25 I am shot and I end up walking a lot from mile 25 to mile 26. My slowest mile in a marathon ever. I see the finish so I pick it up as a I get that mental boost from seeing the finish line. I get to 20 meters from the finish line and my left calf muscle completely seizes up in a HUGE cramp. I end up looking like a big puddle in the road a mere 20 meters from the finish line. 2 medical guys come out to me but I refuse their help as I needed to finish this thing on my own. I end up standing and 1 leg hopping it over the finish line to the delight of the crowd. I did get a nice cheer from them. The 2 medical guys crunched out the muscle which hurt like hell, but I could walk without much problem 5 minutes later so they must have done something right. I end up in a time of 4:11:40. Paul, Mike, and Art also run in the rain.

4 weeks later and it is time for the Rails to Trails Marathon in Norwalk, WI. This is run on the Elroy-Sparta Bike trail so it is a soft surface the entire time. My goal is, well, you know! This is the first time they did this race and the organization was very poor. The only part they did well was the water stops. No chips for timing,very congested start (a bike trail for 400 runners) and more problems. I did enjoy the run though as the course was nice. 1 mile into the race and we hear cows "moo'ing" from a field near by. 3 or so miles into the race and we get to the signature part of the course, 1 3/4 mile old railroad tunnel. You can see the tunnel in the picture. It is pitch black in there so you bring along a flashlight to see. It is crowded in there and wet (it drips water year round), plus there are ditches on each side to filter water out so we had to watch for those. After the tunnel is a 7 mile railroad downhill section. The half marathoners turn around at 5 miles so it is very thin after this. I am on a great pace through the turn around at 11 1/2 miles and the half way point but then we go back up the 7 mile hill. It is not steep at all but 7 miles will wear out most people including me. At mile 19, I enter the tunnel again and i can't see anything even with the flashlight. By mile 20, I am already a little slower than pace but now the down hill section, 2 miles. I can't muster up the energy and 4 hours is out of the question once again. One bad thing about this race is that at mile 23, you pass right next to the finish line and have to run a 1.6 mile out and back to the finish. This SUCKS. I muster up the rest of my energy and finish in 4:11:10. But then another crappy thing, when everyone finishes, they DO NOT have medals for us. We have to wait about 2 weeks or so until the mail them to us. Who came up with this idea!?!?!? I don't think I will be doing this one again anytime soon. Cherylynn ends up running the half marathon after Chaz has a small injury and decides not to run.
The rest of the year is runs that I have talked about in this blog. I end up with a total of 1237 miles run this year. This is 33 more miles than in 2007 and only 8 miles more than 2006. I also run 5 marathon which is the most I have ever run in 1 calendar year. I start a blog and meet some new Runner Blog Friends who are really cool.
So hear is to 2008 and a better 2009! The Year in Preview coming soon . . . maybe.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Last run of the year?

I may have had my last run for the year tonight. I ran 7 1/2 miles at 8:04 pace on a combination of the Bridges Loop with the Hills Loop. The first 3 miles were flat and the last 4 1/2 were the hills. I took it a little faster but not quite to the pace of a tempo run but it felt good anyways.

I may not run tomorrow, I have not decided yet so this may be my last run for the year. No worries. I plan on starting up right away on the 1st or 2nd. It is only 18 days or so until the Icebreaker Marathon so I can't rest quite yet. Then only 4 weeks after that until the "Heart of Texas Challenge."

As the princesses are watching "The Little Mermaid II", I was trying to add a new gadget to my blog page. I signed up for Site Meter and not have to figure out a way to add it to this site. If you know how to do this, please drop me a note as I could use the help. If you see it somewhere on the site, I must have figured out a way to add it. I am interested to see where people come from who come to this site and how many people actually come here. So far I know of only 3 for sure based off of comments left, but I am guessing more show up. Only 3 viewers would be kind of pathetic but then again, I don't do everything right. In fact, very little. LOL

I am planning on going out tomorrow night for New Years Eve. The plan is to meet Chaz and his wife, Cherylynn at a local club to go see a cover band. Chaz is a friend of mine who runs marathons and has broken 3 hours quite a few times. Cherylynn runs a few half marathons herself. I am not sure if she is working her way up to a full marathon but I secretly hope she joins the club.

The band we are to see is called "Chery Pie". The do covers of 80's Hair Bands like Van Halen, REO, Bon Jovi, journey, etc. I have never seen them but Chaz and Cherylynn have half a dozen times and like them so I will give them a shot.

I leave all of you today with a toast to a great new year with lots of great running in your future.

Monday, December 29, 2008

All Signed Up

After work today I did a quick 5 miler on the Hills Loop. I ran it at about 8:20 pace. It was a good run that started out in the light of late afternoon and ended in the dark. Not too much ice and snow so that was good.

I did make it official on the "Heart of Texas Challenge". Life is a Marathon... gave me the idea for the name of this challenge Paul has given me. Melanie is from Tennessee and has become a good Runner Blog Friend of mine and she is also a great runner. The challenge is official because I signed up for both races today. Again, the challenge is to run the Surfside Marathon on Saturday, February 14th and the run the Austin Marathon the very next day! I do not know how I will do in this challenge, but once I start a marathon, I will finish it. "Death before DNF" is a slogan I saw on a shirt once.

I have never been signed up for 3 marathons at one time before. It is kinda weird but cool to think what I will be doing. I have run 13 marathons including the Disney Goofy Challenge once so far so I have a little idea of what I am getting myself into.

When I got home and after some Chinese food from "Chopsticks", I took 2 of the princesses (Mellisa and Megan) to the local budget theater to go see "High School Musical 3". Melissa had seen this once before but Megan hadn't yet. In fact, this was Megan's first time to a movie theater (she is 4). She did well for the first half of the movie sitting on my lap, then she sat in her own chair and lost some interest playing with the chair but she stayed quiet. Melissa (6 y/o) was into the movie the entire time though. I have seen all the other HSM movies way more than any man my age should as the princesses like to watch the DVD's but the movies are not all that bad. A little better than watching Disney Princesses all the time.

Coming soon: The Year In Review

Sunday, December 28, 2008

East Troy Run

I did a medium length run yesterday morning with Mile and Paul. Paul picked me up at 6:30 and we were unsure what the weather was going to bring us. On Christmas morning, it was -3 F, on this morning it was already 45 F. When Paul was leaving his house, he called and said it was pouring rain and wanted to know if we were still on for the run. I told him it wasn't raining here and the radar on the Internet showed mixed stuff. We decided to go for the run anyways.

We got to East Troy where Mike lives and met at "The Square". Again it was warm so we were all in shorts and 2 t-shirts. I found out way early in the run I should have just put on 1 long sleeve t-shirt as it was too warm with 2.

We started out at a nice slow pace of about 9:00 and we stayed together for about 2 miles. After that, I was feeling very sluggish and let Paul and Mike go ahead of me. Not long after that, Mike left Paul and we were all on our own. I could see them off in the distance but stayed at my slow sluggish pace.

Once we turned onto Cty D (about 5 miles into the run) I was feeling better. Paul was about 2 minutes ahead of me and Mike was way up there. I decided to pick it up and see if I could catch Paul before the end of the next 6 1/2 miles. Little did I know Paul was picking it up to see if he could catch Mike. Mike was running now in the lower 7 minute pace. I had dropped my pace over the last 6 1/2 miles over the hills to 7:50 which I was very pleased with but I kept getting further and further away from Paul and he was dropping it to the lower 7's trying to catch Mike. No worries, I still enjoyed the run.

Mike and Paul are running in 2 weeks at Disney World doing the Goofy Challenge. The "Goof" is a half marathon on Saturday and a Full Marathon the next day on Sunday. I did this 2 years ago and it was fun, Mike did it for the 1st time last year and Paul has done it every year they have had it. This will be his 4th "Goof"

Now I told you before how much of a Nut Paul is, 1 week after he does the "Goof", he will be running in the Icebreaker Marathon with me. He is also the one who challenged (and somehow got) me to do the "Heart of Texas Challenge". This will be 2 marathons in 2 days in Texas in Mid February. I have no idea what I got myself into by being friends with him. Well, I did say before I was insane so I will chalk it up to that.
And now for a little fun.

I also mentioned before how I like to go driving looking at Christmas lights, well, we drove past the local house I have given the "Clark W. Griswold" Lifetime Achievement Award to. I had my camera along and while it was foggy out, here are 2 pics of the house: These pictures really do not do justice as to the magnitude of lights this guy has. These 2 pictures are of the same house and you can see that in one picture, the house has colored lights all over it and the other one it has white lights all over it. It changes back and forth every 30 seconds or so. That big thing in the front of center of the yard looks like a waterfall with the lights blinking making it look like flowing water. Something must have happened to his big rotating globe he used to have displayed. It was missing this year but was about 6 feet in diameter.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Slow Easy Run

I decided this afternoon to go on a short 5 mile run to try to burn off some of the calories I consumed yesterday and that was a lot of them. I was going to go on a short Christmas morning run but it was -3 F outside so it was cold. With 3 days off, I needed to get out there for a slow easy run and that is what I did.

I ran from home and went to a local park that has a road about 1 1/2 miles long. When I go there, it was plowed but icy but no worries. I went around the loop and returned back home. It was much warmer outside, so i was sweating a bit on the run. By the end, I was only holding my earmuffs and gloves instead of wearing them. It was 34 F outside today so it was shorts weather for running. I am sure I got some looks from the cars driving by but I really don't care what they think. I was able to use some new shorts I just bought at a big discount from a local running store. Only $15. If you ask me, that seems not like a discount to me but is you look at the prices these places charge, it is no wonder they can pay the professional athletes so much.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Icebreaker is only 3 weeks and 1 day away!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas ! ! !

I want to wish everyone out there a Merry Christmas! And if you are one not to celebrate Christmas, then I wish you a Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Season, or whatever you choose to celebrate.

We will be celebrating at my parents today. We will have all my brothers there and their wives along with my 2 nieces, Grace and Mya. They are 4 and 2 now. More celebrations tomorrow and Friday. Having a big family with LOTS of cousins makes Christmas hectic but more fun since we get to see so many people. Seeing all their children is great as well as I don't get to see them often and it is fun to see how they have changed over the year. I will also get to see 2 of my cousins new babies who are 3 weeks old and the other is about 3 month old. It is amazing how small infants are and how fast they grow up. Babies are truly a miracle!

Hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Another Cold One

It was cold yesterday. From reading other blogs, it sounded like it was cold running in lots of the country.

I went out on a 5 miles on the Hills Loop again after work yesterday. It was my last day of work this week as I am taking Tuesday off to get some chores done (Pay the property tax bill, cash some checks at the bank, go to the grocery store, clean the house, etc. Notice: I didn't say go shopping for Christmas, that was done over a week ago!) It was cold on the run, 2 F! I didn't even start the watch as I wanted to run easy and at whatever pace I went. It was an easy run and I had to tread easily quite a few times through peoples sidewalks who didn't shovel yet. Once in the neighborhood part of the run in the hills, it was just a relaxing run looking at all the decorated houses and enjoying the run as much as I could.

When it is this cold, I wear layers to stay warm. The problem is I do not wear sweatpants (I don't wear those to run, but I do wear running tights which help a lot up to a certain level. When it was this cold, my legs never really warmed up. My face is always cold and I am sure I get A LOT of funny looks by the cars driving by (if I could only see them or hear what they say.) It was also a Booger Freezer out there. Sounds Gross, huh. That is what we called in in college when I was at Oshkosh. If you had the sniffles and breathed in quickly through your nose and . . .well, you get the idea.

I get a lot of questions before and after these runs from people. The most common question is "Doesn't the cold air hurt your lungs?" Is there some urban myth out these that running in the cold makes your lungs hurt? My are just fine out there.

Here is a picture of one of my favorite ornaments on my Christmas tree.

Have a wonderful and joyous Christmas this year!. Remember to let Christ's Light Shine!

Monday, December 22, 2008

100 Christmases

Sunday was a nice cold day here in Wisconsin. Temps were maybe getting to 0 F but usually stayed under with lots of wind. The wind chill was between -20 and -30 F all day.

The evening was warm as we went over to my Aunt & Uncle's house for a family celebration. The best part was that my Grandma was there. This year is her 100th Christmas!!! Holy Cow! She will turn 100 in May, yet her 100th Christmas (you are 0 when you have your first Christmas in case the math seems fuzzy to you). Anyway, wanted to post a pic of her along with the princesses. Also for your reference, Katelynn is the one on the left in the dark purple dress, Megan is the other one sitting in Red and a white fluffy collar, and Melissa is the one standing. And, of course, we are still blessed with Oma and hopefully for a much longer time.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

14 laps short of a Marathon

Today was my long run for the week. In fact, it is my longest run before the Icebreaker Marathon which is 4 weeks away. I got up early was drove to the Pettit Center as we had 14 inches of snow on Friday so the roads were in no condition to be running that far on. I pulled into the parking lot at Pettit right at 6 AM and was off an running at 6:15. Paul is suppose to meet me a little later so I start without him.

My plan was to run 24 miles (87 laps) but decide at 22 miles (80 laps) if I should stop. The last time I ran here 2 weeks ago, the last 2 miles of the 20 miler were no good at all. My plan was also to take a 30 second walk break every 5 miles and take a Vanilla Bean Gu. I started slow at about 2:26 per lap which equates to about 8:40 pace. I was pretty much on this pace for the first 5 miles until my first walk break. After 30 seconds and a Gu, I was off and running again.

Paul showed up and joined me right at lap 29 (~8 miles). He is running the Goofy Challenge in 3 weeks AND running the Icebreaker 1 week later. As I posted previously, Paul is a NUT! He usually runs faster than me in races but likes to run with me when we do long runs. It was good to have company as the laps ticked on.

After 36 laps (10 miles) it was break #2 and just as planned, a Gu and 30 seconds later I was back to running. My laps has slowed slightly to about 2:28 to 2:30 but this is about 8:45 to 9:00 pace so all is good since I didn't want a melt down like 2 weeks ago.

It started getting quite crowded on the track and since it is only 2 laps wide, at times it makes it hard to pass. Most people abide by the rule of run in lane 2 and pass in lane 1, but it get bunched up often. There are about 5 or 6 guys running faster than Paul & I and about 40 or so running slower but it is good to see so many people running and keeping in shape. (The Icebreaker has a max of 100 people so that will be quite crowded.) There is even a local Team In Training group getting ready for the Rock & Roll Marathon in Phoenix. I think this is a wonderful group that does great things. I have seen them in Phoenix, Chicago, New York, and Disney. The only thing I wish they would teach there runners is a little runner etiquette about not running 2 to 3 abreast at Pettit and not running 6 or more abreast during races.

15 Miles (54 laps) came and went right at the same pace. ( I usually run at a consistent pace). Only 1 lap after the 15 mile break, the Speed skaters start the National Anthem. So I stop for another break. Most runners stop even though this is for the Speed skaters. Runners are such good and respectful people for the most part. (I have encountered my share of running jerks though).

At about 18 miles or so, Paul decided he want to pick up the pace. I said to go ahead and take off on me as I was just trying to keep pace. My legs were getting pretty tired by this time. He takes off and drops his pace to probably close to 8:00. I think he want to laps me multiple times. Mile 20 couldn't come soon enough. My legs were very tired and I needed my break. I passed 20 miles at 2:58 so I was still under 9:00 pace which is my goal pace for the Icebreaker. I took a longer break this time. It was hard to get going again but I forced myself to get going. I still kept the laps right around 2:28 to 2:31 but I was losing it quickly even with the Gu. I decided at 20 1/2 that I would stop at 22 miles and concentrate on making the last 6 laps good ones.

It is amazing how the brain works. With 2 laps to go, all of a sudden I was able to make my legs go faster knowing I only had 2 to go. My last lap was even my fastest of the day while having to negotiate a log jam with 1/2 a lap to go. Paul was done as well. He only lapped my 2 times since he took off. We walked a lap and drank some water while I stretched some very sore muscles.

Even though I did not get done with the 24 miles I set out to do, I am happy with the run since i didn't slow to a crawl before ending like 2 weeks ago. 22 miles is a long was and so is 80 laps of that track. Only 4 more miles and I would be done with the marathon. Only about 14 more laps. No problem! 4 weeks to go so hopefully a good taper will refresh these tired legs.

No time to relax though. Went to the bank to get my Property Tax check. Got my DSL fixed (good to have a brother in the business). Did some snow shoveling. Cleaned out the Fire Hydrant. Tucked the Princesses in for nap. Ate a little food, though not nearly enough. And now sitting a typing the blog. I think I need to go buy some driveway/sidewalk salt. The entire family will be here for Christmas. Don't want them slipping on any ice or snow although they are all from Wisconsin and should be used to it.

Hope your weekend is doing well. Keep though Texas Challenge Names coming.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Am I Insane?

OK, recently I have been mentioning a challenge Paul has given me and I have not said what it is because I haven't decided if I was going to do it or not. Well, I think that I am going to be doing it now and I would love to hear your comments on this so please leave a comment if you would.

The Texas Challenge!

Art has now moved down to Austin and is going to run the Austin Marathon on February 15th. he invited a bunch of us down to run with him and it looks like Paul, Larry, and I will join him for the marathon. This will give me 4 weeks to recover from the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon at The Pettit Center in January. So far this is not too large of a challenge since I have already ran 13 marathons and once with 2 weeks recovery. Here is where the challenge comes: Paul and I are going to run the Surfside Marathon the day before Austin!!! AM I INSANE!?!?!?!

2 Marathons in 2 days? I am nuts! The Surfside Marathon seems to be a very small race with only 700 people total in both the half and full marathons. It is also the only marathon that runs completely on a beach! WHAT!!!! the beach there is hard packed sand that cars ride on and they say you leave a footprint of only 1/2 inch when running. So times are a bit slower there because of this but the pounding should be a lot less. Also when we are done, we have to world's largest cold water bath to enter.

I have once tried something crazy like this before but not nearly to this extent. I did run the Disney World Goofy Challenge 2 years ago. That was a half marathon on Saturday followed by a full marathon on Sunday. That was fun but still a big challenge. How will I be able to do a full followed by a full? I guess I will just have to figure it out. I have not come up with a strategy yet except to just finish both. i might shoot for a specific time on Saturday and let Sunday be just for fun and who cares what the time is. I don't know. I do know that I am not looking forward to the plane ride home on Sunday but maybe there will be a nice snowbank I can stuff my legs into, that is if they don't fall off first.

Let me hear your comments. I am interested in what you have to say! Also, I need to name this Challenge. What do you think I should call it? The Great Texas Challenge? Something else?

Hot Chocolate

I love Hot Chocolate! But I also hate it. What I mean is I love the taste of Hot Chocolate but I have the calories involved and what it does to me. I bought a big family size tub of Swiss Miss and took it to work. I am already on my 3rd mug today and when I make a mug, I usually put extra scoops in it and it is like 160 calories per regular serving. That is way too many calories for me to ingest unless I do workout like Michael Phelps! I hope this tub goes fast so I can get the sugar free stuff with a lot less calories.

I could drink coffee instead but I have never liked the taste. Way to bitter for me. I could load it with cream and sugar but why mask it that much. I do love the smell of coffee brewing though. I have been known to start coffee in a hotel room just for the smell, but I think I will stick to Hot Chocolate in the winter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sports massage . . . maybe

No running today :( I had a chiropractor appointment this afternoon. Dr. Mark said things were looking good with my back and it feels so much better than when it tightens up. He asked me if I have ever had a sports massage before. I told him no and he wondered why. My reasons are odd I think. I would love to have a massage and I think it would do me some good, but I am afraid. I am afraid that I will get hooked on them and always want one and that is one luxury I cannot afford right now. He told me that for Christmas that he would let me have one for free from the massage therapist lady in his office. (Maybe it is weird, but I think I would prefer it from a lady and not a guy). So I guess I will be having my first massage in the near future. He says I should have it about 2 to 3 weeks before my marathon and that is January 17th so looks like near the start of the New Year. Sounds like a good time since the Holidays will be over and the stress from work will continue to grow.

There is stress at work. I am apart of the group that is in charge of converting us from our old business software to our new ERP software. We are moving to Oracle and I am in charge of our production scheduling and forecasting. It is at this time I try to make sure I get my runs in. Running is such a good stress release and lets me rest at home more.

I also briefly spoke awhile ago of the crazy challenge Paul asked me to do with him in Texas. I have almost decided yes or no and should be sure of that decision in a day or so. Once I have decided, I will let you in on the Extra Goofy Crazy Challenge Paul has in store for us.

Wait 5 minutes . . .

I recently posted about how most of the snow had melted over the weekend and that I wondered if we were going to have a White Christmas (we don't always have them here in Wisconsin). Well, 5 minutes is up and we already have 3 inches of snow from last night. Also, there is a winter storm warning for tomorrow with predicted accumulations of 6 to 10 inches of snow. Hopefully it will be the fluffy stuff like last night but the princesses would like it the heavy "packing" snow so we can build a snowman. 5 minutes is up and look what happens. Christmas is still over 5 minutes away so this could all be gone again. Should make for some interesting runs over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

C-C-C-C-Cold and Snow

I was trying to post my blog yesterday when I lost my connection and completely lost what I had typed. I will summarize quickly.

Sunday was a warm day here in Wisconsin. It was 45 F and we had some rain. Most of the snow melted leaving lots of bare spots and piles of dirty snow. There goes the White Christmas I thought we would have. But there is a saying here in Wisconsin: If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.

The weather definitely changed on Monday. I woke up to it being 2 F with lots of wind. Froze myself on my walk from the parking lot into work. Despite all this, I decided to go on my after work run. I ran the Hills Loop 5 miler and was it cold. I think it was 8 F with a wind chill factor of -8 or so. Some of you from the south might not know what a “Wind Chill Factor” is. Well, when it is cold and the wind is blowing, it feels that much colder. So when I ran at 8 F, it felt like -8 F because of the wind blowing on me. I warmed up after a mile or so but I was also out of the wind. I ended up averaging 8:40 pace so I was OK with that since it was so cold.

Today was not quite as cold but it started snowing at about 3PM. It was a balmy 11 F today on the run. Mike joined me and we did the Hills Loop 5 miler again. We do this one in the winter a lot because the bike trail is covered in snow and the main roads are busy. We go into a close neighborhood with little traffic to keep from getting hit. Again it started out very cold as the snow was blowing in our face. And again after a mile or so, we warmed up. Mike kept the pace going but we were slowed a lot because of the snow accumulating on the ground. Some of the hills were quite slow trying to get traction and not slipping. While it felt like we were going faster that I was yesterday, it actually took us about 1 minute longer. Snow can really slow you down I guess but then again, I have been running in it for many, many years now. I know we get many funny looks from people as we run past, but we look funny a lot as well. When we finished, we saw ourselves in a mirror. I have white eyebrows and hair from the snow and a pink face. I keep telling myself that this kind of running makes me stronger in races, and I think I will just keep telling myself that. It helps me keep my insanity.

I did see a funny headline on the Internet today. It said something like “The current cooling trend just illustrates increase speed of Global Warming” Now if anyone can explain that one to me, I would love to hear it!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Lights and a small Christmas Disaster

Last night we went for a drive with the princesses to look for Christmas Lights. We had 2 destinations and the first was Miller Brewery. MILLER BREWERY? Yes, they have a display of over 400,000 lights choreographed to Trans Siberian Orchestra music. it is about a 6 minute or so show and is really cool. Perhaps you have seen this in the past on one of their commercials but it is much better in person.

Next was on to Candy Cane Lane, a local area of 3 or 4 square blocks that go all out. They also collect money for the MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes against Childhood Cancer). Many cars go through there so it is quite crowded but it is fun to see who is there helping out. Last night was Santa along with the Milwaukee Brewers racing sausages. The Chiriso tried to get in our van but was too big. Bango the buck was there and and ice cream cone and Sub sandwich. Odd things I would say but all fun. Did see one house that is the front runner for the Crap-tacular award though. I wish I had my camera, it was so crappy.

This morning I went over to Mike's house in East Troy for a 13 mile run with him. It was suppose to be 9 F with wind making the windchill be -2 F but the warm front must have come though so it was more like 27 F but the wind still there. As I went into his house before we started, I saw the disaster that was there Christmas Tree. During the night, it had fallen over and many ornaments were on the floor broken. Some will be able to be fixed but others are toast. At least he will be able to fix the one he got last year when we was at Disney doing the Goofy Challenge.

We set off and he decided to run at my pedestrian pace compared to his usual pace. The route we took had many hills and the first 6 miles were mostly right into the wind. that made it quite cold and tough but I kept saying it was a character builder. After 6 miles, our pace was averaging 9:12 and after 9 it was only down to 9:08. I said to him that we have to get this under 9:00 before we finish so while we ran with the wind, we took the pace down to close to 8's and kept grinding it out. The last mile was all into the wind but we finished with an average of 8:50. I am OK with it since it was cold, windy, and hilly but I would have prefered faster for only 13 miles. We'll see next weekend as it will be a nice long one at Pettit. Most likely 22 or 24.

I have some pictures to share but I need to re-download my camera software onto my computer and I first need to find it. I will look tonight so I can share some more.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Big Lunch

Yesterday (Wednesday) was my companies annual Christmas Lunch and Service Award ceremony. Last tear they moved this from doing it in the building to a local restaurant and got 4 school buses to lug us all over there about 1 1/2 miles away. The owner of the company then gets up and gives a little talk and the presents service awards for those who have been with the company 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years etc. Art will roast some of the people up there while being real nice to others. We do this again in the summer and I will be up for 15 years. Time does fly! I will have to prepare for the royal toasting as he did to me 4 years ago. it is all in fun though and all get a good laugh.

After the ceremony, we have a very nice buffet lunch and great selections of pie for dessert. In the end, I ate way to much which made for a somewhat uncomfortable run that evening.

It was a bit cold, 20 F, but still a nice night. I had all intentions of going 8 miles like I did on Monday, but the lunch was still making itself known in my stomach so the run turned into a nice easy 5 on the hills loop. The pace was extremely easy but I think that is what was needed. The plan is to run a shorter long run this weekend. I may go out to my friend Mike's house to run Saturday morning. I was going to cut it down to 13 miles since I had such a horrible finish last Saturday and wanted a week of recovery running. I may just do a "Single Looper" bu his place which is ~11.5 miles over many hills but I will do these at a nice easy pace. I may add 2 miles or so to make it at least a half marathon but maybe not. Depends on how I feel. I was to rest a bit before I go real long the following weekend. The plan there is to go either 22 or 24 at Pettit. The race is just over 5 weeks away so Tapering is coming soon.

I think Friday will be a Christmas Light Drive. Maybe we will find new houses to give out our awards to.

Monday, December 8, 2008

72 Laps

The long weekend is over and now the new week has begun. It was a very busy weekend with running, the Living Nativity, and a friends Christmas Party.

The weekend started on Friday evening which was the first day of the Living Nativity at church. My job was to play the part of a Roman Guard. This was not a part of the actual presentation but I was to walk around both outside and inside and 'harass' people like a Roman Guard would have done back 2000+ years ago. I would ask people what their business was in Bethlehem and remind the to sign the Census. I had a lot of fun with kids who found it fun to be 'harassed' and I charged the a Cookie Tax which meant they had to go and get me a cookie. I did this on Saturday and Sunday evenings as well. It was cold but a nice fire pit helped when I was outside and the seeing the people come and watch the presentation made it worth it.

After Fridays presentations (9 per night) and a good sleep, I was up at 5 AM to head off to Pettit for a long run. It was snowing during the night so it made it a bit harder to get there but I got there without incident. I was the first one there right at 6 AM and started my run. A lap or 2 into the run, Chris showed up. Chris is the guy who is the Race Director for the Icebreaker Marathon which will be held at the Pettit Center on January 17th. He was in the mood for a slower run so that fit right into my pace. We had emailed each other some in the past but this was the first time I met him face to face. We started out at a good pace of about 8:30 or so for the first 10 to 14 miles. After 14 miles, he was done and I continued on. At about 16 miles, I was forced to take a break as the speed skaters started the National Anthem. Most of the runners stop during this and I did as well. I feel it is wrong to just run through it even though it is for the speed skaters and not the runners. The break helped but after 18 miles, all started to fall apart. The pace had already slowed to about 9:00 but for the last 2 miles just sucked. I just wanted it over but I finished all 20 miles I set out to do and averaged close to 9:00. Finally 72 laps are complete. Seems like I have some more work to do to get ready for the Icebreaker. One cool thing Chris told me is that my race number for the Icebreaker will be 4. I have never had a single digit for a number before so it sounded cool. Let's hope it gives me good luck in the race.

After the Living Nativity that evening, I went over to my friends Terry & Lori's house for their Christmas Party. I got there at about 10 PM and stayed to about 1:45 AM. I was very tired after that but their parties are always a good time so worth it. I got to see other friends I haven't seen in awhile.

Monday came and off to work. After work it was time for a run from work. We are expecting a big winter storm tonight so I decided to go a bit longer since I most likely will not be able to run tomorrow. So off I was to do 8 miles. I ended up doing the Hills Loop and added 3 miles though town. It was an easy run at about 8:50 pace. Now time to save energy for the much snow blowing and shoveling to come in the morning.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Santa Clause

Tonights Christmas movie is "The Santa Clause" on TBS. I think this is only the 150th time it has been played this season so far. Slightly more than "Elf" and "The Polar Express".

I ran 5 miles on the Hills Loop again tonight by myself. A nice 8:30 pace today but it was colder. 18 F. I will be doing a longer run on Saturday. I am leaning toward doing the whole 20 instead of just 13. I may be running with the race director or The Icebreaker Marathon, the one I am doing in January at the Pettit Center.

I have some friends running in races this weekend and some that are injured and may be missing races they trained so hard for. That totally sucks! I hope all goes well for them and that they will be back running ASAP.

Tomorrow is the start of The Living Nativity. Should be fun.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hills Loop

Today I ran with Mike after work. We did the hills loop and it was a bit icy and snowy but not too bad. Nothing we haven't dealt with before but it is always a bit nervy to run when you can always see the ice on the road. Mike is my friend that just ran a marathon this fall in under 3 hours for the first time. When he runs with me, it is as if he is just jogging while I am struggling to keep a good pace. We started out at a somewhat easy pace with the first mile in about 8:38 but little did I know that we would be picking it up the rest of the way. Mile 2 was 8:07. Mile 3 had some hills but we picked it up to 7:41 and mile 4 was 7:40. Mike decided to taunt me in the last 1/2 mile dropping it to 7:13 pace but all in all a good run. In the end, our easy 4.5 miles turned into a Tempo run but that was good since I needed a good harder run.

I am debating what I will run this weekend. I will either run a shorter 13 or raise it up to 20 at Pettit. My plan before the Indoor marathon is to still run a 20 miler, a 22 miler, and a 24 miler before I taper. I still need to do some harder tempo runs in there to get a faster pace. I am still not sure of my goal for the race but I know it will be at least a goal of Sub 4.

I am concerned about a long run this weekend as I will also be busy Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights at our Church partaking in our "Living Nativity" I will explain more later on that but I did it last year and it was fun.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Once again I write as I am watching a Christmas movie, this time it is "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" on ABC family. I don't like this one as much as the original Cartoon with Boris Karloff, but it is still OK.

It started to snow yesterday and continued most of the night. Woke up this morning to about 4" of blowing and drifting snow. I got up, started the snow blower (only took about 14 pulls this time) and took are of the driveway before I left for work.

My run today called for 5 miles on the hills loop. It was icy and snowy out but no problem for only 5. Just have to take it a bit easier and watch the footing. Pace went OK and I felt good despite the cold.

I was able to see Paul today. Yesterday he ran the Space Coast Marathon in Florida. He was quite psyched when he found out he took 5th in his age group. He will be running the Icebreaker Marathon with me in January.

I did some more Christmas decorating on Sunday and we sent out Christmas Cards today. I know it is early but since we moved last February, we didn't let everyone know the new address. So in the card was a little note giving the new address. Also, everyone who hasn't seen the princesses recently is always asking for a new picture so I included this one. Melissa is the oldest sitting in the middle, she is 6 now. Megan is on the left and is 4. Katelynn on the right is 3. They are so looking forward to Santa coming. Melissa is even memorizing a 3 page musical for her school Christmas service. She has been working at it for a few weeks and has a few more paragraphs to go. Wish her luck!