Thursday, December 31, 2009

Final Run of 2009

I decided today that since it was the last run of the year, that I would brave the elements and run the roads for a half marathons distance. It was fairly cold to begin, about 20F and the wind was in my face for the first 5 miles. Not always in my face and not always blowing, but there none-the-less.

I chose a route that I thought would be fairly clear on the roads as I really didn't want to run on snow. Also, I checked my wallet and I didn't have the $4 required for running at Pettit. At the 5 mile point, I turned around to head back (I was going to add distance at the end), pulled up my sleeve to check the garmin and noticed I was at 8:36 pace. Now I was going to go with the wind for 5 miles so I ever so gently increased the pace. I was feeling pretty good out there. It was sunny for the first 8 miles and I saw quite a few kids with their parents sledding down hills. I love sledding and have done it twice this year so far.

By mile 8, my legs were starting to get cold as the temps were dropping and the winds were picking up. The clouds moved in as well. I got to mile 10 and the average pace was down to 8:28 and now I needed to run into the wind for a bit more than a mile. That was pretty cold and my legs felt it. I had enough layers on top to no issues there. Another out and back to finish the 13.1 miles. In the end, I ran 13.35 miles in 1:52:57 which I was pleased with. That puts me at a half marathon of 1:50:45 and with the conditions and it being not a race, I was pretty happy with.

Back to sledding. As I mentioned, I like to sled with the girls. I took 2 of them along with one of their friends sledding Wednesday morning. It was great! My parent gave me the old toboggan that I used to ride when I was a kid. The thing still is the fasted sled on the hill. The girls each have tube sleds to they ride on those a lot as well. I need to get some pictures to share. Typically winter sucks, but this is one aspect that is fun.

Time to go to my friend Chaz's house to celebrate New Year's Eve. The girls are invited as well so fun will be had by all. I am not exactly sure what we will all be doing, but it will be a nice end to a fairly nice year. I hope you all had a nice year as well. I will have to put a year in review post soon. 1481 miles created quite a few good memories, and some not so great memories.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Domes

A while ago, I think last spring but I am not sure, I made a post about the Milwaukee Art Museum. Of all the posts I have made, that one got the most people to read it and it had nothing (I think) to do with running. I figured out that some "Artsy" kind of guy linked my post to his Twitter page and then I got people to read from that. I read some of his Twitter page and figured out he was an art lover and probably took offence to the fact that I did not like some of the art at the Museum. I believe I called some of it "Crap Art" but did say it was my opinion. I will have to go back and re-read what I wrote but I digress.

Today, I went to another of Milwaukee's famous site, the Mitchell Park Dome. Two of my girls are home from school this week so I took the week off instead of paying for daycare. Today we went to the Dome which is a horticultural center. I have been there before and the girls have, but they were pretty young. there are 3 "domes" with different plants and trees in each dome. One dome has tropical plants and is very hot and humid in there. There is even a banana tree in there. Another dome is the desert dome and while it was cooler, it was dry as can be in there. the third dome was the "Show Dome" which was all decorated for Christmas. This was very pretty with Poinsettias all over and a very large Christmas tree. I really enjoyed the domes today as did the girls.

We didn't spend a lot of time there but enough to have fun and enjoy some nice time in a climate controlled environment even though it was 28F and wind outside. And I must say, much better than the Art Museum. I took a few pictures so please enjoy.

The "Show Dome" full of Christmas decorations.

Megan fittingly on an "M" block.

Megan and Melissa resting after viewing all the decorations.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Icebreaker Marathon Training

I hope all of you out there in Blogland had a wonderful and joyous Christmas yesterday. Right now we have snow falling (about 3 or 4 inches) and I really don't want to go out and shovel the driveway but I suppose I will have to at some point in time. It looks a bit fluffier than the last snow fall so hopefully it will weigh less.

I am training for the Icebreaker Marathon and Half Marathon to be held on January 23rd and 24th at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee. I am entered in the Gold Medal Challenge which consists of running the Half Marathon on Saturday morning and the running the Full Marathon the very next day on Sunday morning. I will explain more about this truly great and unique event a bit later in this post.

For my training this week, I decided to do double long runs, except not on consecutive days, 1 rest day between. It was kind of crappy out on Thursday (Christmas Eve) so I ventured off to Pettit for 50 laps around the Olympic Oval. There were only a hand full of runners so clear sailing the entire way. I was doing a rather easy pace knowing I was going to run on Saturday so I kept my laps around 2:23 to 2:28 each (8:40 to 9:00 pace). I only took on break for a minute to drink some water and continued on. With 5 laps to go, I decided to step it up and I picked up the pace to just about 7:00 per mile for the final ~1.4 miles. I felt good. The legs felt good. The ankle didn't appreciate the hard surface but nothing new here. I ended up averaging about 8:41 per mile for the 13.83 miles.

The day turned into a double workout when I got home though while I took the next hour to strength train in the form of shoveling the driveway. If you have ever shoveled about 5 inches of wet snow, you would understand that this truly is a strength training exercise.

I took Christmas Day off and spent it with family.

This morning I went to Pettit again. This time I slowed it down to laps of 2:35 to 2:38ish (9:24 to 9:35). I decided to pound out 84 laps, a mere 11.3 laps shy of a full marathon. This time I brought some water bottles and decided to break every 10 laps for water and 30 seconds of walking. This went well for the first 35 laps and then the legs felt a bit tired. No stopping though. I kept up the consistent pace. I was the first runner at Pettit today and even got in 5 laps before anyone else showed up. Lots of runner came and lots of runner left and I just kept pounding them out. My friends Chris and Dana ran 16 miles while I was out there as well. they were running considerable faster than me so I saw them every 6 laps or so as they passed me over and over. they left as I had 18 laps to go and I was tired but this worked into my plans and I wanted tired legs for the end. I kept to my plans and only took breaks every 10 laps and finished in 3 hours 29 minutes and 49 seconds. A conversion of 84 laps would be 23.23 miles. My knees were sore and my ankles were even worse but not nearly enough to stop me.

Like I said, the Icebreaker Marathon and Half Marathon take place on January 23 & 24. This is a completely indoor marathon, 1 of only 2 I know of in the US. It consists of 95.3 laps of the Pettit Nation Ice Center in Milwaukee. I have heard from countless people that this must be so boring. Not so. There is music playing the entire time (No headphones allowed due to safety and space constraints). During the race, there usually are speed skaters on the ice training. Even some really little kids which is really fun to see. There are 95 aid station stops and 190 portolets along the course. If you have family or friends that want to watch you race, they can sit in one spot, preferably wit a jacket and maybe a blanket, and see you 95 times. It is the flattest marathon in the world and there is no wind. It is kept at just under 50F so the temps are great. The con is that it can get crowded at times and it the surface is hard. Other than that, there are no cons I know of.

On Saturday, there are 3 races. 2 half marathons and a marathon relay. the marathon relay is the only race still open but is sounds really cool. all the Gold Medal Challenge runners (all 40 of us) and 80 other half marathon runners run in the first half marathon at 7:00AM. The second half marathon starts at 9:30AM. I am not sure what they are going to do if any of the gold medal runners are still running the half at 9:30 (2:30 race time). Everyone submitted an anticipated time for the half so they spilt the field accordingly. Each race has a limit of 120 runners which will make it crowded on the track but as long as everyone follows the "run in the outside lane and pass on the inside lane", there really wont be a problem.

The marathon relay starts at 1:00PM and each team consist of 2 to 4 runners. the cool thing, and adds a lot to strategy, is that each team an exchange as many times as they want to. Each team will have their own designated area to exchange and I personally am curious how often teams will change. I would choose to exchange every 4 laps (~1.15 miles) but that is me.

Sunday is the full marathon and there is only 1 race. I did this last year and while I did not do well, I still loved it. Just like at the Goofy Challenge at Disney World, the half marathoners get a medal, the fulls get one too, but the runners who do the Gold Medal Challenge get a third medal. Maybe this is like a scarlet letter. You wear this to show how insane you are for doing both races.

That is the Icebreaker in a nutshell. I recommend all of you come up, down, or over to Milwaukee next year and try this unique race. It fills up fast so keep an eye open for it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas

While I have already been to a few family Christmas get togethers, tonight is when Christmas really begins for us as it was my girls Christmas Service at Church. they sang their little hearts out and had fun doing it as well. It was a beautiful service telling the story of Bethlehem as if the audience was the Magi and the kids were either towns folk parents or children.

I have added some pictures at the bottom of this post to show some of the decorations I have put up and the girls with Santa Claus. I absolutely love the fact that they all still believe in Santa Claus and my oldest keeps reminding me how a few years back, she actually heard Santa down stairs but when she went to go look, he was already gone. Oh to believe. But if you asked them what Christmas is all about, each of them would say all about Jesus.

I have only 1 more day of work for the year, tomorrow, but I have enough work to finish it could take 3 days. That doesn't mean I have only 1 more day of running this year. While I am not running today or tomorrow, I am planning a 2 hour run (about 13 miles or so) at the Pettit Center on Christmas Eve morning. I will take Christmas off but then the day after, Saturday, i am planning a long one, maybe up to 23 miles. It the weather goes according to the forecasts I am hearing, I will also be doing this one at the Pettit Center. Doing a 13 miler and then a 23 miler 2 days later will help me prepare for the Icebreaker Gold Medal Challenge.

I will have to post more about the Icebreaker Marathon later, it is a really cool event, very unique.

I took this picture at a Breakfast with Santa event. I liked the reflection off the window and the lake in the background and didn't even realize her hands were together like in prayer until after I downloaded it.

The girls with Santa Claus. This was a really good Santa, even if his look isn't too good in this picture.

Here are the lights on my house. I could use some more, a lot more. What can I say, I like Christmas Lights.

The girls put almost all the ornaments on the tree this year. We do have 10 small Mickey Mouse head ornaments I put on that we play a "Find The Mickey Ornament" game. They find this fun.

Of course I have to have the marathon ornament on the tree. I also have a magnet of this for the back of my car or van. I get people from work or others I meet asking what is means. Sometimes I fool with them and say it is my phone number area code (it actually is 262) but then I tell them what it really means.

I wish you all a very Merry and blessed Christmas this year. I hope you can enjoy family and friends.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

It was a long yet fun weekend. It basically started on Thursday when I had to stay late at work to tag all the inventory (with others) as we were starting a physical inventory of the entire plant on Friday. I was ready to work all day Friday, Saturday, and part of Sunday if necessary. We were at work until about 7:30 Thursday so not too late.

Friday I was at work at 6:00 AM and we all started counting and counting and counting and recounting, etc. You get the point. We actually finished in good time so I was able to get out for a 6 1/2 mile run after work. I had to come again on Saturday morning for recounting but I knew it would not be a full day and I knew Sunday at work was not going to be needed. I got to work Saturday early again, 6:00 AM and we were done recounting by 9:00. I brought my running clothes so I decided to get in a 10 miler before going home. It turned out to be a pretty good run. It was just over 10 miles and every mile was between 8:19 and 8:35. It was about 29F out and some light snow was falling.

Saturday night I went to a Christmas/Welcome Home Party. We were welcoming home my cousin's husband who returned from Iraq. We are all happy he is back home and safe as well. They are expecting a baby in a month or 2. Another party tonight and I am pretty tired now. I need a good nights rest. It is going to be a pretty busy week coming us. Tuesday is the Christmas Service for 2 of my girls and then the family gatherings continue Christmas Eve and Day. So as you can see, it will be busy but I still plan on getting in those runs.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cold but Clear

It was cold today. Very cold. I went for my usual run after work and did my usual (when snow and ice are out that is) route through the hills of a close by neighborhood. What struck me right off the bat was when I opened the door, I was hit by a blast of cold air, colder that I have felt all year when going out for a run. Since there are no thermometers at where I work, I went to to see how col it was before I stepped out to make sure I have enough on. It said it was 8F out. Brrrrrrr

Since it was so cold out, I didn't want to wait for my Garmin to synch up with the satellites so I went with just my watch. I know the exact distance (5.13 miles) so I would know my pace, I just wouldn't know each mile split. No big deal since this was just an easy run. I had on my running tights and 4 tshirts (3 short sleeve and 1 long sleeve) as well as my bright greenish yellow wind breaker vest I got at the Green Bay Marathon. This was enough on top except maybe I could have used a second long sleeve shirt instead of a short sleeve. By the end of my run, I had a good sweat under my shirts, even at 8F out. My legs took the brunt of the cold. the running tights were not quite enough but I can't run with sweatpants or stuff like that. Maybe I could use some running pants or something like that, but it is so rare that I need them that I can do without. When I took off my running tights after the run, my thighs were pink and cold to the touch. After a bit of a walk through the plant (with tights back on), I warmed up and all was good again.

All in all, it was a good run. I was where there wasn't too much wind so the wind chill wasn't too bad. I maintained about an 8:35 pace and the roads were pretty clear of ice and snow. Lots of Christmas Lights on as well, bonus.

It is suppose to warm up some so the outdoor running will continue. They are forecasting a high of 29F tomorrow. I also checked to sunset times and we have now reached the latest time the sun sets so it will begin to be lighter when I go for runs after work. Even if it is a minutes every day or two, it helps.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Grinch Hates Running

I am sitting here in my living room with the girls watching "A Christmas Story" while downloading a report for work on Monday morning. After the download, I went to the blog sites and pressed the "Next Blog" link on the top of the page just to see what new sites were out there. After a few sites, I found this this blog from someone who must work or own a Fleet Feet store in Bend, Oregon. They re-wrote "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" into a running story about the Grinch. It is rather funny and a nice read. So if you are in the mood for a funny read, please go to this blog and read How the Grinch Got Fit...

Happy Reading!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Long Hilly Run

First off, I want to congratulate Melanie of the completion of her 6th marathon today at the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, AL and her 2nd marathon this fall. Awesome job Melanie!!!

Over the last 2 day, in fact over a 17 hour period, I ran the equivalent of a marathon on 2 different runs. First on Friday night, I went for a nice 5 miler through the street of Waterford looking at all the Christmas lights along the way. Some nice display and some not so nice ice. I didn't slip and fall at all, but it did get hairy at times. this is why I don't like running on the sidewalks. People don't take care of their sidewalks well enough so there is plenty of ice.

After some pizza for dinner and a nice sleep, I was up early to go to Mike's for our planned long run. We started at just before 7AM and it was somewhere between 10F and 15F out. The plan for me was again to take it nice and slow and run at about 9:30 pace for the run. Mike stuck with me for about 7 1/2 miles before he took off and then I maintained the nice easy pace. The sights along the way were spectacular. It was sunny out and the trees were full of snow still from the last storm we had a few days ago. It was absolutely beautiful and I wish i had a camera along to take some pictures of it. It was that way most of the course.

At about mile 15, my right calf started to feel a bit tight and almost felt like it was going to cramp up but I had a salt packet along so I downed that which I think helped later on. At mile 18, I took a small break before I went up the hills on Townline Rd. These hills finally kicked my butt and I struggled up them. This was my slowest mile of the entire run by about 45 seconds including some really steep hills during mile 9. I did get it back after 19 1/2 at cruised the last 1 to 2 miles and finished the 21.23 miles in 3:20:48. Mike finished ahead of me but had a nice large glass of Chocolate Milk waiting for me. It was a quite hilly 21 miles today so all in all, a very good workout.

I feel pretty good now after the run. 43.2 miles through the snow this week is not too shabby.

I did take the girls down to something fun tonight. We went down to Miller Brewery in Milwaukee to see their Christmas Light display choreographed to music. It was spectacular as always. They have been doing this for a few years now. A few new twists but same 250,000 lights. They still used a lot of music from Trans-Siberian Orchestra and it lasted about 10 minutes or so. Here is a link to a YouTube video from Miller that shows about 30 seconds of it from a few years ago.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Media Hype

I got my 5 mile run in after work right before the snow began to fly. Actually during the last mile, it started to snow and by the time I went out to my van after changing, it was coming down pretty good.

It was another good run tonight. Easy pace over the hills loop and not much ice along the way, slush yes, ice no.

We are suppose to get quite a bit of snow tonight and tomorrow. But if you listened to the weather forecasters and news crews here in Milwaukee, you would think that the world was coming to an end. I mean these people are ridiculous. It is not like we have never gotten snow here before or even up to 12 inches as is expected. The city s cancelling schools and everything. It is like people have lost their minds. IT IS ONLY 12 INCHES OF SNOW PEOPLE!!!! We live in Wisconsin!!! I think the funniest thing about up coming snow storms that the media hypes up is that the grocery stores are packed with people "stocking up" on supplies and food. With the speed that they clean the roads now a days, it is never too long before they are easily drivable but yet people feel like you won't be able to go anywhere for days.

Another things they have already begun to do is close school for tomorrow. When I went to school, not too long ago I might add, they NEVER closed school on us. I remember having school closed maybe 5 times my entire elementary and high school years. Now if they closed school 5 times in 1 year, it would not surprise me. They seem to close it just in case it snows a lot. It makes it hard for parents like me to find places for the kids to go and be watched on no notice. yes, my work will let me take off and take a PTO day, they have no problems with this and are very family friendly, but I have a lot of responsibilities and need to be there to make sure production is completed. The snow and weather doesn't stop the customers from wanting their products. I have plans already in place for tomorrow in the event school is cancelled.

I am watching the news as I write this post and they just said there is a "State of Emergency across the State". Talk about an exaggeration! Maybe if this happened in Georgia, Florida, or somewhere else that doesn't get much snow it would be that, but not here.

Well, time for me to be proactive and go out and do a quick shovelling of the driveway. With the snow blower not working, I want to make sure there isn't too much to lift and screw up my back. For those of you in the cold, keep warm!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Running

Tonight was the first of what I call Winter Runs. What is different about a winter run? Well, besides the temperatures, quite a bit.

As you probably already know, I like to run after work. It is a routine for me and I can get it done before I see the princesses. The problem at this time of the year is that when I start, about 4:45PM, it is already mostly dark, all dark if it is cloudy out. This is where the winter running becomes a problem at times. Up here in Wisconsin, we get this stuff called snow. If you don't know what that is, it is a very cold white substance made from water frozen on its way back to earth from clouds. While snow is mostly OK when running, it is when it melts and re-freezes into ice where the problems can occur. Ice can be very slippery. 2 years ago on a run, I found some ice and slid to the side cutting up my leg as it found some jagged ice and last year, I found some ice hidden under some snow and went head over heals (literally) and screwed up my back and almost broke my wrist.

Why run outside in the winter then? For one, I don't have a treadmill and two, I have no desire to run on a treadmill. I actually like like running outside in the winter time, you just have to be careful out there. When running around possible ice, you have to run more tentatively and be more sure of your steps. You watch the road more looking for ice or maybe that reflection of lights that could indicate ice ahead.

Another small problem is running over snow drifts or other snow in the road. While typically it is not slippery enough to make you slip and fall, it does stick to the bottom of your shoes and that makes stepping uncomfortable or unusual. What usually happens then is a quick scuffing of the shoe across the road to remove the snow, that is until the next pile of snow you run into and the process starts all over again.

There are the usual and obvious things about winter running that even people who do not get much (or any) snow encounter. The cold, or as it seems to me in some parts of the country, the not as warm. The key here is to wear layers. It was 20F out on my run today and I wore 1 long sleeve T-shirt and 2 short sleeve T-shirt (as well and a reflective vest, no warmth there). I also wore some running tights, something that can give me quite a few odd glaces and comments from co-workers as I leave for a run. I know some of you put on the running tights when it hits 45F out, I prefer to wait until it is about 25F before they go on, depending on the windchill. As far as I am concerned, there is no need for expensive running gear. No need for that expensive running jacket and gloves that do nothing more than tshirts and a nice pair of short ankle socks.

I did get in 5 miles tonight at 8:38 pace over my hills loop I run during the winter. It is though a wooded neighborhood which is nice to run this time of year. I enjoyed seeing all the Christmas Lights on the houses and seeing what displays were new or different this year. I was by myself tonight as Mike had to get home early. No problems and an very nice run. I like these nights. After a half mile, I wasn't cold at all and even built up a small sweat by 2 miles.

We are in store for a snow storm tomorrow so I will have to deal with that snow sticking to the show thing tomorrow night. I will enjoy running in the falling snow but won't enjoy the shoveling of it later that night and next morning. My snow blower is broken so back to the old fashion way. It is going to stay cold here for awhile. The forecast calls for a cold Saturday with a low Friday night of 11F or so and a high of only 29F so that means a long run at about 15F or so.

Bring on the winter running, just don't bring on the falls.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Tale of Two Runs (all in one)

I woke up early again today and went to Mike's house for an early run. We decided that since I was "under the weather" a lot this week, that we would only do a single looper (11.6 miles) and hat he would run with me. I would try to pick up the pace from the last 2 slower long runs and compromise in the middle. We started at 6:45, about 30 minutes before sunrise and it was cold, about 20F out. So for the first time this season, I brought out the running tights for the run. I don't have anything against running tights, I just prefer to run in shorts down to about 25F.

It was just Mike & I out there and we started out slower and were going to pick it up about halfway. Miles 1 & 2 were close to 8:40 pace then we slowed a bit as we took a short walk break and hit the first couple hills. Miles 3, 4, 5, & 6 were just under 9:00 pace as we warmed our bodies up and got into a rhythm. By mile 6, we were averaging 8:51 pace and now had a bunch of medium hills ahead of us and I tried to pick up the pace just as I said I would try. This was the first of the two runs on this single run.

Mile 7 started out good. We picked it up and dropped it to an 8:18. Mile 8 was an 8:11. Then without my knowing, we picked it up even more. Miles 9 through 11 were 7:43, 7:30, & 7:29. And these included a larger hill we trucked up pretty good.

Running with Mike is a little different that running with some of my other friends. Since he is a faster runner than I am, he likes to run a few steps ahead of me or sometimes just 1 step. After a bit, I would catch up to him and stride right next to him and then he would speed up and retake that step or 2. Sometimes it bothers me. It is like, "Are you running with me or not?" and then sometimes I like it because it makes me pick up my game and gives me a great workout even though it is just a regular run to him. He did this to me a lot over the last 0.6 miles as we finished at 6:55 pace for that short distance.

All in all it was a pretty good 11.6 miles this morning. I averaged 8:19 pace for the hilly miles which was good. I really liked the last 5 miles even more. It was a confidence booster run today. My lunges were still crappy from the junk still in there so that made it feel good to overcome that. It was also nice to get out there in the cold. I know my friend Chris ran his run this morning inside at the Pettit Center and I want to avoid there as long as I can. I will have to go there a lot I am sure this winter but not this week.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I haven't run since Monday. I have still been under the weather and I think Monday's run actually set me back some. Both Monday night and Tuesday night I was still feeling chills and hot spells. That is all gone now but I still have a chest that feels full of junk. So now it is Thursday and I won't run until tomorrow. I am going to make sure I get some in tomorrow and then a mid length run on Saturday. It really sucks not getting out there on the roads but I must get rid of this. I checked the symptoms of H1N1 and it looks like I had it, but I did not go to a doctor to confirm it.

After my oldest princess and I had in early in the week, and the mid week, my youngest got it. It is spreading like wildfire through the house. The worst is behind us, so nowhere to go but getting better now.

I have started my usual December habit of watching Christmas movies. The last 2 nights I watched Christmas Vacation on AMC. Each night, about halfway through the movie, I took some NyQuil. Now if you know me at all, you know that I don't drink very much when I go out, if at all. I just don't like the taste of a lot of the drinks out there. Well, a side effect of that is that I have a very low tolerance, some would say a "negative' tolerance. After a heafty dose of NyQuil, it is only a matter of time before I can't keep my eyes open any longer. Both nights I could not make it past the part where Clark Griswold's boss is brought to his house wrapped up.

Another part of December I like is Christmas lights. The lights on the house will officially go on this weekend. I did find this picture that I thought was funny so I wanted to share it. I have no idea where it was taken or of who's house it is of, but funny none-the-less.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Running In Blaze Orange?

In retrospect, maybe it wasn't a good idea to go running through the trails wearing my brown furry coat with white top. Obviously I am only kidding as it is the last weekend of deer hunting here in Wisconsin. During my run yesterday, I did hear gun shots a few times but did not see any hunters, and no, I did not run on a trail through the wood.

Mike, Chaz and I met at Mike's home at 6:30AM on Saturday for another longer run. We planned on doing 17 miles along the same hilly course and even add a few more hills to make it 17. My plan was to run it nice and slow like last week but this time, not pick it up at the end. I was about 28F out when we started but it was sunny so it would warm up some. It is colder now up here so this time I had on 3 shirts (1 long, 2 short) but still wore my shorts. I am not ready to pull out the running tights quite yet. I can handle the cold on my legs so no worries.

Mike and Chaz kept with me for the first 2 miles before they took off and ran close to 8:00 pace as I kept it between 9:20 and 9:30. It was beautiful and calm out and I felt pretty good all the way. I did have one mile under 9:00 but that was because there was a long downhill. I tried hard to keep the pace easy as that is what I am trying to do differently. I ended up averaging 9:22 for the 17 miles.

We sat around talking for awhile before I went home and took a nice hot shower as I was feeling quite cold by then. Little did I know that this was the first sign of worse to come later that night. As I am watching a movie with my oldest princess (The Sound of Music), she tells me she is feeling bad and has an upset stomach. I took her to bed and after I went to bed, I woke up freezing. I put on some sweatpants and a sweatshirt to sleep in under the covers and I was so cold. I also had a headache and felt warm. Yes a fever has hit the house. This morning I woke up still cold and achy all over. It felt like I ran a full marathon the day before I ached so much. I had the oh so fun hot and cold streaks. I even stayed home from Church today with my princess who was sick as well.

It is now 3:30ish and I am starting to feel better. I actually ate something which was good and my headache is starting to go away though it is still there. The achy body is starting to go as well so I am hoping that this was only one of those 24 hour things.

We did have some nice weather yesterday afternoon. It got to about 55 and sunny so I was able to put the rest of the Christmas lights up on the house. They are not on yet as I will wait a few more days. I am going to have to figure out how many lights I have on the house and yard this year. it is more than last year though I am no where near "Clark W. Griswold" levels. The princesses are getting excited about Christmas and will be seeing Santa next weekend. The gifts are being purchased and there are many church services to attend over the next 5 weeks. I will try to squeeze in as much running as I can during this time though I may need to do some of it early in the morning before work.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

1300 and Counting

I was looking at my mileage for the year on Monday with Mike. I am now over 1300 miles for the year. The past 3 or so years, I have topped off at between 1200 and 1240, but this year I have made an effort to increase my miles. Looks like I did it. We did wonder if I would make it to 1500 for the year. If I do, I would need to average close to 40 per week. Not exactly a lot but enough to be a number I might not meet. We will see in 5 or so weeks.

Today I did get 5 miles closer though. I went out for a run at 5:30PM and it was misty and drizzling and about 44F. After 2 miles, it was raining pretty good. The good news was that the rain made me pick up the pace so I could get out of it. I really didn't mind the rain though, I actually like running in the rain, once I am all wet that is. I mean, when you are already wet, why not enjoy it. I did wear my reflective vest today and I am glad I did. With the rain and darkness, i am sure drivers would have a hard time seeing me without it. At least most of the drivers moved out of the way in plenty of time, except, that is, for the UPS driver who was slowing down to make a delivery and decided to pull over right in front of where I was running. Hello, let's try to avoid the the bright reflective item in the road!

I am planning on getting up early for a short run before I go to my princesses school to help set up the Thanksgiving feast they have planned for the PreK, Kindergartners, and First Graders. They will put on a little show in the church first before the feast so I am looking forward to it.

Good luck to all of you running Turkey Trots this year.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Long Slow Run

Yesterday was my first venture down the road of the "Slow Long Run". Usually when I do a long run, I do it at about the pace that I want to run a marathon at. It usually isn't all that hard for an 18 to 22 miler, but my recent history with marathon finishes have made me rethink how I plan on running these long runs. And yesterday was the start of this attempt.

After only about 5 to 5 1/2 hours of sleep, I got up at about 5 and was to Mike's house by 6AM. A small tragedy was was in full process as I stepped into the house. Mike's son had gotten a crayfish as a school experiment and it was kept in a small Tupperware bowl. During the night, the crayfish escaped and was somewhere in the house (or the cat ate it?) Eventually it was found, alive no less, about 15 feet away near to sofa.

I was leaving before Mike and Chaz so they could run faster than me and we all end about the same time. In fact, the plan was for them to "catch me" about mile 12 and I was going to pick up the pace and run with them for the final 2 miles. So off on my own I went. The first mile was 9:06 and it was kind of hard to run that slow that early in a run. I slowed it more and actually averaged 9:40 at mile 12, perfect. We ran our usual course we call "The Looper", but this time was went down a new way for a bit to add about 2 1/2 miles to the course. None of us had run this part before and we were in for a surprise.

I take the new turn and all of a sudden, just past the herd of cows, there is a long steep downhill. the type of downhill you can't run very fast on. After crossing the river, a steep uphill until the next turn. I get to that turn and look ahead and I actually said out loud (I was by myself) "Holy Crap!" as I saw a hill that looked like a large wall. It was steep but I managed to keep my 9:35 pace. After that another downhill before the turn to another long 3/4 mile hill that was not steep, just long.

So far I am loving this new course, the hills will help so much. I get to mile 12 and look back and Mike and Chaz are nowhere to be seen. I decide to pick it up as planned without them. Like I said, so far the pace was 9:40 but mile 13 was dropped to 8:19, not all that fast for me, but fast after 12 miles. Then I had a nice easy downhill for a bit and ran mile 14 in 7:13. I was cruising! I finished with an average pace of 9:22 so I am happy with what I set out to do. I plan on running this new course again even if Chaz and Mike were cursing me while they ran behind me (it was my idea to run this new direction).

About 15 minutes later, Mike and Chaz run in and it turns out they ran about 30 seconds per mile slower that they set out to do.

I plan on another longer run next weekend. I am not sure how long but I will again try it at a slow pace. Right now I am thinking of 16 or 18 miles. I will see who is available to join me for the run first.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

God Made You Special

There was no running today so I am home from work baking dinner while I watch VeggieTales with my princesses. Have you ever watched VeggieTales? It is actually quite good. It is a cartoon about Vegetables who tell Christian stories. The video we are watching is called "God Made You Special". This got me thinking about running and how God gave me (as well as all my running blog friends) the gift to be able to run. Now God didn't give me the same amount of a running gift that he gave Ryan Hall or Michael Johnson or Usain Bolt but it is a gift none-the-less and I would like to use it to the best of my ability. I don't always train the right ways or give 100% but I really should since it is a gift and could be taken away at any time.

Yesterday I was able to use that gift well. Mike and I went on a 5 miler that turned into a 6 miler. We started out easy but after halfway, we kept picking it up. We dropped the pace to the low 8's and then Mike drove us home with a 7:17 to finish. This felt great. I did have issues with my ankle that keeps popping up but I am dealing with it. I am hoping this weekends longer run goes well too. Nice and easy.

Just remember all you runners out there. I don't care if you run marathons or as short as 5K's, God gave you a gift to run so use it to the best ability you can. And remember:

God Made You Special

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Maybe a Slow "Looper" on Saturday

I keep thinking about the training ideas that I wrote about yesterday and on Saturday, I may put it to the test. Mike and I are planning on about a 14 mile run on the "Looper" course but adding 3 miles. On the map, the added 3 miles will add a lot of hills to an already hilly course. I will plan on running slow, about 9:30 pace to as slow as 10:00. Chaz may join us for the run which means that Mike and Chaz will probably run quite a bit faster. Maybe I will get there early and start early, that way we can all finish close to the same time. And if I start early and they catch me along the way, I may try to keep with them at the faster pace for the final mile or so.

I did run again after work today. I am trying to get back in the game with running since I haven't had any real training since 2 weeks before my October marathon. It has been all taper, marathons, and recovery since then. I have some time now before the next marathon to get some good miles it. Tonight it was 5 miles by myself. It was cold, dark and windy as I started and it was very, very lightly raining. It was a good easy run. I averaged 8:25 or so and it did feel easy. I plan on running another 5 or so tomorrow so my mileage this week should be a little higher than in recent weeks. It is only 9 miles so far this week, but if I run 5 tomorrow, 5 on Friday, and 14 on Saturday, that would make it 33 for the week. Not exactly a huge week, but a lot compared to recent weeks.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What Have I Learned?

I have been doing a lot of thinking about my running, training, and racing since Indy. And on my 4 mile run today with Mike, we discussed it some. I think there are a few changes I need to make if I really want to consistently break 4 hours and eventually draw closer to the dream goal of a Boston Qualifying time. Here are some thoughts:

If you have read my blog for awhile, you will know that when I go on a long run, I usually run it at marathon pace. This really isn't hard for me to do for a 20 miler. But all the coaches and experts say that you should run them slower. They say that the time on your feet is more important than the distance. I have always felt that if I could do these longer runs faster, I would become that much stronger. I am less convinced of this now so next year and the remainder of this year, I will try to run my long runs at a slower pace. It will probably feel really slow to me, but then again, it should feel a hell of a lot faster than, say, miles 23 through 26 of Indy. I plan on still doing a few longer runs faster, maybe even some 3-1 runs where I run slow the first 3/4 of the run and pick it up for the last 1/4 but I will give it a try.

I am also going to try to run even longer in hopes that my muscles will become stronger and less apt to tire toward the end of a race. I did do a 26 mile training run about 2 months ago before WhistleStop and I think I will do more. I may go up to 28 but I will do these runs slow like I stated up top. I might wait until spring to do these, maybe not. We will see.

I am not sure these are good ideas or bad ideas. I just know that I need to change it up some. I know I am capable of running a faster marathon and I feel I "could" run as fast as 3:30 if I train properly and pull it all together on race day

It is good to have goals. Set your goals high . . . then shatter them!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

366 Days of Posting, 166th Post

I did a little checking and it turns out that I joined the world of blogging 1 year ago today. I wanted to create a blog where I could help others with their running, help myself with my running, talk about my friends and all the races we do, and meet others who share the same interest as I do about running. I think I have accomplished most of these goals and I think I will continue. Does anyone out there feel differently? Does anyone want a little different type of blog or maybe something different? Let me know!

So what have I done running-wise since I first posted? I have run many short races, 6 full marathons, and 1454 miles of running. I am not fully satisfied with my racing performances during the past 365 days but they haven't been all bad.

What has been bad is my training since my marathon 5 weeks ago. I haven't run nearly enough and I need to get back on the horse. This week is no exception. I did run 4 miles this week so far but I am recovering from the marathon this past weekend. I really ought to be out there for a nice slow 10 miler this weekend but I am not. I will get back to it next week though. I now have 2 1/2 months to train before the next marathon, actually marathon and a half.

So what did I do not running today? I went to help out my parents with some yard work and household chores. Then after I got home, it was so nice out (61F), I decided to put up the Christmas Lights. Notice I said "PUT UP" not "PUT ON" the Christmas Lights. In my mind, it is acceptable to have your lights up this early, especially up here where it could be very cold this time of year with possible snow. My rule, though, is that the lights don't go on until the first week of December. I have seen a few house with lights already on but not me. Can't you all wait until at least AFTER Thanksgiving? Let's keep the holidays in order. There is even a radio station here that started 24 hours a day Christmas Music. AARRGGHH Well, at least they waited a bit more than last year when they started on Halloween night.

OK, back to the training table and back to the roads!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dean Karnazes & Michael Jackson

I mentioned in my last post that at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon Expo, I got the DVD "Dean Karnazes is UltraMarathon Man". Dean is an ultra runner meaning he runs longer than a marathon in distance for races and for regular training runs. This DVD follows him and his family/crew as he runs 50 Marathons in 50 Days in 50 States. Sounds crazy, huh?

This is an very interesting DVD though. Since he runs on 50 consecutive days, he doesn't run too many actual race day marathons, but instead, mostly runs the exact course of a marathon with the help of the race director for that marathon. He also has many people join him as he runs these courses. He does run a few actual races like the Chicago Marathon, Marine Corp Marathon, a few smaller ones and finishes his 50th by running the New York City Marathon.

What I really liked about the DVD is that his message for doing this is for Kid's Health. He wants kids to get off the couch and run. This is the same reason for the Kid's Marathon I put on this past year and will continue to put on next year. It gave me one heck of a brainstorming idea today while I was at work. It is a huge and ambitious idea that I most likely will not pursue too far, but it is fun to dream.

As I watched, I realized that I actually ran one of the races that Dean Karnazes ran during his 50 days and I have also run 4 total marathons that he reenacted. the race I ran with him was the Chicago Marathon which was around #35 or so for him. He beat me by 25 minutes. He also ran the courses of the Grand Rapids Marathon (Michigan) , Twin Cities Marathon (Minnesota), and the Green Bay Marathon (Wisconsin). I have run the first 2 and ran 3 different marathon relays at Green Bay. It was fun seeing the courses and recognizing the sites on the DVD.

This was a fun DVD to watch and as I mentioned before, if any of my blog friends wants to borrow it to watch, just let me know. We can set up where I need to send it via email.

On the way home from Indianapolis, it was a nice warm sunny November afternoon. I was making good time so I decided to stop somewhere on the way home for 15 minutes. I was passing Gary, IN and pulled off the express way about 1 mile and saw Michael Jackson's boyhood home. Hey, I was curious. I took a few pictures to show you but was this house ever small! How on earth did there live 2 parents, 6 boys and 3 girls in this house? Truly amazing. Interesting enough was that all the posts in the area and street signs were all written over with wishes for Michael and his family.

The front of the house Michael Jackson grew up in.

The backyard of Michael Jackson's boyhood home. Tiny!

No running yet. Maybe a short run tomorrow. I am going over in my mind what may have gone wrong with the race and what I need to do to improve. I have some ideas and I will share them with you soon. The next marathon is The Icebreaker Indoor Marathon on January 24th. 2 1/2 month to prepare.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Race Report - Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

We can describe my performance at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in 2 word. Those 2 words are "Crash" and "Burn". I finished in 4:18:17, a whole 23 minutes slower than I ran 4 weeks ago. But not is all lost, it was a pretty fun marathon for 85% of the race and it was a well put on event. Here is the report:

I drove down to Indianapolis on Friday afternoon arriving at the Expo at about 4:30. The expo was quite nice. It wasn't a large expo and but it also wasn't a small one either. There were about 30 or so booths and some nice information to be seen. I did pick up one this that I am looking forward to watching. I got the DVD of "UltraMarathon Man" by Dean Karnazes. This is about when he did 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. Let me know if any of you would like to borrow it after I am done with it. I would be more than happy to lend it out.

The night before the race, I slept horribly. The hotel was a bit noisy and the doors from the other rooms kept opening and closing and they were quite squeaky. I think I only got 3 hours of actual sleep even though I was laying there for 7.

I finally got up around 5 and started getting ready and ate my usual 2 packets of oatmeal. I drove to the starting area and got a parking spot only 1/2 a block for the start line for only $5. the expo area was also still open leaving a warm area to relax before the race. During this time, I tried something new, I ate a bagel with peanut butter. I have read that this helps so why not try it.

I go to the start area and it is very organized. It is a good temperature, about 50 and sunny. It is suppose to get windy later, and it does, but there is not much at this time. I get the Garmin set and the race starts close to on time. As usual, it is crowded at the start with both the half and full marathoners starting together. About 30 seconds into the race, my garmin gets bumped by another runner and goes out. It is early, so I reset it and can still use it for average pace. Little did I know that this was this was only the first mishap.

The first 5 miles of the course were not so exciting, Except for running part the "Monument", it was just running through city street that were not too nice. After that the course gets much nicer.

At 2 miles, it warms up enough and I take off my long sleeve shirt and am now running in my singlet.

Mishap #2 happens just before the 4 mile mark. I was running along near the curb and there was a glob of dried cement on the street that I didn't see. My foot found it though and I ended up tumbling to the ground scuffing up my hands a little and my left knee. I jumping right back to my feet and started running. I had no poor effect from the fall except for a lot of dirt on my back. I even had one guy about a half mile later pull of twig off my back. The fall didn't effect my results at all but did create a few fun moments throughout the race from other runners who remembered seeing me tumble and mentioning it to me along the way. Oh, the garmin went out AGAIN on the fall so I a had to start it again. I have no idea how long it has been off now, but it is close to 1/10 of a mile.

Miles 4 though 16 go quite well. I am cruising at a nice pace of about 8:40 and am taking my water breaks as scheduled. I feel great and am very confident that I can maintain this pace and run a 3:50. I go past the half marathon in 1:54:51. About 15 1/2 miles, I hit the only real hills on the course. It is a double hill but they are not very big and no problem.

Mile 16 to 20 are usually my downfall so I relax as much as possible. The wind in now blowing about 15 MPH into my face and the temps have risen to about 65. I slow a little but not too much and am now thinking of running 3:55 as I did 4 weeks ago. Miles 20 and 21 start to wear me out though and my legs begin to tire. I am not exactly sure why this happened. My pace felt comfortable but now I am trying to figure out how to still run a sub 4. I take a longer walk break to try to reset myself and start out a little slower. This has worked in the past but not today.

I get to about 22 1/2 and I break one of my cardinal rules I should NEVER break. I take a break between water stops. Now my body thinks it can take a break whenever it feels like and I go down a spiral that kills my race. The 4 hour pace group passes me and I can't even make a move to keep with them. The final 3 miles are horrible and I think they go from 12 to 13 to 14 minutes. Lots of walking but I had already resigned myself to not breaking 4 hours so I was just there to finish.

I am OK with the results but that is not to say I am happy with it. I would love to know what happened after 21 miles. I will live to run again and my next marathon is scheduled for January. I will rethink how things went and how I trained and see what I need to tweak.

My race aside, this was a nice, well run, organised marathon. After 5 miles, the course was above average. Nice neighborhood to run through, nice scenery and some city running. There were not too many hills, I would call this a pretty flat course. The crowd was thin at times but was supportive. One thing I liked was there were a lot of water stops. I think the longest we ever went between water stops was 1 1/2 miles. The finish area was great with good stuff to eat and drink afterwards. No chocolate milk though! The finish was only 1 block from the start and was only 1 block from the Indiana State Capitol Building. I recommend this race.

Indiana was my 8th state running a marathon in. Only 42 to go to get all 50. I now have Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, and Missouri. I am not saying that I want to join the 50 states club, but it is a start.

I am going to take a few days off now. The legs are feeling sore but not too bad.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Off To Indianapolis

Last night, I went online to sign up for this weekend’s Indianapolis Monumental Marathon but when I got there, it showed that online registration was closed at 8PM and I was trying to sign up at 9PM. Crap! Did I miss it? Well, I made a few calls and got a hold of the race director and he told me there were about 400 spots still open and I could register at the Expo. Sounds good to me, then I thought, what if those spots are taken bu the time I get to the Expo (around 4ish?). I did not want to drive all the way to Indianapolis and find out the race is full. That is about a 5 hour drive from Milwaukee. He assured me that if they were full, that he would make sure I was able to get in. That is what I like about a lot of the race directors for these marathons. The race director for the Grand Rapids Marathon told me the same thing 2 years ago.

Why sign up so late you may ask? Well, there have been some issues with my family that I needed to make sure were is good standing before I left for a day and a half. My Dad had bone spur surgery on his foot about 3 weeks ago and is moving quite slow. Then my Mom had a biopsy done on her lungs on Monday and just got out of the hospital yesterday. Good news though, the spots are not cancer but instead are scars from a rare fever she had a few years ago. It was a scary few days for us with her, but the Lord answered our prayers!

Now all that is bad enough and they need help at home, obviously, and I do have brothers that can help, but the closest brother to where they live broke his leg about 3 weeks ago as well. Crappy few weeks for my family, huh. So he can’t help much. They my other brother close by who has been helping a lot, is having a party Saturday night and will need to prepare there. So with all that going on, I am going over to my parent’s house tonight with the Princesses to help out however I can until I return and can go back there Saturday night when I get back.

It is all good though. I will leave tomorrow morning right after 2 parent-teacher conferences and make the trek across Wisconsin, the tip of Illinois and down Indiana. I borrowed a few Comedy CD’s from a friend to help pass the time. Music for 5 hours just doesn’t cut it when you are by yourself sometimes. A little laughter always helps.

The weather looks pretty good for racing on Saturday. Sunny and a starting temp of 46ish. When I finish about 55ish. The winds are a bit high though. Close to 15 MPH from the SSW which means a tough last few miles as we go south. Maybe the building will block some. We can only hope!

Good Luck to the rest of you who may be running this weekend. I haven’t heard of anyone, but maybe someone will find this post who is running in Indy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Jenny Crain and The Milwaukee Running Community

If you subscribe to Runner's World or buy it off the shelf, you may have read a nice article in the November Issue this year. It was an article about Jenny Crain. If you don't know her, here is a brief recap:

Jenny was an Olympic caliber marathon runner from Milwaukee. She had qualified for 4 US Olympic Marathon Trials and even was the first American woman in the 2005 New York City Marathon. In August of 2007, she was on training run in Milwaukee getting ready for the Olympic Trials in Boston about 8 months later. While on a morning run, she stepped off the curb near the end of her run and was hit by a car almost killing her. The superior shape her body was in helped save her life. Her running career was over in an instance.

I won't go into detail of what the article said. It was about her recovery and her rehabilitation and how her family is coping and how she has new and old friends helping her out. Please read the whole article to read more. Then today in the local paper here in Milwaukee, there was a story of her finally leaving the Rehab facility to live in her own apartment with a live in assistant. If you want to read that article, see HERE.

What is not said too much in the Runner's World Article or the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, is exactly how much Jenny Crain was loved and endeared by the local running community. I do not know her personally though it is possible I have spoken to her before. What is really great about her when she was a world class runner is that she was so open and friendly with the Milwaukee running community. She ran a lot of the local charity races from 5K's to 10 milers. I mean a lot of them. I can't tell you how often I saw her at races, at least I saw the back of her, for a little bit. All the kidding aside, she may have only been doing a Tempo run or a training run, but she was there with the masses of us regular runners. And she was not the type to gloat over her wins in these races or gloat about how great she was. She was humble and generous to all.

How often do you go to a local race and have a world class runner there? And with her, it was often.

I have run with a couple other world class runners in my past, and it seems that most of them are extremely nice, just like Jenny Crain. Dan Held (represented the US in the Ultra-Marathon World Championships one year) lives in the Milwaukee area and is this way. I have run with him a few times at the Pettit Center in my past faster running days on cool downs. Dan is the same, runs in a lot of the local races and is extremely friendly to everyone as well.

I wouldn't wish what happened to Jenny Crain on anyone. It is such a sad story that it happened to such a great person. But she is getting better and we all like that, especially all the runners in Milwaukee who have seen her so often.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Crazy 8K Race, Naples, Florida

Before I went to Naples, Florida last week, I went online and looked to see if there were any road races going on that I might be able to jump into. I ended up making it to the Gulf Coast Runners Club and found out there was going to be an 8K race on Sunday, October 25th. It was called the Crazy 8K and was very similar to a race we have in Milwaukee called the Discovery Run. So I decided to go and run it.

The night before the race, I was at a party and met another guy from Milwaukee and we talked running. I said I was doing a race in the morning and he said he wanted to go as well. While he has done a lot of triathlons before, he has never done just a running race.

Steve and I before the race.

We met at 6 AM and drove in the darkness to where the race would begin. We signed up and did a mile and a half warm up and then headed to the start. This is kind of like a Halloween race so there were many people dressed up. Spiderman ran as well as a full grown adult baby clad in only a diaper and bonnet (quite disturbing). The race was mostly an out and back on a very flat course. The weather was warm, low to mid 70's at the 7:30 start but everyone there was glad it was cool. They have been having hot weather recently.

The gun goes off and I make sure I go out conservatively in the heat. Mile 1 was at 7:02, a little faster than I wanted but OK. The remainder of the race was very consistent for me. Every mile was between 7:00 and 7:08 and I ended in 35:19 good for near 32nd place overall out of about 200 or so runners. After checking the results, I found out that I took 3rd in my age group out of 16. COOL.

Someone took pictures during the race and posted them online including my finish.

During the awards, when they got to mentioning me, the guy announcing said my name and where I lived. When he got to Saying"Wisconsin", he said it in a questioning tone as if to say, "What the heck is someone from Wisconsin down here for?" There were runners from other states as well, Ohio, Colorado, Maryland, Indiana and even someone from Ontario, Canada. But I was the first non-Floridian to finish for whatever that is worth.

This was a nice little race and the Gulf Coast Runners put on a good event. The other runners were friendly (duh, they are runners after all) and I had a good time. If I happen to be in the Naples area again when this race it run, I would definitely go again.

The awards I received.

A close up of the nice Halloween Ornament I received.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Nice Trip to Naples, Florida

I have been gone for a little while and I learned when I get there, I had no Internet access therefore, no posts.. So where did I go? I was in Naples, FL for a 1 week vacation and it was nice. Down there, they were having record high (or close to it) temperatures which was fine with me. It was sunny most days and in the lower 90's with high humidity. It was like the summer I never got in Wisconsin.

It was more of a relaxing vacation instead of the usual run around and get as much in as possible. I did splurge a little and rented a Sebring Convertible which ended up being a great decision based on the weather we had. had a great price for a weeks rental. I was staying on a golf resort and didn't even do one round. What is my problem?

I did get 3 runs in while I was there, all in the morning as during the day would have been quite hot. It was hot enough in the morning with the humidity and all. I did get in a race as well. I found a nice 8K put on by the local running club, Gulf Coast Runners, called the Crazy 8 Halloween 8K. It was a nice race and I will tell you all about it in a race report in the next post or so.

I was able to get a few fun things in while I was there. I drove to Miami one day and spent some time on South Beach and saw some "interesting" sites while there. I won't go into detail as I want to keep it clean here. The water in Miami was very warm and was nice to swim in.

One day I went to Everglades City and took an Airboat Tour. This was pretty cool. We had a pelican land on the boat before we even started the tour. It was right next to me and when it flew from the side of the boat to the landing in front, it smacked its wing on my head. Very friendly bird but it was just waiting for the fish the driver had. The ride through the swamps and mangroves was a blast and we even got some good speed going at times. We stopped a few times and saw some alligators along the way.

Since the princesses were at Grandma's and Grandpa's for the week, I was able to do what ever I wanted to whenever I wanted to, a nice feeling. Some of you without kids don't know what you have! I missed them a lot on the trip but it was nice to get a break. I even saw 2 movies on the trip. "Couple's Retreat" was an OK movie. It had its funny parts but was a typical Vince Vaughn movie. I also went to see "This Is It", the Michael Jackson movie about the planning of his last concerts that never happened. While this was not like seeing his concert, it was pretty cool to see how it was going to be done. I can tell you it would have been one hell of a great concert if it happened. The behind the scenes stuff was neat to see.

I did not want to leave the Naples area, but it was time to go home. Now it is 4:15 and Trick or Treat begins in a little less than 2 hours. This is one of the fun things you get to do as a parent, trick or treat with your kids. I think we have a 50's Poodle Skirt girl, a Sleeping Beauty type princess, and another princess going out tonight. It is windy here today and about 40 out so there will be many layers underneath tonight.

By the way, I know I had mentioned that I was going to run the Indianapolis Marathon next Saturday. Well, I am still planning on running but there is a chance I may miss it. There are some issues with my family that I will need to deal with this week that may take me away from it. Also, my ankle got a real beating walking down the beach a lot. I know, poor me, walking down the beach along the Ocean, but the camber of the beach gave my ankle some pain so that might be an issue. Right now I would say I am going to be running, I hope to, but we will see.

Good Luck to Mark running tomorrow in his marathon.

Here are a few pictures from Florida:

Here is the friendly Pelican that came for a visit.

Nice alligator, nice CLOSE alligator.

The Naples Pier, lots of people fishing and dolphins swimming near by.

Me on the Naples Pier.

The resort was on a very nice looking golf course. I wish I could have played a round!

The view from the condo along the golf course.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Beautiful Fall Weather and Colors

It was a warmer day today. I think it got up to 70 which meant a warmer run today. Mike and I went on a 4 miler at an easy pace and that was good with me. My legs felt a little tired bit not too bad. I am having some more issues with the ankle but I hope to get through it.

I will be getting away for awhile so I am not sure I will be blogging during this time. I don't know if I will have Internet access. If I do, I will certainly try to get a race report in on the 8K I plan on running on Sunday morning. But what I really wanted to do is send out some luck to my friend Mark who will be running the Pro Bass Shops Marathon in Missouri next Sunday, November 1st. Run smart and have a great time, Mark, you have trained great not get to it!

Do you like fall colors? Right now, it is at its peak here in the Milwaukee area. It is a real treat to see these when the sun is shining wither in the morning or on my way back home from work. The first picture is of a tree in my front yard.

On Saturday, I went with my 2 oldest princess to a pumpkin farm and we picked out these 3 pumpkins which we (me) carved this week. Guess who had to carry all of them back from the field? It was all good though and the girls really like their pumpkins.

So if I don't get online before next weekend, have a happy and safe Halloween. And happy and safe running too!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Whistle Stop Pictures

It has been over a week since the Whistle Stop Marathon and after a slow start, I feel like I am back to normal and mostly recovered. My left quad is a little tight still but that didn't stop me from having a really good run today.

I wanted to go do a somewhat easy 5 miler. I started late as I needed to get some new tires for the van. So at about 6:10PM, I started out and I felt great from the start. I kept slowly increasing the pace and by the 5th mile, I decided to slow up some since I wasn't planning on a tempo run. I ended up running a little over 5 miles at 8:13 pace and feeling like it was relatively easy. I didn't want to go too fast as I am still planning on running an 8K race on Sunday. That will be my tempo run for the time between marathons. I am still planning on running the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 7 (?) but not 100% sure yet. It is a nice flat course so I think I could run well there.

I thought I would share a couple pictures from the Whistle Stop Marathon. As you can see in t he first picture, it is cold out since I am wearing ear muffs and socks on my hands? Socks on my hands???? Yes, I do that instead of gloves for a few reasons. Keeping my fingers together keeps them warmer and early in the race, I was carrying AccelGel and that way i didn't have to worry about dropping them. OK, you can call me a cheap guy, but it works for me and why spend $$ on gloves when you don't have to?

This second picture is me coming down to the finish line. My last 2 miles were fairly good compared to 21, 22, & 23. A strong finish feels good.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Back To The Good

What a difference a few days make.

I took off Wednesday and Thursday to let the body recover a bit more. So after work today, I decided on another 4 miler. It was about 45F out and misting as I set out onto a trail near where I work for 2 loops. The first mile went very smooth and so did the second. I went onto the second loop and actually picked it up some as i felt really good. I did not wear the garmin so I do not know exactly how far I went but I am guessing a little over 4 miles and I am guessing at about 8:20 to 8:30 pace. On the second loop, the mist turned into light rain but I like running in the rain so it was all good.

Afterwards, my left quad was a bit tight but that is gone now. I am not as concerned about it as I was a few days ago. And now I am thinking more about running in Indianapolis in 3 weeks. Right now Paul is planning on going (let's hope he doesn't cancel this time, lol) and I am hoping to get Chaz to come as well. I would give it a 50/50 chance on him going.

Indianapolis is another Saturday marathon. I think I like these. Take the day off on Friday to travel, get up early on Saturday, run a marathon, and then drive home and be home by bed time. Then have all day Sunday to rest and relax. It is about a 5 hour drive to Indianapolis so it is actually 1 hour less than he drive to Whistle Stop.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who is Your Harshest Critic?

Who is your harshest critic? I can certainly say that I am my own harshest critic. I have now run 18 marathons and in every one, except for maybe 1, I have come away feeling like I did my best. Now I am not saying that I didn't run well on Saturday, I did run a sub 4, something I haven't done since October 2007, but I look back and see that I need some improvement.

My quads were tired all week prior to the race and that was the thing toward the end of the race that slowed me down. So what do I have to do to make my quads less tired at race time while making sure they are strong enough to go the entire 26.2 miles? Longer taper? Better food for energy? Quad massage? I don't know. And I assume that this is an individual thing so what may work for others does not work for me.

One thing I worked on this year is putting in more miles in training and I think that I still didn't put in enough. I feel I need some longer slower runs as well as longer faster runs. I also missed out on a lot of speed work this summer. I really don't think this is the issue though. I need more stamina, more endurance but maybe the hard speed work will do that also.

So I go on now trying to figure this marathon thing out. And I try to recover from this last marathon which is taking longer than usual. I went on a 4 mile run yesterday and it was one of the worst runs in a looooooong time. The first mile went well but 2 and 3 were slow and wobbly. I even walked some as I felt a little dizzy (wonder what that was all about?) I still am having some issues with my left quad. It is still sore and I think I maybe strained it or pulled it a little in the race.

I am going to take some more time off and maybe run a short one on Friday. I do have another race on the horizon and I don't mean a marathon. I am going down to Florida next week for a bit and I found a little local 8K to run in. I checked results from past years and it looks like no one from outside Florida runs this one so it may be fun being the outsider. In any event, it will be nice to go somewhere warm since we have had some cold weather here the past week and this coming week. It is not like I built up a huge sweat at Whistle Stop but I am sure I will at this one.

So who is your biggest critic? Never stop trying to improve yourself!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Race Report - Whistle Stop Marathon

No suspense today. I did not run great but I ran good and finished in 3:55:47. A Sub 4!

I woke up at 5:00 AM to after a restless night. I get that a lot the night before a marathon. I guess I am just excited about the race all the time. Anyways, I looked outside and saw that the snow was flying. As you can see from the picture, it was blowing pretty good as well.

After a big bowl of oatmeal, I left at about 6 to drive to Ashland. The drive was a little nervous as the snow was blowing pretty good, it was still dark out so in the lights of the car, it made it a little difficult to see. Add to that the roads were not dry, a touch icy, and it made for a slower drive in. I get to Ashland safely and board the bus to go to the start line.

At the starting area, there is about an inch of snow on the ground and it was (I am guessing) 28F out. A bunch of us are in a lodge house waiting for the start and one guy really made the mood light by saying to another runner "So, are you running this race barefoot?" That cracked us all up.
Out at the start line, about 2 minutes before the start as everyone is lined up, a gust of wind blows a bunch of the snow from the trees down on us. That woke everyone else up who could possibly been sleepy still. The race started on time at 9:00AM and off we all went. The first 1.75 miles was on a road going to the trail we would run for most of the race. At times, it was icy and we all had to be cautious not to slip and fall. I didn't see anyone fall so that was good.

I get to the trail and discover that there is snow on it but at least a little packed down since there are a bunch of runners ahead of me. The trail is pretty soft though, it is like running on a soft cinder track. This caused a few problems during the race as the little pebbles were flying and quite a few got into my shoes while running. I saw many people stop to remove their shoes to get the pebbles out, but of all the pebbles I had in my shoes, it never quite got to the point of me stopping to do so.

My ultimate goal in this race was to run a time of 3:45 but after about 10 miles, I knew that 3:45 was not going to happen. I had a tendon in my leg that was a little sore but not bad. My quads were a little tired as well but not enough to slow down yet. I went through 10 at 1:26:55 and now it was time for the 13 miles of downhill. Let me tell you, it never seemed like we were ever going downhill. I think the soft surface took any advantage of a slight downhill away.

By mile 18, I was still going all miles sub 9 pace but now it when I usually have trouble. I was still relaxed but the pace went from sub 9's to 9:00 to 9:35 through mile 23. On my pace band I made, I also wrote down at what points all the aid stations were and this helped because I forced myself to NOT do any walk breaks when there wasn't an aid station. Just at the Garmin beeped Mile 23, there was an aid station, and there also was one at 23.9 so I had a very slow mile there with 2 breaks (10:32).

Now I was getting worried about not being able to break 4 hours if I had a meltdown. I really didn't want ANOTHER meltdown. I started to attempt to do some math in my head as to what pace I needed to run to still break 4. I knew it was a little over 10 minute miles and that my last mile was slow so I tried to focus more and pick up the pace and it started to work.

At 24.5 miles, we leave the cinder trail and start on a paved trail going into Ashland. All day it was quite windy out but even with the wind primarily going the direction the race was going, it didn't factor at all since the entire race up until here was all protected from the trees. But at 24.5, the trail opened up and the wind felt great on our backs. This helped even more and I started passing people. Mile 25 was back down to 9:03 and I decided to just skip the aid station at mile 25 and pour it on. While it hurt at this point, I knew the finish was minutes away. I continued passing people which helped a lot until the finish line.

After the race, it was cold, no, I take that back, it was @#$% cold. The winds were blowing hard and the temperature was in the low 30's so that combined with the sweat I built up made lots of shivering until I could warm up inside. After a warm shower and some hot chocolate, it was time for the long 6+ hour drive home. I was able to get home by 8:45.

Here are some of my thoughts about the race (not my race). This was a nice smaller marathon. I think there was just under 900 finishers. While I can't fault them at all for the weather and snow, it was a small factor in the race. The race is run for 22+ miles on a cinder trail that is quite wide but very soft and not ideal for a fast running time. It does drop 500 or so feet from miles 9 to 23, but I could not feel this at all. The soft cinder trail did cause issues with a lot of runner I saw and not just being slow. Lots of little pebbles made it into shoes and that was a problem. The course did prove to be quite beautiful running through all the trees and forests and over quite a few trestles. There were not many people cheering on the runners as there were not too many places they could get to. The trail is just too far off the roads. The last 1/4 mile of the course was a bit ridiculous though. I think there was 6 turns in the last 1/4 mile so you did not see the finish line until about 50 meters before it. I would prefer a longer straight away to the finish line. The participants in the race were fun to run with. Some were talkative and encouraging as we went along. The aid stations were nice for the size of the race and they really braved it out in the cold. Thanks for being there! It was so cold that at the first 2 water stops, my water cup had a very thin layer of ice. The volunteers were great!

The start area was small and because it was so cold, there wasn't much room to stay warm in the lodge. There was plenty of portolets at the start area, a line that looked long at first moved very fast before the race. If you are looking for a nice expo, this is not the race to come to. An area to buy some running apparel and one other marathon advertising. the pre-race pasta and fish boil dinner was good though. I had a nice sized plate of spaghetti which was quite tasty.

Overall I would say that this is a nice race but not a great race. I am not sure I will be coming back but it is possible. I do like trying new races though.

I am happy with my time. It would be hard to complain since I hadn't broken 4 hours in my last 9 marathons though I still believe I should be able to run about 3:40 to 3:45. Maybe the next one!

The race expo and pasta dinner was held in a hockey arena on the board covered ice rink. Now that is what northern Wisconsin is all about.

As you can see, the car had some snow on it before I left in the morning.