Monday, March 30, 2009

Not a Good Day

First of all, sorry for not having an update for awhile. I really do not have any excuse but I will try to give you an full update here. I did run a few times recently but I received some sad news today so I will discuss that first.

Saturday night here in Wisconsin, we received some snow. We got about 3 to 4 inches of the heavy wet snow. I woke up early Sunday and even though the roads were sloppy, i still took the princesses to church and Sunday School. I even commented on the way home how beautiful the snow looked as it clung to the branches of some trees. I really wish I had my camera to show you. Well, I received an email this morning from a friend with a link to a local news article. As it turns out, close to the time I was admiring the beauty of the snow, a flatbed truck had slid across the center line of a local highway and crashed into a friend of mines car as he was taking his family and 2 friends to church. My friend, Karl, swerved his SUV into the ditch to avoid the flatbed truck but it still hit their car right in the drivers side. My friend, Karl, lost his life that day along with his 9 year old son and the 11 year old friend of his daughter. His wife is now in critical condition at a local hospital, and his other son and daughter are there as well. And also his daughters friends brother as well.

I have never had a friend die before. Karl wasn't the closest friend I have but I still played Volleyball and Softball with him for at least 6 or 7 years now and I really liked him. He loved his family a lot and loved God and Jesus even more. It just doesn't seem fair that this happens to really good people. I am not questioning God here. I always try to tell myself that it must be in his plan and I just don't understand or know his plan. It doesn't seem to help too much yet, but I know it will tomorrow and the following days.

As it turns out, the driver of the flatbed and the other 2 guys in that truck are suspected to be in our great country illegally. While it has not yet been confirmed, I have to say that it really pisses me off. I really want to go to our lawmakers and ask them what part of "illegal" they do not understand. I will not get on my soapbox now and start to go off on some people now, but I just had to say that. I know the driver did not do this intentionally, but he should not have even been in this country. They were not injured in the accident so I that is good.

My friend Melanie just a few days ago wrote about seeing a house burn down and reminded us all to count our blessing. Now allow me to remind you all to do the same. I do know that my princesses got a nice big (most likely too tight) squeeze when I got home from work today. Why not do the same with your loved ones?

I ran a few times since I last blogged. I went on an easy run on Friday and didn't even look at my watch the entire 5 miles and ran based off how I felt. Turns out I felt like 8:27 pace and it was easy. I was happy with this run.

Saturday morning, Paul picked me up again and we went to East Troy to run the Single Looper with Mike. It was cold this morning, about 30F and a little windy. We all ended up going our own pace after 2 miles and that was OK as I wasn't feeling too good. I thought that I would feel better after mile 6 and the turn onto Cty D as I have the past few weeks, but that turn took us right into the wind and it suddenly felt a lot colder. Mike was way out of sight but I could see Paul up there for most of the run when there wasn't a hill or turn between us. I ended running the 11 1/5 miles at 8:51 pace as the wind slowed me down. Paul felt bad as well so I wasn't alone.

Congratulations to my blog friend Mark, as he ran a half marathon on Saturday in some really crappy weather. He broke 2 hours so way to go Mark! He is now tapering for a marathon in just under 3 weeks with a goal of under 4 hours. Good Luck, Mark!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Little Rain, A Little Wind, A Little Cold

The past 2 days here in Wisconsin have not been the best weather. But it is Spring in Wisconsin so this is about par for the course.

Yesterday it was about 38 windy and a bit of rain falling when I went on my afternoon run. I ran 5 1/2 miles @ 8:23 pace. The rain was very light but was raining most of the run. I felt pretty good and after 1/4 mile, I was plenty warm and built up a nice sweat by the end of the run.

Today it rained most of the day. At 3:30 is was pouring outside and I wasn't looking forward to running in it. Usually I like to run in the rain but I wasn't in the mood today. I checked the weather radar online and noticed that it looked like it was going to let up by 4:30 when I was going to run. 4:30 came and Mike decided not to run. I told him that then I was going to run home from work and he said he would like to see that. So that is just what I did. I live just about 11 1/2 miles from work and half of the run is on a bike trail. About 4 miles though is on a busy road which is no fun. I started when there was a nice wind in the face but no rain. The rain looked liek it could come at any moment looking at the clouds. 1 1/2 mile in and I start running on a crushed limestone bike trail. Since it had rained a lot already today, it was quite gushy in places and some standing water but not too bad. It started to rain a little at about mile 6 and then with 2 miles to go, the wind really picked up and so did the rain. The left side of me was really wet and the left was still dry. I made it home in one piece in 1:36:35 for a pace of 8:28.

Once home and dry, I decide to take the princesses to McDonald's to have chicken nuggets and to play in the play area. They had fun and I ate some not so good food. I have cut down a lot of fast foods to try to lose a few pounds so this was a little break from that.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Warriors and Titans and Badgers Oh My!

Today called for a long run so up early I was. Paul picked me up at 6:15 an off to East Troy we went to meet Mike. We were planning on doing the single looper and I was going to add some miles after the loop. Paul was only going to do the 1 loop and Mike was maybe going to go further if his knee didn't bother him. He was also going to run faster leaving Paul and I behind.

It was cool in the morning but not cold, about 35 F. I was a little cold at the start but after 1/2 mile, i was plenty warm. We all ran the first 2 miles together but then Mike pulled away and Paul crept ahead of me. I wasn't feeling to good the first 6 miles but still averaged 8:50 pace. Paul was about 2 minutes ahead of me at the turn and Mike was way up there. After 6 I started to feel better so I picked up the pace. Now my miles were down to the lower 8's but once again, Paul pulled further and further ahead as he picked up the pace to near 7:30. Up and down the hills and I kept feeling good and I even had 2 miles in there that were Sub 8:00. I saw Mike and Paul a little after 12 miles and told them I had 3 1/2 to go and I would see them back at Mike's house. they ended up only doing 14 but that was good since Mike's knee was OK and Paul did more than he expected. The last 2 miles I did were 8:15's and i finished the last 10 miles averaging 8:07. I was very pleased by this and did the whole 16 miles at 8:25 average. Can someone now tell me why I can't break 4 hours!?!?!?

I had to go to bed early last night so I missed most of the Wisconsin (Badgers) game. I heard it was great as they beat Florida State in OT. Now they play on Sunday afternoon. Coincidentally, the play in Boise, ID at the same place that Marquette (Warriors {Golden Eagles}) plays at. The good news is that I can see both games. Both are underdogs but I will still cheer them on.

It ended up being a great day today. About 60 and sunny. I took the opportunity to get on the roof and take down the Christmas Lights. They weren't icicle lights so they weren't too noticeable but it was time to get them down. It is amazing how much easier it is to take them down as to put them up. After this, I took the princesses to the track again to run around. Melissa (7 y/o) ran another mile in 4 segments and even ran 1 lap in 2:05. We celebrated her PR!

One last thing I forgot to mention this week. My Alma Mater, UW-Oshkosh Titans, won the Division 3 Indoor Track and Field Championships this past weekend. They actually tied for the title, but it is a title none-the-less. It was the first team track title for the Men at UW-O. Congratulations to them!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Continuing to Plan

There was no running today. I plan on doing 5 tomorrow and then a long run this weekend with Mike and Paul. Most likely this will be a single looper and then add a smaller loop to make it about 16 miles.

We are still in the planning stages of the Kids Marathon. I just wrote a letter that will be distributed to the other schools that we are inviting to join the program. I am curious how many other schools are willing to participate. We are requiring that a person from each school be the point person for that school and also to do all the promoting and registering for their school while our committee will not only do all this for our school, but also plan the final race, order all the T-Shirts, Medals, and anything else needed for the final race. We will also give advise and suggestions to the other schools on things such as Evening Family Runs, etc. I am hoping at least a few other schools join and we make this a success for years to come.

we are trying to do a good thing here. Our goal is to promote healthy physically active children as well a healthy mind. I wonder how many of the parents will do all the activities along side their kids. Maybe just maybe we will get some parents to get more physically fit as well.

Anyways, have a good weekend. I will be cheering for Marquette on Friday and hopefully Sunday as well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

3 Years Old and Running a Mile

Yesterday after dinner, I took all 3 princesses for a walk. We walked the whole 2/10 of a mile to the High School track. They had said they wanted to run around and I thought what better place to run than in a fenced in area where cars won't run them over. So I held up the edge of the fence and let them crawl under while I climbed over the fence. (Yes I guess I was trespassing, but I pay good taxes in this town so guess I pay for the track as well). No one was there so we had the entire place to ourselves. The girls decide they want to run all the way around the track. they line up and start running. After a little coaching from me telling them not to go too fast at the start, the continue running the entire way around the track. After some short walking, 2 of them wanted to run around again so off they go. 2 laps down and they want to run AGAIN. They both run again! Finally the 3 of them decide to run once more. This time I was curious how fast they were running so I timed them. Melissa (7 y/o) ran that lap in 2:30 or at 10:00/mile pace. Megan (4 y/o) stopped and ran around the infield for awhile but Katelynn (3 y/o) ran most of the lap and finished in 3:03 (12:12 pace). The crazy thing is that they wanted to do it yet again, but it was time to go home.

I was very impressed with them and they had so much fun running. I did not push them at all. 3 years old and able to run a mile. Not a bad start.

So I did some running yesterday and today as well. Yesterday was 5 1/2 miles easy and today was 5 miles easy. The pace was about 8:35 both days. I have been feeling a little awkward running last last few days. I start out and I feel like my form is way off and I am wobbling oddly when running. I just doesn't feel natural. I don't know if this is because the muscles are sore or tired or if I really am running with a different form. Maybe it will go away soon. The plan is for a longer run this weekend. Maybe 15 or 16 miles.

I read that the weather is getting better all over the country by reading all your blogs. It was nice again yesterday and today here in Wisconsin. A record high of 75 yesterday and today wasn't bad at 52 when I ran. It is suppose to cool down a little but still not bad for spring. I hope the weather continues to be nice for your neck of the wood. Keep Running!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An Amazing Race?

Just a quick post. I am a fan of the TV show "The Amazing Race". I don't know if you watch it or not but it is teams of 2 racing around the world doing crazy things all for $1 million. Well, in the last episode, the teams needed to pick 1 member to run a "Siberian Marathon" They were in Russia and 1 person had to strip down to their "Skivvies" and run 1.4 miles in -4 C to the next part of the race. They kept calling it a 1.4 mile marathon. Since when is 1.4 miles considered a marathon? I don't care if it is -4 C (which is what, about, what, 24 F?). I run in that temperature all the time (not in my skivvies though). I really think I could PR in that marathon though.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Beautiful Day

The weather today was great. It was about 60 and sunny. Sounds like great weather for a nice easy run. So after my Chiropractic appointment (just a regular update) I went on a 6 1/2 mile run near my old house. I took it easy and just enjoyed the weather. 8:32 pace was just fine with me and I built up a nice sweat even with running in shorts and a short sleeve T-shirt. I love this weather!

It is also March Madness time. I know some of you don't like this time of year, but I just love the Tournament! My 2 state teams are in, Marquette and Wisconsin. I have been going to Marquette games since I was about 7 years old so they are my team but Wisconsin is a close 2nd. Marquette was was well into a great season until they had an injury to one of their 3 stars. They were ranked #8 and then 4 minutes into a game against UConn, the injury happened. they played tough but lost a close one and then lost more close ones to Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Villanova, all 3 seeds or higher. That is the way the ball bounces though, so now I hope they can win a few. They are still a great team, just need to learn to finish those close ones. Let the Madness Begin!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Single Looper

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement for the Kids Marathon. I hope it goes as well as I see it in my mind.

This morning I met up with Mike at his place for a "Single Looper" run. It is a pretty hilly run but we planned on going easy. Mike has had an injury to his knee since the Goof so he didn't know if he would be able to go the entire way but he was going to try. It was a nice crisp 28 F with the sun just coming up so it was great weather. We both wore shorts which I know must make people driving by just shake their heads, but it was warm enough for us and we knew it would get a little warmer as we went along.

We started out easy for the first 6 miles averaging 8:46. I had planted some water for us by a sign so we stopped for a bit and drank up. After we got going again, we decided to pick it up a little. The pace is still really easy for Mike since he can run a marathon in under 3 hours but he wanted to go easy on his knee. The pace dropped for the next few miles to 8:25 pace up and down some hills. At mile 10, Mike tells me his knee is starting to twinge some but to keep it going. We drop that mile to 8:07. Now Mike tells me his knee is hurting and he is going to stop when we get to the stop sign about 1/3 mile from his house. I decide to pick it up and try to finish fast. I also tell Mike I am going to do a lap around his neighborhood to make the run an even 12 miles. I really wanted to make that last mile a sub 8:00 as well. Good News, it was a 7:22 so all was good.

After the run, we talk with his wife and kids while he shows me their picture book from their trip to Disney. It really made me want to go back again. i am sort of a big Disney fan and love going to Disney World. Their book was really cool. It is made by Disney and looks like a scrap book. You pick some pictures they take with the FotoPass, add some of your own pictures, add some notes and they print it up and send it to you in a few days. They even emboss the cover of the book with your names and date of trip. They added some pages to the usual version so the cost was a little higher but really not bad considering what you get without the time invested in scrapping. I know some of you like to do scrap books, and they did one the last time they went and it was really cool, but this is a really cool book for those of you who don't scrap and don't have the time.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The First (Annual?) Kids Marathon

OK, I hinted a few times about how I am organizing a Kids Marathon for my Children's school. We only had our first committee meeting yesterday to go over some ideas the overall concept. Lots of work to do.

Maybe you have seen some of these race at other marathons. I know that I saw them at the Twin Cities Marathon and the Grand Rapids Marathon plus some friends told me about how they do it also at The Country Music Marathon. So by no means do I try to let others think this is my own original idea.

The kids do run an entire marathon, but no worries, they do it over a long period of time. The program will start in Mid-May before the end of school. Kids will be able to sign up for a small fee. They will receive a T-Shirt for signing up hat will have the logo we come up with and all the information needed. The kids will then have all summer to run (or walk) 25.2 miles in as small as 1/4 mile increments. With the help of their parents, they will full out a log sheet marking how far they have run/walk. Since this is a school activity, there is another component of this race. The kids will also be required to read 26 books or short stories before the final race. Books will be age appropriate and chosen bu the kids (so they don't have to read 26 books the size of Harry Potter). The final 1 mile race will take place 2 to 3 weeks into the new school year. This final race will be very similar to how we all know a real marathon is like. Music and festivities before and after the race. Good foo to eat and drinks to consume afterwards. They will also receive a finishers medal right after they finish the last mile. While this is a race and will be conducted like one, it will be stressed that EVERYONE is a winner just for finishing. This is a basic overview of the race but I have many other ideas that we as a committee have come up with but do not know if we will do. Here are some of them:
-Each Kids also receives a book or writing journal upon finishing
-Each Kid gets a Finishers Certificate they can hang on their walls
-Weekly Family runs at a local park, each week themed. Like "How the Stretch Properly", "Good Eating Habits" or "What Books Have You Read"
-Kids Contest to name the Race
-Someone takes pictures during the race and each Kid received 1 after the race
-A Banner will be created to be hung at the school with the name of the race and all the names of the kids who participated.

We have many more ideas but not sure if we are allowed to do them. One is for sponsors to help keep the cost down. I was just talking about the idea to a friend and he liked the idea so much, he offered sponsor without even being asked.

So that is the Big Kids Marathon idea. What do you think? I think we can pull it off and we will try to do out best. If you have any cool ideas, please leave me a comment, I would love to hear them.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Why the Marathon?

(I don't consider myself a good writer, so please forgive the awkward way I write)

Why The Marathon?

This is an interesting question, isn’t it? It is also a personal question. Why is it the marathon for me versus why is the marathon for you? You may get completely different answers. For someone like Ryan Hall or Haile Gebrselassie from Ethiopia, is it most likely because you are one of the best in the world, and who wouldn’t want to be one of the best in the world at something? There are other answers like my friends Mike & Chaz may come up with, who run the marathon because locally they are very good at it and can break 3 hours. I should ask them this question sometime. Then there is someone like me.

I have been running competitively ever since the 6th grade. I even still have my first ever running awards from the 6th grade Olympics, a 1st and a 2nd. At that time, I knew I was a pretty good runner. By High School, I was still a good Middle Distance runner. I ran the quarter and the half mile in High School and was even Conference and Regional Champion in the half my senior year. I was able to run the 800 in 2 flat. I wasn’t all that great in Cross Country though. I was varsity but no where near the front of the races. I think I ran the 5K race at a best of 18:30 or so.

I liked running track so much, I decided to run at college at UW-Oshkosh. I was an average DIII runner in the 800. I was able to take my time down to 1:56 but again not that fast at longer races. I did run a 5K on the track in 16:56 once but no where near since.

Now, many years later, I find myself running marathons. Why? Based on what I can still run shorted races at, I should stick with them. I looked at some comparison websites where you can enter a time for one race and it will predict your time for a different race. I went to 2 different sites and here is what they think I could run a marathon in. Based on how fast I can run a mile right now (5:30), I should be able to run a marathon in 3:09:45 or 2:55:27 (quite a difference between calculations, don’t you think?). I can run a 5K now in about 20:00 so I should be able to run a marathon in 3:22:03 or 3:11:49 based off that. I also plugged in what I can run a half marathon in (1:41:45) and I get times of 3:35:45 and 3:32:08.

Do you sense a trend there? The longer the race, the worse a time I get based off other races. This is not news to me. Remember in High School I was really good at a half mile but not nearly as good at a 5K. So why don’t I run the shorter races like 5Ks. Well, I still do, though not as much recently as before. I will still even place in my age group now and then. I place much higher in a local 5K than in a marathon. I will usually place in the top 10% of a local 5K but depending on the marathon, I am a mid-packer. Usually near the 50% mark. Please don’t take this as I don’t like to be a mid-packer or that mid-pack marathoners don’t deserve my admiration. Quite the opposite. I have always told everyone that ANYONE who finishes a marathon is awesome in my book no matter what the time. Running mid pack is also an entirely different type of race atmosphere than up front. (I have been on a relay team that ran 2:43 before so I have run up front a few times). I will write more about those differences another time.

So again I ask myself, “Why the Marathon?” There is just something about the marathon that is such a great challenge, a great accomplishment, an awesome journey. No 5K or 10K has the same characteristics of a marathon. I do tell many people who ask me that they could complete a marathon as well. I believe anyone (besides those with certain physical limitations) can complete a marathon. You might not be fast, but you can complete one. You can say the same about a 5K, but most people can complete a 5K without any training. This is virtually impossible with the marathon. This is where the journey comes.

Most of us who have completed a marathon know that the race does not begin at the starting line nor does it end at the finish line. The race begins many months earlier, this is where the journey begins, training. We get up at god awful hours of the morning to train on long runs. We run in great weather as well as crappy weather. We spend 2, 3 or 4 hours at a time on the roads sometimes with no one but our thoughts keeping us company. We take our bodies to the limit with the miles we put in. We know that it is inevitable but we still get injured and sore and know that this is part of the process. For most of us, we are 90% through the journey and haven’t even reached the starting line yet.

Then comes the actual race. To some it truly is a race against others and to some it is a race against time. And for others, it is a race against the finish line. I really do not race against others in a marathon ever. Usually I race against time and sometimes the finish line (the second half of the Heart of Texas Challenge comes to mind). Whatever your ‘race’, we are all there together.

Runners are a strange breed. We will pay up to and over $100 to torture our bodies for 3, 4, 5 or more hours, feel pain for many days, and be sometimes in really crappy weather for what? To do the Marathon! We wear our medals for 1 day and then they either lay in a box or maybe get hung on the wall. They get lost as well, but you never lose the marathon. Once you accomplish a marathon, you always have that and no one can take it away. This is why I feel the journey does not end at the finish line. Not many people complete marathons. I did say before that almost everyone ‘could’ complete a marathon, but so few of us “do” complete a marathon. The dedication needed to run a marathon is lost on so many, even those who are still runners. That is one reason I feel the half marathon is so popular. It is a great race to run and quite fun, but it is not the marathon. As my friend Chaz says, the marathon is an entirely different monster compared to a half.

Sometimes I love running with the mid pack runners. This is where meet the majority of first time marathoners are. And people chat along the way often. I love chatting with the first timers and giving that little bit of encouragement they may need. Usually I don’t see them after I pull ahead or they run ahead of me but I always wonder what they are exactly feeling as they cross the finish line. I tell them often that there is no other feeling like crossing the finish line of your first marathon. I still remember mine. I bet some of you remember yours as well. It is a great and awesome feeling of total accomplishment. I still feel it when I finish other marathons but not to the level of the first one. It is always a good feeling for me, even finish #16 a mere 3 weeks ago.

I have never dropped out of a marathon, not many runners do. My philosophy is that once you cross the start line you are in it until the finish barring major injury. I even saw a shirt at a race expo that said “Death before DNF.” As bad as I have felt often after 20 miles, I never thought I would not finish. It would just take longer and be slower this time. While I don’t like it at the time, I get over it.

So again, Why the Marathon? If you ask 100 different marathoners, you might get 100 different answers. But we are all the same in the end. We are all marathoners and no one will take that away!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Few More Runs

I am still having computer problems. I have out IT department looking into it but it is making work extremely difficult when my laptop is not working properly. Hopefully all will be fixed soon.

To catch up, I ran on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings. Monday and Wednesday, I went on easy runs of 5 miles each. Monday at 8:40 pace and Wednesday at 8:27 pace. Today felt pretty easy but I think it did because of my Tuesday workout. I did a Tempo Run on Tuesday and it always seems easier to run faster the day after a Tempo run. Tuesday I did 5 miles of tempo. The first mile was not too fast at 8:07, then I picked it up for the last 4 miles and finished with an average pace of 7:38 for the 5 miles. I was quite tired at the end, but this is only the start of the marathon training I am re-beginning.

I have written before that I don’t plan on running a spring marathon (except maybe a long training run marathon). I want to concentrate more this spring and summer on getting my easy pace faster while increasing my endurance. I have had problems in recent marathons with finishing strong. I know I “can” run a marathon strong, I did run sub 4 in October 2006 and a 3:43 in October 2007 but I haven’t since then. Then calorie build up and AccelGel I did before and during the Heart of Texas Challenge seemed to help so I will go with that again, but I also need to be able to run longer at a faster pace. My initial goal for this fall will be to break 4 hours again but also possibly drop the time down to 3:45. We will have to see how the training goes before I refine those goals anymore.

Next Wednesday is my first committee meeting on the Kids Marathon I am organizing. I really want to tell you all about it and maybe pick your brains for ideas. I will tell you all about it soon.