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.