Thursday, December 30, 2010

Closing out the Year

I may or may not have had my last run of the year yesterday. I ran 5 miles after work by myself in comfortable weather. It was about 35 out, warmer than the past few weeks and I took it easy and it felt relatively good. Only 11 more days until the double so resting the legs is important right now.

I will work on a "Year in Review" as well as a "Year in Preview" post for next week if I can find time. Lots going on.

Tonight will have some good friends coming over for a night of Wii, it is new to us since Santa brought it this year. NYE will be a dinner/movie and maybe going out to a party. Nothing set yet. New Years Day will be rooting on my beloved Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl! Go Bucky!!! After that, who know. Maybe a run or 2? Nothing hard.

It has been a pretty good year running wise. I hope to continue that in 2011.

Happy New Year to all of you! Have fun and be safe!

Monday, December 27, 2010

To the Threshold

It was somewhat cold today. When work was over, it was 22F out and dropping slowly. I still do not have my new tights as they just came in and I need to pick them up so what to do? I decided to run outside in shorts. WHAT?!? Usually I will run in shorts outside until 25 degrees but not under, that is, unless extenuating circumstances exist. Today was one of those.

It wasn't windy out so I figured it really wouldn't be a big issue and in the end, it really wasn't. The last 1/4 mile was the coldest as I had to run back down the road to work right into the little wind there was. After inside again, my legs and face were quite pink. My girls would have loved it!

On the 23rd & 24th, I was able to get my 13 and 10 miles in at the Pettit Center and with the 5 miles I ran today, I am now only 9 miles shy of 1600 miles for the year. I am trying to run easy now as there are less than 2 weeks until the Mississippi/Alabama double. I will try to get a little running in tomorrow and Wednesday and maybe a few on Thursdays as well.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you all a great New Year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Slushy and Slippery

It was a little slushy and slippery on the run today but that is running in Wisconsin in the winter. Mike and I went a little over 7 miles in the Fog. Since it was a little warmer and just over 32, there were lots of puddles and slushy snow all over so going up and down the hills were a challenge but we remained unscathed.

I am planning a double run on Thursday and Friday morning to prepare just a little for the double marathons in early January. Paul and I will head to Pettit on Thursday for a 13 miler and then again on Friday early for a 10 miler. Then it is rest the legs up as the marathons are on January 8th & 9th.

I did do some calculations and I may still just squeak past 1600 miles for the year. We'll see, it is not one of my priorities though.

And finally, I wanted to show you a cute picture of my girls with Santa from last weekend. I know I am biased but I think they are just adorable here.

They wanted to bring along their "Build a Bear" bears. On the left is Megan with Anna Bear, in the middle is Katelynn with Michelle Bear, and on the right is Melissa with Claire Bear. Melissa is my running girl!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Out of Gas

I did something a little different for my long run this weekend. I ran it on Friday night after work so I could be home with the girls in the morning.

My plan was to run 20 miles at the Pettit Center which is just under 73 laps. So I headed there after work and was able to start running at about 6:15PM. My first mile was a little fast but then I settled into an easy pace of about 9:20 per mile and clicked off the laps. Speed skaters were training which was cool to see. I even saw a young teenage girls practicing that looked really good. Maybe she will be an Olympian someday, a lot of speed skating Olympians come from the Pettit.

45 minutes into the run, the ice oval was for open skating which is fun to run during. All sorts of different sized kids and adults skating at all different levels. Some falling, some cruising, some holding hands, and some just trudging along. It made the run a little more entertaining. I only wish I could have run the opposite direction as they were all skating so I could see them better.

By the time I got to about 15 miles, I was the only one left on the running track and there was only about 15 minutes left for open skating. Suddenly a young girl was skating next to me while I ran and saying she was going to try to keep up with me. She made it 1 1/2 laps before she had to rest. It was funny to see her try to keep up and made me think of what my oldest girl could look like in a few years. She asked if I skated and I said yes, but not very good and I told her that my oldest daughter wanted to learn to skate and was getting ice skates for Christmas. After she rested, I didn't see her again.

Open skating ended and I was all alone around the oval except for the Zamboni driver. Hockey players were in the center rinks and some fans, but that was it. Then with 8 laps to go, I was gassed. My lap times dropped 5 seconds, then 10 seconds, and then 15 seconds. It was all I could do to keep going. I gave myself 1 last break with 4 laps to go and the slowly finished up. It was a real bummer end to a run that was OK until then.

Here is something I have never done. While I ran, they were playing a local radio station that was playing all Christmas music. I have never run to Christmas music before. While it is not the most inspirational music to run to, there are a few surprisingly upbeat song that were able to get me moving. 2 that come to mind are "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" by Mannheim Steamroller and "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24" by Trans Siberian Orchestra.

I am now over 100 miles for the month and I said before that I have a minor goal to reach 1600 miles for the year. I am currently at 1550 miles but I think I am going to scale back now are rest up some. I felt a twinge in my right hamstring at about 14 miles and I have no desire to let that get worse. I also was to rest my knee some in hopes it will improve. And most importantly, since I am running 2 marathons in 1 weekend 3 weeks from now, I think rest will do me good.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Merry Mas!

"Merry Mas, doesn't sound right without Christ, does it?" I saw this on the sign of a church I pass on the way to and from work. This church has a lot of good messages on their sign, but I think I like this one the best. Let us all not forget that Christmas has everything to do with Christ, not presents or lights or cookies or decorations or trees or . . . (although those are nice as well).

I had another Christmas related conversation I had at work today. One of the ladies that answers calls from customers told me she was going to stop saying "Happy Holidays" and instead, start saying "Merry Christmas". I wondered if anyone would be offended by that. In today's world, there is no doubt someone will claim it does, whether it does or not. Just an average day for a Christian being ripped on for our faith, even by those who claim to be Christians themselves. Odd, isn't it.

This got me to thinking more. Would I be offended if someone wished me a Happy Hanukkah? No, I wouldn't. Happy Kwanzaa? Nope! Happy Festivus? Besides it being a made up holiday, I think I would give it a little laugh and then say "Thank You". Maybe it is just me?

So allow me to wish you some holiday greetings: Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! I know it was December 1 to 9, but better late than never?!? Happy Kwanzaa! And Happy Festivus (December 23rd). Good luck putting up for Festivus poles, feats of strength and airing of grievances.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Freezing! I has been friggin' cold up here the last few days. But that did not stop me from running. After a 20 miler on Saturday morning with Mike on a mild day, the weather turned for the worse Saturday night into Sunday and now it is very cold.

Yesterday, Mike and I ran 4 miles after work and it was about 9F out with some wind. That made it very cold but layers saved me again. Today I ran on my own. It was a little colder, 8F, but it felt a little warmer as the wind was low. I did 7 miles today.

I don't mind running when it is cold, I just can't run fast, nor do I try. I feel that if I did, an injury would be right there. First of all, my muscles take a long time to warm up, if they ever do, so slow running is good for that. Second, there is so much ice still on the road, that easy running is safer to help avoid slips and falls.

As for injuries, my right knee tendinitis is sure making itself known in this cold weather. I have decided to bite the bullet and ice it at night and just deal with the pain that comes with that. I just got done with that and now have a warm corn bag wrapped on my knee. I will continue this so hopefully the tendinitis will either go away or reduce itself.

I did have a new problem on my run tonight, but one that is easily solved. Seems my running tights are too old and have now caused some rather irritating chaffing on my inner legs. I went out tonight to find some new ones but the stores I went to either had super expensive technical running pants or stuff I had no interest in. I just need some simple running tights, nothing fancy. I did find some at one store but they color I wanted were too small and I really didn't want bight blue or red tights. I will look again tomorrow.

It is now a little over 3 weeks until the Mississippi/Alabama double. I will run long again this weekend but then start cutting my miles back. While I have run a double long run for 3 years in a row (twice a half/full, and once a full/full), I still have no idea how to do it properly. Mike and Paul will be there so the main goals are to finish both and have fun. I am confident I can do both.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Just What I Needed

Running outside in the winter time can really drag on you. It is cold and you really have to watch your step the entire time to make sure you don't slip on some ice or snow.

The weather didn't help at all today as it began snowing in the early afternoon but I had a planned run at the Pettit Center so I could not have to worry about the cold or ice (even thought I was running only a few feet from ice the entire run). It took me a lot longer to get to Pettit since the roads were slippery and others seemed to have forgotten how to drive in snow. Once I got there, I knew I only had just under 1 hour before the Icebreaker Marathon meeting and I wanted to get in 7 miles of Tempo, so I got going right away.

I began running around 7:45 pace and wanted to see how long I could keep that up. I was doing well the first 10 laps trying to relax to conserve energy for the last 15 or so laps. Dana finally found me on the track as he was late from the snow as well. He ran with em for a bit and then he would run ahead of me and go fast for 4 or so laps and then run with me again. He is a lot faster than me so my pace was far to easy for him even though I was pushing it hard.

For my last 6 laps, I picked it up even more trying to get the laps down to 2:00 flat per lap which equated to a pace of 7:16 per mile. The final 3 laps, I even picked it up more and was running sub 7 pace. I finished just over 7 miles at an average pace of 7:34 and felt really good. It was a real treat to get that kind of a workout in since it was quite a log time since my last hard run. It was just what I needed.

After the run, we had our meeting on the Icebreaker Marathon. The Full and Half Marathons are full as well as the Marathon Relay. The 5K has only 7 spots left. The race is about a month and a half away and everything seems to be coming together. It should be a very exciting weekend!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Is Here

Winter has arrived in the upper Midwest. It is cold! I have run the last 3 days after work, 2 of them with Mike from work, and one from home. Each time the temps were between 13 and 18. Monday it was about 15 but it was windy pushing the wind chill below zero. I ran from home and found myself ruuning quite fast over the first mile and a half just trying to get warm as it was mostly into the wind. I ended up doing 5 miles at sub 8:30 pace just wanting to get home to warm up. My girls found it quite fun to feel the skin on my arms and tummy after the run because is was pink and cold.

Tuesday, Mike ran the first 4 miles with me and I continued on a little more than 3 more miles. The wind was less but it was cold. Today, Mike and I did 5 miles and it felt warmer (if there is such a thing at 18F).

The usual winter running hazards are all around and not just the frost bite. There is ice on the ground that is tricky to see as it is dark when we are running. There are the cars that think that if they put on their bright lights, all can see better, NOT! Blinded hoping I don't step off the road is more like it. To be safe, I do wear an orange reflective vest. I hope that is is not interpreted as a target instead of a warning. Sometimes I feel it is both.

Tomorrow I will get to run in the semi cool/warm confines of the Pettit Center as we have another Icebreaker Marathon meeting. I think I will do a tempo run as it is difficult to get those kind of hard runs (or track work) outside in the winter.
I am now up to 1486 miles this year. I have surpassed my 2009 total and still have 3 weeks to go. I am not sure if this is a record total for me in my life. In college, I did keep a log for my coach but I never totaled it for a year. I am guessing it wasn't this amount though as I was a middle distance runner.

I do get to do something new on Friday after work. The place I work volunteers to do bell ringing at the local grocery store for the good ole red kettle. I am going to bring along my oldest daughter, Melissa, to help me ring the bell and wish all a wonderful holiday season and a Merry Christmas. Hopefully it is not too cold or too windy, but if it is, we will dress in layers and still have fun!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Avoiding the Snow

Snow started falling sometime in the middle of the night last night. By the time I woke up at 5:30AM to get ready for my long run, there was already a blanket of white over the entire ground. It was still snowing and they forecasted that it would continue for quite awhile. So I decided to head over to the Pettit Center for my long run.

I arrived a little after 6 and was on the track shortly after. Only 4 others were on the track when I started and there was no one else on the ice oval or the hockey/figure skating rinks so no music was playing. I didn't have a desire to run fast so I started with laps around 2:30 which is just over 9:00 pace. My plan was to go 65 laps which equates to about 18 miles. 2 times in the first 25 laps, I needed to stop for a restroom break so there was something not quite right with my stomach. It felt better after that but I still kept the slow easy pace going.

By about mile 12 or so, a guy ran past me and we ended up talking some. He recognized me from running the Icebreaker Marathon. Turns out it was Matt who won last year's Icebreaker so obviously he had to slow waaaaaay down to run those laps with me. Turns out he ran High School Cross Country and Track the same time I did but on the other end of the state. Nice guy.

I finally finished my laps and miles with an average pace of 9:03 per mile but my right knee and the tendinitis was really bothering me. I ended up doing a short second workout when I got home by getting out the shovel and clearing the driveway as the girls played in the snow for the first time this winter.

Tonight, I took the girls down to Miller Brewery in Milwaukee for a small holiday lights tour. The FREE tour starts with the girls getting a light up Christmas light necklace then a short walk down to watch the 300,000 LED light show choreographed to music. Then a walk in the the underground caves where they used to chill the beer in the old days about 70 to 90 years ago. Finally, we went to the miller Inn for some quick beer sampling. Did I mention this was all FREE. Pretty cool. They do have tours year round for free with beer sampling, but the holiday lights are only for the next 2 weekends.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Winter is coming

The forecast calls for snow on Saturday, the first measurable snow of the year. Only 3 to 6 inches are expected. It is actually a little late this year as we usually get measurable snow in November. But winter is definitely on it way.

It was less than 2 weeks ago I was in Nashville running a marathon on a warmish 70 degree day and not long later, I was running in 28 degree weather with light snow falling. Crazy! OK, 28 was in Wisconsin, not Nashville. But colder none-the-less.

Yesterday it was even colder as I ran after work. It was 21F out and I broke down and wore the running tights for the first time this winter. I will avoid wearing running tights when possible. Usually my threshold is 25F so 21F and wind was a no brainer. Today it was 27F out so I opted for the shorts and I think I made the right decision.

So winter is on its way and I think I am prepared for all that is involved with that and running. I do not look forward to snow sticking on the bottom of my shoes during running, but I am prepared. I do not look forward to hidden ice on the road, but I am prepared. I do not look forward to single digit temperatures (or colder), but I am prepared (plus the Pettit Center is open).

At least I think I am prepared.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Call Me Crazy . . . Again

I told you all a couple posts ago that I was contemplating doing something crazy again. Today I signed up!

I am doing 2 marathons in 1 weekend again. This time, along with Paul, Mike will be joining us.

So when are we doing this? January 8th and 9th! January 8th is the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, MS and the BankTrust First Light Marathon in Mobile, AL. Turns out there is a partnership between these 2 marathons that if you sign up for both, you get 20% off both registration fees. You also get special recognition and awards. I have no idea what special recognitions or awards really mean, but I do like that I get to mark off 2 more states.

I wasn't planning on running these 2 marathon until about a week ago or so. If you remember, I was on the waiting list for the Zoom Ya Ya Indoor Marathon but after contacting the race director, it looked like my chances of making it in were slim so I decided to join Mike & Paul.

A short 2 weeks after these 2 marathon, I do have the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon in Milwaukee so I am starting the year off with A LOT of marathons. I think a break will be in order when they are done!

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Goals

I ran a little over 7 miles today after work. It was even raining for the last 2 miles. It has been awhile since I ran in the rain but if it were a little colder, it would have been snow. I still managed an 8:25 pace and felt good.

I have no more races planned this year. Maybe a 5K on New Year's Eve but other than that, nothing. I was checking my miles for the year and I am at 1434 miles so far. I have realized that I improve my marathon time when I increase my mileage. Some of you can get away with lower miles and still run fast, but I am a shorter distance runner by nature so I need the miles to improve late race endurance.

Last year I ended up at about 1480 miles for the year. 1500 should be a no brainer but since December will again be a training month, I think I may try to get to 1600 miles for the year. I will have to accumulate about 160 miles for December to do that, but July and September with both over that so I have a chance. I guess we will know in 31 days.

Friday, November 26, 2010

4 Days Off

I almost took the entire week off of running. Almost. I did go out today for an easy 5.8 miles on a crushed gravel bike trail and around a small lake. I had no ill effects from the Monkey 5 days ago so that is good. I was able to cruise at 8:37 pace today.

Also, it was slightly colder than Nashville 5 days ago. Nashville on Sunday was low 70's, Milwaukee today didn't quite reach 30 and it was windy. That means it is wind chill season. I am not sure how cold it felt, but it was down there. I don't mind this temperature, at times it is quite refreshing. My knees hurt a little more after the run, but that goes away after the warm up.

The Monkey was the last planned marathon of the year. I don't think I will find another to run this year but I do have a few already planned for 2011, January 2011 in fact. January 23 is the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon in Milwaukee. But Mike and Paul are trying to convince me to do something crazy on the second weekend of January. If you don't know me, I am all about crazy. I'll let you in on it when (or if) I do it.

I hope you all survived your Turkey Trots and Thanksgiving Dinners.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Race Report - Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon V

Crazy. Nutty. Ridiculous. Deranged. Loony. Foolish. Preposterous. Take your pick and that describes this marathon.

Fun. Great. Exciting. Awesome. Groovy! These are other words that describe this marathon.

I woke up at 5:30 on Sunday to get ready for the Flying Monkey Marathon. I knew what to expect and I thought I had prepared enough but there is no telling what the Monkeys of Percy Warner Park had in mind for the day. I had my usual oatmeal and packed my stuff to get out of the hotel and was ready to go. Mike & I left for the car to pack it up. The first bad omen of the day occurred. As I was pushing the cart with all our bags and cooler to the car, I could have sworn I saw a blurr go by and knock my mug off the cart to the ground breaking the mug. Damn flying monkey are leaving the park and hitting us before we even leave for the race. My mug does have some special meaning for me. It was a birthday gift from my oldest girl when she was just barely over 1. You can see her “signature” on it. I will try to glue it but I think the oatmeal days in it are done. I brought that to many a marathon over the years.

It was a cool morning but not cold by any means as we headed for the park and then drive into a grassy field to park the car. After a quick visit to the port-o-let, I went to the car and brought the cooler full of beer boiled/grilled brats (A Wisconsin Special) to the food area. A volunteer was going to heat them up for me while I was running so the runners and volunteers could have a good treat after the race.

Near the starting area, I was finally able to meet up with Melanie from Life is a Marathon. I have been reading her blog for 2 years now and it was really cool to finally see her in person instead of just seeing her in pictures and print. Before the race had started, I had decided to run with her group of friends for awhile so we could talk some and just have a good time. This marathon was not a serious one for me (like it is possible for anyone) so a good conversation would be welcome to knock the miles off to. She introduced me to Amy, Matt and Liz who would also be running in the little road party. What a cool bunch of runners to spend time with.

Mike & I before the race.

The weather was warm now, warm enough that I was not cold in my singlet for the start. I would guess it was close to 55F but it would soon climb to the upper 60’s to low 70’s by the end of the race. Great weather for a fun run, not great for a race. Good thing I wasn’t there to race.

Mike went up ahead before the start as Trent, the race director, told us some final instructions as we lined up in on open field with just a small tent and a starting/finishing chute. Soon the horn sounded and now there was no turning back.

Did I mention this race was crazy? Here is what I knew so far. The race was 26.2 miles long. Duh, that is the distance of a marathon. There was about 3500 feet of elevation gain and loss throughout the race. WOW, that is A LOT. The people in the race were quite festive and all seemingly happy, some even dressed in costume including one as Dorothy Gale. Get it? Dorothy Gale from Wizard of Oz? Flying Monkeys from Wizard of Oz? If you don’t get it by now, never mind.

Within the first mile and a half, we have already climbed nearly 300 feet. They even reminded us of that with a sign that said, 300 feet up, 3200 more to go. We maintained an easy pace and it felt quite easy. The cool thing about this first part was that at one point, climbing a hill, the leaves were falling all over. It was like running though a curtain of leave falling like snow flakes. It became a game of who could catch one before it hit the ground. Like I said, we were not running seriously. The miles and hills clipped away as the group talked about this and that telling stories of past races, run, injuries, future races, etc. Some other runners would join the group for a bit and then go on. It was a festive group and I enjoyed just listening to the stories. I found it fun to talk to Matt and Amy and hear their stories of past races and accomplishments. Like I said, really cool people.

This race is considered one of the hardest in the country and I would have to agree. There are at least 5 climbs of 250+ feet and an additional 5 or so climbs of at least 150 feet, if not more, not to mention all the “small” hills all over. How anyone could possible “race” this course is beyond me. One cool thing about the course is that you run every part of the course 2 times, but the second time is in the reverse direction of the first time. It is not an out and back course, it is a loop course with a few shorter loops to bring you back to the other direction and 2 small out and back areas. This is a laid back race and just after mile 5, we enter a small out and back with a very short loop at the end. Just before the loop was many “?” chalked on the ground not saying which way to go. Seems we could choose our own way and that is what people did. Some went left, some went right. We went right passing people going the other direction around the loop. Funny? Yes!

Turns and Curves and Ups and Downs.

After the loop and O&B, we start to descend the biggest hill of the course. Here is the biggest problem of this hill. It seemed A LOT shorter going down it that climbing up it at about 19.5 miles.

By mile 11 or so, the monkeys began to get feisty. While I did not actually see any of them, I knew they were there stalking us as we ran along. I was glad I was in a group as if I was alone, I could have been a goner. They still taunted us by throwing acorns at us hitting us occasionally. Good thing flying monkeys don’t have great aim or velocity or we would have been toast!

The group went past the halfway mark in about 2:15:30. It wasn’t too long after this that I decided it was time to go on by myself, so I left the group and forged ahead. I was feeling really good so far so picking up the pace actually felt good. I got to the mile 14 marker and Ben Schneider, the leader, passed me going the other direction. He was at mile 24 already. HOLY CRAP! On this Course!!!!

If you saw my mile splits can easily where the up hills were and where the down hills were throughout the race. I would have an average just over 10:00 per mile but some miles were down to the low 9’s and even into the 8’s, where others were in the upper 11’s and even a couple in the 12’s. There was no even running this course. You could possibly “even run” based on effort, but not pace. Suddenly, just before mile 16, I caught up to Trent, the race director. We ran for a bit together before he stopped to talk to the volunteers at the water stop just past mile 16. I wasn’t passing too many runners at this time which I found odd but I figured we were spread out a lot. Later I would pick off a lot of them.

At the 19 ½ mile mark, there was a water stop with extra friendly volunteers and quite a few people watching the race near the stone wall entrance to the park. Did I mention the volunteers at this race were awesome! They really were. Hooping and hollering it up whenever a runner can into view and encouraging us to keep going (like stopping was really an option, NOT). They would ask how I was feeling. “Groovy” was always my response to honor the theme of the race. Now the hell was to begin. I begin to ascend the largest and seemingly never ending hill on the backside of what is know as nine mile hill (the hill isn’t 9 miles long, it is just situated at the 9 mile mark of the 11.2 mile loop around the park local use all the time).

The 6 mile mark on the left and the 20 mile mark on the right. Big Hill.

Suddenly I had to walk some. I was taking my usually walk breaks through the water stops, but this hill was too much to handle. I actually convinced myself that walking the really steep parts would benefit my final time and not hinder it. I really think that was the case. While this hill only lasted a little over 1 mile, it seemed like it went from mile 19.5 to mile 38! I think I walked close to half of it. Relief came in the form of the same O&B with the loop at the top of the hill but there were hills on this too. This time I went to the left around the loop. Entering the O&B, I saw a lot of runner coming out which actually got me going. Runners to catch!

After the O&B, it seemed like I kept climbing some until I had a very long down hills section from just before mile 22 to just after mile 23. This was too steep of a hill to really use well. Now the issue was my toes. They were not blistered, but on every foot plant on a down hill, my foot would slide slightly forward in my show making my toes hit the front of my shoes. A little painful but not too bad. I was picking off runners frequently now and I was finally able to run a good pace again after the massive mountain I had just climbed a couple miles before. All the runners seemed friendly and still somewhat happy to be out there. It takes a sadistic type of runner to attempt this marathon and if you do, why not be happy while sharing misery with your fellow runner.

At mile 23.5, I hit the “This is not a hill” hill. Let me tell you, they lied; it was a steep little hill. I walked 2/3 of it. Passing the steeplechase horse track at mile 24.5, I was passed by the first runner in over 10 miles. Crap! Was I slowing? While this run was just for fun and not for time, let’s be honest, it now was for time and I wanted to break 4:30. I needed to maintain just over a 10:00 pace to break 4:30. He didn’t stay too far ahead of me and I was able to pass him back around mile 25.5.

I never know when I will blow up in a race so I still wasn’t positive I would break 4:30 but I didn’t want another Fargo incident (finish time 4:00:16) so I kept up the pressure. Good thing there were other runners I was still passing to keep me encouraged. Just before mile 26, I entered the field path to take me to the finish line and I pass the final runner that I would pass. After a quick turn, it was all downhill to the finish line and I knew I had sub 4:30 in hand. I eased up so I wouldn’t pass the guy ahead of me so I didn’t look like a jerk at the finish line and finish in a time of 4:28:24 according to my watch. I got my monkey medal and kept walking so I wouldn’t collapse. I was tired (duh!) My finishing place was #100 on the dot! Glad I passed the one guy at mile 26 to get top 100! I even negative split this bastard of a course (2:15:30 / 2:12:54)! It sure didn’t seem possible going up the mile 20 mountain at the time.

Mike found me and told me how he did and we watched Melanie, Amy, and Matt finish. Mike finished in 3:52:15, far off what he usually runs, but like me, he has run 2 previous marathons in the last 5 weeks. The post race food was everywhere but, as usual, I can’t eat any of it as my stomach was not ready at all for food. They had so much food for the runner and volunteers it was crazy. Yazoo beer too (I did have some of this, but not too much). After a free post race massage, it was time for awards and door prizes. They had lots to give away, posters, wine, sandals, stickers, monkeys, etc. I talked to a lot of the other finishers as they read off winner/door prizes and to my surprise, I was called out. I was able to get to final bottle of Flying Monkey Red Wine. Could this be made from real blood of captured flying monkeys? I can’t be certain but it sure seems that way. Mike won some sandals as well but quickly found out they were too small for him. His daughter now has a new pair of sandals.

Monkey Wine!

A final picture before we headed out with myself, Melanie, Amy, and Matt.

After a few quick pictures and good-byes, Mike and I headed out for a quick shower at the JCC before hitting the road for the long drive home. We were officially on the road by 3:00 and it wasn’t long before it was dark which makes the trip much more boring. Just north of Louisville in Indiana, we stop at a “Texas Road Use” for dinner. I was really hungry and ate every last piece of my sirloin steak and shrimp combo as well as rolls, fries and sides. I was actually still a little hungry after all that but enough is enough.

I was able to take a short nap for about an hour while Mike drove though Indiana. I took back over in northern Indiana as Mike slept all the way through Chicago. What a difference a time of day makes. On the way down, we lost over an hour driving through Chicago and this time I did not even hit the breaks 1 time from the Indiana/Illinois boarder until way past northern Chicago getting off on Hwy 41. We finally hit our work where Mike’s car was at 1:15AM. But not before it started to rain 1 mile from the end. Come on! So we moved Mike’s stuff to his car in the rain and then we headed home our own ways. I finally got to sleep just after 2:00AM but able to somehow get up at 6:45AM to get my girls ready for school. I did get another hour after they left.

Monkey Medal

In summary, what a really cool race! I really want to run it again if I can get back to Nashville next November. Trent puts on a great, low key race. I highly recommend this race, that is unless you are going to take my spot. For $70, you get 2 shirts, a sticker and magnet, very friendly volunteers, an awesome post race food spread, a very unique finisher’s medal, and some new friends. And, of course, a freaking hard ass course including sore quads and knees thrown in for good measure.

One of the 2 Monkey Shirts we received.

I have now run 27 marathons (8 this year to date) and this one definitely ranks up in the top 3 along with Grand Rapids and Icebreaker. If you ran this race to and have found my post, please leave me a note and say hi. Also leave your site as well if you posted a report. I would love to hear what you all thought.

Bill – 1 Monkey Kill!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pre Moneky - The Drive

Mike & I left the Milwaukee area on Friday after work to Nashville for the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon. We finally got on the road about 2:30 and headed south. According to the Garmin in the car, we should have gotten to Louisville where we were going to spend the night by 9:30. That was until we hit Chicago traffic. Now that sucked! I knew there would be traffic but by the time we got to I-65 south in Indiana, we had lost over 1 hour of time on the Garmin.

The drive from here on would be good, no more stop and go for mile after mile after mile. We ended up driving all the way to Indianapolis before we stopped for a bite to eat at a Fazoli's. We did get to Louisville in good time after dinner and got our room in downtown.

Saturday morning, we first walked to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory for a tour and some fun. The tour shows how the make all the baseball bats for not only the professional baseball players, but also everyone else. For $10, the tour seemed short and a bit overpriced until they also gave us a mini bat souvenir. After a quick movie and some hits in the batting cage, we walked back to the hotel, checked out and headed down the rest of the way to Nashville.

A HUGE baseball bat at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.

The weather was wonderful for the drive and we were able to get to Nashville about 1:00. We then went to Mike's relatives home in a very exclusive neighborhood with very large homes and from what I hear, a few celebs living as well. We were able to stay for about an hour and a half before we had to head to the Belle Mead area to pick up out packets and race information.

After about 9 hours of driving, we finally get into Tennessee.

Our first view of Nashville driving in.

At packet pickup, I was able to meet Trent, the race director, as well as some of the others that were putting on the race. I also bought a poster which looks pretty cool.

After picking up our packets, we headed to Percy Warner Park to drive some of the Monkey course to get a feel for what we had gotten ourselves into. We headed out from the start area and went the correct way on the one way route. We started on the south end of the park and that happens to be the "flat" part of the park. There really isn't a flat area of the park but if you were going to compare it to the rest of the park, it was less hilly. We found out shortly the hell that we were going to have as we climbed "nine mile hill" as they call it. The rest of the drive was very much like a roller coaster. Lots of ups, lots of downs, and lots of turns. As we were in the second half of the drive around the park, it was getting dark and something swooped right above us over the car. I do believe this was the monkeys warning us to stay away. I do have to say that this park is very beautiful and I was very much looking forward to my run though it the next day. The park reminded me a lot of a park we have in Wisconsin called Peninsula State Park in Door County. There were more hills in Percy Warner but the feel of the narrow roads through the wood was very similar.

Mike & I then headed for the Pre Monkey dinner in Mt. Juliet where we met quite a few other Monkey runners while we ate some good pasta and had good conversation. We met a few runners from Florida that run lots of marathons all over. I love meeting runners from all over the country at these pre race dinners. The usual talk is what marathons we have all run and what we liked and didn't like and what plans were going to be for the next day. The people we met were really cool.

After dinner, we headed to and checked into our hotel but it was fairly early still. We ended up driving to the Opryland Hotel for a little Christmas Light viewing. OK, OK, I know, I was just ripping on people a few days ago who had Christmas Lights up . . .but . . .I have wanted to see these lights at the Opryland Hotel since I saw them on the Travel Channel awhile ago. Since we had the time and we were in Nashville, I had to take the chance.

The manger scene at the Opryland Hotel.

Mike inside one of the Opryland Atriums.

If you didn't remember from earlier this year, the Opryland Hotel was flooded really bad in Spring and was closed until just last week. The place looks amazing now. They have over 2 Million lights over the entire grounds inside and out. If you are in the area, I suggest dropping by.

We didn't stay too long since we did have to run a hilly marathon the next day.

Next: The Monkey!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Peace, Love and Hills

It is now only 5 days until the Monkey. What is the Monkey? It is the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon in Nashville, TN. I have been looking forward to this race for at least 6 months and now it is almost upon me. This is the race I wrote about earlier that sold out in just 32 minutes, that is not days, not hours, but minutes. I am glad I was up at 8AM that Sunday morning when registration opened.

This isn't your average marathon, it is one made from hell, at least that is what I am told. I am pretty sure there is not a flat part on the entire course. It is advertised as 3500 feet of elevation gain AND loss throughout the race. Up and Down and Up and Down and Up and . . . . you get the idea. I can't wait.

I don't have any realistic goals for this race other then 2. 1. Finish 2. Have a great time! I am driving down to Nashville with my friend Mike who is also doing the Monkey. We plan on stopping in Louisville and touring the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory Tour and then getting to Nashville Saturday afternoon. We are going to eat a the pre Monkey dinner which should be really cool since there should be lots of Nashville runners there that we can meet.

The race is Sunday at 8:00AM and the weather looks interesting. I have told you that this is not your normal marathon and neither is the weather. I saw a post on their website that said the forecast calls for 20% chance of precipitation and 80% chance of Pain and Suffering. Bring it!

The hardest part may very well be the 9+ hour drive home AFTER the race. Yes, Mike & I plan on driving all the way back to Wisconsin after the race. Well, not right after. After the race, they have a runner/volunteer smorgasbord. I plan on bringing down some Wisconsin favorites, and not Cheese. Beer? Perhaps some.

I will end this post the same way Trent (Monkey Race Director) ends all his email updates:

Peace, love and hills.
Monkey Groovy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Talking Icebreaker

Last night, I had another meeting for the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon at the Pettit Center. Before the meeting, I met Dana for a run. It was a nice day, maybe 52F out, little wind, and starting to get dark. I plotted a course to run which was to go on the new Hank Aaron Bike Trail. Dana showed up right at 4:30, changed and went into the ice arena area to run laps on the track. Oh well, so much for checking out the new trail.

Dana is a considerable faster runner than I am but he runs with me if he doesn’t care about his pace. We ended up running 18 laps (5 miles) at 8:05 pace which actually felt not hard. It wasn’t easy, but not hard. More like a pace run. It was all good and we got done in plenty of time for the meeting.

The meeting went well. It is a lot of fun being on the committee and giving my input as to how we should put on the race. It is a lot of work, but fun. Something new we are doing this year is having a different shirt for the participants of the Full and Half Marathons. Instead of the usual technical short or long sleeve shirt that most of us only use when we are running, we are having a rugby style long sleeve shirt. One that you can wear when you go out with friends or to the store or even just lounging around. If you are like me, you have lots of technical shirt, more than you know what to do with. We know there will be participants who will gripe and complain about it, but we think the majority of the runner will like the change. All of the committee members are runners and we all like it.

The meeting went well. The full marathon is already full. The half marathon had 15 spots left as of yesterday. There were plenty of spots open for the marathon relay but we know that all 100 spots of that will fill up. Of all the races, I think the relay has the biggest buzz and excitement. There are over 300 runners along the outside of the track cheering on their teams and exchanges going on all the time. The unique part of this marathon relay is that a team can exchange as many times as they want to. If teams wanted to run 1 lap at a time and then exchange, they can do it. It is fun seeing the strategies involved in this.

Today, I was able to squeeze in 5 miles while my girls were at messengers (equivalent to Girl Scouts). It went pretty good. I felt fast again though I know I wasn’t going that fast. I will probably not be able to run again until Monday but I think I have enough miles in for the week. I think I am near 25 miles and since I have another marathon in just over a week, I am good with it.

If you are local and want in on the Icebreaker, I suggest you sign up quickly. If you are not local, maybe you would like to think about coming to Milwaukee next winter and trying it out. It is a real blast!

By the way, I have now seen 3 more houses with Christmas lights. I did have someone suggest that it may be Diwali Lights. As much as I would like them to be that because at least they would be the right time, I can say with almost certainty, that they are in fact Christmas Lights.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Daylight Savings & A New Runner Giveaway Site

Today was my first post end of day light savings time evening run. Phew. That was a lot to say. Well, it is significant because I like to run after work and I can start running around 4:40 to 4:50 usually (unless I am swamped). Today I was able to start in the light but it was getting dark quickly. By 2 miles, it was pretty dark and by 3 it was really dark. I ran along a bike trail near where I work and I knew it was smooth enough that I didn't have to worry about twisting an ankle, as long as I stayed in the middle.

The run went well today. It always seems like I am running faster than I really am when I run in the dark so I felt like was was cruising tonight but was only going a moderate pace. I ended up getting in 7 miles at 8:37 pace for just over 1 hour. I felt good.

About a half mile from work, I did see my first Christmas lights of the season. Come on people! At least wait until after Thanksgiving! Hey, I love Christmas lights more than most but I have my limits. I can only hope that this was a guy who put them up over the weekend and just wanted to see how they looked in the dark. I should be able to know tomorrow.

On another note to all you blog readers and people who like to get stuff for free. I wanted to share a new blog I came across last week from a runner here in Wisconsin that has TONS of giveaways on her site. Check out Jamie's Running Diva Mom website and check out all the stuff she gets to try out and then also give away. Right now she has 7 different items she has reviewed and is giving another away. I haven't won anything . . . yet . . . but it sure looks like a lot of cool stuff from headbands to compression socks to books to jewelry. OK, I haven't tried to win everything, but I do give gifts to other runners, some of whom are ladies, so I try to win those as well. Check her out and her site.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Not So Tired

Something pretty cool happened after the last marathon that I would love to replicate if I knew exactly what it was. I think I know but I am not sure.

In the first week after running a marathon on only 2 weeks recovery from the last marathon, I am running as if I hadn't run a race in 2 months. I have felt great! I ran 5 miles on Friday over the hills loop near my work and was able to run it at about 8:20 pace and it felt easy. This morning, I woke up early and ran 11 1/2 miles at 8:36 pace and it didn't feel bad. The legs were not 100% but they felt good.

I am going to contribute this to the post race free massage they offered after the Haunted Hustle Marathon. What ever Abigail did seemed to have worked. Since the next marathon, The Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon, is not one I am going all out in, I will use this time to begin the training again with the goal of a fast marathon in January. Don't get me wrong, I will run and try hard at The Monkey, but since the course seems insanely hilly and difficult, it will be more like a hard long run than anything.

A quick update on Paul & Mike. Both of them ran the Grand Rapids Marathon with me 3 weeks ago. This weekend, they travelled to North Carolina to run the City of Oaks Marathon in Raleigh. I didn't know Raleigh was the City of Oaks?!?! Well, you learn something new everyday. Mike ran a 3:38 and Paul ran 3:53. Since Paul & mike are as nutty as I am, they both have another marathon planned quickly like me. Mike will be joining me in Nashville for the Monkey and Paul will be running the Space Coast Marathon in Cocoa, FL. Paul has run this one before.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Haunted Hustle Costumes

I thought I would share a few pictures of the winners of the costume contest at the Haunted Hustle Marathon. I took these off their website when they announced the winners. Some where pretty good, some not so good.

Here is Waldo and Wilma. Found them again. Waldo looks a little different that from Grand Rapids. And I did find out what the female Waldo is called, not Walda, but Wilma! They ran the 10K.

Green Man! I am not sure what Green Man is but it looks kinda cool. 10K also.

The final 10K costume winner was a Ghostbuster. I sure wouldn't want to wear the Proton Pack. Just don't cross the lines.

In the Half Marathon was this guy dressed as a Nun. Disturbing if you ask me.

When was the last time you saw the Hamburglar? Wonder if they finally caught him or did he get away.

Forest Gump is back running. You would think he would have been in the full marathon instead of the half. Is Jenny anywhere nearby or is she still stung out on Coke! RUN FOREST RUN!

The Cheshire Cat was running the full marathon. That is a long way for a cat to run but she seems to be doing just fine.

This is NOT the bumble bee that I passed at the end of the full marathon. I do like it but I have seen cuter bumble bees!

I don't think I could run a marathon in a costume. It has been a long time since I have even worn a costume for anything. But if I had to, I think I may lean toward the Green Man costume. Seems cool to me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Back to Running

I went on a run after work today and I surprisingly felt good. Mike and I went 5 miles and I was, without too much effort, able to maintain a sub 9 minute pace. I did feel the marathon still in the legs but not too much. I think what helped is my mind wasn't on the run but on our conversation amongst a variety of topics. Since today in the Midterm Election, we did talk politics. Mike and I are somewhat on different sides of the political fence, but we can still discuss without arguing or any nasty words. I only wish the true politicians could do the same.

Did I vote? You bet I did! I am a firm believer in not only the right to vote, but the duty to vote. Just make sure you know what you are voting for. You do need to do your homework.

On a different note, today it was someones Birthday at work. And like in a lot of offices, we had a "bring some treats" party. While I like these days, I hate these days. The reason is that I eat waaaaaaaayyyyy to much. I have no self control. Cheese, Sausage, Chips, Cookies, bars, pie, uuhhgggg. I ate to much pie, it was sooooooo good. I think I needed to run 15 miles, not 5 miles to burn off all the calories I consumed.

I do have some pictures from the Haunted Hustle Marathon already. Here they are:

This was at about 15 miles. I was running with Sandy at the time. We chatted a bit, she is a very nice lady.

I am not sure where this was. Maybe near mile 18?

I think this was a little after Mile 20. You can't see it in the picture, but I was beginning to get really tired here.

Here I am crossing the finish line. Do you like the scary creature we had to run under at the finish line? Also, you can't see her, but right behind me is the bumble bee lady.

I also have been reading a few more race reports from others who have run either the Haunted Hustle full or half marathon. I may have even made a few new Blog Friends. I met a lady named Jamie, she seems like a really cool lady and a cool runner. I hope to read more from her. Good Luck Jamie!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Race Report - Haunted Hustle Marathon

With only 13 days rest, I ran yet another marathon. #26. I ran the Haunted Hustle Marathon in Middleton, WI on Saturday morning. This was the inaugural race and all in all, I think they did a pretty good job for a fist time. Where there some problems, you bet, but not enough for me to dislike the race.

I don't really want to start with one of the problems right away but the first issue I had with the race was that they required you to pick up your packet the day before the race. I live a little over 1 1/2 hours away and would have preferred to pick up the packer in the morning before the race and save the $85 I spent for a bed to sleep in for the night.

I got to Middleton at about 4:30 in the afternoon and decided to drive as much of the course as I could to get a feel for what I was into. I am very glad I did this because I then knew that the first (and last) 3 miles had some hills and that miles 9 1/2 to about 14 1/2 were very hilly with some longer ones and some steeper ones too. I was able to adjust my plan knowing this.

I then made it to the Expo which was quite small and able to get to the spaghetti dinner. Nothing special about the Expo except for the Halloween decorations and the dinner was average. I bought a raffle ticket to try to win some prizes and I actually had about a 50 -50 chance of winning, but no, as always, I didn't.

I woke up early, ate my oatmeal, and headed to the start area about 3/4 of a mile from the hotel. It was starting out to be good weather to run a marathon. It was in the lower 40's, cloudy but a little higher wind that I would have preferred, but not too bad. One thing that was fun before the race was to see how many people were dressed up in costumes. I don't think I would want to run a race in a costume, but it was fun seeing them. Most were only running the half marathon or 10K, but some were running the full. I saw Supergirl, The Flash (1 in a good costume and 1 in a crappy costume), many fairies and a family of Waldos. (Is a female Waldo called a Walda? Just wondering).

The race started at 7:45 and off we went, full and half marathoners together. The first 3 miles were quite crowded as there we 950 half marathoners and 350 full marathoners. This first 3 miles were though a nice middle class neighborhood up and down hills. At mile 2, we passed the second aid station and they had jack-o-lanterns decorating the course. This sounds good, but the jack-o-lanterns were right in the middle of the course. Who thought this was a good idea? At miles 24, when we passed it again and it wasn't crowded at all, no problem, but with so many runners, I really wonder if anyone tripped over them.

After mile 3, we went through "downtown" Middleton before entering a bike path near 4 1/2 miles. I decided before the race to go out slower and not try to beat the 3:35 I ran 2 weeks ago as the course seemed too hilly for this. So by this time, the Garmin said I was right at 8:55 pace, right where I wanted to be. I am so glad I had a Garmin for the race because the biggest problem of the race was that many of the mile markers were off and some by a lot. I first noticed this at the 5 mile marker when the Garmin only said 4.65 miles? this was about where the half marathoners turned around so we had a lot more room. I don't know if the half marathon mile markers were off, but the Garmin sure helped me. Mile marker 8 was right on and I thought we were back on, but 9 was off a tenth of a mile, 10 was right on, 11 was 0.3 off and 12 later as well. The half marathon point was right on and after that, I just ignored the mile markers and used the garmin for pace.

The best part of the course was from 5 1/2 to 9 1/2 where we ran though the Pheasant Branch Conservancy. We ran on a crushed limestone path over little hills and winding through trees and open fields. I would love to run through this park if I lived near by.

Throughout the race, there were very energetic and awesome volunteers. The aid stations were well stocked with powerade and water and close to half of them offered powerbar gel. I don't take that gel and bring my own Gu, but it is nice for them to offer it. All the aid stations were themed and they sure dressed to their theme. Some were ghouls, there was a Pac-Mac aid station, nurses, etc. This race had the most aid stations in any marathon I have run. Plus, as a whole, the most energetic. Big porps to the race for this.

Over the hills of 10 through 13, I took it easy and just maintained an easy pace. I passed the half marathon mark in 1:57:06 (152 place), took some salt and thought that I felt good enough to break 4 hours since the miles 14 to 23 were mostly flat. After getting back on the bike path again, I started noticing the same runners I was with and striking up some conversations. Sandy was running her first marathon and later, Jodi, also running her first marathon trying to break 4 hours. Jodi eventually was using me to help pace her until she took off on me at mile 21. (She ended up running a 3:54, way to go Jodi!)

Miles 16 though 21 were run though an industrial park/park area. It was a nice looking area with a bike path following fields and ponds. Mostly flat and open. The wind was a small issue here but not too bad. There was about a 1 mile out and back here where we could see who was near us and then onto some roads for a bit before closing the loop back up at mile 20 1/2.

Mile 20 caused me some issues. I was feeling quite strong until this point when suddenly my legs felt like they lost all energy. I knew I was still ahead of 4 hour pace but now I was concerned. Miles 21 ans 22 were both 10:06 and I still had the last 3 miles of hills to cover. At mile 21, I took off my long sleeve Grand Rapids Marathon shirt and tossed it near the aid station and ran with only the singlet I had on as well. This felt good and helped cool me off. I tried to hold on and then as quickly as it came on, the energy came back. Mile 24 was back up a steep hill before a longer downhill and I was back down to 8:51. I was running alone now with a few people either passing me or me passing them. I passed the same jack-o-lanterns again, this time no tripping hazard. At 24 1/2, I was passed by a bumblebee. Yes, a lady in a bumblebee costume passed me but I was able to keep here just ahead of me and in sight.

Over the last 2 miles of hills, I was feeling strong and by mile 25, I knew I would be under 4 unless disaster would strike. Not. This. Time. I stopped for my last water break and kept running. I was able to pass the bumblebee with about 100 yards to go and I finished with a time of 3:56:31, the first time I have ever run 2 consecutive sub 4 hour marathons. I felt better than usual immediately after the race. I wasn't dizzy or wobbly and was able to walk quite easily.

After the race, I am glad to be done, I need a break.

Since I parked only 100 yards from the start/finish line, I went to my car and got some warmer clothes on headed back for some food. They had a nice selection of treats and some beer as well. I tried some Capital Brewery Oktoberfest and then had many cups of hot chocolate before I was able to get get a free massage from Abigale from Elements Therapeutic Massage. She worked on my legs and did that ever help! She was awesome and my legs hardly hurt the rest of the day or even the next morning. I only wish she were local to my area, I may then get another one to help the legs. I talked with some other runners and even talked up the Icebreaker Marathon and Half Marathon and may have convinced a pair of ladies to join the half. We'll see.

As I left, I remembered to go back to the mile 21 aid station to find my new Grand Rapids Marathon Shirt. I got there and the station was completed packed up and bags by the side of the road to be picked up and no shirt to be found where I tossed it. Luckily I found it in a bag full of other items runners had tossed. Good thing, I really like that shirt.

After a quick shower back at the hotel, I was off to home. I was very happy to be able to keep the energy and break 4 hours 2 weeks after GR. The course was much tougher than GR too so that made it sweeter as well. The problems with this race (packet pickup/mile markers) could/should be corrected by next year. I know they will hear the mile marker issue from lots of runners as I heard it a lot at the post race area. This should be very easily corrected. I hope the change the packet pickup to allow day of. I understand they may tourist commitments to try to help fill hotels rooms, restaurants, or possibly volunteer issues, but many much larger marathons (Grand Rapids to name one) allow race day packet pick up and this may attract more runners. The course was a little tougher than average (Full Marathon only), but that is OK. A challenging course can be fun as well. Volunteers were top notch! Post race food was average and the medal was small but unique. I would definitely consider doing this one again.

The race medal was small, but unique, I like it.

Now 3 weeks of recovery before the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon in Nashville, TN. The sub 4 streak will definitely come to an end here but the fun will not!

A "pumpkin tree" in Middleton.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Grand Rapids Marathon Pictures

Well, it is now only 3 days until my next marathon, The Haunted Hustle in Middleton, WI. Am I recovered and ready? Probably not, bu that is not going to stop me. I have one more run planned tonight after work, a short 3 miler with about a 1/4 mile pick up at the end. My left quad is still tight and is of some concern, but not nearly enough to stop my plans.

The weather is looking good so far. The forecast is calling for lows of 35F the night before and highs of 56 in the afternoon. The race starts at 7:30AM so it should be cool most of the time. Winds should be low at about 6mph, a far cry from what we are getting yesterday and today. It is windy right now!!!

Greg has pulled out of the half marathon which is a bummer but he has his reasons. So now Chaz is going to take his place. Chaz is coming off injuries to his Achilles (torn) and can run up to 13 miles now. He will run slow, well, slow for him that is. He thinks he will go about 1:40. Yeah! That is REALLY slow there Chaz. He will meet me up there before the race so I can give him his stuff.

I thought I would share a few running pictures from the Grand Rapids Marathon.

Here I am apparently rounding a turn. What a look on my face, so determined!

Still feeling a little strong crossing the finish line. Who am I kidding, I was spent!

Mike with that same determined face I had. I see a theme here.

Mike finishes strong but his hamstring is thinking other, nasty things.

Paul finishes in a crowd only 2minutes behind me. That lady on the left is a walker who did the half marathon.

Glad to be finished? You Bet!!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Recovery or Tapering?

What is the recommended workouts for the week after a marathon? What is the recommended workouts for the week that starts 2 weeks before a marathon? What if that is the same week?

My muscles now do not feel the marathon from last weekend anymore. They did on the 2 easy 5 mile runs I did this week but that was on Wednesday and Friday. Actually, my run on Friday didn't feel bad but I still felt the race just a bit. So usually the weekend before a marathon, I will put in about 8 miles. This weekend I put in a big goose egg. Zip. Zero. Nil. Nothing. I ran really good in Grand Rapids but I still feel like I have another good marathon in these legs. They were tight before Grand Rapids so I would really like it if they were loose and ready to go. I have a little less than 6 days though. The next marathon is on Saturday morning.

I do have some thoughts on a strategy but I am not finalizing it until Saturday morning and seeing what the legs feel like. Greg will be coming with me and he is running the half marathon. We will get there in the later afternoon on Friday (no day of packet pickup, stupid if you ask me), and we will drive the course where we can to get a feel for the hills. If they are small and the weather cooperates (cool, little wind, no rain), then I may try to go for a 3:45 time again. If not, I will take it out slower and try to pick it up in the second half. We will see.

The race is called the Haunted Hustle Marathon and is in Middleton, WI, just west of Madison. What ticks me off already about this marathon is the packet pick up rule. It is only about an hour and a half drive from where I live to Middleton and I really would have preferred to drive up the morning instead of on Friday and getting a hotel for the night. At least Greg will be along so it won't be too boring.

So I recovered and tapered last week only getting in 10 miles. Now I will do little this week in hopes the legs will be ready for 26.2 miles Saturday. At least after this one, I get 3 weeks to recover before the next marathon, The Monkey!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Race Report - Grand Rapids Marathon

I had a really good marathon this weekend in Grand Rapids, Michigan with almost perfect marathon weather. This was my 25th marathon and I was able to run my 3rd fastest time with a time of 3:45:03. This was my second Grand Rapids Marathon, the last one being in 2007, and I have to say it was just as much fun as the first time.

Paul, Mike, and I left Milwaukee on Saturday just before Noon and headed down around Chicago and back up the other side of Lake Michigan to Grand Rapids. While it is only 117 miles from Milwaukee to Grand Rapids across the lake, it is 262 miles by roads. ugh! We arrived at the Expo just after 5:00 eastern time and went through the quite small expo very quickly. It is a smaller race so I didn't expect much for an Expo. I did find Don Kern, the race director, and gave him a 6 pack of a local micro brew as he likes to drink micro brews and lots of runner give this to him. After a brief chat, Paul, Mike and I headed to the hotel that was maybe 1/4 mile from the Expo/Start/Finish area. Good pick on the hotel, Paul!

Here is a view of the Start/Finish area from our hotel room.

We relaxed a bit before heading to a local restaurant for a little carbo loading with a big bowl of Fettuccine Alfredo and some good bread sticks. We headed back to the hotel and were able to watch the Wisconsin Badgers beat #1 Ohio State in TV before crashing for the night.
I woke up early on race day to let my body do what it needs to do before long runs and races and we ended up heading to the start line about 20 minutes before the start. Paul had to go back and get his watch so I didn't see him again until during the race. Start conditions were great. Mid 40's, clear skies, little wind.

Mike and I started together for about 10 feet before he was gone. He had a bad hamstring but thought he could maybe pull out a fast race. He did. My goal was to join the 3:44 pace group and hang on. The first 3 miles I felt quite sluggish for some reason, the pace group seemed like they were going really fast. I kept them in eye shot and then started feeling better by mile 4. The garmin said I was right on pace so I wasn't too concerned they were ahead of me. I kept a lot to myself and just tried to relax.

My garmin was off some (actually I was borrowing Mike's) and by the half, it said 13.25 miles so I was actually a little off pace and I went though the half marker in 1:53. We headed over the Grand River and went down a very large bike path for 2 out and backs. It warmed enough for me to take off my long sleeve shirt and just wear the singlet. The cool air felt like a relief for awhile. The path was very wide and it was fun (and depressing) to see the leaders pass going the other way many miles ahead. On the other hand, it was fun to see others behind me after I passes the turn around. Mike flew by me about 2 miles ahead of me still looking strong. I also saw Paul finally and he was about 4 minutes ahead of me.

At mile 14 or so, I took some salt and decided to make a slow push to catch the 3:44 pace group. My goal was to catch them by mile 20 as they were maybe 1:30 ahead of me. My legs were sore a bit already but I didn't come here to feel good the whole race. By mile 18, I was at the back of the pace group. By mile 20, I decided to go ahead of the group a little and see what I had. Earlier in the race I saw a sign that said "Trust your Training". It stuck with me so I did trust it. This part of the course was completely flat so fast running was easy. Just before the 2nd turn around, I saw Paul, he was only 1:50 ahead of me.

I had something weird happen at the turn around. I got just past it and wanted to get up to speed right away and was passing some lady who must not have liked that. She had plenty of room but yet elbowed me intentionally. Not sure why, I just ignored it and kept pushing. I knew I was getting closer to Paul so I kept looking for him ahead. Behind me, I kept hearing the pace group leaders encouraging the other runners as I could not drop them. At mile 23, I heard we were right on pace for a 3:44. I saw Paul and caught him at about mile 23 1/2 at a water stop. We stopped for a short walk break and he told me his hamstring had enough and he was going as fast as it would allow him without breaking. I said good luck and tried to take off and catch the pace group who kept going at the water stop. My legs now were having trouble and I just couldn't catch the group. I though I would get them in a final push when I saw the finish line in the distance but no such luck.

I did get to do one thing special in the final blocks. I found Waldo! Waldo was running the marathon and was in the pace group so I saw him frequently during the race. He passed me with about 2 blocks to go and I couldn't get him. Oh well! So I crossed the line in 3:34:03, gave Don Kern, Race Director, a bro-hug, and then tried to get my balance. Took me a bit but then I saw Paul finish 2 minutes behind me and found Mike who ran a 3:22.

The post race area was well stocked with water, Gatorade, string cheese, honey milk, Culver's Custard as well as lots of fruit. Paul and Mike found the beer but were denied as the keg ran out as they were in line. We decided to walk to the hotel and shower up before returning for beer and chili. Ends up we didn't go back and decided to head home instead. We did stop in Benton Harbor on the way home for a big lunch. Chicago traffic sucked, as usual, but home at least.

All in all, I really like this race. It is one of my favorite marathons out there and maybe my #1. The course is mostly flat and very fast. Lots of the course was shade covered so the sunny day was not a problem until the last 2 1/2 miles. The bike path portion of the course as well as the run through millenium park was beautiful. The expo isn't big but has what you need. The parts run though the city have lots of crowd support and the parts in the parks had good and loud cheering sections. The pace groups ran really well and were very supportive. The race director knows what he is doing and has all the right people helping out. While there is not control on the weather, I have run twice here in almost perfect conditions so climatically it is good! The medal is a really heavy and thick with special lanyard. Post race food was good and plentiful, except for the keg running out when we wanted a brew. I totally recommend this race and will most likely do it again someday. It doesn't hurt that my #2 and #3 all time fastest times were here.

I took a look at my garmin splits. It said I ran 26.5 miles and I ran the tangents as much as possible. But overall, I ran an 8:35 pace and actually negative split the race by about a minute. I was very consistent with only 2 miles at 9:00 and 9:02 with all others in the 8's. I guess I did trust my training and it turned out it was good. I think I could have run a little faster if the legs were not so sluggish at the start, but if I did start out faster, I may have crashed at the end.

My quads are sore today so I am resting them a few days. I do only have 12 days until the next marathon, I know, I am crazy, so I will work on my goals for that one next week. It is a tougher course so I may go out a little slower.

Thanks for all the well wishes on the race!

Grand Rapids Marathon Finish

I do not have time right now for a full race report on the Grand Rapids Marathon but I thought I would give a quick update on my finishing time. I ended running a 3:45:03, my 3rd fastest marathon to date. I am very happy with the time but knowing how I felt most of the race, I think I could go faster.

I will work on a race report maybe tonight, right now I am working on the sore quads and knee.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Final Tune-Up

Yesterday, I went out for my last run before the marathon and the goal was a super easy 3 miles along the river in Waukesha. I took it very easy and it felt very easy. I never felt like I was pushing it and I just enjoyed the scenery. The good news (or bad news depending on how you look at it) was that I went a little fast for what I wanted to accomplish. I ended up running 8:31 pace. I don't think I pushed it too hard since it felt very easy and I didn't push the pace at all. I am going to take it as that I am fully tapered and ready to run 8:30 pace for the full marathon.

The forecast is looking really good. Sunny but 43 at the start and 53 when I plan on finishing. Winds in the single digits. Good friends to run with as well. I will report back on Sunday evening or Monday morning.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Optimistic Confindence

I did my last fast workout before the Grand Rapids Marathon today. I went out 1 1/2 miles easy and the tempo ran it back. My pace back was about 7:10 so not an all out tempo, but steady. I like to do these short tempos before a race because usually after I run a tempo, my next few runs feel quite easy yet I am running faster. That is how I want to feel Sunday morning, easy and faster.

I will do one more run before Sunday, another 3 mile easy run most likely on Thursday, and then the race. I have an optimistic confidence going on in my head and I hope it doesn't burn me. I have goals for the race that sound very reasonable, something I have done before. But I also feel nervous as I have tried this before and crashed and burned badly. I feel I trained very well this summer and I had a good half marathon to build the confidence more. Now I just need to do the rest right before the race and then just execute.

The goal for Sunday will be to run with the 3:44 pace group and see what happens after 20. I did this last time I ran Grand Rapids 3 years ago and finished in 3:43:21. It was a good pace group and I even tried to go for it after 21 but the group reeled me in and I hung on until the last mile where I faded just a touch but still got the desired time (the pace group was 1 minute ahead of pace).

So what is with the 3:44 pace group and not 3:45? Well, Grand Rapids has a little fun with their pace groups. They created pace groups that run the pace of a celebrity that actually ran that time. So I will be in the "George W's Running Mates" group named after President George W. Bush who did run a 3:44 marathon once. Other pace groups they have are:
The Sub-3 Lancers - 2:59:36
Pi Pacers - 3:14:15926 (get it?)
The Billy Baldwin Racer - 3:29:24
Will Ferrell's Sub 4 - 3:56:12 (is it just me surprised that Will Ferrell actually ran a Sub 4?)
P.Diddy Pacers - 4:14:54
Team Oprah - 4:29:20 (must be nice to have so many trainers helping)
The Penguin Brigade - 4:44:44
Al Gore's: An Inconvenient Pace - 4:58:25

Notice all the teams are pretty close to a time milestone so it is fun to see them do this.

Mike has decided to join Paul & I in the road trip to Grand Rapids. He will run but as he says, only for fun and to "get the state". I already have Michigan but Paul & Mike do not. I am at an even 10 states but they are a few ahead of me. I think this will be 17 for Mike and 15 for Paul. Mike and I will each add another state in November when we run the hills of Tennessee, Monkey Style.

It is a big marathon weekend all over. I counted 27 marathon this coming weekend. If you are running one of those, good luck! If you are running Grand Rapids, I hope to see you and extra good luck!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A 5K and a Homecoming Dance

It is a "warmish" day here in the upper Midwest. At least that is what the article said about the Chicago Marathon that was run today. I agree, it is warmish, in fact, it is Indian Summer here. What is Indian Summer? It is beautiful warm temperatures after the first frost of the fall. We had a few days of frost early last week so I guess this qualifies. Anyways, just beautiful outside, just not for marathon racing. Good thing I have 1 more week until Grand Rapids.

My taper is going well. I got in around 22 miles last week and put in 8 yesterday. But I did it in 3 short runs as I took my oldest girl to a 5K race. She just finished her first season of Cross Country at her school (yes, they allow 3rd graders to run CC there) and wanted to run a 5K to see how she could do. Based on her races, usually 1 1/2 miles long, I though she may be able to break 30 minutes, that is if she ran smart. In July, she did a 5K and ran 37 minutes so this would be a large task to complete.

There were not too many runners at this race as there was a very large race in Milwaukee that attracts most of the local runners so that left about 30 runners and maybe 100 walkers for this race. Very small! But good for an 8 year old. I had borrowed my friend Mike's Garmin since my is toast so I could track our pace knowing we needed to run about a 9:40 pace to break 30 minutes. We got on 9:20 pace right away and kept it simple. The race was 3 loops around the school that was putting on the race. Mile 1 was 9:22 and she was feeling OK. We took a 30 second walk break at about 1 1/2 miles and then kept going. She ended up running the second half of the race faster than the first half. The race ended up being 3.23 miles long and she ran a time of 29:22 which is the pace of 28:13 for a 5K. She did awesome! She took 15th overall and also won her age group getting a medal. She was very happy with the run and said afterwards she had a lot of fun. Funny thing is that I won my age group as well getting a medal and I ran with her the entire time for 16th place. OK, OK, I was the only one in my age group, but I won it anyways.

I live about 1/4 mile from the local High School in my city and yesterday was the homecoming dance. I took the girls to the school to a small public viewing area so they could see some the the girls as they like looking at all the "pretty dresses" as they call it. Maybe I am an old fart or perhaps it is just that I am the parent of 3 little girls, but if my girls ever wore some of the dresses we saw, they would be grounded for a week. What parent lets their kids out in some of this stuff??? We also saw 2 girls being escorted into the office while some police came in to give them Breathalyzers. Looks like they failed. Now, if my girls did that, I don't know how long they would be grounded for. Guess I am now officially a fuddy duddy.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Local Tragedy

I had a pretty good tempo run today. I ran a total of 5 miles but busted out the last 2 miles. My times for the last 2 miles were 7:18 & 6:54. I didn't really want to go much faster as I didn't want to chance pulling my right hamstring or left quad, both of which were tight. It really felt good out there during those miles. I don't know how fast the first 3 miles were because I didn't start the watch but they felt good.

A little sad news here in the Milwaukee area. A local prominent man who owns a local bike store and President of some Wisconsin Bike association was out on a ride Friday morning along with a local pro triathlete. They were both hit by a car who was blinded by the early morning sun. He died today from injuries while the lady hit was released from the hospital Friday with less injuries.

Just a reminder to all you bikers and runners out there. While we have the 'legal right' to be out there and running in specific areas of the road, there will always be drivers out there that either do not care or just won't see you. This was a tragic accident and the bikers were blinded by the low sun, but us runners and bikers have a personal responsibility to anticipate possible problems that may occur. Were the bikers in the right area? Absolutely. Was the drive in the wrong? Definitely. But who has lost their life?

Be careful out there!