Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Icebreaker in the Heat

Today I attended a meeting for the planning of the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon. Chris (Race Director) invited me to be on the committee and I accepted.

I also was able to go on a run with Dana, another member of the committee and running friend of mine. We ran 4.6 miles and he was running easy while I was sweating up a storm in the heat. It was hot and humid but since he is a 2:45 marathoner, and I hover around 4:00, you can see who had it easier. It was a good run though, I can almost call it a tempo but I wasn't quite that fast and I did slow down toward the end. It was hot and humid so that made it more difficult. I hadn't run with Dana in quite some time so it was good to do so. He is not running a marathon this fall since he is expecting #2 at home in September but next year he will be back.

Planning is going well for the Icebreaker. Sign up is going on at Active.com and we are ahead of last years pace. I still need to sign up myself so I better do it quickly. I have written about this marathon before here, it is an indoor marathon in Milwaukee in January. I love this race. One issue I have is trying to explain to others that this race is actually really fun and not boring as most think. Here are some Pros with this race:
1. It is the flattest marathon in the world. Zero elevation gain/loss
2. 190 Port-O-Let Stops
3. 95 Water/Aid Stations
4. Perfect Weather, no wind and 45-50 degrees
5. Music played throughout the race
6. Family can see you 95 times while not getting out of their seat
7. Warm area to stretch and warm up before the race
8. Announcer mentioning highlights and comments through out the race
and one of my favorite things you can't get at other outdoor marathons:
9. The race unfolds right before you eyes and you can see who is winning, seconds, etc.

There are many other Pro's to this race so if anyone is interested at all, I say sign up and give it a try. You may love it like I do. Leave me a note and I can answer any questions you may have, or at least I can find out the answer.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Report - WELS Kids Marathon

Saturday morning was the WELS Kids Marathon. What is that? I know a lot of you already know this but for those of you who don't, here goes. I am the race director of a race for kids in the Milwaukee area. Kids from all over Milwaukee and surrounding areas sign up to run 26.2 miles over the summer while also reading 26 books or reading for 26 hours over the summer. Kids can log miles in 1/4 mile increments and also reading in 1/4 hour increments. Then on Sautrday, August 28th, the kids all come together and run their final mile or their marathon. We had shirts, music, food, prizes and of course, finishers medals for all. I tried to emulate all the things that I love to see at marathons I have gone to. From what I can tell, it was a great success.

I arrived at 7:00AM to start setting up with my other committee members and well as a few awesome volunteers. The weather was great, sunny and warm. By 9:00AM, we started the music and there were a lot of people already there. I was still running around setting up small things and answering questions but everything was going really smooth.

We had 2 charities we donated to from the kids of the marathon. One of the charities was for a local woman who is running across the entire United States raising money for MS. Her mother has MS and she was inspired to try to help raise awareness and money to help find a cure. So we set up a table with a large sheet of paper and let the kids sign it for her. She doesn't know it is coming so the surprise should be cool. Her run is called "MS Run The US". Look it up if you want more info or if you feel inclined to donate.

We had a new announcer this year and he was really cool and funny. Not only did he announce all our information in a clear way, he also ad libbed with a lot of fun. I will tell more soon.

Finally at 10:00AM, after a few words from the College Track Coach welcoming everyone (I do not talk on PA Systems, not my thing I guess), and after the National Anthem, we lined up the kids grades K through 4 for the first of 2 races. Bango the Buck (the Milwaukee Bucks Mascot) lined up with the kids as well, and off they all went for 1 last mile. I took a few pictures of the start and then sprinted across the football field to take a few more when I noticed a table and a football water trailer right in the middle of the track. Aaarrrggghhh. I quickly moved the table and then dragged the trailer off the track and luckily no kids got hurt. Note to self: Next year, assign someone to check entire race course right before the race to make sure it is clear.

I then walked to the finish line to wait for the kids. I like to stay right at the finish line and give high 5's to all the kids as they finish. I stole this idea from Don Kern, the race director of the Grand Rapids Marathon who does this at his marathon, except he shakes your hand or gives you a hug. The kids have no interest in this but do like the high 5! The first 2 kids to finish the first race came in together, they were friends. One of the kids must have given it all because he was puking as he crossed the line. He was OK and happy soon after. My kids finished as well and received their medals which they have proudly hung by their mirror in their room or their bed posts.

As kids were still finishing, the announcer started his funny antics. He was doing spontaneous interviews wit the finishers, really funny! Then I looked up and saw some geese starting to fly toward us in a "V" formation. Right on cue, the announcer said something like "We are sorry for the delay everyone but if you look to the North, you will see our planned ceremonial flyover".

The second race (Kids grades 5 through 8) started at about 10:25 and they had as much fun as the the younger kids, a bit more competitive though. The kids then enjoyed bananas, apples, cookies, and granola bars. We also had spring water to drink.

The all the kids sat down and we gave away lots of prizes including:

Ticket for a Milwaukee Bucks Game and Milwaukee Admiral Game (Minor league hockey)
Many gift certificates for local running and cycling stores
Gift Cards to Barnes & Noble
Milwaukee Brewer Bobble head Doll
Entries to a local Kids Triathlon
Lots more tshirt and sweatshirts.

We also had an event called the Ultimate Challenge where 17 kids did double the miles and reading. These kids received a "Gotta Run" sticker and a shirt from a marathon in Wisconsin. A few weeks ago, I emailed most of the marathons in Wisconsin (there are a lot of them) and asked if they would like to donate some shirts for us to give away and quite a few did including the Icebreaker Marathon, LaCrosse Marathon, the Wisconsin Marathon, WhistleStop Marathon, Paavo Nurmi Marathon, and the Fox Cities Marathon (I have run 3 of those so far).

All in all, it was really cool seeing all the kids achieving their goal of finishing their marathon. I am so proud of each of them. The announcer did say for everyone to come back for the 3rd annual WELS Kids Marathon next year so I guess I have to do it again. I couldn't have done it with out my great committee and awesome volunteers and sponsors though. If you have ever put on a race, you understand all the work involved, hundreds of hours, but it was all worth it on Saturday.

Now, after quite a few Thank You notes to send out, it will be time for a break and time for more training. Next marathon should be in October.
Bango lines up and is ready to start running with all the kids.
The kids (K-4) are off on their final mile of the Kids Marathon.
My daughter, Melissa, finishes her marathon. There are perks to knowing the race director, like getting #1.
My youngest, Katelynn, ran pretty hard for a 4 year old and was pretty hot but she finished and received her medal.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Running In The Dark

I was going to do my long run on Friday morning but I found out I had an early appointment and wouldn't be back in time. So I decided to do it Thursday Night. This run was one of my Monkey Training Runs, in other works, a long run with lots of hills. I went out to East Troy where I run often with Mike and ran in the dark a 6 1/2 mile loop twice. Most of the roads I was on are not heavily travelled plus I ran with a very reflective vest on so I felt safe enough in the dark. Plus it was just a full moon yesterday or the day before and there were no clouds so it was a bit light out that way as well.

It is hard to judge your pace when running in the dark. It seems like you are running faster than you really are, at least that is the way it feels to me. So I did all the hills and it felt pretty good until about mile 11 when I think I was getting a bit dehydrated since I only had water at mile 6 1/2. I ended up running 13.14 miles at 9:28 pace.

Friday will be running all around getting the final stuff for the kids marathon. It should be a good day Saturday.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back On Track

Should one change their interval workout right in the middle of the very first interval? That is exactly what I did today . . . sort of.

I went to track today to 6 repeats of 800 meters each. Usually I do this with equal rest as running and usually do that is 3:15 to 3:20 each. As I was 1 lap into my first interval, i decided to change my recovery. I decided to just jog 200 meters between and then start right up into the next interval. I had 1:20 to 1:30 recovery. So my interval workout had a little fartlek in it. I wanted to try this workout with less rest and try to get more endurance. I think it went well.

My splits were 3:31, 3:29, 3:24, 3:22, 3:16, & 3:14 and was pretty spent by the end. It was a good workout and I am glad I did it as I was waffling before hand.

I am taking Friday off of work to get ready for the Kids Marathon on Saturday. Since Saturday morning is booked, I am planning my longer run on Friday morning. I think I will go to a loop that has lots of hills and will be about 13 miles. Getting ready for The Monkey!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Little Rain for 1000 Miles

I did an 8 mile run today. The first 4 miles was with Mike and the final 4 miles by myself. A little past 6 miles, some rain started to fall. It wasn't too hard of a rain, but enough to get me really wet. It was also at that time that I passed 1000 miles for the year. So today is August 24th and I hit 1000 miles. Last year I hit 1000 miles on August 27th. I guess I am 3 days ahead of last year!

I am extremely busy with the WELS Kids Marathon final event that takes place this Saturday. We have been blessed with some late donations of Bananas, Apples, Cookies, and water. I will try my best in the next day or so to tell you all more about the plans for Saturday.

Until then, keep running!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Race Report: Full Moon Half Marathon

Saturday night was the Full Moon Half Marathon in Sheboygan, WI. I ran very well so I am quite happy. My time was 1:41:09 and I actually took 3rd place in my age group and got a medal. There were 15 in my age group and I usually don't do so well in half marathons or full marathons so the place was a surprise. I also took 25th overall out of 266.

Let me start on a report of the race before my details on my personal race. The race starts at 6:30PM in Plymouth, WI and follows bike paths and roads on the way to Sheboygan. The course was actually better than I thought it would be. It was crowded at the start on a bike path but after 1 mile was smooth sailing. There were rolling hills (not steep at all) for the first 7 miles and then nice country roads or sidewalks the rest of the way.

Since the race began at 6:30, we were running out of daylight. By the time I got to about 11 ½ miles, it was starting to get where I couldn’t see too well. This added to the enjoyment of the race. At Mile 12, the race goes through a tunnel under the Interstate before the final mile to the finish at a local mall parking lot. The end of the tunnel had some water/mud for about 15 feet which caused some concern as I was running fast but they had some boards out which may or may not have helped. It could easily been a tripping/slipping hazard. Since most runners finished in the dark, the roads did cause some concern for runners. Like I said, this added to the excitement/enjoyment of the race, but could easily have caused some avoidable trips and problems.

They had very well maintained water/Gatorade stops about every 2 miles. Very friendly volunteers as well cheering us all on. Plenty of water and powerade at the finish line as well with bananas, cookies, etc.

If you are looking for a great half marathon medal, this is not the place. The medal was an aluminum stamped key chain, but at least they gave something to those who accomplishing a half marathon was a major goal.

Packet Pickup was an issue. They required us to arrive by 4PM to pick up but the buses to take you to the start didn’t leave until 4:45. Lots of standing around doing nothing here. Then once at the start area, we got there so early there was more standing around for over an hour. Not needed when there are less than 300 in the race. It wasn’t all that bad though as there were plenty of portolets to use there and many to talk to. This is only a minor issue they could resolve.
As far as my personal race, it went so much better than I expected. The goal before the race was to run the first 5 or 6 miles at just over 8:00 pace and then see if I could pick it up. I was borrowing Mike’s Garmin to help me keep pace but he didn’t have it set up like mine. Right before the race, I was able to set it up for “average pace” but not to keep mile splits. Oh well, I guess I will live. I did a 1 mile warm up with Greg and then waited for the start. We sang the National Anthem facing an open field, I think someone forgot a flag, but then the race started.

After a half mile, there was no more issues with the narrow bike path and not crowded anymore. I hit mile 1 at 8:03, perfect. Mile 2 was right at 8:03 pace as well and I was surprised how easy it felt so far. I told myself not to go faster and stick to the plan even though a few were passing me. At mile 3, I found myself running with a lady who was running a very even pace with me and we stuck together for a few miles. There were some hills up to mile 5 but not steep at all but I eased into them and kept the 8:00 pace taking only 15 second breaks at the water stops. Ahead of me, I could see a bunch of runner strung out and since I felt good at mile 5, they became my targets.

At mile 6, I was still at 8:00 pace and still feeling very good so I decided now was the time to start to pick it up. I think mile 7 & 8 were a 7:45’s and I was beginning to pass a quite a few runners. I hit mile 10 at 1:18:40 and felt really good and was continuing to pick up the pace and pick off runners.

I had a little scare at about 10 ½ when we were running through the only neighborhood on the course on a sidewalk. A guy was about 25 meters ahead of me when a dog tried to run next to him and slightly jump up on him. Then the dog came toward me. The owner was watching us runners and couldn’t care less what his dog was doing. As a runner, I didn’t know if the dog was friendly, was going to bite, etc. It didn’t but it got my adrenaline going some.

There were only 1 or 2 runner ahead I could see now to pass and it was getting dark making it harder to see the course but I felt so good. I couldn’t see the watch anymore to know my pace so I just pressed. I passed one guy right before the tunnel at mile 12 and saw no one ahead of me but heard footsteps behind me to keep me going. The legs tired some in the final mile but I think I didn’t slow. The footsteps didn’t catch me and I cruised the rest of the way. I did pass one more guy who was walking about ¼ mile from the finish but he could have been doing a cool down.

As I passed the final turn, I looked at the watch and thought it already said 1:42 so I was bummed I wasn’t going to break 1:42 but was pleasantly surprised when I saw the watch after the race say 1:41:09! It was dark so I must have seen the 0 and thought it was a 2.

Paul finished in 1:51 and Greg got his goal of breaking 2 hours by running 1:58:59. 3 for 3 on the goals so that is great. I had another coworker who was there running with his wife and they broke 2 hours which was their goal and her 2 friends (1 running her first half marathon) also broke 2 hours and that was their goal. Not too bad when everyone you know in a race beats their goal!

My final 5K of the race was 22:29, a pace of 7:14. I am very happy about that. I felt I could have kept up a close to that pace for another 3 miles. My confidence is higher now about a good fall marathon time. If I can run a half marathon at 7:44 pace, I should have no problem running a full at 8:30 pace, key word “should”. That is why we run the race though.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not Bad, Could Get Better

I can't say the slump is over, I don't know. But I do know that I did have 2 pretty good runs the last 2 days.

Tuesday, Mike and I ran 2 miles out and then Tempo ran the 2 miles back. First mile was 7:50 and the last mile was 6:59.9. Yes, my watch said 6;59.9 so I can say I broke 7. It was a bit tougher than I wanted it or thought it would be for that pace but it still went well.

Today I wanted to run very easy so I did a naked run (no watch). I really don't know how fast it was, most likely pretty slow as the humidity was back up. I really enjoyed it today, I needed it.

Saturday is the Full Moon Half Marathon and with the weather as it is suppose to be and the way I am feeling, I am going with a goal of breaking 1:45. I don't think 1:40 is in the cards this soon.

I am really glad I am a runner. Life has been extremely difficult recently and I need the relief that running provides me. Running programs I am involved in (WELS Kids Marathon) have also helped me divert my thoughts away from things I really don't want to think about right now. I did a lot of praying today, I think it helped, at least I hope it did.

Speaking of the WELS Kids Marathon, the final mile is only 1 1/2 weeks away. We pick up the shirts tomorrow and the packet stuffing party is this weekend. I will try to post about all the details soon.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Slump

I have been in a summer slump the past 2 weeks. I has just finished the month of July with more miles that I have ever recorded in a month and then i just felt like I had enough. I planned the first week of August to be a rest week and only ran once but the second week was suppose to be back to the grindstone. It started out that way with a good run on Monday and a hard workout on Tuesday, but then it all sort of stopped. I didn't feel like running. It was hot and humid and my legs were tired and I let myself give in to the little voice saying "you don't need to run, take a break, you deserve it". I had planned a 10 miler over the weekend and even woke up early on Sunday, but the bed was calling me back for more sleep even though I had enough. I gave in. I need to stop this.

Today was a good start. I did my usual run after volleyball and ran the same distance as last week over the same course (in reverse). The humidity was way down and the temps were down as well. I ran the just over 8 miles 3 1/2 minutes faster today and it felt 20 times easier. Today my pace was 8:30 and I felt I wasn't pushing it at all. A good sign, yes. Now I need to keep it up though this weekend's half marathon and then back to hard training for the fall races.

I did want to share 2 pictures of my 6 year old Megan. She tried out for a local theater part in their production of The Frog Prince. Tryouts were last Monday and the 2 shows were on Saturday. She played the part of a Venus Fly Trap and had a good time.
Megan is in the middle with her head to the side.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Preparing for Rain

Have you seen the movie "Facing The Giants"? It is rather good. It is about a High School Football coach in Albany, GA (I ran a marathon there in March) who is down on his luck. His team seems to be going no where and he feels he may be replaced any day. He turns his team philosophy to praise God in everything they do. If they win, they praise God, and if the lose, they Praise God. It is a pretty predictable movie but good none-the-less.

One scene shows an older man who comes into the school to pray daily. He tells the coach a little parable that goes something like this:

There were 2 farmers who lived in an area ravaged by drought. They both prayed to God for rain. One of the farmers prepared his fields to receive the rain he was praying for but the other farmer only prayed for rain. When the rains finally came, which farmer do you think took better advantage of the rain?

Today, on my run, I was preparing for rain. Well, not rain, for a good marathon. It was Hot and Humid out there. It was sunny and miserable out there. I think it was in the lower 90's with no wind, full sun, and probably a heat index over 100. Mark, you would have loved it! I went out for a 6 miler, no watch, no set pace, just out for 6. It was seriously worse that when I ran the Chicago Marathon in the melt down year. But I kept telling myself I was preparing for rain. By running the the extreme heat, I am adapting my body to be able run more efficiently in the heat and also, when the cooler weather come, the ability for my body to maintain a stronger pace, longer.

It is hard for me to believe I will be ready to do this when I ran as slow as I assume I ran today. I took a walk break at 3 miles and then again at 5. But I am confident when the cooler, less humid weather comes, I will be better prepared to run faster. I have a few time goals for the marathon this fall. My top goal would be to break 3:45 but if not, definitely to break 4 hours again. OK, OK, maybe not in the Flying Monkey, that course is seriously insane, but in an October marathon, perhaps Grand Rapids.

I keep trudging along, I hope you are too!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Camping, Running, Mosquitoes, Movies, and a New Race

I was gone the last part of last week camping with the girls. I took them to Door County, WI and the weather was absolutely beautiful, well, except for Saturday night. We stayed in Peninsula State Park and went swimming, hiking, swimming, ice cream eating, swimming, ice cream eating, swimming, you get the picture. Once Friday came, most of my Aunts, Uncles, and cousins (and family) arrived at an resort in Egg Harbor and we all had a great time catching up and of course, more swimming.

On Wednesday night, I was able to do something I haven't done in a long time and the girls have never done. I took them to a Drive In Movie Theater. We saw Despicable Me. I forgot how fun it was to go to these movies. We brought out the lawn chairs and ate junk food. The movie was even better than I thought it would be. There was a second movie, Grown Ups, but we left before that one as I thought the girls were a little to small for that one.

Since the previous week and month was such a big mileage month for me, I knew I could take a break this week and that is what I did. I ended up only running once on Thursday afternoon where I put in 10 1/2 miles through the park. It was very enjoyable and I took it very easy.

I got back to the regular running schedule this week. Monday I was able to get in 8 miles before my Volleyball match. It was very humid but I ran rather well. Tuesday I did my hard workout for the week. I did some hill reps. 6 of them up Mountain Rd and when I was done, I was spent. I had to come home and cut the grass afterwards but I am not sure if this helped or hurt.

Speaking of cutting the grass, it is very humid this summer and it has rained here more than usual. Where is the connection, well, I had to spray heavily with Mosquito Repellent and the mosquitoes here are terrible. It is the worse year for these little bastards in a long time. Funny thing is that up in Door County, they were not too bad, but here in the Milwaukee area, you better have repellent on or you are liable to fly away.

I know I am changing subjects left and right here but here goes again. Yesterday I signed up for a half marathon. the Full Moon Half Marathon in Sheboygan, WI. It is on August 21st at 6:30PM. I love it, an evening race and with sunset on that day being around 7:45, I should be finishing when it is getting dark and hopefully cooler. Paul and Greg also signed up so we will road trip up there, all 1 hour of it. This will be Greg's second half marathon so he is a little excited for it. it is a point to point course and from what I can see, really flat. Hopefully we can all run fast. For you golf fans, Sheboygan is right next to Kohler where the PGA Championships are being held this weekend.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Flying Monkeys?

That is right, Flying Monkeys. They exist. Not in the Wizard of Oz, but in Nashville. More specifically in the Harpeth Hills section of Nashville in Percy Warner Park. Sounds like a good place for a marathon.

On Sunday morning, I was on the Internet right at 8:00AM signing up for the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon which takes place this year on November 21st. Mike also signed up so we will be travelling down to Nashville the weekend before Thanksgiving to try to tackle this marathon and also check Tennessee off the list of 50 states.

This marathon is not one to take lightly though. The website and emails mention stuff like you have to be really stupid to run this race, stupid and crazy. There is 3500 feet of elevation gain and loss during the race, that is insane. Right up my alley! There will be no PR in November, there will just be a fun run through a beautiful park. I have a friend who has run though this park quite often and she confirmed the hills are there. I haven't asked her if she has seen and of the infamous flying monkeys yet though.

This race also sold out in ONLY 32 minutes. WHAT!!!!!!! Sounds more like a concert than a marathon. Only 200 people get to run this race so it is a pretty exclusive race. I can't wait!!!