Sunday, January 30, 2011


Today was an off day from running, at least so I thought. Once this afternoon came and all my girls were napping, I decided I needed a run. I didn't need a run for training and a day off would have felt really good, but I NEEDED a run. I had a ton on my mind and decided the best thing to do was to run. So I set out on a 5 miler that steadily increased in pace. It was nice out, maybe 30 and sunny, a touch of wind. I ran to a park that was close by that had a loop a little over 1 mile and then back home. By the time I was about a half mile from home, I was just tearing up the road. I do not know what my pace was as I left without my watch but I didn't care, that wasn't why I was out there.

It is amazing the therapy that running offers. I have gotten some of my best ideas and problems worked out while running. I even "wrote" the speech for my best friends wedding toast on a run. Unfortunately, I didn't solve anything today. I really wish I had.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


The last time I ran a marathon (just under a week ago), I ran the entire race only 2 to 8 feet away from ice. The Icebreaker Marathon is run around the 400 meter Olympic Ice Oval that the long track speed skaters train on. All that separates the runners from the ice is a foam barrier there to protect the speed skaters when the biff it and slide into the wall. But that was ice I didn't run on.

This morning there was ice that I DID run on. I woke up and drove to East Troy where Mike lives to go on a 10 mile run with him. We didn't get the few inches of snow that they predicted, instead we got freezing rain. The main roads were all salted and fine but when I got into Mike's neighborhood, it was slippery and I almost slid right through a stop sign. Once out of the car, it was slightly difficult to get up to Mike's door. Once ready to go, we actually were not sure if we were going to continue. No need to slip and fall just to get a run in.

We got out of the neighborhood onto more used roads and the side area was still icy but the road was OK so we ended up running in the road, that is until cars came and we moved over to avoid getting killed. By a mile, we had already thought of cutting the run to only 4 miles but when that turn off came, Mike just went straight. Talk about confusing, I guess we were going longer.

We were not running fast as we didn't feel fast and the roads sort of prevented us from doing so. We go to where we needed to turn to run only 10 miles and again, Mike went straight. Guess we are doing more! We ended up only doing a "looper" as we call it and did 11.7 miles.

By mile 4, I had to stop for a bit which ended up helping a lot. First 4 miles were at 9:08 pace and the final 7.7 miles were at 8:35 pace and that was with the ice every once in awhile. I think we put in the effort of closer to the low 8's but that is all I could muster with feet slipping every once in awhile.

In the end, I think it went well, at least the last 7 miles. My legs felt a little tired from Icebreaker but for the most part, good. I still have nothing on the agenda but don't really think there will be for awhile. Just training and having fun. But.........Ice is NOT fun.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Back on the Road - Quickly

Yesterday was my first run after the Icebreaker. Yes, I only took 2 days off, Monday and Tuesday. I also ran today. Both days I ran a little over 5 miles over the hills loop near my work. The incredible thing is that I felt really good! Why is that?

I think it is very similar to training. If you run only one day, the next day may be hard to get going. If you run regularly and run 10 days in a row, the next day really isn't all that hard to run. I think I have trained my body to recover faster. I actually feel like I could run another marathon again this weekend, that is if I wanted to, I don't. But I may do 10 miles.

So I am back to running and feeling good. But I still have no definite plans on any races yet. Running Diva Mom suggests I run the Madison Half Marathon over Memorial Day Weekend. I have run the full, the 4 person relay and the 2 person relay but never the half there. Maybe, just maybe, this will be my year.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

There is Something Missing

There is something missing in my life right now. Actually there are a lot of things missing in my life, hopefully not for long, but as far as running is concerned, there IS something missing. As of right now, I am NOT signed up for ANY races. Not a single one. Remember back [HERE] when I was signed up for 4 1/2 marathons at one time? Yes, back in September, I was signed up for 4 different marathons and on the waiting list for another one. Those being the Grand Rapids Marathon, The Haunted Hustle Marathon, The Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon, and the Icebreaker Marathon. I was also on the waiting list for the Zoom Yah Yah Marathon which I ended up not running. Instead I ran the double, Mississippi Blues Marathon and the Mobile Marathon. So since that post, I have run 6 different marathons and now I having no plans in concrete. Sure there are a few that I want to run but I am not signed up.

It is an odd feeling right now. I am going to continue to train and maybe even have a big mileage month in February but for what? I have not selected a full or half marathon this spring that I would like to race but I know there is something out there. More than likely I am going have to pick a closer race that I can drive to.

There are A LOT of marathons in Wisconsin in May that I could choose plus there are some other "fun" races that I could run as well. I may run the Lake Geneva Euro Cross Race like I wanted to last year before I signed up for the Fargo Marathon. This would be a long training run though. It is on a path that surrounds Lake Geneva and follows the entire shoreline going through all the mansions backyards. But it is kind of like a trail run and I am unfamiliar how to run those so I would only use it as a training run.

Paul is planning on running the Green Bay Marathon on the 3rd weekend in May so that is a possibility. The Wisconsin Marathon is on the 1st weekend of May and is local so maybe there. I just don't know.

Well, your guess may be as good as mine. Stay tuned and we will find out together.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Race Report - Icebreaker Indoor Marathon

The official results are not online yet so I don't know my exact place or time yet, but I finished in about 4:08:34, an Icebreaker best for me.

I can't say enough about how cool, awesome, exciting, super the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon is. It is a true hidden treasure in the world of marathons. Chris and Dana put on a superb marathon and it only gets better year after year. Check out the cool shirt we got. It has the look of a worn rugby shirt and is NOT a technical shirt which is a really good thing. I have WAY to many technical shirts. Finally a marathon shirt I can wear anywhere.

Yesterday was the 2 heats of the Half Marathon and the Marathon Relay and they went really well. Being on the committee, I was on my feet working the race from 5AM to about 5PM. I was very tired when I left and my feet were sore but that was yesterday and now it is today.

I slept in a bit and woke up at 6AM. I knew I didn't really have to work much before the race so I drove in and tried to get to the Pettit Center by 7. I did have one job in the morning and that was to deliver the Chocolate Milk to the Pettit for the runner. Note to all the race directors out there. Runner LOVE chocolate milk after a race. And not that fake organic crap, the real deal, low fat is preferable. We received a ton of compliments on having chocolate milk. Thank you goes out to Kwik Trip convenience stores for donating it!

I was told that this was race day by the race director Chris Ponteri, but I knew that I would have a few questions to answer since a lot of the runners saw me the day before working. I got the new marathon pace charts put up and then headed to the Chiropractor on site for a quick back and neck adjustment (psss, don't tell my regular Chiro, he may think I cheated on him, LOL). It felt good and I headed to the start line for my 95.3 laps of pure enjoyment.

Right before the race, Paul showed up and wished me luck. He was volunteering at the water table for the first 4 hours. Then Chris introduced me to Dick Daymont, he is the race director for the Zoom Yah Yah Indoor Marathon in Northfield, MN That race was run 2 weeks ago. I tried to get in but didn't make it in on the lottery. Only about 42 runners are allowed in that one. Dick is a great guy and we ran the first couple laps together.

The gun goes off on time and sure enough, on my second lap, I am already passed. It is OK, I knew I would be passed All. Day. Long. The music is playing and the atmosphere is festive and runners are circling the track. I get into a rhythm after a few laps and begin to drop lap after lap between 2:26 to 2:30. I wanted to run right there as an average pace of 2:31 equates to a 4 hour marathon. My plan was to take breaks every 10 laps (2.75 miles) up to lap 80, then every 5 laps. I hit this plan the entire way.

One unique aspect to this race is that there is an announcer who does the right mix of music playing and announcements on the runners. Early in the race, he would say a few unique things about runners in the race that the runners submitted when registering. It is a great distraction and you got to learn a few things about some of your fellow racers out there. He would mention about 5 and then let the music play for awhile and then some more. He would mention when the leaders reached the halfway point and then also start announcing when runners were on their final couple laps. Most runners knew what lap they were on plus they had a big screen scrolling the name and place you were in. Really cool set up. At some point, he mentioned that there were 3 different race directors in the race today. He mentioned Dick Daymont from Zoom Yah Yah and also Kris Hinrichs, the race director for the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee. The he mentioned me as the race director for the WELS Kids Marathon and said some pretty cool things about the race.

I was on lap 46 when he announced that half of the runners were past the halfway point of the race and I wasn't there yet. Since there were 108 (I think) runners in the race, I knew my place wasn't great but I was OK with it. I reached where I thought the half marathon point was at 1:58:30 and I was still feeling good. Not long after that, I was told I was in 55th place.

In a race this small, you really get to know some of the runners on the course. I had remembered Robyn from last year and made sure I said "Hi" or "looking good" or something like that to her each time I passed her. I also was able to cheer on the leaders and other runners near the front often. Most of the fast guys appreciate it. We added a new feature this year as well. We had blank race bibs where runners could write something on and put on their backs for other runners to read. Some were quite interesting. A lot had their name or the number of marathons they had run. One lady had hers say "Go Bears", oh well, they lost. A very clever one said "Race Official - Do Not Pass" I had a good laugh at that one. One lady from Pennsylvania even wore a "Cheese Head" the entire race, not that takes some balance, maybe not mental balance though. those things are not exactly super light.

They allowed people to make signs by providing paper and markers. Some were pretty cool. I saw one that said "Run like you stole something". I don't think I am a fan of that one but I saw another that was "You Run 26.2 Miles Because 26.3 Miles is NUTS!" Some lady also had a dry small dry erase board and kept changing her notes. Some were very funny and I think at one point in time she was looking for a date?!?! I mentioned this to Chris that next year we should have a large dry erase board and keep changing the notes to clever things.

When I got to lap 60, my legs started feeling very heavy and tired and my laps started falling to 2:45 to 2:50. I made sure I didn't take an unplanned break though as I knew that would kill me mentally. About 10 laps later I was able to bring it back a little to the upper 2:30's but sub 4 was now out of the question. I know I got a little over 2/3s done when the first runner finished the race. Albertus Rohling was the winner this years in 2:45:56. Last year he took 3rd and 2nd 2 years ago. Steven Teits took 2nd place but the more incredible part of that was that yesterday, he took 3rd in the half marathon. He was the Gold Medal Challenge winner, runners who ran both the half and the full, just like the Goofy Challenge at Disney World.

With about 22 laps to go, my girls showed up to watch me and they made some really cool signs to show. Once again, they gave lots of the runner high fives and cheered on everyone. Not long after that, Mike showed up to my surprise. He had never some to Pettit before and lucky for him, he got to see me run really slow toward the end. He and Paul were yelling at me to pick it up and drop the hammer. Maybe that was why I was running so slow, maybe it was a sledgehammer I was holding.

I took my final break at lap 90 and was ready to be done. I suddenly said to myself to try to crank out my final 5 laps. With 4 laps to go, I had my fastest lap of the race, 2:24. With 3 laps to go, I ran a 2:22 and noticed I was in 51st place and knew there was another runner on the same lap as I was. I wanted to pass him/her so get the top 50. I was running a lot faster than anyone left in the race and then the announce said I was on my last lap and I was cranking along. My final lap was 2:02 and I finished in 4:08:32 (results were just poster) and I took 50th place. I was happy with my time and it was close to where I expected it after working the races the last 2 days being on my feet most of them.

Of all the comments on the race, I would say 98% of them were positive. Most everyone said it was an extraordinary race and they will be coming back next year. If you want in, registration opens about August 1st.

There were a couple notable racers there this weekend, each were running the Gold Medal Challenge. Julie Faylona won the half marathon and is an Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier. And Michael Henze who took 2nd in the US 24 hour run championships and represented the US in the World 24 hour championships. I had a chance to talk to both of these awesome runners and also cheer them on when we were all running. I remember Michael from Nashville where we both ran the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon last November.

Also attending the race as a spectator was Jenny Crain, a former US Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier who was hurt very bad in a car accident a few years back. She is a star in the local running community and is supported greatly. She is just as nice as she was before the accident, a wonderful person.

After the race, I was able to get a picture with my girls and the awesome signs they made before they left for a birthday party.

I was also able to meet Jamie as well. Jamie is a fellow blogger from the Madison, WI area. You can see her blog at Running Diva Mom. She took a picture of us and I think she is going to post it on her site. Jamie has a ton of running product reviews she does on her blog and they a ton of giveaways of all the products she reviews. From compression socks, to Bondis, to runner jewelry, to runner books to . . . She does a ton and her blog is fun to read. She is also a really awesome lady and it was great to finally meet her! Check out her site!

After the race, I stuck around until the final runner finished helping make sure she had all the cheers the other runners had. After loading my car, I went to pick up my daughter and her friend from the birthday parity they attended and then when I finally got home, I was able to watch the final quarter of the NFC Championship game between the Packers and the Bears. It got nerve racking toward the end but the Pack pulled it off and they are going to the Super Bowl to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I feel pretty good right now. Of course my legs are tired, but for the most part, I feel good. My knees are a touch sore and my feet have had it. I shall sleep good tonight.

Here are a few pictures I took on Saturday on the half marathon and marathon relay.
The Half Marathon being run as a Speed Skater cruises on the ice oval.

As you can see, the running track is not very wide but it is pretty long (442.43 meters, longer than a high school track).

The Marathon Relay was run when public open skating was going on.

Lots of runners and fans lined the track during the Marathon Relay.

Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers are going to the SUPER BOWL!!!!!!!!

Icebreaker Marathon report very soon.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Icebreaker Day One - Quickly

I got homer a little bit ago from the first day of the Icebreaker Marathon, Half Marathon & Marathon Relay. My feet are very tired and a bit sore from walking and standing most of the day helping out here, there, and everywhere. I think that a sub 4 will be almost impossible for me tomorrow. I will try though but I feel like I already ran at least a half marathon today.

Some quick hi-lights from today. The half marathon was very fast this morning. The winner was Eamon McKenna who finished in 1:09:25. He was FLYING. And a side note, he ran his college days at UW-Oshkosh where I ran. He was attended about 6 years after I graduated though. In all, 4 runners broke 1:20.

The marathon relay was a riot like last year. I mean really fun to watch and I am guessing, participate in. If you thought Eamon was running fast, 2 teams were going even faster. The winning team finished in 2:16:57. And just as impressively, 6 teams ran faster than 2:30 including another team made up of former runners from, you guessed it, UW-Oshkosh.

I do want to say Thanks to Erin for stopping by and saying "hi". She says she has been reading my blog "quietly"for awhile and wanted to introduce herself. She was running the relay herself. Hope you had fun, Erin!

I am going to sleep real soon now. I only got 4 to 5 hours the last 2 nights.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Icebreaker Beginith

Tonight was packet assembly for the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon. A bunch of us gathered at the Pettit Center upstairs and filled over 800 bags with all the stuff the runner will get including their shirt(s). It took a long time but it was still fun.

Just before we started, I was able to get on the track and do my usual final 3 miles run before a marathon. I ran 11 laps total with the first 6 at about 8:20 pace and then the final 5 laps at closer to 7:15 pace. I like to get that last fast short run in before a race so my legs don't feel sluggish and when I run, they feel like I am just going slow, when in fact I am going faster. Does that make sense? It does to me, I think.

On the way home from Pettit, I got on the Interstate and proceeded to immediately have a flat tire. UUGGHH. It was VERY cold out, I think zero, and there was a wind, not to mention all the cars flying past at 60MPH. It was also the tire that was on the traffic side of the car. Luckily a sheriff was close and tried to help but the tire would not budge. It was REALLY stuck, even the sheriff could budge it. I ended up calling AAA and waited about a half hour for them to arrive to finally get my tire off. Did I mention I had on my running shoes with very little warmth to them. My toes were very cold.

But now I am home and ready to go to sleep. Tomorrow is the Icebreaker 5K, not sure what I am doing to help out as of yet. Most likely in packet pick up since I sort of figured out where all the bags were put. I also need to get the car tire fixed and pick up supplies for the Icebreaker. I guess tomorrow is full.

If I don't post until after Sunday, good luck to anyone who reads this that is doing the Icebreaker this weekend. Find me and say hi! And also, cheer on the Packers on Sunday!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Little Scare!

I didn't feel all that good this morning. It felt hot and my muscles were a little sore. I was thinking I was coming down with either a fever or a cold, and I may just be doing that, I hope not though. Then I was thinking of all the reasons on why I would be sore. It could be that a cold is coming on. It also could be from my run yesterday in the snow. I had to go real slow and run a lot on the snow at the side of the road to stay far away from cars. That could be it. Then it also could be too much Wii. You see, Santa brought a Wii System to the house and I have been playing it ALL OF THE TIME. We only have the 2 games that it come with (Sports & Sports Resort) but some of those games really work the arm muscles I don't use often. I think that may be the culprit.

My eyes were having that "cold coming on" feel to them and since I was a little sore today, I wimped out on my planned 3 mile run after work. I did have a Volleyball game scheduled so i wasn't too concerned. Extra rest right now shouldn't be a bad thing this close to and from a marathon. OS Volleyball was going fine until I went up for a block (or a spike, I don't remember) and my right foot landed on a lady on my teams foot and I turned my ankle. the first thought I had was "Oh Crap, there goes my marathon this weekend". But I got up quickly, excused myself from the game and began walking on it to keep it loose. Turns out it was a minor turn and nothing is strained or sprained but I still do feel a little twinge down there. It should be all good though. I have no plans on not running on Sunday.

So a little scare has been averted and now only 5 days until the Icebreaker Marathon. I love this race so I am really looking forward to it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

In the Snow

We got some snow today. Not a lot, at least by northern standards, I think about 6 inches. Yeah, Atlanta would be paralyzed for like a month, but we take it in stride.

So today was a double workout. After work, I did a slushy 4 miles while it was snowing pretty good. It was 29F out so I was in shorts. I am sure the people in the cars thought I was crazy but it was actually very warm. Then when I got home, I had to shovel the driveway. One of these years I am going to get a snow blower. Until then, a shovelling I will go.

The Icebreaker Marathon is this Sunday and I feel like I am recovering really well from the double 8 days ago. Since I am on the committee, it will be a very busy time over the next few days. Thursday is packet assembly. Friday is packet pick up and the 5K Run. Saturday is 2 half marathon races (7:00 & 9:30AM) and then a marathon relay a little after noon. Sunday at 8:00AM is the full marathon.

I am going to hope that all runners finish quickly though I am sure that won't happen. You see, the Green Bay Packers play in the NFC Championship game starting 6 hours after the marathon begins. While I am sure I will be done by then, I was planning on staying until all the racers were done.

Good luck to any of you if you are running any of the Icebreaker races this weekend.
Here are a few quick pictures from the Mississippi Blues Marathon of Paul, Mike & I finishing.

I was so glad that the time began with a 3!

Mike finishing pretty strong.

Paul finishes not long after Mike.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Race Report - First Light Mobile Marathon

Why does one decide to run 2 marathons on 2 days in a row? I think it has something to do with having a screw loose upstairs. But then again, we can't trust what I say as I was one of the fools to do it.

Once we left the Mississippi Blues Marathon and showered up, we headed on the 3 hour drive across Mississippi and into Alabama to Mobile. It was an easy drive though a little hard to get in and out of the car when we needed to gas up. We even wore our Elvis sunglasses some of the time. I wonder what people thought as we either passed them or they passed us.

We arrived in Mobile and checked into our hotel which very conveniently was located just next door to where the Expo was and even better, was right at the start line. So close that we could leave the door of the hotel and walk maybe 100 feet to the start line.

The expo was small but had a few vendors with some good stuff. Some running jewelry for the ladies and other items for all. I was able to buy myself another 26.2 magnet for my car like the one stolen off my van when I was in Albany, GA for their marathon. Being one of the runners who signed up for both races, we received a small artistic board made with the 2 marathon logos on it. On the back was a picture and notes about the artist. All the artists were people with special needs so this was extra cool. After the Expo, we headed next door for the Pasta dinner included in our entry. We got there a toward the end so the pasta was starting to cool off but it was OK. At the Expo (and at the finish line) there were some girls dressed in pastel colored Southern Belle dresses. They were having runners and other take pictures with them so we obliged.

Being a bit tired for the marathon earlier that day, we hit bed early. I ended up waking 2 hours before the start time as I usually do to let body do what it needs to do but Mike and Paul stayed in bed until maybe a half hour before the start time. No need to travel, the start line was 100 feet away!
It was cold out again but this day it was cloudy and there was some wind. I barely heard the National Anthem as their speakers were very quiet but then the race started. There were no chips or a timing map to go over so I ended up starting my watch where I thought the start line was, maybe 15 seconds after the horn. For the first time in a marathon, I actually ran with Mike for a bit, maybe a whole quarter to a half mile before he took off. My legs felt tired but my first 2 miles were not too bad (9:19 & 9:28). After those miles, my legs remembered what I did the day before and I slowed some. The streets did not have the high camber that they did in Jackson but they has more larger cracks and lots of speed humps to watch out for and not trip over. I made it the whole race on my feet!

Paul passed me somewhere between 2 and 3 miles and I didn't see him again. For some reason, the water stop near mile 3 had warm water?!?! It did not taste good and I tossed it. Warm may be good for the volunteers, but as a runner, it just sucked. I continued on. Finally at mile 6, my legs said something to the effect of, "Oh, I guess you really do want to run long again, OK, let's make the best of this" and I was able to clip off 3 straight sub 10 minutes miles. They half marathoners turned off around mile 8 or so and after that, it got very open. In fact, after the turn off, I turned around and there wasn't a runner 200 meters in front or behind me. This was OK and I found plenty runners later.

About mile 9, I met Brian on the course and we talked a bit. He ran in Jackson the day before also and was close to my age so we talked about all sorts of stuff to make the time pass. Others would join us and then leave. We took walk breaks together and paced together well. I am sure we helped each other out. We passed the half mark at about 2:13:30ish. Right after that was a somewhat longer hill most of the runners around us walked up. We walked about half of it. This was the part of the course where we ran over rolling hills which took a toll on me.
At mile 17, I tried something I never tried in a marathon before. They handed me a small cup of M&M's and I gobbled them up like they were candy! I made sure I chewed them thoroughly though, I was worried about choking. Not long after this was a steep hill and Brian wanted to walk up so I said I was continuing on. I made it up a little over half before I started to walk but that was the last I ran with him. I passed a lady who was running her first marathon so I encouraged he and she looked OK. By mile 20, my mile splits were over 11 minutes (for miles 20, 21, & 22). At this time, I knew I would finish, but didn't know what it could take or what time I would finish in. I ran past another guy from Wisconsin and was actually passing people more than were passing me. Miles 22 & 23 were under 11 each but I had sucked downs some Gu's to try to get any energy I could. At this time I didn't want to get a PW (personal worst) marathon time which was 4:43 in Austin, the second marathon in 2 days as well.
Suddenly, I was able to find some energy to pick up my pace. Either that or I was just so sick of running and I just wanted to be done. I ran mile 25 in 9:56 and then mile 26 in 9:10. I have to be honest with you, there was a pretty lady ahead of me I was using to pull me along and I wanted to catch up to her and see if I could catch her. The problem was I caught her over a half mile from the finish but I kept going. The final stretch was on a long straight road the was somewhat narrow from the building going into the downtown area which made it fun to run down. I had a great finishing pace and crossed the line in an official (not chip time) of 4:37:10. So my "chip time", if they had chips that is, would have been about 4:36:55. I was pretty happy with that time since it was 52.5 miles in about 29 hours.

Another cool thing the race did was have the people with special needs putting the finishers medals over our necks. They seems very happy to be helping out. The medal was no where nearly as big as the one from MS. This one is made from wood, painted and has a marathon logo sticker on it. I was able to walk pretty well so I ended up walking back on the course some and cheering on the runners I was running with along the way including the lady who was running her first marathon and also Brian. Right after the race, they did have some hot chocolate to drink which was very nice as it was pretty cold out once my body stopped sweating. Paul and Mike found me, they had been done for awhile, and then I headed back to the room to clean up. Mike ended up running a little too fast for the first half and crashed and burned but still finished in 4:04. Paul was pretty steady and finished in 4:11. All of us very happy to be done.
After cleaning up, we headed for the free lunch given to all runners. I again got there pretty late and the meat for the sandwiches was already somewhat cold but still welcome.

After the results for both races were posted on Marathon Guide, we copied them into Excel and did a little work to find out that there were 94 runners who (were crazy?) ran both marathon like we did. Adding the times for both races, ends up I 28th out of 94. Mike was 12th and Paul 14th. And once again, we took 1st, 2nd, & 4th place for Wisconsin runners in Alabama. I guess we are pretty consistent, at least on that.
Pros and Cons from this race: The Pros were the nice course with smaller rolling hills though nice neighborhood. The weather was cool which I like and the people who braved to cold to cheer on runners were great. A local biker club were helping with course direction and traffic control and they did a great job. Getting a medal from someone with special needs was really cool and to see their smile was awesome. Hot chocolate at the end was very welcome in the cold air. The cons were too many speed humps along the course and were tripping hazards. The wood medal was very cheap but then again, so was the entry fee. The food was a little cold once we got to it but we got there in the later times for both. No chip time was a big con as well.

The 2 races (Mississippi Blues and First Light) were night and day different but both fun to run. Would I do them again? Maybe the Mississippi Blues if I was in the area but most likely not the First Light Mobile.

After cleaning up, we drove to New Orleans where we were staying the night and flying out the next day. Half way there the rain started and the winds picked up. It got pretty raw out. We were listening to the Green Bay Packers game on the radio and got to out hotel just before half time. We stayed at a place 1 block off Bourbon Street and watched the second half of the game from a small bar on Bourbon Street call Fritzel's which claimed on line to be a "Packer Bar" but had no signs of being such a place. Even the bartender didn't seem to know anything about that. But they did have the game on and we watched the Pack beat the Eagles.

After the game, we ate dinner close by and I had a huge plate of seafood platter that I could not finish. This place ended up having a ton of Packer fans in it. Guess we picked the wrong place. After dinner, the rain finally stopped and we were able to walk up and down Bourbon Street some and see what that was all about. No, there were no bead being distributed nor did I see any being given either. Lots of interesting places along that street and I can see how it would be crazy during Mardi Gras. After a few beers, I was done and Mike and Paul were pretty much done too.

Bourbon Street

The flight home the next day was uneventful though I did sit next to a lady who was going home to see her daughter who had a birthday that day. I told her it was my daughter's birthday as well.

So the double is now over. If you would have asked me Sunday morning if I would so this again, my answer would have been "NO WAY". At mile 22, the answer would not have changed. But if you asked me now, I would say perhaps, depends on the circumstances. Maybe to run in 2 different far away states. Tat would save another trip out. I am planning on running the Disney World Goof again but that is not quite the same. I have learned that personally, it does not matter how hard I run the first race, the second one will be slow no matter what. I have run them slow conserving energy the first race and ran slow anyways the next day.

View from our hotel room of the docks of Mobile.

I saw this car in Mobile. Do you think they run a lot of marathons? I did notice the Flying Monkey!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Race Report - Mississippi Blues Marathon

The Mississippi Blues Marathon was the first of 2 marathons that I had planned for last weekend along with the First Light Mobile Marathon. I was travelling with my friends Mike & Paul who were also running both races so we could get 2 more states done toward a far off goal of running a marathon in all 50 states.

We left Milwaukee Friday morning flying to New Orleans where we rented a cart to drive 3 more hours up to Jackson, MS. The flight was uneventful but I did get to see a wonderful sunrise over the clouds.

We got to Jackson, checked into the hotel and headed off to the Expo to get out packets. The Expo was not very big at all but did have what we needed like Gu to purchase. They did have live music playing for most of the Expo which is a cool feature but what I am most impressed with from the start of this race was the packet contents. We received a nice short sleeve shirt which was a cotton one. I really liked this since I have way too many technical shirts and now I can wear this around more often. Next, int he packet, was 2 really cool swag items including what I think is the best piece of sway I have ever gotten at a race. Everyone got some Elvis sunglasses complete with black sideburns attached. They Are So Cool!!! We also got a pretty nice harmonica as well. I don't know how to play a harmonica all that well but it is fun to have. The Expo went very smoothly.

We woke up early on Saturday and drove to the start area and were able to park only 1 block from the start / finish area for free. It was very easy to find. The temps were in the upper 30's but there were no clouds in the sky and none were forecasted. The race started at 7AM, a few minutes before sunrise and was quite crowded the first few miles. There were over 650 full marathon runners and even more half marathoners starting but after 3 miles, the half marathoners cut off and the course was clear to go. It was here I stripped off my throw away shirt and was warmed up.

The course was described as "challenging" and I have to agree that it was. There were many hills all over the course with quite a bit of flat areas as well. The biggest issues I had with this course was that the streets in Jackson have a huge curved crest to them that running not int he center meant you had to run on an angle which was not easy. I usually tried to run in the center as much as possible and even close to traffic to avoid the hard angles. The course was a mix of residential and some business areas but mostly nice views with a few exceptions. Being a nice day, there were quite a few people out cheering us runners on.

My goal was to try to run about a 3:50 but I started slower but wasn't too worried. At mile 5, I needed to stop for a quick restroom break which made me lose about 2 minutes but I felt good afterwards. I could see the 4 hour pace group leader ahead of me but I knew he was a couple minutes ahead of pace as my Garmin kept me on track.

At mile 7, I saw Elvis come out of a port-o-let and wished him a happy Birthday since we were running on that day. He looked remarkable thin for being 76 years old. I did catch up to the 4 hour group and chatted with them for a bit. I learned that the pace leader had run the Icebreaker Marathon last year so that was cool. Not long after that I took off on them. I went through the half at about 1:57:30. My pace stayed good until about mile 18 when some hills began to take their toll on me but I was determined to still break 4 hours. I was not concerned with running the next day.

The hills were not very large but there were a lot of them. By mile 22, I was trying to figure out what I needed to run to still break 4 hours and knew that unless I had a complete breakdown, I had it. The sun was beating down on us the entire time which in some cases was nice, but did drain us some. At close to mile 23, we ran past a local school who had their drum corp out beating away. They were so good and very inspirational to keep us going. I took my last short walk break at mile 24 and then kept going. Now it was time for me to track down some of the runners I had seen in front of me for a lot of miles and use them to get me to the finish as fast as I could. I ended up passing a lot of them before the finish.

The last 1/2 mile was on a slight uphill climb and you could see the finish line for quite awhile through the downtown buildings. I get to the finish in a time of 3:56:14 good for 193rd place out of 665 finishers. Mike finished in 3:33:45 and Paul in 3:38:14. Of the 15 finishers from Wisconsin, Mike took 1st, Paul took 2nd, and I took 4th. They ripped on me for not completing the "sweep". I promised to try harder next time.

The Finish Line

Elvis showing us his stuff after the race.

Right after I finished, they put this ginormous medal around my neck. I thought I was going to hit the ground it was so big and heavy. Definitely the largest medal I have ever received from a marathon. The post race good was not so good in my opinion. Cookies were OK but the food didn't seem appetizing to me. They did have some hot chocolate but it was so watered down it was actually quite bad. But the post race entertainment was pretty good. They had a stage set up where a few bands were playing and after the awards, they had a cool Elvis impersonator singing. We didn't stay long as we wanted to shower up before heading to Mobile, but it was fun while we were there.

All in all, I liked this race a lot. Best swag I have ever received from a race with the harmonica and really cool Elvis glasses (which Paul and I proudly wore most of the drive to Alabama, wonder what other drivers thought). Good shirt with a good design. Expo was average. Not big but adequate. The course was challenging but they didn't hide that. I just wish they could have tried to keep it on roads that were more level instead of crested. The medal was awesome but in some ways, maybe too big. Post race food was bland but the entertainment made up for it big time. I would definitely do this one again if I am ever in the area. Jackson did good.

The shirt was pretty good. At least it was not a technical shirt, I have too many of those.

The Medal was HUGE! I put it next to a dollar so you can see the true size.

After the race, we made sure we took a picture complete with out Elvis sunglasses with attached sideburns.

OK, I may look like a real dork here, but I was having fun!

On to Alabama!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

First Light Mobile Marathon

Just another quick note on results for Marathon #2. I ended up running a 4:37:18. My legs are totally trashed right now and I am sure I will take quite a frew days off now. I do have 2 weeks until the next marathon. Holy Crap and I insane?!?! I need to stop this garbage.

I started slow and the let up some today. No, all kidding aside, after 5 miles, my legs figured I wasn't kidding about running 2 days in a row and settled in. I slowed in the second half but never bonked or "crashed and burned". Met lots of poeple through the race and was able to pick it up over the last 3 miles to not get a PW.

I will try to get the race reports in early in the week so stay tuned.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mississippi Blues Marathon Completed

Just a quick post to say I finished the Mississippi Blues Marathon today in Jackson, MS. I finished in 3:56:14 and we (Mike, Paul & I) are now in Mobile, Alabama about to go to sleep before tomorrows Mobile Marathon.

Few quick notes on Mississippi Blues: 1. Awesome Swag, I can't wait to show you the coolest thing I ever got from a marathon bag. 2. Huge! I mean really Huge Medal. I thought I was going to the ground when they put it on my neck. 3. Hillier than I though, but not nearly as hilly as the Monkey.

I hope I can finish tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Last Short Run

I did my final run before the weekend double marathon. Mike & I went for a short 3 miler where we picked up the pace on the last 1.5 miles. It was a little snowy out with near a 1/2 inch of snow on the ground making it a little difficult to keep up a fast pace at the end. With every step, the feet would slip just a little. We did finish with a 7:35 last mile, but I think we use the effort of a 7 flat.

Disaster almost came my way after I changed and walked to the car. I slipped and almost went down hard tossing my bag to the ground to help keep my balance. I twisted my back just a bit but I think it is just fine. Close call.

Friday is travel day and tomorrow is a day off so now it is time to go off to Mississippi and Alabama.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011 Year in Preview

I have gone on a 2 runs so far this year and in brand new shoes as well. Today it was also in my brand new running tights because it was 16F outside. I bought the same shoes as before, Saucony Kinvara. I really like these shoes and they work well for me so I will continue to use them.

So what is in store for 2011? I do have a few races I am already signed up for as well as many I want to run. I want to continue to keep my mileage up as it seems to work for me. I ran just over 1600 miles last year so if I don't have to take a break for for the tendinitis in my knee or any other issues that may arise, I may try to reach 1700 miles this year with lots during the summer.

Here is what I am already signed up for, the year starts out very fast:

January 8th is the Mississippi Blue Marathon in Jackson, MS with Paul & Mike.
January 9th is the First Light Marathon in Mobile, AL also with Mike and Paul. I know it is crazy to try 2 marathons on consecutive days but I did it 2 years ago with Paul and we get to mark off 2 states when we are done.

January 23rd is the InStep Icebreaker Indoor Marathon in Milwaukee, WI. It will be after only 2 weeks rest after the MS/AL double but I love this marathon. Definitely one of my favorites and I have done all of them so far. There is nothing like running a marathon when there is possibly a snow storm outside.

In March I will possibly run the Trailbreaker Marathon in Waukesha, WI again as a training run. I don't ever really have plans to "race" this one but it is cheap and close to home and I can get a full marathon into my total while running a training run.

In April, I will most likely run the Gary's Gallop 5K again. A friend of mine is the race director and he puts on a really nice race. Plus there is a 1 lap around the track free kids race my girls like to run and they get a ribbon for participating.

In May I have lots of choices. I could run the Door County Half Marathon, my favorite half marathon to date. I may also run the Lake Geneva Euro Cross Race around the lake. This is run the same time the full and half marathons are run but this is on a trail the goes along the entire shore line of the lake and is about 21 miles long.

In May, I could run the Wisconsin Marathon, LaCrosse Marathon, Eau Claire Marathon, or Green Bay Marathon, all in Wisconsin and all on my list to do someday.

I don't have many plans of longer races in the summer as I want to build up endurance with lots of miles. I will possibly do quite a few shorter races, maybe 5K for speed. I will also be planning the 3rd annual WELS Kids Marathon over the later spring and summer. I may do the Full Moon Half Marathon in August again too. I liked that one.

In the fall, I will plan on 2 full marathons again. Some I have my eye on are the Souix Falls Marathon in South Dakota, the Louisville Marathon, the Des Moines Marathon in Iowa, and the Columbus Marathon in Ohio.

I am contemplating a return to Nashville for the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon. This is a great marathon and if I can swing it, I will go back.

I am also going to volunteer my time as the cross country coach for the girls at my daughters school if they will have me.

I know this is actually in 2012, but in the very first week. I am trying to save up to take the girls to Disney World and while there, I will run the Goofy Challenge and the girls may run the Disney World 5K.

So that is all I know for now. Plans are always changing so keep tuned it to see what ends up happening.

Happy Running to all of you!

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 Running Year in Review

2010 was a pretty good year for me and running. While I didn't run any PR's in any distance that I can think of, I did run quite a few sub 4 marathons and I placed in a few different races unexpectedly.

Here are a few quick numbers from 2010:

1601 - Number if miles I ran in 2010
15 - Number of 20+ mile runs throughout the year
12 - Number or 100+ mile months
8 - Number of Marathons Completed in 2010
27 - Total Number of Marathons completed to date
3 - Number of new States with marathons completed: Georgia, North Dakota & Tennessee

The review:

January was an OK month with only 1 major race, the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Gold Medal Challenge. Both Paul and I did this on January 23 & 24. The Gold Medal Challenge was a half marathon on Saturday followed by a Full Marathon on Sunday at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee, WI. The Gold Medal Challenge was inspired by the Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge. I ended up running the half marathon in 1:54:53 and then ran out of energy in the full marathon finishing in 4:23:48. But I did run slightly faster in the full than last year.

February saw me running no race but preparing myself for the first weekend in March where another marathon was to be run.

March started out with the Snickers Marathon Energy Bar Marathon in Albany, GA. Mike travelled with me down to Georgia where we met up with Paul. The goal was a sub 4 hour marathon. Cool weather was welcomed but after an unscheduled restroom break at mile 8, I found myself 2 minutes off pace at the half (2:02). I slowly picked it up and caught the 4 hour pace group just after mile 18 and kept up my pace. The last 2 miles is where I started to struggle but I held on to finish in 3:58:51.

On March 27th, I ran my 3rd consecutive Trailbreaker Marathon in Waukesha, WI as a long run, not a race. The race director had wanted some of my suggestions on how to improve the race so I was curious what he did. Some improvements were made like more mile markers (though they were off some) and a medal. I ended up doing my 26.2 mile long run on a somewhat difficult course in 4:16:09. It is really only difficult for 7 miles in the middle but then you have to still run 9 miles back.

I ran 2 races in April, a 5K and another training run marathon. On March 17th, I ran Gary's Gallop 5K, a race put on by a friend of mine. It is a little difficult of a course for a 5K but I was able to run a 20:33 just missing 3rd in my age group.

One week later, on March 24, I ran the Jailbreak Marathon in Wautoma, WI. There were only 36 total runners in the full marathon and it was raining at the start. 2 miles later, the rain stopped and I ended up running with a few people most of the way. I ran well finishing in 4:06:13, not bad for a training run.

I ran 3 races in May starting with the Lake Geneva 5K, part of the marathon festivities of races. This was an extremely difficult 5K with 3 hills over 150 feet each. I raced pretty good and finished in 5th overall in 22:27. As you can see by the time, it was a difficult course, but fun.

May 21 & 22 was the Fargo Marathon & 5K. Mike and I drove the 9 hours to Fargo together for the races. I was aiming for a good time in this marathon but I did the 5K the day before as well because it was a run 2 races, get 3 medals thing. I ran the 5K extremely easy in 27:56. That night at the dinner, I was able to meet and talk to Dean Karnazes some. He is the guy who ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. Cool guy. The marathon started out for 7 miles in the rain followed by 6 miles of good weather. the sun then came out and it got pretty warm and humid and then the last 5 miles were extremely windy. the race ended inside the Fargo Dome which was cool and very helpful since it was so windy. I finished in 4:00:16. 17 measly seconds off breaking 4 hours which was one of my goals. I was OK with it though.

1 week later, I ran the Maifest 10K in Door County, WI. I was doing well until about 4 1/2 miles when my legs suddenly remembered I ran a marathon the week before. I still finished in 46:03 so that was good.

The end of May was also the sign up deadline for the 2nd annual WELS Kids Marathon which I am the director for. This year there were 397 kids signed up to run 26.2 miles while reading 26 books or 26 hours over the summer.

June & July
I ran no races in June or July except for a 5K with my daughter, her first ever 5K, but I did use this time to build up miles and train hard. On July 4th, I ran the 4th Fest 5K in Waterford, WI with my oldest daughter Melissa. She ran/walked it in 37 minutes beating her goal of breaking 40 minutes. She did great! I ended up totalling 210 miles for July, a new 1 month high for me.

I cut my miles back in early August as I wanted to test myself in a Half Marathon in August. I ran the Full Moon Half Marathon with Paul and Greg in Sheboygan, WI which was an evening race and a pretty cool race. The race started at about 6:30 and was rolling small hills. I went out at 8:00 pace for the 7 miles and then was able to really pick it up as I felt really good. I finished the last 5K in something like 22:00 and ran the half in 1:41:09 good for 3rd in my age group. I have never placed in a half marathon before so that was really cool. It was almost dark when I was able to finish so running at almost night was a lot of fun.

August 28th was the final mile of the WELS Kids Marathon. All 3 of my girls ran in the marathon and earned their medals. There is such a cool and awesome feeling watching all those kids finish their marathons and giving them a high 5. So many smiles that day!

I didn't race again in September, instead I trained hard running 183 miles over lots of hills preparing myself for the fall marathons and the Monkey coming. I even did 1 very hill 26.3 miles training run.

October was a really good month for running. 1 week before the Grand Rapids Marathon, I took my oldest daughter to a 5K to celebrate the completion of her first year in Cross Country. We ran the Root River Run 5K. I helped pace her and she ran a 28:13, a 9 minute PR!!!! She was so happy and even won her age group. There were not many runners in the race so I ended up taking 2nd in my age group as well.

October 17th was the Grand Rapids Marathon with Mike and Paul. Like 3 years earlier in Grand rapids, we had almost perfect weather, for me at least. Cool and dry with not too much wind. My goal was to beat my time of 3:43 from 3 years ago so I ran with the 3:44 pace group until I ran ahead of them after mile 21. I suffered a little over the last 2 miles as the pace group passed me but I kept them in sight and finished in 3:45:03. I was happy with this time.

2 weeks later was the Haunted Hustle Marathon in Middleton, WI. I drove the course ahead of time so I knew there were some challenging hills in the first half so revised my plan and just tried to go for sub 4. Through the half, I was at 3:57 and running steady. Good thing I had a garmin on as the mile markers were way off during the race. At mile 20, I started to have some tired legs. Somehow by mile 23, I fought them off and was determined to break 4 hours. A lot of runners were dressed in costumes in this racer] since it was Halloween weekend so when a nice lady passed me at mile 25 in a bumble bee costume, I knew I needed to pick it up. I did and finished in 3:56:31. This was the first time I was ever able to run 2 consecutive sub 4 hour marathons. Again, I was happy with this time.

The final race of the year was scheduled in November and one that I had anticipated since I signed up for it on August 1st and it sold out in only 32 minutes. Mike and I travelled to Nashville, TN for the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon which was on November 21st. Only a little over 200 runner get to run this race and this was by far the most difficult marathon course I have ever run. The race has lots and lots of large hills and has over 3500 feet of elevation gain and loss throughout the race. But it is put on by a good group of people who know how to make you suffer yet have a great time doing it. I ended up running easy for the first half and then trying to just maintain the second half. I did negative split the course by a couple minutes and finished in 4:28:37. I was also able to meet for the first time a blog friend I have had for a couple years. Melanie from Life is a Marathon also ran the race with a few of her friends. It was a lot of fun to finally meet someone whom I knew for a long time via only the Internet and emails. She is a great lady and also writes a really good blog!

I ran 161 miles in December with no races. I guess the goal here was to achieve the 1600 mile total for the year so I mixed it with short runs in the cold and snow, and longer runs at the Pettit Center.

All in all, a good year. Could it have been better? Sure, but I'll take this kind of year anytime. I hope you all had a great year running (or in any other area) as well.

I will try to write my 2011 Year in Preview Post real soon as it begins with a real bang! And by bang, I mean 3 marathons in January including 2 this coming weekend back to back. Crazy? Yes. Insane? Sure! Fun? Absolutely!!!!