Sunday, February 27, 2011

Race Report - Maple Leaf Indoor Marathon

Let me start out by saying I had a lot of fun in the Maple Leaf Indoor Marathon but I had a really bad race. I ended up crashing big time and finished in 4:23:32.

The Roman Gingerich Recreation-Fitness Center on the Campus of Goshen College

I left for Goshen, Indiana Friday afternoon around lunch time arriving in enough time to check out the Roman Gingerich Recreation-Fitness Center where the race was held before dinner. I picked up my packet which had my shirt in it and then ventured upstairs to check out the track and see how hard the surface was and how tight the turns were. There were a few runner/walkers on the track but I was able to get around without any problems. I was happy to notice that the turns were not too tight though I wouldn't want to be sprinting on them. The track is 208 meters long with 4 turns on each lap. Each turn is about 10 meters long with 2 very short straight-aways of about 10 meters each and 2 long straight-aways of about 80 meters long. Right away I knew this race was going to be harder then the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon, but I like a good challenge. At least the surface was a touch softer.

The curves were tight, but not too tight to run on.

Long straight-aways of about 80 meters.

After leaving, I let my car GPS lead me to a nice restaurant near Elkhart, IN where I sat at the bar and enjoyed a large pile of Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken. On the way back to the hotel, I noticed yet another Marathon Gas Station along the way. Maybe it is just me, but I seem to notice these more often when I am away at a marathon than normal. They do have these in Wisconsin, maybe my mind is on something?

Marathon Gas Station, I like the name.

After a good nights sleep, I wake early and head over to Goshen College, a small Mennonite College names after the town. I arrive and see a lot of the runner already assembled upstairs staking out a spot along the track for their stuff and also putting their water bottle on 1 of the 4 tables in each of the 4 corners of the track. I decide to take a spot on a table away from the scorers/lap counters end of the track so I can easily get my stuff when needed. I found a runner named Yoshiko Jo who had run the Icebreaker Marathon as well and was able to present her with the award she won in Milwaukee a few weeks earlier. Next to her was a guy named Scott Dahl who mentioned that he had run the Icebreaker last year. He noticed the Mississippi Blues Marathon shirt I was wearing and said he was a pacer there. Ends up we discovered that we had actually talked to each other in the middle of that race. I was passing the 4 hour pace group making conversation and he was there. Small world! Ends up there was even another person in the race that ran the Icebreaker.

This year, the race decided to institute a chip for lap counting. Good Idea! If there were 30 lap counters along the route, that could have gotten confusing. Every lap we would have to run over 3 timing mats, an official one, a backup, and a battery powered backup too. There was a small problem with the timing mats as in the early parts of the race, 2 laps seemed to not have registered. I noticed this as I hit the lap counter on my watch every lap and knew it was off. They knew they were off as well, but they thought it was only 1 lap (this will come into play later).

Before the race, I am ready to go, even with a little sweat already.

Everyone before the race is in a good mood and ready to run. I knew from before the horn this was going to be a hard one. I was sweating before we even started. It was Hot! We were on the second floor of a gymnasium and as we all know, heat rising. And with over 30 runners, we were generating a lot of heat on our own. They did have a fan on one end of the track, but it really didn't do any good. I wish they could have opened some windows but I think they were not able to open. With snow lightly falling outside, it would have been nice to have some of that cool air inside. The race starts and off we go.

My goal was to try to break 4 hours again so I knew I had to run an average of 70 seconds per lap and for the most part, that wasn't too hard. One issue was that runners were running in every lane (there were 4) so I felt bad for the faster runners as they had to do a lot of weaving and running long on the turns. I tried to stay in lane 1 for the shortest way around the curves but had to pass a lot of runners myself.

After 30 minutes (and every 30 minutes after that), a traffic cone was placed at the halfway point of a lap and we all turned around and went to opposite direction. I think this helped as the turns could sure take a toll on you. Everyone knew that when it was direction change time, you ran in the first 2 lanes until you passed the cone and then the outside lane until everyone was going the new direction. This went really smooth.

They were playing music from 2 large speakers set on one of the straight-aways. Some of it was good and some was way too slow for running to. And some was down right annoying. Toward the end of my race, they started playing polka music. I can handle the Pennsylvania Polka, but it ended up being close to an entire CDs worth of Polka music. Uuugghhhh. Idea to the race staff, when runners register, ask them to name a few songs they like and then incorporate them into the music mix. Not every one will like all songs, but you will hear a few you like that way.

For the first half of the race, I was banging out laps right at 67 to 69 seconds and then a longer lap every 15 for a small walk break. I pass lap 102 (Half Way) at 1:58:55, PERFECT! But I knew the second half was going to be very hard already. The legs were a starting to tire too soon but I tried to maintain in hopes it would go away.

By lap 130, I was starting to go downhill. By lap 153 (3/4 done) I was already 3:43 off 4 hour pace and slowing. My laps were hovering around 1:30 give or take a few seconds which is 11:00 to 12:00 pace. I was TOAST! I just took it lap by lap and took my walk breaks every 10 laps and mentally struggled to not stop before that. My walk breaks ended up now being a full lap walk. I was ready to finish. I knew with 10 laps to go, I would be able to summon some sort of energy to pick it up but I just needed to get there.

I get to 6 laps to go and some confusion starts. I knew I only had 6 laps to go but the officials were saying I had 7. I made sure but stuck with what they said and ran until they said I was done. I was able to get back to my original pace for the last 4 laps and when they said I had 1 to go, I ran my fastest lap of the race, 1:00 flat. I even leaded on one turn too much and banged my shoulder into one of the support cables helping hold up the track. I hit those cables a few times during the race too. I was so glad to be finally done.

I am still standing glad to be done.

Turns out, I did run 205 laps. The race was 204 laps so I am very glad they didn't charge me extra for the extra lap I ran. I know one guy who will be glad after he finds out about the mistake. The winner. I was talking to him after the race and while he was happy to have won the race, we was bummer at his time of 3:00:22. He really wanted to break 3 hours. Now his official time (minus the extra lap) is 2:59:32.

It is a hard race to figure out. Of the 30 runners who ran on Saturday, I think only 1 negative split the race. And there were quite a few who crashed like I did. I think it had a lot to do with the heat but maybe it was different for them.

The post race food seemed good to me. I can never eat right after a race so I don't know if it tasted good or not, but I do know they hit a home run with having chocolate milk there. I don't understand why more races don't have chocolate milk, most of us runners love it and it is such a good recovery drink. Showers were available at no charge and if I wanted to, I could have used to pool or hot tube. If only I had more time! I ended up hitting the road for the 4 hour drive home getting there just in time to shovel the 2 inches of snow on the driveway.

There is something about an indoor marathon that you don't get from other marathons, something really cool! You get to know the runners around you and even some of the people watching. Even though there were runners 30 laps ahead of me and 30 laps behind me, we all cheered each other on. The camaraderie of a small mulitlap race like this is really awesome. If you have never tried an indoor marathon (or half marathon), give it a try. They can be hard, but a ton of fun. The Maple Leaf Indoor Marathon is a hard one for sure, but definitely a fun one. They put on a good race there. Is there room for improvement, of course, but show me a race that doesn't have that. This is only their 3rd year and this is the first year it is as big as it is. They will have it a ton better next year for sure.

Thanks to Doug Yoder for putting on such a fun event. Keep up the good work! I know I am not the only one who liked it and I am sure you heard that as well.

The finishers medal was quite unique, it is made of wood. Very similar to the one I received at the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon.

Technical shirt was given to all participants.

This is a shot of the short straight-away.

I saw this guy after the race. He was here for at least 10 minutes standing on his head. He must have been 80 years old and came prepared, check out the gloves he is wearing. I wonder what benefits he gets out of it?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NASCAR and Running

I am not really a NASCAR fan but I was watching the final laps of the Daytona 500 the other day. (Amazing how that 20 year old won the race.) But it made me think abut my upcoming race, the Maple Leaf Indoor Marathon.

The Daytona 500 is a race that takes 200 laps to complete. The Maple Leaf Indoor Marathon takes 204 laps to complete. Hmmm 4 extra laps for me. Wonder what it would be like if the drivers in the Daytona 500 had to switch directions every 30 minutes? Anyways, it made me think about both races.

I will be leaving tomorrow to drive the 4 or so hours to Goshen, Indiana. I add "or so" because you never know what Chicago traffic will be like. I plan on getting down there a little after noon so maybe it will be somewhat lighter than hell. Also, Chicago is forecasted for some snow, but it should end by mid morning. We will see.

Keep on Running!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rain, Ice, Snow, Repeat

We had some more weird weather here in Wisconsin on Sunday. About 10 miles north, they had 5 to 7 inches of very heavy, wet snow. Where I live, we got sleet, followed by some snow, followed by rain, followed by snow, then rain, then snow, then rain, etc. I had to go out 3 times to the driveway and shovel off about an inch of slush. Good thing I did this as it got cold last night and it all froze. The driveways that did not clear off while it was slush, all turned to ice. The parking lot where I work had 1 to 2 inches thick of ice. At least it wasn't the slippery ice, well, some of it was, but it was rough ice so not too many problems with falls.

This did not stop Mike and I from running after work. Once on the roads though, the salt did its job and while there was some ice, it was mostly wet and partly slushy. It was cold with the wind but we got in a good 4 miles at 9:00 pace.

I don't plan on running a lot this week since I have the Maple Leaf Indoor Marathon this weekend so short easy runs are on the schedule. Maybe a short tempo on Wednesday, but that is it. It is about a 4 hour drive to Goshen, IN so no running on Friday as well. I am going to leave work early to try to get past Chicago without too much traffic, if that is even possible. But also in case there is a lot of traffic, I am hopefully giving myself enough extra time.

Hopefully the weather warms some so the ice can go away, but this is Wisconsin and it is Winter, so we get what we get.

Keep on Running!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Something New

Those of you who have read my blog over the past 2+ years know me, I think. You know that I decide to do crazy, insane things, right? So when I told you over the past couple weeks that I had no races scheduled, you probably thought that wouldn't last. Am I right? Actually, you are right! A couple days ago, I signed up for another marathon. Now, that doesn't sound crazy, I have done that a lot. What would make it crazy. Hmmmmm....... I'll give you a few seconds to think about it.............................................I signed up for a marathon that takes place in only a week and a half. Not crazy enough for you? Well, it is another indoor marathon. Heck, Bill, you have already run 3 indoor marathons, what is so crazy about that? Well, this one is 204 laps on a raised track surrounding a basketball court. OK, there is the insane.

Yep, I signed up for the Maple Leaf Indoor Marathon in Goshen, Indiana put on by the Two Rivers Running Club. I don't know what the 2 rivers actually are, I suppose I will have to ask next weekend. The race takes place on Saturday, February 26th, only 9 days from now. I am going not only to run the marathon, but also see how they run their indoor marathon and maybe we can exchange notes in order to make their marathon and the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon better.

This is the 3rd year for the Maple Leaf Indoor Marathon and just like the Icebreaker, they have seen in increase in interest in their race. Since it is a smaller track than at the Pettit Center in Milwaukee, they only have 30 or so runner in the race. New this year, though, is a SECOND marathon taking place on Sunday. OK, I don't know if the Sunday race is new or if Saturday is, but they will have 2 heats of the full marathon. Icebreaker only has 1 heat. So about 60 or so runner can run the Maple Leaf which is cool since more get to run. They even have a crazy challenge where you could run BOTH days. No thanks, I did that in January and on different courses. Imagine 408 laps, uugghhh. I do like the idea though.

So I will be running on Saturday morning and have already come up with an approximate lap time I need to achieve to reach a goal I have in mind. I am sure this one will be a lot hard to run that the Icebreaker for a few reasons. The turns are much much tighter and I assume their temperatures will be higher than at Pettit. I may be wrong on the temps but I can't imagine they will cool it down to the upper 40's, though I would not mind. Also, since the turns are very tight and you do 4 per lap, they have instituted a reversing of the course every 30 minutes. Basically, every 30 minutes, they will put a large Traffic Cone at the start/finish line. When you pass the cone, you do a 180 and run the opposite direction for the next 30 minutes. It is suppose to help with the knees and I am sure it will.

This race will have 816 water stops. That is is you put water on each of the 4 tables in each corner. Like the Icebreaker, you can put whatever drink/food/gel/etc. you want on the table and pick it up whenever you like. Very Cool! I do not have any knowledge on the whereabouts to the restroom. Hopefully it is very close to the track. But wherever it is, you probably pass it 204 times.

The race is not chip timed, but each runner is assigned a personal lap counter who helps you keep track of laps completed. Maybe even a little personal cheering section??? Maybe I should bring a little something for my lap counter in exchange for extra cheering, what do you think?

So that is my next race. After that, who knows. I have altered my weekend long run in order to rest the legs a little for the race. I do want to run well, but it is not like I am going for a PR here or anything like that. I haven't run on a track like this, well, ever. Maybe a few laps when I visited the Y long ago, but never long. I am really looking forward to this race. It should be a blast!

Keep on Running!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Heat Wave

Last week I was running in single digit temperatures and today I was back in shorts. It was wonderful outside after work today. About 36F out, little wind, and the sun still out. I ran a little over 7 miles at 8:30 pace and felt really good. An interesting part of running in weather like this is that it feels warm out but you run into pockets of cool air that is caused by the snow and ice on the sides of the roads and on rivers/lakes. The snow is still pretty deep and the ice is still thick but the roads are pretty clear, except for the water from melted snow. The good thing is that the high temps for the remainder of the week are forecasted to keep going up, possibly to 50 on Thursday. Now that is a heat wave!

Sunday it was also warm and the local TV stations were showing people outside enjoying the higher temps and one in particular kept showing this lady running down by the lake and they kept saying it was so warm she could be in shorts. That made me laugh since I had been wearing shorts most of the winter, at least until it dipped below 25.

I was able to get my long run in on Friday evening at the Pettit Center. I basically ran until I was about spent which ended up being 66 laps or just about 18 1/4 miles. I was in a zone on my run and it felt really good. My pace was really even for almost the entire run with laps being right between 2:25 to 2:28. My slowest lap all day was 2:29 and only a few faster than 2:20. By the 63rd lap, I knew I was about done. My legs were growing tired and I could tell I was getting slightly dehydrated and since open skating was already done and they were getting closer to closing the place, I said 66 was a good number to end at.

I told you all sometime ago that this weekend was my girls Pinewood Derby. They ended up doing really well. They took 2nd, 3rd, and 6th out of 18 girls cars. They all made the finals which was the top 6 cars and I thought I was going to have a real problem. Anyone who has multiple kids will understand that the compete with each other and will do anything to get underneath each other's skin. Since the first place person gets a REALLY big trophy and the rest all get a trophy the same size, I was really hoping that none of them would win. Is that bad of me to think that? As you see, they didn't win the big trophy. They really wanted me to post a picture of them with their trophies but I don't have that yet so I will only post pictures of their cars.
This was Melissa's car she named "The Pickup Artist". She took 2nd place. Her car also won the "Best Design"Award.
Katelynn had the semi truck she names "Schneider National" and took 3rd place. If you didn't know, our last name is Schneider and since we see these trucks all over the roads all the time, we thought it fitting. She ended up with the "Most Unusual" Award.
Megan wanted something a little more unusual so she had the Ocean Liner that she names "Cruisin". Lots of people likes this 'car' and she ended up in 6th place. Not the most aerodynamic but the wheels were pretty good. She won the "Best Craftsmanship" Award.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ready for Something Warmer

I braved the cold again today and ran a 5 miler after work. This was the third straight day it was in single digits for temperatures out there. Today it was 9 for my run. I like to run in a neighborhood not too far away from work as to avoid the cars but also on a day like today, avoid the wind and the cold wind chill. It is my usually hills loop and it went really well today. I was able to average an 8:34 for the 5 miles and it felt relatively easy, except for some wind in the face making it pink. There is a warm up forecasted for this weekend, maybe even into the upper 30's. Whoa, a heat wave!

I am going to Pettit tomorrow after work for my weekend long run since I don't have the time on either Saturday or Sunday morning. I am not sure how far I will go as of yet, but I am guessing somewhere between 15 to 20 miles. It should be fun since some of it will be during open skating so I get to see all the normal public skaters. More than likely I will still see some speed skaters, but that will be right at the end of their workouts.

Mileage is up this week and I still feel good. Let's hope it stays that way.

There was a local 50K trail race this past weekend. Trail race? In the winter? Yep! It is called the John Dick Memorial Crusty 50K, or as the runners like to call it, The Crusty Dick! My friend Chaz has done it a couple times. The issue this year was that we had that blizzard last week that dumped a lot of snow on the course so it was extremely deep and difficult for the runners to keep going. In fact, of the 74 runners that started, only 24 finished. And the winner (who won the Icebreaker Marathon a few weeks ago) ran 97 minutes slower than he did 2 years ago. I have NO desire to run this race.

Keep on Running!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cold Again

Thanks for you comments on my last post. It is great to hear how others share their passion for running and outdoor living. If you didn't leave a comment yet, please do.

The cold is back in Wisconsin. Actually it never left but it is really cold tonight. I think it is suppose to get down to -6 tonight. I did get out there for another cold winter run tonight after work. I did 8 miles in 8 degree weather. At least that is what the temperature was, the wind chill was somewhere near -7. I did make a mistake on the run. I put on an extra shirt for the run, not the mistake, but it was another short sleeve, not a long sleeve. I definitely needed 2 long sleeve shirts today, not just 1. My body was warm, my hands were OK, my head was even not too cold, but my arms were really cold. Toward the end, they were starting to tingle a little. I kept trying to flex my hands to keep the muscles moving and warm. That didn't work too well. My running tights were good most of the way but with a little less than a mile to go, when I went into the wind for a bit, mu upper thighs got really cold. But I survived and will be stronger because of it.

Should be cold here for a day or 2 more. I want to get in a long run this weekend but would prefer doing it at Pettit. It may need to be Friday evening as Saturday at 10 is the Pinewood Derby. The girls named their cars and they weighed just enough. They certainly won't be the fastest cars but they will have fun.

And, yes, we are definitely celebrating the Super Bowl Champions Green Bay Packers here! What a good and a little too close of a game. The Steelers sure made a game out of it near the end, I am just glad it ended the way it did.

Keep on Running!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What Are You Passionate About?

What are you passionate about?

I was talking the other day to a really good friend of mine about what each of us we wanted to get out of life. Lots of things came up but the thing I commented on was finding someone to share your passion with. I don’t mean passion in the love sort of way and I don’t mean finding a love interest to share your passion with, I mean finding or sharing your passion with the world OR a few special people.

So what are you passionate about? What makes you want to get up everyday and go out in the world and get it done? What makes you happy? If you have read my blog over the years, it is quite obvious my passion is running and I want to share it with everyone. If you are one of my personal friends, you know this all too well. I love running so much that there are times I won’t shut up about it. I will meet complete strangers at parties or other functions and somehow the conversation always seems to go toward running. I only wonder what they say about me after we part.

I have a good friend I run with often who doesn’t understand this and he runs ALL THE TIME as well. He even has more marathons done that I do. I will talk to him and say something like “Did you see what Chris Solinsky did yesterday?” or “Hey, Haile Gebrselassie is running the London Marathon” and inevitably he will say “Who?”. I not only run, but I follow running as well. I don’t know everyone, but I read Runner’s World online most days and I get the magazine monthly; I like to read about it. Not following running does not mean you don’t have a passion for it though, just a different type of passion.

So, how do you share your passion if you do share it? For me, there are a lot of ways. There are small ways like encouraging friends or coworkers to run. I have asked quite a few at my work and every once in awhile, they come out and try it or join some of us for a 5K. Most of the time they think I am nuts, but hey, I think I am as well.

I have started a Kids Marathon locally to share my love of running with kids in grades K to 8. Last year we even had 400 kids sign up. It was so amazing watching these kids accomplish their goals and receive there well deserved medals. My hope is that they have enjoyed running so much that they continue it for the rest of their lives.

In keeping with kids, I am also hoping to volunteer as my daughter’s cross country coach next year if they will have me. Showing enthusiasm of running toward kids is so rewarding! Lots of these kids don’t know how to properly run or race so they need guidance. I hope to leave a lasting impression on these kids that will stay long after they forget about me and grade school cross country.

This last year, I also volunteered to be on the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon committee. Now I can share my love of marathons and how to make them better with everyone who runs. Have you ever volunteered for a local race or been on a committee to organize one. There is a lot more to it that putting up a start/finish line and ordering medals. A LOT MORE! But it is fun. Try it sometime.

If you are reading this, most likely you do have a passion for running and that is AWESOME! How do you share it? Please leave me a comment for all to see of how you share it. I don’t ask for comments really ever, but this time I would really like to hear from you. So all you “silent” blog readers out there that follow my journey or if you just came across this, please leave me a comment. Share your Passion!

Keep on running!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Too Much Snow

I was finally able to get in a run today. In case you haven't heard, there was a blizzard up here in southeast Wisconsin. We got something like 20 inches of snow, give or take some inches depending where you were. There was so much snow over night on Tuesday that my company closed for the first time in over 41 years of business because of weather.

The storm started with maybe 4 inches of snow on Monday night into Tuesday. There was a break for about 3 hours before the winds picked up and that night the snow just poured down. Actually it was pouring sideways because of the wind gusting to up to 60 MPH. It snowed all night long. I went to sleep with the driveway completely clear and woke up to a massive drift over the whole front 2/3's of the driveway. It was about 4 1/2 feet deep. So I woke up and put on all my warm coats, gloves, and boots and off to clear the driveway I went. There were still a few problems, while the snow had stopped, the wind was still blowing very hard so I had the throw the snow only to the south. Did I mention I don't have a snow blower? Yep, I had to do the entire driveway with a shovel. UGH! To be honest, the driveway STILL isn't completely clear. There is a spot about 7 feet by 6 feet and 5 feet deep that I just have no where to throw the snow to. The piles at the edge of the driveway are too tall. I was out there for over 6 hours throughout the day on Wednesday shovelling and some of my muscles are very sore.

But today I was back at work and was able to get in 4 miles with Mike afterwards. Mike kept me going pretty fast today even in the snow covered road. I think we ran at 8:15 pace. It felt good.

I got home and after dinner, bundled up once again and cleared off what the plow left by, then I cleared the buried mailbox, cleared away and made a path to the fire hydrant at the edge of my yard, and cleaned a small path to the front door. It was cold tonight but it needed to be done. I am officially sick of snow for the year, but there will be more, for sure!

Here are a few pictures of the house and driveway after the storm.
The front porch doesn't look too good, unless you compare it to the rest of the driveway.
Here is the driveway, that is a huge drift.
There is a small tree near the top middle of the picture, if you look just to the right of it near the bottom of the tree, you can barely see the top of my mailbox. The mail box is only 3 feet to the right of the driveway.
I was able to make a path that one car could drive through. At the end of the driveway, still only 1 car can make it in.
Melissa had a lot of fun out in the snow making forts and climbing around. This pile is just too big to throw more snow over.