Mark's Badgerland Blog
Greetings from my hometown of Saxon, WI! I'm going to write about running events throughout Wisconsin and the Western U.P. of Michigan; many of these events you may have never heard of but aren't too far away from the Twin Ports. I look forward to share my thoughts and experiences with you as both a recreational runner and race organizer.
February 14, 2009: "Speed Weeks"
First of all, I want to wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day. Per tradition, I exchanged small chocolate valentines with my family this morning. Since I'm still single, sharing Valentine's Day with my family is very important to me.
I want to go back to last Sunday, February 8, at Kaukauna, WI, high school for the talk by Sister Madonna Buder. In the school cafeteria area, I bumped into Roy Pirrung, one of the best masters ultra-runners in our country. On a side note, Roy is a good friend and competitor of Proctor native and Western States 100 champion Scott Jurek. I told Roy with all the big running, snow-shoeing, and cross-country skiing events in the month of February that the Upper Midwest is going to rival Florida's "Speed Weeks."
Roy gave me a puzzled look and asked, "Mark, what is 'Speed Weeks'?"
I smiled backed and told him, "Roy, check out my blog this Saturday on 'Northland Runner' and I will explain it to you."
Briefly, "Speed Weeks" is a series of stock car races (both asphalt and dirt track) and other motorized sporting events spanning the first two weeks of February in Florida. The climatic event will be held tomorrow at Daytona for the 51st running of the Daytona 500. Two of the drivers competing in the dirt track events are Darrell Nelson of Hermantown and Ryan Aho from the Iron Range.
In our world of silents sports, we have many great events during the same time span. For runners like me and Roy, we ran in the Seroogy's Valentine Run in DePere last Saturday. Today in the Milwaukee area, many runners in Wisconsin are competing in the Steve Cullen Healthy Hearts Run.
For cross-country skiiers, February is jammed-packed with great events. Last Saturday, the Hayward Lions Pre-Birkie was held and is traditionally a major tune-up for the American Birkebeiner. On Sunday, February 8, the prestigious Mora Vasaloppet ski marathon was held. This weekend, more major pre-Birkie tune-ups will be held with the Book Across the Bay race from Ashland to Washburn (which includes a snowshoe race) this evening and tomorrow with the Minnesota Finlandia Ski Marathon in Bemidji. Finally, next weekend will be American Birkebeiner and Kortelopet from Telemark Resort in Cable to downtown Hayward, which will culminate cross-country skiing's answer to "Speed Weeks".
So there's plenty of racing action out there for everyone, whether you're a "gearhead" like me or a silent sports enthusiast like me and other Northland Runner readers and bloggers. Although I don't participate in cross-country ski races, I will root for everyone who will compete in these great events. Good luck to you on your quest for speed!
February 13, 2009: Seroogy's 15K Run and Two Real "Masters" Runners
Hi Northland Runner readers! I'm in Saxon this weekend to enjoy Valentine's Day with my family. I'm first going to write about the Seroogy's Run/Walk held last weekend in DePere, WI and two "veteran" runners in both age and experience.
On February 7, I drove about an hour from Omro to DePere, WI for the 7th Seroogy's Run/Walk. The run consists of a 15K and 5K run. Since parking at Seroogy's Chocolates is limited, I parked across the street at New Life Chuch. The runners were allowed to use the bathrooms and the church lobby for stretching. The church staff was very friendly and helpful.
For the second year in a row, the first two miles went around and through St. Nobert's College, which hosts training camp for the Green Bay Packers. The remainder of the course is a loop around DePere and the neighboring village of Allouez. Other than a incline near mile 2, the course is relatively flat. There were three water and Gatorade stations on the course, and the mile markers were marked with red paint on the snow banks!
I didn't even noticed the painted mile markers until mile 5. When I checked my watch, I got there at a surprisingly fast 47:30 (for me, that is). Unfortunately, I couldn't maintain that pace and finished at 1:34:38. I was still happy with my effort because that was my longest run so far in 2009. I definitely couldn't complain about my post-race awards: a chocolate bar and hot cocoa!
I want to write briefly about two very special runners. Sister Madonna Buder of Spokane, WA was one of the participants at Seroogy's and spoke to a group of triathletes and runners the next day at Kaukauna, WI. She has completed over 300 triathlons including at least 35 Ironman events, and she is still going strong at the age of 79. Paul Gionfriddo of Muskego, WI (south of Milwaukee) has just finished his 100th marathon in October, and he will turn 86 later this month. He was featured in the HumanRace section of the March 2009 issue of Runner's World.
Finally, Sister Madonna and Paul are lively proof that running is a lifetime sport and it's never too late to make and achieve lofty goals. So never be afraid to dream! I'll write another blog tomorrow.
January 24, 2009: Saturday Afternoon Run in Saxon and Upcoming 15K Event
As promised, I'm writing another entry this weekend. I took 1.5 days of vacation on Thursday and Friday due to a dentist's appointment in Ashland to install a cap. Although I work in Oshkosh and live in Omro, I've maintained my dentist in Ashland because eventually I plan to retire in Saxon. To take advantage of my time off, I contacted all my sponsors for the Dogwood 5K Run to make sure they're all aboard for 2009 and actually got a commitment from a new sponsor. Also, I contacted my fellow race directors for the "Run the Range" series to confirm commitments and dates for this year's series.
Usually, I prefer to go for weekend runs very early in the morning. My weekend run, like for so many runners, is usually my longest run of the week. So I like to do my long run first thing in the morning, and then have the rest of the day to do other things.
However, I couldn't run this morning because the temperature at 7:30 a.m. was -10 degrees. My mom and sister wanted me to take them to Hurley/Ironwood to do some shopping, and I agreed to take them shopping first. So after I brought them home and unloaded the groceries, I decided to go for my run at 1:00 p.m.
When I got out the door, I knew the temperatures were above zero. When I ran past the Saxon post office, the temperature was at a "balmy" 9 degrees. I then ran from the main street to County Highway B, which has one medium-sized hill and one incline before it intersects with U.S. 2. County Highway B is a major part of my Dogwood run in which the runners go to the intersection of County B and U.S. 2 and loop back into town.
Once I reached U.S. 2, I took a left onto the highway and ran about 1.5 miles. I met a couple of logging trucks and waved to them. I have to say that 95% of the motorists on U.S. 2 are very courteous to me and often wave back to me or even move over a little bit to give me more room (although I usually run on the dirt portion of the highway). The only problems I have had with motorists is when they are passing cars in back of me and go to the left lane when I'm facing traffic and drive right by me. That's a very dangerous situation that has been documented by Running World's Jeff Galloway, even when I'm running near the grass of the highway. So whenever I have to run a highway, I stay as close to the edge of the dirt and grass as possible.
The final part of today's run was the intersection of U.S 2 and Highway 122 back into Saxon. My favorite part of this "final stretch" is the nice, long downhill from U.S. 2 into the town limits. The view of the town is beautiful, which includes the Iron County Fairgrounds and the two churches in town. This loop is approximately 4 miles, and today it took me 40 minutes to complete the run. I usually do this loop after a long lay-off or during the start of a new running schedule.
Finally, if anyone plans to be in the Green Bay area the first weekend of February, Midwest Sports Events is sponsoring the Seroogy's Valentine Run/Walk in DePere, WI on Saturday, February 7. The event has both a 15K and 5K Run, and the entry fee is $23 until 2/2 and then increases to $27 to the day of the run. The start/finish line is at Seroogy's Chocolates, so I have the perfect excuse to buy some Valentine treats for my family!
My next post will be hopefully Valentine's Day in which I will have a report on the Seroogy's Run and write about some other running news. Take care!
January 16, 2009: Green Bay Marathon Training Run
Hello Northland Runner readers! This is my first blog for 2009, and, like all of you, I'm pretty sick of this deep freeze. I know the Twin Ports and Iron Range probably have had overnight lows of -20 to -35 below. In the Fox Cities and Oshkosh area, we've had overnight lows of -10 to -20 below on Wednesday and Thursday nights. For us, that's unusually cold. As I'm typing this blog, the temperature in Saxon is a balmy 7 degrees above zero.
Enough talk about the weather; let's talk about some running! Specifically, I ran in the first training run of the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon on Saturday, 1/10. The run was held at the Food Court of the Bay Square Mall, which is approximately one mile south of Lambeau Field. Approximately 100 runners met at the court and did pre-race stretching with a trainer from Privea Health. The marathoners ran a 5 mile route; the half-marathoners ran a 3 mile route. Athough I registered for the half marathon, I decided to run the 5 mile route. After the run, the marathon staff provided bagels, gatorade, water, and coffee.
Before we started running, each of us received course directions on a key pull. It was really handy because the five mile course had approximately seven turns, and pulling out the directions is much more user-friendly than unraveling a course map on a paper. Not surprisingly, the streets were hard-packed and icy, but there was enough traction where there wasn't much slipping. The course also had about three hills, which was okay. I always like to run hills because it increases my endurance. I ran about 10-minute miles, which is pretty good for early January. I'll try to make another training run in late February and perhaps early March.
Briefly, how many people have entered the Fitgers 5K on-line? I registered at about 9:30 a.m last Thursday, so I'm in. I also understand that Grandma's started its on-line registration yesterday. Please let me know where they are at as far as pre-registration numbers if anyone has that information.
Finally, I'm going to try to run tomorrow on U.S. 2 in Saxon. The forecast calls for a chance of snow, but at least the temperatures will be above zero! I'll try to enter another blog entry next week. Good running, and try to stay warm!
December 31, 2008: End of Year Thoughts and 2009 Plans
Hi again fans of Northland Runner! As promised, I'm writing an end of the year blog. I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas. I sure did, and I even got some running in on the weekend and a little bit on Monday. The runs weren't very long (no more than four miles at most) but I was able to burn off some calories after having a lot of Ma Massoglia's cooking over Christmas. I got two gift certificates from Abelman's Clothing in Bessemer, MI (where I've bought all my running shoes since 1993) and among the gifts I bought were running socks from Wigwam and FoxRiver. Boy, do I ever wear out my running socks! I had to give up my favorite pair after the Fox Cities Marathon and now I had to throw away another pair just this morning.
Also, I want to thank everyone who responded to my post about the "Run for the Light" in Oshkosh. The one thing I love about running is that the vast majority of events raise money for many worthwhile causes. It's great when you can get your excerise fix in and help somebody out at the same time. On a much more serious note, I'm deeply touched to hear from you who have been affected by domestic violence, and my thoughts and prayers go out to you.
Now, it's time to talk about 2009. The running year will start out with a bang right away for me as the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon will have its kick-off party on Wednesday, January 7 in DePere, WI. The guest speaker will be Running World's columnist Bart Yasso. If the weather's good, I may make the trip (an hour drive from Oshkosh). Closer to the Twin Ports, the Fitgers 5K will begin its online registration on Thursday, January 8. According to the post card I received from Grandma's Marathon, the Fitgers 5K will only accept on-line registrants this year and have a limit of 1,500 runners. Since I'm planning to run the Fitgers 5K this year on April 18 and hopefully meet my fellow bloggers, I better be ready at my work computer on January 8.
In a previous post, I mentioned about possibly entering the full marathon in Green Bay, but now I backed off and will do only the half marathon. Traditionally, I shy away from spring marathons because of the concern I have of getting in enough quality miles. With the extremely cold, snowy winter we've had so far in the Upper Midwest, I think I made the right decision. I'll make sure, though, that I get in the miles I need because I plan to run the half marathon as well at Journeys in Eagle River on Mother's Day weekend. I look forward to writing a post on that event when it nears.
Finally, I want to wish all of you a very Happy New Year. I'll be driving back to Omro on New Year's Day and hopefully start my training for Journeys and Cellcom Green Bay that Saturday with some running friends in Appleton. My next post should be either the third or fourth weekend in January. Take care!