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 20, 2011: It's Been A While
It's been a long time since I've written a blog entry for Northland Runner, but I think now's a good time to get the “Badgerland Blog” going again. A lot has happened since my last blog during Whistlestop weekend. I had to discontinue the Dogwood Run/Walk in Saxon due to various reasons, but at least we have enough in the “kitty” to keep the Dogwood Scholarship going for a few more years. I also decided to scale back my race schedule significantly for 2011. For the first time since 1992, there is the very strong possibility I may not run either a half or full marathon. As of now, I may enter only short events. Fortunately, one of them will be the Fitgers' 5K on April 15. There's no way I'm going to miss that one.
Although I'm going to take a hiatus from running major distance events, I still find time to run or walk plenty of 5K events. One of them was the Seroogy's Chocolates 15K/5K held last Saturday, 2/12, in DePere, WI. This event just grows in popularity I think, in part, it serves as a “kick-off” event for many runners in the Fox Valley. For an early season event, it's extremely well organized with plenty of perks like a Seroogy's Meltaway Bar (I haven't eaten mine yet) and a block of cheddar cheese shaped as a heart. The long-sleeved t-shirt had a beautiful multi-color design, and the finish line food provided by Seroogy's was exceptional.
My timing chip was a plastic strap that looped around the shoe laces. It's easy to put on and is not cumbersome. The only point of criticism I had with the event was the placement of the timing mats at the start line. All the runners had to make a right turn from the Shopko parking lot onto U.S. Highway 57 to hit the mats; very unusual. I think the reason why is the DePere Police Department didn't want to entire highway clogged with runners at the start. However, like all good runners, we adjusted to the situation without a hitch.
The 5K course is basically a loop around St. Nobert's College (training camp home of the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers) and back to Seroogy's. Although I did a combination run/walk, I had plenty of good company with me and even finished with a kick! I was really happy with my finish, so there is some optimism going into 2011.
I'm going to wrap up my blog entry by wishing everyone a great 2011 running season, no matter how small or big your goals are. Also, I want to wish everyone who's going to participate in next week's Birkie good luck. Take care, and I hope to see everyone at Fitgers'.
October 9, 2010: Whistlestop Marathon Weekend
Today has definitely been a busy birthday so far and will continue to be busy tonight. This morning I ran in the Whistlestop half marathon from Moquah to the Bay Area Civic Center in Ashland. This evening, I am going to have a birthday dinner at my parents' house and attend a harvest festival for my dad's church. I would say I've been having a great birthday.
I’ll start my Whistlestop weekend with last night’s spaghetti feed and fish boil. Right away, I want to say the Whistlestop volunteers did a wonderful job the entire weekend. From packet pickup to the finish line festivities, the volunteers were on top of everything and treated all of us great. My dad Bob was nice enough to go to the feed with me as my “co-pilot.” We were lucky enough to cross paths with our own Shelly T. and Sam, and I wished them good luck. I probably needed the good luck more than they do, and I hoped their speed would rub off on me. We also met fellow Fox Cities PaceSetters member Steve Engle, who recently became a member of the 50 States and D.C. marathon club, and Ironwood area runners Ken and Leah Nikula. The spaghetti was pretty good, and Dad definitely enjoyed the fish bowl. We left the feed around 6:00 p.m.
I got to the Ashland Annex parking lot around 5:30 a.m. and soon met with Kristen Pond and Brad Bacher of Merrill, WI. We rode the bus together to Moquah and were among the first people at the start line. We met up again with Shelly T. as we picked up our timing chips, and when we went inside the town hall we saw none other than fellow blogger Eve. I’m glad that Kristen and Brad were able to meet some other members of “Northland Runner.” I also talked to a couple from Madison in the town hall, and they told me that they’ve been past participants of the Oshkosh Triathlon.
I’ll summarize my run in one paragraph. On my two long runs, my pace was approximately 12:30 mpm. I got to mile 5 at 54:50 (a little under 11:00 mpm), mile 8 at 1:31:10, mile 10 at 1:59:45, and the finish line at 2:44:49 for a final 12:33 mpm pace. Under the circumstances, that was the best I could hope for. Maybe I should have done either the 5K or 10K instead, but I wanted to run in the half marathon on my birthday. I will buy new running shoes in two weeks and hopefully that will help my knees. I was happy for both Brad and Kristen because I thought both of them ran really well. I sure enjoyed the finish line food, and I thought the chili was a big-time bargain.
Finally, I’m crossing my fingers that Sam and Tonya Thompson will already have qualified for the Boston Marathon. It’s great when runners strive for and achieve big-time goals. Good running to all of you, and I’ll try write another blog in two weeks. Take care!
October 1, 2010: Guess What I'm Going To Do On My Birthday?
It seems forever since I wrote a blog, but I guess it’s been only four weeks. In this edition of the Badgerland Blog, I am going to cram some things in a short amount of space including the Fox Cites Marathon weekend and my plans for next weekend’s Whistlestop Marathon.
I am going to write about my Whistlestop plans first. Although I made up my mind in August to beat the entry deadline, I didn’t let my parents know until last weekend about my decision. I decided to enter in the half marathon but was willing to back out if I wasn’t happy with my progress. Well, including an extended cooldown period, I was able to get two 12-mile runs done within six days. I’ve kept my physical therapist updated on my progress and had very little pain or discomfort. However, my pace has been nothing to write home about but that’s something I’ll have to deal with.
The main reason I want to run the Whistlestop half marathon is it’s going to be held on my 49th birthday (October 9). What a way to celebrate my birthday, scuffling and shuffling for possibly well over two hours! However, I am going to make the weekend as enjoyable as possible. I’m going to take a ½-day of vacation next Friday, so I will attend the marathon expo and pasta feed. Hopefully, my dad Bob will be able to join me, so, if any of you get a chance, please stop over and visit with us.
Two weekends ago, I participated for the seventh year in a row in the Fox Cities Marathon Festival weekend as both a runner and volunteer. Although I’m sure many of you probably have volunteered in a major event like Grandma’s or Voyageur’s, I would encourage those who haven’t to do so sometime. Although the work can be very intense, it is also a lot of fun and very gratifying. On Saturday, I did the Time Warner 5K Run/Walk. The encouraging part of my run is that I got to the mile 1 split less than 9 minutes. However, I couldn’t hold that pace for the remainder of the run (finishing time of 30:17). Hey, I still had fun; I just have to build on that mile 1 split over a few more miles.
Finally, good luck to my colleague Shane here at Northland Runner and everyone else who are running in the TCM next weekend. For myself, I will continue a Massoglia family tradition by attending the 35th Red Clay Classic stockcar invitational at ABC Raceway in Ashland with my dad, brother Greg, and his son Tate. Hopefully, we won’t either be drenched or frozen. Take care, and hopefully, I’ll see a lot of you at Whistlestop!
September 5, 2010: Ed Hansen Memorial 5K/10K Run
Hi Northland Runner readers, and I want to wish all of you a safe and Happy Labor Day weekend. Earlier today, I made the approximately 75 mile trip from Saxon to Ontonagon, MI for the Ed Hansen Memorial 5K/10K Run. I ran the Ed Hansen run every year from 1999 through 2006, but this is my first since 2006. One thing that hasn’t change is the drive to Ontonagon is probably the most scenic one I take to a run, especially the portion from Silver City to Ontonagon along the Lake Superior shoreline. It’s absolutely gorgeous, especially with the cabins and cottages in the foreground.
For many years, avid marathoner and ultra-runner Jim Waters was the race director and did a great job. For the past three years, the staff at Aspirus Hospital has taken over organizing the event, and I was impressed with the way they did things. I received my bib, t-shirt, goody bag and timing chip immediately. The goody bag included two gift cards, a packet of Clif “Shot”, and bottle sleeve. The organizers must have known I was a graduate of UW-Platteville because my T-shirt consisted of my school’s colors of blue and orange (blue background with orange lettering).
One unique thing about the Ed Hansen run was that it had separate starting lines for the 5K and 10K. The 10K runners started about twenty yards from the finish line while we 5Kers started about 50 yards farther back. Both courses are very runner-friendly with hills only immediately at the start. The majority of the courses are tree-lined with plenty of shade, and the turns are minimal. The two highlights for me were running close to the lakeshore during the last mile and shaking hands with Ontonagon County Sheriff John Grayer before the last turn to the finish line.
As I mentioned in my last blog, I ran the 5K race today. I ran a steady pace throughout the run and had no noticeable pain in my knees. Heeding the advice of my physical therapist Lori, I focused on running slow but steady and didn’t worry about my pace. For my first running race since the 4th of July, I was very happy I ran under 10 minute miles (9:53 clip; 30:41:48 total). For the first time that I can remember, I received a custom-made printout of my result from the timing service (Superior Timing). I had a great time today in Ontonagon and consider today’s race a good start for my comeback.
Finally, since September is a big month in the running world, I want to wish everyone good luck as you prepare for your upcoming half or full marathon. My next blog will be on Friday, 10/1, when I will write about the 20th Fox Cities Marathon Festival of Races (I’ll be confined to running the 5K only this year). Take care, and good running!
August 28, 2010: Pfc. Ryan Jerabek, USMC Memorial Challenge
During my last blog, I really had second thoughts about doing one before hand because of my lack of running and racing. Although my running program is starting to pick up a little bit (hopefully at the right time), I do have plenty to write about today because of an event I and Kristen Pond did two weeks ago (Saturday, August 14).
The event was the 5th Annual Pfc. Ryan Jerabek, USMC Memorial Challenge held in Hobart, WI (approximately 10 to 15 miles west of Green Bay). Pfc. Jerabek was killed on April 6, 2004 in Ramadi, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Thanks to the countless hours devoted by Ryan’s parents and co-race directors Rita and Ken Jerabek, the event had the enmities that would be the envy of many half and full marathons. When Kristen and I drove near Four Seasons Park, volunteer attendants directed us to the parking lot. More volunteers then directed us to the packet pick-up area and the chip pick-up area. At the last minute, I decided to back out of the 4 mile run and do the 2 mile walk instead. Tables were already filled with food, water, and sports drink. A stage was set up with bleachers for the pre-race and post-race ceremonies, and there were even separate tents for medical aid and massages. Despite on how busy she was, Rita Jerabek spared a moment to visit with Kristen and me. I’m just guessing here, but I think the event had well over a thousand participants.
My fellow Northland Runner readers, I’m sure you may have two questions on your mind. The first question you may have is why “only” a 4 mile run (instead of a traditional 5K, 5 mile, or 10K) with a supporting 2 mile walk. The answer is Ryan served with the 4th Marine Division, 2nd Batallion. In fact, a USMC honor guard from Camp Pendleton, CA was present for the pre-race ceremonies and even ran the 4 mile race. The second question is probably why have so much medical support for two short races. The answer is simple: if you think the Paavo Nurmi Marathon is hot and hilly, you “haven’t seen nothing yet!”
How bad are the hills? Kristen and I were driving towards the park and suddenly we were driving up this steep triple-layer hill. Kristen stared right at me and asked, “Mark, this isn’t part of the course, is it?” We got our answer when we reached the top of the hill and saw two water tables being assembled on the right hand side of the road and just beyond the table a big white sign stating “Jerabek Challenge – Mile 3.” I then put a hand on Kristen’s right shoulder and said, “I’ll be thinking of you while I’m walking.” Well, the 2 mile walk is no piece of cake, either. The runners and walkers shared the first mile together and we all had to go up a moderate hill and then go down a steep, winding hill to the first mile marker. Then, we walkers had to turn around and go back up the same hill. Fortunately, the route was heavily wooded so there was plenty of shade. Kristen reported that miles 1 through 3 were all up and down hills and then flattens out for the remainder of the run. Despite the heat (temperatures in the low 80s) and high humidity, I thought Kristen finished very strong.
To be honest, I was bummed out that I couldn’t do the 4 mile run; I thought it would have been a great challenge for me. However, now that I am now really heavy into my physical therapy, I know I would have had a terrible time on the hills. At least by walking, I was able to visit with many fellow participants and view all the gorgeous houses on both sides of the road. Hopefully, if I don’t do any of the Paavo Nurmi events, I will come back and do the 4 mile race in 2011. Again, I want to thank Ken and Rita Jerabek and their many friends and volunteers for putting on a truly great running event.
To wrap this blog up, my therapy is going along very well and I got the green light to do some short runs. My next blog will be next Sunday, September 3 when I will be writing about the Ed Hansen Memorial 5K and 10K from Ontonagon, MI. Take care, and good running!