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.
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!
December 23, 2008: 450 Runners Making a Statement
First of all, I want to wish my fellow bloggers and all Northland Runner readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I already got the best Christmas present possible by being able to spend the holidays with my parents, sister, brother and his family here in Saxon. They are also my biggest fans when it comes to my running!
I want to go three weeks back to a 5K run called "Race for the Light" that I did in Oshkosh on Saturday night, December 6. The event was a fund raiser for Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services located in nearby Neenah. The company I work for in Oshkosh has a casual dress day on Fridays. The only condition is that we donate $1 a week to a "Helping Hands" Fund. In our case, the recipient of our funds is Christine Ann. Therefore, I have sort of an attachment to this specific charity.
The run is held in downtown Oshkosh at night (5:00 p.m.) and goes through a lighted park next to Lake Winnebago before heading back to the start/finish line at the Oshkosh Boys and Girls Club. The course is completely flat, but the streets were covered with snow and ice. I was more concerned with keeping my footing than running a fast time. Despite my finishing over 30 minutes, I was very happy that I didn't have one slip!
What impressed me the most was the enthusiasm of both the organizers and participants. The turnout exceeded expectations with approximately 450 runners and walkers of all ages and abilities. Despite the better than expected turnout, the organizers did a great job registering everyone in a timely manner. The race director added a very nice personal touch by congratulating every participant once she or he crossed the finish line. There was plenty of water, Starbucks, fruit, cookies, and even Cousins subs at the finish line. Finally, there was a choir singing in the Boys and Girls Club after the run.
As I'm typing this post, I'm wearing my "Race for the Light" t-shirt. It has a blue background with a reindeer in the front. I had a great time and am proud to be one of 450 people to participate in a very worthwhile event. Hopefully, events like this one will go a long way to eliminate the evil that is domestic abuse.
Again, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. My next post will hopefully be sometime this weekend. Good running to you during this holiday season!
November 26, 2008: Fall 5Ks and Thanksgiving Fun Run
Hi Northland Runner readers! I'm back after a two month "vacation." Actually, this is my first visit to my parents' home and my personal computer since the first weekend of October, and I'm looking forward to write about running again. Usually after I run a fall marathon (in past years Whistlestop, this year Fox Cities), I back off my running significantly. Some reasons (or excuses) are shorter days, less motivation due to fewer events, and, most importantly, my 47 year old body just needs a rest. However, I still was able to run three 5K events in the Fox Cities area that I'm going to discuss briefly here.
The first one actually occurred one block from my home. The annual Omro Fox Trot 5K run was held on Saturday, October 11 (same day as Whistlestop). Although the event is relatively small in numbers (about 50 total for the 5K and 1 Mile runs), the course is well supported with a water station at the Omro Police Station and two time splits. The course is actually one of the most demanding 5Ks I run all year with an incline just before mile 1 and a double-layer hill between miles 1 and 2 with another small incline right before mile 2. I actually got to the mile 1 marker under 8 minutes but my pace slowed down as the race went on. My finishing time was just under 27:30, which was OK because I only ran sparingly since my marathon. There was plenty of water, Gatorade, and bananas at the finish line courtesy of the local Piggly Wiggly.
My second 5K was a last-minute decision. I was planning to go to Saxon on the weekend of October 25 but the National Weather Service of Duluth was calling for lake-effect snow for the Hurley-Ashland area. Therefore, I canceled the trip home and drove that Saturday morning to Appleton for the Freaky 5K sponsored by the Appleton YMCA. The event was well-attended with about 150 runners and walkers. The course was much gentler than the Omro run with one steep downhill at the start immediately followed with one uphill; otherwise, the course was flat. Although my overall time was slower than at Omro (just over 28 minutes), I ran consistent 9:10 miles throughout the race so I was pleased with running a solid, consistent pace. The post-race buffet was really good with fruit, cookies, bagels, and even Starbucks!
My last 5K was the St. Joe's Food Pantry Run held in downtown Menasha on Saturday, November 1. What's unique about this run that it uses the Portsmouth scoring system. Basically, the runners are sent off in waves based on age, and the first runner crossing the finish line regardless of wave is declared the winner. It's pretty exciting when you start the race and almost immediately pass people left and right; then a few moments later people are starting to pass you left and right! The course is flat throughout with the runners making a loop around the Fox River Trestle Bridge. I finished my best time of the three 5Ks with a 27:16 time. Finally, the St. Joe's Run has the best post-race buffet of all my runs, bar none!
As most of you may be aware by reading my previous posts, I'm big on traditions. Tomorrow, I'm going to run with a lot of longtime friends in Ironwood, MI for the annual Thanksgiving fun run. I've been participating in this fun event since the late 1990's. The location has varied from year to year; for years, it was held near the ABR cross-country ski trails. This year, it will be held at the house of Will and Marianne Andresen in downtown Ironwood. The fun run usually has loops of six miles and four miles. I usually prefer the shorter loop so I can have first digs on all the food (usually pot luck)! This year, I'm bringing peanut butter bars. It's a great way for me to jump start my Thanksgiving day before eating turkey with my family and watching football.
Finally, I want to wish everyone (bloggers and readers) at Northland Runner a very happy Thanksgiving. I know many of you are going to participate in a run in Duluth on Thanksgiving, so good luck and please be sure to thank the organizers and volunteers who are setting aside part of their holiday to put on the event. Good running to you, and again Happy Thanksgiving!
September 26, 2008: Fox Cities Marathon Weekend (Full Marathon)
As I promised, here is my second post about my Fox Cities Marathon weekend. On Sunday, I ran in my 28th overall marathon but my first Community First Fox Cities Marathon. The weather was absolutely perfect: mostly cloudy skies with a starting temperature in the low to mid fifties. I arrived at the start line at UW-Fox Valley at 5:30 a.m. Although my start wasn't until 8:00 a.m., I got there early in part to watch the 6:00 a.m. start for the marathoners who plan to finish over six hours. I think this is a great idea, especially for older runners and marathoners who primarily walk the distance. I know the past two years the Paavo also has had an early start for six-hour plus marathoners, but I don't know of too many others in the Upper Midwest.
There were five wheelchair competitors lined up to start their competition right before the full and half marathons; however, one competitor was missing! About one minute before his start, he arrived but had problems getting his feet inside his strap. As he was struggling, the gun sounded and the P.A. announcer gave the order for everyone to proceed to the start line. In an act of sportsmanship, not one runner moved! Fortunately, Race Director Debbie Jansen and a couple of volunteers helped the competitor get his feet inside the strap and he went on his way under a thunderous ovation. That may be one of my best moments ever at a marathon.
The course goes through seven communities and end at Riverside Park in Neenah. For the most part, the course is flat but has a very hilly section at mile 11 at Kaukana. I ran under my first tunnel ever around mile 14 in the township of Darboy. The on-course support is tremendous with approximately 2,500 volunteers. At one time, the course ran over seven bridges, but I think this year there were only three.
I ran better at Fox Cities than I did at Paavo. My 10K split was very good at 54:04, and my 10 mile split was OK at 1:33. However, my pace started to slow gradually with a 2:09 half split, 3:48 at mile 20, and ended at 5:18. Although my finish was 12 minutes better than Paavo, I'm still struggling in the second half of races. I'm going to make some adjustments to my training next year and maybe run the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon in May of 2009. Time will tell.
The medallion and finisher's shirt are beautiful. The shirt is made from a sports fabric with a white background and yellow and black lettering. At the packet pickup, we also received a long-sleeve cotton sweatshirt with a white background and green and black lettering. The medallion has the pavillion at Riverside Park engraved on it.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I classified September as a BIG race month. Well, tonight my dad, brother, and I are going to continue a family tradition by attending the 33rd Red Clay Classic stock car invitational in Ashland. For many midwest stock car racers, this is their BIG race. However, I am going to stand out from my fellow stock car fans because I will be wearing my brand new Community First Fox Cities Marathon t-shirt!
I'll try to write another post sometime in October. In the meantime, enjoy running in this great fall weather!
September 25, 2008: Fox Cities Marathon Weekend (5K Run and Volunteer Work)
Hi Northland Runner readers! I'm back again after a hiatis of a month. This is the first of two blogs on the Fox Cities Marathon events in Appleton. This blog will focus on the Time Warner Cable 5K Run (which I ran) and the Affinity Health and Fitness Expo (which I volunteered in the packet pick-up) held on Saturday, 9/20. The second blog will be about the 18th Annual Community First Fox Cities Marathon held on Sunday, 9/21 (which I finished my 28th marathon).
The Time Warner Cable 5K Run took place on Saturday morning at Fox Valley Technical College. The event has traditionally been held at UW-Fox Valley in Menasha, but construction there beginning last year forced a change to FVTC. I really enjoyed the old course, which included two hills. Despite the hills, I finished under 24:30 from 2004 through 2006. The course at FVTC is relatively flat and includes a portion on a bike trail between miles 2 and 3. Last year, I ran 25:00 flat and this year I ran 25:08.
The atmosphere is very festive with a P.A. announcer and music sound system, and of course there was plenty of good food. The event set a record with 894 participants of all ages. John Ebel is the race director, and this was just the start of a long weekend for him because the next day he was going to run in his 18th consecutive Fox Cities Marathon!
After the 5K, I volunteered for four hours at the Affinity Health and Fitness Expo. My main responsibility was to check in the 28 relay marathon teams. Basically, I gave them their packets, instructed them how to use their timing chip (an ankle strap), and directed them where to pick up their goody bags, t-shirts, and caps. I proudly wore my 5K finisher's medal (which has the RoadRunner engraved on it) to show the participants that I'm a runner, too. In fact, many of the volunteers are runners and most of them were going to participate in either the U.S. Cellular Half Marathon or the full marathon the next day. I want to give some kudos to longtime volunteer coordinator Sandra Thein, who works tirelessly with organizing the volunteer effort.
Well, that's a wrap of my first of two FCM posts. My second one will come later tonight or sometime on Friday. Take care!