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.
March 27, 2009: Timing Chips and Some "Must" Reading
Hi Northland Runner readers! I'm back to write about the latest running news from Badgerland. The snow is basically all gone in the Oshkosh area. Right now in Saxon there is a couple inches on the ground after a brief "lake effect" snow shower. When I drove towards Saxon from Hurley, I paid particular attention to the shoulders of U.S. 2 because I plan to go on a 10-plus mile long run tomorrow. Luckily, the shoulders look pretty bare so I should have good footing tomorrow morning for my run.
When I was driving to work in Oshkosh this morning, I was thinking about some ideas for my blog tonight. I must have a good life if the first thing on my mind in the morning is my next running blog entry! Well, I'm going to offer my views on timing chips and then I want to discuss some very good articles in the latest issue of a regional sports magazine.
Last Saturday, I ran in a 5 mile run in Oshkosh hosted by RunAway Shoes and Fratello's Restaurant. Overall, I had a great time and actually ran pretty good (47:57) on a flat hiking trail that was snow-covered after an overnight snow. The only problem(s) I had was with my timing chip (hence the previous paragrph). The first problem I had was about ten minutes before the start when my plastic tie strap broke off! So I had to rush back to the registration area to get another strap. The other problem occurred two days later when checking the results only to find out my name was missing! Since there was no machinery available to authorize the chips, there was no way of knowing if there was a malfunction with the chip.
I wasn't overly concerned that my own name was missing; I already knew what my finishing time was from my watch and the overhead clock at the finish line. What did concern me was the lady who finished directly behind me had her name missing from the results as well! So I called the race director and explained the situation to him. Being a race director myself, the last thing you want is a name missing from your results or a runner listed with an incorrect time. So he told me he would investigate things and hopefully resolve the problem with the timing people. Hey, that's really all you can expect, and I was satisfied after our talk.
The type of chip used at that run was a flat, circuit-board type chip. I never felt comfortable with that type of chip; it's pretty bulky and usually flops around my shoe. I prefer the ankle-strap type chip used by White River Timing of Iron River, WI; easy to put on and easy to take off. Another type of chip I like is the spider-like chip that you can secure to your shoe with a plastic tie-wrap. That type of chip is used at the Journeys Marathon and Fox Cities Marathon.
The moral of this story for me is always have a backup plan. Fortunately, I had my watch on so I knew what my finishing time was. If you ever have a chip or timing problem, please inform either the race director or timing people of the situation. If they are made aware of the problem, then they can take the appropriate corrective action so the problem won't occur again. Like I said earlier, I wasn't too concerned that my name was missing from the finisher's list, but you don't want others to lose out on a recorded finish or an award because of an error.
Finally, I want to recommend a couple of articles from the April issue of Silent Sports Magazine. The first article is "April - The Runner's New Year" by Tom Kauffman of Madison, WI. I never met Tom, but I always enjoy reading his column. His articles have always been pretty insightful and provide good information for runners of all abilities. The other article is from a student from UW-Stevens Point about the growth of college running clubs. So please check them out.
My next blog will be two weeks from now when I will write about an upcoming 5K in Appleton and my trip to Duluth for the Fitgers' 5K. Take care!
March 7, 2009: Getting In The Miles Without Getting Any Speed
Well, I'm back again to talk about more running! Now, that we're into March, I'm starting to see more people running. According to KBJR's meteorologist George Kessler, March produces more snow than any other month of the year. March is also known as a transition month in which there could be a real mixed bag of weather. Yesterday, I drove from Oshkosh to Saxon in temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees and sunny weather. Tomorrow, the forecast for Northeastern Wisconsin (Green Bay and Fox Cities) calls for a mix of sleet and snow. Because of that forecast, I'll have to drive back to Omro later today. For Tuesday, that same area may get thunderstorms!
Since a person doesn't know what the weather will be from one day to the next, the best thing to do is to get outside and do some running "while the getting's good." Just like the title of my blog states, I've been able to get some really good miles in, including a 9 mile run two weeks ago in Omro and a 12-miler in Green Bay last Saturday. Conversely, my times on these runs have been very slow with a pace over 10 minutes-per-mile. On my 3.5 mile run this morning in Saxon, my pace was at about 10 minutes-per-mile.
Am I discouraged with my slow times? Definitely not! Do I wish my pace would be faster? Sure, but this early in the running season I would prefer to get a 10 to 13 mile run in at a 10 or 11 minute-per-mile pace than to run a 5K under 27 minutes. According to U.P. Road Runners Club President Fred Jacobs, he wrote in the club's newsletter "Running Amuck" that a runner generally runs at a pace about a minute a mile slower in the winter than she or he would in the spring or summer. Fred took in account road conditions, temperatures, precipitation, etc. I agree, because I usually run at my best late in the summer and early in the fall. A good example for me was last year. When I ran the Fitgers 5K on cold, raining April morning, I finished at 27:15. On July 5 at the Draggin' Tail 5 Mile Run in Lake Nebagamon, I got to the 5K marker at 26:12!
So I guess what I'm trying to say is don't be discouraged if you're not going as fast as you hope. Just keep getting out there when you can, and those times will eventually go down. Now, I just got to convince myself of that! Finally, good running to all of you, and I'll write my next blog during the last weekend of March. Take care!
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!