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.
May 25, 2009: Big News Flash Regarding the Paavo Nurmi Marathon
First of all, I want to wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day, especially the readers and bloggers who have either served our armed forces or have family members who have served our country. My dad is a member of the American Legion, and I'm going to the Memorial Day services here in Saxon and nearby Gurney later this morning. My own Memorial Day tradition is to go for either a long run or walk first thing in the morning. Since I just bought another pair of running shoes (Saucony), I went for an hour walk.
I got some big news from new Paavo Nurmi Marathon Race Director Rita Franzoi. She told me at the John Jarvi Run on Saturday that the Paavo will have for the first time a separate half marathon. This is official because the half marathon is listed on the entry form. Rita told me that the start will be at the halfway point at Gile and will end at the marathon finish line. Rita also said that the two-person and five-person relay teams will still continue and remain unaffected. More details should appear on the Paavo's official website, www.hurleywi.com.
For runners in the region, this is big time news because, for many years, the Paavo was one of the last holdouts to having a separate half marathon. Now, I think many people who were hesitant about running the Paavo in the past may change their minds because of the introduction of a half marathon. I think many top-level male and female runners may enter now just to try to become the first Paavo half marathon champions.
Finally, this news will definitely affect my running calendar. Instead, of running the full Paavo, I will run the half marathon. This will mean a lot less wear and tear on my body. I will still run a full marathon this year, but that one will be the Fox Cities in late September. Hopefully, I will be ready to go! Good running to you, and have a safe Memorial Day.
May 24, 2009: John Jarvi Jr. Memorial Run and
When I finished the John Jarvi Jr. 5K Run yesterday in Ironwood, MI, I was probably the most excited I've been after a run in a long time. One big reason was I broke 26 minutes (25:48) in a 5K for the first time since last September. Another reason was I was fortunate to be running at all after missing the half marathon a week ago in Green Bay. Finally, for one of the rare times in my running career, not one person passed me during a run. In fact, I was able to pass and beat Hurley High School girls' basketball and track coach (and longtime friend) Melissa (Luoma) Oja in a "drag race" to the finish line. Exciting!
The weather was absolutely perfect for the start: partly cloudy skies and cool (temps in the upper 40s) with very low humidity. The only drawback was perhaps a slight wind from the North on the way back from Norrie Park. The wind did slow me down a little, but I was able to keep pushing forward. A nice feature of the 5K course is a dirt trail that extends for about a 1/3 of a mile that begins as the runners enter the park. On the way out of the park, there's a water station. The 5K course is very flat, but the 10K course is really hilly with at least three hills between miles 1 and 4. I did the 10K during the inaugural Jarvi run in 1998. Never again!
The post-race buffet was exceptional with a variety of fruit and baked goods. The post-race awards ceremony was efficient and presented by John Jarvi's mother Sandy and Ironwood High School Sports P.A. announcer Sam Fontecchio. I want to thank Race Director Doug Palmeter and Ironwood High School Cross-Country Coach Bruce Beckman for putting on a great event. The total number of participants was at approximately 180.
The John Jarvi Jr. Memorial Run was also the first event of the 8th "Run the Range" series. The series was created in October 2001 by me and four other race directors of the five major runs in the Hurley/Ironwood area. The series has served a dual purpose: to promote running in the Hurley/Ironwood area and establish a "traveling" racing series with a common points system. What I am most proud of is that the series has introduced many people to the sport of running. The ages of our series participants vary from 9 to 10 years old to people in their 60s and early 70s. Also, the series has always had a pretty good mix of walkers, beginners, established marathoners, etc.
Why have we gotten such a variety of people in the series? I think the main reason is that our series awards each participant 10 points just to enter an event. Also, the series awards points based on both championship finishes and age-group finishes up to 10 places. In that way, the vast majority of participants will get both participants points and race points. Finally, at the last event (Festival Ironwood Walk, Roll, and Run), we have an awards ceremony for the series champions and the participants who finish all five events.
Well, that's the "Run the Range" series in a nutshell. I would like to know more about the points system for the NMTC, which I understand is really popular and competitive in the Twin Ports. Maybe someone has some ideas that would make the "Run the Range" series even better. Take care, and take advantage of this beautiful spring weather!
May 22, 2009: Disappointment and Jubilation
This will be an unusual blog for me because I’m going to write about a run I couldn’t attend. Last Sunday was the 10th running of the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon, and I had intended to run the half marathon. However, I was working approximately 12-hour days last week and early this week with the federal government on a project in Oshkosh and had to cancel my trip to Green Bay. Although I had two chances to drive up to Green Bay to pick up my pre-registration packet, I wasn’t about to make a two-hour round-trip after working a twelve-hour day. So when Sunday rolled around, I was busy working on my computer on the corner of Oregon Street and 20th Avenue in Oshkosh instead of toeing the start line on Lombardi Avenue in Green Bay.
Despite my disappointment about not running the half marathon in Green Bay, I want to point out a few things. First of all, my running doesn’t pay my bills; my job as a technical (maintenance manual) writer does. With the economy the way it is, missing a run because of work sure beats the alternative! Also, I know Race Director Sean Ryan will put my money to good use. A percentage of my entry fee will go to charity, so I feel good about that. Most importantly, the people I worked with on this project were very appreciative that I canceled my run to work on Sunday to complete the project (final approval was Wednesday). I felt really good when my manager told me that she was very proud of me, knowing how much I love running and competing in big events like this. However, it was still a bummer to watch the news Sunday night to see 10,000 people running in Green Bay and know I couldn’t be with them.
I understand many of the bloggers and readers of “Northland Runner” work in the health care industry and probably put in much more hours than me and juggle some wacky schedules. I’m also pretty sure that a lot of you’ve had to cancel a run or two for more important commitments. I guess the moral of this story is that, although running is a very important part of our lives, it’s still just a hobby.
But the best thing about running is there is always a next event! I will be at one tomorrow at Ironwood, MI for the 12th John Jarvi Jr. Memorial 10K/5K Run. John was a very close friend of mine and really encouraged me when I returned to running in 1992. Sadly, he left us in April of 1996 from cancer. The Ironwood High School Cross Country Team will host the Jarvi Run, which is also the first event of the “Run the Range” Series in the Hurley/Ironwood area. I will write a brief blog on that series on Memorial Day.
So, to sum up my blog entry, I had to deal with the initial disappointment of not participating in an event I had planned months for and then deal with the jubilation (and relief) of a job well done. Now, I’m going to enjoy running in an event named after a close friend with many of my and John’s long-time friends. Like I said earlier, in running, there’s always a next race!
May 9, 2009: 13th Journeys Marathon in Eagle River, WI
Right off the bat, I want to wish all you moms among the bloggers and readers of Northland Runner a very Happy Mother’s Day. A Mother’s Day tradition for runners in the Upper Midwest since 1997 is the Journeys Marathon in Eagle River, WI. This is also a big weekend for me personally because this is one of the rare events where I stay overnight at a hotel. It’s neat because the Days Inn is directly across from the World Snowmobile Derby track and directly behind the track is the new Northland Pines High School, which is basically the “headquarters” of the marathon.
The race expo and spaghetti feed were held Friday night. Journeys is one of my favorite feeds because they have the best assortment and variety of baked goods around, bar none! I sat with longtime U.P. Road Runners Club Treasurer and 50 State marathon participant Bill Sved of Marquette, MI and two friends of his from Alpena, MI. Bill is a great ambassador for the sport of running, usually running two to three marathons a month from April through October. Bill is now in his early 60s, but he still is a consistent 3:50 to 4:00 hour marathoner.
I got on the bus around 8:30 a.m. and sat by myself. I still had the bad taste of the last 3.1 miles of the Jailbreak Half Marathon in my mouth, and I wanted to redeem myself in the worst way. Also, I wanted to run well so I have some good mojo going when I run in the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon eight days later. When I got to the start, I said hi to the public address announcer and thanked him for being there from the beginning. I don’t know his name, but he’s from DePere, WI. I also renew acquaintances with Janet (Menting) Knutson, who ran the first Journeys Marathon with me along with her older sister Barb Menting-Pride. Janet told me she is running the half as a “tune up” for the full marathon at Green Bay. She also told me that Barb is running the full marathon (I think Barb has run all 13 Journeys full marathons) today and will also run the full with her at Green Bay! I think Janet is more than ready for Green Bay, finishing well ahead of me.
I haven’t run the full Journeys Marathon since the inaugural one, but I remember it for the many rolling hills from mile 1 through mile 13. The full marathoners merge with their half marathon brethren at mile 14 for the remainder of the event. The half marathon course does have some inclines, and two back-to-back hills at mile 7 (mile 20 for the full marathon). Otherwise, the course is relatively flat. The course is very scenic, with some great views of the many lakes of the Eagle River area. For me, the toughest stretch is the last 2 miles of the race on Airport Road, which parallels U.S. Highway 45. It just seems endless, and then you have to make a left hand turn and then a right hand turn to the final stretch at Riverside Park. The post-race buffet is really good, but I did wish they had some plates for all the food I took.
How did I do? For the second time in three races, I made good on a prediction. I told Janet Knutson, that if the weather remains dry, I should finish under 2:05. Well, I did just that with a time of 2:04:35 (watch time)! I was really strong in the beginning with a 5 mile split of 43:45, pretty steady to mile 10 with a split of 1:32:20, and slowed down a little to my final time. Although I finished a minute slower than I did last year, my time was still a major improvement from the Jailbreak. Now I'm hoping I can carry this momentum or “mojo” to Green Bay next Sunday.
Finally, the event has set a new record with approximately 850 participants in the full marathon, half marathon, and 5K. According to race organizers, there were runners from 13 states including Alaska. My next blog will be two weeks from now when I will write about Cellcom Green Bay Marathon and the upcoming John Jarvi Jr. Memorial Race from Ironwood, MI. Good running to you!
May 2, 2009: Spring Marathons in Wisconsin - Too Much of a Good Thing?
Well, I didn't go for as long a run as I initially hoped. When I left my parents' house at 6:30 a.m., I told my mom I'll run as long as my body felt OK. I got to 3.5 miles into my run, and it started to rain lightly. After my well-documented run in the rain in Wautoma last weekend, my body wasn't quite up to dodging rain drops a second time. So I quit about four miles into my run. I'll try to run on Monday and, perhaps, Wednesday, before I go to Eagle River, WI Friday night for the 13th Journeys' Marathon weekend.
Speaking of Journeys', when I ran in the first Journeys' Marathon in 1997, there weren't a lot of spring marathons in the Upper Midwest at that time. In 2009, it's a completely different story, especially in Wisconsin. This year alone, there are four inaugural marathons (and half marathons) in Wisconsin in a one week span. I just ran in one of them last weekend at the Jailbreak Marathon in Wautoma. Today, Kenosha (35 miles south of Milwaukee on the Illinois border) is hosting its marathon. On the very next day, both Eau Claire and LaCrosse are hosting marathons and those cities are only approximately 80 miles apart!
Then you add established events like Journeys', the Lake Geneva Marathon, and the Ice Age 50 Trail Festival on Saturday, 5/9, the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon on Sunday, 5/17, and the Madison Marathon on Sunday, 5/24, and you have nine major events in one state in five weeks. The good news for runners is that you will have many good choices to choose from. The potentially bad thing for runners and race organizers is will you have enough runners to go around to support all these events for an extented period of time?
Unfortunately, most runners (especially competitive half and full marathoners) can't race every weekend like a local dirt track stock car driver. The ol' body, no mattered how well-trained and well-conditioned it is, has only so many miles on it. I'm perfect proof of that. At the age of 47 going on 48, it's harder and takes longer for me to recover from a long run. Although I'm going to run three half marathons in four weeks, it usually now takes me at least three days to start running again after any run over 12 miles. With the current recession, runners have to take a long look at the bottom line and determine which events are the most feasible to attend. I just got a brochure from a fall marathon this past week. The early bird fee for the accompanying half marathon is $40 and gradually goes up to $90 the day before the race (the full marathon will be $100 the day before the race). It's easier for me to attend 15 to 20 events a year because I'm single. For a runner with a spouse and children, he or she will probably have to be more prudent just out of financial necessity.
Please don't get me wrong. I hope all these events will do just great, especially the new events. I'm just crossing my fingers that they will all enjoy 30 to 40 years of success like the Paavo Nurmi and Grandma's Marathons. This is by far the most serious blog I've written since I've been with Northland Runner, but it's a really important topic and I like to get the viewpoints of other runners and how they prepare their race schedules. I hope to hear from you, and good luck on your next race!