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.
September 26, 2009: Birkie Trail Run Festival (5K)
Hi everybody! I'm back to write my third and final blog of the weekend. I made the trip this morning to Fish Hatchery Road in Hayward to run in the American Birkebeiner Trail Run Festival and got there bright and early at 6:45 a.m. Although I didn't have to run until 11:30 a.m., I didn't want to be caught in traffic and arrive late to pick up my packet and T-shirt. Arriving early allowed me the chance to visit with several of the half marathon runners, including some readers of "Northland Runner."
As far as I know, the festival consisted of a half marathon, marathon relay, 5K fun run, and a poling or "trek" race. I observed that there was a pretty good range of runners from college-level runners to recreational runners like myself. Although I like to ski recreationally, I don't go to ski races so this is one of my rare opportunities to compete on the famous Birkie trail.
And I have one word to describe the hills on the Birkie Trail: RELENTLESS!! Wow, those hills are not only long but have very steep angles of ascent. I'll admit it; I had to walk up the majority of the hills. That's why I have to salute all the participants who did the half marathon and put up with 13.1 miles of up-and-down hills.
I accomplished my only goal of the 5K race: don't trip or fall down on the trails. I wasn't concerned with a time goal, but I was happy to break 36 minutes with a time of 35:23. I also realized that my body wasn't as sore as it usually is after a road race. Also, I was able to have a shorter cool-down and recovery period.
Also, I can't forget I got to meet fellow blogger Ron and contributer Shelley T. Thanks for taking the time to introduce yourselves to me, and Ron, you looked faster as a gazelle as you crossed the finish line!
Finally, my next blog will be Thursday, 10/2 when I discuss the two big October races in Ashland (stock car's Red Clay Classic and the Whistlestop Marathon festival) and the correlation they have to one another. Have a great week!
September 25, 2009: Kimberly Clark Half Marathon
As promised, this blog will be devoted to the Kimberly Clark Half Marathon held on Sunday, 9/20, in conjunction with the 19th annual Community First Fox Cities Marathon. This year, Kimberly Clark has replaced U.S. Cellular as the title sponsor. Another change is for the first time the half marathon and full marathon are run at different times. The half marathon started at 7:00 a.m. and the full marathon started at 8:00 a.m. With over 5,000 participants between the two events, I think this was done primarily to prevent congestion on the course. Although I completely support the decision, I did miss running with and cheering for the full marathoners.
My race can be summed up with a surpisingly fast first 6.9 miles and a predictedly slow last 10K. I've been fighting leg soreness all summer, and I knew that realistically it would be difficult for me to finish under 2:10. So I was pleasantly surprised when I was running an under 2 hour pace when I got to mile 7. However, the wall reared its ugly head for the second time in a week and I struggled to a 2:17:02 chip time finish.
When I checked my results on Monday morning at work, I read that my split was a respectable 1:02:44 at mile 6.9 followed with a 1:14:19 for the last 10K. Obviously, I hit the wall badly in the last 10K. When I checked out the times for several friends, I noticed that most of them were running negative splits for the last 10K. Even when I ran really well in full or half marathons in the past, I hardly ever run a negative split and that is something I would like to correct. If anyone has any suggestions, I sure would appreciate it.
I'm really proud of my half marathon shirt: Johnny Cash black with blue and silver lettering. I'm going to wear it tomorrow in Hayward for the Birkie Trail Festival. Also, our timing chips were disposable so I'm keeping both of mine for souvenirs.
Finally, I hope to visit with a lot of you tomorrow in Hayward. Again, if anyone has any ideas to help me get over the "wall," please let me know. My next blog may be either later this weekend or on Thursday, 10/2 when I recap the Birkie trail running festival and talk about the two "BIG" races that will be held in Ashland in October. Take care!
September 25, 2009: Wild Goose Chase 10K and Time Warner 5K
After chomping at the bit for four weeks, I'm back on my computer in Saxon to write about my month of running. I'll be writing two blogs this evening. The first one will be about a 10K I did two weeks ago and a 5K I did last Saturday as part of the Fox Cities Marathon events in Appleton. My second blog will be about the Kimberly Clark Half Marathon which I ran last Sunday.
On Saturday, 9/12, I drove the approximately 40 miles south to Waupun, WI to run in the second Wild Goose Chase 10K. The event was hosted by the Waupun Athletic Booster Club and the majority of the volunteers were members and parents of the high school cross country team. For a second year event, I was impressed with its organization. I received my t-shirt and bib immediately, and a table was already set for water and gatorade. When I got out of registration, the finish line chute was already set up complete with a multi-sport clock provided by the booster club. I can tell Race Director Matt Dickhut is a stickler for details because he had the mile markers broken down to a 1/2 mile!
The course itself is relatively flat and winds through downtown Waupun and a park on the northwest part of the city. All the intersections were well-monitored, and there was a volunteer on a motorcycle to check up on all the runners. The Sesame Street Cookie Monster would've had a field day at the post race feed with about ten different varieties of cookies.
The only constructive criticism I would provide is to start the run a little earlier. The 10K started at 9:00 a.m., and the accompanying 5K didn't start until 10:30 a.m. By the time I finished, the temperature was around 80 degrees. However, I overhead some volunteers saying that they will probably move the starting times for next year's race.
My race was the tale of two 5Ks. I did pretty well in the first half with a time of 26:10 when I got to mile 3, but I hit the wall big time after I left the water station. This would be a theme that would repeat itself eight days later in the half marathon. I made it to the finish line at 59:30. With the increasing temperatures, I was very happy to finish under an hour. Despite my slow second half, I had a great time at the Wild Goose Chase and will be back next year.
Last Saturday, 9/19, I ran in my sixth consecutive Time Warner Cable 5K Run, the opening event of the 19th annual Fox Cities Marathon Festival of Races. I've really grown to enjoy this event, which jump starts my weekend at the FCM. The 5K set a record with 950 participants, and the event is run in a first-class manner including a P.A. announcer and pre-race music. For the third straight year, the event was held at Fox Valley Technical College.
I'm proud to say I ran probably my best race all year, and it wasn't from a time perspective. I always go into a race with the attitude if I can't run fast, at least run steady. When I got to the mile No. 1 marker, timer Matt Ebel (son of race director John Ebel) yelled out, "8:23." When I got to the mile No. 2 marker, Bill Simonsen (who would run the full marathon the next day) yelled out, "16:46." You get the idea. When I got to mile No. 3, I looked at my watch and it read, "25:09." I got to the finish line at 26:09 (chip time of 26:00). But for the first three miles, I ran at a dead-on 8:23 mpm pace! I've always dreamed about running this consistent of a pace, and it finally happened during a year where I haven't run really well at times. I have to admit I had an ear-to-ear grin from the end of the race until I got done with my shift as a volunteer at 3:00 p.m. Also, I didn't take off my finisher's medallion until I got home to Omro!
Well, that's a wrap on these two events. Talk to you again in a bit.
August 29, 2009: From a Bummer August to a Very Busy September
As promised, I'm writing another blog to talk about running in Badgerland. I'm here in Saxon this weekend to celebrate the birthdays of my brother Greg (yesterday, 8/28) and my mother Lorene (Monday, 8/31). I was hoping to go for my weekend long run this morning. However, with the very heavy and cold rainfall we're having in the Hurley area right now, I'm going to postpone it until tomorrow.
This latest setback has basically summed up my month of August. Other than running in the first Paavo half marathon three weeks ago, I've had no weekend races in August. Although I've been able to get a couple of 11-mile runs in the last two weekends, I had to cut short some of my weekday runs because of other commitments. To cut to the chase, my August has been a real bummer.
The good news is I should be able to make up for my disappointing August with a real good and busy September. On Labor Day weekend, I'm going for an 11 mile run with the Fox Cities Marathon training group on Saturday followed with a 13.1 solo training run on Labor Day (I got my course all marked already). On Saturday, 9/12, I will be in Waupun, WI (25 miles southeast of Oshkosh) to run in the Wild Goose Chase 10K. The following weekend I will be running both the 5K and the 1/2 marathon at Fox Cities. On Saturday, 9/26, I may do the 5K trail run on the Birkie Trail. So my September schedule should get me out of the doldrums!
If I decide to do the Birkie run, will I be OK if I run with my regular running shoes or an older pair of shoes? I don't have trail running shoes since I do little trail running. Any sugguestions would be appreciated.
Finally, since September and October are big months in the silent sports world, go luck to all of you in your upcoming events. My next blog will be the weekend of 9/26 where I'll hopefully discuss a happy and successful month of running. Take care!
August 9, 2009: 41st Paavo Nurmi Marathon
Hi Northland Runner readers. I ran in the first Paavo Nurmi Half Marathon yesterday with a field 38 men and 26 women. My finishing time was 2:23:59, but I was thrilled that I completed my 40th half marathon at the Paavo.
In the full marathon, a major upset occurred when 25 year old Anja Jokela of Minneapolis won with a time of 3:08:06, besting eight time defending champion Ann Heaslett of Madison. I was able to meet Anja at Friday night's spaghetti feed, and she really enjoyed visiting with all the runners. She was even gracious enough to have my picture taken with her after her finish. Another classy, gracious person is Ann Heaslett who's a wonderful ambassador for our sport. Another class act is now four-time men's champion Ben Schneider of Rockford, IL. As he approached the finish line, he enthusiastically waved to the crowd as they gave him a well-deserved ovation. This year's full Paavo had 169 men and 60 women. Congratulations to everyone involved with this year's Paavo!
Finally, my next blog will be the weekend of August 29th. Take care!