Me and Dzangel

Me and Dzangel
RMC 5K 2007

Friday, November 28, 2008

A good week

Good morning! It is a sunny Friday here in central Wisconsin. Since my better half is out braving the Black Friday shopping hordes I thought this would be a good time to update my blog.
I have been off work since Saturday, November 22nd. The mill I work at has taken some down time due to the soft market. Rather than work a short week, I took a week of vacation. I accomplished some things around the house that I had been putting off due to my crazy schedule. I got storm windows put up. Yes, storm windows. We live in an old house and some of the windows still have screens to put on in the summer and storm windows to put on in the fall. I put up window film inside on some of the windows, did some cleaning, shoveled our first measurable snow and caught up on all the other items needing attention.
I spent Thanksgiving at my Mother's with some of my family. Tammy had to work so we will have Thanksgiving here on Saturday with some of our kids. A couple of my daughters stopped by on Wednesday evening, so all in all I have seen most of the family in the last few days. That always makes for a good week!
My training has been so-so. I spent part of one afternoon just laying on the couch and feeling like crap. Of course I felt well enough in the morning to run 11+ miles. I have managed a few more runs and even got on the bike on the fluid trainer on Monday. The weather has been sunny and in the low 30's so it is still nice running outside. I have to watch out for the ice in spots-I have a knack for taking a couple tumbles a year-but the roads and paths are generally in good shape.
I had toyed with the idea of doing a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning but I just haven't felt "race ready" lately-whatever that means? My runs have been at a pretty easy pace but my average heart rate seems a little high. I am sure part of it is the colder weather. Maybe feeling a little under the weather is another part. I don't seem to have much zip in the old legs the last few weeks. I still might do a 5K on Sunday-we'll see. Depends on the weather, how I feel and if I can drag my lazy butt out of bed.
It sure has been nice to get some good, restful sleep this week. I seem to be the type of person who needs 8+ hours of sleep a night/day and shift work doesn't work well. Depending on what shift I work I am lucky to get 5 good hours of sleep some days.
I have been thinking and planning my goals and resolutions for next year. I am still pondering them and trying to make them something to strive for while still being realistic and achievable. More on this later.
Well, the sun is shining and it looks pretty nice out. Almost 30 degrees and light winds. I better get out and get my run in so I can enjoy the rest of the day and get some things done around this old house.
Later........gotta run.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Time off-finally

Good morning, and a brisk one it is today. 16 degrees and sunny this Saturday, the 22nd of November. This is my first day off from work in 21 days. It hasn't been hard work. I am still helping with training at our mill but it is back to shift work and it has generally been busy. Now, until December 1, our mill is shut down due to the economic downturn.
So, what am I going to do with this 9 day vacation. I am hoping to catch up on my chores around the house. Things that I have put off for the last few months while I was busy at work.
As far as my training goes, I hope to get that back on track. Since my marathon in October I seem to have gotten a little slack and undisciplined with my training. The lack of time off hasn't helped but that is not a good excuse. I would like to get in some nice, easy, long runs in before too much snow flies. I have the treadmill set up in the basement so I can't use the short days as an excuse. I would like to get in a short bike ride or two before it gets too cold. I have the road bike in the basement and will set that up on the fluid trainer this weekend. I also would love to get in some early season x-c skiing. The trails in the UP of Michigan have been receiving snow and they are grooming them. It would be a long drive but it would be fun and a definite change of pace. I have a goal of skiing a 3 hour Birkie this year and I know I need lots of time on the snow so this would be a great start.
My week, beginning on Monday, November 17th, has actually been pretty good. I did my first intervals since I can't remember when. Nothing wild or impressive. I set the treadmill up and did 6x400 in 1:40. I actually like the treadmill in the winter for the consistent pace. I can set it for my goal and I have to keep up or get shot off the back! I also like it for tempo runs for the same reason. The treadmill doesn't lie.
I also got my HRM up and running again. I have had nothing but trouble with my HRM. I won't mention the brand but I have had two of this particular one and both have been lemons. I finally got it working again without it going through batteries every day-really. Using the HRM gives me extra feedback and tells me how hard or easy I am working out. I know I have the problem of not going hard enough on hard days and too hard on easy days. When I use this and actually watch it I can see how to adjust my pace.
On Tuesday, the 18th, I had a great run on the Ice Age Trail. I took my clothes to work and changed after work and parked at the trail head on the way home. It was a cold, cloudy and windy day. Even in the woods the wind didn't seem to let up. I had a light with me but was out of the woods just as the sun was setting. I have never done a night run on the trail but I'm not sure that the conditions were ideal for that on this day. The leaves covering the trail make it a challenging run during the day so I figured I shouldn't push it.
The rest of the week has been pretty easy. I have done a couple short recovery runs. I watched my heart rate and tried my best to keep it low.
I hope to get in a run with Tammy later today and maybe an easy day on the bike on Sunday. Maybe even a short ride outside on the mountain bike. It just seems to early to be doing everything inside. I know, a little fresh-and COLD-air won't kill me.
Well, I better go get a start on some of my chores before the boss gets home. I have put of too much for too long and these 9 days will disappear quick.
Thanks for checking this out.
Gotta run............Sven

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What a crazy week!

They-whomever "they" are- say that if you don't like the weather in Wisconsin, wait 15 minutes and it will change. It wasn't 15 minutes this week but it sure seemed like it. Monday, the 3rd, I did a 13 mile trail run on the Ice Age Trail. It was a gorgeous day. Low 70's-yes 70's-with a little breeze. More like a summer day than just a few weeks from Thanksgiving. I wanted to run all day but needed to get home and get some sleep. 11 pm to 7 am shift this week. Tuesday, the 4th, I got in a 13 mile road bike ride. Again in the low 70's and breezy. Just unbelievable weather again. I rode in shorts and a short sleeve jersey and even at a slow pace I was working up a sweat. By the middle of the week it was in the mid 40's and blustery and I was running in wind pants and layering shirts to stay warm. Monday the 10th I worked 3 pm to 11 pm. On the way home I passed a digital thermometer that was reading 14 degrees. The next night I drove home in a rainy/snowy slushy mix. The rest of this week the forecast is for rain and/or snow. If it is true that variety is the spice of life then the last weeks weather mush have been one hell of a spicy mixture. It made for some interesting training the last week.
More later..........gotta run

Monday, November 3, 2008

How do they do it?

It is a damp and foggy morning here in central Wisconsin. I am hoping to get in a nice long trail run later today if it clears up.
The last few weeks at work have been crazy. It actually started in September. The company I work for decided to change computer systems. They wanted people to be trained in these new systems and then these people would train the rest of the employees. I have worked here for 27+ years and thought this would be a nice change of scenery. It is a voluntary and temporary assignment but would give me a straight day shift and weekends off for a couple of months. The beginning of training was quite overwhelming. The trainers/experts showed us how the system worked from beginning to end. About 95% of this didn't pertain to my little job. The overview was nice. It showed us how everything flowed (in theory). After a couple weeks of being trained we took a trip to one of the mills that already uses the new systems. It was a great help. We-the other two trainers and myself-learned more in one day than we learned in two weeks. Then we went back to our mill and began training the other employees. Still weekends off but it was longer hours. Usually 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. It meant getting up in the dark and getting home in the dark. Finally the cut over day came-this past Saturday, November 1st. The other mills had shut down to do this system change. We kept running, kind of guinea pigs for future cut overs. It went fairly well and we had plenty of support from other mills that were running this system. I guess I should say "systems". We were actually using multiple new systems, three in our department. I was at work 12+hours both days this past weekend. Long hours running around trying to find answers or people who knew the answers.
So, anyway, what I am trying to figure out is how do people get in their workouts/training with such crazy work schedules. I thought I used to do well by getting in my training while working rotating shifts. Now I am trying to do it working longer hours, back to shift work and probably no day off for three weeks or ??? I know I can run in the dark. I have lights. reflective material, and other safety items. I could bike with the same cautions and safety items. I have a treadmill and a fluid trainer and will be using these. But the time factor is overwhelming. Saturday morning I was up at 4:30 a.m. and got home around 8:30 p.m. It was not hard work but I was beat and just didn't want to do anything but relax for a little and go to bed to do it all over again. How does anyone train with crazy schedules? Any help here would be appreciated. Yes, I know people get up before work to train. This would probably mean 3:00 a.m. for me. After work would probably be 8:00 p.m. or later. I could do my partial bike commute but that would again add 2+ hours to an already long day. I am back to regular rotating shifts but like I said previously no day off in the foreseeable future. I am going to try my best to balance everything out. Work, training, family.... I already feel a cold coming on so we'll add that to the mix.
Well, it's 11 pm to 7am this week. I need to do some chores and get in my run, or maybe a bike ride. Then a nap before work and then start the craziness again. Again, any help, hints, ideas would be greatly appreciated.
Gotta run.........Sven

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What does a runner look like?

I was out running one day last week and passed another runner on the trails. It was an older guy, a little husky, running in shorts and a sweatshirt and carrying what looked like a portable CD player. He smiled, we exchanged hellos and kept on going. He was smiling and looked like he was just having a great run. As I kept on running I thought to myself that I would never have pegged him as a runner if I had met him on the street. The longer I ran the more I thought. Just what does a runner look like? I have run, biked, skied, etc long enough to know that there is no "typical" weekend warrior. I don't think that I look like the average recreational athlete either. I have been soundly thrashed at races by people I would never have thought of as runners. I am not trying to be prejudiced, just thinking and observing. It got me thinking about peoples excuses for not exercising too. Not enough time, I can't run, etc.... I was kind of feeling this way the last couple of weeks. I have been doing some training classes at work and working from 7:00 a.m to about 6:00 p.m. This means getting up about 5:00 a.m. and getting home about 7:00 p.m. It's dark when I get up and dark when I get home. But there is a way around everything. I just grab a flashlight and get in a quick run on a less trafficed route. Maybe not my first choice or as long as I would like but it gets me out the door and I feel better when I'm done.
I guess what I am trying to say is that there is no good reason to not lace up those shoes or jump on the bike. Adapt, compromise and be flexible. Don't let people tell you that you can't or shouldn't do it. Have fun and enjoy your chosen form of recreation.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Whistlestop Marathon

I survived! This past Saturday, October 11th, I ran my first marathon, the Whistlestop. I have done over a hundred races, of all types, since I started racing in 1986. I don't think I have been this nervous at the start in a long time. I'm not sure why? I was almost positive I would finish, unless something catastrophic occurred. My training wasn't that impressive and I only did one long (20 miles) run. Still, I knew I had a pretty good mileage base. Time wasn't an issue. I really didn't have a time goal. My sister is pushing me to get a BQ and run Boston with her someday but I was sure I would not get that in my first marathon. Yet I still felt those butterflies at the starting line. Then again, I have always said that when I lose that feeling before a race, that is when I will stop racing!

The Whistlestop is a point to point race run between Iron River and Ashland, Wisconsin. It is run on a converted rail trail, hence the name. The race is fairly flat and loses elevation from the start to finish. The great majority is run through the woods until you get in to Ashland and near the finish. The fall colors are usually spectacular. All in all, this is an excellent, well run race. Great support, volunteers, spectators-you name it, it is top notch.

My race started out great. If I wanted that BQ I would need a 3:30:00. I missed the first mile marker so I wasn't sure how my pace was. LESSON-watch for the mile markers to keep track of your splits! I felt comfortable but was worried I was going too hard. I tried to watch my time at subsequent markers to gauge my pace. I was hitting all the water stops and taking in my gel. About mile 6 I fell in behind a couple who seemed to be running at a nice pace. Maybe just a touch fast but I still felt good. And my times seemed to be staying ahead of pace, sometimes over a minute and a half ahead! That should have been my first clue. Plus I learned a valuable lesson-RUN YOUR OWN RACE. I still felt good at the half way mark, which I hit in 1:44:12. Still, too fast! I kept hitting the water stops and took another gel. I started to rein in my pace but deep inside I knew it was too late. I felt good up until about mile 18. At that point I started getting a little tight and tired. I wouldn't say I hit the wall because I still kept a fair pace. I just slowly ran out of steam. I started to walk at the water stops which helped a little. The legs were still feeling sore and heavy. I think, looking back, that I may have underestimated my hydration also. I hit every water stop and took a bottle of energy drink with me but still didn't need to pee until hours after the race! Another lesson learned-HYDRATE BETTER. I picked it up just a little for a strong finish but was glad it was done. I finished my race in 3:43:07.7. Not too bad for a first marathon. I know I should have trained harder, or at least smarter. Taking in everything I learned, and now knowing what to expect, I feel I can run a better and more efficient race next time. Hopefully, my schedule permitting, that will be the Green Bay Marathon in May, 2009.

All in all, it was a great weekend. We stayed with my Dad and Step-Mom, who spoiled us rotten with hospitality. We visited, swapped stories and ate great food. It just doesn't get much better. Now it is time to wind down a little and get ready for my next goal-a three hour Birkie.

More on those plans later...........gotta run

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I'm Back!

Whew!!! It has been so long since I have updated and posted a blog I was not sure I could remember how to log in. It has been a crazy year for me.

My wife and I put our home on the market last fall. We didn't have much interest until this spring. Suddenly we started having showings and we had not really found a new house to our liking. Then early summer rolls around and we got an offer. Now what? There just wasn't much we could find in our area. We knew we wanted to stay in the area, and preferably in town. If we found a house we liked it was on a lake and WAY out of our budget. Finally we found our house. My wife fell in love with this particular house when we first moved to the area, but we could not afford it then. Then it came up for sale about the time we were giving up hope. I knew my wife would put in an offer even before we looked at it. It is only 4 blocks from our old home but it still took the best part of a week and lots of extra help to move everything. I don't know how people move cross country. We have spent most of the summer getting things in place and making the house our home. It is another old (100+ years) house, but in great shape with most everything important updated. Still, there is painting, new fixtures,......things to make the other half happy. And of course, in an old house, nothing ever goes quite as planned.

On top of all this I wanted to do some serious racing and training this year. That just has not really happened the way I planned. Between the house, and plenty of overtime at work, I just could get what I wanted accomplished. Throw in a daughters wedding, helping my Mom, who broke her leg and anything else that popped up and the year is just slipping away. I have spent the last month in classes to help train people when our company switches computer programs. That gives me weekends off but all the work around the house seems to pile up during the week and I am right back where I started.

Anyway, it's vacation this week. I am in my taper for the Whistlestop Marathon on Saturday. This is up in Ashland, WI. My wife and I will stay at my Dad and Step-moms so the weekend will be lots of fun. This is my first full marathon and I will admit I am just a little apprehensive. My sister is trying to get me to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I don't think that will happen this weekend. All I want to do is have a good time and finish. Then I can figure out what I need to do over the winter to get that BQ time. I need to run a 3:30:00 which is a pretty good time for an old fart like me. I ran a half marathon the end of September and did real well so I do feel ready.

Then when I get back I can start thinking about pre-season training for cross country skiing. If we get enough snow I have a pretty ambitious goal for the Birkie this year. More about that later.

Well, I better get going and get something accomplished before the "Boss" gets home. I promise to update this with a short ? post once a week, at least.
The picture is just to prove I have done something this year. It is from the RMC 5K, held here in Waupaca. I placed third in my age group-40-49.

Gotta run..........Sven

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Crazy Wisconsin weather

They, who ever they may be, say that if you don't like the weather in Wisconsin, wait 15 minutes and it will change. It may have taken longer than 15 minutes but we certainly have had unique weather conditions. On Monday the 28th it was in the low 40's. Maybe a bit damp and cloudy. I did a quick run of about 3.75 miles. I probably could have run in shorts and should have just to say I ran in shorts in January. Tuesday morning it was still in the mid 30's. Although it was a bit breezy it was still a nice day. I got in a nice long run for a winter day-just over 10 miles at a nice and comfortable pace. I left for work a bit early to run some errands in Stevens Point before my 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift. About 10 miles from home it was snowing and blowing so hard I could barely see the highway. When I left work at 11 p.m. it was around -10 F with a windchill around -40 F. When I got up this morning- Wednesday- it was -18 F with a windchill hovering around -45 F. Winds were gusting around 40 mph. I like to think of myself as a hearty soul but it was too cold for me to run outside. I relegated myself to the basement and a ride to nowhere on the bike on the fluidtrainer. By the end of the week it is forecast to be near 30 again.
The weather, along with my schedule, has been wreaking havoc on my training. I should be trying to get in some cross country skiing but it just isn't falling into place. I have been getting in a good variety of workouts-running, bike, and some skiing. I just wish I had more time on the skis. I haven't registered yet, but I would really like to do the Birkie at the end of February. This is a 51K cross country ski event in northern Wisconsin. The course profile looks like the business end of a hand saw. I'm not sure there is a flat spot on the course. Okay, I know, just a bit of exageration, but it is HILLY!!! I think I have the endurance but I know I don't have the ski specific strength I need. If I do the Birkie I would like to be able to do it comfortably and not suffer too much. So, I need to find some more time to strap on the skinny skis and hit the trails. Fortunately the area I ski at kind of mimics the Birkie course. It doesn't have the long, steady hills but it is a hilly course without much time to recover and rest. I think if I get in a couple of long (50K) days I should be ready. Then all I need to do is make sure I can get time off from work.
Well, it's been a long day and my beer glass is almost empty so I'll sign off and head to bed. More later......

Monday, January 14, 2008

Finally, back to normal?

Okay, for anyone that is following this, I know, it's been a while. The Holidays were just insane! Between trying to see everyone in our extended familys, work (yes, I worked all the Holidays) parties and anything else that popped up I thought I might actually go crazy! I probably brought some of the stress on myself, but that's how I am. Anyway, the Holidays were great. We got to see all the kids, if only for a short time. My Dad and Step-Mom came down to visit. We had a couple Birthday parties for Grandkids, kids..... and ME. On the 5th of Janurary I turned 47, our Grandaughter turned 1 on the 6th, our Grandson turned 3 on the 7th and Bud and his S.O. both had birthdays on the 11th. WHEW!! Add in a couple more family members out of town and it's a crazy time of the year.
My training has been so-so. I was getting some great early skiing in and then we had our Janurary thaw. 40+ degrees and rain just after the first of the year. It seems the snow base has held up quite well and I hope to get out and get some more miles on the skis. I have eased up on the running just a bit and added some workouts on my road bike on a mag-trainer. Just as boring as a treadmill but if I plan on doing more serious racing this year I figure every little bit helps.
On New Year's Day I ran a 5K in Neenah. It was cold and windy. Temps were in the single digits and the windchill was around 10 below. The sun was out in full force so that seemed to help a bit. I had no goals or predictions going in to the race. I had skied apporximately 15 miles on a very hilly course the day before so I just wanted to do the race as a way to start off the New Year. I didn't push at all and had no idea where I was in relation to the front runners. I felt slow and a bit stiff so I just kind of tucked in with a small pack and went at their pace. I had a fairly strong finish, pulling away from the pack in the last half mile or so. I immediatley went to my car to change into dry clothes and then went and had some food and waited around for results and door prizes. When they announced the age group awards I almost fell out of my seat when they called my name for 3rd place. My time was 22:23 which is kind of slow for me but I'll take it. I'll chalk up the slower times overall to the cold since they did have a good turnout-350+ runners/walkers. It was a great start to the New Year and one I hope I can continue with.
I have decided to list some goals for the New Year on my blog. I figure if I put them down here I might be more apt to try and keep them since someone might actually read this. They aren't earth shattering or anything special. Just some goals I would like to try and achieve if all the stars and planets line up and the Gods smile down on me.
  1. I resolve to finally run at least a marathon, hopefully an ultra. I've been talking about this for a couple years and it's time to put up or shut up. No time goal in mind. I just want to do one and enjoy the experience.
  2. I resolve to be more well rounded, for lack of a better expression, this year. Not so much time running. I would like to ski, run, bike, maybe rollerblade, hike, etc this year.
  3. I resolve to compete more seriously in the WORS series. This is a mountain bike racing series that I used to race in regularly but haven't been that serious since 2001. I would like to see just how well I can do again.
  4. I resolve not to be so caught up in the numbers game. Last year I tried to pile on the running miles. 2000+ miles is pretty good for me. I got caught up in some Nike+ challenges and just ran, ran, ran....

That's about it for now. I do have some performance goals in mind but I'll try and put those down later. How about you? Have any goals in mind for the New Year? Something to get the fires burning and get you out the door on these cold, dark winter days?

Well, that's all for now. I hope everyone enjoyed the Holidays and has a great New Year.