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
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
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.