Me and Dzangel

Me and Dzangel
RMC 5K 2007

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ho Ho Ho! Seasons Greetings. The holidays are almost over and I've survived another hectic few weeks while only losing a few more grey hairs. While I'm sitting here watching it snow and wishing I could get out skiing I thought it would be a good time for an update.
Three weeks ago, on December 5th, I ran the Stevens Point YMCA Frostbite road race. I have wanted to do this race for a long time but my work schedule always got in the way. Damn, need to find a more flexible job/employer/schedule. Anyway, this was my first race as a Brooks I.D. team member. I didn't have any lofty goals. I just wanted to finish with a sub 8:00/mile pace. I had worked the 3 p.m. - 11 p.m. shift the day before so I wasn't in bed as early as I would have liked. The race didn't start until noon and it was only a thirty minute drive to the start so that wasn't much of a factor. Temps at the start were maybe in the upper 20's with a slight breeze that would come into play on the way back on the out and back course. I lined up towards the back with an old high school friend and fellow Birkie skier. He was doing the 5 mile race and wasn't aiming for as fast a pace as I was so I figured this would keep me from going out too fast. I bided my time pretty well the first few miles and settled into a steady pace. I felt good until about mile 7 and slowed a little bit but the gel I took about halfway kicked in and I picked it up again and finished strong. I finished under my goal with a 7:52 pace and a time of 1:18:41. Not spectacular but not too bad for a cold race in December. I know it sounds kind of goofy but I felt proud out there in my new Brooks pants and shirt and Defyance 2. It even gave me a little added impetus at the end with a runner in front of me all dressed up in Nike apparel. I can't wait for the new year and some more opportunities to lace up my Brooks and get out the word about what a great company and program this is. It gives regular runners a chance to feel like an elite and I can't get that anywhere else! Pretty neat program.
So, it looks like I'm done racing for 2009. I couldn't find any Santa scampers or New Year's runs close enough to fit in. It looks like it might be late January or early February before I can quench my competitive thirst. I would like to do the Badger State Winter Games cross country ski marathon but just may do the winter trail run for a change of pace. I'll have to see how my skiing goes.
I have a couple more days to think about goals for 2010. I am still trying to figure out what races will fit into my schedule and just what sport I want to focus on for the coming year. Or do I want to be a multi-sport threat? Hmmm... something to think about. I'll let you know about the goals in a few days. Until then.....gotta run

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Holiday season

Ahh yes! The Holiday Season is upon us. Or, for many of us, the season of "how do I fit in my training without going nuts" season. Between family gatherings, parties, work and the diminishing hours of sunlight, getting in some training can be difficult.
My Holidays (or Holi-daze) have already started. I have family coming for a quick lunch today. I might be able to squeeze in a run before a nap and then off to work. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I am working the 11 pm to 7 am shift this week. That means sleeping a few hours in the morning. I'll get up around noon and try to fit in a quick run or bike and then have Thanksgiving with family later in the afternoon. I'll try to fit in a quick nap before work. I guess I am thankful that I only have to do Thanksgiving once. I won't be traveling here and there trying to visit in-laws and outlaws.
Work doesn't seem to get any busier for me during the Holidays. That makes training a bit easier. There is a little overtime due to people wanting extra time off but it isn't too bad and most of it is optional.
Christmas is up in the air for me yet. I am not sure if the company I work for will be running or shut down for Christmas Eve/Christmas. If they're running, I'll be working. I have family traveling here to central Wisconsin. My sister lives in Portland, Oregon. She is a runner so I would love to take a day and run with her. It gives us a chance to spend some time and talk and vent. I try to go easy but it isn't always easy. She is a BQ runner and that seems to mean a little quicker pace than I want this time of year. Between that visit and trying to see the rest of our family and relatives Christmas week could be nuts. My running, and hopefully x-c skiing is my stress relief this time of year.
That is mainly what my training is this time of year. Stress relief. Me time. Time to clear my head and enjoy the crisp air. At the moment I am not really training for anything. I am trying to get in longer and slower runs. Endurance base training is how I look at it. Getting a good base for x-c ski season and the Birkie.
I have been getting in some easy bike rides with my wife. I enjoy these because they force me to slow down and ride shorter distances. Plus, I get to watch her improve by leaps and bounds each time we go out. She surprises herself by her rides but I don't know why. She is much better than she gives herself credit for and it makes me kind of proud that I may have started this riding bug in her.
I've been thinking alot the last couple of weeks about next years goals. I think I have them almost planned out. Just some fine tuning and tweaking in the next week or so. If I survive the Holidays I'll let you know what grandiose plans have been floating in my empty noggin.
I am running the Stevens Point YMCA Frostbite 10 miler on December 5. It will be my first race as a Brooks ID'er and I'm kind of excited about that. No big time goals, I just want to run fast and finish strong. I'll let ya know how I do soon.
Gotta run........

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fall plans & post Whistlestop

Hey everybody & anybody,
It's been a little while since my last post so I thought I would weigh in with my fall plans and how I've been feeling since I finished the Whistlestop Half-Marathon.
My fall and early winter plan-before the snow piles up-is to build an endurance base. Nothing fancy. Lots of slow and easy miles. Most of this will probably be running. It just seems easiest to throw on the shoes and head out the door during this time of year. Especially when I work day shift. I don't have to worry quite as much about the fading sunlight when I'm running. Plus, I just enjoy running during the fall. Not really sure why?
I have been on the bike(s) the last few days. The weather here in central Wisconsin this past weekend was just amazing. Sunshine, 60's and breezy. Kind of hard to pass up days like that. I did a great 40ish mile road bike ride one day and then threw a short run in right after. Felt great. The next day I took the singlespeed out to Standing Rocks and did a lap on the single track. Just a little bit more challenging this time of year with all the leaves on the trail. I had to pay more attention to keeping a steady pace on the hills or the bike would spin out on the dry leaves. On the downhills it was the same thing but braking instead of pedaling. Kind of like riding on ice or snow. I really think riding the singlespeed will make me a better rider next year. No worries about what gear I'm in, when to shift, will the bike shift, ......Just point the bike down the trail and concentrate on staying upright. Pay attention to the trail ahead and keep up my momentum.
So anyway, back to the fall/winter plans. I am hoping some running endurance will translate into a good x-c ski season. I would like to get in some trail runs before the snow sets in and between all the hunting seasons around here. Running on the trail seems to work my entire body but is easier on the body. I just need to take it easy on the downhills because I believe that is where my knee problems started. I pushed pretty hard on some runs the weeks before Whistlestop. Between the sudden increase in mileage and flying down the hills my knees just said "enough". Lesson learned. It's hard for me, but I am learning to pay more attention to my body as I get older.
I would like to get a race or two in yet before the end of the year. Not sure what. I just enjoy the challenge.
In addition, I just got accepted into the Brooks I.D. program, so I kind of feel like I should put forth a little extra effort for the opportunity they are giving me. It isn't about being fast or I never would have qualified. It is more about being a running ambassador, for lack of a better explanation. "Inspire Daily". I would like to think I do this a little every day. I try to show that if I can run, train and race on my schedule, anyone can. Helping get Tammy started is another part of why I love to run. It is so much fun watching her run and seeing her enjoy something I've enjoyed for years. Then she gets a few of her friends interested and the ball keeps rolling. Or is that the feet moving? I don't mean to sound boastful, but it makes me proud to say I started one person on the path to running and enjoying the sport.
Well, that's enough for now. Time to finish my Fat Tire Ale and turn out the lights. Need to get to bed so I can enjoy these last few nice fall days.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Can you get ready for a half-marathon in 2 weeks?

Well, I have survived/completed another Whistlestop run. This year I ran the half marathon. It was kind of an experiment for me. I had been focusing most of my training and energy to bicycling this summer. I did a run here and there but it was spotty and irregular with no plan. I did a bunch of WORS races earlier in the summer when my schedule permitted. My one goal for the season was to try to peak and have an awesome Short and Fat at the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival. I had a great race and had my best time in years. Now I had three weeks to get some running legs and get ready for Whistlestop.
I wasn't worried about finishing. Plus, I was treating it more as a run than a race. Of course I wanted to do well, I always do. But I knew there was no chance for a PR. I am always hopeful but also realistic. My race goal was to run 8:00 miles and finish around 1:45. My main goal for the next couple of weeks was to put in miles and get my legs used to a different motion. I knew I had a good fitness base, but cycling is different than running. I got back home after CFTF weekend and headed out for a run as soon as the car was unpacked. When I woke up on Sunday morning after the Short and Fat I had a sore right knee. Not sure why? I hadn't crashed. Hadn't changed equipment or adjusted my riding position. I didn't hurt bad, it was more of an ache. It was kind of odd because I have never had any issues with my knees, running or biking. I figured that I must have pushed a little bit too hard during the race. I was sure it would feel better the next day.
That just goes to show what I know! Over the next two weeks one knee or the other, sometimes both, hurt, ached, bothered me. Now, a smart man would have backed off. That's one thing I have never claimed to be, smart. I just kept pushing. If it doesn't kill you it will make you stronger, right? By the time I did my last good run before heading to Ashland it hurt to walk. Now I was worried that I might hurt something else by changing my stride. I was actually worried about finishing.
Race day dawned and I awoke and hobbled up the steps at my Dad's to check the weather. Aw, man!!! 28 degrees and SNOW. Not a lot but enough. The weather forecast had called for cold and a slight chance of snow, but I had crossed my fingers and hopped it might not happen. Fine time for the weather guy to get it right. I ate my oatmeal and got dressed. I slathered my knees with Biofreeze and hoped for the best. At least Tammy was going to drive me to the start and wait so I wouldn't be standing out in the cold for an hour. I waited as long as I could in the warm car before I headed to the start line. As I lined up the sun tried to poke out from behind the clouds.
The starting gun went off and I headed down the road. The first mile is a slight downhill on the road. Unfortunately that is when my knees hurt the most, downhill. Plus, the road was a little icy on the edges of the crowned road. And it was a headwind until we turned on to the rail trail that the majority of the race is run on. I had promised myself that I would go slow and easy until I hit the trail and I actually kept my own promise. My first mile split was around 8:30. I felt okay and my knees only ached a little, just when I moved!
I finally made the turn on to the rail trail and put the wind at my back. I picked up the pace but kept an eye on my watch and kept the mile splits just a bit under 8:00. I hit every aid station and walked through them while I took in some water or energy drink. I took a gel around the thirty minute mark and one at the hour mark. By the half way mark I knew I would finish but I wanted to finish strong and not hobble in. If I stayed on the balls of my feet and off the heels I felt good. At the 10 mile mark I still was feeling pretty good. My splits were staying pretty steady. I took a good walk break through an aid station while I took in my last gel. I headed into Ashland and hit the paved portion of the trail. I started to pick up the pace and headed to the finish line. My last mile was actually my fastest. My finish time was 1:43:19. I was right around my goal. I could still walk, albeit tenderly. Another successful (to me) finish.
Now that I have had over a week to look back would I call my experiment successful? Yeah, I think so. Would I do it again? Probably not. I still have sore knees. Still not sure why. It could be the sudden training shift and mileage. In the three weeks leading up to the race I ran over 120 miles. Not smart. I know. From zero to all out. But, in my own defense, I've done this before, and the increase has never bothered me. In fact my body usually works best when I really push it.
The sore knees could also be a shoe issue. I was alternating between three pairs of shoes. Two pairs of road shoes and one pair of trail shoes. All these were over a year old but the mileage on them wasn't overly high.
Another idea is the runs I did. I did several runs on the Ice Age Trail outside of Waupaca. Most of these were around 10 miles and of course, hilly. I took it easy on the hills. I stayed upright and didn't take any tumbles but the terrain could have been an issue.
I haven't come up with any clear solutions, just lots of ideas. I need to get some new shoes, spend some time on the bikes and recover. If it doesn't clear up I may even, wait for it......see a doctor. GASP!!!! If you know me, this doesn't happen often.
Next time I will hopefully have a plan and some goals for late fall/winter. Now it's time to finish my Fat Tire Ale and hobble off to bed.
Thanks for listening. Later.........

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fat Tire Recap

Well, another Chequamegon Fat Tire Fest has come and gone. I would have to chalk this one up as a successful endeavor.
We headed up to Telemark on Thursday. If you haven't stayed at Telemark during the CFTF or the Birkie it is something you just have to experience. Being around so many like minded folks is just amazing. Not too many other places you can see bikes being wheeled down hallways and into hotel rooms. We stayed with my sister, brother-in-law and niece. A great bunch of people to spend an awesome weekend with. We were spoiled royally by my brother-in-laws cooking. If the weekend had lasted much longer I would have had to start a diet. Lasagna, pizzas, pancakes, venison....Just thinking about everything I ate that weekend is making me hungry all over again. Thanks Mike, you can cook anytime!
Friday Mike, Bethany (niece) Tammy and I went out to pre-ride part of the Short and Fat course. This was Beth's first race so we wanted to at least show her what the finish would be like. We rode in a little ways on the course and turned around and headed for the finish. Beth didn't look like she was having alot of fun. Although the Short and Fat is around 16 miles in length it isn't an easy course. The hills start early and never stop. Not an easy course for a first race. Beth must have been thinking "what in the hell am I in for"? I tried to reassure her and told her that her main goal should be just finishing. Dead last is always one step ahead of DNF. After we rode to the finish Tammy and I turned around to explore a section of single track that we had noticed.
Now, I probably haven't mentioned this in any previous posts but Tammy has just started mountain biking. She started on a Trek meant more for bike paths. After a few rides on some local single track and ski trails she bought a "real" mountain bike. More aggressive riding position, better components, meant for serious riding. She has really taken to this sport. After beginning running a few years ago and really enjoying that her enthusiasm for biking shouldn't have surprised me. She gets better by leaps and bounds every time we go out. Every time she jumps on that bike and says "let's go" she makes me very proud. Quite a different lady from the one I met just a few short years ago.
So, back to Chequamegon land. Race morning dawned with beautiful weather. Sunny, a little cool before the start but warming up to around 60 by race start. I hopped on my bike at Telemark and rode into Cable to the start. I had a great warm up. Nice and relaxed. Legs felt great. No aches or pains to complain about. I met the rest of Team OTB-Off the back-in Cable and we unloaded their bikes and headed towards the start. Beth didn't want much of a warm up so Mike and I headed down the road a short distance to stretch out his legs. Then we headed back to the start and the porta-potty lines. Then into the starting area.
I had a preferred start so I headed towards the front and Mike and Beth headed towards the back. Gotta love that preferred start. No worries about getting a spot and then standing around for an hour or more. With about 15 minutes to go they called us to our bikes. I was feeling a little more nervous than I usually do. I had been keying on this race all summer and really wanted a good result. I always have butterflies at the start of a race. I guess when that feeling goes away it will be time for me to stop racing.
10:00 a.m. and then starting gun goes off. I hate the start of this race. I always go out to hard and pay for it on the first hills on Randysek Road. The hills start right away and don't stop until the finish but I never learn. The first quarter mile was controlled this year so that helped a little. Still, when I hit the dirt I was sucking air right away. I pulled back a little bit knowing I wasn't exactly going to win and I wanted to have a good race. Plus I knew that I would do better once I hit the rolling hills on the Birkie trail. Patience, just wait for the parts of the race that suit my riding style better. Hard to listen to that inner voice as riders were streaming by!
I tried not to let too many riders pass me and settled into a good, hard pace. I have kept one thought in my head all summer. Tammy said, "some times you have to suck it up and suffer". Every time I thought of that I gritted my teeth and pushed just a bit harder.
I kept waiting for the right hand turn that signaled to me the parts of the course I knew suited me better than the start. Once I hit that I pushed a little harder and started to make up some lost ground. I don't know why I like the Birkie trail portion more than other parts of the trail. I just seem to flow, for lack of a better explanation. Once those hills arrived I pushed as hard as I could. The last half of the course was my best part of the race. I hit my granny ring once, on "Big Bertha", a short and steep hill. After that I stayed in my big ring for most of the race. I pushed on the downhills and kept the speed up on the ups.
When you are a couple of miles out you can already here the finish area. The announcer is cheering on racers and you can hear the crowd. That just fires me up even more. You know you're getting close but still have a few miles to go.
Towards the end you pop out of woods and onto a gravel road on the fringe of Telemark Resort. That means about a mile and a half to go. It is a nice up hill section on the road to another section of grassy trail. Down a nice hill and then up the back side of the ski hill. I bit my lip and pushed up the hill. Just a few hundred yards to go now. Down the other side of the hill and up a couple short hills to the finish line. I gave it everything I had left and crossed the finish line. 1:02:25 for a finish time. I had a few goals before the start and this fell right about in the middle. Sub one hour was my "gold" goal but this was damn close. I haven't ridden this course this fast for a LONG time, maybe 10 years or more. That time put me in the top 100 out of over 800 and top 10 in my age class. I was pretty happy with the result.
After talking with Tammy and Trish I headed back out to the gravel road and waited for Mike and Beth. After a short wait they came down the trail and headed down the road to the finish. They both looked good and I knew they would both finish. Pretty darn good for Beth's first race and for Mike too. This is the only race he does all year. They may not be way up in the results but they are out there, testing themselves, instead of just watching. I am as proud of them as I am of myself for doing well.
After everyone had finished we posed for some pictures and headed back to the room to clean up. Then we all headed back to the finish area to soak up more Fat Tire fun. What a great day. It had warmed nicely with a nice breeze and everyone was having a great day. After watching all the riders Tammy said she wants to do it next year. Wow! Like I said earlier, she sure has changed and she never cease to amaze and inspire me.
Later that evening Dad and Char came down from Ashland to visit. We talked and ate MORE food. It was the perfect end to an amazing day. I can't wait for next year. I am thinking of doing the 40. I haven't done that in a while and it would be a new challenge. Or, maybe, I'll do the Short and Fat again but on a singlespeed. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Long time no update

Oh man, a chance to score a new Stumpjumper. Does it get any better? Not from my standpoint. Why do I think I deserve one? Let me give you me perspective.
It's been a crazy and busy summer, but I'm sure everyones summer has been like that.
I'm getting ready to head up north for the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival on the 19th. I am doing the Short and Fat this year. It's a 16 mile point to point race. It starts in Cable and ends up at Telemark Lodge. I am doing it this year with my brother-in-law and my niece. It's her first race. She has watched her Dad and myself race for years and I would like to think we have inspired and given her the itch to get out and test herself. They'll be racing together and enjoying the course and just generally having a blast. I was fortunate enough to draw a preferred start this year so I am going to push and see just how much I have in me. Next year I am hoping to get an entry to the 40 mile race and it would be great to do it on my shiny Stumpjumper. Although by this time next summer it might not be that shiny. It would get plenty of saddle time.
To make the weekend even better, my wife, Tammy is going to bring her bike. She won't be racing but hopefully we can find a few hours during the weekend to get out and check out some of the trails. This is her first year riding a bike off road and she loves it. It's been fun to watch her improve every time we hit the dirt. She really loves the single track. It makes me proud to see her out there.
I've been trying to ride as much as I can. My job, shift work in a paper mill, doesn't always allow the riding time I want. One day off per week, maybe. At one point this summer it was 19 days straight. That makes my riding time precious. The chance to do it on a new Stumpie would make those special days even more amazing.
I race in the Wisconsin Off Road Series when my schedule allows. This is the biggest citizens racing series in the country. So far this summer I have toed the line half a dozen time. Hopefully I will get in one or two more, but I do have enough for a overall ranking. Wouldn't that be great exposure.
We have some great trails in central Wisconsin and they are maintained by some amazing volunteers. I haven't had the chance to get out and put in any hard work but I plan on making time for that next summer. More chance to sing the praise of one great bike. Hopefully work won't be that crazy. It can't last forever.
I ride with a small group of guys during the summer. Testing everyones mettle and talking about bikes. There is always interest in what someone else is riding and I would love to brag up my S-Works Stumpjumper.
I even get asked for advice at work once in a while. I like to talk it up and let people know about my rides and bikes. Some of the guys think I'm a little fanatic and nuts, but I love riding. I have a 40 mile commute. Depending on the shift I work, I drive part of the way, park at a church-should be safe-and hop on my Allez Elite and pedal the rest of the way. It makes for some interesting rides at 5:00 a.m. or midnight.
So, what do you think? Am I worthy? I love to tweet, update my Facebook and try to update my blog. That last one needs a little work, but I can do it. I feel that with my crazy schedule a new Stumpjumper would help me ride better, get me out the door more often. Not much more I can say.

Monday, June 29, 2009

You can teach an old dog new tricks!

They, whoever "they" are, say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I beg to differ. As I get older I am learning new things every day. This includes my training and workouts. Do I always apply these new tidbits of wisdom and get wiser. Nope. No surprise there. I think that athletes, professional and weekend warriors, are very slow to try new things. We tend to stick with what we think works, even if it doesn't. You could beat us over the head with all sorts of evidence, scientific studies and real world results and still we would say, "I know what works for me".
My big sticking point has always been taking a day off or a rest day. I generally try to do something, anything, every day. It doesn't always work due to work or family obligations, but I do try. The workout may not be long or hard or high quality, but I try to get a few miles on the books. It is what has seemed to work best for me. I still believe this. I am learning to take some of the workouts much easier though. I am learning to take-wait for it-breaks during a workout. GASP!!!! It has always seemed blasphemous to me to take any kind of rest or break during a workout. On my longer runs I would resort to a shuffle rather than walk. God forbid, that would mean I'm not a runner. Runners don't walk. Well, this one does now. On my longer runs, especially trail runs, I am learning to take walk breaks. I do it either by time or I walk the nastiest hills. I did this on my 20 mile run on the Ice Age Trail a couple of weeks ago and then did a mountain bike race three days later and still did okay.
Another example. I did the longest road ride of the seasons last week on my day off. Nothing epic but a long ride for me. I did 55 miles on a pretty warm day. It had been in the upper 80's to low 90's most of the week and was still warm on Thursday. I had plenty of water, energy drink and some bars and hit the road. I had a route in mind but did a little wandering. About half way through I stopped at a historical marker in the middle of nowhere and stretched the legs, rested my butt and ate and drank a little. About an hour later I stopped at an intersection and did the same thing. I finished the ride feeling tired but satisfied. I admit I still feel a little guilty about taking these breaks, but I am learning to relax. These breaks, along with not always trying to push the pace and kill myself is helping. At least I think it is. By then end of last week I had ridden 5 days for over 180 miles and run twice for around 13 miles. This while working 6 days in our first heat wave of the season. Yeah, I was tired by the end of the week, but not exhausted.
I am going to keep trying this "new" method. As I get older, I am learning to listen to my body and slow down. My brain is accepting the fact that I am not some pro and resting means I can go longer and faster later.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Long trail run

Well, I finally reached one of my goals for this spring/summer. Actually it was kind of goal since I started running the Ice Age Trail. I wanted to run the entire length of the section near my home. I had come close a couple of times and have run all of it, just not all at once. It isn't necessarily long or really difficult. The terrain of the IAT here in central Wisconsin is varied and diverse. It can range from a wide open, flat field to what seems like roller coaster course through oak and pine forest. There are sections where I can just zone out and enjoy the scenery and places where I have to watch the roots and rocks so I don't end up face down in the dirt-and yes, it has happened. The hills aren't incredibly long or steep but the combination of hill after hill in certain sections can really put a hurt on me. I am learning to take walk breaks on my long runs. I take breaks by time or I walk the nastier uphills. I realize that on these long trail runs it isn't about time but completing the run. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
Anyway, this Wednesday, the 17th, I finally did it. I ran the entire length back to back. According to my Nike+ it measured 20 miles, end to end and back. This includes the scenic or alternate loops. I took lots of water and energy drink along with some gels. I wasn't sure how successful this would be when I started out. This was my first day off in fifteen days and I had worked 3-11 the day before and been on my feet the entire time. I had a small breakfast and no lunch. Yeah, I know, not the brightest of plans. It ended up being a little warmer and more humid than I thought it would be also. I guess this is one plus of working in a paper mill. It takes me little to no time in the summer to acclimatize to the heat. Not much air conditioning in a paper mill! I took my walk breaks, refueled once at the car and just set my mind to the task at hand. I was pretty tired by the end but not totally spent. I could have gone longer. How much farther? Not sure.
So, what was the point of this other than to prove to myself that I could do it? I am still toying around with the idea of running an ultra. I have Dances With Dirt in Devil's Lake in mind. I figure I might be off. The terrain should be somewhat similar. I just needed to see if I could get in a long and challenging-to me-trail run. Has this helped me make a decision? Not really. I always seem to waffle on things like this. It took me a couple of years to commit to a road marathon. Why? Again, not sure. I knew, really knew I could finish one. I guess I just wanted to do well, in addition to "just finishing". I'm not sure if my time could be called doing well, but for a first marathon I was satisfied. I think the same holds true for an ultra. I am 99% sure I could finish a 50K but I don't want to do death shuffle the last few miles. We'll see.
We'll see how smart this run was. I am doing another WORS race on Saturday. Hopefully I haven't emptied the tank completely and saved a little for the bike. It's not like I'm up there pushing the pace and racing for a podium spot but I do like to race hard and do my best. I'll let ya know how it comes out. It sounds like it could be another muddy race.
Gotta go.........

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Well, another crazy week and time for another post.
Work seems to be either feast or famine. One week the company I work for is down for a week and the next time I go over two weeks without a day off. Sure would be nice to find a happy medium here. I worked 11-7 last week without a day off and a 12 hour shift on Sunday. By the end of the week I was toast. I just can't seem to sleep during the day anymore and a nap at night before work is usually short and fitful. If I wake up and my brain starts working, thinking, wondering..... that's it for sleep. I need to find a way to turn off and sleep.
My training/racing has been going well. I am still trying to figure out how to balance running and biking and get good results in both. The WORS races I have done have been okay but I seem to run out of juice towards the end. The last race I did, the Big Ring at Nine Mile in Wausau was the same thing. I have never really done well here and I don't know why. I like the course. It doesn't have alot of singletrack and it has plenty of wide open ski trail to push the pace. The course was a little muddy this year from rain the day before. It was just enough to make it greasy. Kind of like riding through bacon grease. I did okay but just didn't seem to have alot of zip. Maybe it was from the crazy work schedule or just not enough training. I'd like to think it's my crazy schedule! I had to work after the race, so I hopped off the bike, checked the results, and headed for work.
My week of 11-7 was a mixed bag of workouts. I got in a couple of nice long runs. One day was on my favorite trail, the Ice Age, just outside of town. The other long run was on a new path around town. There is a newer bypass around our city and they thoughtfully added a paved path along side the highway. I had been meaning to try a new route. It adds a little something instead of always running the same tired routes. It's a nice route but could be a real bugger in the summer. No shade at all and if it's windy there isn't much to block the wind. Still, I like the route and am going to try and run it more often.
I haven't been putting lots of miles on the bike. I mean to but something seems to get in the way every time I plan a bike ride. Doing my car/bike commute on 11-7 is kind of a pain too. Somehow the extra time just seems more of a burden on 11-7. That, and the fact that if I am tired the ride seems never ending and then I finally wake up when I reach the car and am energized when I get home and should be ready for sleep. I did get in one commute last week on 11-7 and one so far this week on 3-11. The ride home after 3-11 was really enjoyable. Par of my route follows the Wisconsin River. This makes the ride a little cooler on hot days. It's wooded for half the route and the fireflies are out now. I try to watch the roadside for eyes at night so I can dodge the critters. Riding along and seeing all the fireflies lighting up makes it just a bit more interesting. Seems like there are eyes everywhere.
Tomorrow, Wednesday June 17th is my day off and I am planning a long run or ride. Depends on the weather. Right now, it is raining, which means a nice long trail run is probably on the back burner. I don't mind the mud, but running through the open fields soaks my feet and then the run seems to go downhill. The Ice Age is hilly so I don't want to risk a fall, which I seem to do every once in a while. The wet conditions will just make all the roots and rocks even slipperier. If it dries up a little I'll probably wheel out the road bike and just wander the back roads. Maybe get a little lost. I'll have to throw a couple bucks in the saddlebag and carry my cell, just in case.
It's getting late, dark thirty o'clock here, and I hear my soft bed calling.
Gotta go........

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Well, so much for another attempt at more frequent updates! It was my intention to update this every couple of days but something always seems to come up. If I'm not trying to get in a run/ride/race it's work around "this old house". By the time I sit down at night to relax it's time for bed. I'm not complaining. I love staying busy and having my schedule full makes the day fly by.
Since my last update I've done another WORS race. I went up to Rhinelander on May 31st. I had never been to this particular venue so I had no idea what to expect. When I do a new mtn. bike race I tend to take it easy on the first lap. I don't have a clue when to push, where the next singletrack is or how steep the next hill will be. I had no chance to pre-ride the course because I had to work 3-11 on Saturday. All I could see when I arrived was a gravel road start and finish.
The start went out quick, or at least fast for me. I tried to settle into a good pace and not get completely blown off the back. After some early hills the course narrowed and the singletrack began. Single track generally isn't my forte but this wasn't too technical and I didn't seem to be holding up anyone behind me. After the singletrack the course opened up again for the finish.
I felt good after one lap and tried to pick off some of the racers in front of me on the second lap. I got on the wheel of another racer in my age class and tried to get my second wind. I thought about passing a couple times but every time I pulled up even the other guy would pick up the pace. I knew there was still quite a ways to go so I just let him take the pace. Finally, after we popped out of the singletrack and on to some open trail we were both passed by a small group. I figured this was my chance and put the hammer down to try and stay with them. We entered more singletrack and I thought if I could just get far enough I would be out of his sight. I know when someone passes me and I lose sight of them I seem to ease up a bit. Apparently I need that carrot in front of me. Sure enough, when I had enough time to look over my shoulder, he was out of sight. I tried to keep up the speed through the last open sections and headed for the finish line. I hope I didn't seem like a wheel-sucker, but I guess that's racin'.
I was very happy with my results. My lap splits were just about equal for the two laps which I am always pleased with. As usual I finished about in the middle of the results. I felt good, the bike worked great and I finished in one piece-always a bonus.
I had the next day (Monday) off and decided to do a long trail run. I headed out to the Ice Age Trail to try a few new ideas. I wanted to try running with my Camelbak to see if I liked it better than running with bottles on a waist belt. After a two plus hour run I found I much prefer the belt. Maybe it's just that I've been running with it for so long, but the Camelbak didn't feel comfortable. Plus it seemed a pain in the butt to take it off to get a bar or gel. I also could really feel the water sloshing around as it emptied. I also tried a walk/run this time out. I ran for 25 minutes and then walked for 5 minutes. If I can ever fit an ultra in to my schedule, I would probably try some sort of walk/run combination. By the end of the run I was pretty wiped. Maybe not such a good idea to do a long, hard run the day after a race but sometimes I like to do some back to back hard workouts and what better way than to throw a race into the mix.
The next evening I did a group road ride. I planned on sitting in and just relaxing and held to that for most of the ride. It was a mostly easy pace on a gorgeous night. I did take a few turns at the front but never felt like I was pushing the pace. At the end of the ride I was tired but not exhausted, just feeling really good.
Now, I'm looking out the window at the rain and just imagining how muddy tomorrow's race is going to be. I am going up to Nine Mile Forest in Wausau for WORS #3. I have done this race before and have a good idea of what the course will be like. Lots of wide open ski trail mixed in with gnarly, rooted, rocky singletrack. Now throw in a days worth of rain, plus possibly rain tomorrow. I hope to do well but also need to save something because I have to throw my bike on the car and head straight to work after the race. This should be interesting. I'll let ya know more after the race.
I need to get in more running in the next few weeks since I am still entertaining thoughts of a summer ultra. We'll see how the next couple of weeks go.
Gotta go.....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some great workouts

Wow! Have you ever had some runs/rides/workouts where everything just seems to flow. You're in the zone and you know it. Even better, you get in that zone when you least expect it. Since my race on May 17th my workouts have seemed to get better and better. I almost hate to say it in case I jinx myself. I don't mean to sound like I am having miraculous workouts but I just haven't really had a bad workout in a couple of weeks.
I did a couple of runs around last weekend. I was working 11 pm to 7 am and that shift usually wipes me out! I can't sleep. I can't eat. I can't think. It seems like the week from hell every third week. I finally resorted to some OTC sleep aids last week and actually slept longer than 3 or 4 hours. By the weekend, instead of feeling a zombie I had a couple of good runs. On Sunday I planned on a one hour run and ended up with almost an hour and forty-five minutes. I picked up the pace every twenty minutes for the first hour and then relaxed and cooled down with some easy running on our trail system. Even the hills felt easier than they normally do.
On Monday I had my quick change from 11-7 to 3-11. This means maybe, on a perfect day, 4 hours sleep, and usually alot less. This wasn't a good day. I tossed and turned for a few hours in the morning. I had been doing a job I haven't done in a while and my legs were achy and sore. I decided to bike in to work so I got the bike ready, threw it on the car and off I went. It was a windy day, but the wind was in my favor for a change. Most days it is a headwind in to work. I pushed along at close to 20 mph with the wind at my back. I knew I would pay for it on the way home. In addition, the weather forecast was calling for rain later in the evening. I figured if I can at least make it to work dry I could suffer with a wet ride back to the car. Well, the ride back wasn't as bad as I thought. The wind had let up a little but now seemed more like a cross wind at times. On the road between some of the bare fields it seemed to push me back but I just gritted my teeth and pushed forward. I got to the car, loaded the bike and headed for home. I got maybe two miles down the road and the rain started to fall. Can't beat that for timing.
Yesterday, Tuesday was cool and damp. I had an interval workout planned at the track but hesitated due to the weather. I don't really mind doing speed work but the weather just wasn't ideal for the workout. I decided I better quit whining and do the workout. My heart just wasn't in it as I took a slow, easy run to the track. Once there the wind seemed to pick up and it started to mist a little. I put my head down and headed around for my first interval. After two laps I hit the lap button on the timer and saw I had beaten my goal time by a few seconds. HMMM, maybe this isn't so bad. I did my cool down and headed for the next interval. I ran 4x800-actually 880, it is a true quarter mile track-and beat my time for all of them and even got faster. I finished feeling really great. Now, granted, I am not running 5 minute mile pace here, but the times were good for me and it was my first track run of the year.
I hope I can carry this streak for a little longer. I have another WORS race this Sunday. It is up near Rhinelander on a course I have never ridden before. I won't have a chance to pre-ride it because I am working 3-11 yet on Saturday. I should be interesting but I am sure it will be fun. As usual, my goal is just to finish in one piece so I can get up and go to work the next day. I'll update this after the race.
Better get moving. Need to get in a workout before work today and keep this great streak going.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Getting back in the saddle

Hey everybody, or anybody! I put this update off for a couple days. I have been busy again. Or is that still. Posting an update always seems to fall at the bottom of my list of things to get done. I am going to TRY, key word try, to update more often. Maybe every few days. If I try this then maybe I can remember what I want to say and won't end up rambling for so long.

I was laid off again the week of May 11. Our mill was down for annual maintenance work. I spent part of the week painting the stairs. It seems like they will never get done and just when I thought I could see light at the end of the stairs, my wife wants some trim painted and added where the risers meet the treads. Who knew it could take so long to paint stairs?

Trying to get things accomplished while I am off usually means that my training suffers, just a little bit. I feel a little guilty taking a few hours to get in a run or ride, or whatever piques my interest that day.

On Tuesday, Tammy and I had a great walk on the Ice Age Trail. I rarely walk out there, and it was really nice to slow the pace and enjoy what goes whizzing by when I am running. We walked for about 2 hours and Tammy took a bunch of pictures. We kept checking for ticks whenever we stopped for a photo and we only found a couple. That was good. But, apparently I missed one, somehow.

I went to the gym on Wednesday and had a great strength workout. I am still doing the one I was given before the Birkie. It seems just the right balance of exercises. I am not sure if it is helping alot but I think it is, and I guess that is all that matters. I rode the bike to the gym, even though the weather forecast was calling for rain later in the evening. I almost beat the rain before I got done. I ended up having a short, wet and cold ride home. I soaked for a couple extra minutes in the shower to warm up and was scrubbing of the sweat and road grime when I felt a bump behind my knee. I felt a little sore and achy. I thought maybe I had been sitting or kneeling in some odd contortion while I was painting earlier that day. I took a better look when I toweled off and sure enough, I had a tick buried in my leg. DAMN!!! This didn't look good. It was just far enough on the side of my knee that I couldn't reach it. I smothered some Vick's on it and let it sit while I ate. Tammy tried to pull it out but it was in just a little too deep. So Thursday morning I ambled down to the doctor's office and had the little bugger removed. Even worse, it was deer tick, so now I have to watch for the dreaded bullseye rash. The last thing I need is to end up with Lyme's Disease. Tammy had it/has it and it knocked her on her keister a couple of years ago.

Thursday ended up better than it started. I did my first group bike ride in years. A small group meets here in town on Tuesday and Thursday and goes out for a couple of hours at a moderate to fast pace. It was very windy which made riding in a group even better. The group of about eight quickly split up as we hit the wind and four of us ended up doing a really nice ride of about 36 miles in just a little over two hours and fifteen minutes. By then end I was tired and my legs were dead but it was a great feeling. I rode with a group about eight years ago and it got me in the best shape of my life. Nothing like being pushed and pushing back. It is almost like a race in that I can't keep up the same pace by myself. I need to fit this into my schedule more often.

I took the day off on Friday and Saturday I went to Iola to preride the course for the first mountain bike race of the season. The venue is only about half an hour from my house. It is nice to get out and see the course before the actual race. I have raced here numerous times over the years so I am familiar with the course. There were a few changes, but nothing drastic.

Sunday morning I was up nice and early and Tammy and I headed off to the race. I did a 5K trail race at 8:30 that morning. I figured it would be a nice warm up and wouldn't take too much out of me. I went out at a good pace but didn't push too hard. The first part of the course has some pretty nasty hills and I wanted to save something for the bike race. I settled into a comfortable pace and enjoyed the morning. I finished in just under 28 minutes. That was good enough for third in my age class and twelfth overall. Now I had about two and a half hours before the bike race. I ate a little and just relaxed. I did a very short warm up and then headed to the start area. I knew a good start was going to be crucial since it starts out hilly. In addition to the hills there was a short section of deep sand at the crest of the first hill where I knew it would bottleneck. I planned on getting a good jump and then a quick run through the sand so I wouldn't get left too far behind. My start strategy worked pretty good. I didn't want to go all out right away due to the hills in the first mile so I held a little back. Once the course flattened a little the singletrack began. I did well through the singletrack and tried to push on the wide open ski trail sections. The first lap went well and I picked it up a little for the next lap. I pushed hard and tried to save a little when I needed a burst to make a pass. By the middle of the third and last lap I was getting a little tired and winded, but still felt good. I didn't keep my lap splits but I am quite sure each lap was faster than the previous lap. I had one rider right in front for the last part of the race and tried to push to catch hime since I knew he was in my age class. Every time I pushed the pace he picked up his speed. The last portion of the course is mostly singletrack and even though I could stay on his wheel I just never could get the extra little speed to pass him. I finished in 1:23:19 for just under 15 miles. My placing wasn't quite what I wanted by my time goal was to finish in under 1:30:00 so I was happy. Plus, I finished in one piece and the bike worked well, so I have no complaints. All in all a good day.

Now it's back to work. 11p.m. to 7 a.m. Plus no day off until probably next Sunday, the 31st. I am not complaining. I just wish it wasn't feast or famine where work is concerned.

Well, I better get my butt moving. I want to try and get in a group ride before work tonight. Not sure if that is smart, but I'll try it anyway.

More soon.......gotta ride!!!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A good week

I am sitting at the computer, enjoying a hot cup of peppermint tea, listening to some classical music and decided I had better post my weekly update. So far, this week is going great. We'll see if that holds up.
Last week was a great week. I was on vacation all week. An actual scheduled vacation, not laid off. I accomplished a lot of my chores around the house, or at least put a dent in some of the items.
My workouts were okay. Nothing out of the ordinary or fantastic. I had planned on some longer runs but things just didn't fall into place. I still haven't put tires on my road bike. I know I need them, the casing is showing through the back tire. They just don't seem to be on the top of the list. Trying to save a few pennies while work is slow. It seems the money is more wisely spent elsewhere. Soon though. The sunny spring days are just too inviting and the roads are calling. Until then I put miles on the Trek mountain bike on the road. It works fine but just isn't the same thing. The speed and efficiency aren't there. It just feels better flowing along the rural back roads on skinny tires.
I had a great weight workout on Thursday. Snuck in a couple new/different exercises for a change of pace. I didn't think it would matter that much but I have been SORE ever since. Wow, I am either getting older or I need to fiddle with my routing a little. It is a good sore though. It reminds me that there is always room for improvement.
Saturday, May 2nd, I competed in our local 5K. The RMC 5K starts just a couple blocks from my house and runs a loop course through the neighborhoods around my house. It is flat, except for one little bump. I have had mixed results here the last few years, from a PR to so-so. This year was no exception. It was a great day for the race. Sunny, low 50's with a slight wind. I don't know if it was the weight workout a couple of days or earlier or what? I just didn't feel fast. The pace I ran felt good. Hard, but not puking my guts out. I don't feel I let up too much as the race progressed. Just one of those years I guess. My goal was 7:00/mile pace and I came close with a 21:58 or 7:05 pace. I was happy with that time. My running hasn't been that consistent or structured. NO speed work at all. It has given me a goal of peaking for this race next spring and just seeing how much quality I can get in over the winter and spring. The 5K isn't my favorite distance but I feel I can run faster. I just need to suffer a little.
Sunday, I had an awesome trail run. I went out to my favorite trail, the Ice Age Trail and did a nice and relaxed long run. I parked at one end of the trail and ran to the other parking lot just outside of Waupaca. Then I ran back to the car and added on a segment on the other side of the parking area where I started. I could have added another mile or two but it was getting late and my bottles were empty and the gels were gone. In just under three hours I got in a little over 16.5 miles. My legs were a little tired and beat but not too bad taking into account the race the previous day. Next time I would like to try and run the whole segment from end to end and back.
As I said in the beginning, this week is starting out well. We will just have to wait and see how it ends up.
Well, I've gotta run. I can see the sun shining outside and I want to get in a short run and a strength workout before the rain shows up and it's time to head off to work.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekly update

Well, it was back to work for me last week. After being laid off for the first time in over 20 years, I headed back to work on the 20th. From famine to feast. I worked 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. with no day off. Then from that to a planned week off due to vacation this week.
I had a little slower week last week than the previous week. Day shift isn't my favorite and I just seemed less inspired and more tired after work than usual. It was fairly busy at work but that shouldn't have mattered. Just one of those weeks I guess.
I had a couple of good bike rides during the week. Unfortunately they were indoors on the trainer. On Tuesday I did longer intervals and on Sunday I did a "mountain bike start" workout. It was supposed to simulate a mountain bike race start with 1 minute hard out of the saddle and then 10 minutes at a sustained effort to make you suffer and get used to that wonderful feel of burning legs as you try not to let the leaders leave you too far behind.
My runs last week were shorter and less intense than the previous week. Part of it I will chalk up to the weather. It went from springlike in the beginning of the week to mid 80's on Friday and then rain and thunder showers on the weekend. We even had some pea sized hail here on Saturday afternoon as I was trying to decide whether I should run or bike. After looking at the black clouds and hail covering the lawn I decided to plop down on the couch and relax. No sense fighting Mother Nature when she is in one of THOSE moods!
I also managed to hit the gym twice last week. I have been very lax in getting to the gym on a regular basis. I mean to do better every week but it seems like something comes up. Yeah, I know, no excuses!!! I am trying. My goal is at least twice per week. I was set up with an excellent program when I joined the gym. Nothing to fancy or time consuming. No heavy weights. It focuses more on balance and the core. It seems to work great for me. I could tell right away that it was helping. I honestly believe the workouts helped me double pole the last 5K of the Birkie after my ski broke.
As I mentioned before, I am off again this week. With the time off I hope to get in some more endurance workouts. Maybe a long trail run on the Ice Age, that would be nice. It would also really be nice to get my road bike out of the basement and on the road where it belongs. I am also contemplating racing this weekend. Nothing too strenuous. It would be a 5K on Saturday. It starts just a few blocks from my house and goes around the neighborhood and right past the house. It is flat and fast and also it is kind of a spring tradition for me. I actually set my PR for a 5K here a couple of years ago. I am also thinking about a duathlon on Sunday. I need tires for the road bike first. It sounds like it would be fun and since I swim like a rock it is as close to a triathlon as I am going to get.
In between all this I hope, no, I WILL, finish some of my home improvement projects this week. I'm not the handiest guy, but I try. I have to do some work to earn some play time. It's only fair.
I will keep you posted as the week goes on and update you on any race results for the weekend.
Have a great week and enjoy yourself. Gotta run.........

Monday, April 20, 2009

Going long-weekly update

I had a good week the week of April 13-19. My training is mostly unstructured right now. I seem to decide what I am going to do as I head out the door. A lot of the decisions hang on what the weather is doing. It has been 70 degrees one day and rain and 30's the next. This morning, Monday, April 20, it was snowing as I left for work. Not enough to stick around, but snowing none the less.
I took a couple of days off at the beginning of last week to do some yard work and catch up on chores around the house. By Wednesday I was itching to get out and hit the roads. I filled a couple of bottles and grabbed a couple of gels and off I went. I had a general idea of what I wanted to accomplish and where I wanted to go. I wanted to get in a very easy and relaxed long run. Just enjoy a great day and run. It felt good to put on some serious-for me anyway-miles. By the time I was done I had put in a little over 17 miles. I was tired and a little achy, but not bad at all.
I took it easy the next couple of days. I did an easy run with my wife, Tammy. Just to keep the legs loose. The next day we did an easy bike ride.
By Saturday I was ready to put in some miles again. I had always wanted to try the run/walk method on a long run and this seemed a good day to try it. I headed out to the Tomorrow River Trail. This is a rail trail that runs between some of the little towns here in central Wisconsin. I headed out from Scandanavia towards Amherst. I ran for 4 minutes and walked for 35 seconds. According to the Galloway schedule, if I ran fast enough I could use this for a 3:30:00 marathon. For my first attempt it went fairly well. The run segments weren't quite fast enough. I averaged just over 8:10/mile. The run ended up being over 14 miles and again I felt tired, but good at the end. The walks seemed to help but the overall average pace was just so-so. I think I'll try this again and measure it against a steady long run of the same distance.
The next day it ended up being rainy and cold but I wanted to get out and do an easy, short run. I put in around 6 miles and was frozen and wet by the end. Of course it waited to rain seriously until I was out a few miles. I guess the miserable weather workouts make me stronger, right?
Not it is back to work. After being laid off for a week and a half it is time to put the nose to the grindstone. Then a week of vacation. Almost like a part time job.
Well, time to wrap this up. More soon. Gotta run..........

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Weekly update

Good morning everyone. At least I hope it is a good morning. Not much going on here in sunny (at last!) central Wisconsin. I am laid off again, so I am trying to get some of the spring chores done and get out and get in some good workouts.
Last week was pretty good if a little crazy. I worked 11 pm to 7 am on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I worked 3 pm to 11 pm. Thursday started the lay off but I got called in to work on Friday so I worked from about noon until 5 pm. Yeah, I know, be glad I have a job. If I hear that to often though I may go nuts. The company I work for manages to give me just enough hours so I can't claim unemployment but I also don't get 40 hours. Times will be tight, but I'll get by.
I had a couple of nice workouts on the weekend. On Saturday I ran on the Ice Age Trail with Mrs. Svenofthenorth. We ran a nice and comfortable 6 miles. I felt pretty good so when we got back to the car I decided to run home. It ended up being just a bit over 15 miles. I only had a swig of water at the car and a shot of energy gel but I felt good when I finished. It was the longest run of the season for me and I didn't set any records for pace but it felt great to get in some distance.
On Sunday I hauled the mountain bike out of the garage and got in around 17 miles on the roads around Waupaca. It was still a bit cool and windy but it felt good to be on a bike outdoors instead of on the trainer in the basement. The ride was like my run the previous day, no records for pace or distance, just easy and relaxed.
My racing season is coming up fast and I don't think I'll be ready. SURPRISE!!! Looks like I will be racing myself into shape again this year. I'm not even sure how many races are on the schedule for this year. I think paying bills and living will come ahead of race fees. I will get some in though. Gotta have some fun and push myself once in a while. It's just that competitive itch that refuses to lay down and be quiet.
Well, I can see the sun shining outside and I can hear the roads and trails calling my name so it's time to sign off.
More soon. Gotta run............

Monday, April 6, 2009

Weekly update

Well, I just finished up a fairly good week. Went back to work on Wednesday after a short layoff, but another one is coming up starting this Thursday, the 9th.
I got in some good runs and even managed to get out on my favorite trail twice. Nothing epic or structured. The trail is still a little too sketchy for that. Mud hidden under the leaves, snow, and the ticks are out already! YEAH!!!
I did two bike workouts on the trainer. One was just a longer, steady ride while I watched a video about running. Just can't watch a movie while running. I have to concentrate on not falling off the treadmill. My other ride was a Spinervals video workout. It was an interval workout called "Sufferama" and suffer I did. I guess I should have been doing these all winter because my legs still felt like noodles 2 days after.
I have to work 3 days this weeks before my layoff. I am hoping for some better, at least seasonal, weather so I can get in some longer runs and maybe, just maybe, get the road bike on the roads. We'll see. I'll keep ya posted.
Gotta run........

Friday, April 3, 2009

First trail run!

FINALLY!! Yesterday, April 2nd, I did my first trail run of the season. I have run a few sections of our River Ridge Trail, a trail that runs in and around town. This is what I have been waiting for though, ever since our first warm false spring days. I took my running gear to work and hit the section of the Ice Age Trail that begins just outside of town. It was a cool and cloudy day. I was a little under dressed and getting cold by the end, but it was totally worth it. The trail is still soft and muddy. Snow still covers portions of the trail and I had to watch my footing so I didn't go head over heels down a hill. The forest critters are not out in force yet either. I did scare up one lonely white tail deer and did see one other person out with a dog. Other than that I was the only person out there. It seemed a little odd going by the edge of the state park campground and not seeing a camper or tent, or hearing kids yelling as they played in the park.
It was a great run. Slow, steady and calming. I let my mind wander where ever it wanted and just flowed with the hills. I even slowed to a walk on some of the more treacherous icy section, something almost unheard of for me. I ran out around 5 miles and turned around and headed back. I wanted to run more but didn't want to push too much. I had stayed upright the entire run. I wasn't too muddy or scratched up and it didn't seem right to tempt the trail gods into sending me flat on my face. I can't wait to get out again and run "my section" from end to end, around 16 hilly miles.
I followed that run up with a killer "Spinervals" video workout on the trainer today. Tempo intervals, all out intervals, standing, seated.....By the end I was dripping sweat and my quads were noodles. Not sure if that means it was a tough workout or I am the out of shape. I was hoping I wouldn't have to race myself into shape again this season. We'll see.
Gotta run.........

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A pretty good week

Time for the weekly update.
Last week was a pretty good week here in central Wisconsin. For part of the week, and the beginning of this week, I was laid off. That definitely isn't what made it good. I am lucky, I still have a job. The company I work for is going through slow times like many others and that has caused and is going to cause some downtime. I'll get by but times will be tight for a while. Not complaining, just stating the facts.
The days off helped me get some things done around the house that probably would have had to wait until a week of vacation. Hate to spend a week of vacation working too hard when I could be out playing!
I managed to get out and get in some runs and even got the mountain bike out for a ride to the gym. I had one very good run early in the week. I ran on the Wau-King trail, a paved trail that runs out of town a little over 4 miles. It has a few good hills to make the run a bit more challenging. I ran out easy and relaxed and when I hit the turn around I picked up the pace. I pushed hard, or hard for me, especially this early in the season. It felt good to push the pace and finish a run feeling that satisfied. I felt strong on the hills and let myself flow on the downhills. All in all a great run.
Now it's back to work, for a week anyway. Then more down time. This week I hope to finally get out on the Ice Age Trail, one of my favorite places to run. Hopefully most of the snow is gone and it isn't too muddy. I know, it's a trail. I shouldn't expect to end run looking pretty and pristine. I just don't want to spend too much time on my face tripping through the mud and falling over the roots and rocks. I don't plan on running long or far but once I hit the trail it's hard to stop. I just love the solitude and the scenery and the challenge of the terrain.
I need to start really working on the endurance. The race season is coming on fast and I do have some goals. If the weather ever warms up and the rain and snow quits, it would make things much easier. Then again, a little suffering now makes all that work later seems much easier.
Well, that's about it for now.
Gotta run...........

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Good news!

I got some excellent news a couple of days ago which now gives me another goal for the fall.
I sent my entry in for the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival. This is one of the biggest mountain bike races in the midwest. They have a 16 mile Short and Fat and the Chequamegon 40. It is a hilly race with very little time to catch your breath. Not technical, no singletrack, but that doesn't make it any easier. They limit entries to 2500 every year so it is a lottery drawing to get in. I usually opt for the Short and Fat since there are less request for it and my chances of getting in are higher. Believe me, 16 miles all out is no walk in the park. I have done the 40 three times in the past but just enjoy the short race more. More time to visit with friends and family and my brother-in-law usually does the race too. So anyway......I have been waiting for my check to clear so I know I am in. On Tuesday of this week I checked my account and saw that the check had cleared. Now I just need to wait to see if I earned a preferred start.
This gives me a long range goal to train for since I always want to do very well at this race. I have finished as high as 2nd in my class and around 30th overall some years back. Now I want to get back to that level again. Looks like a better set a training plan and get in some solid WORS races all summer long.
More later. Gotta run.... or I guess, gotta bike.......

Monday, March 23, 2009

Well, it's time for my weekly update. Amazing, I actually posted more than once every couple months! I had a fairly good week of workouts last week. They seemed good to me considering my work schedule this past week. Monday the 16th started a week of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. I had Tuesday off, so it usually takes me until Thursday to acclimate myself to the "graveyard" shift. Wednesday and Thursday I worked 12 hour shifts, until 11 a.m. Sunday I tossed in another 12 hours and then a quick change to 3 p.m. to 11 p.m today. In between all this work I got in 4 days of running totalling almost 35 miles and one day on the bike-OUTSIDE! Nothing fancy and no structure or plan to the workouts. I am just kind of working on a late base/early endurance phase. It is still a bit cold to head to the track for speed work and too nice to spend time on the treadmill. The weather varied alot this past week. Just a normal Wisconsin spring. I ran in shorts and long sleeves one day and by the end of the week I drove to work in a whiteout.
The first outdoor bike ride of the season felt great! Nothing fancy and not very far. I just wanted to feel the wind on my face and start building up those butt calluses. It was just a short ride out of town on some country roads and then back home. The roads are still sloppy and snow covered in spots and full of all of the usual winter debris. The rain that is forecast this week should really improve the conditions.
My runs were generally slow and easy. I ran one after one of my 12 hour shifts. Not exactly one of my brightest workouts but in a wierd way it felt good to get out and de-stress. The roads and paths I frequent are still sloppy and some have long patches of snow hiding away in the shady spots. It makes for some interesting footing, even in the spring. One of my neighbors who has run for years fell and broke his arm running in these tricky conditions.
This week shapes up to be interesting. I am laid off until next Wednesday, April 1. Things are slow at the paper mill where I work. Of course the weather forecast calls for wind, rain and cooler temperatures. In other words, normal Wisconsin spring weather. I don't mind any of these conditions but when you combine them and get a 34 degree day with an inch of rain and 25 mph wind gusts it makes for some uncomfortable running. Still, I will probably venture out a few days. Like I mentioned above, I find it hard to get on the treadmill or bike trainer in March. It just seems wrong.
Well, since I seem to have an abundance of time for the next week I will try and update a couple times this week. It all depends on the "honeydo" list.
Later. Gotta run...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Weekly update

Good morning everybody. Just a quick post-I hope-to let you know how my last week went.
After my race on March 7th I had a couple days where I was a little sore. My right hamstring felt very tight and crampy, especially when I ran or biked. I took it easy for a couple of days and it feels much better now. March 9th was a busy and exciting day for Tammy and I as our newest grandson was born. We spent a good portion of the day in the hospital waiting for Trae to make his entrance. I had on short day on the fluidtrainer but cut that short due to my aching leg. I need to due this more often, pay attention to what my body is saying, that is. It doesn't make much sense to push hard when you are not feeling quite right. I had a couple of good runs toward the end of the week. I am working on my base/endurance right now and not too concerned with pace or speed. I am going with the weather as to what my workout will be. If it is sunny and springlike, I am going to get the bike out. If it is tending more towards a blustery and cool spring day I will get in a run. Right now I am itching to get out on the trails. There is still a fair amount of snow in the woods and I do not want to tempt a fall or injury due to the slippery and muddy conditions. I am working 11-7 this week so that knocks my energy and ambition down a notch. My runs to start this week were good and I hope to get in a least one outside bike ride. I also need to get back in the gym since I have a hard time fitting this in to my schedule.
Well, since this is kind of my day off-I didn't work last night-I need to get moving and do something. Maybe a short ride outside on the mountain bike and a quick weight workout at the gym?
Gotta run

Monday, March 9, 2009

Race updates

It has been a month since my last update. So much for timely posts! I am trying to do better. I guess I need to work on my time management skills.

In the last two weeks I have completed two races that have become a tradition for me. On February 21 I competed in the American Birkebeiner - This is a 50K cross country ski event. This year the Birkie drew just shy of 7500 skiers. The race course elevation profile looks like the business end of a hand saw. The hills don't stop until about 45K and some of the downhills are as challenging as the ups. My training for the Birkie went pretty well. I had a pretty good base with just over 410K/254 miles. I even got in one very cold race. Throw in some running and bike on the trainer and I felt ready. I had a week of vacation for the Birkie but leading up to that I had worked 20 days without a day off. Still, despite all that, yes, I felt ready. I even went out and splurged on a new, actually 2 years old, pair of skis. Basically the same as the current model, just some cosmetic changes. I went up to spend race weekend at my Dad and Step-mother's with my wife, one of my daughters, one of my sisters and a niece. Race day weather was almost perfect with some light, fresh snow on the course and temps in the low teens. I lined up in my wave and waited for the cannon to go off. I took it easy at the start and didn't let myself get sucked into going out too fast. I hit all the aid stations and at the halfway mark was feeling great. No aches, cramps, still hydrated and replenishing energy steadily. I paced myself up the myriad of hills and planned on pushing the pace past the halfway mark. I still felt very strong on the hills past the 40K mark and picked it up a little more. My form felt strong and I felt I was coming close to my goal of 3:30:00. Around the 45K mark as the course is finally flattening out and heading for the long trek across Lake Hawyard I started down a gradual downhill with a slight right hand turn. Next thing I know my skis are out from under me and down I go. I still am not sure what happened. Tired, ice, evil nordic ski gods? It wasn't a hard fall but my left ski came off and slid a little way down the trail. I quickly got up and grabbed my ski and tried to put it on but half the binding was missing. NO!!!! This couldn't happen this close to the finish. Only about 5K to go. There was no way to keep my boot clipped into the binding. I placed my foot on the ski and proceeded to double pole down the trail. I cautiously made my way down the last couple hills and continued to double pole across the lake and up Main street to the finish line. I had finished!!! Nowhere near my goal time but I finished. For me that is always the number one goal. Once I finished and got back to my Dad's I inspected the ski. I had actually cracked the ski underneath the binding. That got me to wondering. I had the binding on that ski adjusted just before the race because it wasn't mounted correctly. Could that have caused the crash? Guess I'll never know for sure. Even with the slower time and the fall I was pleased with the race. I paced myself well, nothing hurt (too bad) and I felt pretty good at the end. There's always next year.

Then it was back to work. After another 13 days straight and 11 hours on my feet the day before, I ran the Point Bock 5 Miler on Saturday, March 7- This is a spring tradition for me. I have done this every year since 2003 and always have a great time. I don't take it too seriously and just try to run a steady race and have a good time. From around 300 runners in 2003 the race has grown to over 1300 this year. And they have FREE BEER at the end. This year my wife and another friend ran the race also. I barely hit my goal of 37:00 minutes. I never have a strong race here. Too much time on the snow and not enough hard speed work. Still, it gives me an idea just how much work I need to do to get myself ready for the spring/summer race season.

Now I can try and get ready for my next race. I am planning on doing a 15K trail run on April 18 and then maybe a half marathon on May 2. Throw in trying to train for the mountain bike race season and I have my work cut out for me. Plus, my wife and sister are pushing me to run a qualifying time for Boston at a fall marathon. I am getting tired just thinking of all the work ahead.

Later.......gotta run

Monday, February 9, 2009

Howdy again. Well, so much for trying to update this in a timely manner. With the holidays and work, it just didn't happen. I had planned on making a post with goals and New Year's resolutions.
It is just a little after midnight on February 10, 2009. I just finished my 3-11 shift and updated my log at Buckeye Outdoors and thought it would be a good time to update this also. Work has been busy. I am going on my third week with no day off and some overtime thrown in too boot! Yes, I know, be thankful I have a job. But that gets old when it seems like you live at work and have little time for anything else. My last day off was January 26-I think.
So, what have I been up to? Besides work I am trying to get in as much cross country skiing as possible leading up to the Birkie. What's the Birkie? It is a 50K cross country ski race in Wisconsin from Cable to Hayward. If the distance doesn't seem daunting enough, the course profile looks like the business end of a hand saw. Lots of climbing. It finishes on Main Street in Hayward and you get to enjoy all the spectators cheering you on as you head toward the finish line. I had entertained thoughts of trying to break 3 hours this year but training has not been as consistent as I wanted. My one tune up race was a total disaster. I competed in the 30K race at the Badger State Winter Games on Janurary 24. It was bitter cold. Maybe a high of 0 with windchills around -20. My skis were slow, which wasn't a big surprise. I can honestly say that after completing lap one of this two lap race that I actually thought about quitting. This is a thought that never enters my thick noggin. I pride myself on completing any race I enter, no matter what. I have DNF'd 2 races in my life-both mountain bike races and both due to mechanicals-but the colder I got and the more I suffered the more I just wanted to quit and go home. But, I thought of my wife, who willingly came to watch in such awful weather, and all the other competitors who were just as miserable as me, and stuck it out. Not one of my better races, but I did finish!
Since then I have been trying to get in some skiing, a little running and some miles on the bike on the trainer. Plus I have added a couple weight workouts per week at the gym. Yeah, just a little busy but it makes the days fly by.
Well, off to bed now. I had planned on skiing in the next day or so but the rain coming down and forecast of record highs for tomorrow will probably change that. I'll let you know what else is new in a couple days. Honest-I will update this more frequently.