Sunday, April 25, 2010

Marathon #4 Navarino 04/17/2010

This race is a BLAST! You must do it next year. The course is great. Not too technical, no roots, no creek crossings, some hills, but a lot of sand. I think I’m really starting to like trail running. Another plus, crazy trail running people, pretty cool. This course would make for a good training run, so GBRCer’s may see this come up this summer.

This is a Jeff Crumbaugh event so I knew I was in for a test. Jeff was the race director of the Kewaunee Trail Running Festival in Copper Harbor MI. It’s sad that Jeff is no longer offering the trail festival, but after 10 years he said it was time to move on. I had a chance to run two of the three races in 2008 and they were very challenging.

The marathon is a two lap course so you know what to expect. That means those nasty hills that you saw from miles 10 to 12 will torture you again at miles 20 to 24. Oddly enough, they were easier the second time around. I wish that I were a good enough writer to be able to explain how great this course really is. Beautiful woods, wetlands and grass trails. Maybe that’s why the big hills were easier the second time around, because I knew a some fantastic views were coming up.

Big pluses:
• The volunteers. Since this is an Eco-friendly race there are no cups used at the water stops. You need to carry your own bottles and the volunteers fill them up for you. Good news is that they are very quick and efficient. Better news, they are great people. Since I was just here to run, not race, I spent extra time at the stops yakking with the volunteers and it increased my race experience. These were fun people. At one stop the vols told me that they would have KFC by the time I came around the second time, and I almost lost it thinking about fried chicken, but it was worth a laugh. Thankfully they did not have the chicken when I got back to them.

• The post race barbeque. You get a choice of Elk or Buffalo burgers and sides and cherry cider to drink. These guys know how to recuperate from a hard run, high protein and low fat and anti-oxidant drink.

• GBRC members at the race. I don’t expect this to happen too often on my Wisconsin marathon journey, having my GBRC family racing with me, but Ross McDowell and the Bill Noll Racing team were there to share the fun. It was fun having them there and sharing lunch with them. The Noll Racing team Dad Bill, daughter Rebekah, and sons Sammy and Isaiah each took first place in their respective races and divisions. Ross, the owner of Run Away Shoes ran the half marathon in Vibram Five Fingers. The longest he ran in them before was 6 miles, can’t wait until my VFF’s come in.

• All marathon finishers received medallions made by local craftsman John Wilson from sugar maple sourced from the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The top three in each age group for the marathon and half marathon received 1-pound blocks of from local Oak Grove Dairy cheese.

Also met Chris Drossier of Greenfield. Chris is an ultra marathoner. By no means famous, but a great guy to run with.

By the way, I did get a block of cheese for finishing 1st in the 50-54 year old group which I didn’t expect. After not seeing any old guys for the first two hours of the race I decided to speed up and see if I could place. Considering that I haven’t placed since high school I was really shocked to take first. I’m not counting on that happening too many more times.

Jeff Crumbaughs next event is the Keyes Peak marathon & 10k in Florence WI on June 19. Considering his track record, you may want to see if you can do this event. Unfortunately, I’ve signed up for all of my marathons through July so that race is on the 2011 or 2012 schedule.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Marathon #2 Trailbreaker 3/27/2010

Being unfamiliar with trail races I bought new trail shoes, Brooks Cascadia, which I love and thought that I would really use them at the “Trailbreaker” Marathon, I was in for a surprise. The race website said improved trail so I thought gravel, like much of the Fox River Trail. What I got was 15 miles of asphalt, 7.5 on the way out, 7.5 on the way back and no gravel shoulder on the trail. Luckily the shoes behave well on the road. You might think that running on this ‘improved” trail would be boring, but the views of the valleys and hills of Waukesha were beautiful, it really is a great trail.

The real trail didn’t occur until the Ice Age Trail and it did not disappoint. There were roots, large rock hills and down hills, and after you beat your legs for 3.5 miles you get to run/walk up a 40 foot tower. The Ice Age Trail is beautiful. You’re in the forest running like you should, fully engaged in your surroundings, or you might break something.

As I’m finding out on the marathons that I’m running the best part of the race is the people. On the way out I ran with a 65 year-old trail running vet who has run this course often. I also met a college kid who was a former high school football offensive lineman who after an undisclosed illness lost over 100 pounds and now could not even be a wide receiver, but he is a pretty darn good runner. The 65 year old was having trouble on the paved trail, but once we got to the Ice Age trail he became a mountain goat and kicked my butt. The kid I lost when I stopped to snug up my shoes for the trail. The kid asked if I wanted him to wait for me, and I said no, I’ll try to catch up, big mistake, never happened. I would come to regret this later.

Another thing about trail runners, they’re very accommodating. If you’re on a single track, they’ll move over to let your pass. If a leader is coming back on the trail he gets the right of way. Very nice people, a fact that would be confirmed at the Navarino Trail marathon in a few weeks.

Well I made it up the tower and started back, and watched my 65 year-old buddy really go into mountain goat mode. In a matter of a quarter mile he was out of sight and I wouldn’t see him again until the food table after the race.

Left with no buddies to talk to, the second half marathon totally sucked. For those who know me, I need to talk; I’m a social animal, at least until the last 2 miles of a run when I’m hurting.

Finally finished and then hooked up with my new buddies, had a couple bagels Gatorade and a shower then headed home.

Other items
If you read the reviews of the race some people complained about the traffic back in town, the surly cops and unhelpful volunteers. What race did they run? Perhaps they should thank the volunteers once in a while. I meet very helpful people along the way from the race director to the cops to the vols, great people. Overall this is a beautiful course. Very low fees and a great value. Do it if you can next year.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

So, how did I get to 10 marathons in 2010?

If you had to guess how many marathons were held in Wisconsin every year what would you say? Five, ten? Well there’s Cellcom, Lakefront, Madison, Whistlestop, Paavo Nurmi, Journey, Lake Geneva, wow.

A few years ago I read an article in Marathon & Beyond by Adam Gould who had run all of the Wisconsin marathons in a few years. At that time there were ten marathons in Wisconsin and that sounded like a pretty cool idea, “To run all of the marathons in your state”, very cool.

Being 50 years old at the time I realized that I couldn’t do just one per year, I would be 60 by the time I finished. And, what would happen if they cancelled one of the races before I got to it? That just wouldn’t do, so after running Whistlestop in 2009 I decided to try to run all 10 Wisconsin marathons in a fiscal year with Whistlestop being the first of the year so I wouldn’t have to run on that muddy rails to trails course ever again. So I started doing my research and laying out my assault plan.

The best place to do research on Marathons (or so I thought) was Marathon Guide ( ). I did my search and uncovered 15 marathons in our beautiful state. Some of them are even held on the same day, May 2, 2010 has races in Eau Claire and LaCrosse and on May 8 there is the Journeys and Lake Geneva Marathons. One race is indoors, and there are several trail marathons. What if I limited the marathons to just road races? No, that wouldn’t do, I didn’t want any asterisks like Mark McGuire or Sammy Sosa, Flintstone vitamins my butt. Obviously May was going to suck, and I would now have to spread my quest over two years, 10 marathons in 2010 (very symmetrical) and 5 in 2011. So I ran the idea past the control tower, my lovely wife Chris who has had to put up with my Type A personality for over 30 years, and she approved. Did I mention that I’m fully insured?

So I on January 1, 2010 I committed to this goal and posted it at work on our goal board. It’s supposed to be an incognito posting but there’s only one person at PAi who runs at lunch regardless of the weather, so this quest is no longer a secret, it’s a must do event. I also told my Saturday running buddies Teresa, Scott and Michael to make sure I locked it in. This quest means I would have to pass on Boston this year, but Sean Ryan brought Bill Rodgers to Green Bay to run with us so I checked that off of the bucket list.

Let’s get this party started!
To get this quest under way I thought that I would start with what I thought would be the toughest race psychologically, the InStep Indoor Marathon. This Milwaukee race is run on an indoor track that circles the Olympic Speed Skating oval at the Pettit Ice Complex. It offers two half marathons and a marathon relay on Saturday, and the full marathon on Sunday. The full marathon is 95.6 laps around the ice, yuk! I registered on-line only to find out that the marathon was full, but having committed to my quest I called the race director to push my case. It didn’t work, but he suggested finding someone to run the first lap then I could do the rest as a relay team and extra lap for the full marathon, plus I would save $30. Done deal, my son would run lap 1 and I would run 94+ laps. Sounds like fun and I get to share the event with my son.

Race Day, Indoors in Milwaukee
Having spent so much time speaking with race director Chris Ponteri I sought him out to thank him for getting me into his event. While speaking to Chris he introduced me to another race director as “The crazy guy who is going to run every marathon in Wisconsin this year” I had to qualify it and say “Chris, I’m only doing 10 this year and I’ll save the other five marathons for 2011” the other race director chimes in and says “You do know there are 22 marathons in Wisconsin don’t you?” But I checked I pleaded! He replies check Running in the USA, ( ) , hoping he’s wrong I told my son I’ll check when I get home.

As usual I flame out at mile 20, but still finish, hurting like I’ve never hurt before. 95+ laps on a thin layer of rubber on concrete turning left all of the time are rough. But this race has many pluses, the race director, and the volunteers who make sure that they greet you at every lap with a smile, dance and your fluids. The other runners who you see over and over again and their families who even though they have never met you before cheer you on every time that you pass them. You make many friends at this event because you see them so often. For those facts I can recommend this marathon, but I think that I would prefer the marathon relay instead.

There really are 22 marathons in Wisconsin
When I finally got home late Saturday night I Googled Running in The USA and found that there are indeed 22 marathons in Wisconsin. If you want a spreadsheet that lists all of the marathons and the races that I will do in 2010, 2011 and 2012 just send me an e-mail.

Now What!
On Thursday February 4, I found out Middleton just added a marathon, that makes 23 in Wisconsin, and since it's the inagural running of this event I just have to do it. Do you think Wisconsin race directors will stop at 26?

Next Reviews
March 27 was Trailbreaker in beautiful Wakesha, and this coming weekend(4/17) is Navarino

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A significant mile marker

The first post is almost like starting at the middle, but it is very important, and will make sense as I start to back fill with information. My goal for 2010 is to run at least, 10 marathons in Wisconsin. I have 2 down and I'm still having fun. Over the next few weeks I will post race reviews detailing how I did and if you should do the race. There are currently 23 marathons in Wisconsin, and due to the fact that some of them are on the same day and some on the same weekend it may take me 3 years to complete them all. This blog will not be the most well written since I am not an author nor english major, but I will offer some good information. If you want specific information about a race or training that doesn't appear in the blog just e-mail me at .

Other philosophy, and not too contrary if you consider the facts, I favor minimalist running, no I-pods, less shoe the better, but I love my Garmin 405 because it make my life easy. I'm all about data & feedback. If you listen to music while you are running you are not in tune with your body, your breathing or the people around you, you're missing life. Too much padding in your shoes, you're missing the pebbles under your feet and very important feed back. Garmin 405 let's me know my pace, heartrate & elevation. Know yourself and your surroundings.

Today I ran 20 miles after running a marathon last weekend. This is important since I plan to run 1 marathon per week in May. If I couldn't pull this off I would either have to adjust my plan or train harder. For those that run with me you know that option one is hardly ever considered.

I have sufferred no ill effects after todays run, so I'm on track. Today run wasn't fast and I'm not proud of it, but my current goal is to just survive May. I'll start training for speed in June.

Last note. Two good friends, Randi from CO just completed a 50 miler and Ivy WI is coming back after surgery and they continue to provide motivation.

Finally, if you hate this blog, don't flame me, just don't read it.