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The other day Dale and I went for an easy 2 mile run. Well, it was an easy run for him and a little more work for me. “Oh, it’s a little windier than I thought”, Dale exclaimed as we headed down the driveway and on to the road. Great, not exactly what I wanted to hear. This was really my first winter run in quite a long time. I had the right running gear to stay warm and protect against the wind and oh yes, I had Dale’s Yak Trax on my shoes to help me keep from slipping.

It was a great run. Dale commented that my stride was shorter, which is a good thing and that I was stronger going up the hill. Yes, my winter workout routine must be paying off. When we got back home I felt like I should have run further. So that will be my goal for next time…run farther and perhaps stronger and faster

As I turn the calendar to 2011, I close the books on 2010. Some of  the financial stuff has yet to be done, mostly because I have spent a lot of time watching basketball games. Adam & Beth have a combined schedule of 10 basketball events over the first 2 weeks of 2011, some with multiple games.

There are a few things that I learned while running those 1500.5 miles last year.

First, there are some really neat clothes for runners on the market now. I am not a real clothes horse, but winter running requires protection. I am constantly amazed at the protection from cold that some of these newer materials offer. Thanks Goretex for the Windstop technology. I also picked up some YakTrax to eliminate the poor road condition excuse I used this last December.

Second, a middle-aged guy can learn how to run with a new stride technique. Last January and February I surfed the internet enough to pick up on the barefoot / minimalist running trend and eventually read Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run. A very good story to read. With the new stride technique came the chance to try new shoe styles. While I still have fewer shoes than Monica, I know I closed the gap considerably in 2010

Third, a middle-aged guy can learn to run fast again. I followed a race training plan by Matt Fitzgerald and found speed again. Even though I was disappointed with my 3:30:29 Grandma’s Marathon finish based on training results, I was pleased with it from a perspective of a low mileage base leading up to last January. I also clocked 2 sub-1:32:00 half marathons last year, finishing 4th in my age group both times.

Fourth, due to those half-marathon finishes, I learned that I should start closer to the starting line to fully capitalize on my chances to bring hardware home:) After the Big Woods run, the race director told me that chip timing was used for finish times and placings, not for net times.

Fifth, running is a great way for me to relax. A couple stressful moments happened in the past year that long runs, and the ensuing endorphin rush, helped me get through. I am thankful that I am now in good enough shape to be active that long.

2010, and the miles I put in, transformed me into a runner again. I enjoy training, I enjoy racing, and I enjoy reading about the feats of fellow runners. For my part, I will try to best last year’s mileage and put more of my thoughts on this site.

We just purchased some new boars for our boar stud.  Before they are brought into the barn, we put them in isolation for three months.  This allows for any disease risk the boars may be carrying from their old home to be minimized.  We don’t want the animals already in the stud or the new boars to get sick.  The five purchased boars were recently moved out of isolation and into our boar stud.  Once in the boar stud its time to train them.

Training boars takes a lot of patience.  There is a dummy sow that the boars need to mount in order to be collected.  With a real sow, instinct takes over.  But the instinct to mount a dummy sow isn’t as strong.  There are a lot of tricks to try to get the boars to mount, but no one technique works 100% of the time.  That’s the frustrating part for me.  Each boar has its own personality, just like humans.  Along with the different personalities comes different preferences when in the collecting pen.

My goal this week is to get some of these boars trained.  Wish me luck!

Each year the United South Central cross-country team holds a scrimmage to kick off the season. It is an opportunity for new runners and their parents to meet the families involved. To create a competition, Coach Vies invites alumni to run. This year there was a great turnout of alumni, enough to create a full team to face off against the current boys and girls teams respectively.

I am proud to say that I was the oldest male alum there. That in itself nearly guaranteed finishing first in my age group! I did clock a pretty impressive time (19:19) for the 4800 meter course and finished 4th overall, so my points counted (maybe the first time in a varsity meet). Brett (20:53) and Adam (14:11 for 2 miles) did fairly well also, and it is fun to run in races with them.

I will also say that today I moved into a new age-group for racing, at least at those that break things down in 5 year intervals.

Time to take off for a birthday supper in Fairmont, so I will cut this short.

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” (Walter Elliott)

The last month has been a relaxed one for running.  I’ve continued to log easy miles while working through some hip discomfort.  My hip had begun to bother me more and more while lifting and bending, but was fine while running.  I wasn’t sure whether to visit a medical doctor, chiropractor, or massage therapist specializing in sports massage.  I decided to try a chiropractor first and that turned out to be a wise choice.  I’ve been getting adjusted for around a month now, and the pain is definitely getting better.  He even diagnosed and adjusted a shin splint that was just starting to flare up.

With my hip condition under control, it is time to sign up for my next race.  I will be running the Whistlestop Half Marathon in Ashland Wisconsin in October.  I ran this race last year with my sister and two friends.  It’s a flat course that follows a wooded trail.  October is the perfect time for this race, with the trees vibrant with fall color.  So… time to step up the training again.

More on that later.  My family is asking for an early supper (pork roast that has been cooking in the crockpot all day ~ YUM).  Brandon and the kids are headed down to our fairgrounds to set up the barns for the County Fair next week.

We are back from vacation and counting down to our County Fair.  We took the Amtrak train out to Glacier National Park for vacation.  The scenery was breathtaking and  I would highly suggest it for any family.  My daughters ran across a mama moose with her baby on a trail, we had a snowball fight on top of a mountain, and the boys skipped rocks on a crystal-clear lake.  It was the perfect mix of relaxation and activity for me.

While on vacation my brother-in-law called asking if we wanted a puppy.  We had been considering getting a puppy, hoping our older dog would help train a new puppy.  So, we came home to an adorable black and white border collie that we named Hal.  He is full of energy and is already showing his herding instincts towards the cattle, pigs, and kids.

We also came home knowing that there are only a couple weeks left before the Goodhue County Fair.  The 4-H building projects are mosting complete.  My dad helped Max build a gun rack earlier this week.  My dad has a lot of woodworking tools, so he is a great help.  We are walking the pigs twice a day now.  It’s amazing how quickly they learn the routine.  The kids are also walking and grooming the cattle daily.  Our fair starts August 10th, eleven days to go…

My 10 year old daughter Beth asked me that question earlier this week. Blue Earth’s Giant Days road races were coming up and she wanted to do the 2 mile run this year instead of the ½ mile kids run. Without hesitating I said yes and then jokingly added, but will you race at a pace that I can keep up with?

What a great thing to have your daughter ask you to run with her. During the week we got out a few times to train. Beth likes to talk when she runs so we have great conversations. Hopefully these small conversations will set the groundwork for her teenage years, when having someone to talk to is vitally important.

Race day ended up being a family affair, as you can tell by the picture. Dale and the boys ran a 10K race. He helped set their pace since neither of them has competitively raced at this long of a distance. Both did well even though Brett struggled a bit with his stomach and Adam got a side cramp.

Beth and I waited around while the guys ran, since our race was later. She commented a few times on how she was nervous, but I told her being nervous was normal and encouraged her to channel her nerves for positive results. The race started out fast. Dale also ran with us and we slowed the pace down a bit. True to form, Beth conversed along the way. It really was a pleasant run. Dale encouraged me to pick up my pace a bit, which I did and those two stayed slightly behind me. With about 30 yards left, who should come up sprinting from behind me but Beth. She ended up crossing the finish line at 18:01, 3 seconds ahead of me.

Doing activities together is an important part of who we are. Fortunately we’re in good health and in good shape that we can run races. But we’re not just running races; we’re using these moments as a chance to teach our kids about themselves and how to react to the various things that happen to them. Running through a side cramp now can teach them how to work through a difficult project in the future.

Beth and I didn’t just run a race today, we shared an experience.

 Brett, Adam and Beth belong to 4-H and with our county fair only 2 weeks today, many of their activities now revolve around finishing their projects. 4-H not only teaches leadership, community involvement and responsibility, it also teaches you how to work with a deadline. Sometimes that deadline is really tight as the kids finish their projects on entry day of the fair. We call that “working under pressure”.

 

The kids take pigs and rabbits as 4-H projects. Their 4-H pigs are in the same barn as our regular market hogs, but get fed a special diet, so part of the kid’s job every day is to carry feed to the pigs. That’s what Brett is doing in this picture. This is a good activity for them because they learn to work together as they fill the pails with feed and haul them in a wagon to the barn. They also learn how to care for animals and understand the responsibility of making sure they have feed. They also need to communicate with Dale when the bin is empty, so that he can grind more feed.

 Interacting with the pigs every day help them monitor the growth of the pig and determine which ones will be best suited for taking to the fair. Generally we’re looking for pigs that represent our targeted market weight, which is 260-280 lbs. We want them to be well muscled and move well. The kids have all taken a Livestock Quality Assurance and Ethics class (LQA&E) which teaches them about animal care and well being and also about proper showing ethics. This is a good class and is required by the packer the kids sell their pigs to at the end of the fair.

 Being in 4-H not only teaches the kids about the projects, it helps us as parents learn how to “teach” our kids. How “hands on” should we be on a project vs. letting them learn for themselves? Also, when things don’t go right, how do we treat each other? Sharing responsibility and not putting the blame on others are qualities we all need to use, not only for 4-H but for life.

 These next 2 weeks will be busy. The kids also have projects to complete in plant and soil science, wildlife biology, photography, crafts, robotics, food and nutrition. 4-H is a great experience for our kids and the county fair is certainly one of the highlights of their summer.

We’re only two days before Grandma’s Marathon and our races and everyone is getting excited. Part of the reason is that we’re looking forward to some vacation time. The other reason of course is that the race we’ve been training for is finally here and while we’re trying not to focus on how well we run, we can’t help but feel some pressure to do well.

There have been so many people wishing us good luck and cheering for us, that it’s hard not to want to run you absolute best, so you feel you haven’t let them down. Yet our success will go beyond what type of times we run. To me, our success can be defined by 3 things. First, by each one of us runners setting a goal and having the determination and resilience to keep working to reach that goal. If you’ve read our blogs you know that especially in the last few weeks we’ve had small injuries and activities that have taken away from our training. But each one of us will line up at the start and will give it our best shot.

Second, as pork producers, we’ve shared our families and farms with you and hopefully helped you learn a little more about us. We care about nutrition and eating well, that’s why we chose a lean protein like pork for our diets. We care about our animals and our environment, it’s why we operate our farms is a safe, responsible manner. But most importantly, we care about our family and friends.

Finally, I think our pork power team is a success because we took on a new challenge. Everyone involved, from the staff at the MN Pork Board office, to the volunteers and the runners decided to do something different, to promote pork to a new segment, the athlete. Pork Power isn’t just a catchy slogan. It’s the power of a nutrition protein like pork and it’s the power of a team of people working together towards a common goal.

Success – Ralph Waldo Emerson

          To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of the intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate the beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – that is to have succeeded.

I followed a great training plan to get ready for Grandma’s Marathon. It had tune-up races that would help determine how fast you should train over the next 4 weeks, and the workouts definitely made me a faster runner than I thought I would be. The idea that a marathon runner should train at low intensity, and just be able to cover the miles, is fine for those that just want to finish the 26.2 mile distance. I knew I had to train harder and better than that because I was representing the pork industry.

I was supposed to do a half marathon race 4 weeks out, then have a couple hard weeks of training before I started to taper and heal the legs. Running Med City 3 weeks out was what I did instead, and I just traded a couple weeks on the calendar. Coach Vies had said that it takes about a day to recover from each mile of racing, and looking at my training log, I would have to say that was about right on. The first week was all about getting the legs to fresh enough to run easy, so 50 miles became 35. The next Tuesday saw me in the dentist’s chair for a root canal. Even though you couldn’t get much farther from my legs, that seemed to be a slight setback, also.

However, even with a couple struggles, a nice hard bike ride on Sunday got me going again. Lori & I went out, averaging over 17 mph. I know I was pushing the pace, but everything felt easy. I added some miles on my own, and probably finished at 16+ mph over 15 miles, the last half into a breeze. 2 more days of running really helped tune things up, and now I just have a 4 miler in Duluth before the 26.2 on Saturday. I am going to go into this race with confidence that the training I have put in will allow me to race Grandma’s, not just make it to the finish line.

Last night we attended the track team awards ceremony, where the Vies commented on each runner’s contribution to the team’s success. Adam had competed mostly at the junior high level, but his distance events were very good, breaking 5:50 in the 1600. Brett was the solid #2 3200 guy, with a SB of 11:29, and encouraged by Vies to work harder to uncover the rest of his potential. Then, a senior stepped forward and presented a bag of goodies that gets passed to a freshman trackster. This is a tradition that helps carry forward the leadership and responsibilities form older kids to the next group coming up, and was given to Brett  Today will be spent mixing feed and doing a couple clean up jobs around the farm before we attend the picnic at Schafer’s. While I will have competent, experienced people doing chores while I am gone, I want to make things as easy as possible for them.

- 26.2 –

“I’m wasted on cross-country! We Dwarves are natural sprinters, very dangerous over short distances.” -Gimli, Lord of the Rings movie series

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