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Ever had a task you knew you needed to do, but it still overwhelmed you? If you recall, I’ve been increasing my running mileage to get closer to a 5K. But the time had come when I knew I needed to run the 3.1 miles, to break through my barrier. Fortunately the other day Dale’s training called for an easy workout; a perfect opportunity for us to run together. When the time came, I’d been busy with other tasks, plus the wind was blowing; again. It would have been easy to postpone the run, but I knew I wouldn’t be happy with myself. I admitted my nervousness to Dale as we started out down the road. Well, 3.1 miles later I had completed a great run, filled with confidence, knowing I’d overcome my fears.

My son Adam is experiencing the same situation as he faces the possibility of running the 4×100 relay for an upcoming track meet. When I asked him about his apprehension, it had to do with never having run that short of distance. He isn’t confident that’s he’s fast enough. Time will tell how things turn out.

What don’t we do because we are afraid? How do we teach our kids to face up to their fears and apprehensions and to help them understand that in the end, they will be a better person for doing so?

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing, which you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

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Training for Grandma’s half-marathon is reaching its peak over the next few weeks,  while training on the farm is just starting to ramp up for the summer show season.

What, you may ask, does training for show season entail?  Our four children all show beef and hogs at several fairs and shows throughout the summer.  Currently the kids are working on training their five show heifers.  The heifers are the female cattle prior to having their first calves.  The kids walk over to the farm every day after school and put each heifer in a ten foot by ten foot pen.  They slowly work at gaining the animals confidence by sitting on the fence, scratching the animals back with a show stick, brushing the animal, and finally putting a halter on.  It is a slow process of gaining the animal’s trust.

Yesterday Maddie’s race training and animal training intersected.  One of our heifers, Reba, got spooked and jumped out of her pen.  Now, you can’t run after a heifer to catch her. You have to think like an animal and predict which way she is going to move in order to get her back where she needs to be.  Maddie, along with Brandon and her siblings, put on many miles through the neighbors fields and pastures and then through our own planted corn field trying to move Reba back towards her pen on our farm.  Just when she seemed to be moving in the right direction… BAM… she would run the other way.  I really don’t work with the cattle, Brandon’s turned me into more of a pig person, so I watched the whole ordeal from our deck overlooking the farm and neighboring land.  The kids and Brandon made quite a team, and finally, two hours later, Reba was back home with her friends.

Maddie’s running training definitely helped keep her endurance high during the heifer marathon.

Once the heifers are trained, the kids will move on to training the steers.  When school lets out all of the animals will get bathed, blowdryed, brushed, and walked every day.  The  pigs also will get walked and bathed, but don’t need quite as much discipline, since they are not led by a halter.  It’s a full summer, but the kids wouldn’t have it any other way.

Brett and Adam are entering into the “thick” of the track season. Brett has been running the 3200 meter (2 mile) race at the varsity level. His time has been right around 12:00 minutes, with his best being 11:55. He hasn’t placed very high, but seems to be improving as he runs against older, stronger guys.

Adam runs the 1600 meter (1 mile) race mostly on the Jr. High level, but has competed in 1-2 varsity races. His time has been right around 6:10 minutes, with his best being 6:02. His goal this year is to beat 5:55.

A track meet has a very different tempo compared to other sports. When you watch a football or basketball game, there is almost constant action. Track however seems to be periods of inactivity interrupted with a race. However, as you look over the field, there is always something happening. Runners are warming up or cooling down. Field event people are jumping or throwing.

Short distance events take place in front of the grandstand. This allows for a great deal of audience participation as they cheer their runners towards the finish line. However, when you’re a distance runner, there are a lot of quiet spots around the track as you circle the 4 or 8 laps it takes to run 1600 or 3200 meters. I always felt it was particularly challenging for the 3200 meter runners as their event is second to last. The meet has been going on for 3 1/2 to 4 hrs and the sun is ready to set. People are anxious for the last event, the 4 x400 relay and to go home. Yet here we have these dedicated kids who have waited all night to perform their event. The crowd is thinner and the cheering might not be as loud, but that doesn’t stop them from “leaving it all on the track” as we say.

Once you understand how a track meet flows, it really is a great event. Listening to the crowd roar as the lead runner crosses the finish line can send shivers down your spine. It does mine.

While growing up, my dad always referenced drops in pig performance to corn planter’s disease (i.e. time spent in tractor as opposed to the detail work that the pigs need.) Well, to an extent I personally suffered from that this past week, also. My hours and miles of training really plummeted this week, as I realized that getting 20 acres planted each hour was a priority over that hour of training. Also, my shoes wore out, and I didn’t have the spare pair ready to go.

Fortunately, corn planting landed on a “recovery” week, in which my body should strengthen itself through a lower level of training. I also eliminated some easy runs, so I just ran on Tuesday (1K intervals) and Thursday (3.5 mile tempo run). I also should have run a 10K race on Saturday, but couldn’t find a really local one and didn’t trust the shoes I was using, so opted for a 10 mile bike ride with Lori instead. Planting of corn wrapped up Friday afternoon, so some pressure is off.

As I mentioned, my shoes wore out last week. After the interval workout, my Achilles felt a little tweaky during the cooldown 1.5 miles. These shoes have about 450 miles on them, which is about how long my running shoes last. I had ordered a pair of Newton Sir Isaac S shoes to replace these near the end of March, but evidently I decided on a very popular type of shoes, since they have been on back order since. With a tender Achilles on my mind, I quickly ordered a pair of Brooks Switch (direct replacements of Brooks Vapor I was running in) and went back to the field. I tried another retired pair of shoes on the tempo run, and while there was no pain during the workout, I felt runner’s knee during the cooldown. Those shoes are staying retired for sure!

To end on positive notes, though, I must mention that the corn planted, much earlier than we have ever done. I don’t feel it was too early, though, because it coincides with our asparagus production. Also, while time will tell for sure, I don’t think too many pig-related things were neglected. I was even able to wash a finishing room and fill it Friday and Saturday, so Monday’s weaning will also be on time. The next three weeks will be peak effort and mileage weeks, so some days will be pretty busy.

Success is a peace of mind that is a direct result of knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.- John Wooden

Monica's running shoes

I run.  I wear shoes when I run.  I wear trail shoes when I run on gravel.  I wear road shoes when I run on pavement.  I have a lot of running shoes.  That isn’t considered an addiction, is it?

My husband, Brandon, stumbled over some of my shoes in our closet one evening.  He looked at me seriously and asked, “Do you have names for each of your pairs of shoes?”  Of course most of my shoes don’t have names.  That doesn’t qualify for an addiciton, does it?

My eight-year-old, Kenny, knows what brand running shoes I wear.  My 11-year-old, Max, called me a shoe freak.  My daughters, Kendrah and Maddie, question why the UPS man is dropping off “another” Adidas box.  That doesn’t sound like an addiction, does it?

I smile every time I lace up my running shoes.  I’m thrilled at the idea of running a race with one of my children.  I’m overjoyed that my body continues to power through training (with only a few minor setbacks). I’m honored to be running Grandma’s half-marathon as a pork producer.  Now, you tell me, there’s no way that’s considered an addiction… is it?

Under the photo section is this PorkPower blog is a picture of my family at a road race this summer. Everyone did really well, especially Beth. If you recall, one of my goals for doing the 5K was to run like the rest of my family. Doing things together as a family is important to us. We’re fortunate that we all like sports and athletic activities. But we also like to go to movies together or play games or just hang out. Our Friday night “Family Fun Night” in which everyone gets to take a turn choosing the activity for a Friday night; is an important event to us.

I hope you have been reading Monica’s blog about her and Maddie running. I’m so excited for them. I can’t wait to cheer them on at the finish line.

By the way, my sons, Brett and Adam have also decided to run the William A. Irvin 5K in Duluth before Grandma’s Marathon. Both of them run cross country and track, so they’ll be ahead of me. But just knowing we’re doing something together makes me feel good.

You can find the recipe for Spanish-Style Pork Tenderloin by clicking on the “Pork Loin” link listed here to the left side of the page. Nancy Grommersch has sampled this recipe at a couple different events and it has gotten rave reviews. Recipe calls for roasting in the oven but you could use the same instructions for seasoning the loin then put on the grill, using in-direct heat, and cooking until it reaches 155 degrees internal temperature.

Remember to use a meat thermometer to prevent over cooking. Over cooking is the number one reason that people end up with dry, tasteless pork. A little pink on the inside ensures a flavorful, moist and tender piece of protein on your plate.

The Schafer and Stevermer families have also shared their favorite recipes. Be sure to check them out as well: Ribs and Ground Pork. They all sound fantastic and are on my grocery list!

This past week has been a roller coaster of emotions.  We ran in a downpour (very fun) and our tears poured down at the loss of Brandon’s vibrant Aunt Katie (very sad).

Maddie came home from school last Tuesday and it was raining.  It was our day to do hill repeats, and we have the perfect hill for that not far from our house.  We didn’t think much about the rain as we left for our run.  It was a nice change to not have dust swirling around us.  About 1 1/2 miles into the run, Mike, who farms near us, pulled up alongside of us in his pickup truck and looked at us rather peculiarly.  “You gonna run in this rain?” he wondered aloud.  I smiled back at him and replied, “Mental toughness!”  He shrugged his shoulders, smiled, and headed up the road.

The hill that we were headed for happened to be within view of Mike’s house.  Once we arrived at the bottom of “the hill” we sprinted up as fast as we could go and back down again slowly.  We repeated the drill over and over again with the rain still coming down.  All I could think about was Mike probably looking out his window, shaking his head in disbelief and laughing.  Our insanity was confirmed to him at that moment. 

On Thursday we attended a funeral for Brandon’s Aunt Katie.  A fun-loving lady with a fantastic smile.  Maddie and our daughter Kendrah sang during the service.  They did a beautiful job. 

Later that afternoon I told Maddie we should fit in a run.  She had every excuse why she shouldn’t run… too much homework, too tired, too windy.  We ran anyway and I could tell Maddie was having a difficult time the whole run.  When we arrived back home, Maddie couldn’t hold the tears back any longer.  She sobbed and sobbed over the loss of Katie.  Her horrible run was explained in an instant. 

Your emotional state of mind has such a huge impact on your running.  You can’t run at your best when your mental state is compromised.  Your physical and emotional well-being are so intertwined and dependent on each other.

We don’t know what tomorrow may bring.  Don’t forget to enjoy the simple things like running in the rain 🙂

This past weekend I was able to ride my bike for the first time this season. I did 10.6 miles in 42.26 minutes and averaged about 14.5 miles per hour. That’s pretty good for my first ride of the year. Doing more intense workouts at a greater frequency on the treadmill this past winter must have helped.  It felt nice to exercise a different set of muscles and especially to take some stress off my knees and hip. I really enjoy biking, probably because it seems easier than running and also because I can go longer distances. I’ve always enjoyed sports that have a high degree of activity and feel like you’re really doing something.

The day after my bike ride, I went for a 2.25 mile run. I wasn’t sure how my legs would respond but they felt good and I had a pretty strong pace. My daughter Beth rode her bike along with me, which was a big help. Once again it was a windy day and having someone with me out on the road helps motivate me. Plus Beth is such a pleasant young lady, it’s just fun having her around. She’s hoping to run one of the fun kid’s races up in Duluth during the marathon weekend.

As the weather warms up, I plan to get out on my bike more often. At the same time, I want to start stretching my running distances so that I get closer to the 3.1 miles I’ll be running in Duluth. I wasn’t sure how this running would go, but I’m enjoying it and am pleased that when I’m done, I feel good both mentally and physically.

Before I decided to commit to run Grandma’s Marathon, I asked my kids if they would let me run it. Confused, Adam (13 years old) asked “If you are running the race, why are you asking us if you can do it?” My response was that while the race is 26.2 miles, there are hours and hours of training before June 19, and with planting season being very time-dependent, I may not be able to make as many track meets and other events, and they may get to contribute by helping with chores. He understood the answer, and still thought I should go for it.

That answer is closer to becoming reality now. I have spent parts of the last 4 days under the planter, changing opening disks and adding Keeton Seed Firmers to each row unit. Each row is taking about 25 minutes now that I have a system down, and I have 5 left (of 31). Some of the struggle is wiggling under the units 2 or 3 times to remove and install parts, plus retrieval of the new stuff. This has been a good opportunity to see what pieces fell off last year, and notice what will get a closer look next spring. I am thankful to have a nice shop to work in, but the cement is hard on my knees (and butt) at times. Also some of the positions I am in contribute to a greater feeling of “tired” than when I am working with pigs. I have complained enough about this job that I think all in the family will be glad when it is done.

However tough the work is on the farm, I use it as cross training and core workouts. There aren’t too many days that go without handling a few 50lb feed bags. Also, I get the opportunity to maneuver market weight (270#) hogs and sows (500#+) often enough that my balance and footwork stay in top shape.

Running – wise, I had a good week. Like Monica mentioned in her last post, the winds have been challenging, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Saturday’s long run was 14 miles, with increasing speed the second half. My plan called for the last mile to be at half-marathon pace (7:15), and I hit that at mile 13. The last mile, not really forcing the pace but with about 8mph wind behind me, was at 6:53. Finishing that run, plus the interval and tempo runs that were at more intense levels, really increased my confidence in my current physical conditioning. I am on track to cover 47 miles this week with a long run of 16 miles and about the same mileage next week. I am not sure how running and planting will mix this spring, but I have a very solid base that will carry me through one or two missed workouts.

There are no “magic buttons” to push. There are no “secret workouts”,  no “wonder food.” The time wasted looking for these things would be better spent working out.- Vies