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  Today Dale and I ran road races to help us prepare for our run at Grandma’s. Dale’s half marathon race was part of his training plan. My 5K was more to get some racing experience before I do the 5K at Grandma’s. We ran in Rochester at the Med City Marathon. It was a warm morning but fortunately there was a breeze.

 Dale talks about his half marathon starting in Byron. “The road to Rochester has a few hills, but after I went up one, I could always find my way back down (usually at a faster pace). Going up the long hill around mile 7 or so, I passed a couple age-group competitors. One shouted “Pork Power, I thought it was spinach that worked!” He came up to me after the race and said, “I need to change my diet.” We talked a little, and I invited him to visit our booth at the Grandma’s Marathon Expo to get some samples. My time was 1:31:15, about a 7:05 pace, and I finished 20th overall. I hit my target at 10K, and the rest of the race was by feel. It did feel good to stretch my racing out that far, and it was a very good Grandma’s tune-up.”

 My 5K started in Rochester at the YMCA. There were about 200 people, some runners and some walkers. I started toward the back of the group and kept passing people, trying to run at a pace that was comfortable with me. I ran with one younger couple for a little while and then passed them, but they came back and passed me towards the end of the race. The mental hurdle I needed to get over was the thought that somewhere around 2.75 miles I was going to run out of energy and need to walk. I’m happy to say I got over that hurdle and proved to myself I can run 3.1 miles. My time was 26:56, which beat my goal of 10 minute miles.

 Both Dale and I felt good at the end of the race and throughout the rest of the day. I guess that’s a sign that we were prepared and ran the right pace. In fact, we felt good enough to take the kids shopping to Mankato later in the afternoon. I’m glad we had the chance to run this race and get prepared. It gets me even more excited for Grandma’s and gets the competitive juices flowing, wondering if and how I can improve on my time.

 Check out our post race picure under the photos tab.

As many runners have done, I have been pouring over articles to assist with training, gear and nutrition as I get closer and closer to Grandma’s Marathon. While I have noticed many trends, there are a few items I want to add from my own experience. Since my farming operation is based on raising pigs, I will admit an obvious bias towards pork consumption, so bear that in mind as I ramble on.

Exercise of any sort involves the use of your muscles. Running requires extensive use of your largest muscles, and a day or two after exercise, soreness can set in (at least until your body acclimates). Exercising muscle breaks them down slightly (the soreness) and triggers a reaction for your body to start building more muscle fibers to accommodate future strain. In order for your body to do this, it needs protein, and more importantly, it needs the amino acid building blocks in the proper balance to create protein. (We balance our pigs’ feed rations based on amino acids, feed intake and location in the growth curve)

While in college, my nutrition professor mentioned that the amino acid proportion in eggs was 94% balanced for humans, meat (pork, beef, poultry, lamb) was in the 70-75% range and plant proteins ranged from 10-50%, depending on the source. Based on this, meat is a great source of protein for athletes, because we have used the animal’s biological system to take the raw products (usually corn, soybean meal, ethanol byproducts and a vitamin & mineral premix) and convert it into a flavorful and nutritious meal. It is interesting that the one meat commonly considered OK to eat by running publications is chicken. A 2006 USDA study found that six common cuts of pork contain 16% less total fat and 27% less saturated fat than they did 20 years go. It also found that pork contains NO artery-clogging trans fats, and it includes essential vitamins and minerals.

A serving of roast pork tenderloin, for example, is an excellent source of protein, thiamine, vitamin B6, phosphorous and niacin, and a good source of riboflavin, potassium and zinc. Pork is a lean, low-calorie, relatively low-cost source of high-quality protein – 1 3 ounce tenderloin has 2.98 grams of fat compared to 3.03 grams fat for the same-sized serving of skinless chicken breast.

When you do prepare pork, do your best not to overcook it. The best aid in doing this is a meat thermometer. When the interior of the cut reaches 150F, remove the pork from heat and cover, letting it rest for another 5 minutes. The heat near the surface of the meat will continue to penetrate inward, raising the temperature past 160F, but removing the pork from heat will keep the moisture inside and help retain tenderness.

As far as training goes, I have had my extensive long runs (20 and 22 miles) over the last two weekends. I was satisfied overall with how they went. I am looking forward to auditioning the Pork Power racing shirts at the Med City Half-Marathon starting in Byron, MN this Sunday. After that, one more large mileage week before the taper, then Grandma’s on June 19.

“You can’t make footprints in the sands of time if you are sitting on your butt. And who wants to make buttprints in the sands of time” Bob Moawad

The rollercoaster of training for Grandma’s Half Marathon continues.  I’m assuming every runner has those “that was amazing, I feel fabulous” runs and those “remind me again why I’m doing this” runs.  The past few weeks Maddie and I had many runs in the latter category.

I’ve been self-doctoring my right calf for the past month.  I repulled my calf muscle while running on soft gravel.  That run was the first in a string of rough runs.  It is so hard to rest when you should be at the peak of training.  But  I finally decided I would rather run Grandma’s slowly than not at all.  So… I rested, I iced, Brandon massaged my calf, I ran slowly on the treadmill, and I bought a calf sleeve for support.  And it seems to be working!

Maddie and I headed out for a long run this past weekend.  We both just bought new Adidas shoes.  New shoes always make a girl feel better!  We also tried out our new running jerseys that we will be wearing for the race.  Check them out on our photos.  And, finally, I had a calf that was willing to go the distance.  It was a well-deserved good run.  It was a good day!

“Let’s do laundry”. These are the code words that Teresa Stevermer, my good friend who’s running the half marathon at Grandma’s, and I use when we want to go biking. We started this last year. It seems like every time we wanted to go biking, it would be rainy and windy. But if we said “let’s do laundry”, the weather would be nice. Apparently even the weather doesn’t like laundry.

Even though we live only ½ a mile from each other and our kids are in activities together, biking allows us to catch up with what’s happening in each other’s lives. It’s also a chance to vent our frustrations and channel that energy towards something positive, exercise.

Yesterday we biked around Mankato. We started in Rapidan on the Red Jacket trail and ended up north of Mankato on the Sakatah trail. These are really nice trails and we discovered a new park only a few blocks from where I work. The river and buildings have different perspective when you’re biking right next to them and not on the street in your car.

On the way back, after we’d done about 24-25 miles, we decided to take a trail that led to Minneopa Park. I don’t think that either of us realized we’d have to bike up a big, long hill. Even though our legs were tired and we were low on energy we kept going. About half way up the hill, in a moment of weakness, I shouted out “I’m going to walk”. Teresa looked back at me and said “really?” With that I knew I couldn’t walk and slowly, but surely we made it up the hill. After a mile or so of recovery, we decided going to Minneopa may be farther than what we wanted to do, so we headed back to Rapidan. For the day, we biked 32 miles.

The second best part of “doing laundry” is lunch. We ate at the Cottage Café in Amboy. I don’t think there was a bit of food left on our plates. Teresa and I talked about how much we enjoy being involved in our kids’ activities, but we also need time for ourselves. Biking provides us some great get away time and just as important, good exercise.  

So the next time you hear Teresa and I talking about “doing laundry” it may mean more than you think. We’re already planning the next laundry day.

Many people have  considered changing what they eat to make a change in their body.  This is commonly referred to as a “diet”.  But, have you ever considered changing what you eat to maximize your mental health?  I rarely hear this subject talked about, but I know first hand the powerful impact of sugar on your brain.

Four years ago I was searching for help with my ever-increasing exhaustion, depression, and “checked-out” way in which I was living my life.  I was looking for a natural change and didn’t want to have to turn to prescription medication.  I ran across a magazine article that described sugar’s powerful influence on the brain.  Too much sugar can cause a false “high” which cannot be maintained over a long period of time.  Eventually, eating sugar no longer results in a “high”, but can start to have adverse effects such as exhaustion and depression.  

I figured I had nothing to lose and decided to cut sugar out of my diet.  Now, realize, I had been eating “a lot” of sugar.  I loved chocolate!  So, one Friday in August 2006, I went without eating any candy or sweets.  The next day I woke up throwing-up sick.  My body was addicted to sugar and going without it made me ill. 

The process of kicking the sugar habit was a long one and I felt like giving up quite often.  I would dream at night of eating cookies.  But, I started feeling mentally better almost immediately and this change kept me from falling back into my old eating habits.  The one event that just about crushed me and sent me back to chocolate was when my sister, Marci, died.  That was a time that really tested my resolve.

Giving up sugar completely may not be the answer for everyone.  But it is important to know how big of an influence too much sugar can be on your mental health.  Maintaining a balanced diet is the “key”.  Protein is such an important piece of a healthy diet, and pork is a tasty and easy option for your protein needs.  Happy eating!

Finally some sunshine, I have talked to more people who were feeling bummed about all the cloudy weather. In true Minnesota fashion, once we get warm weather, we get out and enjoy it, and in some cases overdue it.

Last Friday was Track & Field day at Adam and Beth’s school. It’s a combination of running, jumping and silly events for the kids to compete in. Adam ran his best 1600 m, with a 5:48 time. He was happy to get the school record. I on the other hand, seemed to have pulled a hamstring muscle. Who knew that squatting down 100 times to measure the long jump could cause muscle strain. Next time I stretch before I measure.

Saturday was filled with outdoor chores, mowing the lawn, trimming around the buildings and washing the car. I was able to get in a 15 mile bike ride, which felt really good.

Sunday was more lawn mowing and washing the van. Dale was able to finish planting the garden, which meant putting in green beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, beets, muskmelon and squash. Our potatoes, onions, spinach and lettuce that were planted earlier are growing nicely. That evening Dale and the boys went to see Clash of the Titans, while Beth and I stayed home. She rode bike with me as I ran 2 miles. My muscles seemed a little sore, but it was still good to run.

I treasure weekends like we just enjoyed. It’s that combination of hard work outdoors, plus relaxing and enjoying the beautiful weather that leaves you with a good kind of tired at the end of the day.

Well, the past couple weeks have been a test of my will – and not at all about running. I have had to deal with an outbreak of PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome) that has rolled through my herd. It has had a devastating affect on my farrowing production, as it causes sows to abort their litters. Losing about 75% of the litters due in the next month has meant some pretty demoralizing mornings while doing chores.

It has been difficult to remain on an even keel as I navigate this disease, but that is where my running has picked me up. I am now grateful that I logged the miles I did in Jan – mid April. I don’t count the last couple weeks in April because of planting and the required tractor time. Now, though, I can put in 40 and 50 mile weeks to satisfy the marathon training plan. These runs, which range from 6.5 miles (hard intervals) to 10 miles (today’s tempo run) to Saturday’s 20 miler all have given me an avenue to let out my frustrations and a chance to think without too many distractions. Now, I haven’t come up with too many solutions, but my attitude improves when the endorphins kick in.

I have also taken time to watch Brett and Adam compete in their track meets. Watching Adam double the 1600 and 800, with PR’s in each, was quite motivating. I am also pumped to watch Brett compete for USC/AC in today’s 3200m contest at the True Team Sections. He has earned his spot on this team, and will have to use different tactics tonight to improve on his time to boost the team score. There is a lot of focus when your event is second to last.

There are three kinds of people: those that MAKE it happen, those that LET it happen, and those that say “what happened?”  Vies

 

This last week of cool windy weather has forced me back inside on the treadmill. I don’t have the fancy, wind stopping, moisture absorbing, create your own heat type of clothes that Dale has. I also just don’t seem to have that same desire to take on the elements like he does. So cold, wet, windy weather feels just, well, ….. cold, wet and windy.

It’s amazing how boring the treadmill becomes once you’ve experienced the outdoors. I’d come to enjoy the 2- 2.5 mile runs with Dale. In addition, I’d bought a new bike this spring. This bike is lighter and more efficient which means with the same amount of energy I’m traveling farther. I’ve also noticed this new bike seems to travel better through the ever present prairie winds, which makes the ride more pleasant.

So my last three workouts have been back on the treadmill and while I can tell I’m stronger and even able to run my intervals at faster speeds, I can’t help but look down at the odometer and say “is that all the farther I’ve gone?” Two minutes outside seem much shorter than two minutes inside. Why is that?

Still, I’m grateful for the treadmill because in the past, the alternative would have been to say “it’s too windy, I guess I’ll just skip my workout today.” Then I’d feel miserable for not having done anything. Besides, if I get tired of the treadmill, I always have Wii Fit. Don’t laugh, 6 minutes of Super Hula Hoop is tougher than you think.

I arrived at work this morning frustrated.  My calf muscle has been bothering me, and I’m when I’m resting it I feel like I should be running and when I’m running I feel like I should be resting my injury.  And honestly, most people start to yawn when I talk training with them.  Especially if I go in depth about injuries.  Fortunately, my coworkers are understanding and listen attentively as I go on and on about the mundane topic of training.  My coworkers are male pigs… seriously.

I run our farm’s boarstud.  Just me and the boars.  Not another human in sight.  My path to this job was not a direct one.  In fact, I didn’t even realize I was going there, until one day it presented itself.  I got my college degree in physical education, with animals being the furthest thing from my  mind.  When our children came along, Brandon and I decided that staying home with our children was the most important job I would ever do.  And then one day Brandon came home and asked, “How would you like to run a boarstud?”

You must be joking was the first thing that came to mind.  But, he wasn’t joking.  The second thing that entered my head was “how am I going to explain what my new job is in our Christmas letter?”  With a little convincing, I said “yes”, and here I am 7 years later still doing the same job.  What do you do in a boarstud?  In short, I collect semen and put it in tubes to use to breed our sows.

It really has been a good fit for my life.  I can go to work any time of the day or night.  I can bring my kids to work with me.  I can vent at work without any worry of it getting back to someone.  And I developed a whole new respect for anyone that works with animals.  If only the boars knew more about running…

“I’m not afraid to”. Those were the words my 13 year old son Adam said to Dale, before he stepped to the line for his 800 meter race. Just a little while earlier, he had finished the 1600m run, with a personal best of 5:50. Dale had encouraged him to lay it all on the line for his race and Adam responded beautifully with a 2:40 time and first place.

If you recall my earlier blog, this is a busy track week for us. Adam has branched out by running a leg in the 4×100, 4×200 and the 800 m run. Brett ran the 1600 m with a 5:35 time and continued to improve in the 3200 m run. They aren’t winning the races, but they are improving their times, gaining confidence in their abilities.

Go back and read Monica and Maddie’s blog on May 4. Maddie started her run a bit tentative, disappointed she was missing the grand march for Prom. Yet as she ran along the trail, she met people who had the same goal she did, to run at Grandma’s. You can see how her spirits are lifted. Her excitement grows with the new circle of friends she meets, each with the same goal, to compete at Grandma’s.

It’s not about being the best. Very few of us will ever “be the best”. It’s about having the courage to challenge yourself and the discipline to succeed.

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

Mary Anne Radmacher