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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.
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
As I mentioned in my last post, I am traveling with the United South Central High School Band and Choir as they visit St Louis and Memphis. This trip has been good so far, and I give high marks to the students on this trip. Their performances have been great, and their behavior has been outstanding. Today we will visit Graceland, the Civil Rights Museum and Beale Street. Most of the kids are jazzed for today’s events (pun intended).
One of the very difficult things to do as you travel is maintaining some sort of diet and exercise regimen. It is very easy to eat healthy at home when you have total control of the foods available to you. On the road, and especially on a bus trip, food choices can become limited. The bus will stop where there are a couple fast food joints available, and choices become more difficult. One way I combat this is to eat well at the complimentary breakfast at the hotel, thus keeping fuller during the day. In fact, this morning’s breakfast included an omelet, some thin sliced ham, a bowl of raisin bran, a bowl of fruit and coffee. Now this sounds like a lot, but with the apple I stashed away, I could probably go until mid-afternoon before needing to eat. Also, I am at a stage in the training process where excess energy stored as fat can be metabolized on my long runs. This is a short term situation that will be changed Monday morning when I get home.
The training portion would be easier to accomplish on the road if I only had to be responsible for myself. Chaperone duties mean I have to be available on a moment’s notice, and the schedule is more rigid when traveling with about 80 people. So, Thursday morning I ran at 6:00am, doing 1/2 mile loops in an adjacent strip mall parking lot. Traffic picked up during the last loop, so I was glad to be done. Last night about 18 members of the track team needed a workout, so I was one of 4 chaperones that participated. It was a short tempo workout compared to what was on my schedule, but it was 1-1/2 miles at speed, so it felt good. We may have time for an easy run tonight, then tomorrows’s bus ride home will be a forced day off.
Don’t think “if”, think “how.”
Those words came from my wife Lori after she returned from a Promotion and Image Committee meeting last December. My immediate response was lukewarm because my mind was swarming with the possibilities, and responsibilities, laid in front of me. Now I am in full training mode and looking forward to June 19, 2010, when I race from Two Harbors into downtown Duluth.
I grew up on the farm south of Easton where we now live, and I am the 3rd generation of Stevermers to live and raise pigs here. My operation consists of 150 sows farrow to finish, with about half of the production sold as Compart Premium Duroc Pork. I also raise corn and soybeans on 450 acres.
As the days roll by to this marathon, I want to keep you informed of my progress. I will post some of my training accomplishments, blog some about the nutritional importance of pork in my diet, and share some insights about running in general. Other Pork Power team members will also chime in.
At this time a few pork producers have been invited to run the marathon’s associated races – the Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon and the William A. Irvin 5K. If you are a running hog farmer and would be interested in this promotion, please contact Pam at the MPB office.
If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.