Thursday, December 31, 2009

Books: A Year in Review

So close. Yet so far.

I set out with the goal to read 40 books in 2009, just like I do every year. And every year I've surpassed the goal.

Not this year.

Maybe it was deciding to start out by tackling Gone with the Wind. At 1,024 pages, that puppy took me 51 days to read. Fifty-one days. That's a lot of pages. And a long time. And seeing February end with two books read? Kind of painful. So it was a bit hard to regroup. But I tried. Yes, I tossed in some short books that I've read before. But I tried to reach that 40 book goal.

So close. Yet so far.

I finished the year with 39 books consisting of 12,594 pages. That's compared to 45 books and 15,397 pages last year. The longest book I read this year? Do you have to ask? Of course it's Gone with the Wind at 1,024 pages. The shortest? Why They Killed Big Boy and Other Stories by Michael Perry at 94 pages (yet I still managed to take three days to read it).

There were some good ones. And some not so good ones. I really liked Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer and I just finished Open by Andre Agassi, had to read about the tennis career of the man who made me fall in love with the game. The worst? This award goes to Pan, Pan, Pan! A Survivor's Story by Capt. Denis G. Murphy. Granted I was expecting much since it was thrust into my hands by an over-eager pilot at AirVenture. If you see it on a shelf, take my advice. Let it sit.

So what's the list of 2009 completed books look like?

1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
2. Testimony by Anita Shreve
3. The Reader by Bernard Schlink
4. The Broker by John Grisham
5. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
6. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
7. Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope by Don & Susie Van Ryn and Newell, Collen & Whitney Cerak
8. Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
9. The Innocent Man by John Grisham
10. The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
11. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
12. Why They Killed Big Boy and Other Stories by Michael Perry
13. The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity by William P. Young
14. Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
15. Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
16. No Limits: The Will to Succeed by Michael Phelps
17. Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty
18. Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting by Michael Perry
19: Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
20. Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan
21. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
22. Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty
23. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
24. Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty
25. Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty
26. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
27. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
28. Land of a Hundred Wonders by Lesley Kagen
29. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
30. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
31. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
32. It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong
33. Ford County by John Grisham
34. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
35. It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It by Robert Fulgham
36. Pan, Pan, Pan! A Survivor's Story by Capt. Denis G. Murphy
37. No Bed of Roses by Chris Kennedy
38. The Christmas Tree by Julie Salamon
39. Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi

What's on tap reading wise for 2010? Not sure. I've got a couple on hold at the library that I'm waiting to come in. And there are a few others that I want to read. All I know is I'm not starting 2010 out with a 1,024-page classic.

A 2009 year in review

There are just over 7 hours left in 2009.

Overall I'm OK with how the year turned out. Made some mistakes. Had some some fun. Had some utterly craptastic days. Learned some stuff. In the end it all helped me become the person that's sitting here typing this review up.

So what happened in 2009? Let's take a quick look.

January
Not a very exciting month. Maybe because it was cold. It's Wisconsin. It happens. There was my first indoor triathlon where I took home some hardware. And that whole turning 29 thing.

February
It took me a month and a half, but I finally finished reading Gone with the Wind. And it only took 1,022 pages to stumble upon the passage I was looking for. February was also the month of Furlough #1. Took a side trip to the western side of the state and headed to Milwaukee to reconnect with an old friend.

March
Second indoor triathlon. More hardware.

April
Tore through the first four seasons of The Office. Managed to get stung while riding my bike. Ran my worst 5K ever. Went on a date with a 30-something guy who seemed to only talk about what he did in college 10 years earlier. The kicker? He reminded me of Theodore from The Chipmunks and every other word he used? Awesome.

May
A baby baboon took up residence at the community zoo. The lake flies invaded the city. The mosquitoes? They were blood thirsty and almost drained my blood during a run. I conquered the cliff road at High Cliff for the first time. And I ended the month with a nice long, organized bike ride.

June
Started off the month with Furlough #2. Froze like an icicle testing out the Lake Winnebago water. The cliff road I conquered in May? It kicked my butt during the run portion of the High Cliff Triathlon.

July
Ran a couple of 5Ks. Shaved almost 17 minutes off my Trek Triathlon time. AirVenture week kicks off. I'm in heaven.

August
Strapped myself in and flew upside down with an aerobatic stunt pilot. Yes, this is what bosses paid me to do during AirVenture week. Winged it at the Oshkosh Sprint Triathlon. Hot and humid, but I survived.

September
Started off the month dancing in the aisles to O.A.R. in Madison. Then throwing in a Labor Day run with an old friend. Setting my alarm at 4:45 a.m. on Monday mornings became a habit for me as I joined a triathlon swim class at the YMCA. Wanted to run the half marathon but just wasn't ready, so I experienced it from a volunteer's point of view.

October
Still swimming. Most of my runs have moved indoors to the treadmill since I'm a wuss and it's getting colder. Log my fastest 5K of the year at my last attempt at the distance this year. Finished up the month with a Halloween visit to Camp Randall to watch my Badgers destroy Purdue.

November
Had an unfortunate hair cutting experience. Still swimming - was introduced to the time trial. Unusually warm temperatures for November. I wasn't complaining. Tried to scamper after Santa, but got tied up in traffic. No worries, I was on time for my 5-mile attempt to trot like a turkey.

December
Wisconsin starts the month off on the right foot by beating Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Makes me a happy girl. A certain boy? He doesn't make me a happy girl. Rest of the month is full of holiday madness - cookies and presents and trees and friends. There was even some time to swim and run.

That brings us to today. With just a few more hours left, 2009's getting ready to head out. It was good, but like I said, I'm OK with it going. I've heard 2010 is on its way over. And I'm kind of excited to meet it. Maybe it'll bring some good things along.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A look back at a decade

I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that in a matter of days, 2009 will be over. And it's not just the end of the year. It's the end of a decade. That's big people. At the beginning of this decade? I was in a completely different place in my life.

So when I saw Jess over at 21 Days do a decade in review, I thought that was pretty cool and it was something I wanted to do for myself. So I give you, Badgergirl's review of the decade that was the 2000s.

2000: I was a college kid. As a college sophomore, I rang in the new decade with friends on a street corner in Pasadena, Calif. We had driven cross country for a trip out to a warmer climate to watch the Badgers beat up on Stanford in the Rose Bowl. Bucky continues its good year with a Final Four appearance (miss that game with a nasty bout of mono). In the fall I become a 6-pointer at the Wisconsin State Journal, my first "real" (i.e. non-college) newspaper job.

2001: I meet The College Boyfriend. Fall in love. Watch the Twin Towers fall.

2002: I become a college graduate in May. Follow The College Boyfriend and move to Indiana in the fall. I get my first full-time newspaper job as a sports writer. The College Boyfriend cheats on me. We break up. It's a miserable year.

2003: Misery continues in the spring. I snag tickets to first round NCAA games in Indy. Start looking for a new gig back in Wisconsin. 365 days after I moved to Indiana I leave, go back to Wisconsin for a job in The 'burg. I stop writing about sports and start writing about crooks.

2004: Mid-year I decide to start a weight loss journey. I change my eating habits. Start hitting the gym.

2005: A little more than a year after I started, I'm 50 pounds lighter. I'm happy. I start flirting with running.

2006: In September I leave The 'burg, take a new job at a bigger newspaper in The City on the Water. I still write about crooks. I start my blog.

2007: I train for and run my first 5K since middle school. I catch the running bug. There was the Great Neck Slicing of 2007. And I train for and run my first half marathon. Start dating The Coach. Then The Monster invades my head.

2008: It's a year of recovering from The Monster. The Coach breaks my heart. Not a good year. But I do finish my first triathlon. And get the word from my doctor that The Monster has left my head.

2009: Spent the year regaining my fitness and losing the extra pounds the medicine I took to banish The Monster left me with. Ran a personal worst 5K early in the year, did three triathlons (shaved almost 17 minutes off my time from 2008's Danskin time!) and a bunch of 5Ks (shaved 3+ minutes off that personal worst time from earlier in the year). Rediscovered why I like running. Oh and I flew upside down with a stunt pilot.

Not a bad decade. Some rocky parts. Some smooth parts. Some happy days, some sad days. I'm kind of excited to see what the 2010s have in store for me.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

HBBC Week 5

For a holiday week, I didn't slack too much. Managed to get some good workouts in early in the week and even forced myself to run on Christmas morning. Granted the days after Christmas? Not so much motivation. I thought about running. But that's about it.

One week left in the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge. Let's see if I can make it a decent one.


Monday 12/21
Swim - 5

Tuesday 12/22
2.3 mile run - 2.3

Wednesday 12/23
5 mile run - 5
45 minutes abs/weights - 1.5

Thursday 12/24
nothing

Friday 12/25
4 mile run - 4
.25 mile walk - .25

Saturday 12/26
nothing

Sunday 12/27
1 mile walk

Total: 23.3

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Smiles courtesy of a Secret Santa

Secret Santas are fun.

Especially when Santa decides to give you a gift that does not involve pieces of coal. Which is what happened to me last year.

I signed up for a blogland version of a Secret Santa exchange that was put together by Morning Runner and was paired up with Lacey from Common Objects and Everyday Events. And Lacey? She did much better than a piece of coal.

I got home from work on Wednesday and there, sitting propped up against my door was a package. I tried to wait. Really I did. I think I managed to eat some dinner, but that package was just sitting there, starting at me. Taunting me.

So I opened it. And Lacey? She did a really good job as a Secret Santa. When we were first paired up she had sent an e-mail, telling me she was going to stalk my blog to figure out a good gift. And stalk she did.

Figured out I like to read and that I've read Wicked in the past. So she sent a copy of the third installment in the Wicked Years, A Lion Among Men. I've read the first two and a few other Gregory Maguire books, so I'm super excited to crack this one open and start reading. Just might be the first victim for 2010.

And she included some stuff to satisfy a sweet tooth - cookies, ClifBars, peanut and almond butter and chocolate. This Badgergirl's got a stash of tasty snacks for her desk.

So a huge thanks goes out to my Secret Santa Lacey! Great job on putting together the package! Hope you enjoyed yours as much I as I liked mine!

********

Did Santa forget to leave some goodies in your stocking? Head over to Suzy's blog for a sweet Hammer Nutrition giveaway!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Final swim class of 2009

Monday was the final time my alarm would jolt me awake at 4:45 a.m. for swim class in 2009. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to sleeping past 5 a.m. next Monday.

It was the last swim class of the year and it was a kind of low-key class. Warm up at our own pace. We choose how far. We had 30 minutes from the start of class until the time trial started, and while there was some warm up swimming, there was also a lot of hanging by the wall, chatting.

I think I ended up doing about 700 yards with lots of breaks before getting ready for the 900 yard time trial.

When we first did this a few weeks ago, I finished the 900 yards in 21 minutes, 40 seconds. While I haven't really been working too much on speed the last few weeks, I wanted to shave a few seconds off my time. Heck. Even shaving a second off my time would have made me a happy girl.

Since there were a total of 5 of us in class, we all got our own lane, so no worries about circle swimming or running into your lane partner.

The clock hit 6 a.m., Coach said go and we were off.

And 15 yards in to the swim I had a problem. A goggle malfunction. As in the right goggle was filling up with water. And while I guess I could have continued swimming for the remaining 885 yards with one eye squinted shut, I knew that wasn't going to be very comfortable. So I hit the wall and paused. Ripped the goggles off my head, emptied the water and put them back on. Making sure they were tight against my face this time.

And started to swim again. No water in my goggles this time.

The swim was feeling good. I tried to mix it up. A "fast" 100 yards followed by a nice easy pace. Sometimes I did the "fast" sets. Other times I forgot. Mixing up my speed isn't the only thing I forgot. Around 600 yards in, I totally lost count of where I was. And when I came to the wall I had to pause. I looked at the kick board I had set up with the pennies I was using as counters. And I thought to myself. Am I supposed to move a penny now or in another 50 yards? Looking back, I shouldn't have questioned it. It was time to move that penny. But I sat there and thought about it. Finally I moved the penny and kept swimming.

Goggle malfunction - check. Forgetting how to count - check.

The last 300 yards were uneventful. As I came off the wall for the final turn I had a quick glimpse of the clock which told me I had 20 seconds before equaling my time from the last time trial.

Knowing it would be almost impossible, I didn't give up. I pushed it. Swam as fast as I could.

And hit the final wall in 22 minutes, 2 seconds.

Ugh. 23 seconds is what stood between me and my goal of finishing the time trial 1 second faster. Made me wonder what my time would have been had I not had the goggle malfunction or forgotten how to count.

Next time there will be no goggle malfunctions. And no counting errors. Next time the numbers on the clock will tell me I swam the time trial faster. Next time. In 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

HBBC Week 4 update

Four weeks into the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge. And Week 4? It went better than Week 3.

Monday 12/14
Swim class - 5

Tuesday 12/15
4.5 mile run - 4.5
45 minutes weights/abs - 1.5

Wednesday 12/16
2 mile run - 2
7 mile bike - 2.33

Thursday-Friday 12/17-12/18
Nothing

Saturday 12/19
1 mile walk - 1 (I feel like I walked forever trying to find those perfect Christmas gifts)

Sunday 12/20
5 mile run - 5
Total points for the week: 21.33

Week 5 has gotten off to a semi-decent start. A swim and the Winter Misery virtual race. I get out of work early Wednesday, so I'm hoping to hit the YMCA for a nice long run and some ab/weight work.

********

And for those of you who like Gu, make sure you stop by Tall Mom on the Run's blog and check out the holiday-flavored Gu giveaway!

Winter Misery One Miler Virtual Race Report

I was supposed to do the Winter Misery One Miler virtual race on Monday, on the first day of winter, but a tough swim workout and a calf muscle that was acting up made me push it back a day.

Plus it was supposed to be 2 or 3 degrees warmer. And in Wisconsin in December? Those 2 or 3 degrees could make a ton of difference.

After finishing up at work tonight, I went down to my car, grabbed my bag and headed back into the office to change into running clothes. Let me tell you, heading out for an outdoor run in clothes that have been sitting in your cold car all day? Great idea.

But I did it.

The high tech weather machine from the 1970s in my office said it was 28 degrees outside with a wind chill that made it feel like 20. Hmm. A little chilly sounding, especially since I was running towards the lake. Into the wind. But I went anyway.

Threw on some running pants, a long-sleeve tech shirt with a short-sleeve technical T layered on top. Added a fleecy jacket, an ear band, my iPod and some gloves and I was set.

I decided to run right from work because it was dark and there are sidewalks, something I don't have in my neighborhood. Within the first 3 minutes of the run I got a rest break while I waited for a train and then I ran another few blocks before I waited for a gap in traffic at a super busy intersection.

And all the while I'm running on those sidewalks? I'm realizing that the people in the city I live in either A) don't know how to properly shovel a sidewalk or B) decided sidewalk shoveling is dumb and refused to do it. I swear, for half of the run I was running on packed, icy snow-covered sidewalks. And since I'm a bit of a newbie when it comes to running outdoors in the winter? This was a bit tough. I slowed down my pace to make sure I didn't step funny and twist an ankle, slip or fall.

Overall the 2.3 miles I ran were nice. I was running through one of the nicer neighborhoods and got to look at all the houses decked out in their Christmas lights. And once I was running fora few minutes, I wasn't that cold. The only part of me that was a bit chilly were my fingers, but I blame that on my gloves - I'm more of a mitten girl.

I was going to use my time from the second mile, but my first mile was actually faster - go figure, maybe it was because I was trying to move fast so I could warm up! So I finished the Winter Misery One Miler virtual race in 10 minutes, 42 seconds.

I'll take it. And I'm glad I didn't ditch the planned outdoor run and do the virtual race on the treadmill (which I considered). I enjoyed running outside at night and when the temperatures are right? I'll probably do it again.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Weekend Before Christmas

Whew.

I finally get a chance to sit down. Granted, I'm sitting down to blog, the last item on my list of things to do this weekend. It's been a busy one. Which is why you get bullet points. :)
  • I attempted to finish my Christmas shopping after work on Friday night. Not very successful. Did manage to pick up a gift for my office gift exchange.
  • Saturday it was time for the annual cutout Christmas cookie extravaganza. My mom, two aunts and I get together the weekend before Christmas and make cutout Christmas cookies. Not just a few dozen. Nope. We triple the recipe. Instead of using things like cups of shortening, the recipe See here for photographic evidence of last year's edition.
  • I was in charge of the cookie cutters this year. Actually that's usually my job. Although they did make me roll dough for awhile. Something about getting practice for when they no longer can do this.
  • It took us 3 hours to mix the ingredients, roll the cookies out, cut them and bake. We ended up with 37 dozen. And in case you're wondering, that's 444 cookies.
  • After the cookie extravaganza I headed to the mall. There was Christmas shopping that needed to be finished. And this time I was successful. I've got everyone, except my mom, done. And shopping for my brother? Yeah, that was interesting. Let's just say he's getting the gift receipt, because I'm not sure if what I picked out is what he needs or wants for this hobby he has.
  • Then it was home. Time to shower and relax. Yeah, nope. Got to shower and throw the pjs on, but then it was time to make out Christmas cards. Yeah, I'm a little behind. But they're addressed. Just waiting for stamps.
  • When I got up today, I needed a bit of non-Christmas related me time. So I headed over to the YMCA. Jumped on a treadmill and ran. At first I wasn't sure how busy the YMCA was going to be, so I set the timer for my allotted 30 minutes. When the time was up, there wasn't anyone waiting for my treadmill, so I kept running. Ended up running 5 miles in 51 minutes, 10 seconds. Felt really good.
  • Then it was time to go back home and dive into more Christmas stuff.
  • First up? Decorate my share of the 444 cutout cookies. With the TV tuned into the Packer game (seriously Green Bay? You lose to Pittsburgh on the final play of the game?) I sat down at the table and started frosting. I was done and the kitchen was cleaned up by halftime.
  • Then it was time to move onto wrapping the gifts. Done.
  • Now I need to fold a load of laundry (did I forget to mention I was doing laundry today as well? I'm a multi-tasker, what can I say?) and jump into bed to read a bit before going to sleep.
  • It's been a long day. And tomorrow? Should be interesting. It's the last swim class before the next session starts up after the new year and we've got a 900 yard time trial on the schedule. And I'm lugging my running clothes with me to work because I've got the Winter Misery One Miler virtual race penciled in on the calendar. And since there are sidewalks by work, I figured I'd pound out a short run before heading home.
  • literally calls for an entire CAN of Crisco. And flour? We need so much, and have so much practice at this, that we don't count cups. We just keep adding until the dough gets to be the right consistency.
Whew. Even though that was bullet points, that was a tiring blog post to write!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who needs a plan?

The legs were feeling a bit sore today after yesterday's run. That's what happens when I disappear from running for almost a week and a half I guess.

But I still wanted to hit the gym after work. So I planned on grabbing a bike and just riding for about 45 minutes. Armed with my iPod and a book I went to the YMCA and was floored to find that all of the bikes (well all of the bikes that I like, not a fan of the recumbent ones) were taken.

But there was a lonely treadmill. The one I used last night that had the non-functioning TV.

Like I said, I don't like the recumbent bikes. So I decided to jump on the treadmill and do a short run while waiting for a bike. I wasn't planning on going far. Maybe a mile and then doing some walking.

But when I started running? It actually felt good. And I was running at my normal early run pace (about a 10:20 mile). So my mile turned into 2 miles. And by the time I finished 20 minutes and 40 seconds later, the bike I wanted was free.

So I finished off the workout with 25 minutes on the bike and rode 7 miles.

And tonight? The troublesome treadmill TV? Worked perfectly.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No televisions were used during this run

It's been more than a week since I laced up my running shoes.

And I could tell. I jumped on the treadmill for a much needed run tonight. The legs felt like lead and it was just hard to run at first. Eventually I got into a decent groove.

But there were other problems I had to deal with other than lead-like legs.

Normally when I use the treadmill, I can stare at the TV that's attached to it. Watch the pretty pictures. Sure, I could opt to hear the sound too, but I'd rather listen to my tunes. So I just watch the images, read the stuff that's scrolling across the bottom of the screen.

Tonight the TV was malfunctioning. No picture. No sound. Just a blank screen.

So I was left with my tunes (thankfully!), the blank screen and the treadmill display screen. And of course, even though I tried to cover it up with the towel, my eyes were glued to the display screen. I watched every second and hundredth of a mile tick by. And let me tell you, those numbers were not moving quickly tonight.

I almost called it quits after 3 miles. But I kept running and finished my 4.5 miles. Was glad when I got it done, because running on a treadmill to nowhere without the pretty pictures to look at? Painful.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Swimmin' and HBBC Week 3 update

The HBBC Week 3 update will be quick. And kind of painful.

I logged a total of 5 points during the week. Between a snowstorm that spread itself over two days while dumping a foot of snow, work and a general down in the dumps kind of mood, it was hard to log some points. There were a couple of short-ish walks. And I spent some time shoveling (that counts as cardio...lifting heavy snow). But that's it.

I'm off to a better start already this week.

***********

It was the second to last week of swim class this morning. And Coach? He worked us hard. The workout was 2,200 yards. Lots of drills and sets focusing on form. And of course we had to end the hour-long class with 10x50yard sprints with 15 seconds of rest in between. Brutal. Hard. But after a 200 yard cool down? It felt so good.

Next week is our last class and we've got another 900 yard time trial planned. I'm hoping I'll be able to shave a few seconds off my time from the time trial a few weeks ago.

I've really enjoyed the class. I learned a lot and feel that I've improved as a swimmer. There's another session starting up in January that I think I'm going to sign up for (hey I'm finally getting used to the early Monday mornings, I should keep doing it) and then another triathlon training class beginning in April.

With my swim out of the way this morning, I had plans to hit the YMCA after work and sneak in a run. But a throbbing migraine (the kind where lights hurts) made me decide to skip the gym and head home. The run will get done tomorrow.

Monday, December 7, 2009

HBBC Week 2 update

Week two of the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge went a bit better than Week 1, but it still had it's challenges. Mainly, I was working a night shift this week, which normally wouldn't be an issue. But my work schedule had appointments that required me to be at work in the morning as well, sometimes for a couple of hours, leaving me a small window of time that was considered my "break." Not real conducive to working out when you're only free time is an hour or two in the middle of the afternoon and you've got other things to deal with.

Enough excuses though. Hopefully I'll be able to banish the excuses next week.

So the challenge. What'd the week look like? Take a look.

Monday 11/30
1.25 hour swim - 5

Tuesday 12/1
4.5 mile run - 4.5

Wednesday 12/2 through Friday 12/4
too much time spent at work means no bootie busting for me

Saturday 12/5
4.5 mile run - 4.5
6 mile bike - 2
30 minutes abs/weights - 1
misc. cardio (a bunch of dancing at a wedding counts, right?) - 2

Sunday 12/6
took the day off to put up the Christmas tree and give the apartment a super hardcore cleaning

Total points for the week: 19

Not amazing. Not awful. I'll take it given the week I had - and trust me, besides working nights, it was not a good week.

Saturday helped out though. After an early morning wake up call to pick up a friend at the airport, I headed over to the YMCA. I just needed to run. Clear my head. Not think. And the treadmill allowed me to do that. So I pounded out 4.5 miles on the treadmill and headed over to the bikes for a short cool down. Six miles, nice and easy. And then the weights were calling my name. So I headed over for a bit, do some weights, some ab work. It was a good morning at the gym (granted I feel the effects of the weight work today) and got me in the right mindset for my best friend from high school's wedding.

Busting a move on the dance floor totally counts as cardio, right?

Friday, December 4, 2009

November reading recap

Eleven months down and that goal of 40 books by the end of the year? I best start choosing short books if I'm going to reach it.

I did read in November. Finished off four books for a total of 1,000 pages (that's freakishly even). That brings the yearly total to 33 books and 10,931 pages. Which means I've got to finish seven books in the month of December. Hmmm. Holidays. Not many days of vacation. Holiday preparations. Lots of work. Might be tough, but I'll try. And for the record, at the end of November in 2008? The numbers were 41 books and 14,437 pages. Yeah, I'm a bit behind.

But remember, I read in November. Take a look:

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong
Ford Country by John Grisham

So yeah, half of the finished titles were actually re-reads, ones I've read before. But they were good ones. I love Armstrong's story. Very inspiring. And it fit well with it being Thanksgiving time I thought.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

When you say Wisconsin...

I interrupt the talk about running, biking and swimming for a moment.

Because my Badgers? They made me a very, very happy girl last night when they knocked off unbeaten Duke during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Such a good game. Bo and the boys never trailed. Duke made it a nail biter at the end, but when the Blue Devils threw away that inbounds pass with seconds left? Oh so sweet.

And while it was on their home court, at the Kohl Center with thousands of rabid Badger fans cheering them on, so many people weren't giving Wisconsin a chance. But that Badger win? Not only was it the first time Duke's lost in the history of the challenge, they're now 10-1, it also helped give the Big Ten it's first Big Ten/ACC Challenge title.

After knocking off Duke last night and Maryland, who was ranked when the Badgers beat them last week in Maui, people should start giving the Badgers a bit of credit.

Needless to say I was a very, very happy Badgergirl last night.
Photo credit: Associated Press photo

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Not complaining about this December weather

Did I really just flip the calendar over to December today? Because bright sun and temperatures in the mid-40s have me a little confused.

Not that I'm complaining.

Today's original plan was to swing by my office and get stabbed in the arm with my seasonal flu shot and then head over to the YMCA. I rolled out of bed, threw on some gym appropriate clothes, grabbed my gym bag and headed out the door.

The nurse stabbed me with a needle and told me in two weeks (knock on wood) the vaccine should take hold and hopefully I won't have to worry about the seasonal flu. That makes me happy, since I don't function well when I'm sick.

I left the office and was about to head over to the gym when I paused. It was so nice outside. A nice late fall day. This kind of weather? I'm not used to it in December. And with the weatherman predicting snow and cold temperatures for later this week, I'm not sure how many more of these days I'll get.

At that moment, I changed my mind and decided to head back to my apartment and run outside.

Dressed in my running pants, a long-sleeved technical T with a second long-sleeved T layered over the top, I set out. At first my hands were a bit cold, so I was glad I had grabbed my gloves. I wasn't sure how far I was going to run, but I ended up choosing the 3.25-mile route near my apartment.

It's the first time I ran since the Turkey Trot last week and once I got the bit of stiffness out of my legs, the run felt good. So good I decided to add on the extra loop and go for the 4.5-mile run. Like I said the weather was gorgeous for December and being able to run outdoors in the sunlight was relaxing, even if there were huge trucks passing me on one stretch of road.

I probably could have opted for a short-sleeved T instead of the second long-sleeved one and my hands eventually got warm, meaning my gloves came off and turned into something I had to hold. Overall, it was a good run. I'm not sure what Mother Nature has in store for me tomorrow, but if it's half as nice as it was today, I might head outdoors again.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Introducing the time trial

Twelve weeks in and being jolted awake by a squawking alarm clock at 4:45 hasn't gotten any easier. A little less jarring, but not any easier.

Today was swim class number 12 and what did The Coach have in store for us? A time trial. But not right off the bat. First there was a warm up swim and then some kicking work. Throw in some breathing and a couple of all out sprints and we were quickly up to 900 yards.

Then it was time to rest. And grab a drink of water. And prepare ourselves for the 900 yard time trial, just over a half mile.

We lined up, two swimmers to a lane and got ready to swim.

Honestly, I haven't been doing a lot of long, extended swims lately. I think my max has been somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 yards during swim class and even that has included a few short rest breaks. Honestly I think the last time I did a straight half-mile swim was in July at the Trek Women's Triathlon.

But today I just wanted to swim continuously. No breaks. Just swim one length of the pool, hit the wall and turn around. Repeat for 36 lengths.

The clock hit zero and we were off. Knowing I had 900 yards in front of me, I didn't want to take off too quickly. I set out at a nice comfortable pace. Was swimming stroke for stroke with the girl in the lane with me. After a couple of lengths, she paused. I kept swimming. I wasn't really keeping track of time, but I did manage to glance at the clock when I hit 450 yards - 10 minutes, 35 seconds. Not too bad. About what I was expecting.

I kept swimming. And I could tell I was starting to get a little tired in the last 200 yards or so and really would have loved to take a break. But I didn't. I refused to stop. And even managed a bit of a "sprint" over the last 25 yards.

I ended up hitting the wall in 21 minutes, 40 seconds.

Not the fastest - that belonged to the girl who clocked 17 minutes flat - but not the slowest either. In fact, I came in before three other girls. One was the girl swimming next to me, but the other two? Completely took me by surprise.

As I was walking off the pool deck on my way to the hot tub (hey, I earned it), I was talking to The Coach. He asked me how I felt the time trial went. I told him not bad it was about what I was expected. He asked me if I thought I could have pushed myself harder. Probably. And he said that's the next step. To push a little bit harder, swim a little bit faster and make it all a little bit more painful.

Because a little bit of pain is good. Makes you know you're working hard.

Guess that means the next few weeks in the pool will be a bit painful. Because I want to shave some seconds off of that time. And time trial number 2? It's already been scheduled for Dec. 21.

Bring it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

HBBC Week 1 recap

Week one of the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge is done.

And I'm hoping the rest of the weeks get better. Because this week? It featured a couple of zeros! Ooops. I could blame it on the holidays, but I don't think that excuse would fly for all the zeros I tallied. And I guess I could blame it on the weather, but that's no excuse when I've got a YMCA membership.

So no excuses. I just threw in some zeros and had a sub par week.

Oh well. It can only get better, right?

Take a look at Week One:

Monday 11/23
Swim 1.25 hours - 5

Tuesday 11/24
2 mile walk - 2

Wednesday 11/25
nothing

Thursday 11/26
5 mile run - 5

Friday 11/27
nothing

Saturday 11/28
nothing - I'm sensing a trend here

Sunday 11/29
1 mile walk - 1

Total: 13 points

Eh. Not awful. Not wonderful either. This week it'll get better. I hope.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Festival Foods 5-mile Turkey Trot

I got a text message this morning around 6 a.m.

"Good luck and stay dry. 39 and lots of rain."

Ugh, not exactly the most ideal conditions for a turkey trot, but I'd deal with that when the trot started 2 and a half hours later. I went back to sleep, hoping the weather would get nicer.

Alarm goes off, I get ready. Throw on my black running pants, a long-sleeve tech shirt and layer another shirt over the top. Look out the window and I can still see raindrops falling in the huge puddle that's formed in my parking lot. I grab my gloves, ear band and coat and head out.

The plan was to run the 5-mile Festival Foods Turkey Trot this morning. And honestly? The entire time I was driving over to the race site, I was trying to convince myself it was in my best interest to forgo the 5-mile run and opt for the shorter 2-mile version. Ultimately I couldn't talk myself out of the 5-mile run.

I got to the site, grabbed my T-shirt, pumpkin pie (which I later donated to my family's Thanksgiving feast since I don't like pumpkin pie) and race bib. I then met up with Jess and her hubby Scott, who were both running the 2-mile run, and we waited for the start.

And while we waited? We tried to keep moving, but we still got cold.

Finally it was time to run.

The first mile was a bit crowded as the 5- and 2-mile runners were all running together before the split. But it wasn't an uncomfortable crowded. After the 2-milers split, the runners stretched out a bunch and I settled into a nice, comfortable pace. Just me, my running shoes and some tunes out for an early Thanksgiving run.

There were no mile markers on the route, so splits? Not gonna happen. We ran through a neighborhood along the river, over the bridge and through the college campus before hitting up the lone water stop about 2.5 miles in. I glanced down at my watch at this point and had just clocked 25 minutes. Not bad. About the pace I've been averaging lately.

But the second half of the race? I had to deal with Mother Nature, who decided it wasn't going to be a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot without a bunch of steady winds (although thankfully the rain held off). Wind that we spent the entire second half of the race running directly into.

Needless to say I think that slowed me down a bit.

Even so I think I kept up a pretty steady pace for the first four miles. But I could definitely tell I haven't done a lot of 5-mile runs lately, because that last mile? Brutal. I definitely slowed down. When I made the final turn and the finish line was in sight, I still had enough of a kick to put together a decent sprint to the finish line and (finally) passed this group of three women I had been running behind the entire second half of the race.

Official time? 54 minutes, 55 seconds. Would have liked to see it closer to 50 minutes, but given the wind and the cold, I'll take it.

After I was done, I grabbed a drink and headed back home to take a short nap before heading out to my family's Thanksgiving feast.

Hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Catching up and looking ahead

It was a busy week. And while some workouts got tossed out the window, overall it was a good week.

Got some time in at the pool on Monday and followed that up with 4.5 miles on the treadmill on Tuesday. Then I managed to avoid workouts for the next three days. There were a few dinners with friends, an early morning jaunt to drop a friend off at the airport and trip to The 'burg to see "New Moon" with an old friend. So not very workout-friendly, but I managed.

So by the time Saturday rolled around and it was mid-50s and sunny, I couldn't avoid it any longer. My running shoes were calling my name. I laced them up and headed out. I wasn't sure how far I was going to go, I was thinking maybe 3 miles. But I got to the turn around point and the next chunk of road was just calling my name. So instead of turning around, I kept going straight. By this point it was starting to get dusky, passing cars had their headlights on and the sunglasses I was wearing? Not really necessary. It was peaceful though. And enjoyable to run in. The run ended up being 4.5 miles. It felt good. I kept a nice steady pace and finished it off in about 45 minutes.

I should have ran today, but I didn't. Instead there was a trip to Scheel's to replace my malfunctioning, broken goggles before swim class tomorrow and a visit with my parents. And there was football to watch.

So I considered today a rest day.

And I might need it.

Tomorrow kicks off the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge, a challenge put together by Amanda over at Run to the Finish. I'll start off the challenge with a swim session in the morning and might even sneak in a run after work. And Tuesday I'll be scampering after Santa in the Santa Scamper, a one-mile run before the Appleton Christmas Parade. And let's not forget about the 5-mile Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning and a possible season-ending 5K on Sunday.

Should be a good week.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Runs, swims and bullet points

It feels like a bullet point kind of day.

So bullet points you get.
  • Had to burn vacation time at work, so I just enjoyed a four-day weekend full of gorgeous weather. There was apartment cleaning and a 4-mile run on Thursday and shopping, dinner and catch-up time with friends on Friday.
  • Saturday means college football. So I listened to the Badgers beat up Michigan and then snuck in a 3-miler before it got dark or decided to start raining. Run went OK, but legs felt a little dead.
  • More football on Sunday, the NFL variety.
  • Today it was not only back to work, but back to the pool. After missing last week's swim class, 5 a.m. came really early. And it sounds crazy, but I could totally tell I took a week off of swimming. Legs just weren't feeling it. Luckily it was mostly drills today. Not so lucky? Those drills all focused on the arms, which means my legs were doing the brunt of the work. Dead legs post swim mean no run today.
  • Had a bit of an equipment malfunction midway through swim class. Goggles? Busted. Mental note: Make trip to store to get new goggles before next week.
  • The rest of the week looks a little crazy with post-work plans. Right now the plan is to hit the YMCA for a run Tuesday after work and force myself to get up early Wednesday for a run. Will take Thursday off, but might have to do the early morning thing again on Friday. I could just opt out of a run, but I've been in a groove lately, don't want to mess it up.
And that's all I've got. Next time hopefully I won't have to resort to bullet points.

Friday, November 13, 2009

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Treadmill thoughts

Another night. Another run on the treadmill.

After work was done, I headed over to the YMCA for a quick run. Snuck in 3.5 miles in just over 35 minutes before some plans I had this evening. Took the first two miles relatively easy, pushed it during the third mile and really pushed it hard during the last half mile. Felt really good.

But while I was running, obviously during the beginning of the run when I didn't need to concentrate on not falling off the treadmill too much, I was thinking. I need to find a solution to night time running since it gets dark at 4:30 p.m. now - I kid you not. I'm not allowed to leave my office for the evening until it's pitch black outside.

I really can't run at my apartment since I live on a pretty busy street/highway with no sidewalks. And since the speed limit is 45 mph, that means the cars (including me at times) routinely drive 55 mph or more down this road. Don't really want to get hit by one of those cars.

But on these days when it's still relatively nice outside - mid-40s to mid-50s, it's painful to leave the office and go coop myself up in the gym on a treadmill. Maybe I should just start bringing my running clothes to work, change at the office and get the run in before heading home. At least there's sidewalks. And street lights.

Hmmm. The things I think about on the treadmill.

********

You'll notice there's no swim class update this week. That's because I was a bad kid. I skipped my 5 a.m. wake up call yesterday. But I have an excuse. Really. I do. I tried to go to bed at a normal time Sunday night, but for some reason I couldn't fall asleep. And the last time I looked, I was still staring at the ceiling at 1 a.m., thinking to myself, "My alarm's going to go off in 4 hours and I haven't slept a wink yet."

Folks, I can't function on 4 hours of sleep. It's not pretty.

Therefore, I skipped class.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I felt like I was flying

Seriously. This weather? Loving it.

Today was another mid-November outdoor run that I wore a T-shirt and shorts for. Yes, it was a bit chilly at the start, but by the end? I was warm.

After yesterday, I had planned on just doing a short 2-mile run this afternoon after watching the Packers utterly fail against Tampa Bay. Plans changed though.

I started my run, finished the first mile around 9:45. Not surprising. I tend to go out fast. But I didn't feel winded. The run was actually feeling good. I expected to start to feel it in the second half of the run. So I kept running. And I was still feeling strong.

I made it back to the road by my apartment, just shy of 2 miles, and glanced down at my watch. 18 minutes, 16 seconds. Huh? Speedy. And I still felt really good. So instead of taking a right towards home I kept going straight. Tacked on another mile and would have considered more, but it was starting to get dusky out.

Finished up the 3 miles in 29 minutes, 39 seconds. I was flying. And I felt good.

Maybe the treadmill work I've been doing the past couple of weeks is starting to do some good. That or the wings I've now got due to the unfortunate haircut are making me speedy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Is it still mid-November?

I'm confused. I went for a run this afternoon. I wore shorts and a T-shirt. And I was actually a bit warm.

Is it still almost mid-November and am I still in Wisconsin? Because last I checked it's not supposed to be 70 and sunny at this time of year. But today? It was.

Not that I'm complaining.

I loved every step of the 4 miles I ran this afternoon. I didn't worry about pace, I just wanted to go out, run and enjoy the gorgeous fall afternoon. And I did.

The run felt good. I think I might have taken the first mile a little fast, around 10 minutes, but the weird thing? It didn't feel fast, it felt easy. So I kept running. Mile 2 was a little more difficult, but I think that's because I was running into a slight breeze. The last two miles? Felt wonderful.

I would have considered tacking on an extra mile, but I wanted to save my legs a bit so I can do it all over again tomorrow - it's supposed to a littler cooler, but still super nice outside. Gotta take advantage of it while I can.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I will not be going back to Jenna #2

Sometimes I wonder if haircuts are really necessary. Because they're kind of a pain to deal with.

Last night I caved and went to get my hair cut. It was my first one since spring and my ends were looking a little scraggly. I can always tell when I need to chop it when I wear it pulled back into a ponytail all week at work. And on those rare days when I do wear it down? It gets pulled back by lunchtime.

This was one of those times.

So I went to get it chopped. I sat down in the chair and told Jenna #2, the girl who would be doing the cutting, that I just wanted a couple inches off the ends and a few longer layers around my face. And I have to be able to pull it back in a ponytail. She nods her head. I take that as a sign she understands what I want.

She shampoos. And conditions. And starts cutting. A first no problems. Then she gets to the area around my face. Hmmm, I think to myself, that looks like an awfully long chunk she just cut off. She keeps cutting. Soon she says, time to style. OK. Blow dryer, round brush. A little bit of that ratting and then she's done.

She spins me around in the chair to face the mirror, what do you think?

Gulp.

Poofy. I don't do poof. Especially not poof that is more poofy on one side of my head than the other. And those long layers I asked for? I essentially have long bangs. On one side of my head only! We're talking "layers" that come up to my cheek bones. Not exactly what I had in mind.

Umm, it's great. I fake a smile. Get out of the chair, pay and leave.

And almost cry in my car. I hate it. As I drove home I thought, maybe it won't be so bad in the morning, when I can style it myself. My way.

And it wasn't. I made it look normal this morning. Sans poof. And those "long layers" are just long enough to tuck behind my ear, although they do fall in front of my eyes every so often. So I think I'll learn to live with the hair cut.

But those layers? Let me tell you. They are going to be a pain when it comes to the gym. I'm a ponytail and headband kind of girl. And those long layers that are only on one side of my head? They were flopping all around tonight when I was running. Probably made me look like I had wings on one side of my head. So I think I might have to add a barrette to the arsenal of hair accessories I use when running.

Those of you with shorter layers around your face or longer bangs, any suggestions?

Even with my wings, the run went really well tonight. Four miles done. Wings and all.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Swim class No. 8

Speedy and swimmer are two words that aren't ever used to describe me.

A slow, steady swimmer. Yes. A speedy swimmer? Not so much. But today? Today I felt speedy in the pool.

Swim class started off with our warm up and some work with a pull buoy. Then we did a little work on open turns (Coach said flip turns are in the near future...that scares me). After that, it was time to work on pacing.

Coach has talked to us a lot about pacing, how swimmers take a different approach in terms of speed depending on the distance that needs to be swam. A short distance? The swimmer goes all out from the get go. A longer distance, like a sprint tri? The swimmer still swims hard, but at a pace they can maintain for the distance they need to cover.

So we started with 4x75. We were supposed to swim the first 25 at an easy pace, gradually get faster over the second 25 and be at an all out sprint during the final 25. When I was done with the 75? I felt like I was working, but it felt good.

We moved on to intervals then, but first Coach did some moving around. There were four speedy swimmers. They were in the two outermost lanes. And then there were the four not so speedy swimmers. That's where I was hanging out. And I was OK with that. Remember, speedy and swimmer are two words that don't go together when you're talking about me.

So we were doing 50s at an easy pace. And since there were only two swimmers in a lane, we were all starting at once and it felt very race like. We swam. I finished my first 50 in 60 seconds, the second in 61 seconds and the final 50 in 59 seconds - an average of 60 seconds. And all four of us slower folks were finishing at about the same time.

We had a minute or two to rest and then it was time for the fast intervals. The second hand on the clock hit the 12 and I got a good push off. I swam hard. Pushed myself. And whenever I took a breath, I saw that I was pulling ahead of the other girls. Hmmm. Maybe I'm just lucky, I thought. I hit the turn around and pushed it the final 25. Finished up the 50 in 55 seconds. Nice. The other girls finished about 4 seconds behind me.

I was breathing hard. But it felt good. I had just enough time to catch my breath and we were off for round two. Same thing happened. About halfway down the first length of the pool I noticed I was pulling away. I kept swimming. Kept pushing myself. Finished the second at 57 seconds. Still breathing hard, but still felt good. The other girls said their easy was obviously their fast. Not me.

Third time. Really pushed it. Swam hard. Came in at 56 seconds for an average of 56 seconds. Not bad. The other girls all had averages of 60 seconds, same as their easy. Me? I shaved 4 seconds off. I was the speedy swimmer in the slow kids group. And I liked it. And I think the Coach noticed. Today I got the feeling the early mornings are starting to pay off.

As a reward for being the speedy swimmer in the slow kids group I ditched the planned run and spent some time in the hot tub. I deserved it. The run can wait until tomorrow. Because today? I was a speedy swimmer.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

October reading recap

I ran in October. I also read. Two things I enjoy but admittedly haven't been doing enough of lately.

I finished four books in October and 1,103 pages. That brings the yearly total to 29 books and 9,931 pages. That compares to 35 books and 12,687 pages at this time last year. A little bit behind. But like I said, it doesn't seem like I've been reading as much this year as I have in the past. The goal of 40 books for the year still might be doable, but I'm going to have to up the reading time. Or choose shorter books.

Anyway. So what'd I finish in October? Have a look:

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Land of a Hundred Wonders by Lesley Kagen
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

I don't think I normally would have picked up the Michael Pollan book, but the University of Wisconsin was holding a common reading club (think book club for 40,000-plus university students, staff and alumni) and this was the choice. It was OK. Will it change the way I eat? Maybe. But will I decide what I eat based solely on what I read? Not likely.

Into Thin Air was my favorite choice this month. It had been sitting on my shelf for almost two years, patiently waiting to be read. It's about the most deadly season on Mt. Everest. A season where 12 climbers died. A writer myself, I really liked Krakauer's writing style and and eager to read more of his stuff, including Into the Wild and Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman.

And Tuesdays with Morrie? It's a repeat. I've read it before. But liked it a lot. And Morrie? He's got a lot of lessons to pass on. Good read.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A late recap of Swim Class No. 7

It's hard to believe I'm halfway done with my swim class. Only seven more to go. Time flies.

This week it could be summed up in one word. Arms.

There were single-arm drills, high elbow delays, a 3/4 catchup and a moderate swim where we didn't do much kicking.

But the killer?

The set featuring 4x200 with the pull buoy. Let me tell you, 800 yards of swimming only relying on your arms? Killer. My arms were feeling it after the first 200 yards. But I swam it. And wasn't the last person to finish. Almost last. But not last.

And after all that fun was done? Let's not forget about the 6x25 sprints as fast as you can possibly god. Yeah, because I've got a lot of gas left in the tank. But I did it.

And I earned that bagel coach brought us for after our workout was done.

Trick or Treat

Friday, October 30, 2009

A good way to end the week

Two days left in the month. But realistically, only one day that I would be able to sneak in a run.

And I was 5 miles short of reaching my DailyMile challenge goal of 40 miles in October.

So after work tonight I headed over to the YMCA. I wanted to sneak in the run outside since it was in the 60s, but it was super windy and almost dark by the time I left the office. So indoors and the treadmill it was going to be.

I snagged a treadmill - amazing, there were about 3 people including myself in the cardio room, must have been the whole 5:45 on a Friday night thing - and started running. I had that magic number 5 dangling in front of me, but I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make it. Earlier this week I had this nagging ache in my groin area, but tonight it wasn't there. So my thoughts were, 3 for sure, 4 probable and 5 just might be doable.

I ran.

I kept a steady pace at first. Knocked out the first mile in 11 minutes flat and notched up the speed a bit for miles 2 (10:26) and 3 (10:19). I was still essentially alone at the YMCA and still feeling good, so I notched up the speed some more and kept running. I hit mile 4 at 9:59. There was still about 2 minutes, 30 seconds left on the timer for the treadmill, so I pushed it. I think I was at a 6.5 mph speed. But you know what? It felt like a good sprint. A comfortable sprint. A sprint like I pulled out at the end of the Freaky 5K last weekend.

When the timer flipped to 45 minutes, I had gone 4.35 miles. But I still felt good. And all that was standing between me and my first 5-mile run since 2007 was a lousy 0.65 of a mile.

I hit reset. Started running again. Still kept it at a decent pace. Finished the last mile in 9:29 and the entire run in 51:03.

And when I was done? I felt good. Not like I was going to die (which is what I was worried about). But good and glad that I logged the miles.

Granted 3 hours later my legs are starting to feel a little achy and I'm a tiny bit worried what they're going to feel like in the morning - you wouldn't want super sore legs either if you had to navigate football stadium stairs like I'll be doing at Camp Randall when the Badgers take on Purdue tomorrow. But I'm happy I did it.

And while I completed the 40 miles in October challenge over at DailyMile, I technically only ran 35.7 miles in October. For some reason the kind folks at DailyMile decided to count the 4.3 miles I logged on Sept. 30 in my October challenge totals. I'm not arguing though.

But 35.7 miles. That's by far my best month so far this year. Makes me happy that I think I've found that running bug again. And tonight's run? Made me realize that I can sign up for the 5-mile Turkey Trot instead of the 2-mile option and not be worried about finishing.

I'd say it was a good Friday.
*******
Time is running out, but swing by Tall Mom on the Run. She's got this amazing Brooks for Her Giveaway. If you like pink, this stuff's for you and it supports a good cause.

Brooks created the Brooks for Her (BFH) collection to help support the fight against breast cancer. For each BFH piece purchased from March through December 2009, Brooks will donate 6.25% of the suggested retail price to three organizations that research and support those affected by breast cancer: The Young Survival Coalition, Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, earmarked for breast cancer research. Learn more about the three selected charities, how BFH works and see the Brooks For Her collection.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

YMCA Freaky 5K Race Report

Eleven seconds.

We're talking about the time it took me to walk through the water stop in an attempt not to spill a glassful of water all over myself on a chilly day. Or the extra seconds I took to get up the hill without killing myself on the wet, leave covered street.

Eleven seconds is what stands between me and a sub-34 minute 5K after yesterday's YMCA Freaky 5K.

After it poured all day on Friday and was super windy, I was not looking forward to my 6:30 a.m. wake up call Saturday morning. I was almost scared to turn on the Weather Channel or peak out the windows. It was going to be chilly.

And it was. When I left my parents' house to drive over to the race site, the Weather Channel told me it was 37 degrees outside and windy. Great. Maybe the coldness will make me run faster, I thought.

I got to the park, got my race packet and headed back to my car. Because it would have been cute to watch the little kids run in their costumes, it was too cold to stand around for 45 minutes. So I went back to the car, pinned my number on my T-shirt, decided on the ear warmer over the stocking hat and tried to stay warm.

It worked. Kind of.

It was finally time to line up for the start. I walked over, dodged the puddles left over from the rain the day before and waited. My mom had come with me, so the plan was I'd keep my jacket on until just before the horn sounded in an attempt to stay a bit warmer. I was wearing my running pants, a long-sleeve tech shirt and a T-shirt layered over the top along with my ear warmer and gloves. I was cold just standing there, but I was pretty sure I'd be warm enough once I started running.

The gun sounded and I was off.

The course immediately started with a downhill towards the river. Still a little crowded so I didn't go super fast. Ran along the river for a bit and then the uphill climb was staring me in the face. An uphill climb covered with wet slippery leaves, which weren't too bad at the beginning but really stunk near the top of the climb. I took them a bit slow, just crossing my fingers I wouldn't slip and do a face plant into the cement.

I didn't. Made it to the top of the hill and kept running. Passed the first mile marker in 10 minutes, 49 seconds. Not bad I thought.

I kept running. Somewhere around 1.5 miles, this little black dog wearing a pumpkin sweater passes me. He was on a leash, but it was one of those retractable leashes, so the owner was behind me. And that little dog? He didn't like to run in a straight line and wanted to go visit the guy running next to me. And he didn't care that as he moved towards the other runner he nearly tripped me with his leash. Not happy. I gave the dog owner a nasty glare as she ran past me. Next year? Leave your dog at home.

I slowed down to a fast walk when I went through the water station. Didn't want to spill cold water on my already cold self. Drank, tossed the cup and started running again. Hit the second mile marker in 11:13.

Last mile was uneventful. My fingers and toes were starting to get a little cold, but that was the extent of my uncomfortableness. Passed the third mile marker in 11:06, rounded one last corner and the finish line was in sight. I kicked it into a new gear and sprinted towards the finish.

I was hoping to break the 34 minute mark, but realized the hills and weather might play a factor, so I wasn't getting overly optimistic. Finished in 34 minutes, 11 seconds. Another new PR for me this season, but that still leaves me struggling to break 34 minutes.

Since April, when I logged my slowest, stand alone 5K ever, I've managed to whittle away the seconds. Take a look at my 5K times this year:

Oshkosh 5K (April 18) - 37:05
Fox Firecracker 5K (July 4) - 35:36
Scheel's Sunset 5K (July17) - 35:03
Run for the Paws (Sept. 7) - 34:14
YMCA Freaky 5K ( Oct. 24) - 34:11

So yes, I'm glad I've shaved almost three minutes off my time so far this year. But still, I'd love to get past that 34 minute mark. So I think I'm adding an additional 5K on Thanksgiving weekend...my last shot at breaking 34 minutes this year.

Be afraid 34 minutes. Be very afraid.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Running away from the work week

I kind of hinted at it yesterday, but it's been a very, very long week at work.

Laptop in hand, I temporarily moved my office into the courthouse this week for a couple of big court cases. Unfortunately that meant long days spent on really uncomfortable courtroom benches. And those long days meant I was usually drained by the time they were over, meaning I had no energy to make it out for a run.

Grr.

But today the courthouse madness came to an end and my three-day weekend began. And even though it was another long day, I dragged myself over to the YMCA after work (it was raining out) to get in a run. I needed it that bad.

I stepped on the treadmill not really knowing how far I was going to go. Or how far I'd be able to given the fact I barely ate all day and my last run was a week ago. But I put one foot in front of the other and started running. The first half mile? It was hard. But I kept plugging away. I did what I've been doing the last few weeks, playing around with the speed, gradually getting faster. The first mile passed. I kept going. Mile 2. Then I was at Mile 3. Was starting to get a bit tired, but I felt OK. So I kept going and at this point was running a sub-10 minute mile.

Finished up with 4 miles and it felt good. Nice way to get the legs moving a little bit, especially since I've got the YMCA Freaky 5K on Saturday morning (with the weatherman saying there's a chance of snow/rain). I think the race gets its name from the hills I'll be running. They'll freak me out a bit since the city I live in is as flat as a pancake!

And tonight I started mulling a race possibility at the end of March that would require travel. Hmmm. Never to early to start thinking about 2010.

*******

And it's getting cold outside so check out Tall Mom on the Run for a sweet giveaway!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Running failure

My plan to run tonight after work? Big fail. But blame it on a jury needing to take 5 hours to come to a verdict in a homicide case.

Although if I had known it was going to take them 5 hours, I would have snuck the run in anyways - because my gym bag was sitting packed in the backseat of my car. Instead I sat. And waited. Run fail.

Tomorrow it will get done. Because after the week I've had? I need it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Swim class No. 6

They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning,
No-one you see, is smarter than he,
And we know Flipper lives in a world full of wonder,
Lying there under, under the sea!

OK, so maybe I'm nowhere near the 1960s TV show dolphin, but I sure felt like it for a moment this morning. Or at least enough to make the theme song to the TV show Flipper run through my head. All. Day.

I went to swim class this morning, 15 minutes earlier than usual. Yes, 15 minutes isn't much. But when we're talking about jumping in the pool at 5:15 a.m., that's a lot of extra minutes I could have spent sleeping.

So I jumped in, did my 200 yard warm up. As I put on my pair of fins I looked at the workout sheet:

6x25 w/ fins - dolphin kick under water


Huh? I'm becoming a dolphin this morning? Because I was up so early I thought I was seeing things. I called the coach over.

"What's this about the dolphin kick?"

Yup. Dolphin kicks. Efficient kick to use, especially at the beginning of a triathlon swim, he says.

I watched as he demonstrated while standing on the pool deck. Well, I thought to myself, I've already got my fins on, mind as well try out this dolphin kick and really feel like a sea creature.

So I did. And it was kind of fun and not that difficult. Granted I'm no Michael Phelps when it comes to dolphin kicking, but give me some time.

Only after I finished my 150 yards worth of dolphin kicking did the coach tell me I only had to do it until I came up to the top of the waster the first time. Then I could swim the rest of the length of the pool with a normal freestyle. Me? I'd hit the top of the water, grab some air and head back under for more kicking. I was only following what the folks in front of me were doing. Oh well. It was fun.

So if I felt like a TV star dolphin during the first part of the class, I almost felt like a beached whale during the last 500 yards of the workout when I grabbed the hand paddles and pull buoy - my first experience with either piece of equipment.

Let's just say I didn't feel like I had any control over the bottom half of my body. Towards the end of the swim, maybe the last 100 yards, I felt a little bit more in control, but I think I preferred feeling like flipper.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Running and what are these heavy things called weights?

Another cold, rainy, windy day. Another trip to the YMCA and the treadmill.

Legs felt a little heavy after yesterday's run, but I still wanted to squeeze in 2 or 3 miles. I ended up logging three miles, each mile getting faster.

Mile 1 - 10:45
Mile 2 - 10:21
Mile 3 - 9:27 - was seriously pushing the speed the last half mile or so.

Run felt good. Afterwards I headed over into the land of the weights. An area I haven't stepped foot in in over 6 months. Gulp. But I need to get used to it. So I did some strength exercises and stretches. Some crunches. And then ended my visit to the YMCA with a quick 4-mile cool down on the bike.

Overall, not a bad night. I think I'm going to give myself the day off on Friday. I think I've earned it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I felt kind of speedy

Haven't had time to sneak in a run all week, but I made a point to head over to the YMCA tonight after work.

Walking from the locker room to the treadmill, I was only planning on pounding out 3 miles. But I got upstairs and there was a treadmill sitting there unused. And it one of the ones that was in a time slot that was already in progress. So I could sign up for the next slot, hop on right away and it would be all mine for 45 minutes.

I uncapped that dry erase marker and penciled in my name.

So my planned 3 miles turned into 4.35 miles. I'm sensing a habit forming. Hmm.

Anyway. I started out slow and gradually worked my way up to a nice pace that I felt comfortable at. And tonight? I even managed to use the splits on my watch. So instead of generalities, I've got numbers for you guys! Aren't you excited?

Mile 1 - Finished in 10:51. Took it nice and slow, included the one minute walking warm up while I untangled my iPod headphones.
Mile 2 - Finished in 10:26. Notched up the speed a little bit. Still felt comfortable.
Mile 3 - Finished in 10:12. Faster yet. Still comfortable.
Mile 4.35 - Yes, unable to hit the split button on my watch at the 4-mile mark. Deal with it. :) Anyway finished the last 1.35 miles in 13:33. I think I had the speed set at 5.9mph until I hit the 3.5 mark, then I upped it to 6mph and upped it again when I hit the 3.75. Did a nice sprint for the next quarter mile, hitting a high of 6.5mph. Hard. But felt good. Finished with a nice cool down for the last 3 minutes and change.

Overall, the run felt good. One of these days I'm going to either have to bundle up and brave the cold temps (seriously it's been like 42 degrees out for the last two weeks) or snag a treadmill for an entire hour. Because I think it's time to try out that 5-mile run pretty soon. And honestly, I'd rather do it outdoors. Maybe this weekend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Swim Class No. 5

My fifth swim class meant my first session where I did the entire workout that the coach sent out.

The past few weeks I've been doing about half of the workout before the class breaks into two groups - one finishing up the workout and the rest of us who wanted to work on breathing stuff. But yesterday? All workout.

We started out with a nice, easy warm up and then dove right into the drills. During one drill - side swimming, taking three strokes and switching to our other side, it helps with bilateral breathing - I came into the wall and was waiting for the person in front of me to go and Coach Greg (yes, it took me four weeks but I finally remember his name) came up to me, told me it looked good and I should have demonstrated for the group. Umm, thanks. I guess that means what he's been teaching me the last four weeks has caught on.

Anyway, did some more drills and ditched the fins with 800 yards to go. 800 yards that alternated between an easy swim and a fast swim. I pushed myself. I didn't feel super fast, but I felt like there was a difference between my "easy" and my "fast."

I finished the workout off with a trip to the hot tub. Because when the coach orders a 5-minute trip to the hot tub, you don't skip that vital piece. And yes, he really had it included on the workout sheet.

But the hot tub was good. I got to sit in with some other folks in my group who I haven't gotten a chance to really talk to before. We talked triathlons. Mostly Ironmans - there's some folks in my class who are signed up for 2010. Me? I'm just toying with the possibility of an Olympic.

And since I opted for the hot tub, I skipped out on the planned run after class. But I'll get one in tomorrow, especially since I just signed up for the YMCA Freaky 5K on Oct. 24 And I'll need to be ready? Because this 5K? All of the hills on the route may be what makes it freaky.

Gulp.