Thursday, September 30, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. After the Fox Cities Half Marathon on Sept. 19, I took a brief break from running. I didn't quit completely. I've run twice since then, but nothing much. A few miles here. A few miles there.

2. That break? It's stopping this weekend. Why? Because the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon is approaching quickly. As in 65 days quickly. Yikes! And that 2:30 goal I originally had for Fox Cities? Yeah. It's what I'm shooting for. I took today off, but I was sitting in a courtroom today reading my Runner's World to pass the time. And I finally got around to reading the trail running guide in the October issue. Let's just say it left me craving a run at High Cliff State Park. So this weekend there will be a run on the trails at High Cliff and hopefully one more longer run on the road.

3. Of course any running I do this weekend will have to be worked in around football. There's Wisconsin's Big Ten opener at Michigan State on Saturday and the Packers hoping to redeem themselves against Detroit on Sunday. Plus all of the other college and pro games on the slate. Football. One of the reasons I love fall!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A reading recap

I know. I know. There's still technically 24 hours left in the month. Plenty of time to get some reading done. But in all honesty? I currently have no book in progress and unless I pick up a 50-page book, chances aren't so good that I'll actually be able to finish it by the time I rip another month off the calendar.

I did manage to read in September though. I finished five books for a total of 1,371 pages. Wait a minute. Did I just say five books? That's got to be a new monthly high for me this year. Let me check the records. Yup. The previous high total for books in a month was four in June. The last time I managed to read five (or more) in a month? December 2009 when I was trying oh so hard (unsuccessfully) to finish up 40 for the year.

But I got off track. So 5 books this month and 1,371 pages. That brings the yearly total to 26 books and 9,362 pages. That's a bit ahead of where I was at the end of September 2009 when I had finished 25 books and 8,828 pages. I'll take it.

So what'd I read in September? Take a look:

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela & the Game that Made a Nation by John Carlin
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris

Do you detect a theme? Yes, I'm still going strong on the Sookie Stackhouse series. Love them. Such quick reads. And interesting. And guess what? Tomorrow I pick up the next two installments from my local library. Needless to say there will be at least two books read in October.

The third one on the list, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela & the Game that Made a Nation, is actually the book that the movie Invictus was based on. After watching the movie earlier this month, I knew I had to read the book. And while the book was interesting, I liked the movie a lot better. A movie better than the book? That's got to be a first for me. Oh and the Yann Martel book? If you're thinking about reading it, I'd probably skip it. Not as good as The Life of Pi.

So three months to go in the year and 14 left to read. I think that's a doable task. Especially since there are six more Sookie Stackhouse books on my "To Read" list.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fox Cities Half Marathon Race Report - Part II

While meeting up with old friends at the expo was a good time, there was still the matter of running 13.1 miles the next morning.

And figuring out what to wear? Not easy. The weatherman told me it was going to be in the low 40s when the race started, overcast and the temperatures would warm up to the lower 60s by mid-day. Considering the summer we just had - high humidity, lots of days in the 90s - I wasn't used to this. The last time it was 40? Probably back in April. Not kidding. No wonder I was having a clothing crisis.

I ended up getting two outfits ready: The shorts and tank I wore for the Green Bay Half Marathon in May and a pair of knee length capris and a green short sleeve shirt (appropriate considering I'd be leaving the park right around kick off for the Packer game). I also pulled out a long-sleeve tech shirt that I planned on wearing at the beginning of the run and would take off and tie around my waist when I was warm enough.

At 5 a.m. my alarm started blaring. Since I had the window open in the bedroom I knew it was chilly. Clothing crisis solved. I was going with the capris and shirt. I took a quick shower to wake up a bit, had some breakfast and ready to head out the door by 6 a.m.

When Mom and I got to the starting line area, I met up with Jennifer and Heidi. A port-a-potty visit was made (but for the life of me I could not go!), some pictures were taken and next thing we knew the national anthem was playing and the starting gun was going off.

Fox Cities Half Marathon, here I come.

Since my training was less than stellar, I planned to just run this for fun. That meant the water stops would be walked through and walk breaks would be taken. And of course I'd remember that I was supposed to be having a good time.

Miles 1 -5
I tried to keep the first miles slow. I didn't want to start out by killing myself. The first mile was pretty congested, so it wasn't too hard to follow this plan. The first 2.5 miles were run along the same course as the marathon (no marathon runners though since they started an hour after the half marathon) and we split off onto a half marathon loop right before the 3 mile mark. Still feeling pretty good. This chunk of the course was through a residential neighborhood. What stands out? The woman standing at the end of her driveway hula hooping. I wonder if she ever stopped or if every runner saw her? Made me smile.

Just before hitting the Mile 5 flag, I had to run through two roundabouts. Shortly after the water stop in this mile I decided it was time to ditch the long sleeves. I think this mile time including pulling over to the side of the road and taking my shirt off. Also up until this point I had been really good about just walking through the water stations. Those water station walk breaks started getting a bit longer at this point.

Miles 6 - 9
This is where it started to get tough. Not only physically, but mentally. I had that voice inside my head, "Tell me again, why did I decide to do this?" I wanted to just stop at some points, but I knew my Mom was waiting for me around Mile 6.75. So I kept running. When I got to her I was struggling. I stopped for about a minute. She was a bit worried. Asked me I was going to be able to finish. But even though there was doubt in my mind, there was no question about it. I was going to finish this. I took my mint chocolate Gu and I started running again.

There was a huge walk break around Mile 7.5. But even after seeing my Mom, I was still struggling. While I was walking (at a somewhat decent pace), I was thinking. You hear about The Wall in a marathon happening around Mile 20. I think I've determined my half marathon wall? It comes right around the 8 mile marker. Looking back at all three half marathons, that's the point where I've struggled the most. And looking back at this run, maybe this break could have been shorter. But maybe it's a good thing I walked as far as I did.

You hit the Mile 9 marker just as you enter Jefferson Park in Menasha. I mustered up enough energy to run into the park, but once I got to the water station, I slowed to a walk. And it was kind of scary. I felt a little light headed. My vision was a bit wonky. I took my time. Drank some water. Grabbed a Fig Newton. By the time I got to the end of the park pathway, my vision wasn't so wonky and I was feeling a bit better. So I started to run again.

Miles 10 - 12
After seeing me struggling around Mile 7, Mom must have thought I needed a bit of encouragement. I hit 10 miles at the top of the Racine Street Bridge in Menasha. I was kind of in my own little world as I was coming down the bridge, and all of a sudden I heard my name. There was Mom standing at the end of the bridge. I got a little bit of a pick me up. Waved as I ran past with a smile on my face. Only 3 more miles to go. More residential neighborhoods, kept alternating walking and running.

Neenah lined with gorgeous houses. The Mile 12 marker? Right next to the harbor. The course is a bit evil, since you run literally a quarter mile past the finish line, but you've really got about a mile to go.

Mile 13 - 13.1
The last mile is run all along the lake. I took a short walk break to gather up the strength to finish strong. Was planning on walking just a tiny bit farther, but I passed a cheering section. And one guy? He was holding a sign that simply said RUN. I decided I should obey. So I started to run.

There's a lighthouse on the point and as you round the final curve and hit the last straightaway, some of the Wisconsin Marching Band was playing. A little "If You Want to Be A Badger" as I approached them. And then they just stopped. What? Didn't they know it was me, Badgergirl, running past? Sigh. I ran. And once they were behind me they broke out in "On Wisconsin." Sigh.

But it was OK. Because I could see the finish banner. It's far though. Seems to take forever. So I planned one last brief walk break so I could run down that finish chute strong. The next thing I knew a guy wearing his military fatigues with a big ole backpack on his back passed me. No way. I'm not getting beat by him.

So I ran.

He still finished a few seconds before me, but I finished strong. Was happy with my finishing time considering the lackluster training and the mental and physical struggles during the mid-point of the race.

I ended up crossing the finish line in 2 hours, 43 minutes and 58 seconds. Not the 2 hours, 30 minutes I initially hoped for back in May. But given my summer training? I'll take it. And of course I can't be too upset considering it was still a new PR! Yes, it's only 1 minute, 9 seconds faster than Green Bay, but it's 1 minute, 9 seconds that I earned. I'll take it!

And yes, even though it was hard I still had a good time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. I know. I know. I owe you readers a Part II of my Fox Cities Race Report - the part that actually talks about 13.1 mile journey. I'll get to it. Tomorrow.

2. I went for my first run post-half marathon tonight. It was raining. And hot. And humid. So I jumped on the treadmill for a quick 3.5 miles. The run felt pretty good. Well, except for the bruise on my foot I managed to get during Sunday's race. But after a half mile or so even that pain went away.

3. I've revamped my running goal. At the beginning of the year I set the goal to run 1,000 miles. Silly Badgergirl. I was somewhat on pace up until May. Then running kind of took a backseat. I've gotten back on track a bit, even though the training leading up the Fox Cities was less than stellar. As of tonight, I've logged 422 miles. Tonight I made a decision, I'm aiming for 750 miles by Dec. 31. That's only another 328 miles. And with another half marathon looming at the beginning of December, that should be do-able. I hope.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fox Cities Half Marathon Race Report - Part I

I normally don't do two part race reports, but in this case I've got to. Because the events leading up to the actual race itself are just a bit too weird not to write about.

It all started at the race expo on Saturday. I thought it was going to be a regular race expo. Go pick up my packet. Take a quick look at the vendors and head home in time to catch the 2:30 kick off time for the Badger v. Arizona State game.

I had heard through Facebook that one of my good friends from school, Heidi, was running the half marathon this weekend. When I say good friend, I mean one of those girls that you go to the same school with all the way from your first day of kindergarten, through junior high and high school and even college. Well, except for our freshman year in college when we went to different schools. But then she ended up transferring to the University of Wisconsin where I was.

We were close and spent a ton of time together. But then we got to college and we kind of lost touch. It happens. We graduated. I moved to Indiana and she moved to Colorado. I think the last time we actually saw each other was in 2004 or 2005 for another good friend's wedding.

But we've kept updated on each other's lives through Facebook and that's how I knew she had recently moved back to the area and was running Fox Cities. So we decided to meet up on Saturday.

Expo day dawned and I met up with Heidi at the expo. We got our packets, wandered around the vendor tables, chatted with another girl we went to school with and standing by the doors, making plans to meet up on race morning. Then it happened.

A girl walked through the doors. Heidi and I looked at each other. Could it be? Heidi said her name. No response. But it was loud. There were a ton of people in expo area. There was excitement in the air. We decided to follow the girl and see if she really was the girl we thought it was.

All of a sudden she's walking towards us. I stopped her.

"Excuse me. Is your name Jennifer?"

At first the girl looks confused. Then this look of amazement spreads over her face. That confirms it. It's another friend of ours from elementary school and junior high. A girl that Heidi and I haven't seen since we road tripped it to her high school graduation party in June 1998.

That's 12 years folks.

Turns out our friend Jennifer still lives in Northeast Wisconsin and was planning on running her first half marathon on Sunday. We all chatted for a bit. Then Heidi had to get going to meet up with her family. I ended up walking with Jennifer around the expo, giving her some tips for how to approach the race. We then went and grabbed some lunch at Noodles and caught up some more before making plans to meet up on Sunday morning before the starting gun went off.

It's still hard to believe all the craziness that happened in that short amount of time Saturday afternoon. How a difference of a minute or two could have changed the day's events so much. I'm glad it happened though. Because it meant I got the chance to reconnect with two very good friends from growing up.

Now there was just that half marathon thing to conquer the next day.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. Four days until the half marathon. Starting to get the butterflies in my stomach. But I feel like I'm ready. Or as ready as I'll be considering the training. Let's just put it this way. I shouldn't die.

2. Hitting up the race expo on Saturday to pick up my stuff. And I'm working on planning a meet up with an old friend from high school I haven't seen in probably 5 years.She recently moved back to Wisconsin. We were good friends throughout grade school, middle school and high school and once we got to college, life kind of happened and we fell out of touch a bit. But she's back in the state and is running the full marathon on Sunday. Looking forward to catching up with her.

3. There must be something about videos this week for me. Take a look at this one. Another inspiring video, one that really hammers home that idea that anything is possible as long as you put your mind to it and try.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

That commercial ran through my head

Good thing I posted that commercial the other day. Because tonight after I got done working? I totally wanted to bail on my run.

I was tired. Election nights in the newsroom will do that to you. Not only are you waiting for results, but then there's the post-deadline trip to the local watering hole for some adult beverages. And last night? Let's just say I was up way passed my bedtime. And once in bed? Couldn't sleep for the life of me.

I had a headache. Probably due to little sleep.

I just wanted to come home, throw on some sweats and curl up in my recliner.

But I knew I had to run. The Fox Cities Half Marathon is in five days. And I wanted to get at least one more decent run in this week. Since it didn't get done Tuesday morning before I headed in to work (my stomach was angry with me), I knew I had to do it tonight. So I forced myself to go over to the YMCA and spend some time on the treadmill. Ideally I would have run outside, but it was windy, cold, starting to get dark and looked like it was going to start raining at any moment. So indoors it was.

And while the first mile sucked, once I got into the zone, it actually felt good. I finished 5.5 miles and felt pretty good. I might try to sneak in a really short run Thursday, but chances are, tonight's run will be my last run before the half marathon on Sunday.

Now it's time to rest up, eat some pasta, figure out a race plan and get ready for race day.

Monday, September 13, 2010

No excuses

Saw this on XT4's blog and I've used way too many of these excuses before. It's time to stop.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dragons left me sore and stiff, but I still ran

I spent Saturday morning on the Fox River at practice for the upcoming Dragon boat races.

The races are part of a community festival held in conjunction with the university in town. And each year, my office puts together a team. And a week or two before the event, we head down to the river for our one and only practice session with hardcore Dragon boat paddlers from the Racine area.

You know, they show you how to paddle and teach you the command. You figure out where your seat is in the boat and what purpose you'll serve. Then they tell you to throw on a life jacket, jump in the boat and you paddle for the next hour.

And use muscles that I apparently don't use the rest of the year.

Because when I woke up this morning. Holy cow. I could barely sit up in bed. So the thought of lacing up the running shoes and setting out for the last long-ish run before next weekend's Fox Cities Half Marathon? Yeah, that wasn't happening.

So I lounged in bed a bit. Felt guilty. And finally got up (slowly) and got ready to go for a run. Given the fact that it hurt to bend over and tie my shoes and every step I took was painful in the toosh (what can I say, those tiny little benches in the boat? Not so comfortable), I didn't have high hopes for the run.

I headed out the door with plans just to sneak in two miles and do something a little longer later in the week, when I wasn't feeling like I was 90 years old. But after a block or two I actually started to feel pretty decent. I actually ended up doing 4.2 miles and probably could have done the 6ish I wanted to do pre-Dragon boat practice, but I needed time to get home and shower before an afternoon's worth of NFL games kicked off at noon.

I'm still hoping to sneak in that 6 mile run later this week, maybe Tuesday, just as one last longer run before the half marathon on Tuesday. And I'm crossing my fingers that when I wake up tomorrow morning, the soreness and stiffness in my back and shoulder are gone, because hobbling around like I'm 90? Kind of bites.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nine years ago today

Kind of hard to believe it's been nine years. And yet it seems like only yesterday. It's one moment that's vividly etched in my mind. One of those moments that I'll always remember where I was and what I was doing when the towers fell in New York City, a plane crashed into the Pentagon and a plane fell from the sky over a field in Pennsylvania.

And today, the ninth anniversary of that horrific attack, I still grieve. And I remember the 2,974 victims that were killed: 2,750 connected to the World Trade Center, 40 in a Pennsylvania field and 184 at the Pentagon. Those numbers do not include the 19 hijackers

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. I got a nice 5.25 mile run in last night on the treadmill. The Fox Cities half marathon is quickly approaching. Less than 2 weeks. Planning on getting in a run before I head into work tomorrow and something long-ish this weekend before taper begins.

2. I finally sat down last night and watched Invictus since the library kept sending me overdue notices. A little slow at the beginning, but it ended up being a great movie. I've already got my request in at the library to read the book that the movie was based on, which will probably be better than the movie since books always are.

3. So excited the NFL season officially kicked off a few minutes ago. It's great knowing my Sunday plans are essentially laid out for me for the next few months. And even better that we're less than 10 minutes into the season and Brett Favre and the Vikings are already losing. :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

My night as one of Lady Gaga's Little Monsters

There was a car with a keyboard under the hood, a flaming piano, so many costume changes I lost count and a beheaded Tinkerbell whose stuffing ended up being used to stuff a bra-top.

And the music? Wow. In short, I was really glad my Dad wanted to go see Lady Gaga Thursday night and took me along with him. It was one of those concerts that I don't think I ever would have wanted to go to on my own. But now that I've gone and sat through the 2-plus hour show that Lady Gaga put on telling the story of a trip to The Monster Ball, I'm glad. Overall it was a great show. The lights. The stage set up (seriously, two dozen semi-trucks to haul all of the stuff that appeared on stage? Crazy!). The costumes. The dancers and choreography. The message she tried to convey, about how we should accept everyone, regardless of their beliefs and that we shouldn't be afraid to be different. And you can't forget the music. It had me (and my Dad!) dancing in the aisles. So much fun. I was almost disappointed to see it all end when the clock struck 11:15 p.m.

  • Lady Gaga sat and played a piano that was on fire during "Speechless" and a new song that will be on her upcoming album. I guess sat is the wrong word. Because for at least half of that time, Lady Gaga was standing on the bench, bending down and playing. There may also have been a chunk of time when she was using her stiletto black boots to play in addition to her hands.
  • Fire returned during "Alejandro." This time it wasn't the piano in flames. Rather it was an angel statue.
  • I wasn't disappointed. I got to hear all the songs I was hoping to hear. And yes, I almost wanted to start running when she belted out "Poker Face," mostly since that's right at the beginning of my running play list. Other musical highlights? "Just Dance," "Telephone," "So Happy I Could Die," and "Paparazzi."
  • Speaking of "Paparazzi," there was this large, creepy looking piranha on stage. Guessing that was supposed to be the Fame Monster or something. Whatever it was, it's eyes glowed and it was trying to attack her.
  • And Lady Gaga saved the best for the encore. After an entire show, I was super excited to hear her bust out "Bad Romance" for the encore. Lots of dancing. Lots of jumping. The Little Monsters that packed the Bradley Center were going crazy. Me included.
So glad my Dad wanted to go see Lady Gaga and took me with him. It was quite the experience. And I didn't even touch on the clothes that the concert goers were wearing! If you want a peak, take a look at the photo gallery the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put up (which is where I got the picture in this blog post since I neglected to take my own camera with me). While you're over at the JS, take a moment to read their concert review.

The late night was worth it (I would have been able to sleep in the next day had my landlord decided to not cut the grass right outside my bedroom window at 7:30 a.m.). And if any of you ever have the chance to be one of Lady Gaga's Little Monsters and see her show in person, GO!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I might have set a new PR for times I wanted to quit

I didn't have a ton of plans for my long holiday weekend. I just kind of wanted to go with the flow. Relax.

That being said, there was one thing that I absolutely had to do: Get my 10 mile run in. And  with temperatures in the lower- to mid-60s and the sun shinning, I really had no excuse not to get the miles in. Granted, it was super windy Friday and Saturday, but the wind was supposed to die down today.

So after staying up late to watch my Badgers beat up on UNLV last night, I went to bed with the plan that in the morning, the running shoes would be laced up and I'd get the miles in.

I woke up and immediately began procrastinating. Some cheesy Lifetime movie was watched. A little bit of U.S. Open tennis was viewed. Finally around noon I decided it was time to head out. So I got myself ready and I set off. And within the first half mile I realized the weathermen lied. Again. The wind? It was still pretty steady when I was heading west. But I kept putting one foot in front of the other. It was hard though.

I admit. I felt like I wanted to quit after a mile. My one knee was achy feeling. And them my stomach got crampy. And the wind. In a word? I was miserable. But I kept running, thinking I'd at least try to get a short run in.

I had decided to do two loops of (what I thought was) a 5-mile route by my parents' house. And it gave me options to cut the run short if needed. And I seriously considered it. But I kept running past those streets where I could shorten the run. I was determined to get at least one loop done.

A few weeks ago I decided I'm going to go with a run/walk method for the upcoming Fox Cities Half Marathon. I'm thinking a short walk break every half-mile or mile (hopefully the walk breaks will be less often in the early miles). I did that today, granted those walk breaks started earlier than I would have liked (blame the wind and the crampy feeling).

I finished the first loop and made a pit stop at Mom and Dad's to refill my water bottle. I seriously considered just quitting. But I was starting to feel a tiny bit better. So I thought I'd head out and least log a few more miles, if not the remaining five.

I battled the wind again for the next 1.5 miles and again thought about quitting, but once I turned north I was running with the wind at my back for the next almost 2.5 miles. And during this time? I felt good. I took some GU (today's flavor - mint chocolate - yum!) around Mile 7 and kept up the run/walk mix. Was feeling great until Mile 8.25 when I turned south back into the nasty wind. But I knew it was just a (long) straight away and I'd be done. So I dug deep and kept putting one foot in front of the other.

I ended up finishing the 10 miles in 1 hour, 58 minutes. Not the fastest, but I'll take it considering the conditions and how many times I felt like quitting.

I've got 14 days left before the half. While I struggled today at times, I'm still feeling pretty good about the race given the lack of training I've done.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. There will be no run tonight. Because tonight? I will be a Little Monster. Yes folks. Tonight's the night I head down to Milwaukee with my Dad and cousin to see Lady Gaga. I've been working late all week so that I can sneak out early today and of course the folks in my office are having a field day with this. The find it highly amusing that I'm going. And taking my Dad with me. I'm excited. Should be a pretty good show. Do you think the dogs will be there?

2. Since I'll be coming home in the wee hours of the morning, I thought ahead and took Friday off. At the time I didn't realize it was Labor Day weekend. Yay for unplanned 4-day holiday weekends!

3. This Little Monster can't come up with a third thing. But don't worry. I'll have a full report of what Lady Gaga was like when I come back! Have a good weekend everyone!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hopefully this will be the last indoor run for a while

I know I shouldn't believe weathermen. But I have to admit, looking at the weather forecast for Labor Day weekend? It's got me excited.
Should make for a great weekend of weather that's conducive to biking and running without dying from the heat and humidity. Yes. I'm looking forward to the fall-like temps. Especially since I've got a 10-miler on the books sometime over the weekend. And I refuse to do it on the treadmill or even a repeat of this week's track/treadmill combo. I want to run. Outdoors.

Which is exactly what I didn't do tonight. It was still kind of humid. And I guess I'm a wuss, because I headed over to the YMCA. My legs were still pretty sore from Monday's 9-miler, so at first I thought I was only going to do 3 miles, but after about a mile they felt better so I kept going, finishing with 4.3 miles. At least I was able to entertain myself with the Big Ten's announcement of the new divisions. Let's just say Badgergirl's not happy. Wisconsin got the shaft. The Badgers should have been in a division with at least Iowa or Minnesota. Ugh. Which is when I turned the TV to the U.S. Open, hoping to see the Andy Roddick match, but since they schedule women's matches first during the night session, it was Kim Clijsters.

At least I've got an outdoor run to look forward to next. Makes me a happy Badgergirl.