Friday, December 30, 2011

The year that was 2011

I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that there's a little more than a day left to 2011. Crazy. It went fast. There were some highs and lows. Some triumphs. Some struggles. A pretty decent year.

Nothing like starting out the New Year with a disappointment. Yes. Watching my Badgers lose to those Horned Frogs from TCU was hard. But it could only get better. Right?

I decided to join a training group. I was scared. I had never run with a group before. But it turned out this was one of the best decisions I made this year. Not only did I find that accountability and guidance I needed when it came to preparing for a half marathon, but I met the most amazing group of people. People I logged countless miles with. Who I learned from. But most importantly, people I call my friends. And with the training group and a group of friends in hand, I set out to accomplish a goal for the spring half marathon season and adopted the Dream Big Work Hard mentality of former Badger J.J. Watt.


The Green Bay Packers won a game. You might have heard of it. The Super Bowl? Yeah. That was cool.

Crashing my car during a snowstorm and less than 2 hours later putting it in the ditch? Not so cool.


I ran through some pretty crappy weather this winter: Snow, sub-zero temperatures, wind, ice. But the day I tripped over a water main cover and did a face plant on the sidewalk wasn't icy. Heck, it was down right balmy. I walked away with a pair of bruised knees, but a pretty spectacular 11-mile run. And that in itself was pretty nice consider that face plant happened somewhere around Mile 2. Speaking of running, I logged my first 100-mile month ever! I finished with 111.7 miles for the month.

I learned it pays to go to traffic court. Goodbye $200 citation I got when I crashed my car in February.


Like I said, I ran in some pretty cruddy weather. Well I guess it prepared me for the Oshkosh Half Marathon since I saw rain, sleet, snow and an icy cold wind from the north on race day. All of the work I put in must have helped though since I finished in 2:30! An almost 14-minute PR baby!


I've been chasing a sub-30 5K for what seems like forever - OK, maybe just since I started running in 2007 - and I finally got it in May at the Sole Burner 5K.

And then there was the Green Bay Half Marathon. After turning in a 2:30 HM at Oshkosh in crappy weather, I thought sub-2:30 was in the cards. Well, it could have been if the steady 40 mile per hour winds didn't show up right around Mile 11.5. So close.


I ran my first 10K ever.

It was hot.

And I manged to fall off a 12-foot wall during Tough Mudder. While the fall hurt, Tough Mudder ended up being a pretty cool event, especially with the group of teammates that I had. Will I do it again? Uh, not sure.

In non-running events, I got to take part in an Honor Flight during AirVenture. It was me and a plane full of WWII Navy vets and we spent the day in Washington D.C. An absolutely amazing experience.


I never thought I'd be able to do this, but I decided at the last minute to run a half marathon. We're talking 5 days before the race I registered. OK. It was because I won a free entry into the Madison Mini, but still. I never thought I'd be in the running shape like I was where I could just decide spur of the moment and be ready.


Nothing like heading down to Madison and spectating at Ironman Wisconsin to get you in the race mood. Some friends and I headed down to watch our friend Jeff complete his 10th Ironman. Absolutely amazing and inspiring experience. It totally got me ready for the next week.

Then I toed the line at the Fox Cities Half Marathon. With inspiration from IMWI going through my head, race day advice from Jeff and my own determination, I gutted it out and finished the race in 2:19:27, another new PR! So happy.


I did my first organized bike ride in a couple of years when I tackled the Trek Breast Cancer Awareness ride with my friend Peggy. There was a Badger game with a Twitter friend Renee. And I lost my running mojo. Mostly due to burn out from all of the training I did all yearlong.


Still missing the running mojo, but that was OK because there was another Badger game with my friend Nicole.

Then an unexpected trip to Lambeau Field with Peggy for a Monday Night Football game to see the Packers crush the Vikings.

My IT band decided to hate me this month. So lots of quality time spent with the foam roller. My third go around with the Fleet Feet group started

So I guess it was a pretty good year. Can't wait to see what 2012 has in store for me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I don't want to complain, but I'm going to for a moment. Numbers. I like looking at them. How many miles I've run in a day, week, month, year. How fast I ran those miles. But lately? I don't like the numbers. Leading up to the Fox Cities Half Marathon I could bust out a 4-5 mile run with sub-10 (barely) minute miles. The last month? The pace has been closer to 11:30 minute miles for a 4-5 mile run. And it feels hard. I know the colder weather plays a little bit of a role. I know my mileage has decreased. And I know I've been babying my IT band and slowing down. But still. It's frustrating to see those kind of paces. And I know right now I'm at the point where I'm just building a base and maintaining endurance and that speed will come in a few months as the spring half marathon season gets closer. But still. It's frustrating to see those numbers.

2. Continuing on the numbers theme, with one run left in 2011, I'm 6 miles from hitting my (adjusted) goal of hitting 900 miles for the year. Back in January I was aiming for 1,000, but then there was 9+ months of pretty intense training and four half marathons. And by the time I hit the massive PR at Fox Cities, I just wanted a break. So I cut back on mileage in October and November, ran when I felt like it. And watched the goal of 1,000 miles slip away. But I'm still pretty happy with hitting 900 considering my previous yearly high was 590-something. So one run left on Saturday. And it just happens to be 6 miles. But I might just make it 7 so I can say I ran 901 miles. :)

3. I always thought New Year's weekend was supposed to be the slightly less hectic weekend of the holidays. Not so for me this year. A family gathering after work Friday, that early morning long run on Saturday followed by a New Year's Eve wedding. Then the Packers on Sunday. And of course - the highlight of the long weekend in my opinion - the Badgers in the Rose Bowl on Monday. Should be a good weekend, but I may need a vacation to recover from the holidays!

Where'd Christmas go?

Wait. What do you mean it's already Dec. 27? I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. You typically spend weeks preparing for Christmas and then it's over in a blink of an eye.

The Christmas highlights:
  • The long holiday weekend started off with a Christmas Eve morning run with Peggy and the Winter Warriors group. And get this. There was even a fresh layer of snow! So happy. Needless to say that 6-miles was a great way to start off the holiday festivities.
  • There was lots of family time. And I may have been the aunt that got her niece and nephews hooked on Angry Birds. To the point where they really didn't want to give me back my phone Christmas Eve night and it was the first app my niece wanted to download on her new iPod Touch that Santa Claus brought her. 
  • Of course after not having a migraine for months, one arrived just in time for the Christmas Eve/Day festivities to begin. Great timing head.
  • I got some pretty nice gifts. And about 75 percent of them may have been Badger-related, but I'm perfectly happy with that. :) There was a nice Wisconsin hoodie (just in time for the Rose Bowl next week!), a Wisconsin pillow pet, some Wisconsin duct tape, a headlamp (no more fearing for my life when I go running at night), a little DVD player for my bedroom and a cool medal hangar from Gone for the Run to hang my half marathon medals on were among the highlights. I'm happy.
  • Oh, and you can't forget that Green Bay Packers win over the Chicago Bears Christmas night to wrap up home field advantage during the playoffs!
Today it was back to work. And I swear it took me all day to realize it was Tuesday, not Monday. Thankfully it's a four-day work week. Granted next weekend? It's going to be crazy: A late family Christmas gathering, a weekend long run, a friend's wedding on New Year's Eve, a Packers game to watch on New Year's Day and then the Rose Bowl on Monday. I may need a vacation just to recover from New Year's weekend!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. It snowed! Finally! Granted it was only a inch. But still! When I woke up this morning the ground was white! It snowed! And then it promptly melted by lunch time. Looks like Mother Nature isn't going to be very helpful either and I've got to prepare for a not-so-white Christmas. More like a Christmas with greenish-brown grass. Not cool, Mother Nature. Not cool. Especially since I live in Wisconsin.

2. I've kind of lost the running mojo this week. Other than the 4 miles I ran with the group on Tuesday night, I've managed to skip all of my runs this week. Oops. Monday I needed to finish Christmas shopping. Wednesday I needed to wrap presents. And tonight? I just wasn't feeling it. And it probably didn't help that I didn't eat decent all day. Another oops. So I didn't run.

3. And considering I'm 18.7 miles from hitting 900 miles for the year, I probably shouldn't be skipping runs. But I think I still might make it. There's 6 planned on Saturday morning and another 6 planned for the final day of the year. That leaves me with 6.7 to sneak in between Dec. 25 and Dec. 30. Should be do-able. I hope.

Monday, December 19, 2011

HBBC catch up

I've been slacking on posting the HBBC recaps.

Let's see, I've covered Week 1 and also Week 2. That means I need to give you Weeks 3 and 4. You'll notice there's still a lot of points coming in from stretching, once again, credit goes to keeping the IT band happy. Although I have to admit, it hasn't been as angry with me lately. That's a good thing. Which means I'm going to continue to roll.

Week 3
Dec. 3 - 7 (5 run, 2 stretch)
Dec. 4 - 1 (stretch)
Dec. 5 - 5 (3 run/walk, 2 stretch)
Dec. 6 - 6 (2 run, 2 stretch, 1 FV*)
Dec. 7 - 5 (3 run, 2 stretch)
Dec. 8 - 5.5 (3.5 run, 2 stretch)
Dec. 9 - 2 (1 FV, 1 walk)
Total: 31.5

Week 4
Dec. 10 - 7 (5 run, 2 stretch)
Dec. 11 - 1 (walk)
Dec. 12 - 4.5 (2.5 run, 2 stretch)
Dec. 13 - 6.5 (4.5 run, 2 stretch)
Dec. 14 - 2 (2 stretch)
Dec. 15 - 6 (4 run, 2 stretch)
Dec. 16 - 3 (2 stretch, 1 walk)
Total: 30

*FV = fruits & veggies

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Weekend long run fail

This is the story of the weekend long run that was supposed to happen but never did.

Before I went to bed Friday night I did what I always do. I gather all of my stuff and put it in piles so I didn't have to hunt around in the dark for that random pair of running tights or my Road ID or figure out why my Garmin wasn't turning on.

Note: If you find yourself with a fully charged Garmin that refuses to turn on, plug it into the computer and press reset and mode for 10 seconds. This "soft reset" should work. It did for me. And yes, I realize everybody probably knew this trick, but I was the one freaking out and scouring the Garmin website at 11:30 p.m. Friday night.

My Friday ritual included setting the alarm for 6:15, which would give me plenty of time to get dressed and head out to Plamann Park to meet up with my running group.

Except there was a problem. My alarm either never went off or I've gotten really good at turning it off in my sleep. Because when I woke up it was light out and the clock was reading 9 a.m.


After posting a status update on Facebook - because everyone really needs to know I slept through my alarm and missed my long run - and answering a few Facebook messages that were worried why I wasn't at the group run that morning, I got up and got ready for the day. I could have done the 5-6 miles I needed to do solo, but I had to head over to a friend's house and help him pack a moving truck. I there until dark and then needed to go to a benefit for a family friend's son who's got some kind of tumor on his brain.

So there were plans to do it today. When I got up I didn't feel like running, so I told myself I'd do it after the Packer game. And, well, as I'm sure you've all heard, the perfect season is no longer. And I really wasn't in the mood to run after watching the Packers play like poo and loose to the Kansas City Chiefs.

So I didn't run. And that, my friends, is the story about this weekend's long run that never happened.

Friday, December 16, 2011

This doesn't surprise me

So I was putzing around on Facebook the other day and I came across the app that pulls your Top 10 status updates of 2011. Here's what mine were:

Why does it not surprise me that even in my real, non-blog life, running, the Badgers and Packers are what consume my life?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Took advantage of this not working thing and snuck in another mid-day run with Peggy and her pooch Belle. And let me tell you, if it wasn't for our plan to meet up and run I probably would have headed to the nearest treadmill today. It. Was. Windy! For most of our run the wind wasn't too much of a problem, but when we made that final turn and headed west straight into the steady 30 mph winds? Yeah. That was brutal. And I forgot to mention. It was straight uphill. Double brutal. But we finished.

2. I think I'm still thawing out from that run.

3. Other than nearly getting blown away, it has been a productive vacation day. Doctor's appointment. Check. Oil change and tires rotated? Check. Instructing my Dad to find a cheaper place to get the rest of my car repairs done? Check. Dropped off my Toys for Tots donation? Check. Spend the rest of the afternoon watching Season 3 episodes of Glee (there's 9 of them and I've only got 3 more to watch). In progress. And I think there's even a Badger basketball game on TV tonight.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Taking advantage of the benefits of no work

So it was a tough work week. One day. Not kidding. You're probably saying, really. How could one day be so bad. But you know how Mondays in general are hard? Coming back after a weekend? Well just imagine having to go back in on Monday, knowing that all that stands between you and six days of workless bliss is one eight hour shift.

Yeah. It was hard.

But as soon as that clock hit 5:30 p.m. on Monday, I was out of there. I did a little shopping with my Mom and then headed up to my parents' house for my vacation. And even though it was late, I knew I had to get my short run in. And we're talking a run of the 2-mile variety. Shouldn't be so hard. But it was. I swear, during that first mile on the treadmill I was jumping off onto the sides every quarter-mile. The second mile got easier, but the run never became completely unsluggish.

It was rough. Brutal. But I finished.

And on Tuesday - my first full day of vacation - I got to go for a lunchtime run. In the daylight. With Peggy and her pooch Belle. It was a glorious 3.5 miles. For starters it was in the 40s, we live in Wisconsin and it's mid-December. A run in just long sleeves? I'll take it - although I am getting a little antsy for snow.

But the best part of the run was just getting a chance to catch up with Peggy - my running partner in crime for the last year. It's been way too long since we pounded the pavement together and today's 3.5 miles was just what we needed. In fact, we finished up our run and tacked on an extra mile walk for a cool down.

And then promptly made plans to meet again on Thursday at lunchtime for another run.

I think I like this no work thing.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Baby it's cold outside

So it was a little chilly this morning. We're talking 7 degrees with a wind chill of -10.

And while I may have momentarily thought about turning the alarm off, skipping my morning group run and getting the 5 miles done at some other point in the day - say when the temps reached 20 - I didn't. I got out of my warm bed, threw on my cold weather running gear and headed out.

I'm glad I did. It was a good 5-mile run with my friend Amy. We got to talk running, catch up on life and even talked about this whole idea of careers and how you need to be passionate about what you do.

In the end it was a good, cold 5-miles. Honestly once we started running it wasn't bad until we hit the turn around point and started to head back to the park. And that was only because a stiff icy wind had picked up.

We kept an easy pace and threw in a few very short walk breaks - mostly so I didn't make my IT band angry. Overall it didn't give me problems during the run, although it was starting to get a little achy during the last half mile, but that was to be expected.

And even though it was cold, it was nothing compared to Day 1 of the Fleet Feet half marathon group last year when it was zero and wind chills approaching 20 below. Today was downright balmy compared to that.

Now. It's a Saturday. And I have no Badger football to watch. What am I going to do with myself.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tossing around ideas for 2012

It's never too early to start planning a race calendar for 2012. And while it's taken me this long to actually bring the subject up here on the blog, that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it. Because I have.

At this point, I haven't actually registered for any races. Wait. Take that back. I think I have (I'll get to that in a minute), but I know some of the bigger ones that I definitely want to do. And while a lot of the races I'll do in 2012 will be ones I've done in the past and are becoming my "regulars," I do want to branch out a bit and try some new ones. And I'm pretty sure that will be happening.

So what am I thinking of for 2012? Well there will be half marathons. And I'll even dip my toe into the relay craze. And there's a tiny part of me that wants to tackle a sprint tri again. And of course some 5Ks and I'll even try a new distance - the 15K.

Seroogy's Valentine Run 15K - I haven't registered for this yet, but I'll be doing it since it is the goal race for the Winter Warriors program I'm doing. First attempt at a 15K. You know what that means, automatic PR!

Run Away to the Bay - This is a new relay here in Northeast Wisconsin that takes you along a 55-mile route from Oshkosh (my city) to Green Bay. The girls in my original Fleet Feet half marathon group and I are talking about doing it. Should be fun.
Oshkosh Half Marathon - Back to the scene of my first 2:30-half marathon. Again, also in the city where I live. Hoping there's better weather than there was last year.

Sole Burner 5K - This one has become an annual race for me with my Dad. Site of my current 5K PR.
Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon - quickly becoming one of my favorite half marathons. There won't be a loop through Lambeau Field this year (construction on the south end zone), but I'll still be there since it's a great race.

Ragnar Relay: Madison to Chicago - I'm super excited about this one. I'm joining up with 11 other bloggers for a team. I'm pretty sure this will be an amazing experience. Can't. Wait.

Firecracker 5K - Another family tradition. And always hotter that heck.
Chicagoland Trek Women's Triathlon - The site of my first tri. Toying with going back this year. It's an all women's event and very focused around those impacted by cancer.

Madison Mini Marathon - Really liked this course when I ran it this year. Can't complain about a half marathon that starts and ends on the campus I love.
Cheesehead Half Marathon - If I don't do the Madison Mini, this is an option. The plus, it's super close to home.

Fox Cities Half Marathon - Another local race and site of my very first half marathon and current half marathon PR.

Freaky 5K - A local 5K that I've done several years. Nice Halloween race.

Santa Scamper - That 1 mile fun run before the Christmas parade
Turkey Trot (5 miles) - Get the run in before the Thanksgiving feast
Noodleini 15K - Never done this before, but would be a nice way to keep the running up after half marathon season is over.

Hmm. Could be a busy year. But like I said, not all of those are set in stone. And there is a little part of me that would still love to be able to do a destination race somewhere. Still need to think about that and find out if my bank account will allow it.

So I've told you my (tentative) plans. What are yours? And will I see you at any of these races?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. The foam rolling is working. I've been diligently spending time torturing myself with my foam roller, multiple times a day, this week. So far I've gotten three runs in this week - two short 2-milers and one 3-miler as the training plan calls for - and my IT band really hasn't been bothering me much. Yay! So the plan is definitely to keep torturing myself daily.

2. We're getting our first real taste of winter here in Wisconsin the next few days. What does that mean? I'll be running in temps that are most likely in the low teens early Saturday morning. That's like a heat wave compared to the sub-zero temps we ran in last winter.

3. I'm counting down the days. I've got today, Friday and a Monday shift left and then I'm off until Dec. 19. Needless to say I'm ready for a break. And concentration at work has been a bit non-existent.

Monday, December 5, 2011

John Mellencamp said it best, it hurts so good

I've been spending a lot of quality time with my foam roller the past few days. And I can definitely say it's one of those love-hate relationships: I love the results, but oh boy do I hate that red piece of foam when I'm actually using it.
Let me back up.

Ever since I managed to fall off a 12-foot high wall and bang my knee at Tough Mudder - who am I kidding, running up and down a ski hill repeatedly probably didn't help either - I've been having issues with my IT band. Up through the Fox Cities Half Marathon in late September it would mostly bother me on long runs, usually once I hit Mile 8. It was never painful. It just got super tight. And of course then I'd start alter my stride. And it was just a bit cranky. But not so cranky that I couldn't keep running.

After setting that monster PR, I backed off on running in October and November. I still ran, but my "schedule" was one of those, eh, I'll run when I feel like it. And most of the runs were in the 3-5 mile range. On average I'd get 2 or 3 in a week. Nothing like the 30 mile weeks I was logging when I was running 5-days per week.

Well I've started back up with a training plan. And I don't know if it was the crazy downhill with the Santa Scamper, the longer Turkey Trot, the increase in mileage or a combination of all of them, but the last two weeks my IT band has been ANGRY.

And I got worried. Let's just say it hurt and bothered me so much during Thursday's 3-mile treadmill run that I was thisclose to just hitting stop sometime around 2 miles and quitting. And of course it wasn't just the IT band, but also a spot in my lower inside calf. And it hurt to walk out of the YMCA. I was almost in tears on the way home and of course in my mind I'm thinking stress fracture and boot was in my future.

But a rest day and a long, slow run with my friend Myriah on Saturday helped. She's battling a knee injury herself, so I was able to pick her brain about IT bands and what to do. But perhaps the best part is that neither of us was opposed to sprinkling walk breaks throughout our run. It definitely wasn't the fastest 5-miles I've run, but it felt good considering the circumstances.

And Myriah's advice (which was what I was expecting): Foam Roll. A lot. And schedule a massage with the sports massage therapist that we both see.

So that's what I've been doing. And tonight's run wasn't awful. It actually felt pretty good. And the IT band is a tiny bit cranky tonight post-run, but more of a grumble, not a full fledged temper tantrum like last Thursday.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a date with my foam roller for a torture session.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I'm smelling roses

Football season in Wisconsin has been a good one.

The Packers just beat the Giants with a last second field goal to go 12-0. And last night? Oh boy, last night. My Badgers had me nervous. Seriously. To the point where I was pacing. Walking around in circles during commercial breaks. But they pulled it out - albeit thanks to some poor Michigan State player who picked up a roughing the kicker penalty - and beat Michigan State to win the first Big Ten Championship Game and earn a spot - for the second year in a row - in the Rose Bowl.

Who needs to watch the National Championship Game - we've already seen LSU and Alabama square off against each other once this season and it wasn't pretty - when you can watch the Badgers play Oregon? Oh, it will be a good one.


Time for a HBBC Week 2 update. Lots of stretching and foam rolling this week since my IT Band is SUPER angry at me. So angry that I was nearly in tears after my run on Thursday. Expect to continue to see those stretching points showing up next week as well.

Nov. 26 - 6 (4 mile run, 2 stretch)
Nov. 27 - 1 (1 stretch)
Nov. 28 - 4.5 (2.5 mile run, 1 stretch, 1 FV*)
Nov. 29 - 5 (3 mile run, 2 stretch)
Nov. 30 - 6.5 (2.5 mile run, 1 walk, 1 FV, 2 stretch)
Dec. 1 - 6.25 (3.25 mile run, 1 FV, 2 stretch)
Dec. 2 - 3 (1 walk, 1 stretch, 1 FV)
Total: 32.25

*FV = fruits and veggies

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. So it's December, which means there are 31 days left in the year. 31 days to finish goals, especially those two big ones involving numbers for me: read 40 books and run 1,000 miles. Sadly I might miss both. I already touched on the books yesterday. The 1,000 running miles? I'm going to be close, but I don't think it's going to happen. Not counting today's run - which will get done after work tonight - I need to run 159 more miles to hit 1,000. That's a lot of miles. And it isn't going to happen. I was on track through September, but then I opted to go for a "run when I feel like it" schedule in October and November. And I needed it. But that leaves me 159 miles short. So at this point I'm just aiming for as many miles over 900 as I can. Any number I end up with will be a new yearly mileage PR for me. My highest yearly mileage to this point was 590 last year.

2. As fast as the year has gone, I'm pretty sure December is going fly. Which is scary because I've got so much to do. Decorate. Clean. Shop. Wrap presents. Family gatherings. Read. Run. Celebrate. Recover. Thankfully I've essentially got a week of vacation in the middle of the month (had to schedule the days and all the time around the holidays was already claimed).

3. Badgers. After I get done being a Warrior on Saturday morning the rest of the day is devoted to the Badgers. First it's the basketball game against Marquette and then at night its a rematch on the football field as Wisconsin takes on Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. Crossing my fingers the football game doesn't end like it did in East Lansing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November reading recap

Seriously. How is it the end of November?

Anyway. November. Books. I finished three books in November for a total of 970 pages. That brings the total to 30 books and 11,018 pages. Hmm. I've still got to finish 10 more books in the next 31 days if I want to hit 40 books for the year. That might be tough, unless I start including children's books. Last year at the end of November I'd finished 36 books and 12,367 pages. Quite a bit more. But then I remember.  There was that 1,260-page monster Les Miserables that I tackled earlier this year.

Anyway. What'd I read this month?

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
Twisted by Sara Shepard
A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay

Before I Go to Sleep wasn't a bad read, but I felt like I'd read it before. I mean to the point where I was reviewing my reading log for the last five years. Never appeared in the log, but I swear I'd read the book before. Either that or it was a pretty predictable plot, because I felt like I knew exactly what was coming and most of the time I was right. Twisted. What else to say except that it's the latest installment in the Pretty Little Liars series. And A Secret Kept? Take my advice. Don't even bother to pick it up. It's not worth the time.

I've got a few books planned for December. I'm in the middle of Out of Oz, the fourth installment in Gregory Maguire's Wicked Years series, and I just picked up Room by Emma Donoghue since I've heard good things. That's two. I do have Sarah's Key by de Rosnay, but after A Secret Kept I'm not sure I even want to attempt it. Although I have heard it's better. I dunno. Check back next month to see what I decided to do.

Any suggestions on quick reads?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Festival Foods 5-mile Turkey Trot

I didn't stand a chance when it came to trotting after turkeys on Thanksgiving morning.

While I was glad I got out and logged the 5 miles and even managed to set a new 5-mile PR, I admit. My head was not in this run. There were probably a couple of reasons.
  • I realized at 11 p.m. the night before that while I had my running shoes and an outfit, my Garmin, iPod and Road ID were sitting on the living floor. At my apartment in Oshkosh. While I had my other iPod at my parents' house with me (which was odd since it's been staying in my work bag for the last, oh year), I didn't have any options for a watch. Looks like I'd be running this race naked.
  • I went to the race completely solo. My mom - my main support crew - had to stay home. Someone had to watch the turkey or else we'd be eating a charred bird for dinner.
  • The first mile? Complete craziness. So crowded.
  • It didn't help that my left IT band area was cranky. I think it was due to running hard at the Santa Scamper two days earlier. But it was cranky. And somewhere around Mile 2 (or what I thought felt like Mile 2), it started to let me know it.
  • So there were walk breaks. Earlier than I would have liked. And more of them than I would have liked. I kept them fairly short though and kept running. 
  • At one point - somewhere after the water stop, so maybe around Mile 3 - I felt like I was running so slow that I was starting to mentally prepare myself for seeing a time greater than one hour when I crossed the finish line. It was at this point that I really mentally checked out. I just didn't seem to care anymore, which is odd for me and not something I've ever experienced in a race. But I kept running. Kept putting one foot in front of the other even though my IT band was screaming.
  • The only mile marker I saw was the Mile 4 marker. Once I passed that I knew the end was in sight, so I refused to walk anymore. I ran. It didn't seem fast, but I ran.
  • And then there was the finish line. I crossed it, ran into a friend from my Fleet Feet group, grabbed my personal sized pumpkin pie and headed home.
Later in the day, sometime between helping my mom prepare the Thanksgiving feast and watching the Packers beat up on the Lions, I went online and checked my official time: 52:58. Uh, what? Considering the amount of time I spent walking, that was surprising to me. Makes me think I took those first 2-3 miles a lot faster than I thought I was. But I'll never know because my Garmin was hanging out in Oshkosh while I was running in Menasha. And for the record, my previous 5-mile PR (set at the Oshkosh version of the Turkey Trot in 2009) was 54:55, so a nice little improvement. Of course I wonder what kind of time I could have turned in had my head been in the race for the entire 5 miles.

Oh well. Overall it was a tough race mentally, but I'm OK with the end result.

And the turkey I consumed later in the day? So worth it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Warriors, Badgers and other words, a weekend wrap up

I know, I know. I still owe you a Turkey Trot recap. That's coming up. But first I've got a few weekend house-cleaning thoughts.

For starters, the Fleet Feet Winter Warriors training group kicked off on Saturday morning. Let's just say it was a complete different morning than that day in January when I got out of bed and nearly froze to death in sub-zero temperatures when my first go around with a Fleet Feet group started.

The group looks like it'll be a nice mix. Some speedy folks, some slower folks and a bunch in the middle. We only had 4 miles on the plan, but it was nice to be able to run and catch up with Rita, a girl who was in the spring group that I haven't seen since May, and Jeff, one of the coaches from the prior two sessions that has now moved out of state. I definitely didn't set any speed records - and I was reminded that I haven't done much hill work since, oh September - but it was a good start to the training program.

Baby Badgers! They're not so fierce looking now, but good thing the grown-up version will take on those Michigan State Spartans Saturday. Don't mess with grown-up Badgers. Source

After I was done being a warrior Saturday morning it was time to catch up on some of Season 2 of Glee before the Badger game started. I won't go into detail, but Wisconsin beat up on Penn State. They showed no mercy, and of course it didn't help that Penn State kept turning over the ball. So now it's on to Indianapolis for a rematch with Michigan State Saturday in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game. Bring it.

Booties. What could I possibly have to say about booties? Well Week 1 of the HBBC - the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge - is over and I need to do a bit of a recap or what I did last week to bust my bootie.

Nov. 19 - 1 (1 mile walk)
Nov. 20 - 1 (1 mile walk)
Nov. 21 - 2 (1 mile walk, FV*)
Nov. 22 - 3.5 (1 mile run, 1.5 mile walk, stretch)
Nov. 23 - 2 (1 mile walk, FV)
Nov. 24 - 8 (5 mile run, 1 mile walk, 1 FV, stretch)
Nov. 25 - 3 (2 mile walk, 1 stretch)
Total: 20.5 points

*FV = fruits and veggies


And in non-weekend news, I went for a run tonight after work. In the pitch black. I only needed to do two miles, so I thought I'd be OK with running in my neighborhood while wearing my neon yellow Brooks Nightlife jacket. The only problem? There are no sidewalks, traffic likes to disobey the 45 mile per hour speed limit and go about 55 mph, the shoulder of the road isn't very wide and since I'm almost on the outskirts of town, there aren't a lot of streetlights, which makes it kind of dark.

In short: Until I get myself a headlamp and reflective safety vest to go with my Brooks Nightlife jacket, I won't be running outside in my neighborhood after dark. I just don't feel comfortable and really don't want to become roadkill. Any have any suggestions on headlamps? Either kind to get or where to go to buy one?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Santa Scamper Race Report

This isn't so much a race, but more like a fun run before my hometown's Christmas parade. No chip times. While there are bibs, you don't get a number. Rather you get a W, M, B, or G (women, men, boy, girl, clever, huh?). It's a fun run though, up the main drag in downtown where the streets are crowded with people waiting for the parade.

This year's edition can be summed up in four parts:

Part 1: The first quarter-mile
The start is a little chaotic. Organizers try to make it organized but it doesn't happen. Sure you have the bright neon yellow sign indicating the speedy folks should be up front followed by the 6-minute milers, 7-minute milers, etc. all the way back to the walkers and strollers. But you still end up with families with little kids lining up at the front. Knowing this, I tried to position myself near the front. Heck, I think I was next to the 7-minute mile sign (never gonna happen). The race starts and we go. And for the first quarter-mile I'm dodging the families and little kids who just decide to walk. Or better yet, the little kids who run and then stop dead, turn around and look for their Mom and Dad. This leads to lots of weaving and lots of dodging. And a slower start than I was hoping for.

Part 2: The second quarter-mile
I've managed to separate myself from a good chunk of the kids and am just able to run. Keep a steady pace. No dodging. No weaving. Just me and the pavement.

Part 3: The third quarter-mile
This features a great downhill. Unfortunately I don't think a lot people know how to run a downhill. I like to fly. Let gravity take hold and gain a few extra seconds. Everyone else? It's like they put on the brakes. And decided to come to a halt like 3 people wide. Right in my path. Do you know how hard it is to weave and dodge while flying downhill? It's hard. There were two instances where it wasn't possible to change direction at the last minute and I was that runner who squeezed in between two people. Couldn't help it.

Part 4: The final quarter-mile
Straightaway. Flat. Again, I had separated myself from a good chunk of people so I could just throw the hammer down and make it to the finish line, which is situated at the top of a small little incline. I hit the line, pushed stop on my Garmin and looked down. I was really hoping to turn in a faster time this year than I did last year.

I did it. Barely. But I did it.

I finished this year's Santa Scamper in 8:55, one whole second faster than last year (when I didn't seem to have to do as much weaving and dodging). A new one-mile PR. I was happy. I collected my Dilly Bar and water and walked back uphill for the parade. I'd say it was a good night.

One PR down. One more to go this week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Scampering and trotting

Remember how I mentioned my "off-season" was about to come to an end?

Well, it technically comes to an end today I guess. Because I've got two, count them, two races scheduled in the next three days. Throw in a regularly scheduled rest day on Friday - although I guess I'm still trying to wrap my head around being allowed to have a rest day when I haven't been running much lately. *shurgs* - and follow that up with the first official training run of the Winter Warriors program.

Yup. Pretty sure the off-season is over as of today.

So the two races, what are they?

Tonight it's the Santa Scamper. I don't know if you could really consider it a race. It's more of a fun run. A one-mile dash down College Avenue in Appleton before the start of the Christmas parade. It's a fun one. Last year I turned in my fast mile EVER (8:56). I'm going to see if I can beat that this year, but I might have to pull cool aunt duty and run with my 9-year-old niece. We'll see.

Then Thursday, before I consume turkey and watch the Packers (hopefully) beat up on those Detroit Lions, I'll be running the Festival Foods 5-mile Turkey Trot. I ran the 5-mile version in 2009, the only other time I ran a 5-mile race, and skipped out last year due to cruddy weather and not wanting to get sick the week before I left for the Rock n Roll Las Vegas (a decision that obviously didn't work since I ended up sicker than a dog for that half marathon). Yes, the mileage hasn't really been up there the last two months, but I'm hoping I've still got enough in me to bust out a new 5-mile PR Thanksgiving morning. Besides, can't go wrong with a Thanksgiving Day turkey trot where you're guaranteed to walk away with a pumpkin pie (not that I like pumpkin pie).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hello there blog, a week-long catch up in bullets

Seems like I've disappeared from this blog the last week. Well, it was kind of crazy. Busy. Fun. I give you bullet points.
  • Monday Night Football at Lambeau Field. Need I say more? Amazing experience. So glad my friend Peggy asked me if I wanted to go. The pre-game salute to veterans was pretty cool and the game? What can I say, the Vikings never stood a chance. :) I got home super late after the game and was dragging the entire day at work. But it was so worth it.
  • Wednesday I went to an info session for Fleet Feet's Winter Warriors program. It's a training group that targets a February 15K. I need a group and something to get me back on track with a regular running schedule. The last two months, my "off-season," has been exactly what I needed. After busting my butt for 10 months, I needed a break, to just be able to run when I wanted to, not when a schedule told me to. But it's time. Time to get back to some regularity. Time to start logging some long runs again. Prep for the 2012 half marathon season starts not so bright and early at 7 a.m. on Saturday.
  • Speaking of the 2012 season, I've been thinking about race options. A post to come.
  • Saturday night there was some bachelorette fun. A friend of mine is getting married in the Dominican Republic in early December, so we headed out for dinner, girl time and drinks to celebrate on Saturday. It was fun. And let's just say, I'm not so used to 2 a.m. on Saturday mornings.
  • Throw in some pretty good football games involving the Packers and Badgers over the weekend and forcing myself to finish a not so good book and that was the end of the weekend.
  • And tonight? I wanted to run. I did. But I had to resist the urge to put on the running shoes and head out. Instead I had to make myself look presentable for a first date. Oh boy. That was a rough one. Longest 60 minutes of my life. May have to save that story for a later date. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Football makes Fridays pretty fantastic

Friday afternoons around 4 p.m. are always pretty spectacular. I'm in a good mood. There's only about an hour of work left before I can sneak out of the office for the weekend.

But yesterday? It was pretty amazing. Why? Because of this.

No. Sadly Aaron Rodgers didn't walk into my office. That, my friends, would have been unbelievable and I'm pretty sure you would have been able to hearing me screaming with joy across the blogosphere. Nope. Instead I got a phone call. Again, not Aaron Rodgers. Nope. I got a phone call from my friend Peggy asking me if I wanted to go to the Packer game against those hated Vikings on Monday night with her.

Um, you don't need to ask me twice.

Needless to say I'm pretty excited. Packers. Aaron Rodgers. Clay Matthews. Greg Jennings. Monday night football. Oh, and did I mention this will be my first trip to Lambeau Field for a regular season football game? Yup. It's only taken me 31+ years to finally make it there (I really don't count that pre-season game I was there for in 2008. I was sitting in an air conditioned suite, it was the Bengals - or Browns, not quite sure which orange team from Ohio it was - and I saw more of the practice squad than the starters).

Can't wait.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I think I can call myself a real runner now. I lost part of my toenail! After Fox Cities in September, I ended up with a blister under one of my toenails on my left foot. I knew it would probably be a half marathon casualty, I just wasn't sure how long it would stick around. The past few weeks I've been able to pull the nail away from the nail bed completely and tonight after I soaked my feet, I was trying to loosen it some more. Eventually the hard nail part came off my toe. Yay! There's still a layer of softer tissue (maybe the leftovers from the blister?) that's still attached to my foot, but even that's holding on by just a small piece. So I expect it to come off soon. Is it weird that losing a toenail makes me a little bit excited?

2. I got three runs in on the treadmill this week. I'm not adjusting to this pitch black at 5:30 thing very well. Let's just say I'm looking forward to getting something longer in outside this weekend. The worst part about tonight's run? Trying to get home from the YMCA. Apparently when my city holds a holiday parade (Yes, holiday. Not Christmas), they feel the need to shut down almost every street within a half-mile radius of downtown. Ugh. And then I get stopped by a train. Ugh.

3. Anyone been paying attention to what's going on at Penn State? As a news and sports junkie, I've been reading a lot of it. And all I can say is, wow. And I'll say this. Joe Pa needed to go. But there are a lot of folks still at PSU who also need to be gone.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I wasn't the only one wearing red

So I'm halfway through my 6-day break from work. And I'll be honest. I haven't done much so far. And it's been great. The highlight of the time off will definitely be Saturday, when I took a road trip down to Madison to catch my second - and final - Badger football game of the season.

I wasn't even into the stadium and I ran into this Badger outside of Camp Randall Stadium. Sure he's no Honey Badger, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to make him mad if I ran into him in a dark alley.

The Badger football team huddles up during pre-gram warm ups. Considering they were coming off of two straight last minute losses, I'm pretty sure the theme of the pre-game pep talk was: Hey guys, we CANNOT lose a third straight game at the last minute.

There was the typical Badger Band pre-game show, and since my friend Nicole (who I went to the game with), has some pretty sweet tickets on the 50-yard line, I had a pretty good view. Look who was running right to me! It's Bucky!

There was a football game being played. And while the first two possessions by Purdue left me worried, the Badgers decided to play Wisconsin football. Monte Ball? He was an absolute beast on Saturday - rushing for a career-high 223 yards and three touchdowns.

Now, this is an early November game. Yes, it was a bit chilly and windy. But temperatures were in the lower 50s when the game started at 2:30 and probably dropped to the upper 40s by the time halftime rolled around. During halftime the Purdue folks pulled out their heaters and fired them up. And obviously the Purdue players were cold since they immediately huddled around the warmth. Weaklings.

This was a football game, but I can tie in some running to the post! During one of the commercial breaks, they honored the men's cross country team, which won its 13th consecutive Big Ten title last weekend.

After the break between the third and fourth quarters and "Jump Around" was finished, people started to file out of the stadium. What, the Badgers were up 52-17 and since the sun had set, it was starting to get a bit chilly. But I stuck around. Because dang nab it, I was going to see soak in every minute of Badger football that I could. Wisconsin ended up winning 62-17.

And look who I ran into in the halls of Camp Randall Stadium post-game? It's Bucky! OK. So it was really just a cutout that was part of a display (don't ask me what the display was, I didn't actually look at it), but I couldn't pass up an opportunity for a photo with that Badger!

Overall it was a great trip to Madison. Now I get to watch the rest of the games this season on TV. I'll be back next year though!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. What's that you say? Don't bother going back into work until next Wednesday? Well you don't have to twist my arm. That's right. Today's Day 1 of six work-free days. I had some vacation time to burn and since taking time off around the holidays was out of the question (too many others had already requested it), I found myself using random days in November and December.

2. I don't have a ton of big plans during this stretch of time. Mostly relaxing. I am heading down to Madison on Saturday for my second Badger game of the year. Let's hope they turn things around. I'm not sure I can handle another last second loss. I'm toying with heading down to Devil's Head State Park, a place I've always wanted to go but haven't made it there yet. And I really have no excuses for not getting my runs in. There will also be reading. And the library timed it perfectly and filled my request for True Blood Season 2, so there will be some time spent watching vampires.

3. With Tuesday being Nov. 1, I decided to pull out Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. You know November has 30 days in it. Perfect. I've owned the DVD for over a year, but I've never actually made it all 30 days. Heck, I don't think I've even made it 10 days. But I want to try. Mostly because I know I need to start incorporating some strength and core training into my routine and I'm currently at a loss of where to start. So why not have Jillian tell me what to do and yell at me? Day 1. I finished. Didn't feel too bad. Day 2? Let's just say I took a rest day. The quads? They were killing me. Yeah, they're not so used to all the lunges and squats. Ouch. But I threw in a short run on Wednesday night, and although I still can feel it in the quads, I think I'm going to go for another round of the Shred later tonight and run this afternoon. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October reading recap

I wasn't running so much this month, but I guess I was spending that extra time reading.

I finished six books in October for a total of 1,731 pages. That brings the yearly total to 27 books and 10,048 pages, compared to 32 books and 11,292 books at the end of October last year. Still behind schedule, but I've made up some ground. The 40 book goal still looks kind of tough, but a little bit more doable. With two months left in 2011, I've still got to read 13 books to hit the 40 book goal. That averages out to 6.5 books a month. Can I do? We'll see.

What'd I read in October?

Killer by Sara Shepard
Heartless by Sara Shepard
Wanted by Sara Shepard
Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan
You Are An Ironman by Jacques Steinberg
Miracle Beach by Erin Celello

Yup. More of that young adult lit took up a good portion of the month. But you won't see much more. I've only got one book left in the series, unless Sara Shepard writes a few more in the next few weeks. So I might need to find another quick-reading series. You Are An Ironman was pretty good. No. After reading it I do not want to do an Ironman. Although I do have the urge to get back into triathlons next year. But it was a feeling I was having before reading this book. More like one I've been feeling since, oh June when I didn't line up at the swim start at the High Cliff Tri. Miracle Beach was a great debut novel by a Wisconsin author. Read it if you get the chance and Until Tuesday was a great look at a returning war vet and also the whole concept of a service dog and how important they can be for a person.

I've got no shortage of things to read in November. As always happens with library holds, a bunch of my requests came in at once. And of course the two biggest ones are due back the soonest. Which means I've got less than two weeks left to make it through some monster novels. Good thing I've got a bit of time off coming up.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

YMCA Freaky 5K Race Report

This was a fun Halloween race. And the first race I've ever dressed in costume for.

My parents and I got to the park just after 8 a.m. on Saturday morning and after meeting up with my brother, his wife and their kids, we only had to wait around for about 30 minutes before the race started. It was a little chilly out - about 35 degrees with a ton of sun and no wind - so it was a bit cold, but not to bad. We eventually headed over to the start line and I found us a spot in about the middle of the pack - ahead of a huge cluster of strollers, but it turns out it was still a bit too far back because there were a ton of walkers that I ended up having to weave through.

Before we knew it it was go time.

I really didn't have any expectations going into this race. My running hadn't been very stellar in October, but I was pretty sure I could turn in a decent time, even if it wasn't a PR. I just wanted to see what I could do.

Right out off the bat the race starts with a pretty decent downhill as we head out of the park and along the river. I was running, letting gravity pull me downhill and I saw my oldest nephew run past me. I figured my brother or his wife were right behind me. Let's just say I got a bit of a shock when I glanced to my right and saw my 60-year-old father running downhill next to me.

Uh, there's no way I'm letting my Dad beat me downhill. And I might have told him that as I took off. I didn't see him again until the finish line.

I got down hill and kept running. I knew after a short flat section along the river we'd be heading back uphill. It's not a very long incline, but it's fairly steep. And it feels long. I admit, I wasn't sure how the hill was going to feel. Even though I ran a ton of them this summer, I haven't touched a hill since Fox Cities just over a month ago. And while the hill was brutal, I made it to the top and ran every step. I did take a short walk break at the top though. I kept running after that. Through some neighborhoods and another park, past a high school and through a water stop at about 1.8 miles.

We ran through another neighborhood and before I knew it, I was rounding the corner and the western edge of the park was coming into view again. I knew it was just about a half mile and I'd be at the finish line. I picked up the pace, crossed over some railroad tracks and turned the corner. A tiny wanna-be uphill and I was turning into the park and making my way to the finish line. I picked up the pace again, and based on how I felt, I probably left a little too much in the tank before that finish chute kick.

I ended up finishing in 30:32, not a PR, but I'm pretty happy with it. And it's definitely a PR for the course (I ran this race in 2009 and turned in a time of 34:11).

I didn't pay much attention to my Garmin during the race, but I was aiming to keep my splits between 9:50-10:00 pace. I ended up turning in splits of 9:43, 10:06, 9:52 and :50. Remember Mile 1 had the uphill/downhill combination and the short walk through the water station was accounted for in Mile 2. Pretty happy with those numbers.

So I'd say it was a good day. After I got down, I helped cheer for the rest of my family as they came in. And yes, I got some compliments on my race "costume," too bad it didn't send any good vibes the Badgers' way - for the second week in a row they lost a heart breaker courtesy of a Hail Mary pass. I swear. That team is going to be the death of me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mostly wordless Friday

Hope everyone has a good weekend, whether you're running or not! I'll be back with a race report from the YMCA Freaky 5K at some point this weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. It's going to be a busy Saturday for me. It all starts off with the YMCA Freaky 5K in the morning. I'm going to race the race, but I'm also going to do it decked out in a "costume." Granted it mainly just involves a red and white tutu I made and some Badger gear, but still. I've never run a race in a tutu before. Looking forward to it. Then there's a family picture followed by supervising a kids' Halloween party for The Rugrats. And after all that?

2. It's time to keep the Badger gear on and watch the Badgers (hopefully) bounce back after last weekend's nightmare of a loss and beat Ohio State in Columbus. I swear, anything and everything that could have gone wrong - interceptions, a safety, a blocked field goal, a blocked punt and a crazy Hail Mary pass by Michigan State for a touchdown to end the game - did go wrong. Not a pretty game. Not a typical Badger team. Too many mental mistakes. I'm hoping they can put that nightmare behind them and go into the Horseshoe and play the way the real Wisconsin team plays. Because that was not the Wisconsin Badgers on the field last weekend.

3. And Sunday? I'm going to gun school. See on Nov. 1 a law goes into effect in Wisconsin allowing people to carry concealed weapons. And my bosses thought it would make a great story if we sent a reporter to one of the training classes people have to take in order to obtain a permit. Specifically have a "young, single woman who wants carry a weapon for her own protection" go through the class.

And since I'm the only one in our office who fits the bill - and just so happen to write about crime and other public safety issues - I'm going to gun school. 10 hours worth of it. A good chunk is classroom. But I am going to be spending 4 hours out on a shooting range. As in I needed eye and ear protection and was warned not to wear loose clothing because "hot brass" could fly down the front or back of my shirt. Uh. Ok.This should be interesting. Especially since I've only shot a gun once and I actually have no desire to carry a concealed weapon. Never mind the fact that I don't actually own a gun - but that's OK. I get to rent one for the day Sunday. All I can say is it's a good thing the Packers are on a bye week this Sunday.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tis the season for challenges!

So what better way to stay accountable through the holiday season other than signing up for some challenges?

In addition to my 1,000 mile for the year goal, I'm going to be involved in two other challenges (well, there's a possibility of a third, but the details are still be worked out on that one) - the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge and the Pile on the Miles Challenge.

Let's talk booties first. The Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge - or HBBC for short - is hosted by Amanda over at Run to the Finish. You earn points for things like running, eating your vegetables, and other forms of cardio and log your points for chances to win some pretty sweet prizes. This will be my third year participating in the challenge and I plan to throw up a weekly wrap up blog post for point totals. The challenge runs Nov. 19 through Jan. 6, so there's still plenty of time to sign up if you're interested. Go here and follow the directions. Come and join us!

Pile on the Miles...this should fit in well with my 1,000 mile goal. The challenge is hosted by Monica of Eat Run Repeat and the premise is simple. Rack up miles running and walking instead of packing on the pounds during the month of November. Log at least 5 miles per week and get entered into drawings. Go to this post for rules and how to sign up.

So what are you waiting for? Go pile up some miles and bust your booties! I know I'm pretty excited.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The blog is back!

Tap, tap, tap. Is this thing on?

I think I've fixed my computer issues. Or at least fixed them enough for my computer to be functional for another couple of months so that I can get a nice check from the tax man to buy myself a new computer. At least I hope it'll hold out until then.


You didn't miss much while I wasn't blogging. Not only was I not blogging, I wasn't really running either. I think the last nine months of pushing myself for those half marathon PRs finally caught up to me. I just wanted a break. To not have to worry if I missed a run or didn't log a long run over the weekend if I didn't feel like it. I just wanted to run when I felt like running.

And honestly, I didn't feel like running much. It was so infrequent that I'm on pace to hit my lowest mileage month of the year. And it will be a bit of a scary low number. Of course that kind of puts a wrench in my plans to hit 1,000 miles for the year and as a result I'm going to need some major mileage months during November and December to hit that goal. Gulp.

But I think I might be back on track. I ran tonight. I wasn't sure how far it was going to be. I have been feeling good - battling a wanna-be cold and this nasty headache that has refused to leave my head for the last few days - but after I was done with work tonight, I made myself hit the YMCA treadmill (it was windy, colder and on and off rain). At first I was shooting for 3 miles. Then I made myself hit 4. And honestly I was feeling good, so I aimed for 6. And I did it. Hopefully this means I'm back on track with the running.

I do have a couple of blog posts in mind to catch you up on what's been going on. I'm crossing my fingers I can get to them in the next week. And as long as my computer behaves, I just might be able to get them posted.

It's good to be back!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Please stand by

While I'm not dead, there's a chance my computer is nearing death.

It hasn't been working. I think it might have a virus, but I can't run my virus software because apparently my hard drive is essentially full, even though I've taken every document, photo and video off it and moved it onto an external hard drive.

Cross your fingers I can figure something out and hopefully I can get back to blogging soon.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Don't get me wrong. I like this Indian summer we're having here Wisconsin. Really can't argue too much when we've got temps in the upper 70s, sun, no clouds and barely any wind. The thing I don't like? I'm kind of over the whole, "dripping so much it looks like I just stepped out of the shower" phase when it comes to my runs. If I was running at noon, during the hottest part of the day, maybe I could understand. But I went for my run at 6 p.m. tonight and by the time I got home 4 miles later, the sun had set and it was starting to get dark. And I was still dripping wet. Hey Mother Nature. Let's compromise. How about upper 60s? That would make me happy.

2. Uh, what am I going to do this weekend? The Badgers have a bye week and the Packers don't play until Sunday night football. That's a lot of extra time to fill. Oh yeah. That's right. I've got a 25-mile bike ride for breast cancer awareness on tap along with having to fit in an 8- or 9-mile run. And a whole lot of extra time to enjoy the outdoors. Can't wait.

3. I can't avoid it. I've got to mention something about Steve Jobs. I admit. I'm not the type of person that needs everything Apple. Yes, I have an iPod (two actually - a shuffle and a classic). Yes, I considered getting an iPhone, but I ultimately went with a Droid. I like my PC. I don't have an iPad. But I like the Apple products.

I keep going back to that commencement speech Jobs gave at Standford in 2005. He said some great stuff. Things that apply to all aspects of life. And because this is my blog, I can do what I want. And I'm putting those nuggets of information here. Mostly for me, but maybe they'll make you think as well.

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever."

"You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Yes, they're the three quotes that everybody has been throwing around on Twitter and Facebook. But that must mean the man when on to something when he said them if they still pack a punch six years later. I think the man knew about more than just computers. RIP Steve Jobs.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October could be another good month!

Remember all the good stuff I had going in September? A Labor Day 5K, Ironman Wisconsin spectating, a monster PR at Fox Cities?

Well October looks like it could be just as fun.
It all starts this weekend. When the calendar flips over to October it seems like everything turns pink. And for a good reason: It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Well, this year I'm going to publicly do something to try to raise awareness. I'm riding in the 25-mile Trek Breast Cancer Awareness Ride on Saturday morning with Peggy. Like so many other people, it's a disease that's affected my family. My grandmother passed away from the disease when I was 4. So I figure riding 25 miles this weekend, decked out in pink, is the least I can do. Plus it's supposed to be gorgeous.

Then next weekend? This Badgergirl is heading to Camp Randall! Yup! I'm going to see Wisconsin beat up on Indiana with Renee on Oct. 15. So. Excited. And it's homecoming. Yay!

And don't forget Halloween. But that weekend I'm also running the YMCA Freaky 5K. And I'm going to have fun with it. Yes. I'm running in a costume. Can't wait.

There will also be reading. And running, gotta keep chasing that 1,000 mile goal for the year. And while the month isn't quite as chock full of goodness as September was, I still think it'll be a pretty good month.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Not much substance here

Badgers. Packers. Brewers.

Sigh. That my friends was an amazing weekend in Wisconsin sports. But even with all of those great games to watch, I did get a few other things done this weekend. A long run on Sunday. Putting together the perfect pink outfit for a Saturday event (which I'll tell you more about later this week). And enjoying this Indian summer that we're getting here in Wisconsin.

Today was a day off of running. But like I said, we're having some pretty spectacular weather here in Wisconsin for early October. Upper 60s to lower 70s. Sun. Great weather. So instead of letting this stuff go to waste, when I got home I changed my clothes and hopped on my bike for a short ride before it got too dark. I ended up getting in a 45 minute ride, about 8 miles at an easy pace. I felt nice to change it up and hit the road on my bike instead of for a run. The one thing I realized though? When it's 65 degrees outside, you can totally get away with a t-shirt and shorts and be comfortable. But when you're on the bike? A short-sleeved t-shirt is a bit chilly. Oops. Oh well. It was still a good bike ride.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

September reading recap

Welcome to October.

It's a big day here in Wisconsin. You knows. Brewers. Badgers. And at some point I need to fit in a run - since it was a "feels like" temperature of 35 this morning and I didn't pack clothes for that kind of cold, I had to push it back. But first, I give you a quick monthly reading recap. Because I've been reading.

In September I finished five books for 1,572 pages. That brings the yearly totals to 21 books and 8,317 pages. Compare that to last year when I had finished 26 books and 9,362 pages by the end of September. I still have that pesky goal of 40 books by the end of the year. I'm just over halfway with only three months remaining in the year! I need to average 6.3 books per month to finish with 40. Eek! It'll be tough, but it might be doable. Might.

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

A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard
Flawless by Sara Shepard
Perfect by Sara Shepard
Unbelievable by Sara Shepard
Wicked by Sara Shepard

Do you see a theme here? Yes, I knocked out four straight books in the Pretty Little Liars series. Yes. It's a series aimed at teens - four prep school girls from a swanky Pennsylvania suburb who are tormented by a stalker they initially thought was their dead friend. But guys, it's good. Sucks you in. Can't stop reading them. I've got three more to read - that I know of - and I can't wait to finish them.

So you can beat there will be some more Pretty Little Liars reading in October. And I've got a couple others sitting on my shelf that came in at the library. And of course they're all due back by Oct. 25, which means October should be a pretty busy month reading-wise.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I seriously can't wait for Saturday. Not only is it the opening weekend of Big 10 football, but Nebraska's coming to Camp Randall to take on the Badgers. A match up between to top 10 teams? I'll take it. I'm jealous I won't actually be in the stadium, or even Madison, where the atmosphere is bound to be absolutely electric. But you can be sure that I'll be sporting my Wisconsin red and parked in front of a TV watching every second of the game. Can't. Wait. Go Badgers! And looking for something good to read? Here's a great piece on Wisconsin's offensive line - or rather, those Big Uglies with a caveman spirit. Love it.

2. OK. Running. I should talk about that. Three runs in three days. I think it's safe to say I've found my running mojo again. And it feels good.Now I've just got to find a few races to keep me on track. I'm already planning on doing a Halloween 5K for fun and I'm pretty sure I'll be putting together some kind of "costume" to run in. That would be a first! And in November there's always the Santa Scamper before the Christmas parade and a turkey trot on Thanksgiving Day. But I think I'm going to add in a 15K on Thanksgiving weekend. I've never done that race distance before, so automatic PR! And December? Well there's a local 5K I've always wanted to run, but schedules have never meshed. This year might be the year. And don't forget, the 1,000 mile goal for the year is still out there...I'm 249.5 miles away from hitting it.

3. Speaking of races. Remember when I ran the Run for the Paws 5K on Labor Day? I came home from work tonight and found this in my mailbox. My 30:30 time (on super tired legs) was good enough for third place in my age group (30-39). Nothing like a small race to get myself some age group bling. Come to think of it, the last time I ran the race - in 2009 - I also came home with a third place age group award.

Bonus: It's actually a huge weekend in the state of Wisconsin for sports. There's the Badgers. But there's also the Milwaukee Brewers, who open up postseason play at Miller Park Saturday afternoon against the Arizona Diamondbacks with a second game planned for Sunday afternoon, the same time the Green Bay Packers are going to be battling it out against the Denver Broncos at Lambeau Field. Oh it will be a good weekend. Can't wait.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Not a whole lot to say

I've got nothing today. So you get this instead.

Oh, I guess I did have a pretty spectacular run tonight. Based on the last two days, I think I might have found my running mojo that went missing for the last week.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My desire to run went AWOL

I won't lie.

The running has been very very minimal since I crossed the line at the Fox Cities Half Marathon just over a week ago. I had that 3-mile run late last week. And then I had good intentions to get something longer in over the weekend.

And well, I came up with more excuses than miles. Rain. The treadmill wasn't appealing. I had to watch the Badger game Saturday afternoon. Name the excuse and I probably used it.

Once again, I had good intentions on running on Monday. Heck, I even packed a gym bag to take to work since I knew it was going to be raining - hard - all day. But then I worked a little late. And I came up with an excuse not to turn left and head over to the YMCA after I left my work parking lot.

But tonight. I put an end to the excuses. I had the gym bag in my car again, but opted to go home and run outside since it was cool and overcast and there wasn't a chance for rain. I set out for my run, not really knowing how far I was going to go. I just wanted to see what it felt like. And you know what? It felt good. My pace was comfortably hard but I was enjoying the run. I ended up doing 4.65 miles. I would have loved to tack on an extra 1.5 miles for an even 6 miles, but it was starting to get dark and I wasn't dressed appropriately for night time running in a neighborhood with no sidewalks and busy streets.

So it felt good. My plan is log a few miles again tomorrow after work and then meet up with a friend for about 4 miles on Thursday after work. And this weekend? Something longer will get done, just not sure how many miles, when or if they will be run solo or with some of my Fleet Feet buddies.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I went for my first post-Fox Cities half marathon run tonight. It was perfect running weather - cool enough for long sleeves, but still comfortable in a pair of shorts. Loved it. When I headed out I wasn't sure how far I was going to go. I wanted to see how the legs felt and my one toe on my left foot has been bothering me this week, it's some combination of a blister and bruise. But the legs were feeling good when I hit two miles, so I tacked on an extra mile. It was nice to not worry about pace or time and just run tonight.

2. Granted even if I wanted to care about pace, I couldn't. I ran the run naked since my Garmin was dead. It was low on a battery Sunday, so I hooked it up to the charger. And today? I couldn't even get the thing to turn on. Hmmm. Is my Garmin dead? Nearing death? Was the lack of audible beeps at the mile intervals a warning sign? Thoughts?

3. A belated recognition of a momentous occasion here on the blog. Sometime over the weekend, I believe it was the Ironman Wisconsin spectating report, I posted my 1,000th post. That's a lot words that I've spewed forth on this blog. Here's to the next 1,000 posts.