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.