Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012

In less than five hours, I'm supposed to rip off the last page of my 2012 calendar and start a new one.

Only problem. I don't have a 2013 calendar yet. Technicality.

But I can look back at 2012 and reflect on what a year it was.

It was an OK year.

I ran 672 miles. Way less than the 1,000 I was shooting for, but a cranky IT band will do that. And of course losing motivation to run this last month didn't help. But it was enough miles to run six half marathons, a bunch of 5Ks, a 55-mile relay from Oshkosh to Green Bay with a great bunch of girls I met in my running group and a 198-mile relay from Madison to Chicago with 11 other bloggers. At times I loved running. At times I hated it. And sometimes I just tolerated it.

I road tripped to Ohio with one of my good friends to run a half marathon through the Ohio State campus. While wearing Badger gear. I survived.

And speaking of Badgers. I started the year out watching the Badgers lose in the Rose Bowl to Oregon. But I did get a chance to head back to Madison and catch a Badger basketball game at the Kohl Center and a football game at Camp Randall. And many more times yelling at the TV.

I read. A lot. A complete rundown will come in the next few days.

I had good days and bad and some in between days. Moments I don't want to forget. Moments I couldn't forget fast enough.

All in all, an OK year.

I'm looking forward to what 2013 has in store.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Snowshoeing and being stalked

Let me tell you a story of the best Christmas present I got and wildlife. And how those two things are related.

Every year I get some Christmas/birthday cash from my Godmother. Money that I'm able to use to get exactly what I want for Christmas. This year I ended up heading over to Scheel's on the day after Christmas.

Not running shoes. Not running clothes. Nothing running related.

I had my eye on a pair of snowshoes. I actually started thinking about getting a pair last year, but since it was an abnormally warm Wisconsin winter with no snow, it didn't make sense. So I didn't.

But we've already had a foot of snow dumped on us just over a week ago and got another 6 or 7 inches on Friday. So there's white stuff on the ground. Which made my snowshoe purchase make sense.

I got my snowshoes on Wednesday and took them on a short romp around my parents' backyard when I got home. But I took them for their first real outing on Thursday afternoon.

After doing some errands in the afternoon, I headed over to a local nature preserve that's near my parents' house. It's got about 3 miles of trails of varying length. I got there, parked, strapped on my shiny new snowshoes, hit play on the iPod and headed off on the one-mile green trail.

It was a loop through the woods and along the outer edge of the preserve. Very pretty. Lots of snow. Some of the trail was kind of packed down, which wasn't very fun, but I did manage to find some untouched snow that I could tromp through.

So I'm nearing the end of the trail. I could see the roof of the building through the trees. I come around a corner and there in the clearing was a deer. A nice sized deer. Probably a doe since there were no antlers. He was just standing there in the clearing, chomping on some tree limbs or something. Looking at me.

He was about 20 feet away and at first I thought this was cool. I mean, a deer. So close. Normally they see a human, get spooked and bolt. Not this guy. And then I realize he's not alone. Nope. He's got 4 of his buddies hanging out with him. Oh. This just got a bit cooler.

I snapped a few pictures and I was ready to go. I kept on going, round a corner and then I was back by the deer. Still standing there. Still chomping. Still looking at me. Only now I was closer to him. He was like 15 feet away. Chomping. Looking at me. Really closer to the trail that I was on.

Hmm. What to do?

I yelled. Nope. I stomped my snowshoes. Nothing. I cranked up the volume on my cell phone and played it, hoping he's bounce off through the woods. Nope. I flashed my headlamp (it was starting to get dusky). Nada.

In fact, instead of bouncing away. This deer? He took a bite. Looked at me. AND MOVED CLOSER TO ME! Chomp, chomp, chomp.

I started thinking. What the heck? Aren't deer scared of people? Why aren't they running off through the woods? Didn't they see Bambi?

Instead I've got five deer slowly coming closer to me. And just staring at me as they chomped on their tree sticks.

Oh dear (no pun intended). Do deer attack? Or are these five deer plotting to attack me?

I turned around. Went back the way I came and headed off on another trail that would take me back to the parking lot. When I saw a SIXTH deer bounding through the woods towards his friends. Yup. They're plotting. There's a little gang of deer at this nature preserve out to get me.

I got out of the woods and headed down another trail that was through a prairie - at least then the deer would be in the open, not hidden in the woods plotting. Unfortunately, when I was done and I came out of the last little bit of wooded area by the park's building, there they were.

All six deer. Standing there. Waiting for me. Then they ran off and I left. I survived an eminent deer attack.

Now after telling my story, I've been told these are probably just very non-spookable deer. Very used to people. Heck, my Dad said they were probably waiting for a treat from me - which is possible. I mean, how tasty can tree limbs be?

Well, those thoughts were solidified today when I went back. And as I was snowshoeing through the woods I cam upon my deer friends again. This time I was so close I could have patted it on its nose. All four of them. But of course, all they did was just stare at me. And chomp on whatever they were eating.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Oh the weather, it will be frightful

Source: National Weather Service

 Well, if no one ever hears from me again, it's because of this.

See that 14.5 in the orange section near the bottom? That's where I live. Add to it the 30 mile per hour sustained winds with gusts up near 50 and we find ourselves under a blizzard warning.

And this reporter has to go to work. And drive in those conditions.

Great. That sounds safe.

Add to the last time I drove in considerable snow was that one time in February 2011 when I crashed my car. Twice. Yeah, I'm a tiny bit freaked out.

Now, if I could just stay home and watch the snow fall outside as I sipped a mug of hot chocolate? I'd love tomorrow's weather. And I'm still going to be pretty excited to play in the snow once it's done falling. It's just that whole driving and working in it that has me worried.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. I'll be blunt. I haven't been running. Nope. I've had good intentions. I've packed my gym bag, told myself I was going to run. But when it comes time to actually lace up the shoes and pound the pavement? Nope. Not happening. Part of me feels a little guilty. Part of me doesn't. I'm calling it a break. I'll get back into a routine soonish. Probably the first of the year.

2.So what have I been doing? Not a whole heck of a lot. Reading. I managed to catch up on this season of Glee and still have Revenge and Once Upon a Time on my list of shows to catch up on. And you know what? I've liked this lazy period.

3. And the holidays? Oh boy. I can't believe Christmas is so close. And me? I haven't even STARTED to get ready. No present has been bought. Wrapping hasn't even been thought about. No cards have been mailed. Yes, my tree is up, but that's the extent of my preparation. Looks like it's time to put on a Santa hat and start getting things done.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Race for the Light 5K Race Report

Well, the final race of 2012 is in the books.

A few weeks ago I decided to do the Race for the Light 5K just for fun. It's a local race, one that I've never run during the six years I've lived in Oshkosh. I've either been out of town of the weather has just been absolutely miserable. I mean, it's the first weekend in December. In Wisconsin. It can be freezing cold.

But it was anything but bone-chilling cold last  Saturday. In fact, it was like in the 40s when the race started at 4:30. There was a bit of a drizzle, but nothing bad.

Like I mentioned, going into this race I knew I just wanted to have fun. It's a 5K that's run through one of the parks in Oshkosh and the park is decked out in a TON of Christmas lights. So it's a very scenic race. I was running this with my good friend Peggy and I picked up pair of headbands - complete with Rudolph heads that featured blinking red noses - and blinky Christmas light necklaces.

Oh yes, those are dumpsters you spy in the background. Classy. :)

The 5K was actually the second part of our very fitness filled Saturday. We started the morning out at the Fitness Frenzy at the YMCA. It was two hours broken down into four 30-minute sessions of samplings of classes that are offered. And it was tough. Our class sampling? Classes by the name of Butt and Legs. Core. Med Ball Blast and Strength and Resistance. And a common theme? Lots of squats, lunges, mountain climbers, planks. Yeah, it kicked my butt.

And afterwards? Peggy said we'd be off to run that sub-30 minute 5K. I hoped she was kidding, because my legs were trashed.

A few hours after finishing up the frenzy, we headed to the park and the race started.

The first mile went well, sub 10. But then my legs started to rebel a bit and I could feel the pace slowing down. By this point, we were in the park and I was ok with slowing my pace just to take in the lights. We slowed, looked at the lights and talked about plans for next year.

And 34 minutes and some second later we finished the 3.25 mile course. Yes, it was intentionally long. Something about marking an anniversary of the event (10 years I think). A good way to end the year.

Then it was off for some beer, some pizza and to watch the Badgers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tyranena Half Barrel Race Report

Beer at the finish line.

That's one way to make running 13.1 miles an enjoyable experience. Another one? The promise of getting to hang out with a ton of runner friends.

That was the key for the Tyranena Half Barrel Run, a 13.1 mile jaunt around Rock Lake on Nov. 3. Beer. Friends. Fun. And since it was the sixth half marathon of the year, I had run my best race of the year at the Fox Cities Half Marathon at the end of September, my only goal going into Tyranena was to have fun.

And I did.

For starters, it's always a good race when you can sleep in until 7:30 a.m. on race morning, take your time getting ready and still make the 1.5 hour drive to the race and STILL have plenty of time to spare and meet up with friends. Yes. I think I loved that 11:30 a.m. start time.

Pretty soon, it was time to head to the starting corral. Like I said, no expectations. Just to run. Finish. So I lined up near the back, took my time and ran along with Kelsey for a bit. At some point, I was feeling good, so I pulled away a bit.

The first few miles were out of town, along a country road that ran along the lake. Scenic. I hit a water station and shortly after that I took a left turn and was greeted with the first of two hills that I'd been warned about. Steep. Short. Kind of a nasty incline.

Now, my IT band is still a bit cranky. I haven't run hills in ages and I didn't want to make it too mad at me 4 miles into a half marathon. If I was smart, I would have slowed up and walked the hill. But I'm stubborn. I ran it. And the second hill. Oops. This is a decision that will come back to haunt me.

I kept running. Through a very pretty lakeside residential area. There was even an "unofficial" beer stop somewhere around Mile 5. Yes. I stopped. It's important to hydrate while running. :) Through a park, out on a country road passed a farm and jumping onto the Glacial Drumlin Trail, where I'd run for the next 4 miles.

Now, the trail wasn't awful. But right around Mile 8 is when my stubbornness started to kick me in the backside. The IT band? Ooh, it was mad. And it let me know it. So I started to throw in some walking, all the while just wanting to be done. Unfortunately the finish line was still 5 miles away. Ugh.

So I ran some. I walked some. Right around Mile 10 we got to leave the trail and were in an industrial park - so much for scenery. I continued my run/walk strategy, because at this point, I just wanted to finish, get some beer and hang with friends.

After a walk during Mile 11.5, I glanced behind me and not too far behind me was Kelsey and Erica. At that point I decided to slow up, wait for them and finish this darn race with them. They were doing a run/walk method too and at least I'd have company for the final miles.

So that's what we did. We crossed the finish line, got our medals and then got in line for the huge lasagna post-race meal complete with beer and friends.

By far it wasn't my fastest half marathon of the year. But it was tons of fun. And I'll be back next year, because who can argue with a beautiful course (minus the industrial park), great friends and beer?