Wednesday, December 31, 2014

And 2014 is in the books

Hard to believe 2014 is done. It was a year full of memories created with friends and family. Some good stuff and some bad.

It was the winter of the Polar Vortex. So dang cold I pretty much only left my apartment to go to work.
 Ragnar Florida Keys #Whale Van 1 girls!

Soaking up the Key West sunshine with Mo and Erica.

Goodbye, Florida Keys. It was fun.

But for the first time ever, I planned a winter vacation and it couldn't have come at a better time. In February I boarded a plane bound for Miami for Ragnar Florida Keys. After two days of running, I spent a few days soaking up the sunshine and warmth in Key West.

Who can forget the Badgers run to the Final Four? That was spectacular.

I was supposed to run the Green Bay Half Marathon in May, but a teenager from Kimberly had different plans for me when she ran a stop sign and crashed into my car when I was on my way to packet pickup. My little blue Ford Focus died. It was a good 12 years with that car.

 Ragnar Chicago Eve with Erica and Renee.

Another Ragnar Chicago in the books!

June brought another Ragnar adventure with a van full of 5 friends during Ragnar Chicago. I still say Ragnar is the best 36 hours of little sleep a person can have.

A foggy run on Milwaukee trails.

 Madison, one of my favorite cities.

The rest of the summer was spent recovering from a pesky back injury, exploring state parks, wandering amongst thousands of airplanes, "running" a half marathon on trails through Milwaukee parks and more.
 Badger football tailgating with Sara, Renee and Erica!

There were trips to Madison for Ironman Wisconsin spectating and Badger football.

And suddenly, it's New Year's Eve. Looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tyranena Beer Run race report

The calendar says I'm getting this race report written before the race was technically a month ago, so that's a win, right?

I went into the Tyranena Beer Run with absolutely no expectations. I mean, I hadn’t run in a month. I was going to be fighting a steady 20 mile per hour wind. I didn’t have a clue what to expect on the course since I’ve never run the sixth-barrel at Tyranena before. Lots of unknowns.

All I wanted to do was finish. And have fun with my friends.

And I did.

But if you really want to know, I finished in 54 minutes, a solid 12:00 minute/mile pace. Which yes, is a little slow. But remember, no expectations. And that does include a couple of walk breaks. I’m proud to say I ran most of the hills.

Like I said, the route was new to me. It started out the same 1.5 miles or so through downtown that the half marathon runs, but then it makes a left hand turn uphill into a neighborhood. This was the only hill that I walked in its entirety. It was long. And kind of steep. The course stayed in neighborhoods, winding its way passed some pretty houses to a lakeside park, where there was a water stop at Mile 2. I then ran along the lake for a bit more and eventually ran back up a long hill into some more neighborhoods and suddenly found myself running passed Lake Mills High School, the site of Exchange 6 for Ragnar. Unlike the half marathon route, we never got dumped into the industrial park, and the one small section where it had that little bit of an industrial park feel, it was still pretty. If that makes any sense. Then one last turn and I was back at the brewery.

Can I let you in on a secret? Yes. I didn’t get a medal and there was no unofficial beer stop on the race route. And yes, it was kind of annoying that we had to wait an hour after the half marathoners started before we could run, but I liked this option.

So many times I say I’m going to keep training after Fox Cities, but I always end up going into Tyranena kind of undertrained and not quite in race shape. So it takes me longer than normal to finish. And by that time, my friends have all been done for up to 45 minutes, they’ve inhaled their post-race lasagna and are nearing the time when they pack up and are getting ready to go home.

In other words, I miss out on some of the post-race fun.

This year? We all finished within 15 minutes of each other. So we were all basically sitting down to enjoy our beer, lasagna and post-race fun at the same time. It was great. If I had to register tomorrow for the 2015 race, chances are I’d sign up for the sixth-barrel option, unless I am certain that I’m going to be in race-ready shape to run 13.1 miles. It’ll be a decision I’ll make next summer though.

Friday, December 5, 2014

November reading recap

I always have good intentions to blog, but apparently I've become a once or twice a month blogger. Eh. Someday that might change.

At least I'm consistent with coming back at the beginning of the month to tell you what I read the month before. In November I read a lot. Like 11 books or 3,758 pages a lot. It brings the yearly total to 87 books and 29,124 pages. Yup. That 77-book goal I set way back in January was crushed. And I'm still reading.

What'd I read?

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young
Dare to You by Katie McGarry
Fall From India Place by Samantha Young
The Burning by Jane Casey
Bared to You by Sylvia Day
Reflected in You by Sylvia Day
Entwined in You by Sylvia Day
Captivated by You by Sylvia Day

Apparently I wanted to read multiple books by single authors this month.

And now for the brief reviews, complete with number of stars given out on GoodReads. Follow me here if you’d like a more timely update on what I’m reading, what I think and what’s been added to my to-read list.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel  ****
I honestly can't remember how this ended up on my "to read" list. I didn't know a whole lot about it going in, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It was different. And I liked it.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin  ****
I had heard some good reviews of this one and I liked the cover. It was a good, quick read

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks  ****
A typical Nicholas Sparks book. I think it's really a 3.5, but I was feeling generous and rounded up. Always a good option when you want quick and mindless.

Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young  ****
I like the series and while they all have followed the same basic plot, they're different enough that they're still enjoyable.

Dare to You by Katie McGarry  ***
Still trying to remember why I even bothered. Kind of predictable and honestly, a bit too long.

Fall From India Place by Samantha Young  ***
As much as I like this author and this series, this was just kind of "meh."

The Burning by Jane Casey  ****
Another one that I don't remember how it ended up on my list, but I'm glad it did. If you like Tana French, chances are you'll like this. It's a murder with a female detective trying to figure out what's going on. Good stuff.

Bared to You  ****, Reflected in You ****, Entwined With You  **** and Captivated by You  **** by Sylvia Day
I've read the first three, but I read them one to two years ago. When the newest installment came out earlier this fall, I knew I would have to reread the first three in order to refresh my memory about what's going on with Eva and Gideon. I still say while similar, this is far better series than 50 Shades of Grey.

With one month to go, I'm still going with the goal to "read as many books as possible" before the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve. While I think it would be cool to hit triple digits, that would require a lot of reading and I know December will be a busy month. I'd be happy to finish somewhere in the 90s though.

What have you got on your "to read" list before 2014 is done?