Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: A look back at the year

It's kind of hard to believe that 2010 is almost done. Personally I'm still trying to figure out what happened to the month of January. Or March. Even July. It just seemed like the year flew by. It was full of some exciting moments and some great opportunities yet at the same time there were a few disappointments and struggles. But overall it was a pretty good year. Let's take a quick look back at some of the highlights:

I said hello to my 30s and celebrated by completing an indoor triathlon and picking up some first place hardware, going out for some tasty Mexican with friends and catching a Division III college basketball game.

There was a new man in my life. OK. Not a man of the human kind. I finally caved and used some birthday money to treat myself to a Garmin 305, which I named Gus. We feel in love instantly.

I recorded my highest mileage month ever when I logged 72.5 miles.

I got locked up. Well not literally, but I did spend an evening at Alcatraz when I flew out to San Francisco to visit my college roommate. There was also wine tasting in Napa Valley and a 4-mile run through a very hilly cemetery. It was a great trip. And one that I'm glad I took since my friend recently left California behind and moved back to Chicago!

My dad caught the walking bug. His company was a major sponsor of the Sole Burner, a 5K in my hometown that raises money for the American Cancer Society, and since they were paying for employees' registration, he decided to walk the 3.1 miles. It was cute. Dad was worried about being able to cover the distance. But he rocked the 5K. I was glad I got the chance to do it with him (well, I ran). It was the first of three 5Ks my Dad did this year.
I tackled the half marathon for the first time since battling The Monster. I finished the Green Bay Half Marathon with a lap around Lambeau Field and set a new personal record in the process. I'd say that was a good way to reintroduce myself to half marathons.

I survived swimming through whitecaps, biking into a nasty headwind and running up a cliff road at the High Cliff Sprint Triathlon. And set a new PR at the event in the process.

Looking back, July could be remembered as the month of racing. There were three races - the Firecracker 5K, the Trek Women's Sprint Triathlon and the Scheel's Sunset 5K - all within a two week period. Of course the highlight might just be finally getting my picture taken with Bucky Badger at the Firecracker 5K. Seriously. How can a Badger fan go 30 years without getting a picture?

It was hot. And humid. And the thought of running long distances outdoors wasn't appealing. So I decided to take my long run indoors. But not on the treadmill. Nope. Instead I ran 9 miles on the indoor track at the YMCA, where 11 laps equal a mile. For those keeping track that's 99 laps. A lot of running in circles. Maybe I should just learn how to get up early during the summer.

I became one of Lady Gaga's little monsters when I drove my dad and cousin down to Milwaukee for her concert at the Bradley Center. The concert was actually pretty amazing and well worth the trip down. And most importantly, my dad had a great time.

September was also the random meeting of an elementary school friend at the expo for the Fox Cities Half Marathon. It was a great mini-Columbus Elementary School reunion among three good friends and the race wasn't too awful either. Set another PR.

 While I could make the argument about the Badgers being a highlight for the entire year (hello, Rose Bowl?) I'll stick them in the October slot. Because after opening the Big Ten season with a loss at Michigan State, Bucky came on strong with back-to-back wins against then-No. 1 Ohio State at Camp Randall (so wish I could have been there) and then on the road at Iowa. Those were the two games when I first looked at the schedule that had me worried. I was thinking best case scenario they'd split. But Wisconsin pulled it out. The magic continued through the rest of the season, where the Badgers ended up outscoring their opponents 235-84 over their final four games on their way to an 11-1 record, a No. 5 BCS ranking and a chance to take on TCU in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. Magical. (Note: The picture is actually J.J. Watt after the Badgers beat Northwestern in late November.)

The Santa Scamper is supposed to be a fun run. It's held every year before my hometown Christmas parade and it's a one-mile run down the parade route so there's a ton of crowd support! I'm not sure if it's because I was so freaking cold or if all the running I've been doing this year has paid off, but I posted my fastest mile time ever, 8:56. I hope to lower it even more at next year's edition.

Las Vegas. Need I say more? There was sightseeing. A ton of walking. A moment when I straddled the state line and the right side of my body was in Arizona while the left half of me was in Nevada at the Hoover Dam. And oh yeah, that whole half marathon thing. Even though I was sick and my legs were dead tired and decided to revolt at Mile 10, I still had a blast. Great trip.

And I'm crossing my fingers that everything goes to plan today and I'm able to sneak in a 9.7 mile run, which would put me at 600 miles for the year. That would be the most miles I've ever run in a year before.

Overall I'd say it was a good year. But I'm looking forward to seeing what 2011 has in store.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. After essentially taking last week off, I've gotten in some pretty good runs this week. Six on Tuesday with an extra mile walk - what, I couldn't leave the treadmill with the Badgers hold a 3-point lead over Minnesota in the Border Battle and 2 minutes left in the basketball game. And yes, those 2 minutes took 15 minutes to play with all the fouls, free throws, time outs and commercials. Add in another 6.15 tonight with an added 2 mile run/walk at the end just because it was still early and I didn't want to go home.

Here's the problem though. With one day left in 2010 I'm 9.7 miles from hitting the 600 miles I was aiming for this year (well, originally it was 750, then 1,000, then 750 and finally 600. It's a goal that's been adjusted a few times). Not knowing if I can handle almost 10 miles on the treadmill at once, do I attempt to do two runs tomorrow? One before going into work at noon and one after work before the clock strikes midnight? I dunno. My legs might hate me.

2. I forgot how nice it is to be able to be able to leave work early. I had to use up an extra 2.5 hours of vacation time today, which meant I got to leave the office at 3:30 p.m. Heaven! If there wasn't a dense layer of fog and freezing drizzle coming down, I would have headed outdoors for my run. But since I didn't want to get hit by an inattentive driver who didn't quite understand the concept of headlights in nasty fog or fall on my tush due to ice, I went inside. And was done with my extra long workout by the time I'm usually first getting to the gym.

3. Twitter has been utterly distracting this week. All those #RoseBowlUW hashtags? It's like a play-by-play of what's going on out in Pasadena as the Badgers get ready for their Rose Bowl showdown against TCU this weekend. And even though I was lucky enough to have a Rose Bowl experience, reading about everything that's going on out there? Makes me wish I was there again. Next time.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three Things Thursday: The Kind of Random Edition

1. I went out for a little girl's night dinner with my friend Jess tonight after work. We ended up at a Mexican place in town. And the special tonight? Just happened to be 2 for 1 margaritas. And while I don''t drink a ton, a margarita sounded mighty tasty tonight. So that's what we got. I'm not sure if it's due to the fact that other than my $6 Miller Lite in a plastic cup I had in Las Vegas earlier this month I can't honestly remember the last time I had an alcoholic beverage. I'm not sure if it's because of that, drinking them through a tiny straw or the possibility the bartender made them super strong, but for some reason those two drinks? They left me feeling a tiny tiny bit tipsy.

2. I still haven't completely unpacked from my trip to Las Vegas earlier this month. I don't have a ton left to put away though. I've just got a few small piles, mostly of stuff I picked up at the expo or at the sight seeing places we went. I'll get it done after Christmas. Hopefully.

3. I'm considering signing up for a Netflix account. Yes. I'm a bit behind on the times. No. I do not rent movies from the Blockbuster, Family Video or Red Box. Rather I usually just put in my request and the library and wait. And wait. And wait some more. Eventually they get to me. Netflix would be a lot faster. Plus there's old TV episodes. Hmmm. Tempting. Anyone have Netflix? Thoughts? Is it worth it?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's crazy, but I love the holiday season

Don't get me wrong. I love the Christmas season. The lights. The family gatherings. The snow.

But this year? It just seems to be crazy hectic. Maybe part of it is due to the fact that I spent the first week of December in Las Vegas. That was seven whole days that I could have at least been thinking about how to attack the to do list that inevitably comes with the holiday season. Instead I was running around Las Vegas (literally) and the last two weeks I feel like I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to finish everything.

First there was a birthday party for my 6-year-old nephew that resulted in me shopping for a birthday present at 11 p.m. the night before. There was a party, followed by a foot of snow. A week of driving on near undriveable roads. Throw in a full work week (the first since early November) and three trips to the YMCA for a sanity-saving run.

And this weekend? The craziness came full force.

The annual cutout cookie baking extravaganza. 350 cutout cookies were mixed, rolled, cut and baked by me, mom my, aunt and my niece. Add in starting and finishing all of my Christmas shopping on Sunday topped off with frosting the cutout cookies while watching the Packers almost beat the Patriots on Sunday night football. Monday night was spent wrapping Christmas gifts and although I could have made it to the YMCA for another sanity-saving run tonight after work, I opted to come home, thrown on my sweats and catch up with blog reading and a book.

But tomorrow's a late shift at work, so I'm pretty sure there will be a trip to the YMCA in the morning to get some miles in on the treadmill. Because the rest of the Christmas craziness I love so much is just starting.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. I been a bit AWOL in blogland this week. Both on the reading/commenting front and the posting front. But I blame it on the library. See they sent me an e-mail on Monday and told me there was a copy of Glee, Season 1, Vol. 2 waiting for me with my name on it. Even since the end of October when I finished up with the first half of Season 1 I've been waiting patiently for the next chunk. And now that I have it, I love it. The Madonna and Lady Gaga episodes were amazing. I've got 2 episodes left to watch of Season 1 before I'm done. Then comes the question. Do I wait until Season 2 is released on DVD, cross my fingers it's available somewhere on the Internet or do I just cave and order the season pass on iTunes? I'm leaning towards the iTunes option at the moment.

2. Even though I've been slightly obsessed with Glee I have managed to run. I went for my first run post-RnR Las Vegas on Monday. I didn't have any set plan as to how far I'd go. I just wanted to run to see how it felt. And you know what? It felt good! I ended up doing 6 miles Monday and a 4 mile tempo run on Wednesday. My legs were a little tired tonight, but I pushed through for an easy 3.5 miles.

3. It's weird not having any races penciled in my calendar at the moment. I've got ideas swirling around in my head though. Maybe after the holidays and I get my fill of Glee I'll sit down and write about a tentative 2011 race schedule. Maybe.

Monday, December 13, 2010

RnR Las Vegas in pictures

On last post on the Rock n Roll Las Vegas half  marathon. And this one will require very little reading. I promise :)

I don't normally order race photos. I can't usually justify the cost, especially since my Mom is usually at my races with me and acts as my own personal photographer. But my Mom wasn't in Las Vegas with me. So no photos. When I got the e-mail from the RnR Las Vegas folks telling me race photos were up, I kind of cringed. Who knew what they were going to look like.

I was pleasantly surprised though. They turned out pretty well. So I decided to splurge. It's not often that I end up with good race photos. Add to it that these are good race photos of me running a half marathon in Las Vegas. Sold. So have a look.
Pretty early in the race. Just after the starting gun went off. Still feeling good obviously.
 Around Mile 2, just passing the Eiffel Tower outside of Paris.
Somewhere in the middle of the race, probably around Mile 6 or 7 since I've taken the arm warmers off.
Heading down the home stretch. The final half mile and so ready for the race to be done. But still have enough energy to give the photographer a thumbs up, because even though my legs revolted I did have a good time.
 Crossing the finish line. Done!
 You can't run a half marathon in Las Vegas without getting the finisher's photo with a Vegas showgirl. Should have stood in line for the picture with the showgirl decked out in red though.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I didn't just run in Las Vegas

So I told you about the half marathon in Las Vegas. Now it's time to fill you in on what I spent the other four days doing.
I flew into Las Vegas with my sister-in-law Thursday late afternoon. After checking into the Excalibur (the resort we were staying at), we decided to explore The Strip. We grabbed some food at a Subway and walked around. We went up into the Eiffel Tower at Paris and took in the views of The Strip and watched the Bellagio fountain show from above. After we came down from the Eiffel Tower, we took in the fountains at street level. Pretty amazing from both vantage points.
Friday we hopped on a tour bus and headed out to see the Hoover Dam. We took a tour of the dam, learned why it was constructed and how it was made, and got to go inside to take a peak at the generators. Then we spent some time walking around and taking pictures. And during this walk? I managed to walk from Nevada to Arizona and back. And it was a long walk :) Actually, not really since the state line runs right down the middle of the dam.
After getting back to Las Vegas that night - and surviving the tour bus driver who liked to take huge speed bumps at 25 mph and didn't see the need to stop for stop signs - we headed over to The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. We wandered around there for a while, looking at all the fish and sharks. I even touched a sting ray. Multiple times! He (or she) was kind of slimy. And spongy feeling. Lucky for me there were no stingers.
While walking back to our hotel room I got a text message from Jeri! I've been stalking her blog since the spring. Las Vegas was actually the second time we were running the same event. Back in May I saw her while she was hanging out at Curly's Pub prior to the Green Bay Half Marathon (where she ran the full), but I didn't have the guts to go up and talk to her.

We decided to meet up in our hotel for a drink. We talked about racing, running and triathlons. And then a random cowboy sat down at our table. (Note: There were a ton of cowboys in Vegas for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo) And of course we took advantage of it and peppered him with a bunch of cowboy questions. We almost had him convinced to run the race, but then he realized he wouldn't be allowed to be chased by an angry bull in order to make him run fast :)

The sad thing? Both Jeri and I had a major blogger failure! Neither of us thought to take a picture (of us or the cowboy) for our blogs. Even though both of us had cameras in our purses! Blogger fail! Still had a great time meeting up with her though!
Saturday was expo day. This was the biggest expo I had ever been to and I made sure to take my time. I didn't do too much damage in terms of purchases, but I did treat myself. I figured I earned it. I got myself a hooded sweatshirt, visor and pint glass with the race logo on it and picked up a pair of green CEP compression socks (since the ones I ordered online two weeks prior to leaving for Las Vegas didn't show up in time) and a pair of arm warmers.

I also picked up a copy of Meb Keflezighi's book Run to Overcome, which he signed for me when I met him during a meet 'n' greet. I haven't started reading it yet, but it's one of the next ones on my list!
I also got a chance to meet Josh Cox, the American 50K record holder who won the marathon on Sunday in 2:25:05. Crazy. He was using RnR Las Vegas as a "training run" for RnR Arizona. Read about his come from behind marathon victory here.
The rest of Saturday was spent relaxing. Sunday there was that half marathon thing. After sticking around to watch Bret Michaels and cheer on some of the marathoners who were finishing up, I headed back to the hotel to shower and grab some food. Decked out in my Green Bay Packers T-shirt and my new green CEP compression socks, I then recovered by watching football in the sports book area at Excalibur. Let me tell you, even though the Packers had already beaten the 49ers, I was in heaven. So many TVs! So  many football games to watch!
And Monday? After losing my $20 in my one and only attempt at Las Vegas slot machines, the rest of Monday was mostly spent either in the airport or in an airplane, heading back to reality.

Thanks for the memories Las Vegas. I had a blast!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Report

It's kind of hard to believe Rock n Roll Las Vegas is over. And while I didn't end up with the result I was hoping for, I don't know if I would change a thing. I had fun. And that's what counts.

Race day dawned bright and early at 4:45 a.m. OK. Maybe not bright since it was still dark out. I hopped in the shower, woke up a bit and got ready for the day. Since I was running in Las Vegas, I decided I wanted to represent my stomping grounds. I put on my black capris, my red Wisconsin football T-shirt (fitting since the Badgers were "officially" invited to the Rose Bowl later that day) and a pair of black arm warmers while munching on my pre-race breakfast of donut holes from Krispy Kreme. What? You've never fueled with donut holes before?

Shortly before 6 a.m. my sister-in-law and I headed out for the starting line.We were staying at the Excalibur, about 3/4 of a mile from the starting line. And since there was a connecting walkway between our resort and the Luxor next door, we didn't have to actually walk outside until we got across the street from Mandalay Bay, where the start/finish line area was. And it was easy to get to. Just follow the endless stream of runners and watch the sunrise over the mountains.

We got near the start corrals and my sister-in-law decided to hang out in her corral. I had to drop my bag off at gear check, so I left. After dropping my bag off I hit the lines for the port-a-pottys. Even though the lines were massive, they moved somewhat quickly. But wouldn't you know it, by the time it was my turn, I couldn't go. Apparently I'm not able to pee under pressure. Yes, I knew I'd have to go. No I couldn't. Ugh. Not wanting to hold up the lines, I left and made my way over to Corral No. 23 and waited for the race to start.

About 30 minutes after the national anthem was sung and the first runners started, it was go time for me. Both time for the half marathon to start and time for me to have to pee. Ugh. Too bad. No time for a pit stop.

I started to run.

I've never run a race this big before. Depending on who you listened to, there was between 28,000 and 30,000 people running the half and full marathons. Crazy. Yet, it wasn't unbelievably crowded. Yes, there were a lot of people, but not so many it was hard to move. I settled into a comfortable pace fairly quickly.

Miles 1-5
The beginning miles felt really good. I was keeping a steady pace, right around 10:30 minute/mile. I felt good. I was running, taking in the sights along the strip. I passed the Excalibur, MGM Grand, the Statue of Liberty outside of New York, New York and the Monte Carlo. Then it was passed the Eiffel Tower outside of Paris and the fountains at Bellagio. Next up was Caesars Palace, the Mirage, Harrah's and the run-through wedding outside of The Venetian before passing Treasure Island and Wynn before nearing the north end of the strip and Circus, Circus  and Stratosphere.

Miles 6-9
Somewhere right after Mile 5 I decided to ditch my arm warmers. At this point I was only walking through water stations, so that's when I got rid of the arm warmers. I was still feeling pretty good. Miles 6 and 7 took us up through the Fremont Street area. I was a little discouraging at this point, just because we were nearing the turnaround point, so you'd see runners going in the opposite direction. I thought we were close, but then we'd make another turn away. A bunch of turns later, I was finally heading south again. Back towards the finish line. My pace had dropped a bit and I was adding in an extra walk break each mile, but I was still feeling pretty good.

Miles 10-13
Then Mile 10 hit. I was seriously on pace to hit the 2 hour, 30 minute half marathon I've been coveting all year when I hit Mile 10 at 1 hour, 58 minutes. Then all of a sudden my legs starting revolting. It's like they decided at that point they'd had enough and didn't care that I was still 3.1 miles from the finish line. They just wanted to be done. Add to the sudden dizziness and light-headed feeling I got and it was a little bit scary. So I slowed down and walked. Some of it probably had to do with the fact that I managed to come down with a cold on Monday and it only got worse as the week went on. Add in the insane amount of walking I did in the three days I was in Vegas before the race (yes, yes not very smart). Sickness and tired legs? No wonder they decided they were done.

Mandalay Bay parking lot and the finish line was in sight. It hurt, but I made myself run the final tenth of a mile.
I ended up crossing the finish line in 2 hours, 52 minutes, 36 seconds. By far my slowest half marathon of the three I've run this year. But you know what? I'm OK with it. Yes it sucks that I didn't get that 2:30 I was aiming for and was almost on track for. But when I take into account the bathroom break, the fact that I was sick and somewhat silly when I did all the walking in the days leading up to the race, I'm not completely surprised I crashed and burned over the last three miles.

Besides I had a good time. Seriously. How could you not have a good time while running up and down the Las Vegas Strip? And what better ending to a half marathon in Las Vegas than a free concert by Bret Michaels? I'd say it was a good morning.

And 2:30? You've been warned. In six months you're going down.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'd say I had a good time in Las Vegas

So I've been back in Wisconsin two full days. And I know I owe a race report. And a run down of what I did in Las Vegas for five days. But I'm still trying to wrap my head around everything. Lame excuse. I know.

But it's all I've got right now.

So I'll leave you with this. Some video footage of the end of the free concert Bret Michaels put on in the parking lot at Mandalay Bay after the race Sunday. I apologize for the random arms that take over the video frame. Needless to say, people were having a good time. And I think Bret Michaels summed up the weekend pretty well...

"Ain't looking for nothing but a good time / and it don't get better than this."

I hope to get a race report and more Vegas stuff up by the end of the weekend. Bear with me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Waiting for the gun to go off

It's half marathon day! And right now? I'm probably waiting amongst a huge crowd of people in Corral 23, super nervous and just waiting to start this 13.1 mile run up and down the Las Vegas Strip.

And yes, I put this post together before I left and scheduled it to post this morning!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Three Things Thursday: Vegas!

1. OMG! It's finally here! At this point, I'm most likely sitting in an airplane (hopefully with my requested window seat) flying somewhere over the Plains. Or if it's later in the day, the Frontier Airlines jet I've been flying on has landed at the airport and I'm in Las Vegas! So excited.

2. I've got the race day outfit planned. And of course I'm breaking one of those cardinal rules: Never try anything new on race day. But I had issues with my first attempt at my race shirt and didn't have time to send it back for a different size. But Scheel's had a similar one that I picked up Wednesday afternoon. So yes, I've never actually run in this shirt. But yes, it fits. I'm crossing my fingers I don't get to Mile 3 on Sunday and realize I can't handle running in this shirt! I'd show you pics, but of course I forgot to take any before I packed it in my suitcase. Guess you'll have to wait for the race report. Sorry!

3. Speaking of clothing. Do you know how hard it was to pack for this trip? Let's just say this. It's cold right now in Wisconsin. Lower 20s. Heck, it was snowing yesterday as I was packing. And the forecast for Las Vegas? Low to mid-60s. Sunny. Normally not a problem. But folks I've talked to (thank you for the power of Twitter!) have told me that layers are key - mornings start out "cold" and then it warms up in the afternoon. Not sure what they're definition of cold is though. I'm guessing it's a bit different than the cold I'm used to in Wisconsin! So layers it is. Of course that means I've got a lot of clothes in my suitcase.

Bonus: I won't have access to Internet while in Las Vegas. So you won't hear any more from me until I get back to Wisconsin. I will probably be updating my Twitter feed at points throughout my trip (including that important Tweet about how the 13.1 mile run down The Strip went). If you want, follow me on Twitter @BadgerJen2002.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reading was done

I can't believe it's already December. Not sure where the other 11 months of the year went. This year has flown!

I was able to get some good reading in during November. And no. The pages I read didn't consist entirely of vampire books. In fact there were NO vampires this month :) I finished 4 books in November for a total of 1,075 pages. That brings the total to 36 books and 12,367 pages for the year. For comparison's sake, at this point in 2009 I was at 33 books and 10,931 pages, so I'm doing better than I was at this point last year. And with two long flights on an airplane included in December, I'm feeling pretty confident I'll hit that 40 book goal I've got.

But I've still got 30 days left to do it. Let's take a look at what I read in November.

The Long Run by Matt Long w/ Charles Butler
A Perfect Match by Shelley Bradley
Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I totally recommend The Long Run. It's about the NYC firefighter who was severely injured when he was hit by a bus while riding his bike during a transit strike in NYC a couple of years ago. The book looks at his recovery and how he trained for, and ran, the New York City Marathon and later went on to finish an Ironman. Inspiring stuff. The middle two were pure fluff and it's taken me years of hearing rave reviews from friends, but I finally got around to reading The Lovely Bones. Not bad.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Not exactly what the plan called for

So the last week? It hasn't been exactly what I was thinking it would be running wise.

I haven't run since last Tuesday. Which I would be OK with. Except I've got a half marathon to run on Sunday. Yes Sunday. A few days from now. Eek!

First I bailed on the windy, wet and cold Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. I meant to make up the miles on the treadmill in my parents' basement. But I went back to sleep after making my decision and ended up sleeping too late to get it done before the holiday festivities took over.

Friday was a crazy day. Work. Meeting up with old friends for a happy hour. Some more family stuff.

Starting to feel a little off on Saturday. Slept late. Had to get a few things done before watching the Badgers wrap up a share of the Big Ten championship and (most likely) a trip to the Rose Bowl. No time to run at night due to some plans.

Sunday was set aside for cleaning the apartment, watching the Packers lose and putting up my Christmas tree. I'd normally do that this upcoming weekend. But since I'll be in Las Vegas, that wasn't going to happen.

And Monday? I woke up feeling as though I'd gotten smacked by a truck. Stuffy nose, scratchy throat. Kind of achy and super tired. I felt a little better mid-day and contemplated getting a short run in, but by the time I left work? Feeling just like I did when I woke up. So no run. And repeat for today, except you can add in a headache.

Not the ideal time to get sick a week before race day. And considering I'm already sick I guess I should have just sucked it up and done the cold, wet and windy Turkey Trot. I'm hoping I start to feel better soon. Preferably before I board a plane to fly out to Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon.

And no running since the Santa Scamper last week? I admit, it's got me a bit nervous. Talk about taper. I'm hoping to sneak in two short runs yet this week though. I'm not working Wednesday, so I'm hoping to get in some kind of run. Maybe not too long, just long enough to remind my legs what it feels like to run. I'm hoping to repeat that on Thursday morning before heading off to the airport. Because the next time I'll run? It'll be Sunday morning at the stating line.

It's getting so close!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Three Things Thursday: The Thanksgiving Edition

1. I'm thankful for the family, friends, members of the blogging community and other assorted people that I've come in contact with during my life. Whether it's been the shoulder they've offered me to cry on during the rough patches in life or the support they've given me as I've chased my dreams, it's meant a lot to me. And even those random people who I've crossed paths with a handful of times have played a role in the life I've built. I take away something from every interaction with people I meet. Thank you for helping me become the person I am today.

2. I'm thankful for my health. Sounds kind of cliche, but after going through the scare with The Monster, I don't take my health for granted. And while revisiting the time when The Monster controlled my head isn't something I'd like to do, it taught me things and helped make me a stronger person.

3. I'm thankful for the extra couple of hours of sleep I got this morning. I was supposed to do the 5-mile Turkey Trot. But when my alarm starting buzzing at 6:30 a.m. it was cold, windy and wet. Not ideal conditions. Had it been any other Thanksgiving I would have toughened up and went for the run. But I leave for Las Vegas a week from today and I DO NOT want to get sick. So I opted for bailing on the turkey trot, getting the run done later on the treadmill and some extra sleep.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Santa Scamper Race Report

It's not really a race, more like a "fun run," but I'm pretty sure I ran the fastest mile of my life while I was scampering after Santa last night.

Every year on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Appleton has it's Christmas parade. And before the parade is the Santa Scamper, a one-mile fun run down the parade route past all of the people who are bundled up and waiting for the parade to start and Santa to come down the street.

And the weather Tuesday? It was definitely the kind that the jolly old elf who lives at the North Pole likes: Cold. Windy. And did I mention cold?

The Santa Scamper didn't start until 6 p.m., and even though my Mom had set out our chairs earlier that morning, she still wanted to head down fairly early to get a somewhat decent parking spot. I talked her into 4:30. That was still an hour and a half waiting in the cold to run a mile. And sitting in the 22 degree weather with bone chilling cold, steady, winds was harsh. I admit, at one point I grabbed her keys and went and sat in the car for a bit. What can I say, I didn't have the luxury of wearing my boots and long underwear!

Eventually about 20 minutes before the Santa Scamper my brother, his wife and their kids showed up and we took off for the starting line. We got in a bit of a warm up run when we were still 2 blocks from the starting line and heard what we thought was the announcer telling the runners to get ready. A bit of pre-Scamper "Jump Around" and we were set to run.

I was lined up with my brother next to a man holding a neon yellow sign indicating the 6 minute mile pace. Umm, yeah. Not me. My brother laughed. We stayed put. Turns out it didn't matter since there were a bunch of little kids and walkers I had to dodge during the first block or so.

I kept a pretty decent pace though. Handed out some high fives when I ran past my Mom and The Rugrats. Was booking it as I ran downhill and stayed strong during the final quarter-mile straight away before taking a slight uphill to the finish line.

I crossed the line. Hit stop on my Garmin and glanced down at my time.

8 minutes, 56 seconds.

Huh? There must be something wrong. Maybe it wasn't a full mile. Nope. The distance read 1.0. I just ran a sub-9 minute mile. That's unheard of for me. On a good day I can clock a 9 minute, 30 second mile, but I can't remember ever running a sub-9 minute.

Needless to say, even though I didn't find Santa, I was pretty darn happy with that Santa Scamper result.

Monday, November 22, 2010

An interesting week in terms of miles and weather

It's a holiday week. But that doesn't mean I'm taking a holiday from running. Oh no.

I did an easy 5.2 miles on the treadmill after work tonight. The run felt pretty good. Nothing too special. It's starting tomorrow that things will get interesting.

I was bad and skipped my long run this weekend. But I have the day off of work tomorrow, so my plan is to get up at a reasonable hour and get 10 or 11 miles done by early afternoon. Ideally I'd like to do this outdoors, but it's supposed to be cold. And windy. So it might be done on the treadmill. Or maybe a combination of outdoors and treadmill. We'll see what Mother Nature throws at me.

But I won't be done running once I get those miles in. Tomorrow night is the Santa Scamper, a one-mile fun run down the parade route before the Appleton Christmas Parade. And since it's at night it'll be dark, most likely colder and probably still windy. Yeah, that Dairy Queen Dilly Bar I get at the finish line will be just what I want. More like hot chocolate. And a winter coat.

And Thursday? Well that's the 5-mile Turkey Trot. Which wouldn't be bad. But the weathermen? They're using words like winter storm. And snow. And, oh yeah, cold. Let's just say I think I'm breaking out a pair of older running shoes for this 5-mile jaunt. And the remaining 2 miles I've got to run to make it to 7 for the day? Probably will be done on the treadmill. Inside. Where it's warm.

Add on another 6 miles sometime during the weekend and that's it. I'm crossing my fingers I get all the miles in and survive. Then it's a relatively easy week of tapering before the Las Vegas Rock n Roll half marathon! In just over a week I'll be flying out to the Sin City!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Two thumbs up for runs with friends

My friend Jess said it best. Run dates rock.

I don't get a chance to run with other people very often. And most of the time I'm OK with that. For me running is my me time. My time to de-stress. Not think. Or think about things that need to be thought about. Time to just put one foot in front of the other and lose myself in my music, my thoughts or just my surroundings.

I kind of like being a solitary runner.

But every so often I crave a running partner. A lot of times it's those weekends when I've got a long run staring me in the face and I'm kind of lacking the motivation to lace up my shoes and get my butt out the door. But other times it's just the companionship I'm craving. While it's nice to run alone, sometimes I just want to be able to share the run with a friend. To help distract each other from the miles looming ahead because neither of you is really in the mood to run. Or just to have time to reconnect.

Tonight I had a run date. And it was just what I needed.

After I was done with work I headed over to my friend Jess's house. We've run together before, but hadn't had the chance to do it all summer due to conflicting schedules. After hanging out at Diva Night together last month, we decided a run date was in order.

It was a great run. Four miles in the park along the lake in the dark. We were even greeted by a pair of two huge owls sitting in the tree when we reached the midway point at the end of the point. Let me tell you, those owls were HUGE! And the hooting? Kind of creepy, but very cool at the same time.

We both had our iPods with us, but there was absolutely no need for music since we chatted the entire time, catching up on what's been going in our lives, boy stories, upcoming travel adventures. You name it, we probably talked about it. Well that may not be true. The one topic we didn't touch on? Work. And let me tell you, that was fabulous!

We both agreed the run date rocked. And we'll definitely do it again. Hopefully it won't be 6 months before the next one! What's your thoughts on running with others? Like it? Hate it?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Unintentionally doubling the miles

Hello. My name is Badgergirl and I totally jinxed myself.

Yup. Remember I Thursday when I was super happy about hitting all my runs for the week? Well the long run for the weekend? It didn't happen. Saturday it was cold. And windy. And rainy. And cold. Plus I was way too focused on watching the Badgers clobber Indiana 83-20. And by the way, for a fitness related Badger story go read this Wisconsin State Journal story about the Bucky Badger mascots (two were on duty) who had to do a combined 535 push-ups. It's a good read.

I had intentions of doing the 8 miles on Sunday. But after I did a little bumming with my Mom, I ended up with a somewhat nasty headache and wasn't in the mood to run. So I didn't.

I kind of figured the 8 miles would just go down in the "I should have, but didn't" category. I didn't even think about getting them done tonight after work. In fact when I went over to the YMCA, I only intended on doing 4 miles - just like the training plan called for.

But then I started running. And it felt good. I didn't really push the pace, just kept it at a nice steady speed. And all of a sudden I'd been on the treadmill for 42 minutes, hadn't taken a break and had covered 4.1 miles. And I still felt good.

So instead of wiping down the machine and heading home, I started it back up. Set the timer for another 42 minutes. And ran. The only pain I felt was on my legs which were screaming at me for not using any Body Glide. Oops. Guess I should take that as a hint to slather myself in Body Glide even if I'm only planning on doing a short run.

Because tonight's 4-miler? It turned into 8 miles. It felt good. And it kicks off what will be a crazy, intense week for me running wise. My last long run (11 miles) before taper kicks in for Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas. Which is in 20 days! So close. So excited!

In sum, the run got done tonight. And tomorrow? I rest. And maybe even catch up on some blogs!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. I don't want to jinx myself, but I've hit every run on my training schedule this week. All that's left is the 8-miler this weekend. I can't think of the last time that's happened. Probably never. And the runs this week? They've felt good. And knock on wood, that crazy leg pain I was feeling Monday? It hasn't returned.

2. Las Vegas is getting close. It really hit home today when I was sitting in a planning meeting for work. We were talking about budgets and what stories needed to be written and when deadlines are. Let's just say I've got A LOT to do before I take off for my Las Vegas vacation on Dec. 1! Eek!

3. I was held captive by the city's Christmas holiday parade tonight. I got out of work a little bit later than usual but with 7 miles on the schedule, I figured I'd be at the YMCA long enough for the parade to go through and the streets to open up to traffic. Nope. I ended up having to take a really roundabout way to get home. Going super far north just so I could cut over a few streets to turn south. And by the time I got back to where my office was (and the parade mess), I was hitting all of the post-parade traffic. Ugh. It took me almost 25 minutes to get home. On a normal night? It's a 7 minute trip.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanks for the input!

Thanks for the advice on the IT band issues guys.

I admit. Me and any kind of strength training? We don't get along very well. I always have good intentions, but never seem to follow through. I think I might look into the fitness class options offered at my YMCA and see if I can find some kind of class that will help me out. Or just suck it up and stop avoiding the weights section at the gym. And yes, my foam roller and I have become friends the last few nights.

On a positive note the leg isn't hurting today. I don't know. Maybe I just tweaked something during Sunday's 10-miler. Or maybe I was just stiff. Or maybe my legs forgot what it felt like to run double digit miles. Who knows. There's a short 3-miler on the schedule tomorrow, so I'll see how it feels. And maybe venture into the land of weights after.

I do know that I followed through with my planned rest day today and enjoyed being lazy. I was done with work early, hit up the grocery store and made a decent dinner. One that provided me with leftovers! Afterwards I crashed in my recliner and lost myself in a book.

Now it's time to pack a gym bag and crawl into bed for the night.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My legs probably don't like me very much right now

My legs were a little angry with me this morning when I rolled out of bed.

OK. Not both legs. Mainly my left one. It was kind of screaming at me when I took a step. The three flights of stairs I have to take to get to my office? Ouch. I'm not exactly sure what it is. It's on the outer side of my leg from mid-thigh to just above my knee. After doing some scientific Google research, I think it might be in the area of the IT band. But I could be wrong. I wasn't sure if I was going to do my run tonight. Since the thought of running kind of made me cringe. But the pain went away after lunch. I'm not sure if it's because I took some ibuprofen and used some BioFreeze or what. But by the time I left the office at 5 p.m., the stairs didn't hurt anymore.

Anyone have any advice on how to deal with an IT band issue?

So after a quick stop at the library, I headed over to the YMCA. I wasn't planning on anything long. Maybe just an easy 3 miles. But once I started running, it felt good. So I finished up with 4.3 miles - just like my training plan called for. So far tonight it's not hurting, but I think just to be safe, I might pull out the not-so-friendly foam roller and torture myself. And of course totally enjoy that rest day that I get tomorrow.

Oh and I almost forgot. As a result of tonight's run I hit a milestone. I finally broke 500 miles for the year. Officially I'm at 503.1 miles. Yeah, it's a little late. But it's a milestone I've never hit while running. So I'm a happy Badgergirl.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gettin' it done

I had absolutely no desire to run today. Even though it was World Run Day.

I got up semi early. Read the Sunday paper. Watched way too many episodes of TLC's Say Yes to the Dress. Thought about going for a run around noon since the Packers were playing on Sunday Night Football. Ultimately decided to take a shower.

I was dressed. Clean. Then my Mom comes home, mentions it's absolutely beautiful out. Asks me if I went running. Ummm. Beautiful outside? It's November. And way to make me feel like a slacker Mom.

So I decided then and there, even though I had just gotten out of the shower less than an hour ago, I would go for a run. I wasn't sure how far I'd go. Maybe 3 or 4 miles. That way I could switch out Monday's 4-miler with the 10-miler I skipped this weekend.

I started running. At first, running into the wind, it was a bit chilly. I'm sure it didn't help that I had loaded up my handheld water bottle with not only water, but also ice. Yes, my right hand was freezing. But I kept running. By Mile 2 the ice had melted and it was time to shed the long sleeves. I stopped to do the shirt switch and when I was done, I started running again.

And it was actually feeling good. So I thought I'd go a little farther than I originally planned. Maybe 6 miles. But then I started thinking. I was feeling good. It wasn't painful to run. And it was perfect running weather. I'm not sure how many more days like this I'm going to get. And then there's the thought that Las Vegas? It's less than a month away.

So while I initially set out with the hope to just sneak in 4 miles, I ultimately decided I just needed to git 'r done. So 10 miles it was. I wound through some neighborhoods, tacked on the miles. Of course the first two miles were my fastest and then I got slower as the miles added up. No surprise there. I have problems pacing myself. But the splits stayed somewhat consistent, even once I started adding in the short walk breaks. And most of them were kind of in that 11:30/mile pace that I'm aiming for in Las Vegas. The "outlier" would be the last mile, but I was getting tired, took an extra long walk break. I ended up finishing 10.05 miles in 1 hour, 52 minutes, 30 seconds. Not too shabby.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the run. Especially considering I had absolutely no desire to run when I started.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Three Things Thursday: The Vegas Edition

1. A month from tomorrow, at o'dark thirty in the morning, I'll be lining up at the starting line and getting ready to run the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. I'm getting excited. My training's been going well. And I'm going to try to hit every run these next four weeks. That being said, I wish December would hurry up and get here!

2. The race has been registered for. The flight has been booked. The only big thing left to do is book a hotel. And I'm this close to doing that. I think I've made my decision. Let's just say I'll feel like royalty staying there.

3. In not so good news, my iPod was acting up tonight during my 6 mile run. It decided to die 1.5 miles before I was done running. The battery indicator was telling me it still had life in it, but it just refused to play. Not sure what was going on. Maybe it was cranky with me because I had basically been plugged into it all day at work and then didn't even give it a rest before my run. I guess iPods can get tired too. But it got me worried. What if it decides to pull this in a month in Las Vegas? I don't know if I can run 13.1 miles sans tunes. Yes, there will be bands along the course, but it won't quite be the same as my pre-determined half marathon play list. I might have to look into a replacement iPod. Maybe a shuffle?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm ready for the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge. Are you?

Anyone up for a bootie busting challenge?

Then go over here. Because it's time for the 2010 Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge hosted by Run to the Finish. I had a chance to participate in last year's challenge and it was a great way to keep me on track during the crazy holiday season. I'm hoping it does the same this year and helps me avoid that spell of utter laziness I sometimes find myself in after a half marathon.

What are you waiting for? Come on and join the challenge! It'll be fun!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A different kind of Election Night

Tonight feels weird.

I'm a reporter. I work in the news business. So for the last eight years? When Election Night came around, whether it was a primary or a general election or in the fall or spring, I was usually pretty sure I'd be working. Either sitting in my office waiting for results to come in and make those hectic phone calls to touch base with candidates in the few minutes I had left before deadline or else I was out at a candidate's election night party, waiting to hear the candidate make a victory or concession speech.

Tonight was different.

Oh there were races. Big ones. Folks in Wisconsin were voting for a new governor. And we had a pretty high profile U.S. Senate race along with other races.

But me? I wasn't working. Huh?

I worked a day shift and was officially the "on call reporter." The one that would get the phone call from her boss at 2 a.m. if that U.S. Senate race went into the wee hours of the morning waiting for a winner to be declared. And that phone call? I'm crossing my fingers I don't get it, but the night's still young.

So as I left my office at 7:30 p.m. (had to stick around for the newsroom tradition of pizza on election night), my co-workers were heading out to their assignments. I almost felt lost. But I had thought ahead and my gym bag was in my car. So I headed over to the YMCA for a run while watching the election results start to pour in.

The run was good - 5.3 miles to make up for the run that I skipped yesterday. Thankfully there weren't many other people at the YMCA since they would probably have questioned my choice of socks. Somehow forgot to pack my running socks so I ended up wearing my black work socks. Classy.

And the results? Oh boy.

Monday, November 1, 2010

If you want to be a Badger....

Just come along with me.

It was a football bye week, but I still ended up going down to Madison on Saturday. Not for the football. Not for the annual Halloween chaos now known as Freakfest (there were no such things as police in riot gear, tear gas or mounted officers when I was down there - it was utter chaos when I was there). Nope. I was still going to be a Badger, but I was heading over to cheer on the hockey Badgers.

My friend Amanda graduated from Michigan Tech, so each year when the Huskies are in town for the weekend two-game series, we head down for the Saturday night game. I'm of course decked out in my cardinal and red and Amanda cheers for her Huskies. Each year she thinks they'll make a game of it, but the Badgers usually end up on the winning end after three periods. Although there was the one year they managed to win and I threatened to that she'd have to walk back home to Beaver Dam. :)

Anyway. Saturday night. Badgers. Hockey. Good times.

We got down to Madison a bit early and hit up State Street. They were putting the finishing touches on set up for Freakfest, and even though it was still daylight, plenty of people were running around in costumes. Great people watching. We also did a little window shopping. And I initially swore I was going to be a good Badger and not buy anything. But we stepped inside a corner store that is full of Badger gear. And I saw it.

The perfect shirt.

I tried to resist. I really did. But Amanda? She can be a bit convincing. So I bought it. I think it was an appropriate purchase. Don't you?

Purchase complete it was time to watch some hockey. The first period? Ugh. Sloppy hockey. Slow hockey. Not fun to watch. Michigan Tech would take the early lead in the second period, but Bucky answered with three quick goals near the end of the period and notched their final goal early in the third for the 4-1 win. Let's just say the hockey got a lot more fun to watch as the game progressed. And that's not because the Badgers started winning.

And you can't beat the pee wee hockey game that takes place between the second and third periods. Adorable!

So overall I'd say it was a good day to be a Badger. Iowa knocks off unbeaten Michigan State on the football field, I find a shirt that I swear was made especially for me and the hockey Badgers beat up on Michigan Tech. And I got a chance to catch up with a good friend.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

October reading recap

So apparently the key to me tearing through a bunch of books in a month is to give me a bunch of books that have vampires, werewolves, fairies and demons in them. Huh.

Why you ask? Well I managed to finish six books in October totalling 1,930 pages. For those of you keeping track at home, the last time I managed to read six books in a month? December 2009. And I still fell short of my yearly goal of 40 books. But I think 40 is totally doable this year. Through the end of October I've finished 32 books for a total of 11,292 pages. Only eight more books to go. And two months to do it.

Given that bit about the vampires, werewolves, fairies and demons, it shouldn't be a surprise what I read in October. But here's the list:

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

For those keeping track, that's the entire Sookie Stackhouse series. Or at least all of the ones that have been written and published. Take that back. A friend of mine did loan me a collection of short stories involving Sookie and her non-human friends. But I think I'm going to wait a bit before diving into it. I need a Sookie break. But don't worry. I've got other titles on my "to read" list and my friend the public library is coming through for me with books to read.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. I should have known it wasn't going to be a good day today when I dropped, and busted, a jar of grape jelly while making my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch this morning. So not only was there no J for my PBJ, I also had to clean up a sticky floor. And I don't think I managed to clean up all the glass (or heavy-duty plastic) shards. Because it feels like there's one stuck in my foot. Work stunk. It was cold. And then I come home, make dinner and SPLAT! This time it's about a quarter of a jar of spaghetti sauce that I spill onto the floor. The same spot where I had a sticky jelly mess 12 hours earlier. Sigh. I should just stay out of the kitchen.

2. I did have a moment of happiness when I came home and saw the FedEx man had left me a present. A few weeks ago I won a giveaway on Suzy's blog, Running on My Time. I had my choice between a pair of Brooks running shorts or a jacket. Since I live in Wisconsin - and shorts weather is pretty much gone until April - I went for the jacket option. I ended up choosing the Brooks Infiniti Jacket. I haven't gotten a chance to wear it outside yet, but it felt really comfortable when I tried it on tonight. I may just have to wear it to work tomorrow. Thanks for hosting the giveaway Suzy!

3. While we're talking about Brooks I should probably mention the shoes. I went to Fleet Feet last weekend to pick up a new pair of running shoes. My trusty pair of Asics Cumulus 11s had gotten me through most of training for Green Bay and my lackluster training for Fox Cities. In all there was probably around 300 miles on them. I could tell they were starting to die though. So I went to get a new pair to break in during the last month of Las Vegas training. Well there still must be some kind of Asics shortage because Fleet Feet didn't have any. OMG! What I am going to do? I've always been an Asics girl. Ever since I started running in 2007. But I needed new shoes. I couldn't wait. I was going to have to try something different. Gulp. I tried on a pair of Mizuno Wave Riders. They weren't bad. But they weren't the most comfortable. Then it was on to a pair of Brooks Ghost 3s. So light! It didn't really feel like I was wearing shoes. I was pretty sure I had found my new shoe. But I tried one more pair, some kind of Addias, and they felt really really clunky.
The Ghosts it was. I was excited. Tonight I took them for their first run - a 5 mile journey on the YMCA treadmill. During the first mile I was worried. My right foot on the outside hurt. But it went away after a mile. I'm hoping it was just the whole "I'm wearing brand new shoes on my first run" thing and that the Ghosts won't really hurt my feet. Because the rest of the run felt good. Hopefully me and the Ghosts become friends. Who knows, maybe I'll turn into a Brooks girl.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pushing the long run to Monday

That weekend long run? Yeah. It never happened. I came up with excuses.

Saturday? Too much rain during prime running hours and a must-see Badger victory once it actually did stop raining. Sunday? I don't really have an excuse. Some rain in the morning. And it looked iffy in the afternoon. So I decided to go running shoe shopping instead.

So it's now Monday and there's still a 9 mile run on my training schedule just waiting to be run. I got up this morning and kept putting it off. And I had a few things to do in the early afternoon. So when the clock struck 4 p.m., it wasn't raining and I still hadn't run those miles. I knew I had to do it. Because I can't really bail on a long run, especially when I've had the last three days off of work.

It was time.

It was overcast when it came time to run. At first I debated about heading over to the YMCA and running on the indoor running track. I've been up at my parents' house the last few days, so at least it would be a new running track. But it didn't look like it was going to start pouring buckets anytime soon. So I decided to do a 5 or 6 mile loop and stay kind of close to home. That way if it started to pour, I could head back to Mom and Dad's and finish up the run on their treadmill. And if the rain held off, I could just add some extra loops to finish out the 9 miles.

I ended up running all 9 miles outside. And let me tell you, it was wonderful. I don't get to do too many non-weekend runs outside due to the fact that there are no sidewalks in my neighborhood and I really don't feel like becoming road kill. But the roads I was running on this afternoon didn't have heavy traffic, so even as it was getting dusky, I was OK. The roads that did have heavy traffic had sidewalks. And once it started getting dark I was actually on a bike path that runs alongside the road, so I wasn't fearing for my life. I finished up the 9 miles in 1 hour, 45 minutes.

I was pretty happy with my mile splits. The first four miles were all in the 10:30/mile range. Once I finished up four, I started to throw in some short walk breaks every mile and the times creeped up a bit as a result. But they were still OK times. I did struggle during Miles 7 and 8 and took some longer walk breaks (Mile 7 is also where I took my mint chocolate GU), but that final mile actually felt pretty good.

So 9 miles is in the books. I might sneak in a short recovery type run tomorrow. But most likely that will be indoors on the treadmill since the weatherman is telling me to expect storms and steady 40 mph winds, with gusts up to 60 mph. And since I really don't want to get blown away, I'll stay inside.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Some weekend randomness

It's Saturday night. My mind has pretty much shut down for the night. That's why you get bullet points.

  • My night as a Diva. Thursday night I headed up to Fleet Feet Sports Fox Valley with my friend Jess for Diva Night. There were chair massages, a chocolate. A little bit of cheese and wine. Add in some shopping and a bra fitting along with the pre-Diva Night dinner and girl talk and it was a good night. I couldn't resist making a few small purchases. I picked up a Nathan Quickdraw Plus handheld water bottle (in pink - it is October you know) and a Moving Comfort Charity sports bra (in plain old white). And today I learned my name had been drawn to win a free Enell sports bra, which was one of the raffle prizes. Pretty good night. The photo above is Jess (in black) and I talking to a chiropractor about the wonders of Biofreeze. More photos can be found here.
  • My original plan for the weekend had me running my 9 mile run this morning. The weatherman said there was a chance of rain, but the morning should be dry. I thought I was good to go. Nope. I opened my eyes and didn't even need to look out the window. I could hear the rain pounding on the window. I don't run outside in the pouring rain. It eventually stopped in the afternoon, but it was too late.
  • Because it was time for the Badgers to take on Iowa. Coming off a huge victory over then-No. 1 Ohio State last weekend, Wisconsin was heading to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes. Amazing game. Back and forth. It all came down to a final drive - which included a fake punt on fourth down - that ended with a Badger touchdown with 1:06 remaining. Then it was time for the Badgers to play some defense. And yes, they got a little help from the Iowa coaching staff - still not sure why they decided to call that time out after getting a first down with 12 seconds remaining. But what matters is the Badgers win 31-10!
  • I've still got a 9 miler on tap for the weekend. It'll get done Sunday. And it's still supposed to rain. Either outside or else I'm heading over to the YMCA to run circles around the indoor track. Because honestly, 9 miles on a treadmill? I don't know if I can do that.
  • I finished the first 13 episodes of Glee. Loved. It. Now I have to patiently wait until the library decides to get me the next installment.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. Apparently I like to jump on the bandwagon late. Example: The Sookie Stackhouse series. They've been around for how long? And I just read the first installment back in August? Well since then I've gotten through eight of the 10 books. And I've got about 100 pages left in book No. 9. But it's taken me a bit longer than I expected. Because I've been distracted by something else.


Yeah, it only took me almost two seasons, but I finally watched my first episode on Monday night. Loved. It. But the library wants its DVDs back on Friday. And I've still got 6 more episodes to watch. Either it's going to be a few late nights or I'm going to start racking up a late fee. My money's on the late fee.

2. My sports bras and I are not getting along this week. Well actually just one of them. I wasn't thinking on Saturday when I got ready for the St. Joe's 5K and put on a sports bra I've had trouble with on longer runs. So midway through my 5 mile jaunt home it started. The chaffing. And now I've got a big ole raw spot on my chest, right where my regular bra sits. Kind of painful. It was healing up OK, but for some reason I wasn't thinking again last night when I packed for my 5 mile run on the treadmill. D'oh! Needless to say I've been gooping it up with Aquaphor or Neosporin all week.

3. I'll be channeling my inner diva tonight. After work I'm heading over to Fleet Feet Fox Valley for Diva Night with a friend. I've been told there will be a bunch of cool things going on, including a cooking demo, chair massages, raffles and bra fittings (probably a good thing given my luck with sports bras this week). I'll be back with a full report on how it went on Friday!

Monday, October 18, 2010

St. Joe's 5K Race Report

If your name doesn't appear in the official results, does that mean you really didn't run a race? Even if you swear you were there? And have photographic evidence?

Because if it does, that means I didn't run the St. Joe's 5K on Saturday. But I did. You just can't find my name in the results anywhere. And it would have been nice to see my name and time in the results since I turned in a new PR.

But I'm ahead of myself.
So Saturday was the St. Joe's 5K, the race that had the Portsmouth start. I got to the race sit early, like almost an hour and a half before the runners would start. My dad was walking the 5K and the walkers took off a half hour before the runners. So I was early.

I made use of the time though. There were two visits to the port-a-potty, I snapped some pictures of my dad starting the walk. I did a tiny bit of stretching. And then I watched the 20-some waves before me go off.

Finally they called Wave 34 and it was my turn to run.

The course was an out-and-back that wound through a neighborhood before heading out on to the converted railroad trestle. After you got across the lake, you turned around and headed back to the starting area. There wasn't anything too exciting. Thanks to the staggered start, there weren't massive crowds of people. Which there wouldn't have been anyway since I think maybe 300 people were running. It did get a bit crowded once we were on the trestle. They had the trestle divided, but some of the back of the pack walkers decided to walk more than 2 abreast. Add that to runners coming back off the trestle and it got crowded. It was kind of hard to pass anyone, much less keep a steady pace at those points.

Oh and it was pretty windy.

I hit the turnaround and started back. One thing to note, there was no water station on the course at all. Not sure what was going on there. I wasn't dying of thirst or anything, but it would have been nice to have a sip or two of water at the halfway point. Just sayin'.

For about 2.2 seconds I debated with taking a short walk break once I hit land and was in the final mile. But I opted not to. And I'm glad I didn't. Once I rounded the final corner and the finish line was in sight, I kicked it into high gear, passed a few folks and booked it to the finish line.

I hit stop on my Garmin as I entered the finisher's chute. A volunteer took my tag from my bib and I got a barely filled glass of water before glancing down at Garmin Gus.


That folks is a new PR. I shaved 10 seconds off my previous PR which I set back in May at the Sole Burner 5K. Of course looking through the results the next day I was a bit disappointed when I couldn't find my name. Makes me wonder what the heck happened since the volunteer woman took the tag with my identification off my bib.
EDIT: While grabbing a link for the race website for this post, I checked the results one more time. My name was there this time, but I swear it wasn't there on Sunday when I looked.  And according to the "official" results, I finished in 31:17. It's still a PR though. A PR of the 8-second variety. I'll take it.


Of course even though I managed to PR, my running wasn't done for the day. I still had to tack on an additional 5 miles in order to get the 8 miles in that my half marathon training plan called for. Originally I was just planning on doing it once I got back to my parents' house. But the door prize drawing at the race took WAY too long. So what did I do?

On the way home I had my mom drop me off at an intersection and I ran the rest of the way home. I thought the intersection was 5 miles from their house, but turns out I was about a mile short, so I had to add in some extra loops.

 Not as speedy as the 5K from the morning, but I finished up 5.1 miles in 57 minutes. With 8.2 miles in the books, I was then able to enjoy a brief stop at a classic car show, a Halloween party for The Rugrats and, oh yeah, watching the Badgers beat up on Ohio State. I'd say that was a pretty good day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. I was cranky. And tired. And kind of hungry. And did I mention I was cranky? But you know what? Even though all I wanted to do was go home after work, throw on some comfy sweats and not deal with people until I go into work at 1 p.m. on Friday I didn't. Nope. I got in my car and pointed it towards the YMCA. Because I knew even though it was going to hurt, I knew once I started running I would feel better. And I did. For 6.2 miles I lost myself. There was no more work drama. No more work frustrations. And while I'm still tired, the run did exactly what I needed it to. It made me feel better. More relaxed.

2. Anyone ever run a race with a Portsmouth start? I'm running a 5K this weekend, the St. Joe's 5K, and it's got a Portsmouth start. According to the race brochure each runner is assigned to a wave based on their age and gender and the wave is determined by the USATF 5K single age road race records. The clock counts down to zero, with the slowest waves starting first, and once the clock hits zero, it starts counting up. Your finish time is clock time plus wave start time. Hmmm. Sounds like it could be interesting. But the race course looks like it'll be pretty neat. There's an old railroad trestle that goes over a lake that's been converted into a rec trail that we'll be running over. Should be a nice course, but there is the possibility the trail could be a bit crowded.

3. Now that the run is out of the way and I'm in my comfy pajamas, I'm planning on settling into my recliner, turning off the lights, popping Dear John into my DVD player and losing myself in a movie. Sounds like a good way to end a not-so-good week to me.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Moving the long run to Monday

There was no running this weekend. But there was a weekend-long babysitting gig. And I'm beginning to think chasing after two boys (ages 4 and 5) was more tiring than the 7-mile run I had planned.

There was time spent playing Mario Kart on Wii and I was told numerous times by my 4-year-old nephew that I was going the wrong way. Who says you have to go in the right direction around the track? What if Yoshi wanted to go from the finish line to the starting line? That's what he wanted to do. But the 4-year-old? He wasn't having any of that. Then a sleep over. And a daylong trip to two parks where we played on the playground, played on the beach, played on the rocks, took a small hike through the woods and climbed the observation tower.

While my Mom took sleep over duties Saturday night, I went out with my Dad for a bit. He told me we weren't going to be out late. Which was fine by me, I was running on fumes by the time we left to go listen to the band. But apparently my definition of late and my Dad's definition? Not the same thing. I could barely stay awake by the time we got home. And I had good intentions to get up and run my 7 miles before meeting my Mom and the boys for lunch.

The alarm went off. I did get out of bed. But only to throw a pair of capris in the wash so I'd have clean pants to wear. Then I went back to bed for an hour. Had some food, went back to my parents' house with intentions to watch the Packer game and promptly slept through the second and third quarters. Oops. But I was tired.

So no running this weekend meant I had some miles to make up tonight. Since I didn't want to become roadkill, I headed over to the running track at the YMCA for my 7 miles. And you know what I realized tonight? I actually like the track. Yes. I'm running in circles. A lot of circles. But I like that more than the treadmill. And at least on the track I can run at my own pace rather than the treadmill where a machine is telling me how fast to go.

And tonight? Everything was clicking. Seriously. I felt good. Effortless almost. There were multiple sub-10 minute miles (I swear that's a first for me) and there was only one mile that was over 11 minutes - the final mile and that's because I took a very brief walk break during that mile. I'm actually pretty proud of my splits:


 I've got goals for Las Vegas in December. I'd love to run 11 minute/miles and finally get a 2:30 half marathon. And I know tonight was only 7 miles and I was starting to get tired by the end, but looking at those splits tonight? It makes me feel like my goal is definitely reachable. Eight more weeks.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. I'm a slacker. I should have just gone for my run after I got done with work today. But I didn't. I decided to come home and have dinner first. The plan was to wait until about 7:30ish and then head over to the YMCA for a run. Well 7:30 rolled around and I just didn't feel like leaving my apartment. So I didn't go. Oops.

2. Mother Nature's confused. Or just mean. Last weekend? It was barely breaking 50 degrees and super windy. This weekend? It's supposed to be in the mid- to upper-70s. What happened to the fall-like mid-60s? Not that I'm going to complain. Because there will be running and biking this weekend.

3. Speaking of running, it's about that time to buy a new pair of shoes. I'm toying with trying out a different kind this time around. Maybe it'll help with my black, bruised toenail issue I've been dealing with. Not sure though. I'll talk it over with the fine folks at Fleet Feet.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Let's get the Vegas training started

Nothing like starting off a training cycle for a half marathon by skipping a run.

That's exactly what I did.

This weekend (while I was watching somewhat painful football and avoiding running) I put together a training plan for the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. It's nine-weeks, features two 10-mile runs and an 11-mile run and has me running 4 days a week. I think it's doable and hopefully it will get me to that 2:30 half marathon time I've been chasing all year.

I was supposed to start off with a 6-miler on Monday. And since I'm super dedicated when it comes to following a plan...I bailed. Skipped it. I ended up working later, was pretty hungry and starting to get a headache. So I skipped the run. But I figured I could do it on Tuesday instead. Because after all, it's all about flexibility. Then I remembered I had dinner plans after work on Tuesday and wouldn't be able do it. So I was set to start off the cycle by skipping the first run.

Lucky for me, my friend who I had dinner plans with tonight sent me a text message early this morning canceling our dinner plans. Suddenly I had a free evening. Which meant I'd be able to get that run in. Yipee!

Now it was a gorgeous day outside. Perfect fall running weather. And I ended up indoors at the YMCA. See I really didn't want to run the risk of becoming road kill since there are no sidewalks in my neighborhood, people drive about 45 miles per hour or faster down my road and it was going to be getting dusky by the time I could start my run. So it was indoors for me.

I avoided the treadmill though. Remember a few weeks ago when I did a majority of my nine-mile run on the running track at the YMCA? The track where 11 laps equaled a mile? That's what I took advantage of tonight. Me, the track and 66 laps. That's a lot of running in circles, but it was so much more tolerable than running to nowhere. I know, I know. At least with the treadmill I'd have TV to distract me. But still. That's hard.

So circles it was.

Of course I started too fast (but it didn't feel like I was running fast!) and got slower as the miles wore on. But actually with the exception of the last mile (where I threw in a short walk break), I was happy to keep my miles under 11 minutes. Which if I could do that for 13.1 miles in Las Vegas in December? I'd be a happy girl. According to my watch my splits were 9:30, 10:14, 10:30, 10:45, 10:45, 11:30. I finished the six-miles in 1 hour, 3 minutes and 14 seconds. Not too shabby. I'll take it.

After I was done with the six miles, I tacked on an extra 0.2 to make it a 6.2 mile run so I can use it for Running Diva Mom's virtual 10K in honor of 10-10-10. With the extra distance, my time ended up being 1 hour, 5 minutes.

Overall I'm pretty happy with how Run No. 1 went. Even if I was running around in circles.