Monday, January 31, 2011

Big dreams require hard work

Looking back at training calendars, I guess consistency has never been my strong point. I go in with a plan. And it looks great. But then I start to get a bit sidetracked. I miss a run here. I miss a run there. Pretty soon my 4 run weeks are turning into 3 run weeks. And sometimes only 2 runs if it's a really bad week.

This training cycle it's changing.

For starters I'm involved with the training group. A group that I paid money to join. Therefore I would feel like I was wasting my money if I started skipping out on runs. So I'm hoping the group gives me a bit of accountablity. Especially since I think I'm going to have to update the coach on my training progress on a weekly basis.I think this is a good thing.

While I'm looking forward to it - because I think the consistent training will help me towards that elusive 2:30 goal I've been chasing for a year - I'm also a bit scared. Because the training program we're following? It's a program calling for 5 runs per week and two rest days. Gulp. I don't think I've ever ran 5 days per week. Much less 5 runs per week over the course of 3 months!

It's scary. But I'm going to turn to a fellow Badger for some advice. Some inspiration I guess.

J.J. Watt, the former Badger who's now prepping for the NFL draft, has a motto that he uses. It's well known, not only to Badger players and fans, but also those who follow his Twitter feed. It's a saying that he's been using since high school, through his college career - first as a tight end at Central Michigan and after a stint as a pizza delivery boy as a walk-on turned All-American defensive end at Wisconsin - and now as he prepares for a possible NFL career.

Dream Big. Work Hard.

"It really exemplifies what I am as a person," Watt said in an ESPN article published days before the Rose Bowl. "I want to get the message out that if you dream big, you can do anything you want in the world. But that's only half of it. If you're not willing to work hard, put in the time and the effort that it takes, you're just going to be dreaming."

This spring I'm done just dreaming. The work will be put in. The miles will be logged. The hills will be run. And come April, when I toe the line for the Oshkosh Half Marathon, or May, when I set out for the Green Bay Half Marathon, hopefully all the hard work will have been worth it and the dream will come true and the finish line clock will read 2:29:59.

Run No. 1 on the plan is done. It called for a short 2 miles, but I was feeling good so I tacked on an extra mile. Tomorrow morning? A treadmill hill workout. A bit scared (other than a sledding hill, the city I live in is almost completely flat), but pumped to do it.

Dream Big. Work Hard.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

January reading recap

Wow. The first month of 2011 is already done? Where'd it go? It just seems like yesterday that I was ringing in the new year.

Even though there's technically one day left in January, I thought I'd throw the month's reading recap up. Mostly because there's no way in heck I'm going to finish the 500+ pages of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, which I started tonight. If I was still on furlough and decided to read for 24 hours straight maybe, but I've got to venture back into the working world tomorrow.

So in terms of reading, the month is done. I finished three books for 916 pages. To compare to 2010, I was at three books and 1,226 pages at this time.

In January I finished:

A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris
Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
The Body and the Blood by Michael Lister

Nothing too amazing, but nothing awful. Now it's time to park myself in front of the TV and enjoy the last few hours of my furlough by watching some of Season 2 of True Blood.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm liking this training group thing

It's amazing what a difference 20 degrees makes.

Last week I braved the near sub-zero temperatures to head out for my first run with the Fleet Feet group. And it was cold. And 3 miles seemed like forever. And it was cold. And it took me almost three hours to warm up.

This morning it wasn't bone-chilling cold. The thermometer was hovering around 12 and the Weather Channel told me the wind chill was 7 degrees. Not bad. While it was warmer today, I also had to deal with the 3 or so inches of fresh snow on the ground. Still I'll take that instead of the Arctic air that was in place last weekend.

The group was small again - 4 coaches, 3 runners - but I kind of like the small size. More one-on-one attention and I have a feeling people will really start to get to know you better. After a short stretch, we headed out for 6 miles. The roads in the park weren't plowed, so running in the tire tracks our cars had made earlier was the easiest, but once we left the park, the roads were pretty clear. There were a few icy spots, but overall it was pretty decent running conditions.

Along the way there was chatting about goals, the Fleet Feet "clubhouse" where we'd gather for breakfast after the run (although I don't think the people who lived there knew were would be coming), races we've done and our past history with running. We apparently made one driver mad - she was in the opposite lane of traffic and laid on her horn and gave us a very unfriendly gesture as she drove by us. We're not quite sure what her problem was. I think the general consensus was lack of coffee on her part.

Overall the run was good and I'm really enjoying the group. It wasn't a super fast pace (not even sure how long it took since I managed to not start my Garmin) and trudging up the hills (I lost count how many there were) was a little painful at times, but I did it. And I liked the fact that even when I did slow down, there was another runner who hung back with me. Pushed me a bit, talked to keep my mind off the fact that we were less than a half mile from the end. And there was no pausing for a walk break at all today. Plus I left the group with a training plan in my hand. Looks like I'll be transitioning into a 5-day a week runner. Gulp. But I say bring it.

Now it's time to be lazy and wait for the Badger basketball game to tip off in 3 hours.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Day No. 3 of the Furlough brought a trip up to Lambeau Field. I had to stock up on a bit of Green Bay Packers gear. Because did you hear? We're going to the Super Bowl :) I opted not to get a shirt, I figured I'd save that purchase for a Super Bowl Champions shirt, but I did pick up one of the NFC Championship hats that the players were sporting in the locker room, some green and gold beads in preparation for a Super Bowl viewing party and a copy of the Super Bowl program. My Mom and I then had lunch up at Curly's Pub, our seats looked out at the players' parking lot and we could watch as the players were coming out of practice and going home for the day. No sign of Clay Matthews though - he was probably inside finishing up details for that Suave hair products endorsement deal he inked.

Non-Packer related, but we just managed to miss the craziness that comes when the highway is shut down due to President Obama's motorcade traveling through the area on his way to the airport.

2. Talk about a productive day so far. Not only have I gotten in a short swim while helping out my sister-in-law, I also had a run date with Jess. During the run it became very clear to me that I don't run with other people regularly. Because we don't get together very often, run dates with Jess require gossip. And gossip? Requires lots of talking. And that makes running hard. But it was so worth it. Of course the fresh one inch of snow we ran through was also making things a bit tough, but overall it was a good run. And I'm thinking it might be time to invest in some Yak Trax.

3. Now I've got a few hours to kill before heading out to the Oshkosh Half Marathon kickoff event. You can't really go wrong learning about core strength, raffle prizes, changes in the course (seriously, the event's in its fifth year and I think the course has never been the same) and reduced registration fees? Sign me up!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

YMCA Indoor Triathlon Race Report

It's the end of January, which means it was time for the first indoor triathlon of the year at my YMCA.

Honestly, there was a part of me that was considering not doing the event this year. For starters I haven't been in a pool since July. I haven't been on a bike since early December, and that was only for a very short post-run cool down (and mainly to finish watching a basketball game). Running? Well I have been doing that.

But when I have the race director sending me an email earlier in the week reminding me registration is due, well the guilt sets in. So I registered. And originally intended to spend some time in the pool last week and at least get one decent bike session in. But that plan flew out the window.

Add in the fact that I subjected myself to a very very chilly 3-mile run that morning in barely above zero temperatures and got to the YMCA 10 minutes before my wave was set to start (and still had to change into my swim suit) and you could say I was completely winging this event.

I got down to the pool with a couple of minutes to spare, put on my swim cap and goggles and got in the water. It was wet, just like I remembered. And cold. Just like outside. After what seemed like forever it was finally go time.

The swim was a bit different this year. Instead of 8 minutes like in the past, it was a 10 minute swim this time. Given my lack of swimming, I didn't have any expectations. I mostly wanted to survived. The first 100 yards went fine. Took a quick little breather and swam another 50 yards before doing 25 yards of the backstroke. There was one more length of the pool done with the backstroke before time was up. 10 minutes. 400 yards. I'll take it.

A quick change from my swimming suit to bike shorts and a t-shirt and it was off to the bike studio.

Nothing too exciting to report from the bike portion. Although it was here that my legs started to grumble a bit. The five other people in my wave all looked like they were pedaling a lot faster than I was. And at times I felt bad. But then I remembered I had already put in 3 very cold miles this morning, I haven't spent a decent amount of time on the bike in a long time and I was mostly doing this event for fun. So I was pretty happy with my effort, which was hard enough to make me sweat buckets! After 20 minutes on the bike I ended up with 9.1 miles.

Then it was upstairs to the elementary school sized gym where I would get to run in circles for 15 minutes. And to give you an idea of the size of this gym, 18 laps equaled a mile. Yeah. Literally running in circles.

I must have been in a super speedy group of folks because they all took off when the starter said go. I started running and what felt like a decent pace for me. But since they were all clipping along, I felt like I was walking. I didn't have a watch on, so I wasn't sure how much time had passed. I only knew how many laps I had completed. And that was only if I remembered how to count correctly.

I hit the 18 lap mark shortly before the starter yelled that there was 5 minutes left. That would put me at just under a 10 minute mile. Which is what I've been running lately. So even though I was getting passed left and right, I was OK with it. Especially given my legs had miles on them from the morning and this was the run portion of a triathlon. In the end I finished 28.75 laps, which if I can do the math right is 1.6 miles. I'll take it.

After I was done I did a bit of stretching before heading down to the locker room to change out of my sweaty clothes. I stopped by the race director and found out I finished just outside of the top three (the 30-39 year old age group is always stacked). But I was OK with how I had done.

Overall it was an OK event. A couple of things that bugged me:
  • Why do we need to put down our shirt size on the registration forms? Because obviously you didn't order shirts according to those forms. When I got there to register? I had a choice between an XL and an XXL. Not the medium I indicated on my registration.
  • No post-race snacks left? I realize I was in the last wave possible. But a yellow apple and a really cold slice of pizza isn't appealing. Especially since that pizza was piping hot an hour earlier when I signed in and the first waves were finishing.
  • I realize I sent my photographer from work there to shoot photos for a story I'm working on. But that doesn't mean you need to have your camera in my face the entire afternoon. Because guess what? Photos of me are not going to be running in our newspaper. I hope you took some photos of other folks who were doing the tri.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh hello Furlough. Not so nice to see you again.

It's returned.

One of those week-long long vacations that my company forces me to take. And, oh yeah, they don't pay me for. The furlough. This is furlough No. 4 for me since January 2009. And let me tell you, yeah it's kind of nice to have a week off of work. But it's also getting a bit old. Because honestly, the state of Wisconsin? While they do let me claim unemployment, it's not the same as my paycheck.

So what have I been up to so far on my furlough?

First their was Sunday, an epic day in Wisconsin sports. The Badger men's basketball absolutely demolished Northwestern. And then the Packers? In case you've been living under a rock for the past few days, they beat up on the Chicago Bears and are going to the Super Bowl! And because who doesn't like watching a 338-pound man rumble into the end zone after his first career interception? Watch it. Trust me. The last minute is worth it.

I've kept it on the down low, but Monday was my birthday. And how'd I celebrate my 31st? Well, I didn't do a little dance in the end zone like BJ Raji. Nope. I cleaned my apartment. And thought about running. But didn't. Oh well. It was my birthday. I can use that excuse.

And on the official second day of my furlough (the weekend didn't count) I sat and waited for my car to get an oil change. And watched Race Across the Sky, the documentary film about the year Lance Armstrong won the Leadville 100 in record time. Good flick. Inspiring stuff. Which is why I immediately went into my parents' basement and pounded out a 4.25 mile run on the treadmill before I headed off to watch my Dad play pool.

Now it's time to settle in with a book for the night. Who knows what Furlough Day 3 will bring - if I'm lucky at some point this week I'll catch up on all the blogs I haven't been reading/commenting on!

Monday, January 24, 2011

That was the coldest weather I've ever run in

Don't worry. Even though it's taken me two days, I did not turn into a chunk of ice during Saturday's group training run.

Almost. But not quite.

I really debated even going on Saturday morning. The weather man was telling me it was going to maybe be in the positive single digits with a nasty wind chill near -20. Ouch. But when the alarm went off at 6:40 a.m., I glanced at the Weather Channel's Local on the 8s and found out it was 2 degrees outside with a wind chill of -18. I still managed to get myself out of bed.

There is no photographic evidence of how I dressed (blame it on the early morning hour and the fact that my camera battery was dead). But I ended up wearing layers. Lots of layers. There were three long-sleeve wicking/tech shirts and my black running pants layered over a pair of Cuddl Duds that I had gotten for Christmas. Think long johns, but not so bulky. They were kind of like tights and actually kept me pretty warm considering the temps. On top there was my jacket, an ear band, my running gloves with a pair of mittens layered over them and the neck/face warmer. And my DryMax socks.

It was cold. And add to it a fresh one-inch layer of fresh snow. So at times it was a little challenging to run just because the icy spots were covered by snow. But don't worry. I didn't wipe out.

A fellow runner in the group - I think four runners showed up and we had four coaches on hand - loaned me a hat to use to keep my head warm. And I didn't realize the value of slathering Vaseline on your face.

We did about three miles before I started to get cold. And really it was only my legs from my knees to my hips that were cold. The rest of me was find, including my feet (love the DryMax socks!). I'm going to have to invest in a hat and look for some other kind of neck/face warmer. Since the one I had would not stay up on my face at all. Maybe that's why it was a close out deal.

Overall it was a good morning run. A little cold. But a good run. I'm really looking forward to the group. The coach knows what he's doing and during the run chatted with each of us a bit about our goals and our experiences. I told him about my 2:30 goal, how hills are this foreign concept to me (what, the city I live in is VERY flat), and how it never fails. Once I hit the 10 mile mark I struggle. A lot. But he sounded like he was already tossing ideas around his head about training plans while we were running.

Once we were done running the coach gave us some paperwork to fill out for next week and we were off. As I was driving home, I was thinking about it. And I'm really glad I signed up for the training group. I think I'll learn a lot and it'll be nice to be running with others. It was a small group Saturday, but they told us it should be a bigger group next weekend when it's a little warmer. And while I could have skipped out on the run, stayed in bed and stayed warm, I'm glad I faced the subzero wind chills for the run.

And it only took me three hours to finally warm back up.

Just in time to head over to the YMCA for the indoor triathlon.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

You'll find me in front of a TV today

Today has the makings to be an epic day in Wisconsin sports.

First there's a Big Ten showdown when the Badgers travel to Evanston to take on Northwestern. And because school officials and Big Ten officials realize what else is going on that day, game time was moved up a half-hour.

 There's a bit a recovery period. A half hour if we're lucky. And then?

It's time to cheer for the Green Bay Packers as they take on their rival to the south, the Chicago Bears. But it's not just any game. It's the NFC Championship Game. And the first time the two teams have met in the post-season since 1941. And did I forget to mention a trip to the Super Bowl is on the line?

So if you need to find me, I'll be watching the games. And like I mentioned, it could be an epic day for Wisconsin. Of course if they both lose, it could be a very very bad day for Wisconsin.

I'm staying positive. Go Badgers! Go Packers!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. You know those commercials for UPS that ask what can brown do for you? Well for starters how about having their employees communicate with each other? The UPS man came to my apartment Wednesday night to drop off a package. Of course I wasn't home. Is anyone ever home when they come to make a delivery? They left the sticky note and when I got home I rushed to my computer to tell them to told hold my package at the distribution center. When I went to go pick it up this morning? Package was MIA. Nowhere to be found. Apparently the delivery driver left with my package on his truck. At least that's what the guy at the counter believed. So now I have to go BACK to the UPS place Friday morning. Because that package is important.

2. When I signed up for the training group last weekend I also wanted to pick up some gear - mainly a pair of Drymax socks and a neck warmer - to prepare myself for some outdoor runs that could potentially be chilly. And since my local running store was out, I headed over to the Running Warehouse and got a steal of a deal. Socks. A neck warmer. Free two-day shipping. Except due to UPS's inability to talk amongst themselves, my package has been sitting in the city where I live longer than it took to travel from California to Wisconsin. And I really need that package.

3. You'd want it too if you were looking at weather forecast that looks like this:
My first long run with my training group is supposed to be Saturday morning. At 7:30 a.m. And single digit temperatures with wind chills below zero? Yeah, I'm a bit nervous. Hopefully I don't freeze and become an icicle, especially since I've got my last race as a 30-year-old in the afternoon - the indoor tri at my YMCA. Let's not talk about the fact I haven't swam since July. When it was warm.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I'm officially part of a training group

I'm usually a solo runner. I run by myself. Whether it's on a treadmill or outdoors. My runs are usually my time to think, de-stress or just zone out. In fact I can probably count on two hands the number of times I've actually run with other people (other than a race setting).

My run time? It's my me time.

But I've heard amazing things from others about running buddies. People love them. They rave about them. They talk about how running with friends has helped them - either increase their speed or distance or push them through the tough time. They talk about how running with others helps keep them accountable.

And after listening to all that, I decided. I want to try this running group thing.

So today I signed myself up for a half marathon training group being organized by my local Fleet Feet store. It's goal race is the Oshkosh Half Marathon, which falls a month before the Green Bay Half Marathon. Normally I've done the 5K event at Oshkosh, but I figured this year I'll tackle the 13.1 miles. I mean if I was following the Green Bay training plan I'd need to do 10 miles anyway. What's an extra 3? So you heard it here first, I've got two half marathons planned for this spring.

The program offers some coaching and maybe that will help me finally break that 2:30 I've been chasing for the last year. And of course it'll give me the chance to test out this running with others concept. Yes, it will involved early morning runs in what will probably be chilly temperatures. But you know what? I'm looking forward to it.

I'll check back in next weekend and let you know how my first foray into a running group went.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bunches of four on Friday

I like lists. But I usually don't fill out those e-mails that end up in my inbox that ask me answer a bunch of questions and send them to anybody and everybody. And sometimes I do the posts here where I'm tagged. But most of them I skip.

But I've got to do this one. My friend Jess tagged me. And Jess and I have had some good girl time. Discussing boys, vacations and goals while running or gossiping while sipping on margaritas or settling into theater seats and watching the epic Hood to Coast. So when Jess tagged me, I knew I had to comply.

Here it goes.

1. Four TV shows that I watch:
Days of Our Lives (What? It's a guilty pleasure dating back to middle school. Plus there's not much on at lunch)
If it's a football game or a college basketball game, I'm probably watching

2. Four things I'm passionate about:
Reading and writing
My family
3. Four words/phrases I use a lot:
My head hurts.
I'm ready for the weekend.
4. Four things I've learned in the past:
Don't ever change yourself just for a boy. It's not worth it.
I can do anything I want to if I just put my mind to it.
When given the choice, sometimes the right one will be the hardest one to choose.
When 80,000 people starting jumping during "Jump Around," Camp Randall Stadium will shake. But it won't fall down.
5. Four places I would like to go:
6. Four things I did yesterday
Ran 6.3 miles on a treadmill.
Read a book
Thought about starting to take down my Christmas tree. Decided not to.
Sat in a courtroom for work.

7. Four things I'm looking forward to:
An upcoming week off of work
Two spring half marathons
A Saturday featuring a double-header of Badger basketball and a Green Bay Packers playoff game
Someday getting the chance to run outdoors again.

8. Four things I love about winter
A fresh snowfall
Holiday smells - cinnamon and vanilla are my favorites!
Sitting in the dark with only my Christmas tree lights on (maybe that's why I haven't taken it down yet)

I'm supposed to tag four people. But I'm just going to open this up to anybody. Leave a comment if you decide to play along!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Didn't really want to go for a run tonight after work, but I forced myself to go. At first the run stunk. But surprise, surprise, after a mile I felt good. So my 3-mile run turned into 4 miles. Which turned into 5 miles. Which ended up being 6.2 miles because honestly I was feeling pretty good.

2. I need to sit down this weekend and try to come up with a training plan. While the Green Bay Half Marathon isn't until May, I'm toying with doing the Oshkosh Half Marathon in mid-April - use it as a training run. In years past I've always done the 5K in Oshkosh, but I figured one of these years I should really do the half marathon on the streets of the city I call home.

3. Speaking of training, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be doing an indoor triathlon next weekend on a complete whim. No training whatsoever. I haven't been in a pool since July. I haven't spent a considerable amount of time on a bike in a long time. But I have been running. I was thinking of skipping the event next weekend at the YMCA, but it'll be the last chance for me to do a race as a 30-year-old. Going in under-prepared? Could be fun. Or scary.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hood to Coast: A must-see if you haven't seen it

OMG. Hood to Coast? So good. Amazing. Inspiring. Well worth the $12.50 I paid to see it.

Once the work day finally ended yesterday, I met up with my friend Jess to catch Hood to Coast. We had two options of where to go see it. We could make the half hour drive to Appleton or we could make the 5 minute drive to the west side of town. Since it was snowing and the roads were a little dicey, we ended up seeing it here in Oshkosh.

Since we didn't know what to expect for turnout, we ordered our tickets online. Just to make sure we'd get to see it. Turns out we probably could have waited. Eight people purchased tickets ahead of time. Yes. Eight. A few more people bought tickets at the door and by the time the lights went down, there were a grand total of 15 people in the theater. Obviously Oshkosh is not a run-crazy community.

I don't want to give away everything that happens in the movie, so if you want to know what it was like, just find a way to see it. Maybe will have it. Or Netflix. Or maybe you'll be able to buy it on DVD someday. Just make sure you see this movie.

I really liked the concept of following four teams throughout the relay, and I thought the filmmakers picked great teams to follow.While the team running with lightning bolts on their heads - the ones who "trained" by eating pizza and drinking beer instead of logging major miles - were humorous to watch, they weren't my favorite. I really liked the Dead Jocks. This was a team of masters runners, who were super intense about their running, yet still managed to have a good time during the race. And I think that's a big thing for me. Be serious about the goals you set (they were aiming for a top six in their age group), but still remember to have a good time. Because running is supposed to be fun.

Considering when I watched those final credits roll all I wanted to do was go outside for a run, I'd say it was a pretty inspiring movie. Definitely gave me the motivation I was looking for! Overall a great flick. And a good one to get me in the mood for spring half marathon training!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Someone should post locker room rules

All of the New Year's resolution people must have waited until this week to head out to the YMCA. Because tonight when I pulled into the parking lot? Crowded. Don't worry. I managed to snag a treadmill and pound out my 4.6 miles.

The bigger problem was in the locker room. I got down there and there were like 5 women in my little aisle of lockers. And they had all come from the pool area, so the floor was a bit wet. Two women had spread their stuff out along the ENTIRE row of the lockers and of course the locker I was using was smack dab in the middle. So I just kind of chilled for a moment. Thinking they'd notice I was waiting.

Yup. I just sat. And waited. And waited some more.

Finally after a few minutes they realized I was sitting there and asked me if they were in my way. Uh, no I just like sitting in a locker room for the heck of it. They finally moved their stuff. Problem was where they were standing? Right in front of my locker? Huge puddles.

Next time ladies? Try putting a towel down on the floor. At least that way there won't be little lakes left on the floor for the next person to avoid.

But on a more exciting note.

Hood to Coast. It's been talked about a lot in Blogland and on Twitter. When I first heard about the movie a couple of months ago I was interested in seeing it. And today? I finally decided to make some plans to go see it. At first I was thinking of just heading over to the theater alone, but then I decided to see if my friend Jess had any plans.

She didn't! So tomorrow night we're heading over to see Hood to Coast. And we're both pumped. After watching the trailer, we're both ready to be inspired by the film. I mean seriously. Read what the film's website has to say about it:
Hood to Coast is a feature length documentary shot in stunning HD that captures the spirit of the runner like it's never been seen before. Follow four teams on their epic journey as they try to conquer the world's largest relay race, we realize that winning isn't everything in a documentary that takes a celebratory look at personal motivation and attempting the extraordinary. For 30 years thousands of runners from across the country have gathered for this  running world favorite, and now you can feel the pain, relish the camaraderie, and get a taste of the runner's high in a movie theater near you. Even if you've never run a step in your life, this documentary will make you want to push yourself farther than you've ever gone before.
Chills. I get chills just reading about it. Needless to say, I'm so excited.

Anyone else heading out to see Hood to Coast?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

That's the mentality I should take to half marathons

The Christmas tree is still standing in my living room. And it's still fully decorated. Maybe I'll have to take the multi-day approach to taking it down - ornaments and lights one night after work and shoving it in the box the next night.

I still don't have a training plan drawn up for the two spring half marathons I'm planning on doing. But I do think I've made a decision about whether or not to get involved with the training group.

I spent the day Saturday playing arcade games and jamming out to Michael Jackson videos on a Wii video game with The Rugrats. Which is why the Christmas tree is still standing and why I didn't get my run in on Saturday. Priorities.

But I did run this morning. And had plenty of time to shower, deck myself out in green and gold (including my fluorescent green compression socks) and do a few errands before watching the Packers demolish the Eagles' playoff hopes.

Bring on the Falcons.

Photo credit: Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I haven't listed my goals for 2011 yet (maybe this weekend), but I'm pretty sure the "read 40 books" goal will be returning. And I'm already on my way. I finished up the first book of 2011 today during my lunch break at work. Only 39 more to go.

2. Speaking of the weekend, I've got a laundry list of things to do. Probably the most pressing? Take down my Christmas tree and clean up some of the clutter that's shown up over the holidays. I just cringe at the thought of wrestling with the fake tree branches, trying to get them all shoved back into the box and then trying to duct tape the box shut. Anyone want to do it for me?

3. I'm toying with joining a running group for the upcoming half marathon season. It's a training group that is actually aiming for the Oshkosh Half Marathon in April. In the past I've always done the 5K event, but this year I'm thinking of doing the half marathon. It's a month before the Green Bay Half Marathon, and I'd need to do 10 miles that weekend anyway. So I'm thinking of using the Oshkosh half as a sort of a training run before Green Bay. And it might be nice to be a part of a group to run with once a week. Kind of hold me accountable. Plus I'd get that long run out of the way early in the weekend. Thoughts?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Registration fee's paid for the year's first race!

It's official.

The money has been paid and the first race of the year can be penciled in on my calendar! I'm heading back for my second chance to run through the streets of Green Bay and around Lambeau Field for the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon on May 15!

I've got 129 days to get ready to show Green Bay what I've got. And that means No more excuses to skip a run. Starting tomorrow :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Books: A year in review


After just missing my 40 book goal in 2009, I was hoping I'd be able to read enough pages and meet it 2010. And I did! In fact I beat the goal! OK. I barely beat the goal, but that still counts!

I managed to finish 41 books in 2010 for a total of 14,047 pages. In 2009 - when I barely missed the goal - I finished 39 books and 12,549 pages. Who knew adding an extra two books would tack on that many more pages?

Some stats about this year's reading list? With 14,047 pages read this year, each book averaged 343 pages. The longest book I read this year was The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald, which was 820 pages. But that was followed closely by the 759-page Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. The shortest book on the list was the 159-page Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris. And honestly, I'm still trying to figure out what the point of those 159 pages was. There were a couple of authors that made it on my reading list multiple times: Stieg Larsson (2), Charlaine Harris (10), Ann-Marie MacDonald (2), Gail Carriger (2) and Marisa de los Santos (2). And other than the 11 books about vampires I also managed to read four running-related books this year.

Overall not a bad year. Take a look at what I spent my time reading in 2010:

1. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
2. Comeback 2.0: Up Close and Personal by Lance Armstrong
3. Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
4. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
5. Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
6. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
7. Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer
8. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
9. Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
10. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
11. Soulless by Gail Carriger
12. The Babysitters Club: The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin
13. Changeless by Gail Carriger
14. Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption by William Cope Moyers
15. Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes
16. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max
17. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella by Stephenie Meyer
18. Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally
19. Get Lucky by Katherine Center
20. The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald
21. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
22. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
23. Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
24. Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandella and the Game that Made a Nation by John Carlin
25. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
26. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
27. Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
28. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
29. All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
30. From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
31. Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
32. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
33. The Long Run by Matt Long w/ Charles Butler
34. A Perfect Match by Shelley Bradley
35. Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook
36. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
37. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
38. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
39. Stay by Allie Larkin
40. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
41. Run to Overcome by Meb Keflezighi

Now. Any suggestions for what to read in 2011?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Rose Bowl thoughts and running goals

For starters, it was not a good weekend to be a Badger fan.

That Rose Bowl loss to TCU? Painful. But I have to admit, TCU was a very good team, much better than I anticipated. Had it not been for a few mistakes by the Badgers and one very lucky in the right place at the right time play by a TCU defender, it could have been a different story. But it wasn't to be this year. Sigh.

But the most heartbreaking? Watching J.J. Watt at the post-game press conference. Seriously. Defensive linemen who are 6-6 and weigh almost 300 pounds? They're not supposed to break down and cry. But he did. He's the heart and soul of this Badger team - giving up a scholarship at Central Michigan to come to UW as a walk on and develop into the type of player he is - and to see him so emotional on the podium? Heartbreaking. And I'll admit, I'm crossing my fingers this week he decides to come back for his senior year. Check out this video around the 2:10 mark to see Watt break down.

And let's not talk about the UW basketball team who shot 35 percent from the field in a loss at Illinois. Ugh. Let's just say if it hadn't been for the Packers pulling out a victory Sunday night it would not have been a very good weekend in Wisconsin sports.

But moving on.

Let's talk running for a moment.

I finished 2010 with 590.3 miles. Yup. I didn't make it to the gym Friday morning to attempt the final 9.7 miles I needed to hit 600 miles for the year. I woke up in the morning and my legs were like bricks. They were screaming at me. So I opted not to run. But I'm happy with my mileage for the year. It's my highest total yet by almost 300 miles. So I'll take it.

But now I've got to set a goal for 2011. Right now I'm leaning towards 1,000 miles. It's a nice number, don't you think? Yes. It will be a lot of work. And there will be days when I'll be tempted to slack and not run. But I think I can do it. I look at 2010 and see that I really slacked during the summer months. I can't do that this year. I won't do that this year.

Right now, on Jan. 3, 2011, I have a few running goals for the year:
  • Run 1,000 miles
  • Break 2 hours, 30 minutes in the half marathon
  • Run a sub-30 5K
  • Try one new race distance
  • And check off another 3 half marathons
A do-able list I think. After taking the first two days of the new year off, I logged my first run of the year tonight. I was expecting a ton of people at the YMCA but was pleasantly surprised when I got there. Yes, there were more people than usual, but I didn't have to wait for a treadmill. I got in a speedy (for me) 4.25 miles before tacking on a short cool down (0.1 miles) and calling it a night.

Only 995.65 miles to go.


And I leave you with some words from Watt.

"The Wisconsin Badgers will be back to the Rose Bowl. ... "No doubt about it the Badgers will be back and they'll be better than ever. And when they come back, they'll win."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Day? No it's Rose Bowl Day!

I'll get the customary happy new year wishes out of the way first.

Because seriously people. There are more important things to concentrate on today than trying to remember to write 2011 instead of 2010 on my check (which will probably take me until mid-February to do successfully) or figuring out resolutions (which I still haven't thought much about for this year...maybe I'll skip them).

No. There's more important things. Like college football. And most importantly, the Rose Bowl.
Because in just about 2 hours you'll find me glued to a TV, crossing my fingers, hoping, praying and screaming that my Badgers can kick some TCU Horned Frog butt, come away smelling roses and add another Rose Bowl title to its collection.

It's game day.

And while I'm super excited, there's a part of me that's a little disappointed. See all week I've been following blogs, Tweets and local media reports of what's been going on out in Los Angeles, which tens of thousands of Badger fans have taken over to the point that it's been dubbed Madison West.

It reminds me of 2000, the last time the Badgers were in the Rose Bowl, when three friends and I packed up the car and drove 2,200 miles and 33 hours to watch the Badgers beat Stanford 17-9 to win the school's second straight Rose Bowl title.

That whole day was magical. Starting with celebrating New Year's Eve on the streets of Pasadena by watching fireworks at midnight (while our parents back in the Midwest were worried we wouldn't survive Y2K), returning to the same spot to watch the Rose Parade later that morning and finally the game itself. Amazing. Watching Ron Dayne rumble into the end zone in the third quarter and the excitement that was going through the stands as the final minutes ticked off the clock and us Wisconsin fans realized the title would be ours.


An amazing experience. One I had memories of during the past week as I read about everybody's 2011 Rose Bowl. And one that I want to experience again. So the next time the Badgers head out to Pasadena for the Granddaddy of the All? It's probably a safe bet that this Badgergirl will be out there, cheering them on and living the Rose Bowl experience.

I hope you all have a great start to 2011. Mine will be that much sweeter if the Badgers can pull out the Rose Bowl win. Now you'll have to excuse me. Kick off is in 2 hours and this Badger fan needs to get ready to cheer!