Monday, February 28, 2011

If you drive a white SUV, stay away from me please

There must be target on me that people who drive white SUVs aim for.

Let me back up. I glanced out my office window at 5:15 p.m. this afternoon. It was 15 minutes before quitting time and the sun was still out. Whoa. I guess I haven't realized that the days were getting longer. And it was sunny and mercury in the thermometer was hovering around 30 degrees. With just a short 2-mile run on the schedule tonight, it's like the outdoors was calling me.

Run outside. You know you want to.

And I did. So even though I had the gym bag packed in my car and was planning on snagging a treadmill at the YMCA, I changed plans. Instead I went home, threw on the running clothes and was out the door by 6 p.m.

It was starting to get dusky when I set out for my run, but it was still fairly bright. And my bright pink jacket? It's got some reflective stuff on it so I wasn't too worried about becoming roadkill.

I should have been though.

Not even a half mile into the run I'm coming up to a little subdivision that I run though. But first I have to turn off the main road. And since there aren't sidewalks in this area, I was on the road. But I was as far over on the shoulder as possible and running facing traffic.

Apparently Mr. White SUV Driver No. 1 was a bit too impatient to slow down while the car in front of him made a right hand turn. Because all of a sudden this SUV is coming towards me. And not just creeping along. More like going 45mph on the shoulder of the road to drive around the other car. Right in my path. I kind of stopped. Got over even farther. If I moved to the left anymore I'd be knee deep in a snow bank.

I glared at the SUV driver. May have given him a one-fingered salute. And kept running.

Through the subdivision, back on to the main road, took a right turn and I was back in a subdivision. It was getting darker. Since there's sidewalks in this subdivision I ran on them. Most homeowners have done a phenomenal job with snow removal on their sidewalks. But of course there's always "those homeowners," the ones who seem to forget what a shovel is and what it's used for. But I made it.

Soon it was back to the main road. It was getting dark by now, and honestly a bit darker than I felt comfortable with, but I only had another half mile to go so I thought I'd be OK. I was wrong. Again. I no more than get to the main road I almost get smucked by ANOTHER white SUV. This time he's almost driving through a snow bank to get around a car that wanted to make a left hand turn. And almost plowed into me in the process.

I got a good look at him as he drove through the snow bank. I glared. Waited until he was gone and started running again. I might have upped the pace a bit since at this point I just wanted to make it home before I became a piece of road kill.

While running for my life I made the decision that I better not venture out for a post-work run in my neighborhood until after Daylight Savings Time kicks in. If I want to run outdoors after work, I think it's going to have to be a run that takes off from my work parking lot. Because tonight? It was just a bit too scary for my tastes.

Needless to say I'm kind of looking forward to heading back to the YMCA treadmill tomorrow. Even if it means I've got to tackle a workout of hill repeats.


In other running-related news. The month of February's done. Which means the first full month of training with the Fleet Feet half marathon group is done. And looking at the numbers I can totally tell. I ran 17 times in February and logged 73.4 miles. I missed three runs this month - one due to a late night at work covering protests and two last week under doctor's orders. That's a lot of running. But I love it.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A not so fun long run

Remember how last weekend's long run was amazing? I felt strong. Surged up those hills? Picked up the pace at the end?

Today? Not so much. More like a struggle. I felt weak. Barely made it up the hills. Wanted to quit 2 miles early, but plodded through the final miles.

In short? It stunk. And that's not even taking into account the nasty blister I managed to give myself on my toe. Ouch.

What made it bearable? Having my friend Krittabug run it with me. She's in town visiting this weekend and needed to log some miles herself. So she ran with the group and kept pushing me to the end. And having the coach run a good chunk of the last 4 miles with us was nice too. I guess that's one of the perks of running with a group. Had I been solo I bet I would have thrown in the towel and found the shortest distance back to the starting point. But I didn't.

What made it so hard today? Not completely sure. I think it's a combination of things. That whole car accident/getting stuck in a ditch fiasco from Sunday, a stiff, sore, achy back. Not running since Tuesday. Who knows.

I know not every run can be amazing. That sometimes a bad run can end up being just what you need in order to give you the confidence that you'll be able to fight through it when the run gets tough on race day. But today? It was just ouch. I was never so glad to see my car parked in the parking lot. But 9 miles is in the books.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I'm not allowed to run. And it's killing me. After my accident on Sunday, my back started getting achy and stiff on Monday. I decided to make an appointment with my chiropractor after talking with some family. I went for my appointment on Wednesday and he said I had strained my upper back muscles pretty badly during the accident. He told me to come back for a few more appointments and make sure I ice my back. Because I like asking questions, I asked him about running. And that's when he put a halt to my running. He said even though I didn't hit my head, there was still a possiblity I had gotten a mild concussion from the sudden jolt and that I shouldn't run.

It's killing me. I've missed two days. Friday's supposed to be a rest day, but I'm itching to lace up my sneakers and run on Saturday morning. He told me we'd discuss it again when I go for my appointment tomorrow morning. But even if he says no to running, I think I'm going to be that bad patient and do it anyway. My head feels fine. I'm not dizzy. No blurry vision. Besides I ran Monday and Tuesday and I'm still alive. I'll just take the run super easy. Because I want to run. I NEED to run. And there's a 9-miler calling my name.

2. It's taken me almost a month but I'm almost done with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Good book. Well worth the read. In fact I recommend the entire triology.

3. Another reason I need to run on Saturday? My good friend Krittabug is coming up for the weekend and she's going to come to the Fleet Feet group with me. Kritta's actually the one that got me into the running thing and convinced me to do my first half marathon back in 2007. I want to run with her. And then there might be some stalking of Clay Matthews when he comes to Lake Winnebago later in the afternoon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's not even March, but I know I'll be working hard come April

It's been four weeks since I started running with the Fleet Feet half marathon training group.

And I'll be the first to admit, deciding to pay the $50 and join the group? Best decision I've made so far this year. I was worried before it all started. I typically don't run with others. Running is kind of my quiet time. My time to think. But you know what? I look forward to early Saturday mornings and running with the others in the group. We're a pretty diverse bunch and haven't run out of things to talk about yet! And the miles seem to go so much quicker when I'm running them with others. Let's not forget the built in motivation.

Saturday we tackled 8 miles and remember how I mentioned I killed the run? I guess I wasn't kidding myself about feeling strong. I got an e-mail from the coach last night:

"You did phenomenal yesterday.  Surging up the hills , driving to the finish, you're really doing well, keep it up!"

Yeah, I'd say that's a little bit of a confidence booster.

Or maybe that was his way of softening the blow of what I was going to see next. See the training group is aiming for the Oshkosh Half Marathon in mid-April, but the coach was willing to tweak our training plans if we had different goal races. While I'm running the Oshkosh half, my goal race this spring is the Green Bay Half Marathon. I want to kill my old PR and finally hit that 2:30 I've been chasing the last year.

So my coach was going to tweak my plan and chart out what the four weeks between Oshkosh and Green Bay would look like training-wise. Now I had heard the coach mention once or twice before that ideally he'd like to have his runners run longer than the race distance prior to race day.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when I opened the training plan and saw the two weeks after Oshkosh? I'm supposed to do 15-mile runs.


I admit I'm a bit freaked out and it isn't even March yet. But still, 15 miles? That will be the longest I've ever run. And two weeks in a row? Oh boy.

But then I stop, think and remember J.J Watt's philosophy that I've adopted: Dream Big. Work Hard. And that's exactly what I'll be doing when the end of April arrives, because I've got some big dreams, but I know I'll have to do a lot of hard work to achieve them.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

When they say travel is hazardous...believe them!

Mother Nature and I are not on speaking terms. And I've decided I'm not going to drive again until spring arrives.

There's a winter storm rolling through Wisconsin at the moment. By the time all is said and done, it's supposed to dump a foot of snow, there's a chance for some icy mix and since the winds are supposed to pick up tonight, visibility will be close to non-existent.

Knowing the storm was supposed to roll in early this afternoon, I made sure to leave my parents' house fairly early today. In fact, I think I left their house 10 minutes after I saw the first snowflake.

Apparently I didn't leave early enough.

I swear, I was on the road for 5 minutes. I had just gotten on the highway and things were getting a little icy already. I kept my speed down though. I was in the right lane, but I had to change lanes to allow for traffic on the highway on ramp to merge. I checked my blind spot, turned on my blinker and started to change lanes.

Next thing I knew I was sliding. Spinning. There's more sliding and I'm freaking out because I have this feeling I'm going to end up in the ditch on my roof. I let go of the steering wheel and say a little prayer. I close my eyes for a moment and when I  open them, I'm looking into the windshield of the car behind me.

Then we hit.

Front bumper to front bumper. I see a piece of my car fly off. No airbags were deployed and suddenly I'm facing west again. I pull off to the shoulder of the road, take a breath and see if I'm OK. I pull out the phone and call 911.

"I've just been in an accident."

Forty-five minutes later a sheriff's deputy shows up. We pull off the highway into a parking lot and he takes information about what happened as I sit in the back of his squad car. I end up getting a citation for failing to keep my vehicle under control - even though I was going below the speed limit. No one was hurt, thankfully, and the deputy eventually let's us go.

My battered car and I leave the parking lot. I head back over to my parents' house. I debate just staying at their house overnight, but it's supposed to get worse overnight and there's a chance I won't be able to get my car out in the morning. Mom and Dad tell me to go home, take the long way through town and go slowly.

I leave. It's still snowing. And still icy. I'm nervous. But I drive cautiously.

This time I'm less than 2 miles from Mom and Dad's. There's a stoplight up ahead. It's red. There are a bunch of cars stopped for the light. I start to apply my brakes early to allow plenty of time for braking. I start sliding again. I pump the brakes, just like they taught us in driver's ed. I still slide.

This time I end up in the ditch.

I can't help it. I start to cry. I pull out my phone - again - and call my Mom.

"I give up."

My Dad comes - but not before countless strangers stop and ask me if I'm alright - and he tries to pull me out of the ditch with his truck. We're helped by another random stranger. After almost a half hour of trying, we're successful and my little blue Focus is no longer stuck in the ditch.

We thank the stranger. Dad tells me to keep going to Oshkosh, but to take it as slow as I need to. And I do. It takes me an hour from when my car is pulled from the ditch to when I drive into my driveway. It's normally a 30 minute trip. But that pales in comparison to the fact that when you add it all together it took me 4 hours to get home today. Not fun. And even though I've driven in Wisconsin my entire life, I admit, what happened today shook my confidence when it comes to winter driving. But I know I can't let it affect me. It's winter. It gets icy. And like my parents say, accidents happen.

But the take away lesson? The next time the weatherman or the Department of Transportation says travel is hazardous and not advised unless an emergency? You can bet I'll be listening.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The hills became road kill

I killed it.

This morning's run? The same route we took last weekend that featured all of the nasty hills in the last 2.5 miles? It should have been scared. The concrete should have been shaking. Because this morning? I killed my run.

It. Felt. Amazing.

After last week's run I had a little bit of doubt. Could I do the miles? Would the 2:30 ever be mine? Can't my coach just forget hills exist? Because seriously. Oshkosh? It's pancake flat. We don't have no stinkin' hills.

But this morning? Totally different attitude. I ran strong. I kept a super consistent pace for 8 miles - my splits ranged from 11:14 to 11:25 minute miles with the exception of two miles where I forgot to stop my watch for a quick drink break and a super long stop light. And the final mile? After I've already logged 7 miles and dominated the hills, it was my fastest mile of the morning. Never ever has that happened before.

Amazing run.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. For the first time this half marathon training cycle I skipped a run. Yes, the plan started Jan. 31, so it really hasn't been that long. But there were days the last two and a half weeks when I just wanted to skip a run because it was hard adjusting to a 5-day a week running schedule. It was hard. And I wanted to skip a run. But I didn't.

Until today.

It was a long day. It started early. It was go go go. And it ended late. By the time I left the office at nearly 7 p.m., I was hungry. My head was starting to hurt. I thought about heading over to the YMCA and just getting the 3 miles in. But I decided not to. I just wanted to go home. So I did. Maybe I'll fit it in tomorrow morning before I head to work. Maybe.

2. Have any of you been paying attention to what's going on in Wisconsin? Our governor's proposing some pretty radical stuff. And the citizens of the state don't like it. Not one bit. So there have been rallies. And protests. And schools are being closed because teachers are calling in sick. And 14 of our Democratic State Senators may have left the state today instead of going to a Senate session. Here's a run down from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about today's events. Pretty entertaining reading. Those events are what kept me at work so long today, but it also reminded me of why I love the work I do.

3. Now I'm going pull myself away from the computer and settle in for the rest of the night with my book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I've still got 200+ pages to finish and the library is going to want it's book back tomorrow. I have a feeling they're not getting it. Hey, I just look at those late fees I rack up adding to the revenue stream for the library. Loving the book so far.

Bonus item: I registered for the Oshkosh Half Marathon today! That means there's a half marathon penciled into my calendar on April 16 (Oshkosh) and May 15 (Green Bay). At this point I'm looking at Oshkosh as a long training run for Green Bay. But I first started running consistently the first year Oshkosh put on a 5K/half marathon event in 2007. I've done the 5K every year since, but this will be the first time I tackle the half marathon distance in the city I live in!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Runing through the puddles

What do you get when you combine working a later shift with sunny skies and temperatures hovering near 40 degrees?

A happy Badgergirl who got to run her 2-mile run outside!

Yes, there was a stiff wind to contend with during the first half the run and my feet got a little wet while trying to avoid the puddles, but it felt so good to be off the treadmill and running outdoors during a work day run. I felt like I was working hard, especially when battling the wind, and was expecting to see a disappointing time show up on Garmin Gus. But I was OK with that. Remember there was the wind to battle, puddles to avoid and I had to take some steps very carefully to avoid slipping on the remaining icy patches.

So after I got home and hit stop on Garmin Gus you could say I was very surprised to see that I had just turned in a sub-20 2-miler. OK. OK. Technically it was barely a sub-20 - more like 19:50 - but I was happy. Maybe those hills I've been conquering on the Saturday morning Fleet Feet runs and those hill repeats I've been doing on the treadmills Tuesday nights are paying off.

Whatever the reason, I don't really care. I'm just happy to have gotten the chance to run outdoors. Even if it meant I finished with wet feet from the puddles.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Conquered the hills, now hoping the Badgers can do the same

The long run is done.

Coach wasn't there today, but we still tackled hills. Many hills. Big hills. And bunched up towards the end of the run. Like most of them came in the last 2.5 miles. But they were conquered. And yes, I might have drawn on a little bit of J.J. Watt's Dream Big. Work Hard philosophy I'm following. And even muttered my other mantra, "that which doesn't kill me only makes me stronger," to myself.

But I did it. And kept a pretty decent long run pace for the run. Mile times creeped up a bit in the second half, but did I mention all the hills were near the end of the run?

The plan called for 7 miles this morning, but due to the last loop being longer than expected, we finished with 7.9 miles this morning. Now I'm home, showered and sporting my Wisconsin t-shirt and my neon green compression socks and getting ready for tip off.

The Badgers are facing off against undefeated Ohio State today at the Kohl Center. And I may be a little biased, but I have a very good feeling Wisconsin has a shot to make this an epic afternoon..

Go Badgers!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. This week went surprisingly fast. Might be because I'm still coming off the high from the Packers Super Bowl win. Of course all the appearances on David Letterman, Jay Leno, the Ellen DeGeneres Show and George Lopez aren't really helping me get over the high. Because I watch. And I drool laugh. And then there might be discussions in the Twitterverse about who's got dibs on what Packers player. Donald Driver. Aaron Rodgers. Clay Matthews. Jordy Nelson. Greg Jennings. Mason Crosby. There's a lot of choices. And to find out, Clay Matthews will be in my town in just two weekends. He's making an appearance at some ice fishing tournament. Needless to say I will be going. And not for the ice fishing.

So I shared the great clip with Clay Matthews and Ellen DeGeneres. But the one with Greg Jennings and George Lopez is equally as great, especially the last chunk where they're discussing the YouTube video and Madden. I can't figure out how to embed that one, so just follow the link. You'll like it.

2. All of that Packers hoopla and the running is going surprisingly well. I haven't missed a day yet on the half marathon training program I'm following. And that means I've run 8 out of 10 days so far this month. Can't think of the last time that's happened. Oh wait. It's never happened. It's going well. The legs are feeling good. I'm actually liking the hill repeat workouts on the treadmill the coach is having me do. And I'm looking forward to this weekend's 7 mile run.

3. Continuing on the sports-theme. Did anyone catch the Badger game last night? They shouldn't have beat Iowa. Not after shooting 18 percent in the first half. Really Bucky? But Bo and the boys pulled themselves together and came out in the second half, sent it to overtime and pulled out the win in Iowa. Which sets up an amazing Saturday showdown at the Kohl Center in Madison when undefeated Ohio State comes to town. Let's just say it would be absolutely amazing if Wisconsin could knock them off on Saturday. And if it happens? Bucky would be responsible for knocking off not only the No. 1, undefeated Buckeyes on the basketball court, but remember they handed Ohio State their only loss of the football season when they were No. 1. It will be a very good day. Can't wait.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The trophy came home

In case you've been living under a rock, it's been an amazing couple of days here in Wisconsin.

The Vince Lombardi Trophy came back home to Green Bay.

I went to a friend's house for a Super Bowl party on Sunday. There was the required food and chatter. But there was also a lot of screaming. And yelling. And voodoo finger waving during key points - I swear it was our voodoo magic that sent that missed Steelers' field goal wide. And screaming. And of course there was the silence that descended early in the second half when Pittsburgh was making a run. But the screaming and voodoo fingers returned by the end of the third quarter, Clay Matthews forced a fumble, the Packers put a few more points on the board and the rest, as they say, is history.

The trophy came home.

And the crowds lined the streets of Green Bay to welcome the team home yesterday. As much as I would have loved to be there - or today when fans packed Lambeau Field for the "Return to Titletown" event - I was stuck at work at my desk. But I followed along vicariously through people's tweets and in just about 15 minutes I'll be parking myself in front of the TV to watch a rerun of the Titletown celebration.

Super Bowl champs. It's been a long time. I was in high school the last time it happened at Super Bowl XXXI.

Now here's the running connection.

Last year when I ran the Green Bay Half Marathon I got choked up as I ran into the bowels of the stadium and came out of the players' tunnel for a lap around Lambeau Field. It was my victory over The Monster.

This year, when I run through that tunnel, it's going to be pretty inspiring as well. Because it's the same steps that this team of guys walked every home game weekend. A team that many counted out when the injuries started taking their toll and it seemed as though half the team was on the injured reserve list. A team of guys that had a goal at the beginning of the season - to get to the Super Bowl and bring the trophy home - and put in the work they needed to achieve it. A team whose mentality totally fits in with J.J Watt's "Dream Big. Work Hard" philosophy.

Needless to say, I can't wait for May.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

It's Game Day!

There will be no running today. I got that out of the way Saturday morning with a 7-mile run with the group.

The Badgers have already won this afternoon, beating Michigan State. Jordan Taylor was couldn't miss a shot and John Leuer was a beast. Keaton Nankivil and Josh Gasser both chipped in and the Badgers walked away from the Kohl Center with a 82-56 win.

Now it's time.

We here in Wisconsin have been waiting for this day for two weeks, ever since the Packers beat the Bears at Soldier Field. Well actually we've probably been waiting since 1998, when the Packers lost to John Elway and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII.

But today's the day. The day the Packers bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay, a place it hasn't been since Green Bay beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI on Jan. 26, 1997.
Let's go Packers!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I think the entire city of Oshkosh must be surviving by eating those little Hillshire Farms Lil' Smokies. I stopped at the grocery store after work to pick a package up to prepare for a potluck we're having at work tomorrow in honor of the Super Bowl this weekend. I walked back to the shelf, do a little happy dance because they're on sale and immediately stop dancing. Shelf. Empty. No Lil' Smokies. On to grocery store No. 2. It's almost a repeat situation. Empty shelf. I was just about to head out to grocery store No. 3 (and the last one in the city) when I spotted two packages in a display cooler. Jackpot. I grabbed those Lil' Smokies and some barbecue sauce and I was out the door.

2. On the running front, week No. 1 of the training plan is almost done. And I'm proud to I've four of the five runs for this week so far. There's just the long group run on Saturday left. I was a bit worried how running four days in a row would go, but I did it. My left knee was a little achy after I was done tonight, but I'm going to ice it a bit tonight. I'm hoping that it's nothing serious, just a "Dang girl, four days straight? You've never done that before!" type ache. I get a rest day Friday before the long run on Saturday. Dream big. Work hard.

3. The Super Bowl is so close! Just a few more sleeps and it'll be time to watch the Packers bring the Lombardi trophy back to Green Bay!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

That's a Tweet I'll be filing away

So remember yesterday? When I talked about adopting JJ Watt's "Dream Big. Work Hard" philosophy for half marathon training?

Well I had to make it official.

Which means putting it out there on Twitter.

And nothing makes it more official than getting a response and good luck wishes from the Badger himself.

Yes. I'm a very happy Badgergirl. And one who's totally ready to work hard. Because I've already been dreaming big.