Tuesday, March 29, 2011

That was a pretty good 36 minutes if you ask me

Pop quiz time.

Why was I doing a little happy dance on the courthouse steps this morning?
A) I was on my way to sit in on a murder trial.
B) I was $200 richer.
C) I got out of jury duty.
D) All of the above.

If you picked answer B - I was $200 richer - you're correct! But the real question is why was I suddenly richer?

Two words. Traffic. Court.

Remember back in February when I crashed my car and the deputy issued me the "failure to keep vehicle under control" ticket. The one that carried the $213.10 fine? Well today was my court date. And I've been trying to decide whether I should go to the hearing for a couple of weeks now. But I decided, what can I lose?

So I headed over to the courthouse this morning and snagged a seat in the courtroom. Since they go in alphabetical order and my last name starts with a W, I had plenty of time to wait. But after 30 minutes they called my name. At this point it's just me, the court commissioner, his clerk and the bailiff in the room. They check my name, yup. It's me. Ask me what I plead.

 "No contest."

Anything you wish to say?

"Well, the citation was issued in February on the day we ended up getting a foot of snow. It was early in the storm, but road conditions had deteriorated really quickly so I was already going below the speed limit. I would have been content to stay in the right hand lane, but needed to change lanes to allow traffic on the highway on ramp onto the highway. When I switched lanes, that's when I hit the icy patch and lost control. And while I did hit another car, my car suffered the most damage. And my driving record is clean."

I hold my breath. The court commissioner looks over the report filed by the sheriff's deputy. Says it does seem like weather and road conditions played a "significant" role in the crash. And I did have a clean record.

Then he dismisses the citation!

You know what that means? I don't have to pay $213.10 and I don't lose 4 points on my driver's license! And my car insurance rates (hopefully) won't go up! I get the paperwork from the bailiff that makes it official that my citation was dismissed and 36 minutes after I got to traffic court I'm walking out the door.

And that, my friends, is why it pays to go to traffic court. And why I was doing a little happy dance as I was walking out of the courthouse.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Throw in some speed you say?

So after Saturday's less than stellar run, the Coach suggested I use my two shorter runs during the week to throw in a bit of speed.

With 3 miles on the schedule, I was supposed to "do some of the miles" at a 9:30 min/mile pace today. Gulp. OK. I've done that once before. And it was totally unintentional. But I was willing. I was originally planning on doing this run on the treadmill, where I could just set the pace and cross my fingers I didn't go flying off the the machine. But a last minute message from Jess turned the planned treadmill run into an outside run date.

A short half-mile warm up and we were at the park ready to tackle these 9:30 min/miles. Jess just didn't want to die. I didn't want to die either, but I also didn't want my friend to die because it would totally be my fault since it was my crazy idea to do this. We got to this 1.1 mile long trail that winds through the park and we were ready to go. I had a bit of a Garmin malfunction. I forgot to hit the lap button, so the pace that was displayed on the screen was taking into account the slow warm up.

Silly me I didn't realize that. So I'm running super fast and seeing numbers in the 10s and thinking, "What the heck? I feel like I'm dying!" I realized midway through what the problem was. But still, the first mile? WAAAY too fast (8:57). The second mile went much smoother (9:32). We finished up with a short cool down.

Overall the speedier run felt pretty good. Comfortably hard. Makes me think I should try to do this a little more often.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hoping it's out of my system

Nothing like being three weeks out from the first half marathon of the spring and having one of the year's worst runs.

Yeah, that's a confidence buster alright.

Yesterday's 12-miler was brutal. Not only was it the first time I've covered the distance since the beginning of December, but Mother Nature decided to be oh so unfriendly. Nothing like heading out for the group run when the temperature is 8 degrees, sunny with no a cloud in the sky and wind coming out of the northeast. Not a super stiff wind, but one of those sneaky ones that feel like there is no wind until you turn to head into it and BAM! It hits you in the face. One of those winds.

Other than being cold - seriously, 8 degrees at the end of March? - the run started out fine. I might have started out a tiny bit fast, but I felt comfortable, so I went with it. Then around Mile 4.5 I turned into the wind. Yup. Definitely stronger than it was when we had met in the parking lot 50 minutes earlier. But I kept running. Took a GU Chomp (the orange flavor reminds me of Starbursts!) right around Mile 5 and while it was cold and I was starting to lose feeling my face, I wasn't dying. Yet.

Somewhere around Mile 8 or 9 I really started to hurt. My thighs felt like frozen bricks. And what parts weren't frozen felt like they were tightening up. The wind had picked up. I was running straight into the wind so it felt like I was working super hard but not going anywhere. I took a moment to take another chomp and walked backwards for a bit to see if I could stretch the legs out. At this point I'm running with the Coach and he's been super supportive. Telling me it's OK to feel like I'm struggling today, but that I'm actually doing really well. Umm, maybe.

We start running again. I talk. Just to keep my mind off of how much this run sucks. We get to the monster hill that comes near the end of our route (well today it was around 4 miles from the end) and the Coach tells me we can walk it if I want.

Not gonna happen. I was not going to let that hill defeat me today. If anything, I'd be finishing this run knowing I ran the hill. I channeled some J.J. Watt, put one foot in front of the other and ran up the hill. And almost died at the top. But I did it.

The rest of the run was better, not stellar, but I didn't feel like I was going to die.

Still coming off a week when I felt so amazing and strong even after taking a digger and hurting the knees and having a run like yesterday's when I struggled so much sucked. Kind of shook my confidence going into the Oshkosh half next month.

I know I've still got three weeks. Three weeks to put in the hard work and preparation and get ready to run a flat (and hopefully windless!) half marathon. Because runs like yesterday's? When I felt like I was going to die? I know that while they hurt when doing them, in the end they make me stronger. And hopefully that's the last pre-Oshkosh Half Marathon run that is bad, that I'll manage to get them all out of my system before race day.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Hello there. I'm still alive. After taking a tumble and then being knocked out by a migraine for two days, I've been laying low this week. I still got a few runs in, nothing stellar though. After calling in sick to work on Monday due to Day 2 of the migraine, I decided it probably wasn't the best idea to run. So I skipped it. Tuesday was hard. The legs felt like bricks. But I struggled through the 6 miles on the plan. At least the bruised and battered knees didn't hurt. Although they were a bit achy afterward. The 3 miles Wednesday went better and now I'm just procrastinating and keep putting off the 5 miles I need to do before heading into work this afternoon.

2. My bracket has pretty much been busted. That's what all of the super close, exciting, down to the wire games do. By my Badgers are still alive! Tonight they take on Butler in the Sweet Sixteen. Only problem? I'll be sitting at work. And while I could technically catch the second half at home, I don't have cable and it's being broadcast on TBS. Seriously not really liking this whole "we show every game in its entirety, but most of them are on cable networks" thing. Because if you're cable-less like me? You're screwed. So I might be sitting in my work break room until 11 p.m. tonight.

3. Hey Mother Nature. Enough of the white stuff. It's not funny anymore. Seriously. Send spring back.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Long run combined with a bit of a tumble, just for fun

I almost had to pinch myself this morning after finishing up the week's long run.

Yes. That run really did happen. And yes. It really was that good. And yes I almost quit after 2.5 miles.

Let me back up.

I went to bed last night not even knowing if I'd make it out the door this morning. I had a really upset stomach and was worried I was coming down with something. But I said a few prayers that I wasn't getting sick and went to bed.

Woke up this morning and felt better. Not 100 percent better, but good enough to get myself out the door and run. Maybe the stomach ache was due to the fact that I knew I'd be running 11 miles. That's a lot of miles. And the first time since Las Vegas that I'd cover anything of that distance.

I met up with the group, contemplated leaving my gloves in the car and set off on the run. It was absolutely gorgeous out today. After so many weeks of crappy weather - cold, wind, ice, everything at once - it was amazing conditions today. Mid-30s at the start, sunny and no wind! Hallelujah!

We ran. It was comfortable pace. In past weeks a few folks in the group have been going out faster and the group usually breaks off. But today we all seemed to stick together. It might have been because we were running a new route and had no idea where we were going.

So we're running. And I'm chatting with some other folks. And all of a sudden I'm flying through the air and ended up face first on the pavement.


All runners stop. I get questions. Are you OK? Are you hurt? Turns out I ended up tripping over a water main cover that wasn't flat with the sidewalk. And when I tripped I took a digger. I was able to break my fall a bit by pulling my arms into my chest, but my poor knees took the brunt of the fall. They hurt. At first I was thinking to myself, how the heck am I supposed to run another 9 miles? But after sitting a moment, I got up and we started to run again.

Those first few steps hurt, but after awhile the pain was gone. I kept running. Around mile 4 I ditched the gloves (looking back I'm glad I had them since I would have had some pretty nasty bloody scratches otherwise). I was still feeling good at Mile 6. And 7.

And then my favorite hill came. And I ran up it feeling strong. I own this hill. It doesn't scare me anymore.

We hit miles 9 and 10 and I'm still feeling good. In past week's I've normally been bringing up the rear in our group, but today I pull away from three other girls. I'm running in this odd no man's land - stuck between two groups of runners. But it doesn't phase me. I just keep running. My pace feels good. One of the coaches meets up with me and run in the last half mile together and finish at the parking lot.

I hit stop on the Garmin. 11.25 miles in 2 hours, 4 minutes and 36 seconds. That's an 11:05 min/mile. Way faster than the 11:30 min/mile that I'm aiming for at the two half marathons I'm running this spring. And the crazy thing is? I did it running on two hurting knees. Talk about a confidence booster!

Of course once I stopped running the knees started to hurt. I stretched before hobbling home. And now I'm just taking it easy for the rest of the day. A little bit of ibuprofen, my compression socks, some ice and a day's worth of NCAA basketball - including the Badgers fighting for a Sweet 16 berth later tonight - sounds like a good way to relax. I've earned it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Happy St. Patrick's Day! There's still a few hours left to celebrate, so go out and have a green beer. And while you're at it, have one for me. Because there will be no consumption of green beer by me tonight. :(

2. The Madness. It's begun! When tournament time rolls around, I'm in heaven. And trust me, it was HARD sitting at work today knowing there were some amazing NCAA tournament games being played. Morehead State hitting the three with seconds left to give them the win over Louisville? Yes, it busted my bracket a tiny bit, but such an amazing finish to the game. And I missed it. Even though we had the TV on in my office. Even though Morehead State messed my bracket up a bit, I'm still picked 10 of the 12 games played correctly so far.

3. But it's OK, because after I was done with work I headed home, got my 4.25 mile run in and a quick shower with minutes to spare before the Badgers faced off against Belmont. Now I know the national media were all like, "Ooh, I smell upset." But seriously. I think a lot of them were making that predict solely based on last week's stinker they put up against Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament. Scoring 33 points for an entire game? Totally not Wisconsin basketball. I was confident they'd bounce back. And they did. Bruiser? He was a monster out there tonight. Could have fooled me that he was injured. On to the second third round!

And now it's time to go watch some more basketball.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I never knew I could run like this

Holy cow.

I had the most AMAZING run tonight. I'm sure the fact that it was 50 degrees out and very spring like had something to do with it. And also the fact that I headed out in capris and a light-weight long-sleeved T (I toyed with short sleeves and arm warmers, but went with sleeves). Because really, after a long Wisconsin winter, you really can't argue when spring conditions start to show up.

But the most amazing thing?

I held a 9:30 min/mile pace throughout the entire 2.1 miles I needed to run!

For the slow but steady runner, that pace is unheard of! Much less that pace for 2+ miles! When my Garmin chimed after the first mile I glanced down and had to do a double take. Me? A mile in 9:30? There must be something funky going on with Garmin Gus, after all it did take him FOREVER to find the satellites today.

I kept running. It wasn't an easy pace, it was a bit tough. But it was a comfortable tough. One of those runs where I definitely know I'm working hard, but it feels good. I had a bit of a Garmin malfunction. For some reason I hit the pause button right at 1.3 miles and didn't realize it until I was at would have been the 1.7 mark (this is a route I've run countless times before, can you tell?). I unpaused Gus and kept running. According to the Garmin I finished 1.7 miles in 16:11. I figure those four-tenths of a mile I missed probably took me around 4 minutes. So in my estimation the 2.1 miles I ran took me 20:11.

Sounds about right to me. But regardless of what the actual time was, the run felt AMAZING! And apparently I've got some kind of speed demon hiding inside of me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunlight and warmer temps, oh my!

I'm going to be short and to the point tonight.

I love Daylight Savings Time.

It's been months since I've been able to come home from work and not even leave the house until almost 6:30 p.m. for my run and STILL have it be light outside when I get back a half hour later. Love it. Add in the fact that Mother Nature is finally showing her nice side and giving us temperatures in the upper 40s and 50s this week with sun.

Yeah, I'm a pretty happy Badgergirl.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another windy run for the books

Mother Nature refuses to give my Saturday morning running group a break.

Last week it was steady winds from the north. This week she switched it up a bit. It was still windy, but this time it was coming from the west. Which I guess was a good thing since most of the 10.25 mile route we covered was in the north/south direction.

It's the little things that make me happy. In this case, wind direction.

The group started out at a slightly faster pace than I wanted to run, so I hung back a bit. I didn't want to die with 4 miles left in what would be my longest run since the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon in the beginning of December. So I hung back, chatted and ran with the head coach and another coach. I powered my way up the monster hill that always seems to pop up 2 miles before the end of the run.

Shortly afterwards, right around the 8 mile mark, I slowed down and took some orange GU Chomps. I've realized they're quite tasty when they hit that semi-frozen state. Almost like a soft Jolly Rancher. While taking the chomps and washing them down with a swig of water I took a short walk break (and therefore logged my slowest mile), but once done, it was back to running.

Two miles later I was heading back to the parking lot and done with the run. I finished the 10.25 miles in 1 hour, 58 minutes - right on the 11:30 min/mile pace I need for a 2:30 half marathon. It wasn't the best run. But it wasn't the worst run. It's one that I'll learn from and I'm sure it will help me the next few weeks as the mileage starts to creep up and race day approaches!

Friday, March 11, 2011

February reading recap

It's only taken me 11 days to get around to posting a review of what I read in March. The rate I'm going, I should have just waited until March was done and given to you two months at a time. Especially since March doesn't look very promising (more on that in a moment).

Granted February wasn't that great either. I finished two books. Yes. Two. And that was a total of 736 pages. I'll just blame it on February being a short month. You know that whole 28 day thing. Anyway. That brings my yearly total to 5 books and 1,652 pages. To compare, by the time February finished up in 2010 I had finished five books, but 2,294 pages.

Anyway. What'd I read?

The Girl Who Killed the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson
Green, Gold and Glamorous by the Green Bay Press-Gazette

First off, I loved the Steig Larsson trilogy. I'm really glad I read them. The only disappointing thing is knowing that there are no more installments. If you haven't read them yet, jump on the bandwagon and do it. You won't be disappointed. The second book was actually put together by the Green Bay newspaper and was a look back at the Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl season. Weekly game recaps and LOTS of pictures. Good stuff for a Packer fan.

So I mentioned March might be a very low month. Here's why.

Yeah, take a look at that monster. For some reason I was thinking the other day (that usually means I'll get myself in trouble) that I should read a "classic" this year. I've always loved the soundtrack to Les Miserables. I've never seen the Broadway show (although that might change this year since it's coming to a performing arts theater near me in the fall!), and there's always been a tiny (very tiny) part of me that has wanted to read the book.


But with all of the craziness taking place in Madison the last few months, Les Miserables has been on my mind. We're talking the soundtrack has been on repeat on my iPod for the last few weeks and I've been toying with picking up the book. So when that thought of reading a "classic" came into my head, guess what I decided to read.

You guessed right. Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. All 1,330 pages of it. Thankfully the last 200 pages are just "notes" so I'll be skipping them. But still that's like 1,100 pages. That's long. And of course it has to be the kind of book that is written in the tiny print so it takes FOREVER to read a single page. It might take me longer to read this monster than it did to read Gone with the Wind in 2009. We'll see.

Two days in and I'm done with 50 pages. Only 1,050ish to go! And just a heads up Oshkosh Public Library, I'll be renewing this one. Probably multiple times since you think I'll be able to finish it in two weeks. Yeah, not gonna happen.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bullet points sound good for a Tuesday

I need more than 24 hours in a day. At least this week I do. Two days into the work week and I found myself at the office past 6 p.m. on both days. Granted there was a late start on Monday. But still. By the time I get the run done, I'm ready for bed.

So you get bullet points tonight. Because that's all I have the energy for.

  • Remember my smashed up Focus? It went to the car doctor last week. And while the little blue Focus was getting a new front bumper and becoming less ghetto looking I was driving this, a 2010 Dodge Caliber. Nice car. But it felt so big! And the sight lines were a little awkward for me. I'm sure if I drove it enough I'd get used to it, but I was excited to go pick up my Focus on Friday afternoon. An added perk, in addition to looking like new, it was clean! So sparkly clean that I almost didn't recognize it!
  • I'm ready for Daylight Savings Time this weekend. It means longer days. More daylight. And as a result more time for me to go home and sneak in those shorter runs outside rather than on the treadmill at the YMCA. Monday night it was just a short 2 miles. But I get to the gym, at 6:30 p.m. when most of the traffic should be gone, to find it PACKED! Must be that pay the day special they're running in March. Because every single piece of equipment was full. I had to wait for a treadmill. Can't think of the last time I did that. Of course it probably didn't help that there were only 9 treadmills in the cardio room, one was out of order and the other was being monopolized by the girl running 11+ miles. I admit I break the 30-minute time limit rule - when there's no one there. But when people are waiting? Take your 11 mile run outdoors or come when there's no one there. I'm just saying.
  • Tonight was hill repeats. Nine of them. Ouch. On the plus side though I got to do them on one of the swanky new treadmills that arrived at the YMCA today (which is why there was a shortage Monday night). These things are fancy. An iPod hookup, a built in TV (which was a little too close for my liking). But the one gripe I had? No built in fan. So the run was a sweaty one. The hill repeats? They were tough, but I got them all done and finished up with 6 miles total.
  • I admit, I'm not good at strength training or stretching, but I will be doing a bit of it over the next few weeks. Remember when I crashed my car a few weeks ago? Well I ended up going to the chiropractor when my back got stiff and achy. Turns out I strained some upper back/neck muscles pretty bad. Not surprised since I did manage to crash my car while going around 40 miles per hour. But anyway. The chiropractor's been working on my back, but he's also sending me to a physical therapist to address some of the other damage that I did. So I've got a set of exercises and stretches I need to do. Which reminds me, I should probably do them before I go to bed.
  • And I also realize I owe you a February reading report. But that'll have to wait. Sometime this week. Hopefully.
Night folks!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lessons learned on the long run

Running in the wind is hard.

Sure when it's just a light breeze, it's nice. Especially if it's a warm day since the breeze makes it feel a bit cooler.

But when the winds are a sustained 25 miles per hour coming from out of the north and gusting up to 30 miles per hour? It gets little bit rough. Add in the monster hills that have to be run up. And did I mention all those hills, and the last 4 miles of your planned 9-mile run, are run straight into that nasty headwind?

Yeah. Makes for a tough morning.

But my 9.2 miles are done for today. And yes it was hard, especially when I was battling the wind. But I put my head down, put one foot in front of the other and showed that hill - and the wind - who was boss. And I know that all the miles I'm logging in the less than ideal weather and all the hills are only making me a better runner. I can feel it. Come race day, I'm going to be ready. Besides, I know I've got to work hard if I want to accomplish those big dreams I've got.

And the weather? Well we all know Mother Nature's a bit fickle. I just have to know that someday we'll get that ideal running weather in Wisconsin. Maybe. All I know is that since I started running with the training group in late January we've run in sub-zero temperatures, sub-zero windchills, ice, snow and now the nasty wind. Needless to say we're all crossing our fingers race day is going to be in the lower 50s, with some sun and no wind. And if it isn't? Well I think we've got the other weather conditions covered.

Now time to be lazy for the rest of the afternoon. I think I've earned it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

ABCs Badgergirl style

I've got nothing for you tonight. Except to admit I skipped my run. It was just a short 2-miler, but I got busy with work, a trip to the chiropractor to straighten out my still somewhat messed up back and a pit stop at my parents' house for dinner.

So instead of telling you how I almost died during Tuesday's hill repeat workout, I'll give you the ABC post that's been floating around blogland.

(A) Age: 31
(B) Bed Size: Queen
(C) Chore You Really Dislike: Cleaning the bathroom
(D) Dogs. None. But someday I'd like one. Of course that would require a job with a bit more normal hours. And maybe someone to help me.
(E) Essential Start Your Day Item: Frosted Mini-Wheats. But no milk. I just eat them dry.
(F) Favorite Color: Blue. But I've got an awful lot of red in my closet as well. I wonder why?
(G) Gold or Silver? Silver
(H) Height: 5'5"
(I) Instruments You Play: Violin and piano
(J) Job Title: Officially it's Public Safety Report. I prefer to call it Crime and Grime.
(K) Kids: Nope
(L) Live: Oshkosh, WI
(M) Mom's Name: Kay
(N) Nicknames: The standard variations of Jennifer, J-Wo, and the one my Dad still calls me to this day: Bug.
(O) Overnight Hospital Stays? Twice: When I broke my arm in kindergarten after I fell off a piece of playground equipment and in May 2007 during the Great Neck Slicing
(P) Pet Peeve: Bad grammar
(Q) Quote from a Movie: "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." ~The Princess Bride
(R) Right or Left Handed? Right
(S) Siblings: An older brother
(T) Time You Wake Up? About 20 minutes after my alarm clock goes off
(U) Underwear: Yup
(V) Vegetable You Dislike: Honestly there are a lot. I'm trying my hardest to make myself like more vegetables. Not sure I'll ever be able to handle raw tomato though
(W) What Makes You Run Late: In the morning? My snooze button hitting problem
(X) X-Rays: Broken arm in kindergarten, the standard dental x-rays, pretty sure MRI's don't count but I've had too many of those to count
(Y) Yummy Food You Make: Lasagna
(Z) Zoo, Favorite Animal: Monkeys