Thursday, May 26, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Running has been a bit sporadic since the Green Bay half marathon. Ideally I'd like to be back to my 5 days a week running schedule by this point, after all I do have events coming up to train for, but I'm slowly easing myself back in. See the last 6 miles of the half marathon my Achilles area and calf on my left legs were tender. I went an had an AMAZING massage the day after the race and the Achilles area started to feel fine, but my calf was still a bit angry with me. I took a few days off and it felt better, so I tried Run No. 1 post-half marathon. Run felt pretty good. But afterward the calf was angry again. Took another few days off. Same thing. Repeat one more time. Thankfully the angriness of my calf has diminished each time, so I'm really crossing my fingers it's going to go away for good this time. Let's just say the foam roller, stick and ice are my BFFs right now.

2. It's almost the end of May and I can tell you right now there will be no reading recap for you. Why? Because I'm STILL reading Les Miserables. Yes. The book I started on March 9. I know the book is 1,260 pages long - that's a lot of pages - but I never thought it would take me this long. I'm almost to page 800 right now and I'm setting a deadline for myself. This book? It must be done by June 9.

3. It feels a little weird not having any triathlons on my race schedule this year. I decided to concentrate on running races this year and try to do some events I've never done in the past but have always wanted to try. And considering I have yet to get on my bike yet this spring, that's probably a good decision. But still. I kind of miss getting ready for triathlons. Which is why I'm considering volunteering at the High Cliff Triathlon in June. It's a great event, one I've done the last two years, and is close to home. Besides, what else do I have to do on a Saturday morning?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bring on the mud

You ever have one of those races where you hit submit and immediately think, "What the heck did I just get myself into?"

Yeah. That's what I'm feeling.

Shortly after finishing the Oshkosh Half Marathon in April, my Fleet Feet training buddy Peggy and I got a crazy idea to sign up for Tough Mudder. And of course once we registered, THEN we decided to watch the promo video.

Yeah. Our reaction? Oh crap. Seriously. That's probably the reaction you'd have if you read this: 
"Tough Mudder is not your average lame-ass mud run or spirit-crushing 'endurance' road race. It's Ironman meets Burning Man, and it is coming to a location near you. Our 10-12 mile obstacle courses are designed by British Special Forces to test all around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie. Forget finish times. Simply completing a Tough Mudder is a badge of honor."
Oh boy. And that's not even including the chunk that tells you that only 78 percent of people who START a Tough Mudder actually FINISH. Gulp.

Looking at event info for the Wisconsin event it gets a little more scary. For starters? This 10-mile test of mental and physical strength is held at a ski resort. So the first obstacle? Yeah, let's run UP the ski runs. still not sure how I'm going to master those greased monkey bars since I was a monkey bar failure in elementary school. I may just drop and swim. Will probably get across faster that way. And I'm sure there will be no lack of mud and water. Running through live wires? Yeah, not really worried about that considering I DID voluntarily get Tased once. And running through fire? That might be the most fun. Or crossing the finish line.

But there's a crazy part of me that is super stoked to do this, see just what I'm made of. I'm signed up and on July 23 I'll be lining up with other members of the Breezy Hillbilly Goatherders and other people crazy enough to attempt Tough Mudder.

Now. Looks like I should be spending some time at the gym doing some strength training. I think I'm going to need it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Next on the race schedule

So the spring running season is over.

Working out with an amazing Fleet Feet training group. Logging 400+ miles in just shy of 5 months. Two half marathons that were remarkedly consistent time-wise given the weather conditions. One sub-30 5K. I'd say it's been a pretty good start to the year so far.

So what's next?

Well for starters, I'm going to try out a distance I've never attempted before. No. Not a marathon. I'm not that crazy. Yet. Nope. I'm going to try my hand at the 10K. And since I've never done a 10K before, I'll get an automatic PR!
On June 11 I'll line up at the Bellin Run 10K, an event in Green Bay that drew over 18,000 runners and walkers at its 2010 event. I'm excited. Like I said, it's a new distance for me. And it's run through the streets of Green Bay and Allouez. And they've got a pretty good crop of elite runners confirmed for race day, including Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter.

There's one other bigger race that I'm already signed up for. But that one deserves a post of it's own. So check back for that one.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Not really must-haves for the running playlist, but good stuff to listen to


Seriously. I think I may have possibly wore out the replay button on You Tube. Great stuff. Watch it. You won't be disappointed.

I've liked other stuff by this artist. His name is Jon Schmidt. And because I'm a bit short on running-related news tonight, I'm just going to link to You Tube videos.

There's also his amazing arrangement of Pachelbel's "Cannon in D" which he calls "Pachelbel Meets U2." The old-school, traditional version was - and still is - one of my favorites to play on the piano when I go to my parents' house. I have the sheet music for this version sitting on the piano. Now I just need to learn it.

And finally a piece called "Love Story Meets Viva La Vida." Just what it sounds like, a mash-up of Taylor Swift's "Love Story" and Coldplay's "Viva La Vida." Once again. Amazing stuff.

And that's it for today's music lesson. I'll be back tomorrow with running news. Because there's a few races I've got in the upcoming future that I haven't mentioned to you yet!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Green Bay Half Marathon Race Report

Somehow it's not very encouraging to wake up on race day and the first thing you hear - after your alarm going off - is the wind howling outside your window.

Especially on a day when you've got 13.1 miles in front of you. But that's what happened.

Let me back up.

The Green Bay Half Marathon. I had been stalking the weather all week. And it actually started to get better as race day approached. The chance of showers? They disappeared. The temperatures? Projected to be in the lower- to mid-50s, perfect running temps. But then the weathermen put in that pesky word - WINDY. In caps and italicized too. But they never really defined windy. Until the day before.

Saturday I headed up to the expo to pick up my packet and roam around the vendors a bit. I stopped by the Green Bay Running Club booth and got a few last minute words of wisdom from Coach Jim. I had been thinking strategy and after talking with him I decided to start out with the 2:30 pace group and see how I felt, with plans to kick it up a bit towards the end.

After driving the race course - in the pouring rain - I headed back to my parents' house to grab some food and relax. Oh, and figure out a race day outfit. Nothing like deciding at 9 p.m. what I'll be wearing the next day!

Race day
My alarm started buzzing at 5 a.m. And the first thing I heard? The howling wind. Ugh. Not a good sign. I got ready, made my waffles with peanut butter, grabbed my stuff and my Mom and I were out the door. Last year when I went things went so smoothly. This year? Not so much.

First there was the small traffic backup on the highway off-ramp. Then there was not parking in the Lambeau Field Stadium parking lots, so we had to park across the street in an overflow lot. Then the atrium? Pure craziness. And the line for the inside bathrooms? So long I never actually found the end. Instead I headed out to the port-a-potties where the lines were just as long. I think I finally got to with like 7 minutes before the starting gun would go off.

I still needed to find my Mom and get my Garmin, iPod and race belt though. I was a bit frantic at this point. I like to have ample time where I don't feel rushed. I felt rushed that morning. I met up with my Mom, collected my stuff and got a good luck hug from Mom before I hopped a fence and tried to find that 2:30 pace group. I found the group and found a spot to wait with the other 8,500 runners.

At this point I'm noticing my Garmin is having trouble picking up a satellite. Uh-oh. I try turning it off and turning it back on, it's worked in the past. No luck. Great. Just what I need. A Garmin that's on the fritz. I push the start button, thinking maybe I'd at least have a time to go by.

The gun goes off. It's time for my second attempt at the Green Bay Half Marathon. And did I mention it's still incredibly windy? It was.

We start running. I'm pacing myself with the 2:30 group. It feels a little slow for me, but I stick with them. I don't want to go out too fast and die with a bunch of miles to go. Somewhere about a half mile or so into the race I notice my Garmin is working. It signals the one mile mark, but we haven't passed the marker yet. Hmm. Weird. So I stop it, and reset it. Thinking I'd just be a mile shy. Honestly I was more worried about the pace at this point. And because mileage was messed up with the Garmin, I don't have mile splits.

I keep running.

Somewhere around Mile 2 I'm rounding a corner and I see Peggy and Sam, two of my running buddies from the Fleet Feet group. I give them high fives and keep running.

Everything is going smooth. I feel good. Sometime shortly after seeing Peggy and Sam, I make the decision to just leave the 2:30 pace group. The pace seemed a little slow for me. I felt like I could push it and still feel good throughout. So I did. I was averaging an 11 min/mile, which I was happy with.

Still running. I see my Mom right around Mile 4 and Peggy and Sam again right before Mile 6. I'm going with my fueling plan of walking through the water stops and taking a Gu Chomp every mile beginning at Mile 4 and things are working. I feel good. Of course, at this point the wind is at my back or else I'm pretty sheltered from it by the houses that line these streets.

Miles 5-8 go pretty well. But then the wind starts to play a little bit of a factor. There are more parts of the course that are heading north. Which is exactly the direction the wind is coming from. If it was a slight breeze, it wouldn't be a problem. But the winds were pretty steady at about 25 miles per hour. Thankfully those northerly sections were fairly short.

Right around Mile 10.5 the course plays a mean game on you. If you look to your left you can see Lambeau Field. It's a block away. So close. Yet so far. I reminded myself the day before not to look left at this point. I failed. I glanced left. Saw the stadium. Kept running. Only 2.5 miles or so to go. I glanced down at my Garmin and did some math in my head, I was still on pace for a 2:30 half or even possibly a new PR. Normally doing math while running is not a good thing for me, but I was pretty confident in my calculations since the 2:30 pacer had not passed me yet.

I kept running.

I was starting to slow down a bit, but was still feeling pretty decent. Then I turned a corner at Mile 11.4 and I was heading north again. Except the winds? They'd picked up. They were steady at about 30 miles per hour with gusts of 40+ mph. Not cool. Not cool at all.

Remember how I said I was feeling pretty good? Well turning that corner I hit a wall. Both physically - seriously it was so windy I felt like I was going backwards - and mentally because that wind was brutal. I stopped and walked. It felt like I was going faster walking than attempting to run. And during this walk break the 2:30 pacer passed me. Ouch.

I'm not going to lie. I felt a little defeated. I let her get a half block in front of me and I started to run again. I admit, there were a few more walk breaks during these last 2 miles than I would have liked, but I tried to keep them short and at a decent pace. Soon I'm running down Armed Forces Drive and Lambeau Field is right in front of me.

I run through the parking lot, through the bowels of the stadium. Down the players tunnel and then I'm out on the field, doing my lap around the warning track. Just as cool as I remember it from last year. I get my high five from my Mom and it's back out the tunnel and into the parking lot. Round one more corner and there's the finish line. I speed up and cross it.

2 hours, 32 minutes, 18 seconds

Given the windy conditions I battled for the last 2 miles I was happy with my time. I got my space blanket and medal, grabbed some water and a bite to eat and met up with my Mom. I changed into dry clothes and we headed back into the stadium to watch runners. I met up with Peggy and Sam and we were watching for another one of our Fleet Feet buddies and Coach Jim. After they came through the stadium, I needed to leave. I was freezing. And the wind wasn't helping.

Fast forward a day. It's Monday. I took the day off of work and went and got an hour-long massage. So. Amazing. Especially since my entire left leg was angry at me - mostly my hamstring/quad area and my calf and Achilles area (which began bothering me around Mile 7).

But then I hear news. The course? It was certified at the correct distance, but when the "crew" was putting out signs before the race, they mismarked it so the course was actually 800 feet longer (0.15 miles) and the race organizers were going to be adjusting the times. After the adjustment I ended up clocking a time of 2 hours, 30 minutes and 34 seconds.

So. Close. Not only so close to my sub-2:30, but so close to my current PR that I set at Oshkosh in April (2:30:05). Ugh. Then I began the "what if" thinking. If I had just taken one less walk break during that last 2 miles or a shorter walk break or if the wind hadn't been gale-force winds.

Ugh. But still. I'm happy with the result I put up. Especially when I look at the overall results and I see things like the men's marathon winner was almost 15 minutes slower this year than last year's winner (he even joked about how this was his worst time in three tries, yet he won it this year). And it's all because of Mother Nature and the wind us runners had to contend with.

So I'm happy. It was brutal conditions, but I dug deep and pushed through. Because after all, big dreams don't get attained without a lot of hard work. #DBWH

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Green Bay teaser!

I've left you hanging for two days. And I have to leave you hanging for a day or two more.

But I just wanted to let you know. I finished the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon Sunday! And I didn't get blown away by the brutal winds (although the PR hopes might have been). I'll be back soon with a race report!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Putting the goals for Green Bay out there

It's been a crazy few days. And let's just say there definitely was not that much running during taper week. But I'm OK with missing a few taper runs. I know I've put in the work.

While it's getting late and I'm this close to heading off to bed, I wanted to throw together a quick post with goals. Because of course I've got goals heading in the Cellcom Green Bay half marathon tomorrow.

A Goal: To finish around 2:25. That's knocking off 5 minutes from my current PR, which I set last month in absolutely miserable conditions in Oshkosh. The forecast for tomorrow calls for cool temps and no rain, but some pretty wicked winds.
B Goal: To finish around 2:30. That would be right at my current PR.
C Goal: To finish and have an amazing time while doing it. After all. How often do I get the chance to run through Lambeau Field?

Off to bed I go. Whether I fall asleep right away is another question. I'll post a quick update tomorrow and a full race report will come sometime later this week or early next week. Follow me on Twitter, @BadgerJen2002, for more timely updates throughout the day if you can't wait for blog updates!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's weather forecast stalking time

Five days out from the Green Bay Half Marathon. You know what that means? It's time to start stalking the weather forecast.

Yes. I started stalking it last week. But since it's getting closer, there's actually a chance the forecast might be right. And the forecast isn't too awful. Sure I'd like to see that "few showers" thing disappear, but it can't be worse than the wet stuff that fell from they sky during the Oshkosh Half Marathon last month. Right?

I'm not too worried though. It's only Tuesday. Race day is still five days away. The weathermen are never right that far in advance.


Speaking of weather. I got in an amazing 2 mile run (gotta love taper) tonight after work. And when I left at almost 6:30? The mercury in the thermometer was hovering around 67 degrees. I got home after my run and I was a sweaty, dripping mess. Love it! Although I'd be perfectly happy with the mid-50s for race day.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Welcome to taper

If the rest of the week is anything like today, it's going to be a long week.

I'm six days away from the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon. And the concentration level at work? Non-existent. It's like I've got an adult case of ADHD. Work related stuff holds my attention for a few minutes. Then I get distracted by Twitter. Or Facebook. Or the race website. Or what other media is writing about the race. And I haven't even gotten to those thoughts about what I'm going to wear or what tweaks I need to make to my play list or a plan of attack for this race.

Since my mind was obviously focused on the upcoming half marathon today, you would think I'd be eager to get done with work and go for my run. Nope. I think I dragged my feet for almost an hour after getting home before I finally laced up the shoes and headed out the door for my 3-mile run. It wasn't a pretty run. And probably wasn't helped by the fact that I over-dressed. But it eventually got done.

I wonder what Day 2 of taper has in store for me.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sole Burner 5K Race Report

With a quarter-mile to go before crossing the finish line there's a nasty hill to conquer.

Dubbed the Hill of Hope, it's supposed to remind runners that while running a 5K and tackling this hill right before the finish line is hard, it's not as hard as what a cancer patient or survivor goes through. Because cancer? It's a nasty disease. An ugly disease. It hurts. But those people who cancer has chosen to attack fight on. Because they don't want to let cancer win.

As I approached that hill Saturday morning during the Sole Burner, a local 5K that raises funds for the American Cancer Society, I was starting to hurt. I had gone out aggressively. I had goals I wanted to achieve. A race to run. A time to beat. And I was on pace.

But it was starting to hurt. A tiny part of me just wanted to slow down momentarily.

But I knew that hill was approaching. And for a moment, my mind wandered. I wasn't thinking of 5K PRs or even anything about me.

Instead I thought of my grandmother, a woman I never knew because she lost her battle to breast cancer before I was even 5. And I thought of a good friend of mine, whose family got news this past week that a brain tumor her father is battling keeps growing and the difficult decision they made to stop chemo and any other treatments.

What I was going through Saturday was hard. But not even close to what others are experiencing.

So I dug deep and attacked that hill. I felt strong thanks to the training Coach Jim had put me through this spring. I passed people. But most importantly, I destroyed that hill.

I got to the top, I was a bit winded but with two blocks to go, the finish line was in sight. For the first time in almost 3 miles I glanced down at my Garmin and took a look at how much time had passed since the starting gun went off. That goal time was still within reach.

I dug deep again. Pushed the pace a bit, even though it was hurting. And two - very long - blocks later I was crossing the finish line.


A sub-30 5K time. Exactly what I was aiming for. Not only did I dominate the Hill of Hope, I destroyed my previous 5K PR, which was 31:17 from last October. That's a 1:28 improvement! And that's not counting the 7 second difference between my Garmin and the "official" time. I spent those 7 seconds waiting for the crowd of runners in front of me to start moving.

Overall I'd say it was a pretty good morning. The only thing that would have made it better is if cancer was left shaking in its boots after seeing the 7,200 runners and walkers who came out to tackle the hill and show cancer that they intend to fight and don't intend to let cancer win.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. So I've got a half marathon in 9 days, but I also get to squeeze in another race before that! Saturday is the Sole Burner 5K, a race in my hometown that's a big American Cancer Society fundraiser. Last year it was the first 5K my dad did (he walked and then trotted into the finish line) and he's been excited to come back for a repeat performance. He's got his goal and of course I've got mine. Yes, I could take it easy (after all I'll have to tack on an additional 6 miles afterwards), but there's a part of me that really, really wants to turn in that sub-30 5K that I've been chasing for a year. And this year? I think I might have a shot. Decision made. I'll be racing the 5K, shooting for a sub-30 finish time. Even if it is 29:59.

2. A big shout out to my two training buddies Amy and Peggy who are running the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis this weekend! Can't wait to hear how it goes!

3. I should not be allowed to purchase Red Vines licorice at the grocery store. Can. Not. Stop. Eating. It. So good.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I've got a number. It's official.


That sounds like a good number for a half marathon bib, right? Even if it doesn't, agree with me. Because that's the number I'll be sporting at the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon in just over a week. We're talking 10 days people. So close.

And since race day is approaching, the training runs are becoming shorter.

Tuesday night I had 6 on the schedule. And I'll admit. I seriously considered skipping the run. I felt very blah when I walked out of my office after work. It was late. I was hungry. I really had no motivation to run. But then I remembered race day was approaching. So I forced myself to go and hit the treadmill at the YMCA. And the first 2 miles? They sucked. Big time. But I upped the speed a bit and, not surprisingly, the run got easier. By the time I finished the 6 miles I was feeling good and so glad I didn't bail on the run.

Tonight I had no problems lacing up the sneakers. The weather? Gorgeous! Perfect running weather. Sunny! Temperatures right around 60. Very little wind. I could hardly wait to get home and throw on my running gear. The 3 miles I had to do tonight were fabulous. All of my miles were right around the 9:40 pace. And I finished the run feeling really good. Bring on Green Bay!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Saturday without a run. I felt kind of lost.

For the first time since mid-January I did not run on a Saturday.

What? Two weeks out from my second spring half marathon? What was I thinking?

Well I was sitting in a conference room in Madison for the final day of a two-day training session for work. If you had asked me two months ago, my plans would have included going to Madison, crashing with a friend and then running Crazylegs, an 8K through downtown Madison and the University of Wisconsin campus. But then the bosses told me I had to go to this training session instead.

So Saturday morning I'm sitting in a conference room learning about alternative story formats and knowing that just a few miles away thousands of people are running through campus and crossing the finish line inside Camp Randall Stadium. Sigh. All I wanted to do was run.

And Sunday morning I got to. I met up with two of the girls from my Fleet Feet training group at the park and we set out for a run. They just had 9 miles on the schedule since they're both running a half marathon in Indianapolis this weekend. Me? The schedule said 15 so I was planning on running 9 with them and then setting out for the remaining miles solo.

The run was fabulous. It was great getting a chance to catch up with the girls, hear about each other's race plans and talk about upcoming running adventures (I've got a big one...but I'm keeping it under wraps until after Green Bay. I know. Mean.).

It was a little bit windy Sunday morning - when is it ever NOT windy lately - but for the most part it wasn't bad. Until we hit Mile 7ish. Then we found ourselves running smack dab into a constant 25 to 30 mile per hour wind! OMG! So hard to run. It literally felt like we were standing still. And of course part of this was an uphill portion of our run. Figures. But we battled. The wind (and hills) wasn't going to beat us. We finished up 9 miles, said our goodbyes and parted.

I knew I still had miles left. I decided to head back to my parents' house and get them done in their neighborhood. I thought maybe the houses would at least give me a little bit of cover. Nope. Still windy. Still brutal. I made it about a quarter-mile before I turned and headed back to their house.

I was done battling the wind. But I wasn't done with the run. I headed into the basement and pounded out another 3 miles on their treadmill. Not quite the 15 the schedule called for, but still a good 12 miles two weeks before a half marathon. A 12-mile run that was by no means easy. I'll take it.

Oh and just a heads up. Next April? I will be running Crazylegs. No question about it.