Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bringing back the long group run

There's something about getting the weekend's long run out of the way by 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning. And being able to do it with friends? Makes it so much better.
Today was the kickoff to Round No. 2 with the Fleet Feet half marathon training team. There were some faces from the first go around that were missing (so sad you won't be with us Jasmine!) and a couple who were just MIA for the week, but in addition to the girls I met and bonded with the first time there were a TON of new folks (hi Deanna!). I'm excited to get to know them over the next few months.

Since I've still got a decent base built up from the spring, I'm on an intermediate program. Instead of starting off with 5 miles, I was supposed to do 8 miles today. And lucky for me my running buddy Peggy has the same schedule. So we were able to set out for 8 miles of running, catching up and general girl talk.

I won't say the miles flew by in the blink of an eye, but they did go pretty quickly. I started to feel it in the legs during the last two miles, but I'm attributing that to the fact that I haven't had many 6+ mile runs during the last month. I still had enough left in the legs to attack the Ballard Road hill in the final 1.5 miles and finish strong though.

Once the run was done there was no time to be lazy. I had enough time to de-stinkify myself with a quick shower before heading out for a day's worth of fun at ChickenFest, the local community festival by my parents' house. There was a parade to watch, some food to eat, rides to go on with The Rugrats, games to play and music to listen to.

I don't think I was done until 4 p.m. That's a lot of hours on my feet. And yes, my legs are screaming at me tonight. But it's a good scream. I think.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I had a good start to the week. And then I skipped today's run. Not because I didn't have time. Not because it was raining. Not because I didn't want to. It was one of those days. Where the stress and frustration that's been building all week finally get to you and all you want to do is curl up in a ball in the recliner and cry. And that may have happened tonight. Which is why I didn't run.

2. Needless to say I'm ready for Friday afternoon to get here. And then the weekend. At least I've got an early morning 8 mile run planned with friends and new training group members. After the week I've had, I just need to be able to hit the pavement, run and not think of the things that have been bothering me this week.

3. One piece of good news? I scored a new pair of Brooks Ghost 3s online tonight from Running Warehouse for $53! That's almost half off. The new Ghost 4s were recently released, so of course my lovely Ghost 3s are being closed out, which means I found a pair for $59 and then had an additional 10 percent off coupon code. AND I got some free gifts - a Brooks Podium t-shirt and shopping bag - because I spent $50. Yay. New shoes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gettin' it done

Three days into the training program and I've hit all three runs. Yes. Two of them may have been runs of the 2-mile variety. But they've gotten done. So far for the week, 8 miles. That's all I ran in total last week. What? I've been slacking. Just a bit.

But the runs are done.

Monday was a last minute run date with my friend Jess. Tuesday I headed indoors to the YMCA because the weathermen kept talking about all this rain we're supposed to be getting (like, get yourself an ark you'll need it kind of rain). And while it wasn't raining when I left work, the sky looked iffy. So inside I went. Today? It wasn't raining. It humid though. But I didn't want to stay inside. So I booked it home, changed and headed out with the hope that I'd make it before the rain came. I was close. Just a few sprinkles during the last mile and some stiff wind to contend with. But I got it done.

Just another 4-miler tomorrow and a rest day before heading out for the first long run with the training group on Saturday!


Monday, June 20, 2011

The plan's set, time to get down to work

The training plan is in my hands.

I mentioned last week that I've signed up for Round No. 2 with the Fleet Feet half marathon training team. Well this weekend after giving him some info about recent mileage, Coach Jim sent me my training plan.

For starters seeing the word intermediate across the top of the Excel spreadsheet, as in "Intermediate training plan," was a bit frightening. But if that wasn't scary enough, looking at the weekly mileage was. The first two-thirds of the plan were pretty much like what we did in the spring. But then I noticed the long runs were hitting 12, 13, 14 and 15 miles. In August. But the kicker? That 16-miler he's got down for the end of August.


But then I remember, Dream Big. Work Hard. That mentality got me my PR at Oshkosh and another near-PR at Green Bay. I'm sticking with it for this training cycle as well, because this Badgergirl's got big dreams that include another PR at Fox Cities in September.

I'm ready. I'll put in the work. Run the miles. Do the hill intervals on the treadmill or run circles around a track during speed work. And those long runs? They'll get done. Thankfully I'll have a running buddy by my side and because of that, I know we'll get the miles in.

The training plan started today. An easy 2-miler that I ran with my friend Jess. It was a little muggy, but the run felt pretty good. Day One done. Bring on the rest of the training.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

That's what I call a good weekend

That was a good weekend folks.

I started it out by helping my friend Jess celebrate her birthday on Friday night. I met up with her and some other peeps for a few drinks after I got done having dinner with my parents. Once we met up there were a few drinks consumed, some boys that were watched and many, many outfits that others were wearing that we critiqued. And it all ended with me staying up WAY past my bedtime. I can't remember the last time I was up until 2 a.m. And normally it wouldn't have been a problem but....

I had plans to go spectate at the High Cliff Triathlon on Saturday morning. And my initial plan was to get up at 6 a.m. so I could bike over to the race site (about 6 miles away) and avoid the traffic headaches. Well when my alarm went off four hours after falling asleep I decided to turn the alarm off for another hour. Well 7 o'clock came and went and I never woke up until 8:15 when a friend of mine called asking me where I was in the park. Oops!

After a quick shower I was off. After waiting for traffic control to allow me to park, I got to the park and met up with my friends. We were there to cheer on a friend's husband, who was doing his first 70.3. Obviously I missed the swim and he was somewhere out on the 56 mile bike course by the time I got there. Overall it was a great time cheering, not only for our friend's husband, but all of the other athletes who were out there tackling the 70.3 miles. And everyone was SO appreciative of the cheers they were hearing. Oh, and my friend's husband? He rocked his first 70.3, finishing in 5:40.

This is an event I've done the last two years (well, the sprint distance, not the 70.3) and I swear, the moment I got caught in traffic waiting for bikers to clear the intersection I was immediately wondering why I wasn't out there competing. And those questions in my mind ramped up once I made it into the park and throughout the day. But at the beginning of the year I made a decision (a hard decision) to take the year off triathlons and instead focus on the running. A decision I'm happy with. But still. That tri bug lingers a bit. Maybe I'll throw an unexpected tri onto the calendar later this summer. Maybe.

After heading home, I later met up with my friend Peggy and we went for a nice 15-mile bike ride and then had a good evening chatting on the patio with a few drinks. It was enjoyable getting a chance to hang with Peggy while we weren't logging running miles.

And today? Well today there was supposed to be a longish run (in the 7-8 mile range). But when I woke up it was pouring. And it continued to rain. Pretty much all day. And I just didn't have it in me to get on the treadmill and pound out the miles. So I didn't run.

But that will probably be the last unplanned rest day for a while. Because tomorrow? Training for the Fox Cities Half Marathon starts. And the training plan I got from the coach? A little frightening. More on that tomorrow.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I'm getting ready for Round No. 2 with the Fleet Feet half marathon training team! It's no secret I had an amazing experience with the group in the spring. Everything from the actual running, to the group I ran with to the friendships I made, the coaches I worked with and the results I posted. It was definitely the best $50 I spent in a long time. So when I heard there was going to be a group again training for the Fox Cities Half Marathon in September, a race I was planning on running, it was a no brainer. And when I heard the same coaches would be leading the program? Just point me in the right direction to pay my dues. So I'm signed up.

2. It gets better though. Because all of the girls I ran with this spring? They're going to be back for Round No. 2! Well, except for one running who is moving away due to a new job opportunity (we'll miss her!). I'm excited to keep running with these girls. And excited to meet the new folks, including Deanna at Miles to Run. The fun starts in a week!

3. Speaking of the the group...the girls and I originally had plans to meet up and head out for a run before grabbing some drinks last night. But then we heard the info session was last night, so we added that to our list as well. And when it rained all night? We opted to skip the run and instead went for some beers, pizza and laughs as we caught up on what everyone has been doing the last month. A good time was had by all.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bellin Run Race Report

I heard someone say this weekend that the Bellin Run was all of the excitement of the Green Bay Marathon packed into a 10K course. And they were right.

I had the day off of work Friday, so I headed up to Green Bay with my friend Jess for a lunch date with another one of Jess's friends before heading over to packet pickup. In true Wisconsin fashion, the weather had done a 180 since earlier in  when it was 95 and uber humid. Friday it was rainy, windy and cold. Like maybe 55 degrees cold. But we picked up our packets and on my way home I drove the course. There were some hills, but after this spring's training I knew I'd be able to handle them.

After a somewhat stormy night, race day dawned bright and early and I slept through my alarm. Oops. Good thing my Mom poked her head into my room at 5:30 and woke me up. I got dressed, gathered my race day gear and prepared my pre-long run breakfast (two Eggo waffles with peanut butter) and we were out the door at 6 a.m.

In order to avoid the parking headaches that were sure to occur near the race site, we opted to go for the shuttle service that was being offered. I was a bit worried there would be a long wait, so I made sure we were in the Shopko parking lot at 6:30 a.m. when the first bus was set to leave. There was no need to worry. When we pulled into the parking lot we saw about 20 yellow school buses just waiting to load up with runners and spectators. First thumbs up for Bellin Run organizers.

Going into race day I knew there would be some of my other runner friends who were doing the race. But knowing that 18,000 other people were running, the chances of randomly running into anyone else would be slim. So imagine my surprise when I got to the shuttle line and there was Krystal, who paced me to my half marathon PR in awful conditions at the Oshkosh Half Marathon in April! We exchanged quick hellos, but didn't get a chance to talk since we ended up on different buses.

After a short bus ride, my Mom and I got to the race site. Walking into the park I spied some port-a-potties with very small lines. So I jumped in. I ended up not having to wait since there were MORE port-a-potties around the corner with no wait. Score! After a quick bathroom break Mom and I figured out a post-race meeting spot, took a few photos and went our separate ways. She set out for the start area while I set out to find Jess.

With 18,701 runners the starting area could potentially be chaotic. But they had a corral system set up (based on your estimated finish time) and you were only allowed in the corral that matched your bib. Before trying to find Jess I made one last pit stop at the port-a-potties and even though I was in the athletes' village with 18,000 other runners I STILL could just walk right up and not wait. Even though it was 30 minutes before the starting gun was going to go off. Seriously. Race directors of big events need to talk to the Bellin folks, because they know how to do the port-a-potty thing.

I eventually found Jess and we waited in the corral until it was go time. 15 minutes after the starting gun first went off we were crossing the starting line and we were off on the 10K.

Mile 1 - 10:10
With this many runners, of course the beginning will be a bit crowded. But I was OK with that. It forced me to hold back and take the first mile slower. I was running with Jess and that was great, even though neither of us said a word to each other. The other thing that kept my pace in check? It was a long gradual uphill.

Mile 2 - 10:12
Somewhere I lost Jess, but I knew she'd have it in her to finish strong. The first water stop was somewhere around the 1.6 mile marker and I used my half marathon strategy to walk through the water stops. Worked like a charm. Still a gradual uphill. Still feeling good.

Mile 3 - 9:35
Shortly after passing the Mile 2 marker, I made a left hand turn and I was greeted with this amazing sight. The street? One huge downhill and all you could see was a sea of runners. Amazing. But I didn't get caught up in the view because downhills? That meant it was time to fly. Great chunk of the course. While the entire route had a ton of spectators throughout, it was just a wall of people along this section.

Mile 4 - 10:10
Still feeling good and strong.

Mile 5 - 10:23
My slowest mile, but that's because for some reason there were two water stops within a half-mile of each other. I took advantage of both though because the sun was starting to peak out from behind the clouds and I was starting to get a bit warm.

Swiped from Jess's Facebook page

Mile 6 - 10:17
By far the best mile of the route. Nearing the park where the post-race activities were going on, the crowds lining these streets were ABSOLUTELY incredible! Constant cheering. Cowbells. I saw my favorite sign of all along this section, "Good Job Person I Don't Know."

Final 0.2 miles - 2:00
I'm not sure what happened but I hit Mile 6 marker and I pushed it. I felt like I was flying. A left-handed turn and then a block later a right-turn and I was in the home stretch. So many people lining that final straightaway. I shifted into another gear. Not sure where the speed came from but it felt amazing.

Final time: 1:02:49

Overall this was an amazing race experience. So many people lining the streets cheering for runners. The organization was top-notch (remember, no lines for port-a-potties!). A great atmosphere. A challenging course, but a fun course to run. I'll definitely be back next year.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I got myself some Bellin Run bling!

Just a quick update.

I lined up with 18,701 other runners today and ran the Bellin Run, a 10K in Green Bay, Wis. And let me tell you, it was fabulous! I'll be back with a race report later this weekend!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. After baking for the last two days, we've finally got some relief here in Wisconsin. No more upper 80s and 90s and super humid weather to deal with. Granted it's a bit of a shock to the body since the high today? Yeah, it was in the lower to mid-60s. A bit of a change. But I'm not complaining.

2. What does the cooler temps mean? I can finally head outside for a run again and not worry about dying from heat stroke! Super pumped to log a few miles after work tonight. But they'll be easy miles because...

3. I'm running my first 10K EVER on Saturday! I'm running the Bellin Run 10K in Green Bay Saturday. It's one of the largest 10Ks in the country and as of mid-day Wednesday, about 17,000 people had already registered and race organizers were hoping to hit that 20,000 runner mark. I'm looking forward to it. And thankfully the weather should be perfect running weather. Mid-50s at race time with a slight chance of showers. It would be nice if the slight chance of showers disappeared though.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It finally got hot here

Holy cow.

The mercury was at 95. The dew point was around 67. It was hot. It was humid. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. Kind of miserable outside. One of those days where you walk outdoors and it's hard to breathe. And this was at 6 p.m. And remember, I live in Wisconsin, where weather like this typically doesn't show up until the last week in July.

There was NO WAY I was going to attempt to run outside tonight. But I needed to run.

So I figured. Why not head indoor to the treadmill. Yes it will be the treadmill. But at least the miles will get done and it will be cooler inside.

The miles got done. But the cooler part?

I was so wrong. I don't think the air conditioning was working at the YMCA. Because the only part of the building that was cool? It was the hallway in the basement next to the child care drop off. And of course since the treadmills are on the second floor, it only got warmer and muggier as you went up. So it was pretty miserable running on the treadmill. Hot. Uncomfortable. Sweaty.

Almost wished I was outside.

Then I snapped back to reality and realized it would have been worse outside. But still. Not the indoor experience I was hoping for.

I might have to head across town for tomorrow's run and get it in at the newer YMCA. Because it's supposed to be another round of 90s and humidity again. And this time? Throw in the chance of severe storms.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Weekend is a wrap

Weekend's are way too short. Especially now that it's finally nice.

Since I worked Friday night, my weekend didn't technically start until 10 p.m. but I made pretty good use of the time I had.

For starters I skipped my long run Saturday morning. The original plan had me running 8 miles early Saturday morning, but when the alarm went off at 6 a.m., I just wasn't feeling it. So I turned the alarm off and went back to sleep until I had to get up and get ready to go watch my 9-year-old niece run a one-mile race at Cheese Fest, a local festival. The name of the race? The Cheddar Chase. Yes. I live in Wisconsin.

My niece did a great job, even though a pesky side ache slowed her down. The race even had a few celebrities running - the Klement's Racing Sausages, who are famous for racing around the warning track at Miller Park each home game before the seventh inning. After the run was done we stuck around and watched the Cheese Fest Parade.

While getting our cheese on at Cheese Fest, my brother gave me a shirt that he had picked up one day while shopping. Gee, do you think he heard me complain enough about all the weather I had to contend with during runs so far this year? Love the shirt.

Speaking of runs, once I got home from Cheese Fest I considered going for my run. But it was hot. And humid. And there wasn't a cloud in the sky. And honestly? Running just didn't sound appealing. So I opted for a bike ride - a nice long 19 mile ride out to High Cliff State Park and back. This was my first decent outdoor ride this year, so I wasn't quite sure how it would go, but I felt good. So I kept riding.

The rest of Saturday was spent reading, making plans via Facebook to meet up with some Fleet Feet buddies for a long run on Sunday and hanging out, making S'mores around a campfire.

When the alarm went off this morning, I didn't turn it off. I got out of bed and got ready for my run. It's so much easier not to bail on a long run when you know you'll be spending the next hour and a half with some great running friends and getting the chance to catch up. I met up with Peggy and Amy out at Plamann Park, our old training grounds, and we set out with plans to do 9 miles, but were open to cutting it short or taking some breaks. And we took a few breaks, but ended up stopping after 7.5 miles. It was a good run though.

After relaxing the rest of the day, it's now time to watch an episode or two of Season 2 of True Blood and spend a little time reading before heading off to bed and tackling another work week. Thankfully it's another 4-day week for me!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Four Things for Friday

1. Umm. Even though I've been neglecting it. I do in fact still have a blog. What can I say. Life has gotten in the way the last week. There was a long holiday weekend. And nice summer-like weather has decided to finally make an appearance in Wisconsin. So the last place I've wanted to be this week was inside in front of my computer.

2. I have gotten a few decent runs in though. First there was the "run" last weekend when I was watching The Rugrats on Saturday. They wanted to go to the park. They had bikes. I didn't. So they biked and I ended up running. In my jeans and flip flops. Thankfully the park is close. Round trip? A mile. Not quite a long run, but I did manage 6 miles in the season's first hot, humid day. And I promptly remembered not to leave the run for late morning during the summer. It was a hot one. There might have been a few pit stops to take advantage of the shade, but the 6 miles got done.

3. Wednesday was National Run Day. And I ran! I had a great run date with my friend Jess. Four miles. It was our standard run, chat, gossip and chat. Good girl time. A nice route along the lake and we even got to battle some pretty stiff winds. It felt good.

4. In (kinda) non-running news. I've got Tough Mudder coming up at the end of July and I need some muscles to get me through some of the obstacles. And my upper arm strength? Pretty non-existent at this point. So along with some girlfriends I'm doing the 100 push ups program. After our run date, Jess and I did Day 1 of the program. 25 push ups. Done. Big girl style. Day 2 is today. I don't even know what's in store for me. But the push ups will get done.