Thursday, July 28, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. It is Thursday, right? Well, at least it is for another two hours. It's been crazy busy here. I feel like I've been going non-stop since, oh, last Monday. Thankfully I just have to make it through work tomorrow and I'll get an entire week - no more than a week if you count weekends - of absolutely NOTHING planned. Ah. Vacation.

2. Part of the craziness is due to the fact that it's AirVenture week here. Airplanes. I love them. But that also means long work days. I have to say that the 16 hour work day I put in on Wednesday was well worth it. I went to Washington D.C. for the day with about 80 Navy veterans who served in World War II. A pretty amazing day. Take a look here for what I wrote and the photos.

3. All of those late nights working have left me with very little free time. So that means I haven't logged a single running mile this week. I had good intentions today, but it was super humid and raining when it came time to run with my friend Jess. So we opted for dinner, drinks and a little girl talk instead. The other thing to suffer because of AirVenture? The Tough Mudder recap. I've gotten bits and pieces written and thought about it, but it's not done. This weekend. I promise.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Time to get muddy!

It's time to see how tough I am! And get a little muddy in the process!

As this posts I'm starting Tough Mudder. Assuming I survive the Death March, make it over the Berlin Walls (twice), don't get caught in the Spider's Web and pass the test as a Firewalker before hanging out in the Chernobyl Jacuzzi and going through electroshock therapy, I'll be back with a race obstacle course report.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Three Things Thursday: Tough Mudder edition

1. Guys, Tough Mudder is this weekend! I'm excited. And nervous. And a little scared. But mostly excited. Because while the course is going to be challenging, mentally and physically, I'm going to be doing it with a great group of people, including my favorite running buddies from the Fleet Feet group!

2. I still haven't decided what to wear during Tough Mudder. Given the amount of mud I'll be conquering, I don't want to wear anything too nice in case I end up ruining it. But I think I decided on a pair of bike shorts. And my old pair of Brooks Ghost 3s that got me through the wintry Oshkosh Half Marathon in April (because I'm anticipating those shoes do not survive Tough Mudder). Shirt? I haven't decided on that yet. Hair? I'm thinking two French braided pigtails with a bandanna. And the CamelBak that I got last weekend because it's still supposed to be pretty warm and I don't want to run the risk of dehydrating.

3. Speaking of the CamelBak. I bought it and it was after I got home that I realized I had just bought the version designed for kids. Oops. But you know what? It fits. It's the size I'm looking for. So I'm keeping it.

Bonus: My friend Peggy was looking for something to reassure herself (and indirectly me) that we weren't going to die on Saturday. She found this great blog post by David Shedd on Eastern Slopes. A great read. And I feel so much better about Saturday. But the chunk that really hit home for me?
"Sure, some people race it with the goal of making the Toughest Mudder 24-hour competition…good for them. For everyone else, it’s a race against themselves, a test of physical and mental stamina, a chance to get out of their cubicles and comfort zones with friends old and new."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

That post where I complain about the heat and humidity

Everyone has heard about the heat wave that's overtaking the country.

Guess what. It's happening in Wisconsin too. It started on Sunday, temperatures in the 90s and super humid so that it felt like temperatures were in the 100 to 110 degree range.

The Coach has recommended trying to run outdoors in order to acclimated to the heat. And I've tried. Really. I did. I had the alarm set for super early Monday morning, but after an awful night of sleep Sunday, when the alarm went off Monday morning there was no way I was going to get out of bed for a 3-mile run. So I turned the alarm off and went back to bed. Then I thought about going after work, later in the evening after the temperatures dropped below 90. But then some storms were moving through and I figured I'd lose my motivation by the time it was safe to run. So I opted for the treadmill.

Today was a scheduled treadmill run since it was hill intervals. I was planning on doing them before work since I was going in to work a later shift, but I woke up with a nasty headache.

My head hates the weather we're having. And was definitely letting me know.

So I skipped the intervals. I'll do them tomorrow, when it's supposed to be absolutely beastly out.

You listen to the weathermen and you get different answers about when the heat wave will leave Wisconsin. But me, I'm just hoping it gets a little cooler and less humid by the time Saturday rolls around because running Tough Mudder in these conditions - with a 1:20 p.m. start time! - would be brutal.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

An 11-mile run: In pictures

Given my lack of running this week, I was a little worried how this morning's 11-mile run would go.Would I die after a mile or two? Have to take way too many walk breaks? Rest breaks? End up calling for a ride home? How about I just opt for the 7-mile option.

Nope. Peggy was there. Jeff was running with us. This 11-miles was going to get run, gosh darn it. It wasn't really hot, hovering right around 70, but it was already starting to get humid. And best of all? It was completely overcast. No sun to bake us! The other runners in our group kind of milled around for a bit, prolonging the inevitable. Yes, sometime we'd have to start running. Peggy and I? We just wanted to get it done with. So we took off.

And because everyone likes pictures, I'm giving you the sights that I saw as I busted out 11 miles this morning.

The parking lot where we start. Remember that silver garbage can. It'll be key in about 2 hours or so.

We head out of the park and onto country roads. And since this is a Fleet Feet training group run, it wouldn't be complete without hills. Lots of them. We start early. Right around Mile 1.

If we're lucky we get a red light with lots of cross traffic right just before Mile 2. Most days we aren't lucky and we "run" the red light. Today we weren't lucky.

So far most of this run has been in the blazing sun. Not a whole lot of shade. After hitting up the highway overpass we turn into a neighborhood right at Mile 3. The best part? Shade. Lots of it.

We visit the second park of the run right around Mile 4. On the really hot days it's tempting to take a detour and find an excuse to go to the family ice center. Still looking for that excuse.

Out of the park and back to a busier road. Thankfully there are many options if an emergency bathroom break is needed.

Once we go back over the highway overpass again we head off onto a recreational trail right around Mile 5ish. Once again. Lots of shade. I like the trail. But we're not on it very long. Back into a shadeless neighborhood.

Oh! It's the high school I went to. And today we were lucky because they were watering the soccer fields. Yes. I ran through the sprinklers. All three of them. It was just what I needed at that point.

Back onto the road to the park. Except we're not almost done. We're only at Mile 7.5ish and still have 3.5 miles to go. So instead of taking the steep Ballard Road hill, where I often channel my inner J.J. Watt, we head off to the right. En route to a longer, steeper hill.

The hill. It's steep. And long. And mean. Because you think you're at the top, but then it curves a little bit and you find out it keeps going up. A rough one to run up, but very satisfying once you get it done. Today, it wasn't so good. Up until this point I was feeling good on the run. But about halfway up the hill my vision started to go wacky. I slowed to a walk for a few moments. Realized I hadn't been drinking enough fluid or taking my Gu Chomps on a regular basis. I got some fluid in me and started to feel better. So I started to run again.

This subdivision is full of mansions. Huge houses. The kind of houses I think I'd need a map for to find my way from the kitchen to the bathroom to the bedroom. We've spent many miles wondering which one will let us in for a Saturday morning breakfast. Or even to use their bathroom if needed. While the subdivision is constant rolling hills, at least the houses give you good scenery too keep your mind distracted.

We're done with the subdivision. We've got maybe 1.5 miles left. The end is in sight. Back on to a country road. And back uphill we go. We pass a turkey heading into the subdivision along with a flock of ruffed grouse.

We keep running until we hit the final turn onto the road that will take us back to the park. And of course there's one last downhill and uphill.

We turn into the park. Pass the sand beach, which doesn't seem to open until long after we're done with our run, and some baseball fields. My Garmin dings. 11 miles. But we've still got decent distance to cover. With one last baby hill into the parking lot. I actually pick up the pace. Once my vision went back to normal in the mansion subdivision I took it easy for a bit, but was feeling good that last mile. Ended with a nice kick into the finish.

The silver garbage can. The official sign to hit stop on the Garmin and stop running.

In all the run was 11.4 miles and I finished it in 2 hours, 13 minutes. Other than that brief episode on the hill, I felt pretty good throughout the run, which was surprising given my lack of running this week. Granted my legs and hips are screaming at me tonight. I'll deal with it though. Because doesn't that mean I worked hard today?

I hope you enjoyed the pictorial tour of my 11-mile run today. And yes, these pictures were obviously taken long after the actual run was done. And thankfully the run got done before the massive heat wave is supposed to hit Wisconsin tomorrow. They're talking about highs in the mid-90s Sunday with a heat index between 100 and 110 degrees. Not really looking forward to it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I've spent 22 hours working the last two days. I didn't plan it that way. But when police announce they've busted up a major cocaine and heroin drug ring in the city that involved the sale of $4.5 million over the last year, you end up with long days. Very long days. But you end up putting out work like this.

2. Of course those long days means my runs have been non-existent the last two days. I walked into my apartment at 8:30 on Wednesday and 7 p.m. tonight. And considering lunchtime was hours and hours earlier I was hungry. So eating beat out the run. Add the two skipped runs the last two days with a Tuesday hill interval work out that I cut short by a mile because I needed to be somewhere and that means the running this week has been lacking. I'm calling it a taper week before Saturday's 11-miler. Um yeah. Totally was tapering going into this weekend's long run.

3. Given this week, I've been thinking of forcing myself to become a morning runner. At least for the shorter runs. At least that way I'd get it done before work and if all heck breaks loose I won't feel awful about first getting home at 8 p.m. and opting for food over the run. Of course the weatherman telling us this prolonged massive heat wave is going to hit us this weekend and last into late next week either doesn't help. Running in uber-humid weather when the temps are in the mid-90s after work? Ugh. Might just have to try setting that alarm. Any suggestions on how to force myself to get out of bed in the morning?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Firecracker 5K Race Report

Nothing like taking a week to write up a race report.

And normally my race reports are a little more in-depth, but I'll tell you right now. This one will not be a novel. There isn't much to say about it.

So the Firecracker 5K. It's held on the Fourth of July and this was the third year I ran it. My parents and I got to the park about 45 minutes before the race started and met up with my brother, his wife and their three kids. Then I ran into Sam, one of the coaches from my half marathon training group. There was a bunch of chatting before the race. And of course as we chatted it got hotter. And not a cloud in the sky.

After hearing a brief speech by three-time Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton it was time to run.

Of course the start area was chaotic. People really didn't quite understand that walkers and those with strollers should start near the back. And let's not even talk about the groups that would walk 6 people wide. Needless to say there was A LOT of weaving in the first half mile. Once I got through with that it was time to go uphill. But the hill wasn't bad - it shouldn't be given the number of hills I've done this year with the Fleet Feet group and Coach Jim! The first mile came in at 10:00. Not bad.

Nothing special about the second mile either. Some homeowners were sitting out on in their driveways, cheering on the runners. And those who were offering some relief from the heat with their garden hoses? You bet I ran through the water. It was getting hot. But there was also a good chunk of downhill in this mile. I ran the downhills, didn't hold back and it paid off. The second mile was my fastest, somewhere around 9:50.

The final mile? That's where the heat started to get to me. I had my handheld water bottle with me, so instead of taking a cup of water at the water stops and drinking it, I took it and dumped it over my head. It didn't help that there was absolutely no shade in the final mile. I caved and took two short, short walk breaks. There was some more uphills in this mile, including a bridge lined with veterans. I hit the last downhill, turned the corner and booked it into the finish line.

I ended up finishing the 5K in 31:14, not a new PR for me, but it is the fastest I've run this race and course by almost 2 minutes. So I'm happy given the conditions.

After the run we all grabbed some water and headed into the park to find some shade to listen to the University of Wisconsin Band perform its 5th Quarter. Good times.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Weekend wrap

I'm trying a new training method.

Every Friday night, as part of my dinner, there will be a beer consumed. Just one. And it doesn't even have to be a big one. Just a small one. Here's my reasoning. The first week of the training program was Chickenfest. I had a beer. The 8-mile run the next morning went great. The second week? No beer. The 9-mile run was awful. This past weekend? There was a Spotted Cow consumed with dinner. The 10-mile run was OK. Not great, but not awful.

I think this Friday night I'll be doing the same thing. At least until I have an awful run the morning after my Friday night drink.

Anyway. The weekend long run. 10 miles. Lots of hills. All in the second half.

The first 5 miles felt good. The second half was tougher. Right around Mile 6.5 we hit the monster hill. It's steep. And long. And deceiving. Because you think you're done. But you round a slight bend and there's more uphill. I ran it. All of it. But shortly after reaching the top I lost contact with Jeff and Sherry, the two people I was running with. They weren't that far ahead of me, but I was definitely running solo. I met up with them at the 7.5 mile water stop. Just 2.5 more miles to go. And it was a game of cat and mouse. I'd catch them, they'd pull ahead. Repeat.

I had to do 10 miles, but the final mile included a loop around the park. For some reason I was on the exact opposite end of the park when I hit the 10 mile mark at 1:58. I still had a half mile to go before ending up at the parking lot. I kept running, but I slowed down, finishing the 10.5 miles in 2:04.

Overall I didn't feel awful about the run. It was better than last week's 9-miler. And the relentless hills in the second half of the run were tough, so I was expecting to slow down a bit. But I think part of it was mental. For a group training run, I ran a lot of this run alone. I'd say probably in the neighborhood of 4 miles or so. From that aspect, it was tough. But something I'd got to get used to because there's no guarantee I'll have someone to run with on race day.

After the run I got to sit around and chat with some of the other folks for a bit, which was nice. But then it was time to head home, get in a quick shower and get out to the airport.

Because I spent the rest of the afternoon flying in a four-seater plane with my brother at the controls.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Halfway there!

Normally I don't do multiple posts a day.

But this is big.

Somewhere in the middle of my run tonight I hit 500 miles for the year. Which means I'm more than halfway to my 1,000 mile goal for the year! Only 498 more miles to run.

Three Things Thursday

1. How is it already Thursday? Not that I'm complaining, but dang this week went fast. Granted maybe it has to do with that whole 4-day work week thing.

2. I've fallen off the push up wagon. At the beginning of June, I decided to start using the 100 push ups app for my Droid. And for the first 3 weeks I stuck to the plan religiously. I was doing some crazy push ups. By the time I finished my 5 sets, I had finished around 120 push ups. But then I missed a day. Which turned into 2. Then 3. I started the program for Week 4, but then missed a bunch of days again. It's been 9 days since I've done a push up. I need to get back on the push up wagon. Starting today. Or tomorrow.

3. Cars are expensive. And I'm not just talking about gas. Since mid-February I've paid my insurance deductible to get my car fixed after my accident, had to buy a set of 4 new tires and now just paid WAY too much for new shocks and struts.  Apparently the shocks and struts thing is very common for the Ford Focus once it hits 100,000 miles. Just a heads up to Focus owners. Needless to say I gave my little blue Focus a stern talking to and told it that it is not allowed to break again until at LEAST 2013. Hopefully it listens.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Tap, tap, tap. 
Is this thing on?

Seems I've gone and neglected the blog for over a week. Oops. Didn't really mean to do that, but life got in the way. To sum up the week: There was time spent with friends, including a Waterfest outing to see the Gin Blossoms, and a few runs. And speaking of runs? Well the runs last week were uber-crappy. None of them went well. From the 2 miles I struggled through on Monday to the first hill interval workout of the training cycle to a cranky calf muscle that made the 4 miles I did with a friend miserable and let's not even talk about the 80 degrees and super humid weather that only got worse throughout my 9-miler with the training group on Saturday. Like I said, runs last week? Yuck. None were good.

Then there was the long holiday weekend. Just what I needed. Time to relax and do whatever I pleased. Time that I obviously did not spend writing blog posts or reading and commenting on blog posts (I'm about to hit that "mark all as read" button my Google Reader, it's out of control!). There was a bunch of reading, some biking riding, the brutal 9-miler, fireworks and even a  5K race.

I'll get to the 5K race report this week, but I just wanted to check in tonight quickly and let you all know that I haven't forgotten about the blog. I'll be back tomorrow!