Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November reading recap

Seriously. How is it the end of November?

Anyway. November. Books. I finished three books in November for a total of 970 pages. That brings the total to 30 books and 11,018 pages. Hmm. I've still got to finish 10 more books in the next 31 days if I want to hit 40 books for the year. That might be tough, unless I start including children's books. Last year at the end of November I'd finished 36 books and 12,367 pages. Quite a bit more. But then I remember.  There was that 1,260-page monster Les Miserables that I tackled earlier this year.

Anyway. What'd I read this month?

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
Twisted by Sara Shepard
A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay

Before I Go to Sleep wasn't a bad read, but I felt like I'd read it before. I mean to the point where I was reviewing my reading log for the last five years. Never appeared in the log, but I swear I'd read the book before. Either that or it was a pretty predictable plot, because I felt like I knew exactly what was coming and most of the time I was right. Twisted. What else to say except that it's the latest installment in the Pretty Little Liars series. And A Secret Kept? Take my advice. Don't even bother to pick it up. It's not worth the time.

I've got a few books planned for December. I'm in the middle of Out of Oz, the fourth installment in Gregory Maguire's Wicked Years series, and I just picked up Room by Emma Donoghue since I've heard good things. That's two. I do have Sarah's Key by de Rosnay, but after A Secret Kept I'm not sure I even want to attempt it. Although I have heard it's better. I dunno. Check back next month to see what I decided to do.

Any suggestions on quick reads?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Festival Foods 5-mile Turkey Trot

I didn't stand a chance when it came to trotting after turkeys on Thanksgiving morning.

While I was glad I got out and logged the 5 miles and even managed to set a new 5-mile PR, I admit. My head was not in this run. There were probably a couple of reasons.
  • I realized at 11 p.m. the night before that while I had my running shoes and an outfit, my Garmin, iPod and Road ID were sitting on the living floor. At my apartment in Oshkosh. While I had my other iPod at my parents' house with me (which was odd since it's been staying in my work bag for the last, oh year), I didn't have any options for a watch. Looks like I'd be running this race naked.
  • I went to the race completely solo. My mom - my main support crew - had to stay home. Someone had to watch the turkey or else we'd be eating a charred bird for dinner.
  • The first mile? Complete craziness. So crowded.
  • It didn't help that my left IT band area was cranky. I think it was due to running hard at the Santa Scamper two days earlier. But it was cranky. And somewhere around Mile 2 (or what I thought felt like Mile 2), it started to let me know it.
  • So there were walk breaks. Earlier than I would have liked. And more of them than I would have liked. I kept them fairly short though and kept running. 
  • At one point - somewhere after the water stop, so maybe around Mile 3 - I felt like I was running so slow that I was starting to mentally prepare myself for seeing a time greater than one hour when I crossed the finish line. It was at this point that I really mentally checked out. I just didn't seem to care anymore, which is odd for me and not something I've ever experienced in a race. But I kept running. Kept putting one foot in front of the other even though my IT band was screaming.
  • The only mile marker I saw was the Mile 4 marker. Once I passed that I knew the end was in sight, so I refused to walk anymore. I ran. It didn't seem fast, but I ran.
  • And then there was the finish line. I crossed it, ran into a friend from my Fleet Feet group, grabbed my personal sized pumpkin pie and headed home.
Later in the day, sometime between helping my mom prepare the Thanksgiving feast and watching the Packers beat up on the Lions, I went online and checked my official time: 52:58. Uh, what? Considering the amount of time I spent walking, that was surprising to me. Makes me think I took those first 2-3 miles a lot faster than I thought I was. But I'll never know because my Garmin was hanging out in Oshkosh while I was running in Menasha. And for the record, my previous 5-mile PR (set at the Oshkosh version of the Turkey Trot in 2009) was 54:55, so a nice little improvement. Of course I wonder what kind of time I could have turned in had my head been in the race for the entire 5 miles.

Oh well. Overall it was a tough race mentally, but I'm OK with the end result.

And the turkey I consumed later in the day? So worth it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Warriors, Badgers and other words, a weekend wrap up

I know, I know. I still owe you a Turkey Trot recap. That's coming up. But first I've got a few weekend house-cleaning thoughts.

For starters, the Fleet Feet Winter Warriors training group kicked off on Saturday morning. Let's just say it was a complete different morning than that day in January when I got out of bed and nearly froze to death in sub-zero temperatures when my first go around with a Fleet Feet group started.

The group looks like it'll be a nice mix. Some speedy folks, some slower folks and a bunch in the middle. We only had 4 miles on the plan, but it was nice to be able to run and catch up with Rita, a girl who was in the spring group that I haven't seen since May, and Jeff, one of the coaches from the prior two sessions that has now moved out of state. I definitely didn't set any speed records - and I was reminded that I haven't done much hill work since, oh September - but it was a good start to the training program.

Baby Badgers! They're not so fierce looking now, but good thing the grown-up version will take on those Michigan State Spartans Saturday. Don't mess with grown-up Badgers. Source

After I was done being a warrior Saturday morning it was time to catch up on some of Season 2 of Glee before the Badger game started. I won't go into detail, but Wisconsin beat up on Penn State. They showed no mercy, and of course it didn't help that Penn State kept turning over the ball. So now it's on to Indianapolis for a rematch with Michigan State Saturday in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game. Bring it.

Booties. What could I possibly have to say about booties? Well Week 1 of the HBBC - the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge - is over and I need to do a bit of a recap or what I did last week to bust my bootie.

Nov. 19 - 1 (1 mile walk)
Nov. 20 - 1 (1 mile walk)
Nov. 21 - 2 (1 mile walk, FV*)
Nov. 22 - 3.5 (1 mile run, 1.5 mile walk, stretch)
Nov. 23 - 2 (1 mile walk, FV)
Nov. 24 - 8 (5 mile run, 1 mile walk, 1 FV, stretch)
Nov. 25 - 3 (2 mile walk, 1 stretch)
Total: 20.5 points

*FV = fruits and veggies


And in non-weekend news, I went for a run tonight after work. In the pitch black. I only needed to do two miles, so I thought I'd be OK with running in my neighborhood while wearing my neon yellow Brooks Nightlife jacket. The only problem? There are no sidewalks, traffic likes to disobey the 45 mile per hour speed limit and go about 55 mph, the shoulder of the road isn't very wide and since I'm almost on the outskirts of town, there aren't a lot of streetlights, which makes it kind of dark.

In short: Until I get myself a headlamp and reflective safety vest to go with my Brooks Nightlife jacket, I won't be running outside in my neighborhood after dark. I just don't feel comfortable and really don't want to become roadkill. Any have any suggestions on headlamps? Either kind to get or where to go to buy one?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Santa Scamper Race Report

This isn't so much a race, but more like a fun run before my hometown's Christmas parade. No chip times. While there are bibs, you don't get a number. Rather you get a W, M, B, or G (women, men, boy, girl, clever, huh?). It's a fun run though, up the main drag in downtown where the streets are crowded with people waiting for the parade.

This year's edition can be summed up in four parts:

Part 1: The first quarter-mile
The start is a little chaotic. Organizers try to make it organized but it doesn't happen. Sure you have the bright neon yellow sign indicating the speedy folks should be up front followed by the 6-minute milers, 7-minute milers, etc. all the way back to the walkers and strollers. But you still end up with families with little kids lining up at the front. Knowing this, I tried to position myself near the front. Heck, I think I was next to the 7-minute mile sign (never gonna happen). The race starts and we go. And for the first quarter-mile I'm dodging the families and little kids who just decide to walk. Or better yet, the little kids who run and then stop dead, turn around and look for their Mom and Dad. This leads to lots of weaving and lots of dodging. And a slower start than I was hoping for.

Part 2: The second quarter-mile
I've managed to separate myself from a good chunk of the kids and am just able to run. Keep a steady pace. No dodging. No weaving. Just me and the pavement.

Part 3: The third quarter-mile
This features a great downhill. Unfortunately I don't think a lot people know how to run a downhill. I like to fly. Let gravity take hold and gain a few extra seconds. Everyone else? It's like they put on the brakes. And decided to come to a halt like 3 people wide. Right in my path. Do you know how hard it is to weave and dodge while flying downhill? It's hard. There were two instances where it wasn't possible to change direction at the last minute and I was that runner who squeezed in between two people. Couldn't help it.

Part 4: The final quarter-mile
Straightaway. Flat. Again, I had separated myself from a good chunk of people so I could just throw the hammer down and make it to the finish line, which is situated at the top of a small little incline. I hit the line, pushed stop on my Garmin and looked down. I was really hoping to turn in a faster time this year than I did last year.

I did it. Barely. But I did it.

I finished this year's Santa Scamper in 8:55, one whole second faster than last year (when I didn't seem to have to do as much weaving and dodging). A new one-mile PR. I was happy. I collected my Dilly Bar and water and walked back uphill for the parade. I'd say it was a good night.

One PR down. One more to go this week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Scampering and trotting

Remember how I mentioned my "off-season" was about to come to an end?

Well, it technically comes to an end today I guess. Because I've got two, count them, two races scheduled in the next three days. Throw in a regularly scheduled rest day on Friday - although I guess I'm still trying to wrap my head around being allowed to have a rest day when I haven't been running much lately. *shurgs* - and follow that up with the first official training run of the Winter Warriors program.

Yup. Pretty sure the off-season is over as of today.

So the two races, what are they?

Tonight it's the Santa Scamper. I don't know if you could really consider it a race. It's more of a fun run. A one-mile dash down College Avenue in Appleton before the start of the Christmas parade. It's a fun one. Last year I turned in my fast mile EVER (8:56). I'm going to see if I can beat that this year, but I might have to pull cool aunt duty and run with my 9-year-old niece. We'll see.

Then Thursday, before I consume turkey and watch the Packers (hopefully) beat up on those Detroit Lions, I'll be running the Festival Foods 5-mile Turkey Trot. I ran the 5-mile version in 2009, the only other time I ran a 5-mile race, and skipped out last year due to cruddy weather and not wanting to get sick the week before I left for the Rock n Roll Las Vegas (a decision that obviously didn't work since I ended up sicker than a dog for that half marathon). Yes, the mileage hasn't really been up there the last two months, but I'm hoping I've still got enough in me to bust out a new 5-mile PR Thanksgiving morning. Besides, can't go wrong with a Thanksgiving Day turkey trot where you're guaranteed to walk away with a pumpkin pie (not that I like pumpkin pie).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hello there blog, a week-long catch up in bullets

Seems like I've disappeared from this blog the last week. Well, it was kind of crazy. Busy. Fun. I give you bullet points.
  • Monday Night Football at Lambeau Field. Need I say more? Amazing experience. So glad my friend Peggy asked me if I wanted to go. The pre-game salute to veterans was pretty cool and the game? What can I say, the Vikings never stood a chance. :) I got home super late after the game and was dragging the entire day at work. But it was so worth it.
  • Wednesday I went to an info session for Fleet Feet's Winter Warriors program. It's a training group that targets a February 15K. I need a group and something to get me back on track with a regular running schedule. The last two months, my "off-season," has been exactly what I needed. After busting my butt for 10 months, I needed a break, to just be able to run when I wanted to, not when a schedule told me to. But it's time. Time to get back to some regularity. Time to start logging some long runs again. Prep for the 2012 half marathon season starts not so bright and early at 7 a.m. on Saturday.
  • Speaking of the 2012 season, I've been thinking about race options. A post to come.
  • Saturday night there was some bachelorette fun. A friend of mine is getting married in the Dominican Republic in early December, so we headed out for dinner, girl time and drinks to celebrate on Saturday. It was fun. And let's just say, I'm not so used to 2 a.m. on Saturday mornings.
  • Throw in some pretty good football games involving the Packers and Badgers over the weekend and forcing myself to finish a not so good book and that was the end of the weekend.
  • And tonight? I wanted to run. I did. But I had to resist the urge to put on the running shoes and head out. Instead I had to make myself look presentable for a first date. Oh boy. That was a rough one. Longest 60 minutes of my life. May have to save that story for a later date. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Football makes Fridays pretty fantastic

Friday afternoons around 4 p.m. are always pretty spectacular. I'm in a good mood. There's only about an hour of work left before I can sneak out of the office for the weekend.

But yesterday? It was pretty amazing. Why? Because of this.

No. Sadly Aaron Rodgers didn't walk into my office. That, my friends, would have been unbelievable and I'm pretty sure you would have been able to hearing me screaming with joy across the blogosphere. Nope. Instead I got a phone call. Again, not Aaron Rodgers. Nope. I got a phone call from my friend Peggy asking me if I wanted to go to the Packer game against those hated Vikings on Monday night with her.

Um, you don't need to ask me twice.

Needless to say I'm pretty excited. Packers. Aaron Rodgers. Clay Matthews. Greg Jennings. Monday night football. Oh, and did I mention this will be my first trip to Lambeau Field for a regular season football game? Yup. It's only taken me 31+ years to finally make it there (I really don't count that pre-season game I was there for in 2008. I was sitting in an air conditioned suite, it was the Bengals - or Browns, not quite sure which orange team from Ohio it was - and I saw more of the practice squad than the starters).

Can't wait.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I think I can call myself a real runner now. I lost part of my toenail! After Fox Cities in September, I ended up with a blister under one of my toenails on my left foot. I knew it would probably be a half marathon casualty, I just wasn't sure how long it would stick around. The past few weeks I've been able to pull the nail away from the nail bed completely and tonight after I soaked my feet, I was trying to loosen it some more. Eventually the hard nail part came off my toe. Yay! There's still a layer of softer tissue (maybe the leftovers from the blister?) that's still attached to my foot, but even that's holding on by just a small piece. So I expect it to come off soon. Is it weird that losing a toenail makes me a little bit excited?

2. I got three runs in on the treadmill this week. I'm not adjusting to this pitch black at 5:30 thing very well. Let's just say I'm looking forward to getting something longer in outside this weekend. The worst part about tonight's run? Trying to get home from the YMCA. Apparently when my city holds a holiday parade (Yes, holiday. Not Christmas), they feel the need to shut down almost every street within a half-mile radius of downtown. Ugh. And then I get stopped by a train. Ugh.

3. Anyone been paying attention to what's going on at Penn State? As a news and sports junkie, I've been reading a lot of it. And all I can say is, wow. And I'll say this. Joe Pa needed to go. But there are a lot of folks still at PSU who also need to be gone.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I wasn't the only one wearing red

So I'm halfway through my 6-day break from work. And I'll be honest. I haven't done much so far. And it's been great. The highlight of the time off will definitely be Saturday, when I took a road trip down to Madison to catch my second - and final - Badger football game of the season.

I wasn't even into the stadium and I ran into this Badger outside of Camp Randall Stadium. Sure he's no Honey Badger, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to make him mad if I ran into him in a dark alley.

The Badger football team huddles up during pre-gram warm ups. Considering they were coming off of two straight last minute losses, I'm pretty sure the theme of the pre-game pep talk was: Hey guys, we CANNOT lose a third straight game at the last minute.

There was the typical Badger Band pre-game show, and since my friend Nicole (who I went to the game with), has some pretty sweet tickets on the 50-yard line, I had a pretty good view. Look who was running right to me! It's Bucky!

There was a football game being played. And while the first two possessions by Purdue left me worried, the Badgers decided to play Wisconsin football. Monte Ball? He was an absolute beast on Saturday - rushing for a career-high 223 yards and three touchdowns.

Now, this is an early November game. Yes, it was a bit chilly and windy. But temperatures were in the lower 50s when the game started at 2:30 and probably dropped to the upper 40s by the time halftime rolled around. During halftime the Purdue folks pulled out their heaters and fired them up. And obviously the Purdue players were cold since they immediately huddled around the warmth. Weaklings.

This was a football game, but I can tie in some running to the post! During one of the commercial breaks, they honored the men's cross country team, which won its 13th consecutive Big Ten title last weekend.

After the break between the third and fourth quarters and "Jump Around" was finished, people started to file out of the stadium. What, the Badgers were up 52-17 and since the sun had set, it was starting to get a bit chilly. But I stuck around. Because dang nab it, I was going to see soak in every minute of Badger football that I could. Wisconsin ended up winning 62-17.

And look who I ran into in the halls of Camp Randall Stadium post-game? It's Bucky! OK. So it was really just a cutout that was part of a display (don't ask me what the display was, I didn't actually look at it), but I couldn't pass up an opportunity for a photo with that Badger!

Overall it was a great trip to Madison. Now I get to watch the rest of the games this season on TV. I'll be back next year though!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. What's that you say? Don't bother going back into work until next Wednesday? Well you don't have to twist my arm. That's right. Today's Day 1 of six work-free days. I had some vacation time to burn and since taking time off around the holidays was out of the question (too many others had already requested it), I found myself using random days in November and December.

2. I don't have a ton of big plans during this stretch of time. Mostly relaxing. I am heading down to Madison on Saturday for my second Badger game of the year. Let's hope they turn things around. I'm not sure I can handle another last second loss. I'm toying with heading down to Devil's Head State Park, a place I've always wanted to go but haven't made it there yet. And I really have no excuses for not getting my runs in. There will also be reading. And the library timed it perfectly and filled my request for True Blood Season 2, so there will be some time spent watching vampires.

3. With Tuesday being Nov. 1, I decided to pull out Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. You know November has 30 days in it. Perfect. I've owned the DVD for over a year, but I've never actually made it all 30 days. Heck, I don't think I've even made it 10 days. But I want to try. Mostly because I know I need to start incorporating some strength and core training into my routine and I'm currently at a loss of where to start. So why not have Jillian tell me what to do and yell at me? Day 1. I finished. Didn't feel too bad. Day 2? Let's just say I took a rest day. The quads? They were killing me. Yeah, they're not so used to all the lunges and squats. Ouch. But I threw in a short run on Wednesday night, and although I still can feel it in the quads, I think I'm going to go for another round of the Shred later tonight and run this afternoon. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October reading recap

I wasn't running so much this month, but I guess I was spending that extra time reading.

I finished six books in October for a total of 1,731 pages. That brings the yearly total to 27 books and 10,048 pages, compared to 32 books and 11,292 books at the end of October last year. Still behind schedule, but I've made up some ground. The 40 book goal still looks kind of tough, but a little bit more doable. With two months left in 2011, I've still got to read 13 books to hit the 40 book goal. That averages out to 6.5 books a month. Can I do? We'll see.

What'd I read in October?

Killer by Sara Shepard
Heartless by Sara Shepard
Wanted by Sara Shepard
Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan
You Are An Ironman by Jacques Steinberg
Miracle Beach by Erin Celello

Yup. More of that young adult lit took up a good portion of the month. But you won't see much more. I've only got one book left in the series, unless Sara Shepard writes a few more in the next few weeks. So I might need to find another quick-reading series. You Are An Ironman was pretty good. No. After reading it I do not want to do an Ironman. Although I do have the urge to get back into triathlons next year. But it was a feeling I was having before reading this book. More like one I've been feeling since, oh June when I didn't line up at the swim start at the High Cliff Tri. Miracle Beach was a great debut novel by a Wisconsin author. Read it if you get the chance and Until Tuesday was a great look at a returning war vet and also the whole concept of a service dog and how important they can be for a person.

I've got no shortage of things to read in November. As always happens with library holds, a bunch of my requests came in at once. And of course the two biggest ones are due back the soonest. Which means I've got less than two weeks left to make it through some monster novels. Good thing I've got a bit of time off coming up.