Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reading Recap: January

I swear. It seems like months just fly by. Here it is, the end of January already and it's time for the first reading recap of 2012.

I finished three books in January for a total of 904 pages. That's very similar to January 2011 when I finished three books and 916 pages. Creepy really. Obviously the year is young, but for those of you keeping track, I've got to finish 37 more books before the end of 2012 if I want to hit that yearly goal of 40 books.

What I finish in January?

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Ruthless by Sara Shepard
Another Hill to Climb by Bo Ryan with Rick Reilly

Started out the year with a great book by Capote about a quadruple murder in Kansas, moved on to some young adult chick lit and finished up with a book by the Badgers' head coach Bo Ryan about his move up through the coaching ranks and why he approaches coaching the way he does. A good read and picked up a few good pointers that could apply to sports other than basketball.

And to start February, I picked up this:

It's a bit long, but I've heard good things about it. Hoping to get it finished by mid-month. Hopefully. Tell me, what are you reading?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

11 Random Things

There's been a game going around the blogosphere. It's all about randomness. And I like randomness. Jess tagged me to play along and since I return to the working world tomorrow, I thought this was a good way to end my furlough.

The Rules:
  1. Post these rules.
  2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
  3. Answer the questions set for you in the post you were tagged in.
  4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
  5. Go to their blog, FB page, or where you can grab their attention and inform them of their obligation to the blogosphere.

11 Random Things:
  1. I've broken one bone in my life: My right wrist when I was in kindergarten and fell off a piece of playground equipment.
  2. I lived in the state of Indiana for exactly 365 days. Not kidding. Moving truck pulled in on Halloween and left the next Halloween.
  3. I will never like bananas. Don't like the smell. The texture. The taste.
  4. I've played the violin and piano since third grade.
  5. I get pretty freaked out during nasty storms if I'm alone. I love them when I'm with people, but if it's just me I get scared. I blame it on the summer I lived in Indiana when it was constant storm after storm with so much lightning during the night if felt like the middle of the afternoon. I had this fear I'd die or get hurt and nobody would know since I didn't know a ton of people.
  6. I was supposed to be at Camp Randall in October 1998 the night Drew Brees threw for 400+ yards and "Jump Around" became a tradition. Instead I was at my brother's wedding. I spent most of the reception in the bar watching the game. And of course I still remind him about it.
  7. It's kind of hard to get into prison, but I've been there more times than I can count. All for work purposes of course. :)
  8. I never liked to run when I was younger. Dreaded the annual mile run. Makes me wonder what high school me would say when I find out I now run half marathons for fun.
  9. My first concert was a Dave Matthews Band concert at the Kohl Center in Madison in 1998. The most recent concert I went to was Lady Gaga in Milwaukee in 2010. What? My Dad wanted to go.
  10. I have a tendency to procrastinate. I always tell myself I work better at the last minute.
  11. The only pet I've had was a Beta fish named Felipe my college roommates got me. Felipe was an unsocial fish, just stared at the wall. I didn't really want him to begin with, so there's a chance I "forgot" to feed him or clean his bowl. Stubborn little fish. He wouldn't die. So one night in March he got a new home in Lake Mendota.

Questions asked by Jess at Run with Jess:

I know you're a runner - but have you ever watched/cheered at a race?
I got a chance to spectate and cheer on a friend of mine at Ironman Wisconsin in September. It. Was. Amazing. My friend Jeff is a seasoned IM competitor, he's finished either 10 or 11, so getting the chance to stand along the road in the rural countryside west of Madison and cheer for the athletes and then bike around campus like crazy to cheer for Jeff during the marathon portion was a ton of fun. And watching the other athletes, especially those who were somewhere in the first loop of the marathon when the pain of the day started to set in but refused to give up? Totally inspiring.

Where's your favorite place to run?
It's a toss up between Menominee Park, where I can get a nice four-mile loop in through the park, out to the point and back along the water, or the Wiouwash Trail, where I can just zone out and run. I tend to lean towards the Wiouwash Trail.

Would you rather be able to run fast OR far?
Ideally both. But since I've got to choose, I'd rather be able to run far.

Name one bad habit that you want to break.
I admit it. I'm a nail biter. And when I'm stressed out? It gets worse. Someday I'll stop forever. Hopefully.

If you could trade lives with anyone for just one day, who would it be?
I think working PR for the U.S. Olympic Team would be pretty cool. Imagine all the stories that could be told about the (mostly) everyday athletes who have put in the work to make a dream a reality. And yes, it would probably need to be more than one day. :)

Your ideal workout would consist of...
A long run with friends. And make it in Madison, just because I wasn't really a runner in college and missed out on so many amazing running routes!

Name one food item that you'd like to magically make "healthy."

What's your favorite distance to run and why?
I like the half marathon distance. It's far enough that it's still a challenge to me, yet considering I've finished a number of them, I know I can cover the distance and still have fun.

What's the one thing about running that you DON'T like?
The battle scars I'm left with on those days when I forgot to use the Body Glide. Ouch.

What's your favorite cross-training exercise?
I like my bike.

What sports did you play in high school?
I played tennis. Hated having to do the half-mile warm lap around the school before practice. And now I run long distances.

Technically I'm supposed to come up with 11 questions of my own and tag a bunch of people. But this thing's been going around the blogosphere for a good chunk of time now. So instead, if you want to participate, tell me something random about yourself in the comments!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The taste of winter couldn't have waited a few more hours

I know not every training run can be fantastic. I know that. But this morning's run? I swear that was the hardest 9 miles I've ever run.


Between feeling like I was going to puke as I was driving to the park, a headache, a somewhat cranky IT band and the 2 to 3 inches of freshly fallen snow that made footing a bit tricky, it had all the makings of a less than stellar run from the get go.

Oh, I forgot to mention the wind. For the love of all things sacred Mother Nature. Did you really have to give us 30 mile per hour winds this morning? Thankfully it was from the west so by the time we hit Mile 2 we were done running into the wind. At least until we turned a corner somewhere around Mile 6.5 and we were heading straight back into it.

Brutal. I just wanted to be done. My Brooks Cascadias were covered in snow. It was cold. And windy.

Thankfully I had Peggy and Krystal with me to pull me through to the end. Otherwise there was a possibility I would have found some sheltered spot off in a snowbank and cried. And then froze.

But I finished. In a not so stellar time. But the 9.15 miles got done. And waiting for me when I got back to my parents' house? A driveway big enough to fit 3 cars that needed to be shoveled. So I traded my running jacket for my mom's winter jacket, went through three different pairs of gloves/mittens before I finally found a pair that kept my fingers somewhat warm and shoveled.

Over an hour later - told you it was a big driveway - I couldn't feel my toes, my face was numb and I was cursing my Dad for never teaching me how to use the snow blower. But the snow was shoveled, the run was done and a hot shower was calling my name. Oh, and my legs are screaming at me way too much for 9 miles. I blame the snow.

I think I've earned the right to be completely lazy the rest of the day.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Four Friday Furlough Facts

1. Furlough. Yup. That's what I've been doing this week. The week of forced, unpaid "vacation" is almost becoming a yearly tradition at my employer. And while I've completely disconnected from work (which is kind of nice), I've also kind of unplugged this week. No blogging. No reading blogs. I've checked in on Facebook and Twitter occasionally, but haven't done much updating myself. And honestly? It's been kind of nice. Although I do admit come Monday I'll be ready to dive back into the world of social media.

2. Even though I haven't been working, that doesn't mean I've been doing a ton of stuff. There's been reading. And relaxing. A little bit of bumming around town. Watched the Badgers beat Indiana. Kind of low-key. I like it.

3. I have done some running. A Tuesday night group run with Krystal, the girl who paced me at the Oshkosh Half Marathon last year (and told me she'd be pacing me at the upcoming Seroogy's 15K). Wednesday was just a quick 3 miles on the treadmill and there was another 5 miles done on the treadmill Thursday night. During that run I did the first mile in my new pair of Brooks Pure Connects. I got one of those Active Schwaggles and ended up getting a good deal - only having to pay $55 for the shoes (normally $90). And I've been hearing so much about them that I was almost stalking the UPS man when he brought them on Thursday. I wasn't planning on doing all 5 miles of my run in them. And actually it was tough just doing a mile. They're definitely different than my Brooks Ghost 3s that I normally wearing. I could tell my foot was landing different, my stride was a bit different and oh boy, could I feel it in my calves. Like I said, definitely different. The jury's still out if they'll be added into the running shoe rotation and how far I'll run in them.

4. Oh, and I guess I should fess up that I did celebrate a birthday this week. I turned the big 3-2 on Tuesday.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. After running Tuesday and Wednesday I decided to take tonight off. Really it was more that I was already at work late, I was starving and I had a few errands that needed to be done. So no running.

2. I won't have that excuse next week. It's the return of the week-long furlough, those great "unpaid" vacations my company has gotten into the habit of giving employees. I'll be spending most, if not all, of the week at my parents' house. There will be time for running. And hopefully some strength training and biking. And since my Dad is recuperating after having carpal tunnel surgery, I'm sure there will be some shoveling if there's snow. And I won't forget about that training plan I need to write. Or books I have to read. I'm pretty sure I'll find some ways to fill a week's worth of me time.

3. Does anyone else watch "Revenge?" OMG. I love this show. As in, I cannot miss a minute of it. So. Good. It's my must-see TV show. And considering I don't watch a ton of TV, that says a lot.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hmm, a blank calendar starts staring me in the face in February

Guys. I'm scared.

Here it is, the middle of January. And my training plan I'm currently following? It's done in about 2 or 3 weeks. After that? The calendar is just one big blank slate. Except for those two half marathons I'm registered for in May and two relays this spring.

So here's the problem.

I've got to come up with a training plan. Myself. Something I've never done before.


I have a vague idea of what I want to do. But sitting down with my pen and a blank calendar? That's kind of scary. So of course I've been putting it off. But like I said, time is winding down on my current plan. I've got to get over the fright and try to come up with a plan on my own. And of course it'd be nice if it was a plan that actually worked and got me to my goals. Anyone have any suggestions for a newbie-training plan maker?

Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. Nothing like going from capri-wearing 50 degree weather to mid-20s and snow in a period of 24 hours. Oh well, such is weather in Wisconsin. Since it was still snowing pretty heavily, blowing and dark when I got out of work tonight I opted to get my run in on the treadmill at the YMCA. Nothing too exciting about the run. 5 miles. A decent pace. And a somewhat cranky IT band. Hmmm. Hasn't been bothering me too much lately. Also haven't been running on the treadmill lately. Coincidence? Maybe. But making a mental note to spend some quality time with my foam roller yet tonight.

2. After I got done with my run I wandered over into the weights area. GASP! And I even did a few reps on some of the machines! GASP! Not gonna lie though. I'm a little bit intimidated in that area. Especially since the  machines are new and I'm not quite sure what everything does. What I do know is that I need to figure out some kind of strength training routine. Because I think it will help if I incorporate that into my training. After I got freaked out in the land of weights, I headed back into the cardio room and spent 15 minutes on the stationary bike. Call it cross training if you want, but really it was an excuse to catch some of the Badger basketball game.

3. Speaking of Badgers and basketball. Yes, they won tonight. Snapping a three-game losing streak. And the added bonus was that the win came on the road. But that's not the important thing. On Sunday I get to see Renee! We're going to the Kohl Center to see the Badgers take on Nebraska. But we're meeting early to watch some football - hello the Packers are playing - and talk about all sorts of things, not limited to but including Badgers, running, triathlons, Ragnar Chicago and Revenge. Can't. Wait.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

24 hours later, I'm much happier

 It's kind of hard to find a picture of a happy badger, they're all kind of angry. But he looks kind of happy to just be chillin' in the grass. 

What a difference a run makes.

After being somewhat crabby and resembling on angry Badger the last two days, tonight I'm much happier. It's amazing what 4.5 miles in the darkness with my running shoes can do. Let's not even talk about the fact that I ran that 4.5 miles outside in a pair of capris. In January. In Wisconsin.

It was glorious.

I probably could have even ditched the jacket and just gone with long-sleeves, but I thought I better wear the Brooks Nightlife jacket since it was almost 6 p.m. and pretty dark out. Don't want to become roadkill. I won't become too used to the running attire I was sporting tonight. If the weatherman is right, I should wake up to a fresh layer of snow tomorrow morning and by the time it's all done, there should be 5-8 inches of the white stuff on the ground. Yes, I'm looking forward to this.

Another plus to the run? I almost have perfected the snot rocket. It never fails, whenever I run, my nose runs too. I don't have to be sick or battling allergies. My nose just runs. And in the summer I'm usually wiping it with my shirt. This becomes a bit tougher in the winter and I usually end up using my gloves. But tonight since it was so balmy I didn't even bring my gloves and the jacket sleeves? A bit rough on my nose. So I paused for a moment and tried out my snot rocket capabilities. Not too shabby. Now I just have to perfect it without having to stop while running.

Want to run. Couldn't run. Must run.


This is what happens when I really want to run, but two days in a row I can't because of work. One day spent by the river waiting for a press conference leaving me with frozen toes and one late night meeting at work on a day when temperatures are hovering near 50 degrees in January. In Wisconsin.

And of course those two days I wanted to run. And I couldn't.

Hence the anger. Yes. I'm a bit crabby.

And just a heads up. If I don't get to run today? I will be a very, very, very angry Badger. We're talking Honey Badger levels of anger. Won't be pretty.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. Last night after work I made the hour drive north to Green Bay to meet up with my friend Peggy for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon/Half Marathon kickoff event. Even though I've done this race in the past, I've never gone to one of the kickoff parties. But this year, when I read the announcement I knew I had to go. See last night the guest speaker was Sarah Reinertsen, someone who's crossed the finish line at Ironman Hawaii. But more notable, she's the first female leg amputee to cross that finish line. Her first attempt she missed the bike cutoff by 15 minutes and got a DNF, but she went back the next year and finished all 140.6 miles. It wasn't the IM story that was inspiring though. It was the story of her growing up, overcoming obstacles, that left a mark. Watch this. It's only a small chunk of what she covered during her presentation Wednesday night, but it was enough to leave you thinking and yes, I almost shed a tear.

2. And since we were at a running event, it only made sense for Peggy and I to sneak in a run. After all the event hoopla was done, we went out to our cars, grabbed our running bags and headed back inside the bar to change into running gear. Yes, people looked at us like we were crazy. But we couldn't pass up the opportunity to run together. And what better running back drop that in the neighborhoods surrounding Lambeau Field at night? Great run.

3. Except for that block when a snarling, barking, crazed eye dog came off the porch and charged at us. Yikes! He wasn't on a leash. I can only assume they had an invisible fence since he stopped at the edge of the grass. And did I mention he was kind of snarling, kind of growling and barking at us? And that he was a little ferocious looking - especially his eyes that were all demon-like possessed looking. Add in the fact that I'm leery when it comes to strange dogs I don't know since I was chased by a big dog when I was little and you have one of those heart-stopping moments. It felt like an eternity. Not cool dog owner. Not cool at all.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I'm headed back to Green Bay

When the announcement was made in November that there wouldn't be a lap through the players tunnel or around Lambeau Field, a lot of folks decided to hold off on running the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon and Half Marathon.

I'm not one of those people.

For starters it's so close, I don't have to worry about booking a hotel. I can sleep in my own bed and drive up. And it's a race that holds a special place in my heart. It's where I returned to distance running after a two-year hiatus due to the Monster in my head.

So for the third year in a row, I'll be toeing the line with thousands of other runners on May 20. I may not end with a lap around Lambeau Field, but I'm still going to love every step of that 13.1 miles through the city of Green Bay. And hopefully this year I won't encounter the steady 40 mile per hour winds at the 11.5 mile marker. That was brutal.

See you in Green Bay!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Books! A 2011 Year in Review

I read in 2011. And despite a good effort during the end of the year, I fell short of my yearly goal to read 40 books. And you know what? I'm OK with that, because I look over my list and I was able to read some good stuff.

I finished the year with 36 books for a total of 13,202 pages. Remember I read 41 books and 14,047 pages in 2010 and 39 books and 12,549  pages in 2009 - the last time I missed the 40-book goal. Now for a fun look at some numbers. With 36 books finished and 13,202 pages read, that comes to an average of 3767 pages per book. The longest book I read was Les Miserables at 1,260 pages (please don't tell me you're surprised) and the shortest was the 160-page Green, Gold and Glorious, which recounted the Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl run. And truthfully, most of those 160 pages were pictures. So the shortest non-picture heavy book was a tie - Charlaine Harris' A Touch of Dead and Mitch Albom's Tuesdays With Morrie which were both 192 pages. There were a couple of authors that made my list multiple times: Sara Shepard (9), Suzanne Collins (3), Charlaine Harris (2) and Tatiana de Rosnay (2).

I did read a bunch of good books this year and there aren't too many on the list that I can't remember what the heck the book was about (but yes, there are a few). I have to admit, I wonder what kind of numbers I would have put up if that 1,260-page monster Les Miserables didn't take me three months to read. I'm pretty sure I would have surpassed that 40-book goal otherwise.
Overall, not a bad year. Here's what I spent my time reading:

A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris
Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
The Body and the Blood by Michael Lister
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson
Green, Gold and Glorious by the Green Bay Press-Gazette
Everything Nice by Ellen Shanman
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jacyee Dugard
Flawless by Sara Shepard
Perfect by Sara Shepard
Unbelievable by Sara Shepard
Wicked by Sara Shepard
Killer by Sara Shepard
Heartless by Sara Shepard
Wanted by Sara Shepard
Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior & The Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan
You Are An Ironman by Jacques Steinberg
Miracle Beach by Erin Celello
Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
Twisted by Sara Shepard
A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay
Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Room by Emma Donoghue
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

So what are my reading goals and plans for 2012? Well of course there's the annual 40 book goal. I kind of liked having a longer classic on my list, so I'll probably find another one to read. I'm not sure which classic I'll choose though.

Right now I have a few titles that have been sitting in my too read pile: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese and Truman Capote's In Cold Blood are two that I can think of off the top of my head. And of course any titles that spark my interest as I go through the year.

Any suggestions on books to read in 2012? Classics or otherwise? Happy reading!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Welcome back to the Rose Bowl!

It's Rose Bowl Day!

In a matter of hours, my Badgers will be taking the field in Pasadena, Calif. I can't wait. It should be a good, high-scoring game. But I'm still pretty sure we're going to find out what roasted duck tastes like. Those Oregon Ducks, in their flashy uniforms, are going down.

I got my run in this morning while watching the Rose Parade on TV. I find it fitting that when I stepped on the treadmill and turned on the TV, the U of Oregon band was marching by. And by the time I hit the 0.75 mile mark, the Badger band was high stepping down Colorado Boulevard, playing "On Wisconsin." Watching the parade was a nice way to distract myself while getting in the first 2.5 mile run of the year.

Now I just need to find a way to occupy myself for the next 2 hours. Cannot. Wait.

Go Badgers!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Running 2011 in numbers

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fun and safe New Year's Eve!

I'm looking forward to 2012, tackling some goals and seeing what the year has in store for me. But first, a quick look back on 2011 in terms of running.

I'm happy to announce that New Year's Eve morning, I got myself out of bed and headed over to my group long run. It was a good run. And when I hit the stop button on my Garmin, not only had I finished 6.1 miles for the morning. That also meant that I logged

900.1 miles

in my running shoes during 2011. Guys. That's a lot of miles (for me). To put it in perspective, that's about the same distance it is from Oshkosh, WI to Athens, Georgia. That's kind of far. And kind of cool to realize I ran that far.

I admit, I had a goal of running 1,000 miles in 2011, but that plan fell apart in October and November when I lost my running mojo and started a "run when I feel like it" plan. But I'm OK with that decision, because I needed it. After hardcore training for the first 9 months of the year, I needed a slight break. And when I consider that my previous yearly mileage high was 590 miles (in 2010), I'm really OK with my 900 miles.

So what else did I do running-wise in 2011? I
  • Ran four half marathons
  • Ran four 5Ks
  • Ran one 10K
  • Ran one 5-miler
  • Ran one "other" distance (the 1-mile Santa Scamper)
  • Completed a Tough Mudder
  • Completed an indoor triathlon
  • Set new PRs in the 1 mile, 5K, 10K and half marathon distance
  • Logged three 100+ mile months
  • Joined a running group and met a pretty amazing group of people that taught me, pushed me and motivated me when it came to running but also have become good friends.
Yeah. I'd say it was a pretty good year.

So what's on the goal list for 2012?
  • Run 1,000 miles
  • Try out a new race distance
  • Try a relay
  • Run more half marathons and continue to run them faster
  • Add in strength training - a goal I've had in the past but always seem to fail at miserably.
I'm looking forward to 2012 and seeing what it has in store for me.