Thursday, April 26, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. New shoes! I was adding up mileage on my trusty pair of Brooks Ghost 3s on Sunday after the half marathon when I realized I had logged 460 miles on those babies. Uh, oops. I normally replace my shoes somewhere in the 350 to 400 mile range. This might explain some of the IT band issues I've been having recently. 

So after work on Tuesday I headed over to my local running store for a new pair of shoes. I was expecting to have to try a few different pairs on knowing that Brooks recently switched to the Ghost 4s and I wasn't sure if they'd feel the same as the 3s. But when I walked in the door, the store employee told me they were almost exactly the same. Only problem was they had a limited supply because Brooks is getting ready to unveil the Ghost 5s in the next month or two. Just my luck. They had one pair of Ghost 4s. In my size. Score! I tried them on, they felt wonderful and I was done. I had my new pair of shoes. The best part? Since a new model is coming out soon, they gave them to me for 20% off! Even better.

2. As soon as I got home I put those puppies on and took them for a run. The shoes felt wonderful. The run? Not so much. Heavy legs. Run felt hard. I was expecting this kind of given the fact that I had just run a half marathon two days earlier. But I pushed through and finished with 2.5 miles.

3. One week until I leave for Ohio! I'm looking forward to the vacation. Looking forward to hanging out with friends for a few days. And of course running the actual half marathon.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oshkosh Half Marathon Race Report

What a difference a year makes.

Last year at the Oshkosh Half Marathon it was cold and the rain turned to sleet which turned to snow. And the wind. Ugh. Horrible weather conditions. And the actual task of running 13.1 miles? I finished, but it was hard. This year? Totally different. Sunny. Temps in the mid-40s at the starting line. Just a bit of a breeze for the final mile.

As for the race itself? Remember I was going into this with no expectations. Just going to get my long run in with 1,600 other runners. That being said, of course there was a part of me that wanted to do well, although I knew a PR would not be in the cards.

Me, Kim, Rachel, Jess, Lish, Michelle, Sarah

It was pretty low-key getting ready for the race. And of course I got stopped by a train on the way downtown. But I managed to park and walk over to a blogger meet up and made it JUST in time for the group photo.

A few minutes before the start, I said my goodbyes and good lucks and went off to find a spot in the sea of people to kind of get in the zone. And before I knew the gun was sounding and we were off.

The half marathoners and 5K runners all started at the same time and shared the course for the first mile. Even though we were supposed to be on opposite sides of the street, I managed to find myself weaving amongst the strollers, walkers and little kids who would dart out from nowhere. I guess the good thing about this is that it kept my pace down.

I just ran. Kept the pace easy. I was ready to ditch my throw away gloves somewhere around Mile 2, but held on to them until I hit the water stop right before Mile 3 and the Wiouwash Trail. The first half of the race went smoothly. I stuck with my plan to run an easy pace and just walk the water stops.

I took my first GU Chomp somewhere around Mile 7, which is right around the time when my IT band started to grumble a bit. Nothing major, but just a gentle reminder that it was still there. I know they always say don't try anything new on race day, but I used some KT Pro tape on my IT band for Sunday's run and honestly it worked pretty well. While it was still a bit cranky, it was much more manageable than it has been in the past.

So I kept running. Starting around Mile 9 I walked a bit farther through the water stops than I had been, but I was OK with that. Glancing at my Garmin, I was happy with the time I was putting up. It was feeling good. Well, as good as 13 miles can feel.

I made the turn onto South Main Street, passed the 12 mile marker and honestly, I was just ready to be done. I wanted to stop and walk so badly. But there was a voice in my head. My friend Krystal, who paced me during last year's race. And she was telling me the same thing she told me last year - ironically at just about the same place I was at - no, I couldn't stop and walk because the bridge, and the finish line, was just up ahead.

So I kept running, made the turn into the final straightaway and crossed the finish line.


Just about 20 seconds slower than last year, but I'm OK with that. It was a training run, one I'm pleased with. I was generous with the walk breaks at the water stops, I didn't push the pace. Just the kind of run I needed two weeks before Capital City Half and a month before Green Bay.

Afterwards I met up with @Joel_aa, a Twitter friend who was in town and running the race. We chatted over post-race food and drinks. Overall it was a good weekend of running and meeting up with runner friends.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Wait? I've got a race tomorrow?

Huh. So I guess I'm supposed to be running a race tomorrow. Could have fooled me.

I'm running the Oshkosh Half Marathon tomorrow morning. The weather man is still saying a chance of rain in the morning. Not thrilled about that. But it can't be as bad as last year, right?

I don't have the pre-race nerves. Maybe because to me this isn't really a race, rather than a long training run. See, up until a few weeks ago I wasn't even considering this race. But then I looked at my training schedule and saw I was supposed to run 13 miles anyway this weekend. And then I managed to snag a good deal on registration. And the starting line being 10 minutes away from my house. Well it was almost impossible to say no.

So I registered. Which means I'll be toeing the starting line tomorrow morning at 7 a.m.

But since it's a training run,  I'm not planning on going all out. Heck, I'm not even sure if I'll be able to go all out since the knee is still a bit cranky. So where does that leave me goal-wise? Well I'd be lying if I said I didn't have any goals.

A Goal: New PR. My current PR, set back at Fox Cities in September 2011, is 2:19. Honestly this will not happen. I'd have to give my bib to a Kenyan for that to happen.

B Goal: 2:25. Given it's a training run I'd be happy with this kind of result.

C Goal: 2:30. This is probably closer to where I'll end up. And probably the most realistic given my training and where I am.

D Goal: Just finish. Because remember, this is a training run.

There. Goals have been put on paper. Now off to the expo to grab my bib and meet up with Twitter friend @joel_aa to get some dinner. See ya at the finish line.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. One last thought on Run Away to the Bay. The tutus. They were a good decision financially. See we went to the after party at The Bar wearing our tutus. Other teams would come up to us, say they saw us on the route and that they loved the tutus. We were glad to hear the positive feedback. Well as the party wound down, some non-runner folks came out on to the patio where we were sitting. Myriah, still wearing her tutu, left to go get one more free beer and came back tutu-less with beer in one hand and money in the other. She sold the tutu. And there was high demand for the two other tutus that were left at our table - my red and white one and the pink one I brought along for Peggy to use. Long story short, I sold the tutus and made $25. A good deal since they really didn't cost much to make. And the cash? It paid for dinner later on - although I did feel a little bit like a stripper paying for my dinner in ones.

2. I've really got to go get a new pair of shoes this weekend. As in, I probably should have done it a few weeks ago in order to break them in a bit before the Capital City Half Marathon on May 5. If anything they'll reach that perfect stage of broken in-ness (is that a word?) by the time Green Bay rolls around on May 20.

3. As you're all aware, I'm a University of Wisconsin graduate. I love my Badgers. And yesterday? My alma mater was doing something pretty cool, in my opinion. It was called #UWRightNow, a multimedia project lead by University Communications to show what was going on at UW for 24 hours. Students, faculty, alumni all submitted what was happening on campus or what UW meant to them through Twitter, YouTube and email. Watching what was going on throughout the day was pretty neat and was yet another reason why I love my university. And of course it made me miss Madison. I'll always be a Badger. Go here to check it out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Run Away to the Bay race report

Who knew that 55 miles could be so fun?

Saturday was Run Away to the Bay, the 55-mile relay from Oshkosh to Green Bay that I was running with four of the best running buddies a girl could ask for. It was also the first time I tackled a relay and left me wondering why it took me so long to try one.

Getting ready to start Run Away to the Bay!

We met up bright and early at 6:30 a.m. Saturday to pile into Myriah's SUV and head down to Oshkosh. Upon pulling into the parking lot at Menominee Park we were greeted by runners. And lake flies - the little buggers are about 3 weeks early this year. Not cool. Anyway. We swatted away the bugs and set out getting ready for our 8 a.m. start time. Organizing the back of the SUV, decorating the windows with some not-quite-functioning window paint, donning out tutus.

Yes. We were the team that wore tutus. Heck, I think we were one of the only teams that dressed up other than teams that were wearing matching shirts. But those tutus? They'd come in handy.

Pretty soon it was go time. Peggy ran our first 5-mile leg. We watched her leave and then climbed in the SUV to meet her at the exchange point. Once we got there, it was a quick pit stop in the bathrooms at County Park and then it was time for me to run Leg #2, which was 4.7 miles.

Other than a turn out of the park and one other left turn, the route was a straight shot north on a county road that I've driven many times before. It's along the lake, so unfortunately I ran into a few swarms of lake flies, but other than a few rolling hills, it's pretty flat. I kept it fairly easy since I knew I had another 8 miles leg later in the day.

Somewhere near the halfway point of my first leg.

Since it was early in the relay, there weren't many teams around. So it was a bit of a lonely run - I saw one other runner - but it was nice. I was getting a bit warm in my capris and short sleeved shirt, but 48 minutes after I left County Park I was pulling into the exchange zone at the Vinland Still and Grill and meeting up with my teammates.

When the exchange point is at a bar, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there was beer tasting. Enjoying some with the volunteers!

We sent Krystal off on her leg and we were off. As we drove along we watched as Krystal picked off runners left and right - seriously that girl is speedy! We got to the exchange, Krystal came running in and Jasmine took off.

Acting silly before saying good-bye to Jasmine. Minutes later we'd manage to lose her.

We saw Jasmine once early on in her leg. Then we stopped at a gas station for a quick wardrobe change. Apparently we weren't quick enough.

Because 20 minutes later we realized we lost Jasmine!

How we managed to lose our friend - who drove down from Superior for the relay - along a 4 mile route is beyond us. We drove ahead, dropped Peggy off at the exchange point and set out to try to find Jasmine. No luck. I called my mom, who was going to be at the exchange between legs 5 and 6. Told her if she saw Jasmine to not let her go anywhere. We drove back to the exchange and now Peggy was gone.

Great. Two runners MIA.

I jumped out of the SUV and went up to a volunteer.

"Have you seen two ladies wearing tutus? One in a pink one the other in a pink and purple one?"

"I saw the pink tutu, she took off running. I didn't see the other girl, but the bathrooms are locked."

Uh, OK.

We take off driving and find Peggy running about 2 miles up the road. But no Jasmine. But wait! Peggy's wearing the reflective vest we had to wear, which means Jasmine is alive. And somewhere. At the same time I get a phone call from my Mom. She's got Jasmine at the park with her.

Before we managed to lose Jasmine in Menasha.

Yay! All five runners accounted for. Back to running.

All of this craziness meant that I had about 3 minutes to get ready to run my 8-mile leg. It was about 11:30 a.m. by this time and the temperatures were hovering in the low-70s. Not really typical for Wisconsin in April, but I wasn't going to complain.

The only downfall? There wasn't any shade on my 8-mile leg. At. All. Kind of brutal.

If it wasn't for Coach Jim, I wouldn't have met these girls.

I got to run with Coach Jim, from my Fleet Feet group (where I met all these girls), for a couple of miles during this leg. That was nice, took my mind off the run for a bit. But then he left and it was just me. I'm not going to lie. This leg didn't go so well. I was getting passed left and right. I felt like I was barely moving. I stopped a few times and walked a bit. Kept hoping I'd run into my team so I could add some ice to my handheld water bottle.


Instead I kept on moving forward. Tackling the rolling hills that dotted the route. And then, around Mile 5.5? I was facing a long, never-ending hill. I swear, the thing went on for over a half-mile. It just went up. And up. And up. And once I finally got to to the top? It was like I was dead. So I walked a bit more. I knew I just had to keep going though, so I ran.

Finally making it to the end of a brutal hot, hilly 8 miles. 

And eventually I got to the exchange where my teammates were waiting and I handed that reflective vest off to Myriah, who power-walked her 3-mile leg because knee surgery late last year has her on a strict no-running plan at the moment.

The final legs were on the Fox River Trail. Krystal picked off more runners on her leg (and her tutu decided it had had enough of running and was left somewhere on the trail - some birds are probably very happy), Jasmine hunted down a runner from a team we knew and Peggy picked up a third leg and ran it into the finish line for us.

Finished! Now time to enjoy the after party.

And 9 hours and 16 minutes after we started, we finished the 55 miles at The Bar on Holmgren Way in Green Bay and picked up our medals. Then it was off to enjoy the after party, because I'm pretty sure we deserve it.

Guys, the relay was so fun. I couldn't have asked for a better group of ladies to run with. And even if we did lose Jasmine for about a half hour, I swear we rarely stopped laughing. Those tutus? They were great for spotting our runners and people on the route and other teams loved them. We became known as the Tutu Team. And they were a financially good investment for us, but that's a whole other blog post.

And there's a good chance my tutu-clad teammates and I will be back next year if our schedules permit!

Friday, April 13, 2012

What have I gotten myself into?

I apparently have a problem saying no. The result? I may have overbooked myself over the next month and a half and functioning on June 10 it might be a miracle.

Relays. Half marathons. A 5 K. And, oh yeah, helping plan a party and celebrate my parents' 40th anniversary. Oh boy. Here's what's in store:

Run Away to the Bay, April 14 (as in tomorrow)
I'm losing my relay virginity with four of my good running buddies. 10 legs covering 55 miles from Oshkosh to Green Bay. And of course there's a finish line party in the shadows of Lambeau Field and the party will continue in the evening as the girls and I have a sleep over in Green Bay. Can't wait.

Oshkosh Half Marathon, April 22
When planning a spring race schedule I was planning on skipping this event, even though the starting line is literally 3 miles from my apartment. But I've got to run 13 miles this weekend anyway and I got a sweet deal on the registration fee. So it's hard to say no. Just hoping the weather's better than it was last year. If Mother Nature decides to be cranky and give us rain, snow, sleet and wind again, there's a possibility I'll just skip it.

Road trip to Columbus, Ohio, May 3-6
Peggy and I are hitting the road for a trip to Columbus, Ohio to visit our friend Jeff. While in Ohio there will be....

Capital City Half Marathon, May 5
One of the main reasons we're driving to Ohio. And to see Jeff of course. 13.1 miles through the city The Ohio State University calls home. Yes, this Badger is going to be sporting some Bucky Badger gear. I may get things thrown at me, but maybe it will make me run faster. I think I'm ready. I hope I'm ready. But those 13 miles will be run and I'm sure I'll have a great time with friends.

Cinco de Mayo 5k, May 5
Nope. You didn't read that wrong. There's been talk of running a fun, festive 5K just a handful of hours after we finish the half marathon. What? It'll be fun. There's talk of costumes - running a 5K donning a sombrero - and honestly, the race info page had me at "free post race margaritas."

Sole Burner 5K, May 12
This has become a family tradition. It's also the site of my current PR. Wondering if I can shave a few more seconds off it again this year.

Parents' anniversary party, May 12
After the race, and adding a few extra miles, it's time to get ready to help my parents celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon, May 20
There is no lap around Lambeau Field this year due to construction on the south end zone, but I'm still looking forward to what has become one of my favorite races. I'm looking forward to this year's race, just hoping my legs are still alive and have some life in them.

Ragnar Chicago, June 8-9
I get a few weeks off to recover before Ragnar. This will definitely be one of the highlights of my year. Can't wait to run 200 miles with some amazing ladies

Wow. Just typing that makes me tired. It'll be a busy, but fun, couple of weeks. Now I just need to survive. Wish me luck. I might need it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. I  spent most of the day yesterday driving up to Crandon, Wis., for work. Six hours total, three hours each way. Sandwiched by a very short court hearing and about an hour spent writing outside at a picnic table. It was a long drive. But so pretty up in the Northwoods. And of course I was cursing myself for not having appropriate outdoor running clothes. Because running on those trails through the woods would have been absolutely amazing.

My outdoor office in Northern Wisconsin.

2. But once I pulled back into Oshkosh I knew I needed to move my legs. Sitting in a car all day? Hard. So even though it was almost 8 p.m., I headed over to the YMCA just to a log a mile or two. Because honestly that's that I was expecting to be able to do. But once I started running? Oh my gosh. It felt so good. So I went faster. And pushed myself. And finished up an amazing 3 miles.

3. I'm so looking forward to this weekend. It's the weekend I lose my relay virginity when me and four of my running friends tackle Run Away to the Bay, a 55-mile relay from Oshkosh to Green Bay. It's going to be a ton of fun and I absolutely can't wait to spend the time with these girls.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Putting cash into my other mode of transportation

It's days like today that I wish I didn't really need to have a car.

I had to take my car into the auto mechanic this morning before work. Turns out when those check engine lights go on you should really get it checked out. See for the last 3 or 4 years my light would go on. But my car ran fine. And the light would go out.

Well the light came back on on Friday. Only this time? My car wasn't driving right. There was this herking and jerking motion. Not a good feeling when you're behind the wheel.

So I made the appointment to have someone who knows a lot more about cars than me look at it.

And then proceeded to freak out and assume the worst. And imagined a hugely expensive car repair bill.

Turns out I needed some valve replaced and a tune-up. Throw in an oil change and my car was back to running normal. Only bad thing is it set me back $398.

That's a lot of race entries and running shoes.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Miles, movies and margaritas

Talk about a good Saturday.

It all started with an early morning run with two good friends that I logged a crazy number of miles with last year. I had plans to meet up with Peggy and Jeff at Plamann Park this morning for a run. I haven't seen Peggy in a few weeks and haven't seen Jeff since he moved away to Ohio in December.

When my alarm went off at 6:30 I was a little bit worried, especially when The Weather Channel was telling me it was 30 degrees out with a wind chill of 26. Say what? I was a little a nervous that I'd end up frozen, especially since I didn't have a jacket with me and the only bottoms I had were a pair of shorts or a pair of capris. I threw on a long sleeved shirt and the capris and crossed my fingers I wouldn't freeze.

It actually ended up being quite nice out. I ditched the long sleeves by Mile 5 and was comfortable throughout the run. I'm convinced The Weather Channel was wrong.

The run itself wasn't spectacular. My IT band started getting cranky around Mile 5 and my pace started to slow. I was mentally struggling. But what made it so much better was the fact that I was running with two good friends. The conversation was flowing and the miles were ticking off. By the time we were done we had finished 8 miles.

After we got done with our run, we grabbed a picnic table and just chatted about everything from bacon to lawn mowers to running. Then we made plans to meet up later in the afternoon to catch The Hunger Games and afterwards get some food and drink.

The movie? Wow. Good stuff. Yes, I shed a few tears during the scene with Rue. Yes. I will most likely purchase the movie when it comes out on DVD. The only downside, we managed to walk in just a few minutes late and missed the preview for Breaking Dawn Part II.

Afterward there was Mexican food and margaritas consumed and much more talking and laughing. And of course we discussed plans for the upcoming road trip to Ohio next month.

Such a good day.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

March reading recap

March wasn't a good month in terms of reading. I struggled with finding the urge to sit down and read pages in a book. Maybe part of that can be blamed on the fact that I was sucked into a new guilty TV pleasure - Gossip Girl.

Anyway. I did manage to read a little bit. I finished two books in March for a total of 614 pages. That brings the yearly total to nine books and 2,955 pages.

What'd I finish?

You Know You Love Me by Cecily von Ziegesar
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

OK. The first one was the second book in the Gossip Girl series. And while they were good, I decided to stop reading them - and save a few brain cells - and just watch the TV series. So instead of putting books on hold at the library, I ended up putting seasons of the TV shows on hold. By the way, the show came very highly recommended by friends. So far I'm done with the first two seasons and am halfway through the third season. And I have to admit, I love it.

But back to books. For most of the month, I was struggling with The Night Circus. It came highly recommended from a friend, but I have mixed feelings on it. I struggled with this one a lot. The first 200 pages? Super slow and really hard to get into. Yes, there were a ton of great descriptions, but I just couldn't see where this book was going. Once I hit page 200? It was a completely different book. There was a storyline. The plot moved. I liked it. The sad thing? When a book is 387 pages long, it shouldn't take 200 pages to get to the good parts.

So what's everyone else been reading?