Thursday, May 31, 2012

May reading recap

Wow. Time flies. It's hard to believe it's the end of May already.

What may be even harder to believe is that even though this month was incredibly crazy in terms of things going on, I still found time to read. A surprising amount actually. I finished five books in May for a total of 1,556 pages. That brings the yearly total to 17 books and 5,605 pages. At this point last year? I was still slogging my way through Les Miserables.

But I'm making progress on the 40 book goal this year and I think I'm pretty much on track. Might actually be a little bit ahead of where I need to be at this point, unlike last year when I was playing catch up for most of the year.

So enough about numbers and progress. What'd I read in May?

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
In a Single Bound: Losing My Leg, Finding Myself and Training for Life by Sarah Reinersten
In the Water They Can't See You Cry by Amanda Beard

The Lover's Dictionary was good. A quick read that told the story through a series of dictionary entries. So yes, the story wasn't laid out in a chronological order, but it was a neat way to present a story and you were always thinking back to previous entries you read because as you got more information, previous entries made more sense.

Yes, I jumped on the Fifty Shades of Grey bandwagon this month. I had heard so much talk about it. And honestly? It wasn't the best thing I've ever read. But it wasn't the worst. And I feel weird saying this, but I wasn't that shocked at the graphic nature. Yes, there was a lot of sex, but the descriptions? Not that over the top, in my opinion. I've read that type of description in other books, maybe the difference is that there were just that many in this book. Seriously. It seemed like every 20 pages there was a huge explicit sex scene.

The last two were the motivational type memoirs. Neither of them were the jaw-dropping amazing type books, but I liked the Amanda Beard book better. I picked up the Sarah Reinersten book because she had spoken at the kickoff event for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon back in January. It was a pretty inspiring story she told that night - her struggles being an amputee and the work she did to became the first female to finish the Kona Ironman with one amputated leg - but the book was essentially the same story she told that night. Maybe the book's message would resonate better to those who hadn't already heard her speak.

Up next, the second installment of Fifty Shades of Grey - yes, there are multiple books in the series - and probably some light, fluffy reading.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ultrafit Cinco de Mayo 5K Race Report

When we last talked about my trip to Ohio, I had just finished a hot, humid and hilly Capital City Half Marathon.

After a short time at the after race party, we shuffled our way back to the car and drove back to my friend Jeff's house, where we showered, grilled some steaks for lunch, played with the dog and then sat and relaxed for a few hours.

Then it was race time. Again. It was time for the Ultrafit Cinco de Mayo 5K.

Remember, this trip to Ohio included the two races in one day plan - a half marathon in the morning followed by a 5K at night. What? It was Cinco de Mayo and the race organizers promised free margaritas at the finish line. Can't argue when the words free and margarita are in the same sentence.

So off we went to downtown Columbus again.

It was being hosted at the Park Street Cantina, this cute little Mexican place. It was a small race. No road closures, no official timing system and just a coned off lane the width of a bike lane. At most there were 200 runners. Probably less though.

We lined up and all of a sudden the race director yelled "Go" into a bullhorn. Told you it was a small race. Remember how it was hot and humid during the morning's half marathon? Well it was hotter. And more humid. And very few clouds in the sky.

I didn't have time goals. Yes. I wanted to run a decent race. But I also knew my legs were already somewhat trashed. So I went on feel. And the first mile and a half? I felt good. Surprisingly good, actually. As I was nearing the turn around, I spotted Jeff and Peggy, who both looked like they were running strong.

After I hit the turn around I took a short walk break and started running again shortly before I hit the 2 mile marker. Then I realized why the first half felt so good.

I had been running downhill. So it was time to run back up that hill. Ugh.

I alternated running and walking at that point. Honestly, I just wanted to be done and enjoying that margarita. At one point a woman comes up next to me and stops to walk.

"I've bee chasing you for the last mile and I finally caught up to you when you stopped to walk."

I told the woman my legs were trashed and told her the story about the morning's half marathon and this 5K was supposed to be the "fun" way to end the evening.

"Wait. You ran a half marathon this morning and now are running this? You deserve to be able to walk. Very impressive."

I chuckled. Thanked her and since we were coming up with just a half mile to go, I told her good luck and started running again. A few minutes later, I crossed the makeshift finish line in 37:14. I'll take it considering the amount of walking in that last mile and the fact that those were miles 13-16 on my legs that day.

This is how you rehydrate after two races in one day.
Once we were done it was time to stake out a table in the outdoor seating area (right in front of a huge fan - score!), grab a margarita and watch the Kentucky Derby. And while I didn't place a bet on a horse, I did mention before the Derby started that I'll Have Another was my favorite name of the horses racing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon Race Report

*Blogger Note: Normally I like to stay in chronological order when it comes to race reports. But I feel I need to get Green Bay's out there, since everyone is talking about. I'll get back to Ohio reports in a day or two.*


So question, if I crossed the finish line, saw the finish line clock still running and got a medal, did I just finish my 11th half marathon? Some would say yes. But when you look at the results from the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon, you won't find a result.

Heck, you won't find a result for almost half of the half marathon finishers and only a handful of the full marathon finishers.

So what happened?

Well, a race closure happened. As in stopped the race. Blame Mother Nature for this one. When I crossed the finish line at 9:45ish, it was already 80 degrees, humid and not a cloud in the sky. Oh, and no wind. It was a hot one.

Hanging out with my friend Vince Lombardi before the race.

Heck, it was hot when I lined up at the starting line at 6:50 a.m. I knew all week it was going to be toasty. I hydrated. Stayed off my feet. Did I what I could do earlier in the week to acclimate to the warmer temps by logging some runs when it was in the 70s. But I knew it was still going to be tough on Sunday.

With that knowledge, I threw a race plan for a fast race out the wind. I just wanted to finish with a somewhat respectable time. And midway through the race, somewhere around Mile 6.5, I threw THAT plan out the wind. Instead my race plan became "Don't die and don't get hauled off in an ambulance."


Here we go. Let's just start running, it's getting hot.

The first few miles went well. I was actually feeling pretty good considering the heat. I was taking it easy, walking the water stops. Hydrating. I saw some friends around Mile 2, saw my Mom around Mile 4. And then it started to hurt.

Yes, I might be just a little bit nervous.

My pace slowed. I walked a little longer through the water stops. And I saw a runner or two down on the grass being attended to by paramedics. Not for a bloody knee or scrape. Nope. We're talking ice on their body, IV hanging from a tree.

At Mile 4. Whoa.

Suddenly I didn't feel so bad about wanting to walk those water stations.

I made it through Mile 6, struggling, but still running. But shortly after, that demon came out in my head. Here I was. On a long straight away that was slightly uphill. Not an inch of shade to be found. Suddenly I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do this. I gave in. I walked. And I kept walking. I feel bad admitting this, but I walked for almost three-quarters of a mile. It wasn't pretty.

I got to the turn and turned into a breeze. It felt good. And there was some shaded spots dotting the street. And a downhill. I ran. It felt good. And the best part of this mile long stretch of race on Point Road? All of the residents that brought out hoses and sprinklers and set them up to cool down us runners.

So I felt good for a mile or so, then I turned out of this wonderful neighborhood onto a road that was just lined by fields. Not sprinklers here. Just a lot of sun. But I kept running.

Around Mile 4, right before I started to struggle.

More sprinklers between mile markers 9 and 10. And shade. It was shortly after passing the Mile 10 marker that I noticed the group of runners I was in amongst had turned mostly into walkers. Even with the shade and the water, it was hot. And you could tell it was taking a toll on people. I kept shuffling along though, knowing that the more I ran, the faster I'd be done.

Reaching Mile 11, I started hearing sirens and seeing a few more runners on the side of the road being attended to by medical personnel. And just after Mile 12, where the full and half marathons split, I saw a cluster of full marathoners standing by a police officer. At first glance, it looked like they were waiting for a stoplight to change to green. Odd, I thought. I kept running though, knowing the finish line was just a mile away.

The last mile was hard. I walked some. I ran a good chunk though, including a nice little kick as I rounded the final turns in the shadows of Lambeau Field to the finish line. I remember seeing orange cones set up across the finish line and I thought that was strange, but I also saw the clock was still running.

The bling. Even if I don't have an "official" time.

I finished in 2:39:28. Not what I was hoping for, but I survived and didn't get hauled off in an ambulance. I got my medal and stopped in the med tent to get some ice for my cranky knee/IT band.

That's when it hit me what was going on.

Folks, the med tent was scary. All of the cots were full of runners. Some with bags of ice covering their bodies. Some with ice and IVs. There were people that were being lead into the tent who couldn't even walk under their own power. And in the background, there was the constant sound of ambulance sirens and a line of ambulances either dropping patients off or hauling people off to hospitals for more care. It was scary. And here I was, feeling ashamed asking for a bag of ice when there were people who were so much worse off than me.

I did get the bag of ice and after that I just wanted out of the finish line area. I wanted to get my bottle of water, find my Mom and find some shade. Because I was hurting. Not just from running 13.25 miles (all of that weaving to hit every single hose/sprinkler added up!), but I was feeling a bit woozy myself.

While I'm sitting in the air conditioning of the Lambeau Field Atrium, I learned that they had called the race and closed the course. I figured I would still get my "official" time though since I had finished and the clock was still running.

Not so. A few hours later I learned that they made the decision to close the course at 9:25 and stopped the timing system at 9:35, which means I just barely missed the cut off.

Now, I whole-heartedly agreed with the decision race and medical staff made to cancel the race. It was getting scary out there. The sights I saw in the few minutes I was standing in the med tent alone made me realize how serious things were, and how much worse they could potentially get. Yes, there were apparently some communication issues out on the second half of the marathon course in terms of what exactly was going on. Now, people are making the argument that it was only 80 degrees and runners have to prepare for all types of weather. If this was July? I don't think it would have been as much of an issue. But it's mid-May. We haven't seen these kind of  temps in Wisconsin since last summer. We haven't had the opportunity to acclimate to the weather and while most probably know they need to listen to their bodies, not everyone did and I'm sure some were just affected by the heat suddenly.

I guess my problem lies with the "official" results. Nobody who crossed the line after 9:35 a.m. got an "official" finishing time. I crossed minutes afterwards. Yet, my Mom still got the text messages giving her a one-mile to go update as well as a "Jennifer has crossed the finish line" message. And remember, the clock was still running at the finish line. That tells me the timing system was still running. And then there's the fact that they kept the clock running long enough for the top five female full marathoners to cross the finish line. The fifth woman? Finished in 3 hours, 24 minutes, that's almost an hour after the made the decision to close the course and turned off the timing system.

I dunno. I wasn't in their shoes when they made the decision.

Am I disappointed? A bit. I ran the miles, I crossed the finish line and even got a medal. Yet I have no result. Normally I wouldn't be too upset, but I was planning on using this race as my third half marathon in 90 days in order to qualify for the Half Fanatics. Guess I'll be putting that off until the fall.

Will I be back at Green Bay in 2013? You bet.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A few things for Friday: Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon edition

1. It's race weekend! Again! This time it's the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon. If you would have asked me two weeks ago - heck even a week ago - I would have said this was definitely my A race for the spring. Now? I'm not so sure. It might turn into a run, survive and have fun kind of day...

2. Because have you heard about the weather? Almost 70 at the 7 a.m. start, with temps climbing. Oh boy. This girl wasn't ready for that two weeks ago in Ohio. And I'm definitely not ready for it this weekend. I'll probably even be happy for that wind, as long as it doesn't turn into the steady 40 mile per hour winds I had to deal with last year.

3. So goals. Of course I've got them, even though it's supposed to be hot warm. Considering I failed at hitting my goals for Columbus two weeks ago - well I did manage to have fun, so it wasn't a complete failure - I think I might go with them again. Or at least something close to them.
  • A Goal: Sub-2:20. This might be that pie in the sky goal and it would end up giving me a new PR. Kind of doubtful especially since I'm pretty sure this won't be a PR kind of day, but I've at least got it out there.
  • B Goal: 2:25. If I pace myself, don't blow up and can beat those mental demons that invaded my head at Capital City two weeks ago, this is possible. I've run the miles. I feel prepared. It's a flat course that I'm very familiar with.
  • C Goal: 2:30. If the heat gets to me, I'll make that decision to slow it down, not kill myself and aim for 2:30.
  • D Goal: Don't die. And have fun.
4. I know. I know. I still owe you a Cinco de Mayo 5K race report along with a recap of the other things we did in Columbus to keep us busy. And a Sole Burner 5K race report from last weekend. I'll catch up. Someday. Hopefully this weekend since I took an extra day off work and should have some time.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Capital City Half Marathon Race Report

Let's ignore the typo on the bib. Celbrate? Really?

Oh Columbus, Ohio. Where do I begin?

Well, there's the trip from Wisconsin to Ohio, and what we did during the days leading up to the Capital City Half Marathon, but I'll save that for an entirely different post. Same with the 5K we ran hours after the half marathon. They all deserve their own time in the spotlight.

So the half marathon.

First off, Mother Nature was not kind to this Wisconsin girl. It was warm. As in 68 when I lined up in the starting corrals at 7:45 a.m. for the 8 o'clock start. And humid. I knew right then, even before the national anthem was played and the gun went off that this was going to be a tough race.

Photo credit: Capital City Half Marathon Facebook page

So Jerry DiPizzo plays the national anthem. It was amazing. And the first corral starts. Then w e wait 5 minutes and corral B starts. Then it's time for corral C to shuffle forward to the starting line. Peggy and I shuffled and pretty soon we were running. Across the mat and we were on our way.

Ideally I would have liked to clock a 2:25ish finish, but I also knew I needed to keep it easy in the beginning miles, especially since it was only getting warmer.

By the time I got to the first mile marker about 10 minutes and 30 seconds later, I was already dripping in sweat. Uh-oh. I kept running. Kept it easy. People watched and silently prayed to Mother Nature to just open up the clouds and let it rain, because at least the humidity would go away a bit.

My prayers weren't answered.

I kept the miles easy and followed my plan of walking through the water stations. The first miles actually went pretty good. I kept my pace in the 10:30-10:45 min/mile range through the first 6.5 miles and was feeling pretty good.

And then it hit me.

I just wanted to be done. But I still had half of the race to run. I wanted to slow down and take an unscheduled walk break between aid stations, but I couldn't. Why you ask? Well considering I was smack dab in the middle of The Ohio State University Campus and wearing Wisconsin Badger gear, that would not have been the smartest decision.

So I kept running.

And somewhere around Mile 8 I was finally off the campus and I allowed myself to take that unscheduled walk break. It was the first of many. It's also the point in the race where I started taking two cups of water at the aid stations - one for me to drink and one to pour on my head - because it was starting to get warm.

I kept shuffling along. I watched the 2:20 pace group pass me. Then the 2:25 pace group pass me. I knew this wasn't going to be a stellar result kind of day. I kept running though, sprinkling in some walking breaks (which were probably longer than necessary).

Photo credit: Capital City Half Marathon Facebook page

Just before I hit the Mile 10 marker I came upon a group of military guys (I'm not sure which branch they were with). They were outfitted in full fatigues, carrying their full packs and running/walking in their combat boots. It was just before they were about to make the final turn for the 10K route. Pretty inspiring. And the other cool thing? I'm running along and as I come up to these guys, all the runners who were in the vicinity broke out in applause. Very cool.

So seeing that? Even though I was struggling I knew what I was going through was much easier than what those guys were and they weren't complaining. So I kept running.

I glanced at my Garmin when I hit the Mile 10 marker and saw it flip  to 2 hours. Well, if ran the last 3.1 miles and didn't stop or slow down, I could still hit a 2:30 half marathon. Hard, but possible. So I tried.

And about a mile later I saw a guy sitting up against a tree with an IV bag hanging from the tree trunk and wearing an oxygen mask. Then I realized. Yes, I had emergency contact info on my Road ID for my mom. But it wouldn't be much help since she was in Wisconsin. My friends Peggy and Jeff? I didn't know their phone numbers. That info was saved in my phone, which was locked up in Jeff's car.

I was feeling a little funky at this point, and given that conversation I just had with myself in my head? I didn't push it. Alternating runs with walks over the final 2 miles. And finally, 2 hours and 42 minutes after I started, I finished.

It wasn't the kind of race I hoping to have. It wasn't the prettiest half marathon and it definitely was my slowest half marathon over a year, but given the heat, humidity and all of those freaking false flats? I'll take it. I was also glad to hear from other runners that I wasn't the only one who thought that was a tough 13.1 miles.

I earned every ounce of this bling.

After a pit stop in the bathrooms for an angry stomach, some sparkling wine and water, Peggy, Jeff and I walked (well, I hobbled), back to the car so we could head back to Jeff's house.

Race number 2 was yet to come....

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. Good news is I survived a double-race day in Columbus, Ohio last weekend. I'll tell you this much, it was kind of brutal. Hot and humid, not conditions this Wisconsin girl is used to.

2. The bad news is I haven't had time to write any posts about the half marathon, or the 5K or even the rest of a pretty cool weekend with friends. Work has been uber-busy this week. Nothing like coming back from a 4-day mini vacation and being sucked into long days at the office, and outside the office, dealing with things like flooding rivers, drying up lakes, heroin and murder. Add to it I've been working on finishing up a video for my parents' anniversary party this weekend. So all of that has left little time to blog.

3. But when I do get time (and I'm hoping there's some of that this weekend), I'll write about Columbus. And probably the Sole Burner 5K, because that's this weekend. In other words, once I can write, I've got a lot to write about.

Bonus: But for now, it's time to stop blogging and get to finishing up that video for my parents.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Race day!

It's race day!

Hoping I survive this 13.1 mile trek through Columbus, Ohio.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Three Things Thursday: Capital City Half Marathon edition

1. My road trip to Ohio begins today! Of course I left all of my packing until last night and finished it up this morning before I headed out. It's not just a simple trip that requires getting in a car and pointing it towards Ohio today. Nope. First I'm headed to Milwaukee, where I'll park my car and hop on the Amtrak to Chicago, where I'll meet up with Peggy at Union Station. Then we'll point the car towards the Buckeye State.

2. Looking at that forecast scares this Wisconsin girl a little bit. When you look at the hourly forecast it says it'll already be 70 at 8 a.m. Saturday morning when the race starts. 70? At 8 a.m.? And I've still got to run 13.1 miles? This Wisconsin girl isn't used to running long distances in that kind of heat. Remember, other than the crazy warm March we had, it's been in the 40s and 50s around here. We were lucky to hit 60 earlier this week. So seeing that forecast is a bit scary.

3. So of course weather comes into play when I set some goals. This isn't my A race for the spring. I'm holding out for Green Bay to go all out. But still, I want to do well. So while this is still essentially a training run for me, I would like to push it a bit harder than I did two weeks ago at the Oshkosh Half. That being said, my goals for the race are:
A Goal: Sub-2:20. This would be a new PR. Still not sure I'm in PR shape though. 
B Goal: 2:25. I think this is possible. 
C Goal: 2:27, slightly faster than Oshkosh.
D Goal: Enjoy the course, show some Badger pride as I run through Columbus and have fun.

Bonus: I'm super excited for the national anthem. The race organizers announced earlier this week that Jerry DePizzo, the saxophonist for O.A.R. (one of my favorite bands) will be performing the national anthem on race morning. The guy is absolutely amazing to listen to. Take a listen to his rendition of the anthem at last year's race.

OK. I'm off to Columbus. I'll be back either late this weekend when I get back to Wisconsin (doubtful) or early next week to fill you in on all the Ohio happenings. Or check out my Twitter feed, @BadgerJen2002, for more timely updates. And because I'm going to Columbus and O.A.R. is on my mind, I leave you with this appropriate video, "Road Outside Columbus."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April reading recap

Hard to believe one-third of the year is done already. Not only am I behind in terms of meeting my running mileage goal, but it looks like I'm behind in terms of my reading goal as well.

In April I finished three books for a total of 1,094 pages. That brings me to 12 books and 4,049 pages. At this point last year I was struggling to get through Les Miserables. And we all know how long that ended up taking me. Months.

So what did I read in April?

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Delirium was good and The Lucky One was your basic Nicholas Sparks book. Set in North Carolina, throw in a love triangle with an "unexpected" twist and everyone ends up happily ever after. Kind of predictable. I normally like books better than movies, but in the case of Nicholas Sparks books, I tend to like the movies better. Don't take as much brain power to read and there's always some eye candy involved on the big screen.

Now Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was interesting. It was another one of those books that took FOREVER to get into. It was confusing. I wasn't sure what exactly I was reading. Then the last 100 pages or so got better, at least it was easier to read and follow. But it didn't make up for the first half. Needless to say, the movie isn't high on my must watch list.

So what's everyone else reading these days?