Thursday, September 20, 2012

Three Things Thursday: Fox Cities Edition

1. The next time I lace up my running shoes I'll be getting ready to tackle the Fox Cities Half Marathon. Tonight was my final run of the training plan. I was told somewhere between one and three miles. I headed out planning on just doing an easy two miles, but somewhere around Mile 1.5 I decided to just tack on an extra mile and finish with 3. I took the first mile easy, pushed it a little bit in Mile 2 and finished with a final easier mile. It felt good. Now just to spend some quality time with my foam roller and I'll be ready for Sunday.

2. After a spring and summer of running in unseasonably hot weather, I had to do a double take when I first saw the weather forecast for race day. Ten days out, I figured there was a good chance the weatherman was wrong, that it would change and we'd be running in 80s and humid. Guys. It didn't change. A high of 57? Instead I'm left rethinking my race day outfit. I have a feeling shorts and tank will be a bit chilly at the starting line when the temperature is maybe going to be 40. Can't tell you how excited I am to run in this kind of weather!

3. So goals. Of course I've got them. If I hadn't eased up on the mileage and the number of runs per week this summer due that pesky IT band injury I've been dealing with, I might have more aggressive goals. But the IT band happened. Some runs were missed. Some miles were cut. But I think I still had a decent training cycle and there might be a season-PR in these legs. Especially given the conditions.
A Goal: Sub-2:19. This would be a new overall PR for me. Everything. And I mean everything, including a fully cooperating IT band, would have to be perfect on race day for this to happen.
B Goal: Sub-2:25. This is what I was aiming for a the Madison Mini last month with Katie. And through 7  miles it was possible. Then the IT band got cranky. But I think part of that was due to the hills. Fox Cities? Unless you count two bridges, it's pretty flat. I think this is doable.
C Goal: Sub-2:30. This would give me my fastest half marathon of the year. I'd be happy with that.
D Goal: Have fun. Don't die.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ironman Wisconsin Spectating Report

It's quickly becoming a September tradition.

Head down to Madison and spend all day running around cheering on a friend as they travel 140.6 miles. In the process? Get inspired and have an amazing day.

I went back down to Madison last weekend for Ironman Wisconsin spectating. Last year it was to cheer on my good friend Jeff as he completed his 10th Ironman (a number he's since increased to 11). This year I was there to cheer with my friend Myriah as her husband Josh tackled his first Ironman.

I headed down to Madison on Saturday after I finished my 13 miles run. I met up with Myriah and her family at their hotel and then we proceeded to hatch a plan on for spectating. Myriah and her Ironman-to-be would be leaving the hotel super early, I was responsible for making sure their families - I bet there was close to 20 of them - made it down to the Monona Terrace in the morning for the swim start.

I'm happy to report I did it. And no family members were lost!

We staked out a spot on the helix by my friend Jeff - who had come up to Wisconsin that weekend to do a triathlon and watch Josh at Ironman. It was hard to see the actual swim since we were in an area with a bunch of people. But if I stood on my tiptoes, I could catch a few glimpses of the swimmers. Of course, the swim start was just as cool as I remember it. About an hour after the pros started swimming, we could hear a roar coming up the helix and all of a sudden the first swimmer out of the water was running past us into transition.

Let me say, what I couldn't see of the swim was more than made up for by the spectating spot I had to watch athletes run into transition. For those going to spectate at IM Wisconsin in the future, I definitely recommend staking a spot out on the helix. So cool.

We gathered our group up and headed to the bus to go back to the Alliant Energy Center. Then it was time to hop in the car and head out to the bike course. Josh was flying on the bike, as in we weren't going to make it to the first planned bike spot in Verona at Mile 15. We decided to head out to Timber Lane instead. I thought we were going to the big hill on Timber Lane where I was spectating last year, but I was a poor navigator and took a wrong turn. So we were on Timber Lane, just AFTER the crest of the hill. Oops. It's OK though, we still saw Josh and then headed out to a location just west of Verona (around Mile 62) where we saw him again. Back to Timber Lane - the right spot on Timber Lane - for one final chance to see Josh on the bike.

Like last year, the energy on Timber Lane was amazing. Tour de France-like. Crowds lining the road. People in costumes. Drummers running alongside the athletes as they biked up the hill. So cool.

Once we saw Josh, we piled back in our cars (to give you an idea of the size of our group, we filled three cars) and headed back to downtown for the run. They jumped back on the bus. I jumped in my car to find parking near the Capitol Square so I could jump on my bike. My plan was to meet back up with Jeff and chase Josh around the run course.

First I waited right around the run out point for Josh to come through. While waiting, I caught a glimpse of the lead male, who had a huge lead on second place. And you know what? He kept increasing that lead throughout the rest of the afternoon on his way to a new course record. Amazing. He never looked tired. So fluid. So fast. Looked fresh.

Anyway, soon Josh came through and I was off. I made a pit stop by Myriah and told her my plan and that I'd be sending her updates throughout the afternoon. I met up with Jeff and we were off. With Jeff having done this race multiple times and both of being UW grads, it's not a surprise that we had a good idea of where to go and the shortcuts to get there. I think we ended up seeing Josh 5 or 6 times per 13 mile loop. And by the time he got to the second loop, we needed to know where those shortcuts were! I swear Josh was getting faster because we would barely beat him to the viewing points! He went through his cycles of good and bad, but overall, Josh looked strong on his way to a 3:35 marathon. Seriously. Guy is fast. Josh ended up finishing Ironman in 10:42ish. Not bad for a first Ironman, huh?

The Ironman-to-be that I was chasing all day, on the right.

Once again, it was a long day. It was a hard day of spectating. But it was so worth it. Watching the athletes, many of them just like you and me, put out the effort to travel that 140.6 miles. Some of them hurting, but all of them moving forward. And once again, when I'm at Mile 11 of my next half marathon and I'm hurting and just want to quit, I'll think back to those Ironmen. Chances are, they were hurting a lot more. And they kept going.

So congrats to all the finishers at Ironman Wisconsin! I'll be back in 2013 to cheer again. And next year? I'm pretty sure I'll think ahead and take Monday off so I can experience that final hour at the finish line. See you then!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. Packers! So I know it's technically Week 2 of the NFL season, but since I was out spectating and cheering on the Ironman Wisconsin course on Sunday during the Packers loss to the 49ers, this is my first chance to see the Green and Gold play in the regular season. I'm a happy Packers fan.

2. Before the game, I did make sure I got a run in. Let's just say I was loving every minute of that 4 mile run. I'm pretty sure the fact that it was 60 degrees and overcast had a little bit to do with it. And I ran without my Garmin. Well, technically I had it on, but since it died a half-mile into my run, it was pretty useless. And I haven't run without the Garmin in a long time. It was nice to run by feel rather than a number on the screen. Overall a great run.

3. It's hard to come up with a No. 3 tonight. Probably because I'm distracted by the football that's on my TV screen. So there is no No. 3.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11 years ago

It doesn't seem like it's been that long.

Eleven years.

Memories should be fuzzy. But the moments are still vividly etched in my mind. Where I was. What I was doing. The emotions I felt.

I thought about writing something today. Something to commemorate this 11th anniversary, but in the end I decided not to. Because honestly I can't think of what to say that I didn't say in a 2007 post.

Go here. Read what I wrote about what that day was like for me.

They say time heals all wounds. We've had time. And yes, there has been healing. Will there ever come a day when our country is completely healed from the pain we experienced on that bright, sunny, September day? I don't know.

What I do know?

I will never forget.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. I opted to skip my run tonight. I just wasn't feeling it. What I was feeling was a delayed onset of muscle soreness that I can only attribute to the brutally hot speed work session I tackled on Tuesday. As in, I woke up this morning - 36 hours later - and holy stiff, achy, sore muscles. Calves, hips, the toosh. I had intentions to get a short, easy 3-4 miles in tonight, but like I said, I opted not to.

2. Part of my reasoning? I've got 14 miles staring me in the face Saturday. The last long training run before taper starts for Fox Cities Half, which is 2.5 weeks away. Gulp. 14 miles, huh? It's been a long time since I ran that far.

3. But if I can get those 14 miles pounded out, it'll be a fun rest of the weekend. After I run, shower, eat and quite possibly get a short nap, I'm heading south to Madison. It's Ironman Wisconsin weekend and I'm pumped to watch a good friend's husband tackle his first IM. The maps have been printed out, the cowbells rounded up and I'm ready to go. I remember how fun and inspiring it was last year and I have no doubt it will be very similar this year. I can't wait.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Farewell Andy Roddick


I knew the day was coming. But it was still hard to see it. And yes, I may have almost shed a tear or two while sitting at my desk this afternoon, watching as Andy Roddick, my favorite tennis player during the last decade, lost the final games of his fourth round match at the U.S. Open today.

To see him fight until the end. Hear the crowd chanting "Let's go Andy." Watching him get up out of his chair during that final changeover and wipe his eyes with his towel as he walked back to receive serve from Juan Martin del Potro in what would be the final game he played.



But Andy went out on his own terms. He announced it last week. Had a couple of inspiring, fun matches in the second and third rounds. The U.S. Open, the site of his only Grand Slam title, and a tournament that held a special place in his heart, was a fitting place for him to end his career.
"Since I was a kid, I've been coming to this tournament. I felt lucky just to sit where all of you are sitting today, to watch this game, to see the champions that have come and gone. I've loved every minute of it.'' - Andy Roddick
Heck, his whole farewell speech had me tearing up. Watch for yourselves.

Thank you Andy for all the matches over the years. You will be missed.