Friday, May 24, 2013

Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon Race Report

This is one of those races where the final three-quarters of a mile make the rest of it worth it.

I headed into the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon under-trained and not so prepared. I knew I wouldn't be fast. But I knew I could cover the miles, if anything for that lap around Lambeau Field.

Because who am I kidding? That's my favorite part of this race.

I headed up to the expo on Saturday and picked up my packet. After Mom and I had lunch at Curly's Pub, we headed out to drive the course. I just wanted to familiarize myself with it, even though I've run this enough times that I remember the roads well. Like, I know not to look to my left around Mile 10.5, because I'll see Lambeau Field looming and I'll still have almost 2 miles to go.

I went to bed Saturday night, set my alarm for way too early in the morning and the next thing I knew, it was time to get up and run a half marathon. We made it up to Green Bay with about an hour to spare. That gave me plenty of time to get a decent parking spot, hit up the bathrooms twice and try to talk myself into being able to do this.

Soon it was time to hope the fence and get into the mass of 7,000 runners on Lombardi Avenue who were running the full or half marathons.

One cool thing race organizers did. In the wake of what happened at Boston last month, race organizers put together a tribute to Boston. Each runner Sunday got a blue silicon wrist band in their packets that said "We Run As One" and "Boston 2013." After the national anthem was sung, we were all asked to raise our wrists in the air and observed a 26 second moment of silence. It was pretty powerful.

 Pre-race photo with Vince looking on in the background.

After that, it was go time.

There was nothing special about the first miles of the course. I ran. Kept a decent pace, only walking briefly through the water stations. I saw my Mom around Mile 4 and tossed her my iPod.

Oh, did I forget to mention that? As I was standing at the start line, I went to turn my iPod on so all I would have to do was hit play. Instead of hearing Dropkick Murphy's in my ears, what did I hear? Absolutely nothing. No lights either. That's right, even though I had had it plugged in and charging overnight (or so I believed), I had a completely dead iPod. Leaving me to run 13.1 miles without music. Something I haven't done in a long time.

Still happy at Mile 4.

Oh boy.

So I tossed the iPod to my Mom and settled in for another 9 music-less miles.

Somewhere around Mile 6 it started to get pretty warm. There were few clouds in the sky and at this point we were leaving the shaded residential areas. So lots of sun, little shade, rising temperatures and it was starting to get humid. Oh, and no wind. Great.

Knowing this and knowing I wasn't really prepared, I started to sprinkle in the walks. Because I really didn't want to overdo it and I didn't want to leave Green Bay hurt. So I didn't feel bad. I mixed it up, running, taking a bit of a walk at the water stations and then running.

Pretty soon Lambeau Field was on my left - yes, I looked, even though I knew not to - and I was running through the somewhat dull industrial-type area. But then I turned left and there Lambeau Field was. Right in front of me.

I ran. Chatted with a runner next to me a bit. And kept my eyes on the prize - Lambeau Field. Through the parking lot and into the stadium. Funny thing, as soon as I entered into that entrance, I could feel this smile spread across my face. Others around me were slowing down to walk. But I didn't.

 I'm running through Lambeau!

I was going to run every step through that stadium and savor it. This. This is why I run Green Bay.

I hit the end of the players' tunnel and there was a volunteer.

"Welcome to Lambeau Field," he says.

Thank you.

One of the best race pictures I've ever taken. Not worth the money they'd charge me for it though.

I kept running. Looking around. Smiling. Relishing the moment. I tried - unsuccessfully - to give my Mom a high five as I ran past. And then I was heading back up the players tunnel and exiting the stadium to the finish line.

It wasn't my best time. The clock read 2:54 when I finished. But given my lack of training and the heat, I'm OK with that. Because, you know what? That last three-quarters of mile through the stadium made everything worth it.

 Everyone needs a post-race picture with a headless Vince Lombardi.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. Seriously, Mother Nature. Get your head on straight and figure out the weather. I'm kind of sick of one day being hot, humid and in the 80s and a day later being in the low 50s with rain and lots of wind. It is nearly the end of May after all.

2. I tried something completely different Monday. I went to Water Zumba with my Mom. Let's just say it was interesting. Kind of fun, but not necessarily something I'd like to do with any kind of regularity. Because let's just say I have coordination.

3. Green Bay was on Sunday, other than my attempt at Water Zumba, I haven't done anything this week. I'm taking it easy. But that will change on Saturday, when I head out for my first long training run with the Pacesetters group in preparation for the Fox Cities half in September. I'm hooking up with the free community training group in hopes of getting my mojo back and actually running a half better prepared than I was this spring.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A post about goats. Er, goals.

Everyone likes animals.

That's why you get this picture of a miniature goat to start off this goals post. Because really. How upset can you get with me for not having goals when you open your blog reader and see a face like that?

But given the fact that it's race weekend, I kind of feel obligated to write a race goals post.

But in case you didn't pick up on it yesterday, I don't really have goals. I'm not properly trained to put goals out there for Green Bay. My goal? Enjoy the run, have fun and run through Lambeau Field with a smile.

And here's one more of the goat.

So cute. But kind of creepy at the same time.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Three Things Thursday: Green Bay edition

1. You all read about the poster thief at the Packers Tailgate Tour stop. Well, he may have stole my autographed poster, but he doesn't get to run through Lambeau Field on Sunday. That's right, it's Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon week.

2. I said it before, but I'm so not ready for this race. Like Raleigh, this will be another race that I'll run as much as I can and then just do some kind of run/walk thing until I cross the finish line. There were times this last week that I seriously considered taking a DNS. I mean, I'm not prepared. Yes, I know I can cover the 13.1 miles, but I know the time on the finish line clock won't be pretty. But then I think. This is at Lambeau. I mean, seriously. How often do I get the chance to run through the players tunnel and take a lap around Lambeau Field? Not often. So that pretty much decided it for me. I'll just keep it low key, have a good run and enjoy that lap around Lambeau.

3. The weather man scared me earlier in the week, calling for heavy rain. But in the last few days, the chance of rain has diminished and weathermen are even starting to say that the rain chance will be "late" in the day. Plenty of time to finish 13.1 miles without having to swim. The only problem? As that rain chance goes down, the temps seem to be going up, to the point where we're looking at a high near 80. Gulp.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tailgating pre-season style

It shouldn't be a surprise. I like the Packers.

So when I was presented with the opportunity to go the Packers Tailgate Tour stop in Oshkosh last night, I jumped at the chance. Packers? Tailgate fun? And not have worry about doing work stuff? I was in.

Each spring, the Packers put together this tailgate tour. A couple of current and former Packers jump on a bus and they head out to a couple of official stops, but they throw in a couple of surprise stops along the way. This year Randall Cobb, Jarrett Bush and Alex Green would be joining former Packers Santana Dotson, Frankie Winters and Aaron Taylor along with Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy. The Oshkosh stop was the first one of the tour.

I had to work late, but as soon as that last question was asked, I headed over to the tailgate festivities. I walked in in the middle of the Q&A session. I met up with some friends and after the Q&A and some games were done, it was time to head into the lines. We had to make a choice: Line up for food right away or line up to get our autographs.

We opted for autographs. The food could wait.

Just hanging with Randall Cobb.

And it was a good decision, because it took us an hour to get through the line. But finally, it was our time to walk across the stage and get an up close look at the players as they signed our stuff. I put my poster on the table and watched as they signed it.

And of course we snapped a few pictures.

And we're BFFs with Jarrett Bush.

But somewhere between Alex Green and Santana Dotson, a crime occurred.

Yes. I'm using the word crime.

 Alex Green is enjoying this tailgate thing.

Because the "die hard" Packers fan behind us in line -- well he stole my poster.

See I watched my poster get signed, followed it through the line and when I got to the end? There was no poster! Now, the people in front of me? Well, I was with them, so I'm pretty sure they didn't take it. But that "die hard" (which by the way, what die hard wears a blue beer shirt to a Packers event? Not much of a die hard if you ask me)? He ended up walking off the stage with a miniature helmet AND a signed poster.

Now, normally I'm not a confrontational person. But last night? I confronted the dude.

I went up to him and told him I was pretty sure he had my poster. I stated my case. His response? It wasn't him. He watched as his poster and miniature helmet went through the line.

Well, we were only allowed one item to autograph and they were pretty strict about that. So I really didn't buy that story.

And then? He pulls out his signed poster and an unsigned poster (once again, we were allowed one and they were strict) and had the nerve to offer me the unsigned poster! Dude. He knew he swiped my poster. Something I confirmed by the fact that he skedaddle out of the room as quickly as he could without looking back.

I may have run into Aaron Rodgers.

Now. It's a poster. With autographs. That I waited for for an hour. It would have been cool to have.

But really? Bigger picture-wise, it was a charity event. Something the Packers don't have to do. And for this dude to steal some one's autographed poster, just an extra set of autographs? That's low.

I just hope he can sleep at night.

Other than my run in with the poster thief, if it was a fun event to go to. And I got some cool pictures.

If the event comes back to my area, I'll go again. I'll just make sure to stay away from shady looking dudes would could be potential poster thieves.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sole Burner 5K Race Report

I've been pretty spoiled the last few years. I've had pretty good weather conditions when it comes to race day.

That luck changed Saturday.

It was time for the annual Sole Burner 5K, a race that benefits the American Cancer Society. I've done it the past few years with my Dad. His company is one of the big sponsors, so they encourage employees to participate.

When my alarm went off Saturday morning, I really wanted to just turn it off and go back to bed. I could hear the wind howling outside my window. And I already knew it was going to be cold. I put off getting out of bed as long as I could, but eventually I got up, got ready and we were out the door.

Honestly, if it wasn't for the wind, it really wouldn't have been a bad day to run.

Along with the other 7,700 people who were going to be running or walking, I lined up before the start, waited for the gun to go off and six minutes later I was running.

The first mile or so wasn't bad. Then I turned a corner to head west and it seriously felt like I was running into a brick wall. The wind. Oh, the wind. It was probably blowing at a steady 30 miles an hour and I seriously felt like I was going nowhere, even though I was moving my feet.

Shortly before Mile 2 I turned and headed south, thankfully I wasn't battling the wind anymore. Unfortunately right around then was when it decided to start raining. It wasn't awful, a light mist, but I was pretty sure it wasn't going to stay that way.

So I kept running and by the time I made it to the Hill of Hope, a nasty hill right around the 2.75 mile marker, it was coming down harder. And that light mist had turned into some kind of sleet mixture. And as much as that hill stunk and as much as I wanted to walk, I knew that would mean it would take that much longer to get to the finish. So I kept running.

I ended up finishing in 34:20. Not awful given conditions.

Now hopefully Mother Nature got the crappy weather out of her system and my luck with weather conditions return. Because I really don't want to deal with nasty weather at Green Bay this weekend.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. We had a few days of gorgeous weather. And today? It's in the 50s, cold, kind of windy and rainy. I didn't have a gym bag with me. And in decent weather, I would have just run a couple of miles in the rain. But did I mention it was cold and windy too? So I made the executive decision to skip the run. And I was OK with that.

2. Is it odd? I still haven't fully recovered my running mojo, I have a half marathon in just over a week that I'm pretty unprepared for and yet I'm somewhat psyched to put together a training plan, stick to it and get ready to rock a fall half? Oh, it is? Well. I guess I'm odd then.

3. First I've got a 5K this weekend, the Sole Burner 5K, one that I've done the past few years with my family. Too bad the weather is supposed to be utter crap. Oh well. I'll run the race, hopefully tack on a few extra miles afterward and then I'll be able to count it as a last "long" run before Green Bay.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Run Away to the Bay Race Report

Probably my favorite picture from the day. Celebrating with beer.
Why drive from Oshkosh to Green Bay when you can run it with friends?

For the second year, I got to do Run Away to the Bay, a 55-mile relay that starts in Oshkosh and ends along the river in downtown Green Bay. My friend Myriah asked me a few weeks ago if I’d like to be part of her team along with her husband and sister-in-law. I was game.

 Getting ready to run.

Myriah ran the first three legs (about 16 miles) and our teammate Tania picked up the fourth leg.
Then it was time for me to run.

I had 3.4 miles from a park in Menasha to Darboy Community Park, which is literally blocks from my parents’ house. So it’s a stretch of road I know well, and run often when I’m at their house. Plus, about two-thirds of it is actually part of the Fox Cities Half Marathon route, and we all know that’s one of my favorite races.

The run itself wasn’t too exciting. I battled some nasty cross winds for a bit, but kept a fairly consistent pace. I slowed to a walk for a moment, mostly to get some water in me, but I could spy a dark-colored SUV parked up ahead at the next intersection. Thinking it was my teammates (it was), I started running again. About a mile later, I was coming into the exchange zone at the park and handing off the slap bracelet to Josh.

Done with my first leg.
Now I’d have 18 miles before my final leg. At first glance, that sounds like a pretty decent amount of time. And in most cases, it would be. Not with Josh. The dude is fast, pulled off like 7 minute miles.

Pretty soon I found myself at a winery somewhere south of Green Bay, waiting for Josh to hand off that slap bracelet so I could run my final 4.6 mile leg.

Not going to lie. This leg was tough.

By this time, it was starting to get a bit toasty. There weren’t many clouds and even though I was running on a tree-lined trail, there wasn’t any shade. And of course, the wind disappeared. I made sure to keep myself hydrated and refilled my handheld when I came upon my teammates along the trail.

I kept putting one foot in front of the other, walked when I needed to and let my music get me through it. For the final two miles I just kept hitting repeat on my iPod and listened to Fall Out Boy’s new song, “My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up)” over and over and over again. What? It has a great beat and it kept me going.

Finally I came to the exchange zone and handed off the bracelet to Myriah. Two legs later and our team crossed the finish line on the City Deck along the river in Green Bay in just shy of 8 hours. Then it was time for food, beer and laughs with friends.

 Finish line party!

It was a good day.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

April Reading Recap

Seriously. How is it May 1? I don't understand where the days are going.

What I do understand? I'm still reading. A decent amount.

I finished four books in April for a total of 2,044 pages. That brings my yearly total to 26 books and 8,911 pages. Compare that to last year when I'd finished 12 books and 4,049 pages. I'd say I'm making pretty good progress on the 52-book goal for the year.

Here's the list of what I read in April:

Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck
True Believer by Nicholas Sparks
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

And now for the brief reviews, complete with number of stars given out on GoodReads. Follow me here if you’d like a more timely update on what I’m reading, what I think and what’s been added to my to-read list.

Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire  *****
This was the second book in a two-book series. I read the first book, Beautiful Disaster, last year and this was basically the same story, but told from the guy's point of view. I actually liked this one better.

Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck  ****
I was browsing the library shelves when I came across this book. I remembered seeing it on a friend's reading list and they liked it, so I decided to give it a try. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I ended up liking the story.

True Believer by Nicholas Sparks  ****
I needed a quick book to finish before vacation since I didn't want to have to bring multiple books with me. I've always liked stuff by Nicholas Sparks, so I picked this one up, thinking I hadn't read it. Well, it took me until mid-way through the book to realize I actually had read it before (way back in 2006, my pre-GoodReads days). But I'm not the type of person to just stop reading the book. So I finished it. Wasn't too bad. Even if it was a second time around.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin  ****
And this is what took up most of my month. I know so many people who watch the TV show and love it and I've heard good reviews about the books as well. So I decided to give it a try. Well, I loved the TV show and immediately picked up the book. I wasn't sure what to expect. I don't read a lot of stuff involving kings and knights and war and kingdoms, but I was totally pulled into this story. To the point where it was hard to put down at times. It was a lengthy book though (807 pages) and the next books in the series only get longer, but I'll definitely be reading them, and watching the TV show.

As for what I'll be reading in May? Well I've got a stack to read that came from the library, so I'm sure I'll be busy. What are you all reading?