Category Archives: Friends

Fall fun

Mother Nature has sure been gifting us with a gorgeous fall so far! Though the temperatures have finally started to drop, the last few weeks have been unbelievable for September. We have been spending a lot of time outside and things have been busy in a good way. I found this slide on a buy/sell/trade group on Facebook and snagged it for Kai. He likes it alright, but he won’t climb up the back so you have to put him on the slide and he gets bored and runs away after a couple times down. That’s right, he is walking and running all over the place now with no need to hold onto our fingers anymore.

A couple weeks ago we attended a wedding reception for our friends who were married in Jamaica earlier this year. It was held outdoors and Kai had fun riding around on Steve’s shoulders and listening to the steel drum band.

We had a playdate at the park last week with my friend Cara and her two boys. Despite their expressions in the photo, I’m pretty sure they had a good time.

This past Sunday was the annual Susan G Komen race for the cure. We do it every year in honor of my cousin Kelly who is a breast cancer survivor. Five years cancer free was an awesome reason to celebrate with Kelly’s Clan.

Since my marathon is this Sunday (eep!), Kai and I opted to walk this year instead of run. He got a little antsy in the stroller so we cut out early and walked just under two miles instead of doing the full 5k.

After the walk we headed home so Kai could take a nap, and when he woke up we went right back out to Harvest Fest at State Fair Park. I had never been to this event before and wasn’t sure what they all had, and it turned out to be alright.

Kai enjoyed watching the camel and pony rides, and they also had a little kids area in one of the buildings where there was a huge box of wood shavings and some toys.

They also had a little farmers market, pumpkin patch, build your own scarecrow, and places to eat. A lot of the stuff I think will be better when Kai is a little older and able to enjoy it more. The huge bummer about the whole thing was that when we got there they were all out of every single kind of pumpkin beer! We did get there when there were only two hours left of the festival, but still! Not cool.

Skeleton pj’s have been in heavy rotation (please note the new “say cheese” face). I am hoping to find time to go for a hayride and apple picking, and next weekend we will be going on one more camping trip. As much as I am sad to see summer go, I love fall as well. If only we could skip over the other two wretched seasons we would be in business.

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Filed under Friends, Fun, Kai

2013 Lakefront Marathon (aka Cindy’s First Marathon)

You may recall that last year I coached Cindy to run her first trail half marathon. It was not long after that race that Cindy asked me if I would coach her and run with her in this year’s Lakefront Marathon, her first. Knowing that my big race season would be over after Ironman Wisconsin, I happily agreed. We spent the following year preparing her for the marathon, and as the day approached, I was so excited to get her to the finish line.

Those that know Cindy will tell you that she is one of the most upbeat, friendly, outgoing, kind people on this planet. Her positive attitude is infectious, and her energy knows no bounds. To say that she was excited in the days leading up to the race would be a slight understatement. She kept assuring me that she was not nervous, she trusted her training, and she was just ready and excited to get the show on the road. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little pressure as her coach to get her to that finish line. I never doubted for a moment that we would do it, I was just hoping for things to go well throughout the day.

We met at Cindy’s house at 5:30am on race morning to get a ride to the start in Grafton. The race is a point to point course from Grafton High School to Veteran’s Park on Milwaukee’s Lakefront, and I was grateful not to have to take the race shuttle (yellow school bus) to the start. We arrived at the school with plenty of time to spare before the 7:30 start. We hung out in the gym doing last minute race prep until it was showtime.

(none of these pictures are mine, so thank you in advance to my Facebook friends from whom I stole them :))

Before we knew it, it was time to head outside to the start line.

Pre-race with Cindy and Liz (Quick shout out to Liz, another one of my athletes who absolutely ROCKED this race with a 35 min marathon PR!!)

My plan for the race was simple. Because Cindy’s goal was to finish and she didn’t have a time goal in mind, I wanted to make sure we started very easy and then slowed down as little as possible. I was the only one wearing a Garmin, and I had 5 hours in the back of my head as a feasible goal. Cindy’s friend Greg also decided to run with us, as he was recovering from an injury. So we listened to the National Anthem, and then our little entourage was off.

The first few miles went by quickly. Cindy was so excited to be running, I had to reign her in a little bit. Each time we hit a mile marker she got excited all over again. I was so happy that she was feeling good, and I couldn’t help but laugh every time she yelled out to the spectators that it was her first marathon. Speaking of spectators, I know without a doubt that Cindy had more people out there cheering for her than any other racer, hands down. We never went more than a mile or two without seeing friendly faces. The course is very spectator friendly, so it was easy for people to see us, drive a little bit down the road, and see us again. Greg ran with his video camera and was able to get a ton of footage and pictures throughout the race.

Pretty sure Brian winds the spectating award for this:

It was smooth sailing until around mile 16, when we hit a little bit of a rough spot. Cindy started having some tummy issues, which she has never experienced before in training. I think the nerves and excitement leading up to the race took a toll on her digestive system, and we had to make a few potty stops. I knew she was hurting, and I did my best to talk her through it and manage the situation. As she continued to feel worse every time she would try to put any nutrition into her system, I told her no more gels, just water and salt tabs. Even gatorade was causing problems. I told her that she was going to starting feeling depleted, but it was better than the alternative.

Once we passed mile 20, I knew we were “over the hump,” and even if we had to do a lot of walking, we would finish. Somewhere around mile 21-22, there was a lady standing at the end of her driveway with a bowl of pretzels. Cindy looked at me and asked if she should try eating some, and I said yes. I had a feeling that maybe something solid would help her stomach. She ate one tiny pretzel, and it must have been made of magic, because about 60 seconds later she was back to running strong. She told me she felt better and we pushed ahead. I was so relieved at this moment, and just hoped that she would continue to feel good through the finish.

We took a few walking breaks in the final miles along the Lakefront, and with 3/4 of a mile to go, I told Cindy no more walking, let’s finish this thing!

Coming down the finishing chute was awesome. Cindy got a surge of energy and picked it up to the finish line. The next photo pretty much sums it up.

I wish I could bottle up the joy in that moment. We finished in 5:11:03, and I have no doubt that without the tummy issues, we would have come in under 5 hours. I was so proud and so happy that I played a part in helping Cindy to achieve her goal.

We did it!!

During the race when things got tough, I told Cindy that when we hit mile 22 I would tell her a story to keep her going. The thing is, Cindy tells me all the time that I inspire her, especially when she came to cheer for me at Ironman and saw me dig deep and finish even though I was feeling absolutely terrible. At mile 22, I told Cindy that while I was training for Ironman, there were times during my long runs when I wasn’t feeling the greatest and just wanted to stop, walk home and eat ice cream. During those tough moments, I would often picture Cindy and I running this marathon. I would picture her crossing the finish line, and I would get goosebumps. It never failed to put a spring in my step, and I never quit a long run. So I told her that while I may inspire her, it is also she who inspires me with her enthusiasm and determination to set big goals and live them. While this may not have been close to my fastest marathon, it was one of my favorites, and one that I will never forget. Of all of the finish lines I have crossed, I don’t think anything can top this finish line moment.

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Filed under Friends, Marathon, Races, The run

2013 Ice Age 50k

Ten, nine, eight, seven… that was race director Jeff’s countdown to the start of the Ice Age 50k on Saturday. Two, one…go! And we were off into the woods. I wasn’t originally planning on racing Ice Age this year, but when registration opened in December and looked like it was going to fill in less than a day I made a last minute decision to sign up. There were lots of reasons why I shouldn’t. This is an Ironman year, I should be focused on biking, yada yada. Truth is, I needed to focus on a run first. After sitting out much of 2012 due to injury, I wanted some good time on my feet before I had to start focusing on the bike. I’ve made it no secret that I have a rocky relationship with being on two wheels, pedaling and pedaling all.day.long. I would rather be on two feet any day of the week. I figured the race would be good motivation to get my butt in gear over the winter.

Only it didn’t work that way. I struggled to find the motivation I needed. I am going to blame it on the longest and crappiest winter in the history of ever. Between snow and ice and bitter cold, I had a hard time getting out there. Last year I ran the trails all winter in preparation for my 50 miler at Ice Age. Every weekend I looked forward to hitting the trails for hours and hours. This year it was not to be. I was also struggling with how much I should be running. Every time my foot would get a little sore I used it as an excuse to take a day off. I knew I also needed to be swimming and biking, but wasn’t sure how to balance it all. After all, Ironman is the big race this year, I could run 50k in my sleep if I had to…Right?

But the truth is, when you lose all of your running fitness due to injury, you cannot expect to start running again and pick up where you left off. Last spring, I would think nothing of running 70 miles a week. A 25 mile trail run seemed like no big deal, same with running twice a day several times a week. Cue the frustration when a “mere” 10-12 miles felt hard and I looked back at what I was doing last year thinking I should be able to do this, with a little bit of shit, I was crazy back then! mixed inIt’s funny how endurance sports can skew your perspective on things. Sometimes I am shocked when I look back on my training logs for Ironman and see how much I was doing. It all seems so normal when you are actually doing it, but looking back at it from the outside it is easy to see why people think you have lost your damn mind. Needless to say, my confidence was waning. If I couldn’t find the motivation to train for a 50k, how in the heck was I going to train for Ironman?

I came to the decision that the best thing for me to do was to work with a coach. Best decision ever. Though I create training plans for other people all of the time, I lost the trust and ability to do it for myself. I needed someone with an outside perspective to tell me exactly what to do and when to do it. I needed to get out of my own head and not have to think about any of it. Not to mention the accountability factor. If I am paying someone to tell me what to do I am damn well going to do what she says.

Wasn’t this supposed to be a race report? Ok, back to the race. In the 8 weeks leading up to Ice Age, I did a mix of running, biking and swimming. Definitely less running and more biking and swimming than I would have done if left to my own devices, but quite a bit of overall volume (compared to what I was doing at the beginning of the year). I had some good long runs under my belt, but certainly not as many trail miles as I would have liked. The weather just didn’t cooperate for it. I felt prepared going in, and when the first few miles felt effortless, I thought I was going to have a great day out there.

Coming up to the first turnaround at mile 6.5, I counted that I was in 5th place for women. I concentrated on running easy and keeping the effort low. The first out and back section is tough, with lots of hills and uneven single track. I just focused on my nutrition plan and walking the big hills to save energy. By the time the first out and back section was over, I had passed two more women and was running in 3rd place.

The latter part of the race is made up of two identical 9 mile loops where the trails are much wider and easier to run on. I got a little boost when I passed through the start/finish area and saw some of my friends cheering me on. I was able to pick up some speed on the flat miles that followed, and I was feeling good. That good feeling lasted until I reached the back side of the loop and it’s relentless hills. By the time I hit mile 16, my quads were hurting. By mile 18 they were toast. I started to break things into small sections. The next aid station. The start/finish area. The flat miles. I tried not to think about the fact that I still had to do this entire loop again. I didn’t know if my legs would hold up. I did know that it was going to hurt.

Coming through the start/finish again, I stripped off my arm warmers and left them at the aid station. I saw some more friends cheering for me which gave me a little boost, but in my head I was struggling. My quads were absolutely killing me. I was grateful for the next couple of flat miles before I got into the hills again. I broke the rest of the race into 30 and 40 minute increments. When I would take my next salt cap and when I would eat my next gel. Then to the final aid station, then to the finish. Somewhere in there I thought I passed another women from the 50k. It was hard to tell because now we were mixed in with the half marathon runners. Turns out I did pass one woman, but another woman (whom I had passed early in the race) passed me as well, as I would find out later.

The hills were killing me. The downhills were almost worse than the uphills because of my trashed quads. It was time to think about putting one foot in front of the other, of doing nothing besides moving forward. One thing I have learned over the years is that no matter how much it hurts during a race, no matter how slowly the miles tick by, and no matter how much your body is telling you to stop, there is always an end. And when that end comes and you are finished, no matter how good or bad the race was, it always seems that the day has flown by. I always think about this when the going gets tough, that there is indeed an end, and it will come soon enough. I will not hurt forever, so I might as well keep moving.

So that is exactly what I did for the rest of the race. And sure enough, the end came.

It is always sort of surreal when you train hard, race hard, and it is over.

I have no idea why I am smiling in this picture. I think I was so relieved that it was over, and in a bit of disbelief over how much my legs actually hurt. Mostly I was just so happy to be done. I can’t remember a race where my quads hurt that bad, except for perhaps my first or second marathon ever. Certainly not during the 50 miler last year or during any Ironman. But that’s how it goes. All you can do in any given race is give it all that you have on that particular day. You can follow your race plan and take in your fuel and do everything right, and sometimes your legs just freaking hurt. I did everything I could, I gave it all that I had, and this time it was good for 3rd place overall, 2nd in AG.

I would find out later that 2nd place was a mere 34 seconds ahead of me. My mind immediately went to thinking about all of the places in the course of 31 miles where I could have shaved off 34 seconds. A few less seconds walking on some of the hills, a little speedier on the flats. But the truth is, I gave it my best effort, and if I could have shaved off those seconds I would have. I am proud that I was able to push through the pain in my legs and finish strong.

Special thanks to my friend Cindy for bringing a cold water foot soak to the finish line. You are the best! 🙂

Ice Age 50k Official Result:

5:01:47

3rd overall

2nd female 30-39

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Filed under Friends, Races, The run

Tyranena Beer Run

A while back, Steve and I signed up for the Tyranena Beer Run. I had always wanted to do this race, as I heard it was a fun way to end the season. The race is held at the Tyranena Brewery in Lake Mills, and offers a 1/2 Barrel and 1/6 Barrel distance. The finish line offers a free lasagna dinner (meat or veggie) and free Tyranena beer. Need I say more?

I hadn’t run a half marathon since my PR at Icebreaker in January, and I wasn’t sure what to expect out of my legs. I was hoping that if everything felt good, I could run around 1:40, or 7:38 pace. However, I haven’t been doing any speed work, and I hadn’t run more than 10 miles since a September trail run. I also had heard that the course was fairly hilly. As a secondary goal, I thought if I could keep the miles under 8:00 that would be ok too.

We lined up for the 11:30am start, and it was chilly, around 35 degrees. I decided to just wear a long sleeve shirt and no vest, which turned out to be the right decision. After the national anthem played, we were off. I ran the first mile in 7:24 and worried that I started too fast, although it felt pretty comfortable. The course was great, winding through the neighborhood before continuing along the shore of Rock Lake. There were definitely some hills in the first 4 miles, but overall not as bad as I was thinking.

The miles were ticking by, and for the most part I was holding 7:25-7:35 miles. The course continues onto the Glacial Drumlin Trail, which was not only pretty, but the crushed gravel surface was nice to run on too. Somewhere around mile 8 I felt things starting to break down. I was about to crash, hard. I quickly took my Double Expresso Clif Shot and washed it down with some water at the next aid station. Mile 9 turned out to be my slowest at 7:47, but a few minutes after I took my gel I felt some energy start to creep back in and was back to 7:30 pace for miles 10-11.

Then it was time to hang on for the last 2 miles. I was really tired, and I wanted to slow down badly. I focused on a few women up ahead which helped me to keep pushing. I passed a couple of them within the last two miles, and I knew I couldn’t back down. Before I knew it, we were rounding the corner towards the finish. I gave it a kick to the finish line and crossed in 1:39:04, or 7:34 pace. I am really happy with the result given the amount of training I have been doing. Or not doing. I also realized that I had fueled the night before with two margaritas, chips & guacamole, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Um…oops? I guess I should be glad I wasn’t running for the port-o-potty during the race.

Official Results:
1:39:04

7:34 average pace

98/877 overall

13/480 females

6/117 age group

Afterwards we hung out with friends while drinking beer and eating lasagna. I can’t think of anything much better than that. This was a super-fun race with a great course and I will be back next year for sure to end the season right!

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Filed under Food, Friends, Races, The run

The good, the bad

The good: My foot is feeling somewhat better. I have been going mostly without the boot since Wednesday, and it has definitely improved from when I first went to the doc.

The bad: It doesn’t feel like it’s anywhere close to running. It is making me crazy and sad. I still have pain especially on the bottom of my foot and it feels like it would flair up in two seconds if I tried running. I see the doc again tomorrow morning so we’ll see what he says.

The good: Summerfest. I got to go two nights in a row on Thursday and Friday, and saw some really good concerts.

Silversun Pickups:

The Foo Fighters:

Kelly Clarkson:

Train:

So much fun!

The bad: I had to wear the boot to both concerts, and it was approximately 124 degrees inside that thing. Yuck.

The good: Summer. Boating. Outdoor activities in the sweltering heat.

The bad: The sweltering heat. I don’t even know when the last time was that it rained. Our grass is brown, along with the entire state of Wisconsin.

The good: My brother and his wife are coming into town tomorrow and staying for a week. This makes me very happy and excited.

The bad: none.

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Filed under Family, Friends, Fun

Rock N Roll San Diego

Last weekend I travelled to San Diego with Team in Training to coach at the RNR San Diego Marathon. We had a great group from WI ready to tackle the full and half marathon races. We got into San Diego before 10am thanks to our 6am flight and a two hour time change. Luckily they let me park my yacht right outside the hotel. It’s right behind that little boat.

After getting checked into the hotel we headed next door to the race expo. After having our fill of plenty of free samples, we found out that Chrissie Wellington was going to be speaking as part of the tour to promote her new book, A Life Without Limits. In case you don’t know, Chrissie is without a doubt the greatest female triathlete in the world. She is undefeated at the Ironman distance, having won 13 times, including 4 times at the world championships in Kona. She also happens to be one of the most smiley and genuinely enthusiastic people I have ever met. That’s right, I met her!

Clearly we are now bff’s. She signed a copy of her book to me, and I cannot wait to read it. She is so inspiring.

Speaking of bff’s, later that day we happened to run into my favorite marathoner Deena Kastor.

Deena will be running at the 10,000 meter Olympic trials in a couple of weeks. She also had a baby just a year ago and is the tiniest person I have ever met. Once I was sufficiently geeked out on spotting incredible endurance athletes (we saw Ryan Hall too but didn’t get a chance to meet him), it was time for dinner.

We decided to eat at one of the restaurants at our hotel to make things easy. My portobello mushroom sandwich was good, but the star of the show was obviously dessert.

That would be Bruce about to dig into a warm brownie baked in it’s own cast iron skillet, drizzled with chocolate, and topped with ice cream and whipped cream. Here is a close up for the full effect.

I think I fell asleep in approximately four seconds once my head hit the pillow on Friday. It was a long day.

Saturday we took it pretty easy to get ready for race day on Sunday. We attended the TNT Inspiration Dinner on Saturday night, which was great. Over 2500 TNT athletes raced on Sunday, raising 7.3 million dollars for blood cancer research. Pretty amazing.

After dinner I decided to do a little bit more fueling at the frozen yogurt shop that was conveniently located right at our hotel.

What? This coaching stuff is hard work!

Sunday started with a 3am wake up call since our team planned to meet in the lobby at 4am on Sunday to catch a shuttle to the race. I was so excited for my WI team to rock the race. We hung out at the start for a while before I wished everyone luck and they headed into the starting corrals.

I met up with another TNT coach from Santa Cruz and together we figured out how to take the trolley to our assigned station at miles 19-23 of the marathon. As we were walking to our position we saw the race leaders fly by mile 22.

They were not even sweating. It wasn’t too long before we saw the female leader with a decent lead.

Once we were at mile 19, it was time to wait for the TNT purple jerseys to start coming through. We didn’t have to wait long, there were some fast people out there. Whenever I saw a purple jersey, I would try to run with them for a bit and see if they needed anything. Some were feeling great, and some were struggling big time at this point. That far into the race, you never know if someone is going to want the company or if they would rather just be alone and get through the thing. Most people were grateful for whatever I could give them, whether it was water, gel, salt, or just words of encouragement.

I couldn’t wait to see my guys come through, and I was careful not to miss them in the loop section that I was in. Pretty soon I saw Mike, who ended up rocking a big PR. I ran with him for a mile or so and then headed back to catch the others. Pretty soon my two other guys were running towards me together. I was so pumped to see them. Colin was feeling good and decided to continue on his own, while Bruce was having some trouble with his leg cramping. I stuck with him and told him to just keep moving forward. I ended up running with him all the way to mile 26 because I couldn’t bear to leave him struggling. He was in so much pain, his back was killing him, and I am so incredibly proud of him for sticking it out and finishing his first marathon.

I ran back to my zone and tried to catch as many purple jerseys as I could. As the 7 hour cutoff neared, the coaches started to gather near the finish line in preparation for the “Sea of Green”. The coaches wear green jerseys, and we all get behind the last TNT finisher and walk them across the finish line.  The chant of “Go TEAM, Go TEAM” as we walked gave me goose bumps. From the back:

And the professional view from above:

What a seriously cool experience.

I am guessing I put in somewhere between 20-25 miles between running and walking throughout the day.

There wasn’t much time to rest by the time we got back, so we did the next logical thing, which was meet at the hotel bar. From there it was to the TNT victory party where we got our fill of snacks, and then it was out to walk around a little bit. There was a cool area right by the hotel called the Gaslamp District.

We had a celebratory beer. I am ashamed to say I could not finish my 24 oz mug.

Of course the night would not have been complete without one last stop.

Refueling at its finest right there.

I always knew Team in Training was a great organization (I ran my first marathon with them in Alaska back in 2003), but after being part of such a huge national event where there is inspiration everywhere you turn, I am even more proud to be a part of it.

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Filed under Dessert, Food, Friends, Fun, Marathon, Races, The run, Travel

Trails and donuts

Saturday morning started as all Saturdays should, with a great trail run. I met up with my friends Lori and Sandee for 15 miles.

It was great to have the company, and the weather was gorgeous.

It’s amazing how fast the miles flew by with good conversation.

When I got home, Steve and I worked on some things around the house. Very exciting stuff like finishing flooring, painting moldings, etc, etc. I love it when I feel productive.

I also wanted to bake something for my mom. On Friday afternoon I received the following email from her:

Hi Laura,

I delivered your bananas and rakes, and raked up a bag of leaves. Since it’s supposed to rain, I cut your grass.

Love,

Mom

Yep, she is pretty much the best ever. I whipped up some coconut carrot cake donuts based on this recipe. Instead of the coconut milk, I used Coconut Cream Concentrate from Tropical Traditions, which worked great.

For the glaze, I mixed about a cup of powdered sugar, 1TB coconut cream concentrate, and 2TB almond coconut milk. So good.

This morning’s 18 miler with Team in Training brought me to 68 miles for the week, 44 of which were on trails. I will continue to ramp into this week, which will culminate in a 35 mile trail run on Saturday. Then it’s vacation time!

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Filed under Baking, Cooking, Food, Friends, The run