Category Archives: The run

Door County Half Marathon 2016

This past weekend, Steve and I went on a little weekend getaway to Door County and ran the half marathon there on Saturday. Steve got off work a little bit early on Friday, and when Kai woke up from his nap we loaded up the car and headed to Steve’s parents house, where Kai would be spending his weekend. We got him all settled in and hung out for a bit before hitting the road around 5:30.

We originally planned to eat dinner in Sturgeon Bay, but I realized we wouldn’t be there until around 8pm, so I consulted Yelp and found a brew pub in Green Bay instead called Titletown Brewing.

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The restaurant was across the street from the actual brewery, and inside of an old train station. The beer was excellent (we both had the IPA), and the food was delicious as well. I had a cranberry turkey melt which was served on freshly baked zucchini bread. Genius.

After dinner we made the rest of the drive up to Door County, arriving in Fish Creek around 9:15pm. We stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house and they have been having problems with their internet, so Steve worked on that for a little bit while I passed out on the couch watching Modern Family. Super exciting start to the weekend!

Saturday was race day, and I think I woke up a little after 6am. The race didn’t start until 10am, so it was nice not to have to rush around. I had my coffee and then around 7:45 I ate a larabar and a banana.

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We left around 8:25am and made the 5 min drive to the park. Once inside the park, we had another few miles to drive to get to Nicolet Bay where the race was starting. I was wondering where they were going to park all of the cars, and when we got there we found out the answer – on the campsites! We ended up parking on a site that was really close to the one we camped on last year. We walked over to the beach and picked up our packets, then headed back to the car to wait. It was around 54 degrees, and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to wear arm warmers or not. There was a cold wind coming off of the lake, so in the end I decided to wear them and ditch them on the course if I got too warm. I ate another half of a banana around 9am and sipped on water with Nuun until the race start.

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Pretty soon it was time to use the port-o-potties one last time and head to the start. Little did we know, the start was actually a 5 or so min walk from the beach, so by the time we got to the starting area (along with many many others), they had already sung the national anthem and it was minutes until race time. We snaked our way up in front of all of the slower pace groups because I didn’t want to get stuck running around people for the first mile or two. Pretty soon it was go time. I gave Steve a kiss and we were off.

I didn’t have a major goal set for this race. I knew that it was hilly and though I am in much better shape now than I was a couple months ago, I still don’t feel like I am in great running shape at the moment. I figured I would be happy with a 1:40, and my main goal was to enjoy the course. Peninsula State Park is my favorite place in the world to run (and one of my favorite places to be period), so I was excited to take in the scenery and see some areas of the park that I don’t normally get to see.

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I hit mile 1 in 7:38, and was surprised to see the 7’s. I felt like I was running over 8 min pace, so it was a nice surprise. The first 4 miles were fairly flat compared to the middle of the course, with some gradual and rolling hills. Miles 2-4 went by really fast, splits were 7:21, 7:14, 7:27. I thought maybe I was going a little too fast, but I knew there were some major hills coming up and I decided to just go with it since I was feeling good.

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The biggest hill on the course started just before mile 4 and ended just after mile 5, so it was pretty much uphill for a whole mile. My legs were feeling the lack of hill training that I did, and I knew I was slowing down. I made a new goal to have all of my miles under 8:00. My watched buzzed for mile 5 and it was 8:05. Dang. At least the huge hill was almost over, and there was an aid station at the top of the hill that was run by pirates, complete with a wooden pirate ship. I ate a gel here, hoping it would give me a boost. Miles 6-7 were 7:48, 7:55 and my legs did not feel like they were recovering from the big hill.

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Somewhere in these middle miles, my attitude about the race became really laid back, which isn’t like me. I just didn’t really care that I was slowing down. I was still enjoying the course and I guess I kind of decided that I wasn’t going to kill myself in the second half. My stomach was not feeling great (what’s new) and I just didn’t feel like pushing it. Not much of a race mentality, but whatever. Miles 8-9 were 8:01, 7:38. Mile 10 was 8:03 even with the start of a big downhill in there, and then we were back out onto shore road for the last three miles to the finish. I was kind of dreading the last miles thinking they would go by really slow, but they didn’t. In fact, the entire race seemed to go by really fast. Miles 11-13 were 8:02, 7:51, 7:36. Before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line.

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Official Stats:

Time: 1:40:39, 7:41 average pace

19/943 women

6/169 age group

I am happy with how it went (I did say I would like to run a 1:40 after all, but I would have like to be a little under rather than a little over). I hung out at the finish line waiting for Steve, who finished in 1:48. We walked back to the car to get our warm clothes (it was probably in the upper 50’s at this point and I was freezing). Then we hung out and watched the awards while drinking our free beers from Door Co. Brewing Company.

We stopped at the grocery store on the way back to the house for beer and snacks. At the house we devoured almost an entire wedge of aged apple cheddar with crackers and then his the hot tub. We also played a game of horse in the pool (I lost) before heading back to shower. We waited for the cable guy to come and luckily he was able to fix the internet problem. By the time he left it was almost 6:30 and I was famished.

We went to dinner at The Cookery because they were one of the restaurants that was offering a free beer to racers. Steve and I split fried cheese curds, pulled pork nachos, and a club sandwich, all of which was delicious.

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After dinner we drove into Peninsula State Park again to check out the campsite we have reserved for the 4th of July weekend. On the way out the sun was setting, so we parked and walked down by the water. Imagine our surprise when we saw two huge bald eagles sitting in the tree!

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So cool! Once the sun was set we stopped for frozen custard for dessert, obviously.

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I am slightly ashamed to admit that I could not finish that turtle sundae. We were pretty beat by this point, so we headed back to the house, watched a movie, and went to bed.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in so badly. Of course I woke up at 6:25, womp, womp. I spent a nice early morning relaxing with coffee and my iPad before I finally woke up Steve because I was starving. We went out to a late breakfast at Julie’s before heading home, and it was just nice enough to sit outside.

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I was missing my little stinker pants and couldn’t wait to see him. He was still napping when we arrived to pick him up, so we went in to wake him. Instead of being excited to see us, all he wanted in his tired state was Grammy. Ha. Once he was fully awake he did seem happy to see his parents after all. We hung out there talking to Steve’s parents for a little while before heading home. We had stopped to get flowers for Steve’s mom, and Steve also bought me a beautiful waterfall orchid. My goal is not to kill it like I have every single other plant I have ever owned.

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Mother’s Day evening was spend unpacking, giving Kai a bath, and eating Qdoba (for some reason I was craving a burrito bowl). Even though Kai was really acting up last night (I’m sure he was tired and a little out of sorts from the weekend), as I put him to bed I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I am to be his Mom. He brings me so much joy and so much frustration and everything in between and challenges me on a daily basis to be the best Mama I can be for him.

I also can’t finish this post without a shout out to my own Mom (we gave her her Mother’s Day present on Friday before we left). She is the most selfless, generous, amazing lady around, and I don’t know what we would do without her.

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Lakefront Marathon 2015

I’ve waited a few days to recap my 2015 Lakefront Marathon experience because, well, it did not go as planned. In fact, it was so far off from what I had planned and trained for that I kind of wanted to just forget the whole thing ever happened.

My friend Cindy took this photo and it was the only one in which I somehow did not look like I was dying a slow death out there.

So let’s back up to the beginning. When I first started working with my coach this year, my ultimate goal was to run a 3:20 marathon. My back up goal was to run a PR (sub 3:29). Never once did I thing I would not accomplish a PR. I trained my butt off all summer. I had a couple sketchy long runs in there, but for the most part training went really well. I hit my paces in my speed workouts, remained healthy, and put in the miles. I was ready.

The only limiter I really had throughout this training was my GI system. For some reason, my stomach does not love it when I run fast or long. It was a problem on and off during my workouts, and I knew that it was the only thing that might prevent me from having an awesome race. I never really know when it’s going to feel good or bad, and I make sure not to eat anything different or weird in the days leading up to a long run or race. In the two days before the race, I started limiting my fiber intake in hopes it would help.

Race morning, I could tell my stomach felt a little off before the race even started. I just hoped against all hope that it would hold up for 26.2 miles. The race started at 7:30am, and I went off at a nice comfortable pace. It was pretty crowded which prevented me from starting out too fast. My plan was to ease into the first 4-5 miles at slightly slower than goal pace (7:37 pace is a 3:20 marathon). Then I would pick it up a little, and around mile 10 I would decide if I felt good enough to start hammering a bit faster or hold steady. I hit the first five miles in 7:57, 7:43, 7:32, 7:38, 7:40. Around mile 5.5 I saw some friends cheering that gave me a big boost, and I hit the next five in 7:24, 7:36, 7:37, 7:33, 7:32. Perfect. My stomach had been holding out until this point, but I could tell I would never make it the whole race. During mile 11 I had to stop at a porta pottie. That mile was 8:57 and I was pretty pleased with myself for still running a sub-9 min mile with a bathroom break.

I felt a little better after the stop and I knocked out a couple more sub-8’s in 7:46, 7:53 but my stomach wasn’t having any of it. My pace slowed to the 8:30’s and I hit the halfway mark around 1:42:45. It was all downhill from there. I couldn’t keep any nutrition in me, and started to feel sick and depleted. I ended up making 3 more bathroom stops along the way and almost quit the race multiple times. In fact, I had completely decided that the next time I saw my friends or a race official or anyone that could give me a ride to the finish, I would be done. Problem was, I never saw anyone to give me a ride. I just kept slogging along, jogging when I could and doing a lot of walking along the way. Once there were less than three miles to go I knew that I would just finish the race on my own two feet.

I ended up crossing the finish line in 4:07:21, a mere 47 minutes off of my goal. Ouch. I felt pissed off, disappointed, defeated, you name it. I felt like all of my training went to waste. I quit marathon running in my head and possibly out loud. I picked up my gear bag and put on warm clothes, and soon after I saw Steve. Turns out he didn’t have a great race either. When I started to tell him how horribly wrong things went, I lost it. He tried to comfort me and make me smile, reminding me that it’s just running and it’s just one race. Of course this is true, but I just needed to be sad about it for a little while.

That’s the thing about the marathon. You can train your butt off, show up to race in perfect conditions (seriously, it was in the 50’s with a tailwind), and things can go awry. Things that are out of your control. What could I have done differently to prevent this from happening? I don’t know. I ate the things I normally eat, I took in the same nutrition on race day as I did in training, so who knows why my body picked this day to revolt.

I do know that I am signed up for another marathon on November 1st. I was not planning to run this marathon. I was planning for Lakefront to go well and I was going to drop to the half marathon distance in this other race. Now I have a decision to make. Do I try again? After I finished on Sunday I thought there was no way I wanted to run another marathon. Maybe ever. But of course three days later I have already forgotten some of the hurt, and I am feeling like I may go for it. I am not going to do any more structured “training,” but I may go out there and see what happens. To be continued I suppose…

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Hartfest Half Marathon

Saturday marked my official return to distance racing, with the Hartfest Half Marathon, a small local race in Wauwatosa. As my “A” race for the year will be Lakefront Marathon in October, this race would be a good “see where I’m at in training” type of situation. The week leading up to the race I was having some problems with my right calf, which really had me worried. It felt like it was just on the brink of becoming strained after my easy run on Tuesday. I took off on Wednesday and then tried a super easy 5 miles on the treadmill on Thursday. It felt ok as long as I went slow, and actually felt a little bit better by the time I was done. I decided to play it safe and rest it on Friday, and was able to have my massage partner work on it briefly in the afternoon. I also rolled and stretched the hell out of my legs and hips in the days leading up to Saturday, something I really need to be doing a lot more often.

Saturday morning my alarm went off at 5:40, and it was time for coffee. I had one cup (oh how I wanted another one, but I didn’t think it would be a good idea for my stomach). I also had a banana topped with peanut butter, corn flakes, honey and cinnamon. Weird, I know, but it is tasty and sits well in my stomach. Kai woke up around 6:30 so I got him out and gave him his bottle. I finished getting ready and just after 7am I woke up Steve to take over baby duty.

I drove the 25 mins or so to the race and was pleased to find plenty of parking available at the start. I got my packet and returned to my car to pin on my number and stay warm. I snapped a selfie before heading out to use the bathroom and do a warm up jog.

Here goes nothin’!

I jogged a little less than a mile to warm up, and I was still really worried about my calf. I could feel it even running slow, so I had no idea what would happen in the race. I knew I had to be careful and bow out if necessary, as it would not be worth getting injured right at the beginning of marathon training.

I did some stretching and ran into Julia and her husband Nate. How those two manage to train with three littles is beyond me, I find it hard enough to fit it in with one when you factor in Steve’s training as well. We chatted for a while and headed to the start, and before we knew it, it was race time.

Pic stolen from Julia’s blog.

I started the race very comfortably, which was the plan. My coach had originally planned for me to be in the 7:40ish range for pace, and I doubted that. He told me to go out at 8 min pace, then drop it every three miles or so according to how I was feeling. I think my first mile was an 8:02, right on target. I realized about a mile in that I totally forgot about my calf, which was a good thing. Miraculously, it wasn’t bothering me at all. Miles 2 and 3 were right around 7:50, and mile 4 was 7:22. Whoops! I dialed it back to the 7:45-7:50ish range for the next 3 miles. The course was fun, it had a little bit of everything. Paved path, gravel path, sidewalk with plenty of turns and a couple hills for good measure. Not a fast course by any means, but interesting enough to not get bored.

I saw a lot of friendly and familiar faces throughout the race which was great, and one of the things I love about running. Around mile 7 there was a pretty big downhill, and I started to feel a little twinge in my calf. I decided not to push it any harder and hoped that it would hold up to the finish. Though I didn’t fee like I was pushing too much, miles 8-12 were in the 7:30-7:40 range. By mile 12 I was really starting to get tired and I couldn’t wait to be done. The fronts of my ankles/shins started to cramp a little, a telltale sign that I needed salt (Gatorade), but I knew there wouldn’t be another aid station before the finish. I held on as best I could during mile 13 which was 7:44. A woman sprinted past me in the finish chute (dang it!) and I was finally done.

My official time was 1:41:33 (7:43 average), which I was really happy with for this point in the season. After the race I chatted with a bunch of different friends and enjoyed the breakfast of pancakes, eggs and fruit. I did not partake in the free beer, and was really wishing there was coffee.

I headed home, showered, and then played with my little buddy (who was so so so crabby) for the rest of the day. That night Steve picked up a good IPA, we grilled food and had Bubba’s frozen custard (it was peanut butter custard with chocolate covered pretzel pieces and a caramel swirl, omg).

And now, marathon training has officially begun!

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Weekly workouts

Ha! So here I am, three weeks later. I am a terrible blogger. Last week was a pretty good one running-wise for me, so here’s how it went down:

Monday: 6.75 miles with the stroller on a beautiful day, 8:34 pace

Tuesday: 7 miles on the treadmill, speed work (1 mile w/u, then alternated between 800’s @ 6:40 pace and 400’s @ 6:15 pace. 400 recoveries and a 1 mile c/d) 8:04 average pace

Wednesday: 5 miles on the treadmill, easy 8:34 pace

Thursday: OFF

Friday: 3 miles on the treadmill during Kai’s nap, 7:53 pace

Saturday: 11 miles outside, 8:21 pace. I felt GREAT during this run, it was so nice out and I was able to do the last two miles at sub-8 pace.

Sunday: OFF – I really wanted to get in a few slow miles this day, but my right knee felt ever so slightly wonky so I decided against it.

Total: 32.75 miles

Anytime I can get 30 miles for the week is a win these days. I am starting to feel a little bit more like my old self running, and I am getting excited to start marathon training pretty soon. I signed up for Milwaukee’s Lakefront Marathon on October 4th, am doing a 50 mile relay with Steve on October 24th, and am signed up for another marathon in Milwaukee on November 1st. That was originally going to be my A race, but since we signed up for the relay the weekend before I am making Lakefront Marathon my A race and will either do the other marathon just for fun, or drop down to the half.

I still want to get a half on the calendar, but it looks like it might not be until June or July. Hopefully I can keep the momentum going this week!

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Weekly workout recap

I decided I am going to start posting my completed weekly workouts on Sunday or Monday, mostly to motivate myself to be consistent (I don’t want to end up posting a bunch of rest days!). I haven’t picked out a spring half marathon yet. Unfortunately I have scheduling conflicts with most of the ones I was interested in. I am going to keep looking and pick something, even if it doesn’t end up being until late May or early June. More time to train that way 🙂

So here’s how the past week shaped up:

Monday: 4.1 miles outside with the stroller 8:49 pace

Tuesday: 30 mins on the AMT machine at the gym and a 4 min plank (1 min front, 1 min each side, 1 min front with no rest)

Wednesday: 4.1 miles outside with the stroller 8:47 pace

Thursday: Speed work on the treadmill – 1 mile warm up, 8×400 repeats at 6:30-6:40 pace with 400 recoveries, 5 miles total

Friday: 5.1 miles outside with the stroller 9:00 pace – legs felt pretty tired for this one and it was WINDY!

Saturday: REST (but I did take Kai for a 30 min walk in the stroller)

Sunday: 10 miles at 8:45 pace with last two miles fastest

Totals: 28.3 miles + 30 min cross training

I’m happy with how the week went, since I am just starting to consistently run again after straining my calf. It is clear that I really need to do some core/hip work, but it’s hard to get it done at home. When I run at the gym, I almost always make a little time afterwards for core work and stretching, but since the weather was nicer this week and I was out with the stroller a lot, it fell by the wayside.

Speaking of running, this guy has been cruising around the house in his walker like a pro:

Look out!!

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Running lately

Wait, is this supposed to be a running blog? Ok, prepare for a post that is not about Kai, this one is all about me 🙂

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I couldn’t wait to, well, not be pregnant so I could get back to running. I waited the full six weeks (almost) after delivery to run, and I started back slowly. I started running with Kai in the stroller when he was really tiny, because we had the infant seat adaptor for the BOB stroller.

What, you thought I was going to post without some pictures of Kai? Ha.

Throughout the fall, I logged a lot of miles with the stroller. I would most often run in the morning to get Kai to take a good nap. At home he would nap for no longer than 30 mins at a time, but in the stroller I could often get over an hour. I ran as long as he would sleep, and if he was still napping when I got home, I would do circles around the neighborhood until he woke up. I was regularly running 7-9 miles with the stroller and feeling good. By late fall, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight (though it was distributed differently) and my clothes were fitting great, including jeans.

I had grand plans of busting my butt to train for a spring half marathon. I knew it wouldn’t be a PR race, but I hoped to get some speed back in my legs. I already had the endurance from all of the slow miles with the stroller, I just needed to add in the speed work. I set my sights on a late March half marathon, and wrote out a training plan. As the weather got cold, we started to make use of the gym daycare, and most of my running shifted to the treadmill or the track at the gym. The track is 11 laps to a mile, so not ideal, but I did some easy runs on there until all of the constant turning started to mess up my ankles. I love doing speed work on the treadmill, so I was excited to get going.

The week my training plan was to start in earnest, I got sick. I ended up with a cough that lasted at least 3 weeks, and while I was able to run easy, I did not start any speed work. As the weeks went by, my motivation waned. I did get out for a few longer runs on the weekends of 10 miles or so, but they were painfully slow. I eventually did get started with some speed workouts on the treadmill, but since I never signed up for the race and knew it was too late to be ready for it, I was never consistent with training. Then recently I strained my calf during an easy run which basically put me out for another two weeks. I swam a lot during those weeks and wondered if maybe I should do a triathlon this year, even though I wasn’t planning on it originally.

Now my calf is fine, and I have started to build up my running mileage yet again. I feel slow and heavy, likely because I ended up gaining 8 lbs back over the winter. I always tend to pack on the pounds in the winter, and it didn’t helped that I stopped nursing right around the first of the year. My clothes don’t fit, I don’t feel good running, and I have no races on the horizon besides the marathon I signed up for on November 1st. I have a couple halfs in mind that I would like to train for, but nothing set in stone. I really miss working with a coach, but since I am not working a ton right now (and babies are expensive), it is not in the financial cards. Wow, this sounds whiney.

I guess where I am going with this is that I need a goal. I need something to light a fire under my butt. I need to sign up for something to get me going. And I suppose that is the answer I was looking for when I started writing this out. I am going to do a little research, look at race dates, and actually sign up for one. I am also doing a “healthy eating challenge” with a friend of mine starting yesterday. We never really hammered out exact details, but for me it means curbing my sweet tooth and finding healthy snacks, as well as cutting down on eating after dinner (ie. dessert), even if it is something healthyish like greek yogurt. I know I feel my best when I am eating well and running consistently, and I am ready to do my best to make it happen. And come November 1st, I will have a new marathon PR.

Me and my sidekick after yesterday’s run on a 70 degree March afternoon!

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Running update

Oh wait, this is supposed to be a running blog? I suppose it is time for another post-pardum running update. I have consistently been running 4-5 days a week, almost 100% with the stroller and my favorite little running buddy.

What, you thought I would do a post without a picture of my little monster? Ha.

I have been trying to time our runs to coincide with Kai’s morning nap, and that has been working out swimmingly. He is usually asleep within 10 mins, and if I am lucky and there are no loud noises (rare – it is the season of leaf blowing and there is always work going on on the homes in the area) he will sleep for a whole hour or more.

I have been able to drop my pace quite a bit since I started. The first few runs I could barely crack an 11 min mile. Now it is very comfortable to hold a 9-9:15 pace for an easy run with the stroller. Sometimes I even dip into the 8:45 range without much extra effort. Speaking of easy pace, that is all I do with the stroller. I figure it’s good base building and I am gaining endurance and keeping my HR lowish. I haven’t worn a HRM at all, I am just going by what feels good. I will also say, pushing the stroller uphill is no joke! My legs burn and I feel like I’m getting a little strength workout as well.

The last weekend in September I ran a 5k for fun. My goal at the time was sub-9 min miles, which was tough for me back then. Well, I ended up running 7:45 pace which was shocking to me. I was pretty stoked about that, given I had done zero speed training and had only been back to running for a few weeks.

Since then, I have just been trucking along with the stroller. I’ve hit the treadmill just a few times, and it was torturous. As the weather gets worse I am going to have to make more use of it, and my workouts will have to change a lot. Given that Kai usually only naps for 30 mins at a time, I will be able to run in short bursts. The only way to make the treadmill tolerable for me is to do some type of speed work, so maybe I’ll be able to focus on faster running for 20 mins at a time. I have yet to try out the day care at the gym because Kai’s napping is all over the place. It is really hard to time out when I would be able to go to the gym between his eating and napping. Hopefully he will learn how to nap longer and his schedule will become a little bit more predictable so I can make use of the gym. Lord knows I need to start doing some strength work too, but I just can’t get motivated to do it at home when there are so many other things to get done.

This past weekend while I was up in Door County, I got to run in my favorite place, Peninsula State Park. I only had time to squeeze in 5 miles on Sunday, but those 5 miles were so great. I took it easy for the first couple miles, and then picked it up at the end, finishing with a 7:40 last mile. That pace used to be no big deal for me, but right now it is a stretch and I couldn’t believe how good it felt.

I have thought a little bit about what I will train for coming up, and I am pretty sure I will end up doing a spring half marathon and a fall marathon. I haven’t run a marathon since Boston 2011, so it’s time. I am planning to put triathlon on the back burner and return to my first love for a while. It will be easier schedule wise especially with Steve training at the same time, and I really want to see what I can do if I focus on one sport.

Update since I first wrote this out: We tried out the Kids Club at the gym today and it was a success! I just did a 4 mile run on the TM to keep it short in case of any problems, but the ladies said he did great and he can come back anytime. It will still be a little hard to squeeze in gym time while Kai is awake and not needing to eat, but we will do what we can. He fell asleep instantly on the way home (it’s a 4 min drive) so he must have played pretty hard in there 😉

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First post-baby run!

I decided that today was the day to try my first run, 5 weeks 4 days postpartum. I am a rebel, I know, not waiting the full six weeks. Close enough. I will start by saying that I have been walking briskly with the stroller almost every single day since day nine, so it’s not like I have been doing nothing, but I was still a little nervous about my first run.

I had to look back at my logs to see that my last real run was on February 27th on the treadmill. By far the longest I have ever gone without running since 2003 when I started running marathons. While on our walk yesterday, I did throw in two 5 min jogs just because I felt like it. I know you are not supposed to run with babies in the stroller until they have head control, but I was on a smooth road and Kai was in his infant seat right in front of me so I could see that his head was not bouncing and he was just fine. Let’s just say those little 5 min jogs were a rude awakening. I think I MIGHT have approached an 11 min mile pace at one point. I also realized that my target sports bras were in no way going to cut it for actual running. Ouch.

I was excited to get out today sans stroller and with my new big girl sports bra to see how things felt. I charged up my Garmin and my iPod in preparation, and I was ready to hit the road. I had a goal of three miles in my head, but knew I would have to listen to my body and adjust plans accordingly. I took off down the road and within the first two minutes I got an amazing runners high. I was smiling ear to ear because I was just so happy to be running again. This feeling lasted approximately 24 seconds, and then my body realized what was happening. Oh man it was hard. I hit the first mile in 9:53 and was thrilled with a sub-10 min pace. Then things got rough. Mile 2 was 10:36. My legs were heavy, my lungs started to burn. See also: thigh chafing. Mental note: body glide. On the way back I thought I was going to have to walk up the small hill in mile 3, but I shuffled along and completed the final mile in 10:56. Nothing like running each mile slower than the last.  My average pace was 10:29, so that shall be my starting point moving forward.

Four hours later I am already sore. Where am I sore you might wonder? A little in my legs maybe, yes, but I am mostly sore in my ribs (??). And my back. Hello no core strength. I am making sure to hydrate like a champ and am going to focus on eating like a champ as well. I read that when some women who are nursing start exercising more, their milk supply drops due to not consuming enough calories or not staying properly hydrated. Kai loves to eat (a lot), so I am going to try and make sure that doesn’t happen.

For now my goal will be to build back some consistency with running, which will not be easy while Steve is still training for Ironman (two more weeks!). I am probably going to have to resort to some treadmill time and hope that Kai doesn’t mind playing on his activity mat while mom runs, and I will get outside whenever I can when Steve is home. I know it is going to take some time before running feels good again and I can run under 10 minute pace, but I will think of it as a good challenge. As for my run today, three miles never felt so awful and so good all at the same time 🙂

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Filed under LunaBaby, The run

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