Thursday, December 31, 2015

goodbye 2015

this year was full of amazing things and not so amazing things.  the biggest and best thing of all was i completed my first 50K which, for some odd reason, burned me out for the rest of my race season.  i mean, once i completed this race no other race seemed worth it.  it was like... finished the 50K, drops mic, and walks off stage.

i felt mildly guilty when i missed a couple of 5Ks, but really... when it was pouring rain i just didn't have the heart to go.  that would have never happened before.

i suffered a few weird overuse injuries throughout the year ending with an injury to something in my right shin in august which cut my distance as well as the quality of the distance i insisted on running. i made it through my race season but just barely.  i ran lakefront with a respectable time, but didn't finish with a time that made me happy since i was trying to BQ.  after lakefront i had to take 6-8 weeks off.

coming back from that has been a very slow process.  i'm still coming back.  it is humbling as well as incredibly challenging to have to come back starting near scratch.  my pace is so slow, and if i'm being honest... it really is disappointing.  i'm trying to embrace the suck, and take it day by day.

i don't do resolutions.  i'm sure i've said it before, but if not i'm saying it now.  i don't do resolutions.

i do have goals tho' and the big goal for 2016 is to run 2016.  do i really think that's attainable?  no, not really.  i think it's sort of crazy.  the next goal is to best my mileage from 2015.  i really did a piss poor job this year, but it couldn't be helped.  i really need to avoid injury for 2016 so that i can try to hit some sensible mileage.

let's review:

2013:  1060.58
2014:  1229.12
2015:  1029.20

yup... 2015 weakest year yet!  *cries all the tears*

ok... moving on...

from the looks of my mileage i've been plagued with a few different injuries.  such bummers.  well... onward and upward!  i expect 2016 to be better.  i have big goals for iceage and so far that's my A race for 2016.  other than that i've not got my sights set on anything else.  

tentatively this is what i'm looking at:

sweet home milwaukee 5K - 4/24 (registered)
ice age trail 50K - 5/14 (registered)
run walk wag for MADAAC 5K - 6/4
kettle 100 38m fun run - 6/11
hartfest 1/2 marathon - 6/18
schlitz park 1m - 6/25?
firecracker 4 - 7/4
dances w/ dirt 1/2 marathon or 50K - 7/9
cliffrunner 10K - 7/24
hank aaron state trail 5K - 8/6?
madison mini marathon - 8/20
strider 1/2 marathon - 8/27?
instep trail races 7m or 1/2 marathon - 9/17?
joe's run walk roll 5K - 9/24
lakefront - 10/2
mrf - 11/6

moral of the story:  2015... thanks for playing but don't let the door hit you on the way out.  2016... come to mama!  happy to see your shiny bright face.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

nothing worse... or is there?

there is nothing worse than being sick.  well... maybe migraines.  i get those fairly often and i'm going to concede that those are worse than being sick.  this past week was the perfect storm of both.  wouldn't you know it? over the christmas break too so no running for me.

the weather can affect and subsequently cause my migraines and cluster headaches.  it's the barometric pressure changes.  the weather changed dramatically on tuesday which is the same day that i got my period and was also getting sick.  like i said... perfect storm.

i had the migraine/cluster headache for 5 days.  finally broke yesterday.  i cannot explain the relief and joy that comes when the pain is finally gone.  when the pain goes on for days and days it causes inexplicable depression and irritability.   there's just no seeing the bright side because there's simply no telling when the pain will end.

today it is gone and i am so grateful!  i wish my doctors would come up with a solution so that i would have to go through this so often.  until then i will be thankful for the good days and rue the bad ones.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

8 runs back after 6 weeks off

man... it is AHHHHHHH-MAZ-ING how much the body can change (read: lose) in 6 weeks off. humbling would be an accurate description of the current state of my running life.  absolutely humbling.  i am slow.  very very slow and there isn't a damn thing i can do about it.

i started back a little over 3 weeks ago on the dreaded treadmill.  i was just doing 3 milers, but because i'm having such a hard time running on the treadmill my habit is to do fartleks.  i don't do them for the speed benefits more so i do them so that i can get the run done sooner.  i hate the treadmill so much.  it is such a challenge for me to spend any length of time on it.

last week wednesday i finally made it back to lapham for a short run.  it wasn't even a challenging course.  it was 4 miles on the prairie side.  mostly flat and usually easy.  man... this was anything but easy.  it was borderline hard.  also... very very fun.  i will never tire of the trail.

i know that it was challenging because i woke up several times between wednesday night and thursday morning stretching my legs.  my legs were also fatigued thursday morning upon awakening. now, don't get me wrong... i'm not complaining.  just making a mental note of my condition.

i'm trying to build my mileage slowly so as to avoid any of those pesky overuse injuries.  i'm really disappointed that i've been saddled with injury after injury.  i've been toying with the idea of getting together with a coach.  i feel like maybe i need the guidance.  given that i've only been running for almost 4 years (it will be 4 years march 2016) i sort of feel like i have so very much still to learn.  i learn more about running every day.  i learn about my body and myself every day.  what works... what doesn't... but that doesn't always translate into the whys and hows of things.  i kinda feel like if i had a coach to guide me i might have a better chance of reaching my goals.  other times i feel like a coach might be a waste of money.  i've reached out to a coach and we'll see...

in the meantime i will continue running, building my base, and getting stronger.  next sunday is when i get to sign up for iceage and as of right now i've got my sights on the 50K again.  my goal is to shave time (of course) but to also run smarter by pacing myself more moderately and consistently so that i don't poop out in the last 9 miles like i did last time.  i need to make sure to go into the race strong and uninjured.  that means careful and slow training.

4 years of running is really not that long all in all.  comparatively to some people who've been running since high school... 20+ years and such... i'm a running baby.   every day i get better, stronger, smarter... just gotta keep plugging along i guess.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

2 weeks turned rapidly into 6-8 weeks

after my last post where i talked about my 3mi run... i ran another 3 the following day.  that did not go well.  it was painful and my PT decided that i needed to rest for 6-8 weeks total in order to fully heal.


so here i am at just about 6 weeks in and i'm crawling out of my skin!  i plan to have my first run back thanksgiving weekend.  hopefully it will be painfree.

in the interim i am sort of amazed at how many aches and pains i'm developing from being sedentary.  i can't wait to get back to running.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

mysterious human condition

so the mystery that is the human body has struck again.  since all these weird things have been going on with my body since 6/9/15 i've seen a few different doctors.  i saw the last one (a rheumatologist) the day after lakefront (10/5/15).  his purpose is to look deeper into body issues that are immune system related.    he examined me, exalted my excellent health (thank you running), and then told me i have some weird disease that effects the blood vessels in my fingers and toes causing them to spasm and not circulate the blood properly.

ERMAHGERD! what does this mean?!?   you may be asking... well, nothing really.  it means that my fingers and toes are freaking cold all the time. he seemed pretty excited to diagnose me with it.  he said that i'm fortunate because i'm a runner and that keeps my blood circulating better than most people with this disease.  so i guess if/when i ever stop running it could cause me some serious trouble.  the good news is that i have no plans of THAT ever happening so there's that.

after that he took pretty much all the blood in my body and then sent me on my way.  i was given the results the following monday night right after a huge tree fell on my car.  here's a couple of pictures of the huge tree on my car:

more about the tree later... so the results of my blood tests came back and basically THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME! what?  i mean... what?!?  the doctor said that he isn't sure what is causing my symptoms, but that he wouldn't rule out my birth control (which i have recently switched to two months prior to the onset of my symptoms).  i have yet to talk to my PCP about this because when i initially told him i believed it to be my birth control he shot that down immediately.  i may have also failed to mention that i saw an allergist the friday before lakefront and when i got those results back they showed that i am severely allergic to perch fish, cod fish, and dust mites... go figure. 

ok... the tree.  

so that monday night it was pretty windy, but only for seriously like 30 minutes.  in that short period of time a huge tree fell over in front of our house right onto our driveway and both my husband and my cars.  my car took the brunt of it and has since been totaled by our insurance company.  such a bummer.  going from no car payment to a car payment.  *sigh*...  the funny part (not haha funny) about this is no one heard it happen.  our neighbors went outside to walk the dog and saw the tree laying across our cars and were nice enough to come over and tell us.  then random neighbors for the next 1 1/2 came over to tell us about the tree.  one of our neighbors even went so far as to call the city to come take care of it.  it was, after all, a city tree that fell on our property.  they came quite promptly about 2 hours later and cut it off of our cars and hauled it away.

i guess the blessing is that if a tree wouldn't have taken out my car and i tried to trade it in i would have gotten next to nothing for it so this way i get a grip of cash to use as a downpayment for a new car.  silver lining... 
so that's what's been going on with me.  i got to run today.  just 3 miles but they were pain free.  my leg didn't feel exactly "normal", but i'll take painfree and abnormal over painful any day of the week. we'll see... i just want to run comfortably and happily.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

no running for 2 weeks... 8 days left.

so lakefront was on a sunday, i was off work the following monday (had to see the rheumatologist... more on that after i get the results back next week), back at work on tuesday and still pretty sore.

by wednesday i woke up no longer sore, but when i got out of bed my left shin (the one i've been having trouble with since the beginning of august) hurt pretty bad.  i figured i might want to call my PT and get some advice about when/if i should begin running again. i was told no running for 2 weeks.  *sigh*

 wisconsin orthopedic physical therapy.  i got in to see mike right away that day.  he needled my shin and i had (basically) immediate relief.  then he touched my calf.  ugh... the muscles of my right calf were so knotted up that he decided to needle those to the tune of around 5 needles.  not fun but it works so i'm really not complaining as much as i'm complaining.

then a few more days after that when i got up in the morning not only did my shin hurt but the pain extended down into the first joint of my second toe.  weird, i know.  so i called on friday to make an appointment with my trusty PT over at

so... what's a runner to do when a runner can't run?  "projects".

on friday i went out and decided i was going to do a bathroom "project".  we went to michael's and i bought some chalk paint (not to be confused with paint that is actually chalk or that chalkBOARD paint).  chalk paint is basically very flat paint that feels chalky to the touch.  i'm not going to say it turned out exactly as i envisioned but it turned out and that's better than what it looked like before.  plus... first time so there's that.

before... white with lavender doors on the shelf.  the walls are lavender too but that will change soon.

after... brown with "aged or weathered" areas where some blue is showing through.
natural lighting.

after... brown with "aged or weathered" areas where some blue is showing through.
unnatural lighting.

not only have i done this, but i've also put together my tentative 2016 race schedule... cuz... racing.

it looks something like this right now:

april - sweet home milwaukee 5K
may - ice age 50K
june - summerfest rock 'n sole 1/2
july - dances with dirt either the 1/2 again or the 50K - i'm undecided
august - maybe the strider's 1/2 or some 5K's instead
september - tosafest 5K, instep trail races 1/2 or full not sure, joe's run/walk/roll 5K
october - lakefront marathon (now my nemesis)

i need to get some 5K's in my mix.  i have found that when i was running primarily 5K's i was almost a minute faster per mile so i need to really focus on fitting some in.  once i switched to longer distances and coupled that with primarily trail... i got slower.  a lot slower, and we all know i want to be fast.

what races is everyone thinking about next season?  any fun 5K's that i don't know about?  tell me tell me!  i'm open to suggestions!

lastly,  i'll leave you with this goofy picture of me, my brother and sister. this is probably from the early 90's.  you're welcome.

why yes... my hair is navy blue thank you very much.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon - 26.2

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon - October 4, 2015
time = 4:01:45
pace = 9:14
7mi = 57:59 (2 min faster than last year)
13.1mi = 1:54:06 (30 sec faster than last year)
20mi = 2:55:57 (4 min & 3 sec slower than last year)
placed 40 in my age group (40-44) out of 167
placed 291 in women out of 1083
placed 899 overall out of 2281
link to strava data

to say that i'm disappointed with my results would be an accurate assessment.  i went into this race with three main goals and one final death march goal:
  1. to boston qualify
  2. to beat my time from last year
  3. to finish in 4:00 or under
  4. to finish at all
i started with the 3:40 pace group because there wasn't a 3:45 and i figured... what the hell?  i could bank some miles and then let them go if i felt that i couldn't keep up.  the weather was perfect!  50 degrees, overcast, and very little wind to speak of.   my shin felt really good the whole time so i was pleasantly surprised.  i was running really comfortably at this pace and holding my own... it was glorious!

at mile 6ish i knew that concordia was coming up and that i would need to use the bathroom so i picked up the pace in hopes of not losing my pace group when i inevitably stopped at mile 7.  unfortunately i did not put enough space between us before i sat down, and i lost my pace group. i'm not sure if that slowed me more mentally or physically.  i feel like losing them definitely effected my pace in that i tend to slow down when i get into my head.  at least when i'm following someone i keep up.  so after i lost them i slowed by a barely noticeable 20sec per mile.  while i could afford that... it certainly hurt me.  at mile 13 i stopped again for a bathroom break and to switch out my empty water bottle for a full one from my husband (as is evident by my mile 14 split).  it was really great to see my husband and son all the times i saw them along the course.  shortly after i saw my family i saw a few more friendly faces:  ami and todd.  it's really nice to see people you know when running a race.  it is encouraging.

at mile 18 i am still on par to finish ahead of schedule and ahead of last year's time.  not a boston qualifying time, but i can make goal 2... and this is when it all started going down hill.  my left hip started to really bother me.  it was becoming more and more painful with each passing mile beginning somewhere around 10.  by 18 it was a challenge to run normally and at the pace i had been holding.  so rather than let that get the best of me i started pulling over to the side and stretching my hip and walking a little here and there.  this significantly effected my pace.  by the time i hit 20mi i was trying not to cry.  i reassessed and gave up goal 2.  now it was a fight to the finish in under 4 hours.  i was playing mind games with myself... telling myself that 6mi is nothing.  i run that all the time... piece of cake.  i can do that in less than an hour.  little did i know that my body had other plans.

every time i would walk or want to walk i would tell myself that i should just run or keep running because then i will get there faster and be done faster and then i will be done altogether.  it's funny the things we tell ourselves when we are in pain to keep going.

i was making deals with myself.  bribing myself.  it was quite humorous.

the last 4-5 miles were brutal.  every time i would walk i would cry it would hurt so badly.  so i would start to run and that looked comical like a cross between that drunk squirrel that everyone posts on the internets and someone that shit their pants and is wearing shoes 3 sizes too small at the same time.  the inner dialog assessment of my body at that moment went something like this:

"man, my left hip hurts, the back of my right knee feels like there might be a tear, hmmmm what the hell is wrong with my left foot?  is it broken?  damn that hurts... why does my right foot hurt now?  what is going on... did i break my left foot?  what is going on with my ankles?  why do they feel like that?  are they giving out on me?  what the hell?!?  am i going to make it to the end of this thing?  it hurts more to walk so i'm not doing that if i can help it..."

and on i ran.  one mile left to go and i'm walking and decidedly NOT crying and the 4:00 pace group passes me.  fuckers.  i start my hobble run and hope it turns into more of a real run.  i am determined to run it in no matter how much it hurts.  i keep running as i watch person after person pass me.  as i watch 26.2 come and go i start cursing the course.  it is LONG goddamnit!  now i have to run .2 more!  i want to cry!

i come into the finisher shoot and there are so many people.  i really just want to be done so i can stop and my hip will stop screaming at me.  i just want to stop.  i see the clock... 4:01... damn.

so my last goal... the obvious one that there's no way i would fail at unless i broke a limb... just finish.

and so i did.

i am fortunate that i can run.  i am fortunate that i can accomplish the things that my body and mind allow me to accomplish.  i am so very proud of my accomplishment today even if i didn't quite hit the mark i was aiming for.

i look so much stronger than i feel in this
photo!  last 4-5 miles
not exactly sure but i think this was around mile 7
when i still felt pretty damn good
i look better than i thought here.
this is the last 4-5 miles

and... finished!  looking stronger than i
anticipated.  so happy to be done!

so much happier looking now that i'm done running

Saturday, September 19, 2015

InStep Trail Races - 1/2 Marathon

InStep Trail Races - 1/2 Marathon - September 19, 2015

time = 2:03:16 (42 seconds faster than last year)
pace = 9:25
placed 1 in my age group (40-44) out of 9
placed 5 in women out of 46
placed 23 overall out of 93
link to the strava data

interestingly i also received the masters award this year which (i think) means that i was faster than everyone 40 and older... or something.  not sure but i got a pretty sweet plaque out of the deal so that's awesome.
my sweet masters plaque
it rained on and off all night friday and i woke up to some rain happening at 3am.  i moved to wauwatosa from delafield so the weather can be totally different from here to there, but i had checked the doppler the night before and knew it would also be raining in delafield.  it was supposed to stop by the time of the race so i was not concerned.  before bed i took 2 imodium because i've been having a lot of problems with my gut on runs and wanted to avoid any issues whatsoever.  i had a goal for this race (2 hours), and i really didn't want my stomach interfering subsequently ruining that for me.  my alarm went off at 6:20am so i would have enough time to not have to rush.  took the dogs out, got dressed, had some juice, vitamins, and a banana.  once i handled all that morning business i headed out to lapham.

i got there around 7:30am.  it was low 50's, but was supposed to get to the mid-50's by race start.  it was cold.  i found dave since he was volunteering, and we chatted for a little while.  i ran into a bunch of other friendly faces and had some hugs and pictures.

at 8am i watched the marathoners take off... my friend nic killed it again with a 3:33:22 winning finish time.  it's always exciting to watch a race take off.

at 8:24am i lined up at the start.

at 8:30ish... we took off.  i had planned to run comfortably but still harder than normal.  i have completed the black loop 3 times in under an hour over the summer so i was feeling quite confident that i could maybe beat my time from last year.  all the overnight rain had made the prairies really wet and there were some puddles.  as we hit the first climb i was feeling really good.  my plan was to just motor along, try and run the whole of "gut buster", and not be pooped out once i made it to the top.  i managed to do all of those things and then get to BOMB DOWN the next mile of downhills.  so fun!  there were some mud puddles along the trail but they were easily avoided.  i really expected the trail to be much muddier than it was.  the temperature and cool wind that was whipping around now and again made for excellent conditions to run this race.

my strategy was to run everything that i could, and walk the couple of hills that i customarily walk... namely the one directly before "the wall", i also get to walk "asthma hill", and lastly one just before a long incline next to the tower.  i finished the first loop in 1:01:03.  not too bad but not exactly what i was hoping for.  i was definitely not bombing downhill as fast as i have been known to do which i believe directly contributed to adding some time.

moving on to loop two... i walked A LOT of "gut buster"... i simply couldn't make myself go any faster or harder up that damn hill.  everyone in front of me was long gone and there were really only a handful of people that were running a relatively similar pace as me.  none of which looked to be in my age group... and we all know that my goal is to win in my age group. lol!  running up that hill proved to be harder than i thought the second time around.  i tried... i really really did!  i commiserated with another male runner near the top who started walking just before we crested.  we lamented our misfortune of being on that hill a second time while alternately celebrated our good fortune in not having to run it again since we were only doing the 1/2 marathon.  silver lining people... silver lining.  finally got to the top and bombed my way down the other side.  it was glorious!

i run this loop so often that i know it like the back of my hand and can tick off the miles without even looking.  it is certainly an advantage in that i know exactly where i am and how much further i have to go.  it's a beautiful thing.  i think it makes it easier to run a race when you know what comes next.

by the time i hit "two tier" i felt so done.  my quads were burning.  oddly, my right shin (that i've been having so much trouble with these past weeks) was nearly painfree. whatever mike did at PT last week must have been well worth it.  even so... i walked A LOT of this hill.  in fact, i didn't even bother to try to run very much of it.  i figured i was nearly done and no amount of running now would make much difference in my time.  i suppose i could have maybe shaved off a minute on that hill... maybe.  although, the trade off might have been that i wouldn't have had the energy to bomb down the following hill... "magic carpet ride".  because "magic carpet ride" is longer than "two tier"  i'm going to believe that my choice to walk then run was the right choice.

i finished the final prairie strong and came into the finish with a smile on my face.  it was really great to see the faces of friends at the end.

i love this race.  i love this park.  everything about it is great.  it is well put together, great race director, and the volunteers are fantastic!  best of all it is so fun.  if you didn't get out there after last year's race report... you will really have to try your best to get out there next year.  there is a race distance for everyone now.  they even added a 5K this year... so there's that!

receiving my masters award

Saturday, September 12, 2015

autoimmune thingies

so... on june 9th i had a super weird reaction to something which resulted in my face and the tissues on the inside of my mouth swelling up like a balloon.  it was weird but not weird enough for me to bother much with it.

a week or so later it happened again in relation to something i was eating.  then it happened again... and again.  

after this happened a few times i started noticing that the inside of my mouth was really really sensitive and irritated.  my lips were constantly sticking to my teeth and it didn't seem like anything helped.  i would wake up at night and not be able to pull my mouth off of my teeth.

finally (about 5-6 weeks ago) i went to the doctor.

my doctor did a huge battery of blood tests to the tune of 6-8 vials of my blood.  what came back was weird.  something dinged on my test basically indicating that i've got some sort of autoimmune issue going on.  my doctor's guess is sj√∂gren's syndrome because of the whole mouth thing.  he is simply guessing tho' because he's a primary care physician and not a specialist... so.... i am also scheduled with a rheumatologist for october 5th.  

fast forward to labor day (last monday) and i made myself tortilla crusted tilapia for dinner that i got from the grocery store.  two bites into the fish and my mouth, uvula, throat, tongue, and tissues inside of my mouth started to swell up.  this caused me considerable trouble swallowing so i took two antihistamines as fast as i could... then i waited.  i was pretty scared at this point, but i figured that since i could breathe pretty clearly i was still ok.  

on tuesday morning i called my doctor.  i needed to find out what the allergy tests results were since i either didn't listen when he called to tell me about the autoimmune thing or we simply didn't go over it because of the autoimmune thing.  either way... i'm clearly allergic to something!

when my doc called back and i explained everything... we went over the blood tests.  


i know what you're thinking... how can this be?  yeah... we're as perplexed as you are.  introducing specialist number 2.  now i have to see an allergist.  that appointment is on october 3rd.  *sigh*

i'm not allergic to any of the normal things people are allergic to so we're guessing it's got to be something totally abstract or it's the autoimmune thing that's causing the reactions.

what's worse is that i'm tired ALL THE TIME.  i just thought that i was becoming bad at running because it is hard ALL THE TIME.  it never seems to get easier no matter how many miles i put in nor how much rest i take.  i am always tired and it is always incredibly hard.  additionally, i am getting slower and there is little i can do about it.  i simply cannot make myself go.  i'm also having a great deal of trouble getting out of bed in the morning and this is very unlike me.  i don't ever feel like i get enough sleep and i feel drained.  

i've skipped 2 races now and am contemplating skipping a 3rd next weekend.  i just don't know how i'm going to race them.  i also have lakefront marathon coming up and i am terrified.  i have no idea if i will be able to make it to the end and the idea of DNF-ing is unacceptable.  i should be able to run 15-20 miles fairly effortlessly... or at least painlessly and i am completely unable to do this.  i run this mileage and i am wrecked for the next 3-4 days.  i am unable to complete my long run on the following day and then i cannot even complete my short run usually the 2nd day after that.  there is absolutely something wrong with me.

it is so frustrating.  i have goals damn it!  i have things i want to get done!  i am accomplishing none of the things i've set out to do this fall.  it is exhausting just thinking about it.  

so that's what's been going on with me...  we'll see if i end up running instep next weekend.  i just don't know if i have it in me.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

rain thwarted my race!

i race for fun and i was supposed to run the badgerland striders 1/2 marathon this morning.  supposed to is the key here.  i didn't run because it rained all last night and well past the start of the race.  

i was really torn between going and staying home and ultimately i opted to stay home because i knew i would not get anything close to enjoyment out of running a race in rain and cold.  i purposely end my race season in october because i hate racing in cold weather.  i hate it with a passion!  so i chose to stay home and not race today.

i would be more than half way done with the race right now but i would also be soaked to the bone and probably miserable.  i'm going to head out for a run shortly and hopefully i will be dry and warm enough where i will enjoy my run.  it seems to have stopped raining but it is still cold and very moist outside.

this weather is decidedly not my favorite.  in fact, i think it may still be raining.  *sigh*

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

long time no see

it feels like not much has happened since devil's lake but actually a lot has happened.  we moved to tosa from delafield so that's something pretty big.  i am continually surprised by how close everything is and how challenging it is to try and get a long run in the city.  i basically run from my house on the hank aaron as far east as possible (to the lake) and then have to run along the lake until i get the mileage i'm looking for.

 i've found a few trails and routes (all paved so far) and unfortunately the hank aaron heading west is closed in a section until 2018 for the freeway construction that goes over the trail.  i was really looking forward to running that way so i'm thinking i'm going to try it again and attempt the detour... see where it leads me.

i've also just learned today of a short gravel trail that is about 3-4 miles in on what has become my usual route.  i'm very excited to find this trail and check it out.  

i just signed up for the tosa fest 5K.  i haven't run a 5K since may and i guess it's about time.  i'm pretty excited because this race is just blocks from my house.  i don't like the 5:30pm start time, but whatever... could still be fun.  probably won't be my fastest 5K since i'm a faster (better?) runner in the morning.

next weekend i've got the strider 1/2.  mostly i've just been puttering along.  after ice age i feel like ever other race is just a professionally timed run.  i feel competitive about it but not like last year.  after i accomplished the 50K it doesn't seem like any of these other races are as important as they once were.  

i'm not sure what my 2016 goals will be.  i can't decide what my focus should be.  part of me wants to run long but part of me wants to focus on getting faster and to get faster i think i need to incorporate more 5K races into my race season.  if i do that then the longer races will fall to the wayside.  i'm really considering iceage again as my A race for 2016.  i'd like to shave some time off and with an injury free body i really believe i could have run that faster than i did.  

so that's what's been going on with me.  back in the city and couldn't be happier!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Dances With Dirt - Devil's Lake (1/2 Marathon)

Dances With Dirt - Devi's Lake 1/2 Marathon - July 11, 2015

time = 2:11:44
pace = 10:03
placed 4th in my age group (40-44) out of 38
placed 13th in women out of 230
placed 80th overall out of 495
strava data

i'm mildly disappointed in my time.  this is a PR for me on this course (ran it last year to the tune of 2:15:17), but my stomach stopped cooperating around mile 6 or 7.  it got really bad for miles 11-12 where i did a considerable amount of walking to avoid a mess.  i finally had to dip into the woods on mile 12 to take care of it so that i could finish the race strong.  i'm really kinda annoyed about the whole thing.  i'm feeling some kinda way about it because, while this is an ongoing thing i joke about, it is not very funny.  i make light of it because there's really nothing else to do about it.  so i lost very valuable minutes on those miles.  not a whole 11 minutes but i could have certainly finished at least 3-5 minutes faster without all the walking because of the stomach/bathroom issue.  i guess that's neither here nor there at this point.

pre-race smiles
moving on...  this race is so fun!  i love single track trail and the ice age is my absolute favorite trail to run in wisconsin.  i got up at 4am so that the husband and i could drive up to devil's head for the race.  we arrived at about 6:30am and had ample time to walk the dogs around, get my bib, and go to the bathroom.  we took a couple of pictures, did some people watching, and waited around for the race to start.

when it was time to line up i decided to head towards the front. last year i was near the middle and ended up getting caught in a conga line up the 2 mile uphill that makes the beginning of the race remarkable.  i researched my mile splits for last year and knew that i needed to pick up the pace for miles 1,2,7, and 10 specifically so i was determined to be near the front to start.  i started strong and took off with the speed racers.  they spread out quite quickly and i only had to pass a handful of people.  i was running nearly alone the majority of my race with only a handful of other racers near me the whole time.  i did really well for miles 1 and 2 beating my paces from last year so i felt confident that i would be able to PR if i could keep this up.

i was running strong and then at mile 4.9something i tripped.  yup... tripped.  my arms flew out in front of me and slid across the gravel (yes... gravel.) in a land level superman.

not only that but i basically slid into home base (minus the home base) filthing up my shirt, tearing up the skin on my left thigh, ripping open the palm of my right hand as well as my left knee, and hurting my right knee too.  freaking baseball superman... only in GRAVEL!  did i mention that this was on a FLAT?  yup... on a flat.  not on a crazy root, rock, and debris covered downhill or uphill, but a perfectly flat piece of land covered in skin pulverizing, flesh eating, blood thirsty gravel.  *sigh*  wouldn't you know it...

i was assessing the damage as i quickly popped back up  and continued running.   really the only thing that hurt was my hand.  it hurt like hell, but wasn't bleeding that much so i figured it was fine.  it was at this point that i realized i needed to go to the bathroom.  it wasn't to desperate of a need so i ignored it and kept running.  a couple more miles and the route rolls along a beautiful ridge.  a lot of runners stop up there to take in the view but i'm a weirdo and just want to win win win no matter what (plus i had to go to the bathroom) so i don't have time for views!

so i whip through the ridge area and dance down the other side.  the down hills are my favorite!  they are the most fun i have in races like this, and (because i'm not afraid) i just bomb the hell out of them.  my feet touch down like a ballerina's tiptoeing around rocks, roots, and debris.  i bank around corners like a race car driver.  i am in my element on the downhills.  the wind whipping my face as my breath normalizes and my legs stretch out and take on distance.  the uphills are not my forte... i tend to walk or do what looks like a run at walking pace. lol!

i make the very stupid decision (for the second time) to bypass the bathroom at the end of the loop which is mile 8 or 9 i think, and zip past to try and put space between me and the other runners who are stopping at the aid station for drinking and feeding.  this is a mistake because it is the only port-o-potty on the whole course.  i passed it just before mile 5 on the way out to the loop and this is me passing it on the way back from finishing the loop.  STUPID STUPID STUPID.

i fly past and keep going.  mile 10 is coming up fast and it is one where i earmarked it as being a place i had to really pay attention to my pace.  unfortunately, i ended up doing a bit of walking here and there.  i made it through 10 and 11 with some walking, but my pace seemed ok so i wasn't too worried except that my stomach was really talking to me at this point.  i wasn't sure anymore that i could make it to the end of the race without a bathroom break.

i thought if i could just make it to the downhill then everything would be gravy.  the 2 mile uphill at the beginning is also the 2 mile downhill at the end where i can kill it!  i look forward to it and welcome the reprieve.  it was not to be...

i had to do more and more walking breaks to keep my body in check and finally at mile 12 had to step off the trail and handle things.  made for a very slow mile.  i tried to make up the time by bombing the hill as fast as i safely could but it didn't make up enough time to cover all the walking i had to do prior.  seems like i should have just gone to the bathroom at mile 4 and made up the time after... live and learn i suppose.

the downhill was really fun after my stomach felt better.  i flew over that trail as fast as my feet would carry me.  my best was not good enough to reach my 2 hour time goal but i still got a PR which is great.  if i'm being honest i'm not sure i could ever get 2 hours on this course.  the hills are brutal.  the grade of some of them are as steep as 11-17% in places which (given my inability to successfully run uphill) makes it seem a virtually impossible goal.

the soreness in my legs tells me that i did my best.  if my stomach had been cooperating it would have likely only changed my time by 2-4 minutes which is huge and at the same time not huge.  i ask a lot of myself and expect a lot of myself.  i want to do better and better and be faster and faster.  if i can do that and have a great time in the process then why not?

this race is really fun.  if you are interested in a very challenging single track trail race that will keep you on your toes then this is for you.  there were no bugs this year or last and the varying terrain keeps things interesting.  i can think of nothing more fun than trail running.

one more thing... last year i think i said that this wasn't as hard as running at lapham peak.  i take that back after running it this second time.  it is harder.  i'm not sure why i thought it was easier except that maybe i was having so much fun last time (it being my very first REAL trail race) that i just didn't notice how hard it was.  it IS, in fact, VERY CHALLENGING... it is harder than the trail half at lapham.  so there's that.

2014's splits
2015's splits

tired, finished, cleaned up... resting

Sunday, July 5, 2015

bitches be trippin'

yesterday (the 4th of july) i went out to the nordic trails to run on the ice age trail.  i hadn't been out there since i ran iceage and i thought yesterday would be the perfect day to run the 13 miles out/back to horserider's.

the jump off across bluff road from the blue loop at nordic is about 1.5 miles from the trail head which is run on beautiful wide groomed ski trails.  once i crossed the road and got to the ice age trail i realized that this might be a bit of an adventure.  the trail was really overgrown... presumably from all the rain we've had and the humidity being at nearly 100%.  i got about a mile into the trail, stopped to take a picture, and it was at that moment that i was swarmed by about 25 to 1,025 mosquitoes and a couple of bitchy ass horseflies.  i quickly put my phone back in my pocket (without a picture mind you), and started running again as fast as my feet would carry me.

i briefly thought that it might be a mistake to be running on this trail but that thought disappeared as quickly as it appeared as i happily skipped down the trail deeper into the beautiful, magical, all encompassing forest.  i didn't give it another thought as the vegetation licked at my legs, the sun kissed my shoulders, and i zoomed over the trail.  i was running free, screaming down hills, still running up hills, and had no idea what was about to happen to me in the next few miles...

i made it to young road where i again paused to take a breather, and again i was assaulted by more vicious biting flies and their evil baby backups... the mosquitoes.  i figured i was this far i would just keep going... plus i had to go to the bathroom so i wanted to get to horserider's since there is an actual restroom there.  as i'm running i'm also getting more and more nervous because nothing looks familiar, and i start to think i'm on the wrong trail.  suddenly the urge to go to the bathroom is fierce and i cannot wait.  unfortunately, i had to drop trow right there.  i don't even have time to walk off trail (which i suppose is better anyway since i'm sure the population of ALL.THE.BITING.THINGS is probably a million times worse over there)... as i squat down right there, directly on the edge of the trail to do my business... they come for me!  in droves!  army after army of thirsty, flesh eating vamps.  i am swatting around my head like a crazy person!  it was insanity!  i'd like to say that i'm embarrassed, but i'm not.  truth be told worse things have happened to me that i've subsequently shared.  *sigh*

i finished up, jumped up, and started running like my ass was on fire!  i'm sure it would have been a hilarious sight to see were it not happening to me.  there was no outrunning those damn murderous insects either!  they were EVERYWHERE!  they were all over me.  it was awful!  i finally made it to tamarack road but since i thought i was lost i only went about 1/2 mile further, turned around, and cut my losses.  i had no idea where i was, and nothing looked familiar anymore.  i had taken a wrong turn on the trail that took me to the right and spit me out in what seemed like the right spot, but it all looked so strange that i was scared that i had gone totally the wrong way.  all of this was compounded by my frantically slapping myself about the head, neck, and back and trying to out run those freaking beastly demon flies!

so... i decided to turn around.  when i did i followed a horse trail thinking that it looked familiar.  that was a MISTAKE!  i ended up running up on a couple of people on horses and then i realized that i was absolutely not going the right way.  the trail got heavier and heavier with sand finally becoming about 6" deep with sand.  it became virtually impossible to run in at which point the horse flies were relentless!  the little kamikaze jerks were dive bombing me... biting me all over the head, neck, back, and forehead... i was losing my mind!  i was trying to get my phone out of my pocket to get the map and find the trail so i could run away from these opportunistic vampire insects.  all of the stinging!  all of the biting!

it was awful!  so awful!  i finally managed to get my phone out, map out, and found the trail!  i had to trek through some forest uphill to find the ice age trail but once i got back on it i was flying again!  i calmed down realizing that i was back on track and headed back to the park.

unfortunately i was also about 5ish miles into my run and had to run an equal distance (maybe more with the detour) back to the beginning.

every uphill resulted in more bites since i could only run so much and then i had to walk.

i can't believe that i had no idea this would be the outcome!  hahah!  so ridiculous!

my strava can be viewed here for this run.  moral of the story?  BUG SPRAY!  please for the love of all that is right and just in the world... use BUG SPRAY if you're going to run these trails between now and november!  seriously... spray the shit out of your head and any exposed skin.  i am not joking.  you will regret it for at least 3-4 weeks while the welts (the size of lemon drops) heal.

yes... i have welts the size of lemon drops on my body from those stinking flies.  they are brutal bitches!  i have one behind my left ear that itches ALL.THE.TIME because i keep tucking my stinking hair!  ugh...
now i'll leave you with some horsefly facts:

  1.  horseflies are some of the world's largest flies.  they belong to the tabanidae family. 
  2. horseflies are located around the world, with the exception of extreme northern & southern latitudes.
  3.  there are roughly 3,000 species of horseflies in the world, with 350 different species within north america alone. 
  4.  horseflies can be as large as 1 1/4 inches in length! 
  5.  they are equipped with scissor-like mandibles that tear and cut.  when viewed under a microscope, the mouth parts of a female horsefly look like jagged saw blades.  the bite is painful because the females actually cut a hole into the skin in order to soak up the blood that comes out. 
  6.  male horseflies feed on pollen and nectar only as they do not have the mouth parts required for blood feeding.  if you are bitten by a horsefly, its a female.

you're welcome.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summerfest Rock 'n Sole 1/2 Marathon

Summerfest Rock 'n Sole (1/2 Marathon) - June 13, 2015
time = 1:50:22
pace = 8:25
placed 16th in my age group (40-44) out of 264
placed 205th in women out of 2021
placed 644th overall out of 3344

when i checked the weather last night there was a 32% chance of rain at 7am.  when i re-checked at 4:45am this morning it had gone up to 100% chance of rain at 7am.  what a bummer.  so i checked the doppler because... doppler.

there was a huge storm headed our way from the south but veering east and planing to end up over the lake.  it looked as tho' there would be a downpour right at the start of the race.  i was not at all happy to see that.  krista is again in town from colorado to run this race (like last year) so we decided to carpool again.

when we arrived downtown traffic was pretty backed up and it took about 20 minutes to get parked.  as soon as we were parked it started to drizzle.  now, drizzle is no big deal... it was this "downpour" i was worried about.  we got our running prep on and headed towards the port-o-potties.

me & krista - photo by john g.
on the way there we ran into my friend john g. who was one of the event photographers!  it was nice to see a friendly face and he got a pic of us to boot.  hugs and introductions were had, and we moseyed on to do our business before hitting our corrals.  the potty lines went quickly and it was about 15 minutes until go time.  krista's corral was right there so we said our goodbyes and i started towards my corral.

when i got to my corral i expected to run alone and was contemplating my goals when i looked to my left and saw rani!  yay!  so i went over to her and we chatted.  we both were really happy to see each other and it turned out to be a no-brainer to run together.  while we were waiting to begin there was this woman in front of us.  she was very fit.  she looked like she didn't eat much but spent a lot of time maybe lifting light weights and/or running/jogging.  she was doing some VERY VERY dynamic warm ups to the tune of kicking people in her immediate vicinity.  rani and i were discussing the merits of such a venture in such a small space.  we agreed that it was odd.  this woman was an odd duck for sure.  she was in full makeup and swinging her legs like there was no tomorrow also... massaging her glutes like it was going out of style.  we couldn't decide if she was super elite or the complete and utter opposite.

when it was time to go that woman took off like a bat out of hell.  it was drizzling and i am happy to report that my choice in long sleeves up top and shorts on the bottom was a good choice.  i was appropriately dressed for once.  yay me!  our pace group started off WAY TOO FAST and we lost them within the first 2 miles.  oh well... so much for a 1:45 finish.

we caught up to dynamic woman within the first mile.  guess she took off way too fast and all that leg pendulum-ing did nothing for her.  we passed her shortly after that and maintained a lead for some time.

the miles ticked by and as always running over the hoan was beautiful.  the rain had stopped and the fog was so thick that nothing beyond the bridge was visible.  each time i run this race the experience is so different.  the next notable runner was a very colorful woman in hokas who stayed just a few paces ahead of us from the bridge on.  why she is notable will come later in the report.

mile 6-7 from the bottom of the bridge to lafayette hill was pretty uneventful except for rani's knee causing her a significant amount of pain.  she decided she would make the decision to bow out (aka slow down) after we crested lafayette hill.  once we made it to the top she said go so i did.  i needed to find a potty anyway.  so i took off and hit the potty near st. mary's.

lost 2 minutes there (mile 8) and took off sprinting.  caught up to rani less than (i think less than) a mile later where she told me that dynamic woman passed her.  i took off and just focused on my pace and passing people one by one.  i wanted to finish strong and since mile 10 is lincoln memorial drive and a big down hill... i knew this was going to be a good split!  i just kept focusing on form, breathing, and ticking off the next person in front of me.  sure enough that mile split was a 7:49.

keep it moving and keep breathing even... i've got this!  i feel great, my legs feel great... everything feels great!  oh my god!  look who it is... dynamic woman is a few people in front of me so i keep ticking them off, and i effortlessly pass her.  i leave her behind and never see her again.

this stretch is totally flat which is wonderful.  i just keep running and keep trying to pass the person in front of me.  my watch beeps and i look at it... ugh.  8:08.  pick up the pace!

i try to move a little faster and IT WORKS, but i'm starting to feel it.  i've done ZERO speed work this year and it's starting to wear on me.  i'm really trying to keep picking off the person in front of me.  a lot of these people started off really fast and are paying for it now.  i really want to finish strong!  i really want to PR, but i know that's not going to happen.

mile 12 beeps off.  7:52.  not bad... keep pushing!  so i keep pushing, but so do a couple of other women.  we play frogger for awhile with me winning some and a couple of other women winning some... only one mile left and i'm running up on the very colorful woman in the hokas.  i finally caught back up to her!  so i decide to push harder... it's only one more mile!  i can do this.  when i pass her she exclaims: "hey!" so without missing a beat i raise my right hand and wave to her over my right shoulder.  i can't even waste a moment turning my head or my pace will suffer... she laughs and i'm glad.

i am running as hard as i can which is still not hard enough for a PR.  it is all i can make my body do. my toes hurt and i'm pretty sure i'm getting a blister on my right foot just between my big toe and the ball of my foot.  i keep telling myself it's just a mile... i can do this!

unfortunately i am not as fast as i feel and i finish out the last mile at a 8:07.  still respectable but not good enough to meet my goal of finishing in under 1:48.  i came into the finish with a smile tho' and i am really happy about that.  normally i feel so awful at the finish that the pain on my face can be read from a mile away.

man, i guess i didn't look as good
as i felt at the finish line
beastmode or beefneck? finish face

walked it out to the end of the finish shoot, and read my text messages.  found out where krista was and then i saw rani in the finish shoot!  we hugged and she finished strong in spite of her knee.  only a 5min difference between the two of us so she did excellent!  then i saw the colorful woman and tapped her on the shoulder!  i told her she did a great job and we laughed about my passing her and the wave.  i love runners and how connected we are!

finished with a smile

rani, her boyfriend brian, and i stood around and talked a little bit and then we went to our cars.  i stretched it out and got ready to head back and wait for krista.

krista finished strong around the 3 hour mark and we unceremoniously met at the end of the finish shoot and headed to the car.  by then we were both done.  we did a little stretching at the car and headed home.

this race is always fun.  i really enjoy the course and will probably do it ever year if i can.  i love running over the hoan bridge and i think it will be all that more amazing once the repairs are done and it is completely open.  my hope is that they will go back to the original course and we will get to run an out and back on the bridge again.  june race in the books... now to prepare for dances with dirt in july.