Running buddies in Madison. Life doesn't get much better.

Back to Racing: Madison Mini Recap

I don’t think this race could have gone better for me. It was a litmus test of where I was at, but I still had goals and ideas of how I wanted it to go. I had the best race buddy ever pushing me along the whole way. There is no way I would have finished with Mo, who literally yelled at me during the last mile when I wanted to give up. She’s the best. I’ve lost count of how many races we have done together. Many we have just both run and many we have very literally run the whole race together.

I met all my goals! I didn’t die or cry. I broke 2 hours. I had fun. I finished another half marathon.
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We went out too fast, but I don’t think that was terrible. My worst mile was Mile 10, but I was able to dig deep and finish strong even though I wanted to die. The Madison Mini was exactly one year after I ended up in the boot, which was kind of a weird coincidence, but I’d say it ended well.

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The boot sucked. The months of no running sucked. The recovery took forever, but on August 22, 2015 I ran 13.1 miles with one of my best friends and that beats everything.

Beer. Madison. Glitter.
Beer. Madison. Glitter. Photo Credit: Nicole of Nixietale

In addition to running the race I got to hang out in Madison with my friends. We had a blast: beer at the Memorial Union Terrace, pool time, pizza, and Exploding Kittens. It was an absolutely great weekend and I’m pretty sure we all put the 2016 date on our calendars.

Running buddies in Madison. Life doesn't get much better.
Running buddies in Madison. Life doesn’t get much better.

Madison Mini: Goals and Thoughts

It’s been a long time since I’ve written one of these posts. In fact I don’t remember the last time I did. But Facebook or Timehop linked me to my post from three years ago, the last time I ran the Madison Mini. Sometimes those stupid apps remind you of good times and not random stupidity or things that you don’t want to remember. Another fun find was this:IMG_20150817_081249I can’t really believe it was six years ago I ran my first half marathon. It’s been fun to think back on what I have accomplished, people I’ve met, races I’ve run. And that’s just the running part of my life.

Race Day Goals

  • Run another fun race with Mo
  • Don’t die or cry
  • Goal: Sub 2 hours
  • B Goal: As close to 2 as I can get
  • C Goal: Finish Half Marathon #19

Jen and I enjoyed a fantastic sunset at the Terrace already this year.The best part is that Mo is going to run with me. Over the last six weeks I have only done one long run alone and it was terrible and horrible and miserable. The rest were done with either Mo or Sara. I kind of assume after surviving the Cudahy Classic 10 miler, Mo and I can do just about anything. I have started stalking the weather now that it’s only five days out and so far so good, but I’m not an idiot and know it will change 100 times before Saturday.

The other best part about this race is the finish line. We finish at the Memorial Union and then get post race beers on the Union Terrace, which is one of my all time favorite places in Madison. I can’t wait to run through one of my favorite cities and see all my Madison running friends!

Bacon Race 2015

Year 4 of the Bacon Race!

I’m finally back to signing up for races and participating in these events. I have yet to really race one as I’m still terrified of reinjury. I have not run a 5k since the Bacon Race last year. I sign up for these things to have fun, to test myself, to run, all kinds of reasons and yet haven’t actually raced something in so long I almost forgot what it was to do that. Once the forecast for the race came out I changed all goals to don’t die. I think this is a pretty valuable and attainable goal.

The Bacon Race is held in a park not far from my house. In fact the start line was probably 100 yards from where the start line was on Sunday when I ran (almost died) the Cudahy Classic. I never had any intention of racing that. Basically I just wanted the water stops on my 10 mile run. This may not have been the best idea and I was rudely reminded why I don’t do my long runs on Sundays, but I did survive and then promptly did nothing else that day.

The Bacon Race is always a Thursday evening during the hottest part of the summer. You would think I would remember this from year to year, but apparently I block it out. Since I’m kind of in peak week of my non-training plan for the Madison Mini I decided I needed more than three miles on Thursday. Sara agreed and with the summer weather we are finally having we decided to run an easy three before work and then the 5k in the evening. As we got closer to the race the weather seemed tolerable as in not humid and not horribly hot. There was a breeze, not a cool one, but moving air. The shade was downright pleasant. The sun was not.

Sara and I took off and I was kind of impressed with how I felt. I was also thinking I should have actually warmed up, not just walked back and forth to the car. When my watch beeped at mile 1 (8:00), my initial thought was “shit, I should not be going that fast.” We avoided the bacon stop around mile 1.5 and kept on trucking forward. I did not check my pace, but paid attention to my legs. Mile 2 beeped in at 8:16, which I felt better about. Still much faster than expected. I started hurting and Sara was still pushing ahead so I just dug deep and kept up with her. Mile 3 was the slowest, but that’s okay (8:31) and we were able to finish strong at a 7:21 pace. We crossed the finish line and I wanted to die. We got our bacon and some water, found the shade and waited for my mom to finish. She looked strong coming across just under 30! Yay mom! She got 3rd in her age group. I ended up 10/69 in my age group so I’m pretty thrilled. Sara and I realized it was our fasted Bacon Race since the first year, also exciting.

88 Degrees – 3.1 Miles – 8:14 pace – 25:45 – 10/69 AG

Post race was fun per usual. Lots of bacon snacks and some beer. There was a fun band and lots of friends to chat with. I’m sure I’ll run it again next year. I just can’t stay away. I do need to find a morning, fall 5k though.

Next up: Madison Mini 

Take nothing for granted

I slugged through a 10 miler this weekend. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fast and it made me hate that I hadn’t run that distance in over a year. I miss the days of a 10 miler being normal. I won’t call it easy, but I could set out on the weekend and run 10 miles and know I wasn’t going to die. I took this for granted a few years ago. I assumed it would last. I thought running 10 miles would stay a normal part of my life. It didn’t for any number of reason. Then Saturday happened; I had grand plans of getting up early and getting it done with. Well, Mother Nature, the bitch that she is, had other intentions and there were a storm, including lightning and high winds and all the not fun stuff, so I couldn’t go early. Around 7:45 texted me with “are you more had core than me?” My response was something along the lines of “nope, I’m in bed watching Netflix.” We texted back and forth for a while stalking the weather. We had plans that day and getting the 10 miles done were part of them. I kept stalking the weather and finally decided to just go. I didn’t want to have to run Sunday and the weather looked not terrible.

I ran 8 hilly, hot, humid miles the week before so figured this had to be better. This thought process proved to be mostly true. The humidity dropped thanks to the storm and there was actually a lake breeze! I was slower than I wanted, but reminded myself speed didn’t matter on this run and let that go. I kept moving forward. Thankfully my route includes three places to refill my handheld if needed and a lot of shade. Not enough shade though; I am rocking a nice racer back tan line. wpid-photogrid_1437408225575.jpgThe miles really weren’t too bad until the last one. If this had been a 9 mile run it would have been great. That last mile was miserable and horrible and I hated everything about it. I thought about quitting and asking my parents to drive me home (they live a mile from my house). I thought about just walking, but that would take longer so I sucked it up and made it home. And promptly laid on the floor on my yoga mat for 45 minutes to stop sweating/not move. I thankfully recovered pretty well so that was nice. Recovery was assisted by a lovely afternoon at the local beer garden, dinner on the grill/breaking in my new patio, and a lazy day by the pool on Sunday.

I finally know I can do the Madison Mini and finish without wanting to die. I have another 10 miler next weekend and another chance to feel better out there. I have modest goals for the half next month. It’s really to see where I’m at and what I can do. Plus I get to run a beautiful course in Madison. Race day is 33 days and counting.

Getting Stronger

Turns out I’ve been working with my trainer for over three months now. I’m not really sure where the time has gone. I know I went to Italy, ran Ragnar, and summer is here, but other than that, how is it July? Whatever, that’s not the point. The point is I have been meeting twice a week for half an hour with a personal trainer for several months now. I can actually see a difference. In addition to the physical therapy I did for endless months last year I continued to work on my ankle strength andpush up as of now my right and left feet/ankles seem to be equal in strength which is huge to me. My left foot was weaker for so long; this is all very exciting. I can do push-ups, real ones. I can tell my core is getting stronger which is something I never did on my own. I only thought about it and talked about it; shockingly that does nothing to improve your core strength. The time and money is completely paying off and I’m glad I’m doing it.

I hope, and assume, it is helping my running. Stronger muscles and more well rounded exercise is good for you. I’m running semi-consistently and still have no idea what to expect for the Madison Mini next month. I vacillate between believing I’ll be ready and thinking I have no business running a half. I want/need another run like my second leg of Ragnar. That felt so magical and amazing and made me feel like my old runner self. I know it takes time, but I’m getting tired of it. I’m really glad I have my strength work. It keeps everything fresh. Plus she asks about my running and I can’t have no answer. Only 45 days until the Madison Mini. That’s not many so I better keep on running.

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Ragnar Chicago 2015

Ragnar Chicago has come and gone again. It always amazes me how it seems like it is forever away when you register and then it sneaks up on you and is over. It was another fantastic adventure. No two years are the same. Year five brought rain, and lots of it. Thankfully rain is just water and I survived it and it cleared up for my other two legs.

Team [REDACTED] was a good mix of veteraned and new Ragnarians, which was fun. We picked up the van on Thursday evening and started assembling Van 1. The vans were a bit different this year and by a bit different I mean ginormous.

Giant Van: The Beast
Giant Van: The Beast
So gian in fact, I could stand on the seat on my head didn't touch the ceiling.
So giant, in fact, I could stand on the seat and my head didn’t touch the ceiling.

The giggles began before we left Milwaukee and lasted all the way to Madison. We have fun with this and at this point I wasn’t even thinking about the 16 miles I had to run. Instead we checked into the hotel and immediately crossed the street to find beer. Clearly we wanted to talk to each other.

Team Bonding!
Team Bonding!

Race morning came quickly and the first thing I did was peek out the window and it wasn’t raining! As runner 1 this was pretty exciting to me. We got dressed and out the door fairly quickly and then had to drive across town because the “official” race hotel was no where near the start. The rain started as we were parking so we grabbed jackets and umbrellas and went to check in. The rain picked up as we were standing in line and as we were watching the new safety video. It was strong enough I can only conclude they didn’t actually do our safety check because of the rain.

Van 1: Ready to go!
Van 1: Ready to go!

At this point I had to shed layers and leave my umbrella to wait for the start. I was surprised by the number of runners who ran in ponchos. That seems uncomfortable to me, but to each their own. I’ve run in rain before, but nothing like this. I was completely soaked very quickly and my shoes started to get heavy and then heavier. I stupidly wore my more cushioned shoes because it was my longest leg. I regret this decision. There was a bitch of a hill at mile 1.25 which I wasn’t expect, but then it wasn’t too bad. There was a point we were supposed to be on a “trail or path” but it was pure mud and there was no traction. It wasn’t a fast 6 miles or what I’ve been running at, but it was done.

Hand off #1 to Jen
Hand off #1 to Jen

I quickly changed in to dry clothes as I didn’t want to freeze. It was fine running, but I knew I would get cold quickly. It was fun to be runner 1 and to start the race. I just go to sit around and eat and cheer for my team after that. We were getting updates from Van 2 and looking forward to meeting them in Lake Mills. I had not actually met most of Van 2 until we got there. I also had big shopping plans. I spent too much at the merch tent, but don’t regret it. I found all kinds of friends there as well. It’s really fun to know so many people on so many different teams. After our runner came in we went straight to out Ragnar lunch place, Water Street Brewery in Delafield and then to naptime in Wales. It ended up being a nice afternoon to lie around. I didn’t sleep, but rested. And before I knew it, it was my turn again.

Dan V handing off to me
Dan V handing off to me

My second leg had perfect weather. It wasn’t cold, hot, humid, or sunny. I was able to fly and am still over the moon with my pace for these 4.2 miles. I just kept trucking along and passed the bracelet on to Jen again.

This was my third year in a row being in Van 1 so everything looks familiar as you are driving along the course and coming  into exchange zones. Although we got to one of the exchanges and realized it had been moved from one end of the parking lot to the other. No big deal, just threw us off a little. Once we made it to Martin Luther High School we chatted shortly with Van 2 and said our goodbyes so we could go sleep. They changed up exchange 24 this year so instead of sleeping on a soccer field at the YMCA, wpid-wp-1434547686932.jpegRagnar set up tents on the beach in Racine. I did sleep, some, but as I whined during the event, Van 2 was fast, which meant very little sleep for us and I was off running again at 3:00am. We have never started our last legs before sunrise before. I also had yet to run in the dark. My leg wasn’t very well marked, but I thankfully had done a screenshot of the directions. I did get high fives from a couple drunks in Racine. I just kept trucking forward watching the blinky lights of other runners ahead of me. I ran in some light mist and handed off to Jen telling her how humid and warm it was. About thirty minutes later it started downpouring on her. Van 2 texted us there was thunder and lightening in North Chicago so we were very careful to stay close to our runners while the weather was still bad. Fortunately the rain slowed and we made our way to Exchange 30 to find Van 2. Their energy level was not the same as other times we had met with them, but it was their turn to run so we watched Dan W hand off to Todd.

In Dan's words
In Dan’s words “Denny’s never tasted better. And probably never will.”

We went to breakfast. We ate and headed to the finish line. This year Ragnar had no parking for us so it was first come first serve to park The Beast. It wasn’t as bad as I expected. We parked, loaded up the beer and sunscreen and headed to the finish, but not without first taking a picture of us with the Chicago skyline. We found Mo’s team and hung out for awhile until they finished. I had a glorious finish line beer and we waited for Van 2 to get there. They brought Dan V’s shirt so we all finished together in our matching shirts. It was a great adventure and as always I loved it!

Foggy Chicago
Van 1: Foggy Chicago
Team [REDACTED]
Team [REDACTED]
2015 Medal
2015 Medal
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Ragnar Relay Series: Together we ran 200ish Miles

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10 Days ’til Ragnar

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I don’t really know where time went or how this snuck up on me, but my countdown widget tells me Ragnar Chicago is in 10 days! This will be year number five for me which seems crazy, but it’s my fifth summer in Wisconsin so I guess it makes sense.

Ragnar 2015 is another new adventure and I can’t wait. Once again it is a team full of new and old friends. We are team [REDACTED] and you can follow the shenanigans on twitter: @LikeAREDACTED. The good news is I do feel ready and have gotten in enough miles since returning from Italy. I am runner 1 this year and look forward to starting in Madison. Bring on the cheeseballs and no sleep!

Will we see you out there?