Ragnar 2015f

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
2015 Medal
2015 Medal
Ragnar Relay Series: Together we ran 200ish Miles


10 Days ’til Ragnar


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?

Half Marathon Training, Again

I suddenly realized my training plan for the Madison Mini starts next week. I guess I should finalize it. I have a general plan, mostly the long runs, scheduled out, but need the details. This is a get me through the miles plan. My only goal is to be under two hours. My real half goal will be in November when I have a good enough base to actually do speed training. I have Ragnar in basically three weeks so need all the miles I can get before then. I did not run a single step in Italy unless you count running to the train in Florence.

I’m actually looking forward to having a plan again and training for something. I’ve just been out here treading water it feels like. I’m still working with my trainer two days a week and still really liking that. I lost a bit while on vacation, but she won’t let me slack. I did walk a lot and hike in Italy so at least I didn’t just sit on my ass. And I didn’t gain any weight on a pizza and pasta diet.

Walk of the Gods, Amalfi Coast
Walk of the Gods, Amalfi Coast

After going through a million plans in books and online and based on my experience I adapted one I used a long time ago. It gets me up to 12 miles before the race with a short taper, all things I wanted. I really do think my body is stronger and I can’t wait to run through Madison again. It’s been too long since I last ran this race.

Trying something new: Barre Code

I finally tried Barre Code. I’ve seen things about Barre for awhile. Honestly the thing that kept me away was the cost. Friends said it was a great workout and it’s not that I didn’t believe them it’s that I already pay for the YMCA and for a personal trainer. Thanks to OnMilwaukee I came across a code for a free class. I thought, why not? Well, I’m the idiot who tried Barre for the first time the day after running 10 miles for the first time in months. I still loved it.

I think Barre would have been a lot more difficult if I hadn’t been working with my personal trainer for the last month and a half. It was a fantastic workout with cardio, core, and strength, mostly using the weight of your body. I’m pretty certain some of the pain I felt had to do with running pains from the day before. It was nice to see other people struggling too. I would definitely would try this more if it weren’t so expensive. There’s just no way I’m paying $18/class. Maybe if I wasn’t paying for other things, but for now I won’t be going back unless I can find a deal. I do recommend trying it.

The other awesome thing this week was my running. I’m back, really back. I was a bit lazy at the beginning of the week, but didn’t let the crappy weather (rain record) keep me from doing anything. Thankfully my Y has a nice indoor track. I am still really excited about Thursday’s run. I ran 3 miles at an 8:47 pace and can’t believe I saw that number again. Saturday Rachel and I were in charge of leading 2 mile group runs every hour during Fleet Feet Brookfield’s Running Expo. Now I had no intention of doing all 7 runs. I can do simple math and know that it would have been 14 miles and that would have just been stupid with where I’m at right now. We ended up leading 5 runs over 6 hours so I did 10 miles for the first time in who knows how long. The last two were a bit tough, but I made it. I don’t think I would have been able to do 10 straight, but I’m pretty tempted to run 7-8 next weekend. My foot is not bothering me at all. My body is exhausted, but not in a way I’m worried.

I am absolutely loving that I can see improvement and am feeling stronger. It’s fun to be reminded of what I can do. My goals have really been to get stronger and keep my body healthy, and while that remains I want to accomplish more. I don’t exactly know what that means, but I’m enjoying getting in better shape and starting to see muscles I haven’t seen in a long time.

Training Plans

I’ve run quite a few half marathons. I could go back and count, but I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere between 15-20. I don’t really care the exact number. When I started it was a brand new thing and 13.1 miles seemed so far and a huge accomplishment. I really had no idea how I was going to get to that mileage. I went to a bookstore and grabbed a stack of books on half marathons. I chose one based on the fact that I agreed with enough things that the author said that I would trust him to get me to 13.1 miles. I chose the beginner plan since I was very much a beginner. I think I had run up to 7 miles at that point. I know I had run a few 10ks and a quarter marathon. I had done a handful of sprint triathlons and one olympic distance, but never had really trained for long distance running. It worked, I made it to the finish line and right at my 2:10 goal. It was exciting and I fell in love with distance running. After that I don’t really remember how I trained for half marathon number two. I ran a full marathon three months after that first half so assume I didn’t have trouble keeping up mileage for a half four months later. I was able to cut 10 minutes off my time and break two hours with a 1:59:56. I was pretty stoked. I later worked with a coach. I didn’t really like how that worked out. It wasn’t the right fit. I ran a faster half. I got injured training for another full. Blah, blah, blah. Skipping over quite a bit that I’ve probably already rambled on about and cut forward several years to now: I’m once again coming back from injury and want to train for a half marathon.


I know how to slowly build up my mileage. That’s exactly what I’m already doing. But I want a plan. I’m sitting here with books and the internet and I literally don’t like any of the plans I’m finding. They either run too many days a week or not enough or have you running way too many miles the week before a race. I currently think I know too much and too little at the same time. I know I can get back to the miles. I’m not worried about that, but I want a plan. I think I know why I worked with a coach over the last few years. At least this time was a lot more successful than the first time I used a coach. But right now I’m paying for a personal trainer and that is important to keeping me healthy. I do not have the money to pay for a running coach on top of that. I’m thinking about it for my November half, but need to decide what the hell I’m doing for my August half.

I think I’m going back to good old pencil and a paper calendar. I will make my own plan. I have written a few for a friend. I generally know what to do and I think a lot of it will come back. I’m not planning on any speed work right now. I’m still hyper-paranoid about re-injury so will stick with my painstakingly slow mileage build-up. On a positive note I did register for the Madison Mini so that really is happening. It will be awesome and there will be post-race beers on the terrace.

Choosing Races

I’m sitting here on a Saturday morning having already run my miles for the day. It was only five miles, but it was a wonderful five miles with no pain and I’m ready for more. I’m sitting here with three different race registration pages open. They are three different distances and I have different reasons for wanting to run all of them.

Madison Mini – I am so ready to be able to run a decent half marathon again. I maintain this is my favorite distance and it’s been a long time since I was actually trained for one. My PR is three years old and I’m ready to work towards breaking that. Not in Madison, but later this year. I want to see where I can be in August. I know I can get to the miles I need by August 22nd. Plus I love the course. It is a run down memory lane for me and there is an awesome post race party on the terrace. You can’t beat that.

The Race for the Bacon 5k – Fun local race I do every year. This is a no brainer. I just have to decide when to spend the money. Price doesn’t go up until April 30th. It would be fun to actually race it again, which I haven’t done since the first year when I won my age group. Mind you I am now in a new and harder age group so I won’t count on that, but my 5K PR is even older than my half PR so it’s time.

Cudahy Classic 10 Miler – Cheap and local race. Easy way to run 10 miles when it’s hot out. This was technically the first race Sara and I ever ran together even though we didn’t actually know each other off the internet until that day. Best accidental race buddy ever.

I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be looking at races again. I was so scared to for so long. Even when I started back up with my running I was so paranoid about my foot.

Working with a personal trainer is going great. I can actually tell I’m getting stronger, which is just awesome. I can do push-ups again. My core is getting stronger. I might just get to being all around fit instead of just running fit.

I’m ready to click register!


As I approached my 30th birthday I’ve thought about a million different things. It’s just another birthday, but really we make it a milestone and I’m all for celebrating. I don’t have a list of things to cross off. I don’t have a list of things I think I should have done by now. I tend to think all the lists about your twenties and thirties are stupid. We are all pretty different people and there is no one way I should be living my life. There are no set things I need to have accomplished. What I do have is so many wonderful, amazing people that have been part of my life over the last thirty years.

First, I am so grateful for my amazing family. I am unbelievably lucky to have the unwavering support and love that I have from my parents. I am glad that at almost thirty years old my parents and I are friends. Thank you for everything. I wouldn’t
even know where to start so I won’t. Second, only because he came along after me, my wonderful and amazing little brother. I couldn’t be happier to have him in my life even though he is 6000 miles away. He’s there when I need him. And he has brought a fantastic woman into our lives who I can’t wait to have as my sister. To Levi and Alix, I wish you were here and can’t wait to see you in a month.

To my friends, new and old, I find myself so lucky to have the friends that I do literally from coast to coast. From Cedarburg to Oconomowoc to Madison to DC to Milwaukee and everywhere else you have all moved, it means the world to me that I have people in my life that make it so much better. No matter what piece of my life you have been a part of it has all shaped me. There have been so many important people that I won’t even begin to try and list you all, but you know who you are and thank you. You have been there for the good, the bad, the fun, and the adventures. People have said it’s hard to make friends as you get older and move around. This is true to an extent, but I’ve found if you are willing to join groups or try new things you can meet some pretty great people: running groups, Ragnar, Book Club, Barley’s Angels. I wouldn’t change any of it. Here’s a peek into the last thirty years and I swear this is edited down.

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Turning thirty doesn’t scare me. I don’t mind getting older. I’m excited for what is to come.