New Year, New Plan, or Not.

I ran my first run of 2016 on the morning of January 5th with my wonderful running buddy Sara. What a great way to start the year off, get going nice and early and get back into routine. We were having a great time catching up on the holidays and cruising along and then I was on the ground. My ankle twisted, I landed on my knees, everything hurt and I wanted to cry. It was cold enough that I used that to motivate me to get off the ground and see if I could walk. Sara’s first comment, being the good friend that she is, was “At least your tights didn’t rip.” She wasn’t wrong. They were my expensive, warm, full price Nike running tights. I slowly stood up, with Sara’s help, and was able to walk slowly. I could tell my knees were going to be bruised and wasn’t really sure what was wrong with my ankle. We were thankfully only a mile from my house and I was able to run slowly back. Once I got inside and really took a look at my ankle and knees I knew I had really hurt myself. I was scared to shower for fear of my knees burning. I was limping around the house because any weight on my ankle hurt. I texted my dad at 6:30 in the morning asking if he was awake and had an ace bandage. I didn’t hear back from him until a bit later and I needed to get going to work. I found KT Tape and a video on how to use it on an ankle sprain. I bandaged up my knees best I could.

 

I didn’t get to run the Snow Fun Run in Lake Geneva. I didn’t get to run the Samson Stomp and I’m not running the Indoor Half Marathon.

Super fun to start the year with three DNSs.

I was apparently too cocky about not having been to the orthopedic doctor in over a year. I didn’t go this time, I used Dr. Dad, bust same point. I cannot believe how long a simple grade 1 ankle sprain takes to heal. About 10 days after the fact and feeling ridiculously lazy I went to spin class. My ankle was not ready for that. I didn’t even push as hard as we were supposed to, but my ankle paid for it and hurt that night and the next morning. I’m getting horribly impatient, but really don’t want to aggravate it further. Even if I am running again by next Saturday I have no business running a half marathon after not running for this long.

I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have a race I’m really training for until May.

Sometimes I wonder why I keep doing this.

New year, same old injury prone Renee.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This is probably the worst question ever. Who on earth knows where they will be in five years? Do companies expect people to just lie and say they see themselves excelling in xyz position and the job will be perfect because that’s all life is about? I digress, this is really a post about where the past five years have taken me. I’m not sure there is anything in my life I would have predicted five years ago. Not one. I didn’t think I would still be in Wisconsin let alone a homeowner and still at the same job that was offered to me on NYE 2010.

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5 years ago in NYC with TP and Mark

I don’t think I had a clue where I would be, but none of this was it. Five years ago I thought I would return to DC at some point. I thought my life was there. Friends will always be there, but my life will not be. I can’t imagine what life would be had I stayed. I would never have met some of the most amazing people that I now cannot imagine my life without.

Heck, in the last year alone, I joined a new decade, got promoted and my little brother got married. I get to visit friends and family from coast to coast (and across the pond) and have running adventures right here in Wisconsin. Running has remained a large part of my life and brought amazing people into it.

I have learned a much better balance of running and life and refuse to ever let it take over again. I have grown immensely as a person and barely recognize the hot mess that moved to Wisconsin five years ago. I think that’s a good thing. I wasn’t in a good place then. There have been lots of ups and downs since, but I would definitely say more ups than downs. Bring on the next five years, I have no idea what to expect.

 

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My family grew this year and I gained a wonderful sister

Drumstick Dash 2015

A few years ago (2011) we were visiting family in California for Thanksgiving and I looked up Turkey trots in the general vicinity of my uncle’s house. I tossed the idea out to my immediate family and they all joined me at the Walnut Creek Turkey Trot and a new tradition was born.

Fast forward to 2015 and my mom and I had no idea if my dad and brother would even be home for Thanksgiving let alone want to run the Drumstick Dash. They both ended up with flights home getting in the Sunday before Thanksgiving so we signed everyone up for the race.

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Hill family ready to run

I was looking forward to see what I could do at a 5k. We all waited together for the start and then I took off weaving my way through the walkers who for some godforsaken reason hadn’t started with the other walkers. I must have missed Levi fly by me at some point. I was trying to watch my pace to make sure I was pushing it, but not going out too fast. The mile 1 marker was early compared to my garmin, but I ignored it thinking maybe mile 2 would be long. Nope, each of the other mile markers were almost exactly what my garmin showed. (Side note: I know garmin isn’t exact.) I had weaved a lot at the beginning and actually expected my distance to be long. Boy was I wrong. My watch didn’t even get to 3.00 miles. (A friend also had the course short). My official time shows a PR, but I know it’s not and that’s annoying. Overall the family had a great day. Dad, Levi and I all finished 16th in each of our respective age groups and my mom finished 3rd in her age group. Mom did awesome and dropped several minutes. My brother was the 77 finisher overall.

I love that we have done this for the last several years. It’s a fun thing to do in the morning before the day gets crazy. We went home and made a lovely chorizo and gravy breakfast dish which we accompanied with champagne. Perfect way to start Thanksgiving.

Now I desperately want to run another 5k that’s actually 3.1 miles.

Tyranena

This is one of my favorite races. It’s not the best course out there, but the overall race is so much fun. Even last year when I was injured and couldn’t run I signed up to volunteer so I could be there to hang out with everyone. It’s always the first Saturday in November and doesn’t start until 11:30am. Now this year, because of how the days fell, it wasn’t until November 7. Remember how I ran a near PR 6 days prior? Yeah, my body did too, but it wasn’t going to stop me from running this. Plus, some of my favorites flew in from DC to run it.

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Pre-race prep: How else do you welcome friends to Milwaukee?

With an 11:30 start time and a drive a little under an hour, it’s kind of a leisurely morning. We spent most of it deciding how many layers to bring. We arrived in Lake Mills and found the others, who were already saving a table. Packet pick-up takes about three seconds so that was nice and easy.

We hung around in the tent where people obsessed over layers some more and then the half marathoners were off. Mo, Sara and I ran it together, all of us having raced six days earlier. We all know the course pretty well so know where to expect the hills and where to find the unofficial beer stop.

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Naturally we needed a beer selfie.

Now I tend to not usually partake in beer stops along the course. I remember why. It made me burp for the next mile or so. I can do without. I felt surprisingly good through about mile 9/10. It doesn’t help that miles 10-12 are horrible miles through an industrial park/uphill, but not really a hill just a long incline. I so wanted to be done when we reach the top, but it’s another mile to the finish from there. I really started falling apart there and kept trying to keep up with Mo and Sara, but felt really off so pushed as much as I could and came in only a few seconds after them and only 5 minutes slower than six days prior.

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Two of the best running buddies a girl could ask for.

We got our giant plates of lasagna and beer and celebrated a fun day. Lots of my friends had good races which is always excellent.

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The DC contingent. Makes me so happy they come to WI.
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Annual Group Photo

As always it was a fun day and I absolutely love this race. I’m pretty upset the Milwaukee Run Fest is the same weekend next year. Tyranena is just a great day and event. I love seeing all my running friends and hanging out after the race.

 

Milwaukee Running Festival

This was a fun inaugural raced. I thoroughly enjoyed most of the course. It wasn’t an easy course and I maybe should have actually looked closer at the course, but whatever, you have to run the 13.1 miles whether you know when you are turning or not.

The Milwaukee Running Festival weekend started Saturday morning with the Mile Race and Expo. I was working the Ragnar Booth with Mo and Sara. It was a blast to see all the kids come in after running the mile race. I think it’s great how many of them were all smiles. There are now tons of kids running around Milwaukee in Ragnar shirts.

Ragnar, do it.
Ragnar, do it.
Pre-race movie
Pre-race movie

It was a gross cold and rainy day so being stuck inside all day wasn’t terrible except for being stuck by the door that volunteers were holding open for everyone coming to the expo. After 8 hours of hanging out here a group of us went out for a pre-race meal. It was Halloween so I had to stop by home and leave candy out for the kids. I had two friends staying with me so we went home to prepare for race day. Let’s just say some of us are able to pick out our race outfits easier than others. We settled in for a pre-race movie and took it easy. I set my clocks back so we would be all set for morning. Side note: fall back on race morning is awesome.

We woke up, got dressed and headed over to the start. Parking was easy enough. Not thrilled the ICC charged $5, but not bad either. We parked and found everyone else running. I love how many people I know at these races. Milwaukee has a great running community and I love being part of it. There was a lot of excitement at the start. Sara and I found our place among the pace groups with the plan to not go out too fast.

race_1546_photo_27820525The weather was great and I felt good. We did pretty good not going out too fast. Miles 1-4: 8:50, 8:36 (oops), 8:43, 8:51. We knew about the hill at miles 3-4 and had run it several times this summer to just pushed on through. I saw a colleague at the top out cheering. Always fun to see a friendly face. I loved how the course wandered through the East Side. I never ever run over there. Miles 5-8: 8:24, 8:19, 8:28. 8:40. Going up Wisconsin Ave was a longer incline than I realized. We worked hard to get up that hill and enjoyed the crowd support near Marquette. We split from the marathon around mile 9 and headed south over 94. The bridge wasn’t so great. We chose to run on the sidewalk so as to not trip and harm ourselves.  The awesome crowd support basically died as we separated from the marathon.

race_1546_photo_27764504The last several miles of the course were fairly desolate and there was a really weird turn that I feel could have been eliminated with distance added somewhere else. Miles 9-13: 9:00, 8:38, 8:38, 8:23. I did some really bad running math somewhere around mile 12 and was certain we wouldn’t get my PR. Running math is hard. I ran the .1 at a 6:46 pace and finished 20 seconds shy of my PR and my fastest time in almost four years. I almost cried and then desperately dug through old posts to find my PR. I am over the moon with how this race went. As I stated before, it was not an easy course and we ran it hard. A huge thank you to Sara for running it with me.

All smiles
All smiles

We found more friends and several of us stayed at the finish to cheer for the half marathon and marathon finishers. It was super fun to see Tracey come in all smiles! And then Mo not much further behind, smashing her PR and breaking 4:00 hours! All in all I would say it was a great inaugural event. There are things to improve upon, but that is true of all races. I liked the half course. My biggest problem next year will be deciding between this and Tyranena as they are a day apart instead of six days.

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Door County Fall 50

I’ve wanted to run this for a few years and haven’t until this year for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to not living in Wisconsin, travel and injury. 2015 was finally the year. I ran it with the usual suspects: Sara, Jen and Erica

Ready?
Ready?

We left Milwaukee in the early evening on Friday, stopped in Sheboygan for dinner, and collapsed at the hotel in Ephraim. It was an early morning and rainy. We checked in, pinned on our bibs, layered on rain gear and headed back to the start.

Eerily similar to the Ragnar start picture.
Eerily similar to the Ragnar start picture.

The rain wasn’t horrible until Jen had to run. Rain and relays have gone hand in hand for her this year. I had the third leg which was the longest one of the race, 7.3. It was partly sunny and dry when I started. I felt good and it was really nice to run through parts of Door County that Mo and I had run earlier this year. I was surprised how great my legs felt and just kept pushing along. Once I entered Peninsula State Park I felt rain and told myself it was tree rain. It wasn’t. I ended up quite wet, but ended with a sub 9:00 minute pace. I did an awesome front seat clothing change without flashing anyone. I wanted dry clothing on asap so I didn’t get cold. We spent most of the exchanges bundled up in layers and blankets waiting for our runner to come in.

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The saving grace of the day was how pretty it was in Door County

I swapped legs with Erica since she was sick and her second leg was supposed to have the worst hill in it. The hill was a 14% grade. The booklet said it was okay to walk. I took this very seriously. Once we got to this exchange I realized it was where the Door County Triathlon finishes. Funny how that sticks in my head when I ran that in 2008. It was windy and cold when we were right next to the bay. Thankfully the route quickly got onto a road that was protected from the wind. I was cruising along. I felt great. The first three miles were great. I ran 8:45 miles. And then the hill. Leg 8It was beautiful and steep. Really steep. Everyone was walking. I decided to speed walk it. Running it would have been pointless. That miles was 10:19, which I didn’t think was bad considering I walked a bunch of it. It was misting the whole time. Not raining, which wasn’t horrible. When I got to the top of the hill I reached deep and pushed hard and ran an 8:20 mile. I can’t really believe I ran that. But I was done at that point.

Waiting for Sara at the finish line.
Waiting for Sara at the finish line.

We got to the finish line and once again layered up to go stand in the wind while waiting for Sara to get in. We ran across the finish line as a team and giggled as our team name was announced because we are all 15.

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Pretty sweet medal
Pretty sweet medal

The finish line included unlimited pizza and beer. The post race pasty was in two huge tents with music and a dance floor. We didn’t get to take advantage of much as we were heading back to Milwaukee and all wanted to get home. Next year we will be back and will book a room in Sturgeon Bay.

It was a ton of fun and so much less planning and organization than Ragnar. I believe I said it was just like Ragnar except we got to sleep in a bed both nights and there were only four of us. Relays are such a fun part of running. And I have such a fun group of people I get to do these races with. We will be back next year for sure.

Milwaukee Running Festival Half Marathon: Goals and Thoughts

I started writing a recap of the Fall 50, which was awesome, but that will come later. I have the Milwaukee Running Festival Half on Sunday. When I signed up for this a year ago I was just hoping I would be able to run the distance again. Thankfully my foot healed and I am running again. I took this training a bit more conservatively than in the past with my constant fear of injuring myself again, but here I am two days from the race and I’m ready.

mkerunfestThere are a lot of unknowns with a new race, but I trust the race director and his staff. I’m uncertain about the course, but I don’t ever really study courses anymore. There will be plenty of people in front of me and it will be well marked. Run to the finish line seems to be a good plan. It will be fun to run a race through my city. There is a lot I do know as well. I trained hard. I will have Sara by my side so it will be fun if nothing else. I’m ready to test my legs.

Goals

  • A Goal: 1:51:59
  • B Goal: 1:54:xx
  • C Goal: 1:57:xx
  • D Goal: 1:59:xx
  • Finish Half Marathon #20
  • Have a good time with friends

It’s going to be a fun race weekend. I have Mo and Nicole staying with me and lots of friends running this event. Saturday I will be at the expo all day working the Ragnar booth with my Ragnar Ambassador buddies so if you want some Ragnar goodies come find us.

See you out there.