{Better Late Than Never-2014 Review}

Some say better late than never. I suppose this is true for looking back on last year. I almost didn’t write a review as I felt like I had little running wise to share. Then I remembered I ran my butt off the first half of the year running a half marathon, three marathons and a 50k in a two and a half month time period. After finishing the year running 2 5k’s, 2 10k’s, 1 half marathon, 3 marathons and my first ultra marathon (50k), I’d say I ran plenty. Here’s a look back at a few running highlights from 2014 in top ten style!

#10-Running another Color Run
Always fun and a great way to take the seriousness out of your training and racing.

#9-Running solid miles all winter

Last winter was brutal for training in Wisconsin. We had school cancelled in my district four days because of the cold (windchills of -30 to -50 below). I still managed to run 100 miles during each of the coldest months of the year as I trained for my busy spring and summer racing schedule.

#8-Running a 10k at 15 weeks pregnant
Running pregnant has been a whole new world of unexpectedness. I’m embracing it as best I can, and I am super proud of this hilly 10k I ran at 15 weeks while still experiencing all day sickness, pressure on the bladder and tiredness.

#7-The Big Ten 10k
This was such a fun weekend and race for the husband and I to combine two of our loves-running and Wisco sports.

#6-Signing up and completing my first obstacle course 5k
Dirty Girl 5k-4
Sometimes I’m scared to try new things, but this is one thing I’m so glad I followed through on. It was a blast and I can’t wait to run another.

#5-Running the Med City Half Marathon with friends
It’s not often I get to run with a group of people. Especially those who made this race so much fun. I hope someday they would like to run another half together or perhaps a Ragnar Relay.

#4-Cross Training and Overall Cardio
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While I didn’t come close to meeting my running mileage goal for the year, I’m going to chalk that up to getting pregnant. Despite missing out on some miles on foot, I still managed to cardio my way to almost 1000 miles. I biked more this year than any other year. I hiked well over a hundred miles this year. I went to yoga more times than any other year before. I’m proud of my cross training efforts and nearly reaching 1000 cardio miles.

#3-Completing two more states in my journey to run a marathon in all 50 states.

Going West on a road trip was the perfect opportunity to complete two more states. Add to it that the races were nine days apart and you have an extra challenge. Even more crazy was I ran my first ultra marathon just a month before the first of my go west marathons.

#2-Completing my first ultra marathon (50k)
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This was one of the scariest things I’ve done and never before have I doubted myself more. In the end it made the finish that much more rewarding. Having run a marathon and a half marathon the month before only made me stronger. Not sure when the next ultra will be, but I’m guessing it will happen.

#1-Running with my husband as he completed his first marathon.
As it would turn out, my favorite running memory of 2014 has little to do with my own races. Training and running 26.2 miles with the husband in his quest to complete his first marathon was more rewarding than I could have thought possible. I was so proud of him and excited for his accomplishment that it trumped any I could achieve. I still look back on this race with pride as he really didn’t ever want to run a marathon except to do it for me. Now he says he done forever, but the pride of finishing your first lasts FOREVER!

What 2015 holds exactly is a bit of a mystery. I’m sure there will be ups and downs, miles and missed runs, and new firsts abound. 2014 was a great running year, but I can’t wait to see what the next year holds.

Happy 2015 everyone!


{Chester Woods 50k Race Report}


Friday evening I headed to Rochester dreading feeling very uncertain about the 50k race the next day.  I didn’t feel prepared because I’d found a lack of motivation and fresh legs since running the Wisconsin Marathon five weeks earlier and the Med City Half Marathon two weeks earlier.  The end of the school year had me tired and stressed, too.  When I got to packet pick-up I was disappointed to find out they had packed up early.  I had arrived fifteen minutes before the end time, but left without my packet.  Next stop-the nearest grocery store for some breakfast items and snacks.  The nearest option was not my favorite…Wal-Mart.  I learned some great parenting tips for future use by the woman who yelled at her screaming kids “I told you all to shut your f8#$ing mouths.”  Awesome work, Mom!


Snacks the night before.

From Wal-Mart I headed to my hotel.  The hotel turned my frustration around a bit as I had a room on the second floor right by an exit where I was able to park my car three feet from the door.  Then it was time lay out my race gear and have a snack and some hydration before bed.  As I snacked away watching It’s Complicated (love that movie) I was going back and forth between the live feed of the WIAA State Track and Field meet checking in on some former students of mine (they rocked their events) and reviewing the 50k course for the first time.  I didn’t have much time though as my alarm was set for 4:45 a.m.  Yippy skippy!

The alarm went off at 4:45 a.m., and since I figured I’d be running for 5.5-6 hours I knew I needed to eat more than on a regular race day.  I ate a bagel with cream cheese and a banana, dressed and got on the road.  The race was only minutes away from my hotel and located at Chester Woods Park.

Upon arriving I didn’t have the five dollars to enter as I wasn’t aware of the entry fee, but they were friendly enough to let me in and pay after the race (thank you, thank you) which I did. Karma people.

After grabbing my race bib and chip I had time to run to the rest room and get my gear on.  I was running with my fuel belt.  Each bottle was filled with Grape Nuun.  I had four Gu’s in the pocket of my fuel belt.  My plan was to fuel for this race just like a marathon.  If I was getting hungry or the Gu’s were not enough I came prepared with Auntie Anne’s Cheddar Bunnies, a granola bar, a Snickers bar, a Bearded Brothers Bar and a Kind Bar.  Why so much?  I wanted to have what sounded good when I was twenty-some miles in.  And there really is no way to predict what would sound good so I came prepared.
I knew the course was a three loop mix of terrains, but hadn’t really spent a ton of time researching the course. The first few miles took us through a meadow like area. Meadows are my least favorite to run on because the ground is uneven and grass can hide this. Later in the day the sun also shines bright in an open meadow. Lucky for us that the biggest section of meadow was early on. Thank you race director!  We then headed on a gravel road that led to a wood chip trail and then a packed dirt and grass trail.  The woods were so beautiful.



After running through the woods we ran through a small meadow section before entering into my favorite wooded section of the course.  The canopy of trees engulfed the trail and it was like you were running into this other world.




After the woods we headed out to another meadow section that included a sandy hill before heading back into the woods.  Half of it is below.  My hill strategy was to walk hills that were longer than ten feet.  Most runners were walking hills to preserve their legs, too.  In the words of a man on the course “I surrender to the hills.”  Being a new trail runner I didn’t need to run a chain of mountains; these hills were enough but doable at the same time.



Loop 3-Mile 23-The smile hides the sharp pain in my hip flexors.


Next up on the loop was the Big Dam Hill.  It ended at a beautiful overlook of the Chester Woods Lake reservoir.  I loved how it was significant enough to have a name and everyone who ran the race before knew about the hill.




Still climbing the Big Dam Hill-almost to the top.

Most climbs are worth a view. This one didn’t disappoint either.  I didn’t want to stop to take a quality picture so I’m borrowing one. Credit: http://www.rochestercvb.org.  After the views of the lake from above we descended through a meadow to a small paved section of trail that joined a gravel and then dirt trail and ran along the lake.

This view of the lake was gorgeous.  All kinds of trees stood out of the water.  It was a lake of trees.

This view of the lake was gorgeous. All kinds of trees stood out of the water. It was a lake of trees.

From there we turned to repeat the loop two more time minus the first meadow section.  The first loop was 12 miles and the second and third loops were 9.5 miles for a total of 31 miles.  My Garmin registered a little short as I must have lost a half mile while in the woods at some points in the race.

During the first loop I felt good.  I was not in a fantastic mood, but it turned around as my body warmed up. The second loop felt much faster and I was feeling great, too.  Last Friday I traded a ten mile run for a 30 mile bike ride, Tuesday I ran almost six miles and I skipped my Thursday and Friday runs my training plan called for.  I just didn’t feel like running.  Most of my runs have been rough with dead leg feeling appearing during most my runs.  I just wasn’t feeling fresh. I debated running Thursday and instead chose a night out with friends. Saturday’s second loop proved to me I’d made the right choice.  My legs just needed some rest.  At mile 20 I remember saying to myself that I couldn’t believe how good I felt both for being at mile 20 and in general. I felt great.

At this point I was out of Gu’s having taken one at miles 5, 10, 14, and 18. I also didn’t want to waste time going to my car to get food as I stopped at the bathroom after the first and second loop losing four minutes or so from my time. I decided to grab food at aid stations since they had quite a selection. I grabbed Fig Newton’s and some pretzels from the friendly aid station volunteers when I was feeling low on fuel. Mention water and they grabbed your water bottle and happily filled it. They were so encouraging and helpful.  Thanks volunteers!


As lots of you probably have experienced, runs can take a turn for the worst at any mile.  My feeling great changed soon after mile 20.  Around mile 22 my hip flexors started to scream at me.  Lifting my legs felt hard.  My actual legs were feeling strong and alive.  I seriously questioned if I was going to have to walk the rest of the course.  This is where you start to run the race with your heart.  I pushed through and felt tears coming around mile 26, but was able to pull myself together.  I don’t even know where the tears came from.  It wasn’t from pain, it was more of an emotional response to running for a long time alone in the woods.  It was theraputic.

Around mile 27 the pain in my hip flexors all but disappeared.  As I climbed the last sandy hill another guy told me “I was like a ninja.”  That boosted my morale for a while.  The last few miles I felt pretty good.  I did a lot of self-talking and encouraging myself.  I actually felt like I could run further than 31 miles.  By mile 30 though I just wanted to be done.  I’d been running for over five hours.  My longest marathon time is 4:20 and my longest trail run had been 16 miles a few weeks earlier.  I couldn’t wait for that finish line.

When I did cross the finish line the feeling I remember more than tired or sore is proud.  I was proud of myself for not only running 31 miles, but for also running on trails and with hills.  As my first 50k I say it was a success and went much better than expected.  This just proves we can do anything we set our minds out to do.



I loved the course at Chester Woods Park.  The three loops was perfect for runners so they could restock items at their cars if they wanted.  The course was a perfect combination of beautiful views, shaded woods and a little bit of meadows.  I also loved the mix of terrains and that the hills were doable.  I’m not ready to run mountains-yet?  Or ever?  During my last loop of the 50k I thought about my husband’s feelings about running another marathon (he’s saying one and done) and if I felt the same about a 50k or further.  As of right now that is to be decided.  I always say never say never.


The shoes and I went through some real shit out there-literally and figuratively. Some of the trails we ran were horse trails. Those horses had been there before us runners had. 😉

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Chester Woods 50k
Time: 5:25:32
Pace: 10:30
Overall: 36/91
Gender: 7/33
Age Group: 4/15

{Friday Fab 5-Chester Woods 50k, Lake Michigan Runs, New Haircuts, Cilantro Lime Chicken…}

This week I’m behind, frazzled, and really tired from all the end of the year things to do at school-hence the late post. I’m also sad to say I haven’t read a blog post of anyones in two weeks. I’m hoping to catch up on those while recovering from my first 50k tomorrow. That is if I make it out of the woods alive.

{#1-Chester Woods 50K}
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As soon as I finish this post I’m off to Rochester for the night. I’m hoping to make it to packet pick-up before it closes and will then be going to bed earlier than most three-year-olds if all goes as planned. With a 6 a.m. start time and a short drive, this lady will be up far earlier than her end-of-the-school-year exhausted butt would care to. I’m really nervous about the race and the husband is not going to make it, so being alone has me a bit bummed. Send positive juju my way, please. The woods look beautiful though. Maybe it will be just what I need.

{#2-Lake Michigan Runs}
What a difference five months make. The blurry photo from Christmas Day and a sunny photo from last weekend. This reminds me of how even though winter can be rough I really do enjoy the changing seasons in my great state. Take time to appreciate this gorgeous weather we are having.

{#3-New Haircut}

I did make time to treat myself to one of my favorite routines this week-Starbucks and a cut and color. This is the bravest cut I’ve had in a while, and I love it! When did you last treat yourself?

{#4-Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos}
This week I pulled out a crock pot meal I’d frozen earlier this year. Add refried beans, rice, tortillas and fresh limes and you’ve got an easy and delicious meal. So glad I started making these freezer meals this school year. What a life saver.

{#5-A New Age Bracket}
Last Friday I celebrated a new age bracket and felt the love at school. People are so thoughtful and sure can make a person feel appreciated. I’m so grateful for the people in my life.

Anyone running any races this weekend? Full Chester Woods 50k race report sometime after I make it out of the woods and can walk again!

Happy Weekend!

{Don’t Act Your Age-30 Things During My 30th Year}


My little sister and I way before “30” had any meaning or expectations.

This post has been sitting in my drafts since October.  Since I’ve already started in on this list, it is definitely time to share it.  I’m not getting any younger after all.  For some reason I was a little afraid to share it as these thoughts are so personal and often seem so different from others.  This post is simply my thoughts and not based on any person, event, or conversation I might have had with anyone.  You might totally disagree with my thoughts, and that is fine.  We all get to make our own choices in life, and this post shares a glimpse into how I want to live my life.  In the spirit of this post and not acting my age-here goes.

I not sure what it is about turning 30 that has me wanting to be adventurous and try new things. When I was a kid I thought turning thirty meant you were old. It has always marked in my head when one really became an adult. I imagined I’d be married with children and acting a whole lot older than I do. The reality is that I don’t feel any older than I did ten years ago. I don’t have children because I’m having too much fun with my freedom and independence…except my cat who I do consider to be my first son.
I still love new experiences, being adventurous, and doing stupid things I should have learned not to do in the last ten years. I would rather spend money on an experience than save it for 35 years later when I might be dead. I still have the ignorant “it won’t happen to me” mindset far too often. I don’t always eat my vegetables. Sometimes I have too many drinks when I know it won’t feel good the next day. Just the other night after a couple of drinks with friends I put a giant temporary tattoo on my arm that took up my entire forearm just for fun. Sometimes I eat popcorn for dinner. How can I be turning 30?

Turning the big 3-0 doesn’t really scare me or freak me out; it is just a number after all. I’ve always believed you are only as old as you decide to be. There are no ages to do things at or not do them at. Yet at times I feel societies pressure to follow these often unwritten age rules. But why?? Why must this, this, and that happen by this age. Why should I be slowing down instead of speeding up? Who decides these things? Why are we supposed to start acting old?
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Maybe it is more of that ignorance is bliss thing combined with the fact I don’t have kids, but I refuse to get old. I want to be young. By young, I mean alive, curious, full of wonder and wanderlust, and desire to fill my life with rich and rewarding experiences. I want to be a life-long learner and goal setter. I want to fight for my right to PaRtY!
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As I get older in a numerical sense, I feel there are fewer and fewer people around me who don’t act their age. People sacrifice so many things in exchange for what they are supposed to have and for who they are supposed to be. I slowly see people give up on dreams, goals, or hopes because they say they are too old. Too this. Too that. But what we are is too afraid. Too worried about our age and how it looks to others. Too fearful of bad things that have held us back previously. Too set in our ways to do something differently.  Too stuck on a path or plan to ever diverge.  Now I ‘m not talking quit your job and move across the country (although if my husband ever said he would I would be tempted-but he NEVER would).  I’m referring to letting adventure find me and not being so afraid of it when it does.  To do the things I’ve said I want to do, but never have.  To stop waiting for those experiences to find me, and instead create those moments for myself.  To do more following of the Holstee Manifesto below.
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I credit running for the most part for giving me a younger spirit that doesn’t want to think old. It has taught me in the past few years about how much I want to see the world, how unhappy I am with the mundane and average, how working hard rewards you in so many ways you can’t even begin to imagine. Running has shown me how age is just a number not a sentence, statement, or dictation of how to think, act, or feel. Seeing people in their 70’s and 80’s still running and living active lives inspires me everyday to do the same. And I’m talking LIVING people! These young souls are not home-bound and plagued by health ailments. Can I guarantee this won’t be me-obviously no. Can I guarantee you I won’t wait to find out-an astounding YES!
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As I enter my 30th year on Earth, I want to remind myself that we only have this one life to make our own rules and follow our own dreams. In the end it doesn’t matter what society says. It’s your life! So many runners, moms, dads, and individuals out there DO inspire me because I see them going for it. Readers of this blog inspire me with their goals and dreams. They work hard to balance family, responsibility, and their dreams.
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Besides being a list person, setting smaller dreams and goals gives us a sense of accomplishment while lighting that motivational fire under our arses. This year I want a list of 30 things to go for leading up to my birthday and in my 30th year, and I need your help. What are some ideas to add to my list in my journey to and during 30 years young? What cool experience did you make, see, do, explore, etc.  I want a balance between the adventurous and the it’s-ok-to-have-a-calm-life.

Goals for 30th year
1) Race 30ish mile race (50k)
2) Skydive
3) get a tattoo
4) improve blog
5) become a trail runner
6) read 30 books (This will be hard for me as I usually read like 8 books a year…on a good year.  Any suggestions?)
7) hike in natures beauty (Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park)
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8) visit Portland, Oregon
9) take a(nother) road trip
10) become a yogi or at least get committed to yoga/take classes
11) become a Marathon Maniac
12) go scuba diving
13) visit another country (plan to travel to Mexico with family)
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14) visit ten (minimum) new state parks
15) cross at least two more states off my 50 in 50 list
16) try new foods (new ethnic eats)
17) Try 30 new to me beers
18) complete a century ride on trails (Perrot State Park to 400 Trail in Reedsburg)
19) get a massage-truth, I’ve never had one
20) go downhill skiing again-it’s been 7 years
21) complete a monthly photo challenge-I’ve got a ton saved, but have never done one
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22) go ice skating again-it’s been 16 years
23) ride on a train
24) visit another baseball stadium

I still need six more ideas. I’m open to suggestions! Keep in mind these events will happen in the next 16 months, so I can’t fly to Mykonos, Greece or visit the Australian outback as much as I’d like to-unless your paying ;)! I want to make the next year about adventure, fun, and living life…not about a number!