{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
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Always fun and a great way to take the seriousness out of your training and racing.

#9-Running solid miles all winter

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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.
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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!

Sarah

{UW-L Turkey Trot 5k}

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The deer hunting weekend tradition continued this year with my eighth Turkey Trot 5k. The race is one of my favorites and has become such a tradition it would be strange not to be completing this event. Per the usual last few years we walked this event as not everyone in our group is a runner.

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The course has remained relatively unchanged over the years and the shirts are usually great. Every year I wonder what colors they will use and how they will incorporate Flash the Turkey onto the design.

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Post-race we went to a favorite local restaurant for brunch followed by a day of shopping and Starbucks red cups. I love traditions and look forward to this one each year.

What turkey trot traditions do you have?? Anyone racing a local turkey trot or Thanksgiving race??

Next up-Festival Foods Turkey Trot 5 Mile Race on Thanksgiving.

{The Color Run-La Crosse}

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A couple of Saturday’s ago a few friends and I got together to run The Color Run in La Crosse. It was a very chilly morning with temperatures in the 30’s (Turkey Trot weather-not September a.m. weather) but at least the sun was shining. We got there plenty early thinking it would be crowded, but the colder temps must have kept people lingering in their houses or cars a bit longer. We wished we had, too.
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The 5k route was in a very familiar area so I was curious to see where the course would take us as I didn’t pay too much attention to the specifics of the route. I’m going to let the photos do most the talking as I gave a much more detailed report with color run race tips in my first Color Run race report.
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I loved pink, but purple has always been my favorite color. It makes me smile.
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Before:
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After:
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After a fun run with friends it was time for brunch. I love fun run Saturdays with friends even if we didn’t get a single picture with all four of us in it. If you haven’t tried a color run yet, what are you waiting for? So fun! Maybe running could become your happy hour?
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ūüôā

{Dirty Girl 5k Mud Run}

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The first Saturday in August I had the chance to run my first mud run, the Dirty Girl 5k. A friend had asked if I wanted to join her.  In the spirit of trying new things and taking advantages of opportunities, I of course said yes. We signed up for a later in the day wave since we were going to be out and about having fun the night before and up late in a city that was an hour and a half away from where the race was being held. The race was held in Blaine, MN just outside Minneapolis.

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For race day we tried to match, but didn’t really plan ahead other than stopping at Target to see what we could find. I had read in previous mud run suggestions not to wear cotton, however I refused to ruin a moisture wicking shirt at a mud run. We instead opted for the clearance tanks at Target (this was the right choice as both of mine are ruined.) The shorts made it out ok since they were black.

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We knew going into the mud run there might be some confusion and strange things as the event company that originally ran the Dirty Girl 5k is filing bankruptcy, and a new event company picked up the Minneapolis Dirty Girl 5k a couple of weeks before the event. We had already been told there would be no t-shirts. I was bummed, but was more in it for the experience. When we arrived to park they had directions handy, lots of signs and polite volunteers running the event.

We checked our gear and headed to our start corral. We had packed a clean shirt, a towel to sit on on the ride back to her house, a pair of shoes for after (actually I forgot mine-oops!) and our id and phones for safe keeping.  When our start began they read us the safety guidelines and we were off. The race is a 5k with obstacles throughout the course. The obstacles you would find at a Dirty Girl are explained and pictured on their website, but to save you the time I borrowed their photos (read: all obstacle photos are from the Dirty Girl website) and posted them below.

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All of these obstacles were at our race. ¬†There was also a super thick mud obstacle they gave us the option to run through it (the harder choice) or roll over it (that’s how thick the mud was.) ¬†Of course we chose run through it. ¬†After taking two steps our legs were stuck and we were in thick mud up to our hips. ¬†This was the only scary/hard part of the race. ¬†I could not get my one leg free. ¬†My friend was stuck, too. ¬†There was no way anyone ran through that. ¬†The guy working the obstacle had to dig us out. ¬†I started to get claustrophobic since I was stuck and may have begun to silently freak out.

 

 

 

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Right away they get you all muddy at the first obstacle!

For anyone feeling nervous about doing an obstacle course this is a great introductory race (just roll through the thick mud obstacle.) This is not a Tough Mudder or Spartan race, and I don’t believe any additional or specific training needs to be done to complete this event if you are in shape to some extent. Some girls walked during the event and every obstacle gives you the option to go around the event if you want. Although, how can you say you completed the event if you did this? Just my opinion. ūüôā

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I mostly run with very little cross training and found the course to be easy. None of the events were too challenging or overwhelming at all. It actually confirmed that I want to do a Tough Mudder someday for more of a challenge. Based on my experience this would be a great obstacle course/5k to make your first.

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Completing this race was a blast! I literally forgot I was running at times having a friend to run and talk with throughout the race. I didn’t look up any of the obstacles in advance so anticipating the next obstacle was fun and a great change-up to the pace. I think I laughed most the race. This is also how I go mud in my mouth, but this also seems inevitable as it is a MUD RUN. Simply put, this is super fun race and all about a good time rather than competitive/strict paces. They don’t even time the event.

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After running the race we grabbed our gear which had security workers confirming you were who you said you were, visited a photo area for some post photos, and hit the shower off area. Here we donated our shoes to be cleaned up and past on to those in need and began the fun task of getting the mud out of and off of every part of your body. Seriously, EVERY PART of your body.

Finally we headed to pick up our free drink. This is where I was bummed as they said they were done giving out drinks. The race was still going on and our registration claimed we would get a shirt and a drink and we got neither. I’m willing to give this new event company the benefit of the doubt since they just picked up the race two weeks before it was held, but I was bummed. They did offer all participants a super cheap registration for next year as a consolation.

Bummed that we didn’t each get Razberita’s like we thought we would, we did the next best thing-went out for Mexican food and had a giant margarita…still muddy and in dirty bottoms (we changed our shirts.) So maybe that was better in the end.

If you get a chance to do a mud run your only answer will be yes. I know you’ll love it!

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Dirty Girl 5k

No paces, places, age groups or times.  Just lots of mud, fun AND free race photos which were taken by Gameface Media!  There photos were amazing.  Thanks, Gameface Media!

{Ugly Sweater 5k-Updated!}

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Sunday was the Ugly Sweater 5k held in La Crosse each year. ¬†In past years the race has been referred to as the Rotary Lights 5k. ¬†This year they changed things up a bit adding some festive fun with ugly sweaters. Let’s just say my sweater was UG-ly!

Since it was cold outside with a windchill of -8 degrees, we put on our warm layers including my super warm base layer from Target that I bought that very day.  Once again, I have not put laundry away in a while and I could not find a lot of my layers.  This shirt stays in place, is fleecy warm on the inside, wind resistant, and so cozy all for $19.99.  Keep in mind it is snug and tight like a base layer should be.  I did go up a size and could have went up two sizes for a bit of a looser fit.  You can find it online here.

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After some quick photos at my mom and stepdad’s house we were off to the race. ¬†We got to packet pick up, picked up our race numbers, and waited inside the warm lobby of the Radisson. ¬†With the race start just steps out the door, we enjoyed the warmth until we absolutely had to head outdoors.

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The sun was setting and we were jumping up and down like most runners were doing our best to stay warm.  Lucky for us ugly sweaters are surprisingly warm.  Garland, too.  My holiday Pro Compression socks offered some added warmth and fun to the outfit.   I love these socks, and if you are hoping to also make sure to use coupon code BLG13 to get 40% off and free shipping on your order.

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Santa started the race-gun and all. ¬†Sort of a disturbing sight to see Santa shooting a gun in the air, but I get he isn’t the real Santa. ¬†The real Santa is obviously far too busy to be at the starting line of the Ugly Sweater 5k.

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The gun went off and we were off.  The race started in Riverside Park, took us onto the pathway along the frozen Mississippi, and then lead us onto the La Crosse River Trails.  We clicked off our first mile on the snow covered sidewalks and trails in 8:06.  At the halfway turn around we ran around a North Pole sign with the sounds of holiday music nearby.  We kept up the pace and ran back along the trails finishing under the Rotary Lights lighted canopy.  Then it was time to enjoy the lights and our new Ugly Sweater mugs.

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Race perks included a mug with free hot chocolate after the race and a chip for a free Pearl Street Brewery beer later at your choice of local bars. ¬†Love me some Down Town Brown-Double yum!! ¬†Can’t wait to drink out of my festive mug this holiday season!

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Ugly Sweater 5k
Time-24:38
Pace-7:55
Overall-52/412
Gender-19/293
Age Group-9/112

Festive Running to All and to All a Good Night!

{Motivation Monday-It feels like the first time…}

Two weekends ago when running the Glow in the Deke 5k with my best friend I got to experience the race from a perspective I haven’t been in a while…for the first time. My friend ran her first 5k without stopping to walk or take a break. She was someone who had been a non-runner just months before. I’m talking someone who always said she HATED running. I was sooo proud of her!

While running with her I reminisced over what it felt like to run two miles and three miles for the first time. It reminded me of what it felt like to run when a couple miles was the most I’d ever ran, and when I finished my first half marathon, and 16 miler, and 20 miler, and marathon. And guess what? The feeling is the same no matter how many miles you run. Anytime you run a distance you haven’t before, the pride you feel when you hit stop or cross that finish line are the same. You feel so accomplished, prideful, emotional, excited, and tired.
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“At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead. At mile 24, I knew I was dead. At mile 26.2, I realized I had become too tough to kill.”

My friend shared how she felt emotional as she came around that last corner of the track thinking about how she was finishing a distance she had worked hard to complete. I didn’t tell her, but those emotions are not just something she experienced. Stand at the finish line of most races and you see it in people’s faces and body language-emotions. I once read somewhere that a marathon finish line is a melting pot of emotions, and I couldn’t agree more.

Some people are running for others who can’t, in memory of a significant person in their life, to overcome, to succeed, to move on, to start new, to test their limits, and for reasons we can’t begin to understand. Running races and finishing new distances makes you feel real and raw in a different way hence the wide range of emotions. Take two minutes of your day and check out the raw emotions this amazing photographer caught at the finish of this year’s Twin Cities Marathon earlier in October. I promise it is worth it; I teared up and couldn’t stop smiling at the same time!

Many a times I’ve fought back tears when crossing the finish line whether it is a new distance, an especially challenging race, or being so overcome with joy and pride at something I worked so hard for. Many times these emotions are strongest the first time and we forget the feeling of being a new runner. It was great to be reminded of those challenging days when you never knew how a run would feel or if you would survive it.
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I loved being around other runners who seemed to be new to running, too. I was overcome with pride for them. Seeing others do something I love and watching them experience it in a positive way makes me so excited. While most of us wouldn’t want to go back to the very first time we ran (or a first time at a distance), this week run for the first time. Run a new distance, a new route, with a new friend, or at a new time. Take a run around a route where you first began to run and reminisce of over those first miles where you became a runner one step at a time. Take those first steps or celebrate how far you’ve come!
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“The person who starts the race is not the same person who finishes the race.”

Happy Monday!

{Glow in the Deke 5k-2013}

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This past weekend I had the opportunity to run the Glow in the Deke 5k again. This time I ran it with my best friend, her husband, and my own husband. I don’t run a lot of 5k’s because I often feel you just don’t get to run enough miles for the money. This race is different. They really think of everything and turn this into an event fun for families and those who like to have adult fun, too.

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The race takes place in the evening hence the glow in the dark part. The course takes you through the UW-La Crosse campus, to the trails in the nearby marsh area (gorg!), and then back to campus.

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Water stop!

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If you ever read this blog, then you know how I like my scenic paths and trails. The whole course is lit up with tiki torches, colored flashlights, people with glow sticks, paper lanterns, and Christmas lights. The race finishes at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium with 300 meters on the track and your time on the big-tron.
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Post-race is the Deke’s Dash for the little runners. Then you have a choice of what to do with the rest of your evening.

Option 1: You can stretch out on the football field with blankets and the family and watch a movie geared at children’s ages on the bigtron.

Option 2: If you are child free or have a babysitter, then you can enjoy the local food vendors, live band (Spicy Tie Band was awesome), and enjoy the beer at the beer tent. All proceeds go to the Boys and Girl Club and their partnership with the Hope Lives Foundation.

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An added bonus: The participant t-shirts are tech tees that have glow in the dark writing on them.

I will be making this race an annual event. Definitely consider this race if you live in the area!

3, 2, 1…Glow!