{Friday Fab 5-Sore Swagger, Summer Festivals, Medal Holders,…}

School’s out for the summer! Yesterday was officially my final day of the 2013-2014 school year. Things were a bit busy so I’m posting my Fab 5 a day late. I always find such a mix of emotions on the last day of school-so excited to have time to do more of what I want when I want, but so shocked at not having to do something right now. We’re looking forward to a fun summer with races in great places, travel and good times with friends.

{#1-Chester Woods 50k}
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I’m still a little in shock about how my 50k race went last weekend. My legs were sore for a couple of days, but by Tuesday and Wednesday I felt good. That makes the experience even better. I had to share one more picture of one of my favorite parts of this course. It would make a great 50k for anyone-including first timers. They also have a ten mile race for those of you not looking for the long, long distance.

{#2-Festivals}
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After the 50k last Saturday I though I’d be relaxing on the couch all night. That didn’t happen. Instead I watched the husband play softball, hung out with the team, and then we hit up some fair fun. I hadn’t had cotton candy in years…YEARS. It was a great treat and fun except for when it got really damp and chilly and my hip flexors were in so much pain I literally could hardly lift my legs. Ryan went to get the car to meet me halfway while I struggled to walk with a big blanket, my purse and cotton candy. He said I looked like a crazy, homeless drunk person shuffling along the street with my belongings in hand. So enduring, sweetie.

{#3-Sore Swagger}
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I totally needed this tank top last Saturday at the husband’s softball game. I think people really thought I might have been really drunk when they saw me walking at the end of the night-I wasn’t!

{#4-Medal Holder}
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In honor of my 50k and with some birthday money, I have finally decided on one of the amazing and cool medal holders from the York Sign Shop. I currently have all my race medals pinned to a bulletin board. While this works okay, I’ve wanted a better and prettier way to organize them. They have some really neat stuff-check them out.

{#5-Short is better than long sometimes}
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Summer brings more time for me, but it also brings more fun. Sometimes finding time to have fun and run is difficult. I need to remind myself that when life gets busy a short run is always better than no run.

Anyone have a fun way you organize your medals? Ever had a post-race sore swagger?

Happy Weekend!

{Chester Woods 50k Race Report}

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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!

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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!
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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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}
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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}

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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}
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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}
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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!

{Friday Fab 5-Map/Photo Wall Art, Med City Half Marathon, Reading…}

This week has been super busy. Thank goodness I had some time last Saturday to hang pictures, read, and relax!

{#1-Map and Photo Wall Art}

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I finally had time to hang photos from our travels around the U.S. I love how the wall turned out. Love, as in I stop and stare at it as I pass by! Photos on the bottom are from the south, photos on right are from eastern U.S., top photos north, etc. The open space is just waiting to be filled with photos of our trip west this summer!

{#2-Time to Read}

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And enjoy the new wall art. It wasn’t as much time to relax as I’d hoped, but I took what I could get before my crazy week.

{#3-No Contacts or Makeup}

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Relax time meant wearing glasses and no makeup. You will likely never see this bare face again. I wear makeup EVERYWHERE. Always have and likely always will. Props to those of you who don’t, but this girl isn’t that brave!

{#4-Date Night Pizza}

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Monday brought an unexpected date night as I needed to buy some last minute supplies for the Science Olympiad kids I coach. The actual date was 20 minutes, but it was great to check in with the mr.

{#5-Med City Half Marathon}

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Also a surprise this week was registering for this half marathon on May 25th in Rochester. A friend texted me earlier this week wanting to get a group to run together. I love racing (especially with others) so I was definitely in. It will serve as my last easy long run the Sunday before my big race-Chester Woods 50k!

Anyone have any fun, unexpected race plans that were a blast?

Happy Weekend!

{Friday Fab 5-Snicker Chex Mix, Map Art, Chester Woods 50k, Slow Cooker Lasagna,…}

{#1-Snickers Chex Mix}

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Last weekend for the Super Bowl we had a few friends over. I love any opportunity to make new recipes and the husband loves Snickers, so I knew this would be a good one. It ended up completely exceeding my expectations. Amazing! Seriously-go to the grocery store and get the ingredients to make this NOW! Definitely a treat not to keep in the house all the time as it’s addicting. I took the rest of ours to share with other teachers at school. The husband got home on Monday night, saw the empty container, and demanded to know where the Snickers Chex Mix was. He was mad that I took it to school. It is that good. Another favorite of the night was the Feta-Stuffed Buffalo Chicken Meatballs I made. They were yummy!

{#2-Lululemon Keep It Up Jacket}

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In a Wisconsin Marathon Training post a few weeks ago, I mentioned my new favorite running jacket. When I bought the jacket I wasn’t completely sure it was worth the money (I put my x-mas gift cards towards the purchase of the jacket). The jacket seemed so simple, almost a bit boring.

Shockingly, I don’t own another black running jacket for cold weather so I decided to keep it. Taking it out for its first run, it was love at first mile. The jacket stays put, the soft shell blocks wind and repels wet snow without trapping heat, and keeps me warm. The hood isn’t annoying, you can button the hood without wearing the hood providing neck warmth, and remove it completely if you want. As you run and warm up a mile or two in, you can hold the jacket open in place with magnetic fasteners on either side of the zipper. It is easy to layer under and does look stylish, too. If you’re looking for a new jacket to wear in the winter weather that has been colder than most for many, this is a great choice.

{#3-Slow Cooker Lasagna}
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Hate making lasagna because of its time consuming layers? Then try this super easy to make, fast cooking time, and delicious to eat version. Plus, there are so many ways to personalize this dish to your liking; you can choose your favorite sauce, cheese(s), veggies, and even pasta type if lasagna isn’t your thing.

{#4-Map Wall Art Project}

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I have an obsession with daydreaming about travel. Wanderlust gets the best of me at least once a day. I’m grateful of the places I’ve gotten to visit despite my not-so-full Passport. I love reminiscing about the places I’ve (we’ve) visited, the food and beers I tried, and the sights of each place.

To remember and revisit these memories, spend more time cherishing the travels I’ve made, and to remain inspired to enjoy the journey-I created this map art project. Each pin represents a place the husband and I have been either together or on our own. The purple pins represent my travels and the teal pins represent the husband’s travels. Most of the pins represent OUR travels.

One of my favorite things to do with the husband is travel as he is my favorite travel companion. We simply have so much fun exploring together, talking, and life dreaming. It’s our philosophy that {Home Is Wherever I’m With You}. The song Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetics Zeros is basically our theme song! 🙂

To make the larger map I purchased a map that was appealing to my eye and matched the colors in our family room. I then glued the map to foam board that the husband cut to size with an utility knife.

Then came the fun part-putting in our pins. Reminiscing over our travels before we were a twosome and after was a great way to spend an evening. We then put the map in a frame leaving out the glass. Each time I look at our project on the wall I’m reminded of travels past and coming in the future, and my heart skips a beat.

The last step of the project is putting the black and white photos taken from our different travels on the wall surrounding the map. I’ll be sure to share a photo when this is complete. All we have to do is hang the photos.

{#5-Chester Woods 50k}
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I officially registered for my first ultra marathon (50k) as of a few weeks ago. I had a race schedule change to the Chester Woods 50k rather than the Kettle 50k. The Chester Woods was closer, half the cost, and in the morning-all logical reasons to switch. Plus I’ll need the husband’s support, so it worked better for him, too. So scary, but so excited for this next adventure!

Anyone have a new distance on their race calendar this year? Don’t forget…get Snickers ingredients NOW. It is worth the break in clean eating.

Happy Weekend and eating of Snicker Chex Mix!