{Grandad’s Half Marathon Race Report 2016}

I knew I really wanted to run a half a marathon before the pelvic pressure or discomforts of running became too much this pregnancy.  16 weeks pregnant seemed like a great time to complete a half marathon.  Not exhausted in the first trimester and not uncomfortable yet.  I also needed an excuse to wear the PRO Compression Jailbird socks I’ve been in love with forever and haven’t worn.

Since I’ve been through this once before (pregnancy), it seems I’m having significantly less ligament pain and pressure on my pelvis than my first pregnancy.  I’m so grateful for this and plan to take full advantage of this.

Admittedly, my preparation for this race was not what it should have been.  In fact I didn’t sign up until the night before since I had been sick with a nasty cold and pink eye for the past week and a half.  The first trimester was not full of activity for me as I felt so tired and sick and struggled with time management, too.  I hadn’t run a run over 6 miles in 6 weeks, but felt like my experience running 20 half marathons, 14 full marathons and one ultra marathon would help me through.

I had run a steady buildup of long runs until March running 13 miles at 7 weeks pregnant. I did what you should do for any pregnant run during my race-listened to my body.  I went much slower than my usual non-pregnant paces.  I drank lots of fluids.  I mapped out the restrooms before committing to the race.  Bathrooms every two miles was a deal sealer for me.  I could hydrate and relieve away!  I said I had to be ok with needed walk breaks. Amazingly I only walked about a mile total during the half marathon.

For me running this half marathon was something I needed to do for myself while also taking care of the baby inside me.  I knew going in it would likely be my last half marathon for the next year.  Having a baby in October in Wisconsin means you won’t see much for races until April or May.  That would also put me at six months postpartum, which is just a few weeks later than when I ran my first half after having Pierce.  Six months feels appropriate given you train or up mileage prior to the race and your need to heal and work that pelvic floor.

One of the hardest things about becoming a mom had been letting go of running.  I needed to do one more race before having another baby, but I also wanted it to set the tone for the rest of my pregnancy.  Last time winter and being trapped inside for workouts combined with so much pelvic discomfort meant much less activity than I had planned for during my pregnancy.

This time I have spring, summer and early fall weather to help keep me going.  I’m really hoping to have a very active pregnancy.  Last time I was active, but not as much as I’d hoped.   I feel the activity I did do helped me feel amazing post-delivery and helped me get back to activity much quicker.

Back to the race recap!

Miles 1 and 2 are run down Grandad’s Bluff.  I personally don’t like downhill running a ton, so this wasn’t my favorite, but the views were great!  These miles tick by fast!  I of course drank a bottle of water with a Strawberry Lemonade Nuun on the bus ride (the best), and we waited forever to get off the bus so I only peed once before the race.  We got off the bus at 8:00 which is when the race was supposed to start.  It actually started at 8:10.  As a result I made an early bathroom stop at mile 2, drank some water and was on my way.

Mile 3 I struggled to set into a rhythm.  Around mile 4 things clicked.  My body felt warm and the rolling hills were almost over.  Miles 5 and 6 I felt strong.  I had a GU and water at mile 4.  I could feel it giving me some extra energy.  During these miles you run on a paved bike path with lots of blooming trees nearby.

By mile 6 I had to pee again, but kind of forgot.  I don’t know how this happened but it did.  Mile 7 felt good, but by mile 8 I was thinking of a bathroom every step.  I stared ahead in hopes of seeing that beautiful blue port o potty!!  Otherwise I felt strong.  I had another GU and water and Gatorade at mile 8 where I found a place to potty.  I realized I was really sweating even though I felt great, so I decided here on out I would drink both water and Gatorade at every water stop.

Miles 7-9 are my least favorite as they take you around a residential area in La Crosse. Residential areas are not all that motivating to me, but it was very flat.

At the end of mile 8 my legs began to feel tired for the first time.  I walked for a half mile and then felt good again.  The rest of mile 9 and 10 felt pretty good.

Mile 10 gets a bit more scenic as you run on a bike trail again.  At Mile 11 I took a GU, drank some fluids and used the bathroom for what I hoped would be the final time.  I struggled with this mile, but felt ok.

Mile 12 and 13 I felt good for what I was doing, but I could feel hunger and fatigue coming.  I was glad to only have two miles to go.  At least these miles are scenic as you run along the river and downtown.

Pregnant running can take all the energy right out of your legs in a way that I’ve never really experienced when running otherwise.  Luckily it only happened a few times, I’d walk a bit and then feel good.

The quiet time to myself also gave me time to daydream about baby and life.  Are you a boy or a girl?  Just how crazy will life be with two kids 18 months and under?  How great will the joy be to give Pierce a sibling?  Will I still like my husband in a year?  More importantly, will he still like me?

As I crossed the finish line I was relieved to be done and wanted a snack stat!  I ate a banana and a small cookie from the tent and then we enjoyed some time at Riverside Park. Then we headed to Fayze’s for brunch and walked around downtown while we waited for our turn to eat.  I highly recommend Fayze’s for brunch, but be prepared to wait if something is going on downtown.

On our walk we stopped at Addie Cakes for some cupcakes to enjoy later in the day.  It was the perfect way to celebrate a half marathon finish!

Oh, and getting a caramel macchiato later at Starbucks really helped too.  Dressing like your favorite drink is optional.

If you were looking for more race photos of the course, then you’ll have to check out my Grandad’s Half Marathon post from 2013.  The course has not changed since I ran it three years ago. I felt I had enough juggling to do with my music, staying hydrated and fed and listening to my body, so I didn’t take any photos during this year’s race.

Overall I really enjoy this course and it does have many scenic parts.  I still debate whether it is a PR course or not.  Prior to the change in course I did run a former PR.  The downhill is hard on the quads unless you are prepared and might hurt you later in the race more than the time savings at mile 1 and 2.  Definitely check it out for yourself.    La Crosse is such a fun town with so much to do as a couple and/or a family.

Lastly, this running for two tank is amazing.  It is so soft and comfortable AND it doesn’t move, ride up or do anything annoying.  Runner tested by me for 13.1 miles!  I’ve also worn in on several other occasions with the same experience.  A tad pricey, but it comes in a bunch of other colors and styles (yoga, barre, sweating, etc. for two). Check out For Two Fitness to see what they offer!!  I ordered mine in my usual size and it has room to grow, too.  (Just my opinions here, not compensated I any way to write this.)

Family, good food, running and relaxing sounds like a perfect day to me!

Grandad’s Half Marathon
Time: 2:17:23
Pace: 10:30 overall (9:30 running)
Overall: 695/1078
Gender: 372/680
Age Group: 79/161

{La Crosse Fitness Festival Half Marathon}

Last Saturday I ran the La Crosse Fitness Festival Half Marathon. The course changed this year, but that is not something entirely new. I ran this race for the first time in 2008 back when the course started in Trempealeau and finished in Onalaska on trails. The next year they changed the course and it remained mostly the same for the next few years. Then this year they changed the start by moving it to the top of Grandad’s Bluff. I come back to this race each year because it is my second hometown. I spent my college years here and now my mom and my stepdad live there. So many good memories were made and will be made here. I wrote more about this race and its significance in an earlier post this year.

Last year there were thunderstorms delaying the start of the race. This year it was cold, which shouldn’t have surprised any of us with the spring we’ve had. When I checked the weather forecast that morning I was just relieved to see that the 80% chance of rain was no longer. Instead there was a dense fog advisory and it was chilly.
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When we got dropped off at the top of Grandad’s Bluff this was the sight. It was very twilight-like. I almost imagined Edward might appear to run with me, but then how could he, he’s a vampire. He’d definitely win this race.
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Anyways, it was chilly up there and a long wait. I kept my layers on until 7:40 before checking them in to see at the end of the race. I felt bad for people who had never been to Grandad’s Bluff because they really couldn’t enjoy the views. I went back later to get some photos so you could better see the route we ran hence the missing fog.
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Sitting in the starting corral body to body actually kept me pretty warm during the 20 minutes before the race began at 8:00 a.m. After a moment of silence for those in Boston and the national anthem, we were off. Those first few miles were FAST. I mean we were running down a bluff and all, but still legs were movin’. The view was fog and tree branches the entire way down, which I happen to love the sight of. The views would have been great though, too. The photos show later in the day.

The first mile took us down the first turns of the bluff and past The Alpine Inn.

Where I played summer volleyball in college, enjoyed Pat McCurdy many a nights, and even was a Kul Light girl a time or two.

Where I played summer volleyball in college, enjoyed Pat McCurdy many a nights, and even was a Kul Light girl a time or two.

mile 1-7:34
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mile 2-7:03
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mile 3-7:30
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After turning down the last stretch of Bliss Road we ran by La Crosse Floral. By then I was warmed up and was ready to ditch my hat. I love my Under Armor hat I purchased last fall and couldn’t bear parting ways forever, so as I passed a friends house on the course I hung it on the back of their mailbox for safe keeping until later that day. We continued running around one of my best friends’ house-literally houses down.

mile 4-7:50

Next, the course took us to the bike trails for the next few miles. This portion of the course caught up with the older version of the course. I was feeling pretty good at this point.
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mile 5-8:16
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mile 6-8:36

South side of La Crosse

South side of La Crosse

Then we ran over a bridge into a residential area on the South side of La Crosse. The course took us one block from the one bedroom apartment Ry and I lived in for 7 weeks before we moved again because I got my first teaching job. That summer was a crazy one. I lived in three places all in one summer. I had been living in a house on the North side with my roommates from college into the month of June, then it was onto the one bedroom on the South side for 7 weeks, then an apartment after getting my first “real” job. AND we got married at the end of August. There were some stressful nights in that one bedroom, but also some very sweet moments anticipating our wedding weeks away.

The course continued through residential streets, then onto East Avenue where I am giving my #1 sign award. There was an elderly residential apartment building with lots of young at heart fans cheering on the sidewalks. They had an empty wheelchair with a sign on it that said “quit chair.” I loved this! So creative. It is not often you see people in this age group cheering for runners.
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A few more blocks and we were passing my old place of employment for two and a half years in college, the Coulee Children’s Center. So many memories from this job; of being the two year old room teacher one summer, floating and being in the baby room another summer, and spending my last summer planning my wedding and being the three year teacher. I remember pushing a huge stroller up and down the sidewalks, a little boy whose face I can still picture who just loved dressing up in dresses and heels (we’ll call him Benny and the Jets), and of the long process of getting 10 three year olds dressed for winter recess all at once. One of these particular winter days a boy said he didn’t feel good and then projectile vomited all over the floor. Before you could stop them, little people were standing up and falling in it and crying. I can’t believe I didn’t cry. Lets just say we never made it outside that day. I learned so much at this job, but it seems like a million years ago.

mile 7-8:41

mile 8-9:16

mile 9-8:46

Gund Brewery Lofts

Gund Brewery Lofts

The course led us past a place I’d always thought would be cool to live-The Gund Brewery Lofts. Next, we passed Gundersen Lutheran and headed towards the Mississippi. And, as if I needed a sign to tell me how the next few miles would feel, it was there anyway.



mile 10-8:38

Seventh Street Landing

Seventh Street Landing

We passed the Seventh Street Landing and then were back on bike trails. I knew we were getting closer to downtown because I could smell the waste treatment smells always evident in this area. Enjoyable at this point of the course.

mile 11-8:42
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With less than two miles to go we turned by the La Crosse Harbor and could see the Cass Street Bridge ahead. We ran along the Mississippi River.
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Cass Street bridge is up ahead.

Cass Street bridge is up ahead.

and closed in on the Cass Street Bridge before crossing a small bridge and heading closer to downtown.
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mile 12-8:35

Just passed mile 12 we ran by some of the fine establishments of La Crosse. I envisioned lunch on the patio of The Waterfront on a gorgeous summer day and being in the cigar room of Piggy’s on our wedding night. Then it was back to the trail that leads right along the mighty Mississippi.
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mile 13.1-11:49

The finish was right along the river in Riverside Park. This park too has many great memories of walks and runs over the past decade. I wasn’t sure if we had to run around the entire park or not. Since I was tired, I played it safe and didn’t sprint in the end like usual.

Finish in Riverside Park

Finish in Riverside Park

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Grandad’s Half Marathon
Time: 1:50:21
Pace: 8:25
Place: 244/1189
Gender: 89/754
AG: 13/117

Then mom and I headed out for some shopping. We visited a few of my favorite places-kick and Lillian’s before checking out a new store in Powell Place that has a sign I just fell in love with. If it is still in the store the next time I’m in La Crosse you can be sure I’ll be buying it.
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This will likely find a place in my home.

This will likely find a place in my home.

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Then it was time for coffee and a snack, so we walked to Cabin Coffee. I ended up getting a Caramel Apple Cider; it was amazing!

Caramel Apple Cider-A must try!

Caramel Apple Cider-A must try!

This little race day adventure reminded me of all the reasons why I love La Crosse! I’m will be back again next year! If you live near La Crosse or want to make a weekend of it, I would HIGHLY recommend this race (Grandad’s Half Marathon).