{Maple Leaf Half Marathon}

Perhaps a million Saturdays ago now, the husband and I ran the Maple Leaf Half Marathon. I started this post shortly after and it has sat in my draft folder along with a half dozen other posts for months now.  As much as I like documenting running on this blog there are bigger priorities now.


From a few months back!

We ran unprepared, undertrained and with over 5 months of accumulated sleep debt. You’d think this run was going to be terrible. I wasn’t feeling confident in myself or the run going in.

I’d biked 30 miles the day before my first postpartum half marathon on a school field trip on the Sparta-Elroy Bike Trail. It was my first time riding a bike in over a year. My first time running more than 7.5 miles in a year was the next day while running this half a marathon.  I’d only ran a few times in the previous couple of weeks. Life just continued to feel crazy.  Currently that has not changed.

The weather was perfect, the leaves starting to turn, and everything organized. We had a great run.  It was really fun to catch up and the husband and I chatted it up the entire time.  The miles flew by as the husband and I talked the entire 13.1 miles.  No music, just conversation and catching up on our part.  I could count on one hand the number of times we left our little man in the first almost six months of his life so this was big time!

The first few miles I was so uncertain and nervous for the end miles.  I kept telling Ryan we need to not go out too fast, maybe we should slow down some.

Mile 1-8:41

Mile 2-8:45

Mile 3-8:45

Mile 4-8:51


Seriously, I cannot explain this face.  We all have those embarrassing race photos.  This happens to be the only one taken during the race so I’m sharing it with the world.

By this point we were running near where my mom and step dad live. Knowing Pierce was there made me want to take a quick detour and check on him, but I knew it would probably be more upsetting for me to do that so I kept running on.

Mile 5-9:06

Mile 6-8:43

Mile 7-8:42

Mile 8-8:43

Around mile 9 I started to get a little tired.  Luckily the turning around and heading back towards downtown had me optimistic.

Mile 9-8:59

Mile 10-8:54

Mile 11-8:38

As we neared downtown crowds of people lined the streets waiting for the Maple Leaf Parade to start.  Most looked at us like we were crazy and were probably drinking already.  Not a ton of cheering or music playing like I expected, but still encouraging.

Mile 12-8:33

Mile 13-7:29

Of course we picked up the pace for the last mile.  I was honestly shocked about how good I felt running this half.  I’m certain the combination of workouts during the previous months helped strengthen me overall (relative to being 5 months postpartum). 21 Day Fix workouts, Barre Classes, Yoga Sculpt and running were all helpful.  Still it was an unexpected pace to finish at.  The husband and I were pumped.  Mama still has it…or had it.  I’m not so sure these days.

Despite the horrible race photo, we actually looked pretty strong at the finish!


I’d really hoped to run another fall half marathon, but it just wasn’t in the cards.  It sure was a great comeback race and gave me confidence for fast times later on.  I’d love to make this race an annual one.  What a fun way to kick off Oktoberfest!

Maple Leaf Half Marathon

IMG_0176Time: 1:52:56
Pace:  8:38
Overall: 261/572
Gender: 98/301
Age Group: 17/39

After our race it was time for playing with Pierce, visiting friends and then mommy and daddy time after bedtime that night.  I enjoyed my first Bloody Mary since before becoming pregnant.  I held out for the real deal at Del’s Bar.  It was worth the wait.  Adult time twice in one day?!  That is almost unheard of.



{The Color Run-La Crosse}

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.
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.





I loved pink, but purple has always been my favorite color. It makes me smile.






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?


{Motivation Monday-Create adventures for yourself!}

This morning as I’m enjoying a little late start to the day due to an unexpected snow day, I just can’t calm the happiness I feel about yesterday’s run. I was so sick of running the same boring routes in my community that it was making me not look forward to my long runs. I simply felt uninspired and bored with the routes. Having also not ran a race yet this year (crazy for me!) I needed something different. Then I came up with an idea that is not so new to me, but easily forgotten-go run somewhere different.

We had originally planned a route that was at a state park about an hour away, but with the inches of rain we were receiving we were not sure what the conditions of the trails would be like and with youth turkey hunting taking place in the park, I wasn’t so sure that would be entirely safe either. Instead the husband and I drove to a nearby city that has miles upon miles of running trails, bike paths, and scenic routes. We visited the city we fell in love in, partied the weekends away in, and hiked the trails of-La Crosse. We thought up a route Saturday night that would highlight some of our favorite spots and running trails.

Sunday morning I woke up excited to run the distance with butterflies in the stomach mixed with some dread (22 miles-eek!) It would be both of our longest training runs. I’ve never ran more than 20 miles training for my previous marathons. Had I not signed up for a 50k I probably would have stopped at 20. I commented to Ryan that it was like we were on a little adventure. We approached the looming 22 miles as just that-an adventure. There would be miles that didn’t feel great, that we would get annoyed with each other, and there would also miles where we would be laughing and smiling.

The route would take us 22 miles out and back and out and back. For those of you who might ever get the chance to run La Crosse these are all great routes below. You could do the whole thing or run a section or two. We parked at Menard’s because it is near the La Crosse marsh trails entrance and in the middle of our planned route. We ran the La Crosse marsh trails to part of the Hixon Forest Trails (here we had to turn around as melting ice and water created an impassable area).  I mentioned to Ryan while we were running through the marsh trails that it was just what I needed.  The sounds of ducks, birds, frogs.  The sights of water, trees, bluffs, and dirt trails.  My heart felt full and content.  I was at peace with the nature around. Our nature run then took us to the UW-La Crosse campus, past our old apartments to Cass Street where we enjoyed the big beautiful houses before turning around and repeating our route for the most part.

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Click to enlarge!

At this point we were back at the car, eleven miles in, to quickly refuel. We then headed out on the La Crosse River Trail in the opposite direction leading us to Riverside Park which borders the Mississippi, past some of our favorite restaurants/bars, to the Cass Street Bridge where we crossed the Mississippi for the first time, to Pettibone Park where we looped around, before heading back onto the sidewalk leading us into Minnesota. Once meeting up with the welcome to Minnesota sign we headed back to our vehicle skipping the Pettibone Park loop. I saw so many runners out doing their weekend long runs.  We didn’t talk or exchange conversation, but you can usually just tell a runner on their long run.  There was a camaraderie to the whole thing-us runners out doing our long runs on a Sunday morning.

As the Garmin chimed 22 miles (oh, how I love the sound of that chime EVERY time) we high-fived each other and smiled.  People in the Menard’s parking lot gave us weird looks as the rain came down, but we didn’t care.  We both felt strong at the conclusion of our run and I believe the scenery and change in routes has almost everything to do with it. I mean we were running half the miles (11!) in the rain and it didn’t even phase us much. Part of the fun was also knowing we were going out to eat somewhere local for a meal and a drink after the run.

Our running adventure was just what I needed to love the long run again. So many of them have been just okay. Nothing exciting, got the miles in, and survived to run again. When it comes to running and why I love it though, this wasn’t making the cut. I wanted to love the long run, to get the sense of adventure back, to feel like the explorer I love to be. This long run reminded me that I have complete control over where the long run takes me. I don’t have to run the same routes in town. There are plenty of unexplored trails, routes, bike paths, roads, etc. just an hour away in any direction, but it’s up to me to create my own adventures.

You can bet my upcoming long runs will not be boring or follow the same routes.  I’ve found my exploring spirit again and I can’t wait to see what else is out there. I’m already anxiously planning where to complete my next long runs.  What new trails can I visit?  What city can be explored?  Let’s be adventurous. When will you create adventures for yourself?

Happy Monday!

{Friday Fab 5-La Crosse Edition}

Since La Crosse was recently names the number two best small town (70,000ish) to live in, and the fact that we are there all the time it is the focus this week. Over the past six days we have drove there and back 3 times. Why? Because La Crosse is just that awesome. What makes it so great? Well… Not in any special order. This week we…

{#1-planned to go to 4 Sisters}

But they were closed for a holiday party. So instead of our annual tradition of wine, amazing tapas, and views if Riverside Park decked out in millions of holiday lights…

{#2-Good Eats at Buzzard Billy’s}

We headed over to a yummy Cajun restaurant. Ever since going to New Orleans his summer I can’t get enough of the Cajun spice.


I had delicious jambalaya. Buzzard Billy’s is located right beneath the amazing retro martini bar, The Starlite Lounge. Martinis and I are best matched for a weekend night, so we had to pass on those.

{#4-Rotary Lights}

Then it was time to get bundles up and head over to the millions of lights, now LED, to round our our holiday tradition.

{#5-Never get sick of these light}

Each year they add in some changes. With all LED lights the colors are so vivid now. They also collect food and monetary donations for local food pantries. Other than your donation, the lights are no cost to viewers.

Oh, I did run this week continuing my Runner's World streak. Check out my Instagram feed for more run streak photos!

Happy Weekend!

{Friday Fab 5}

This was perhaps the craziest week of the school year so far! Cross country meets, parent-teacher conferences, VB and FB concessions, observations, oh, my! But…I still found time to get in some great miles with the cross country kids. I swear I like these kids more and more everyday. They are a good group to coach.

{#1-I LOVE fall}

Ryan and I spent some time together enjoying the gorgeous fall weather last Sunday. We walked, talked about next summer’s road trip, got pumpkins, apples, and mums, and simply enjoyed the wonderful sunshine.

{#2-Great hill workout with CC kids}

We hit the hills outside of town for runs of 5.5 to 7 miles Tuesday.

{#3-Cross Country in La Crosse}

The CC team traveled to La Crosse for a meet…AND IT WAS CANCELLED. This is the first time in the history of, well, cross country that a meet was cancelled. CRAZY! After the rain stopped I snapped a photo of fall in the bluffs; I just can’t get enough!

{#4-Case of Wanderlust}
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So, this next statement I’m going to make is truly a testament to how lucky I am, but… For the first time in 2.5 years I don’t have a plane ticket booked to somewhere. AND it is driving me crazy. I’ve got a major case of wanderlust going on. See one of the things I’ve learned about myself in the last five years is I love to travel, explore new places, and have a trip to look forward to even if it is only a weekend long. There is no feeling like the moment the wheels lift off the ground and you know you are headed somewhere unexplored. There is only one cure for wanderlust…travel!

{#5-Temporary Cure for Wanderlust}
Screen shot 2013-10-03 at 10.18.18 PM
Check out the world’s 15 toughest marathons. More than one of these is on my run bucket list.

Happy Weekend! Enjoy fall and get out and explore!

{Rotary Lights 5k}

So, I’m not sure what has me thinking about Christmas, but we will call this Christmas in July perhaps. I was looking up races to run down the road and realized I’ve done this race several times and have no race report about it. The Rotary Lights 5k is one of my favorite races.
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First of all, I LOVE Christmas time. Like love, love, love. I start listening to Christmas music in early November, lights are a must in nearly every room, and we leave our tree up until at minimum the end of January on purpose. In reality it is often up until March because we end up not having time to take it down. My mother cannot believe this! Oh, the needles! I should add we always have a real tree, too. Fraser furs really don’t drop that many needles if cared for properly-even in March. Then we burn it at our annual pool party in August. The flames are usually a good 30 or 40 feet.
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Second-the race is one of the only in December. It takes place in one of my favorite parks that is all decked out for the holidays. How decked out? Well, they claim to be the largest display of lights in the midwest with over 2,000,000 lights. Each year it seems to get bigger. In addition to lights, there is music, reindeer, santa, hot chocolate, a live nativity scene, and Christmas trees decorated by community organizations around the park. All of this right along the mighty Mississippi River.

Rotary Lights 5k-2009

Rotary Lights 5k-La Crosse River Trail-2009

Third-the course. You run on the paths that go along the Mississippi before taking the torch lit bike path out along the La Crosse River Trail and then loop back to Riverside Park under a tunnel of lights and past the displays of lights. They serve hot chocolate at the finish.
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Fourth-the weather. You never know what the weather will bring. The first year it was run in blizzard conditions and the next year it was sunny and 20 degrees. The third year I signed up I actually drew the line. We had received 20+ inches of snow the day before and the windchill that Sunday was -20 degrees. Last year I ran a 10 miler with giant, wet snowflakes coming down before showing up to the start of the 5k as a long training run preparing for the RnR Arizona Marathon in January. 2013 who knows?

We did what most mid-20's people do when a snowstorm hits-play in it!

The year that wasn’t!  We did what most mid-20’s people do when a snowstorm hits; play in it!  I’m in the orange coveralls!

Fifth-dressing up! Elves, snowmen, santa, people in only shorts. Who knows what you will see when you run this race.

A santa hat is perfect for hiding your stocking hat!

A santa hat is perfect for hiding your stocking hat!

Lastly, the race is only $10 and you get an embroidered stocking hat. This is the cheapest race I’ve ever entered and you get so much for it. Plus, your $10 goes towards keeping the Rotary Light going. They also collect non-perishables for the local food pantry during the entire month the lights are going and they encourage runners to bring non-perishables, too.
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If you live in the Coulee Region this is an awesome family event. They cap registration fees at $27/family, too. This race has become part of our annual holiday traditions making it one of my favorites!

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Rotary Lights 5k
Time: ?? (27:??)
Pace: ?? (9:??)
Overall: 91/373
Gender: ??
Age: 11/54
City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style. Soon it will be Christmas Day! Yes, I’m listening to Christmas music. Just for this post though. And it is less than five months away.

{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).