{Liebster Award-Part 1}

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I was nominated for a Liebster Blog Award which is super exciting. Thank you to JanaBananaRD for nominating me.

If you haven’t heard of this award, it’s an award for bloggers given by bloggers. When you are nominated for the award, you answer a set of questions asked by the blogger who nominated you and then nominate 11 other bloggers, and give those bloggers a set of questions to answer.

Below are the Q and A.

1. Why did you start blogging?
At first I started blogging to share my journey of training and running 50 marathons in 50 states. After catching up with the states I’d run, I found I really liked writing and sharing information about the sport I love with others. Writing has become a great creative outlet for me and place to not annoy my family and friends (most non-runners) with too many running conversations. I’ve also been reminded of how great and supportive the running community is. Running is like a secret club where everybody gets in by simply running some miles. It’s the best.

2. What is your favorite way to stay fit?

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Based on the previous question it is probably obvious that running is my favorite. I’ve always loved the freedom, problem solving, stress relieving, and energizing properties of the sport. I do love to watch any sports Wisconsin, and love to do outdoor sports, too. Hiking and biking are other favorites of mine. I’m also falling in love with yoga and how it makes me feel better as a runner.

3. Where do you live?
I live in the great state of Wisconsin. The state of cheese, beer, and extreme winter running conditions. I live where it can be 60 one day and snowing the next. I live where summer humidity can be just as brutal as winter windchills. I live where nature’s beauty is always steps away and the biggest freeway is only two lanes wide. I live where people are kind, passionate about their Wisco teams, and we have amazing seasons to run, hike, and bike through.

4. Who is your biggest inspiration?

Hmmm… This is a challenge for me. I get inspired by people everyday-my students, husband, other bloggers, quotes on pinterest…I guess I’m easily inspired. Perhaps the most inspiring people throughout a consistent period of my life was/is Suzy Favor Hamilton. As a young runner growing up in Wisconsin, Suzy Favor was the running hero. She won the state championship four years in a row and ran in multiple summer Olympic games. Despite her recent activities I still consider her an inspiration. We all have imperfections and challenges that we work to overcome. When I met her for the first time with the cross country kids I coached, she was nothing but sweet, patient, and kind. Today I consider Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan both inspirations, too.

5. What is your favorite food?
Do coffee and Diet Mountain Dew count? If not, then pizza. There are so many ways to change it up, make it healthier, or vary the flavor.

6. What’s the farthest that you’ve run (for fun or a race)?
26.2 miles plus some small negligible amount that is totally not negligible when you are in that position. That is until June 2014 when I attempt my first 50k.

7. What’s your favorite recipe to share?

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Cowboy Caviar. I simply love the stuff. It is delicious, healthy, and brings back fond memories of summer grilling, no snow, and warmer temperatures. Plus, I haven’t met someone who doesn’t love it.  I usually follow the above recipe and use half the sugar.

8. Who’s your favorite team to cheer for (any sport)?

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Any Wisco teams. Right now…the Badgers. Final Four, Baby!

9. What’s the best group fitness class you’ve tried out?
Where I live fitness classes are very limited, but I’ve loved both the spinning and yoga classes I’ve taken. Both are great forms of cross training and make me feel stronger and healthier as a runner.

10. What’s your favorite thing about blogging?
Having a written record of the challenges and successes of the my journey and “meeting” other who love the sport as much as I do-that is not something I find often in my group of in person friends. Being able to gain ideas and insights as well as share them is invaluable. In a way we are all our own coach, so we help coach each other.

11. Are you going to pass on the torch and nominate 11 other bloggers?
Yes, but give me a few days. I’ve been really busy and like to make careful decisions. I will nominate 11 other bloggers in the next few days.

Thanks again to JanabananaRD for the nomination!

THE RULES:

1. Thank the blogger who has nominated you
2. Answer the questions given to you
3. Nominate 11 other blogs with less than 500 followers
4. Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer
5. Tag your nominees & post a comment on their blog to let them know that you have nominated them.

Sneaks & Stilettos

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

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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.
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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
25)
26)
27)
28)
29)
30)

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!

Suggestions…Go!

{Dances With Dirt Half Marathon}

Warning! This race report does not have a happy ending.

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On Saturday Ryan and I were set to run the Dances With Dirt Half Marathon. The race took place in Baraboo and began at 7:00 a.m., which meant an early wake up call for us. Early as in 4:20 a.m. after going to bed at midnight. I was less than excited to run after so little sleep, but I knew once we got going it would be great.
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This would be our first real trail race. The race was extreme, meaning single track trail and roots and rocks. The first 2.5 miles were up hill all the way. I was excited for this challenging race.

Our course route was in blue.
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The horn went off and we were off. The first mile started off as expected. It went up. The path was narrow, your eyes needed to be constantly on the ground to watch out for roots, rocks, and curves. It was also pretty crowded. Passing was very difficult and at times impossible. As we neared mile two a couple people said on your left meaning they were passing. I took my eyes off the trail to move over for a split second and just as mile two alerted me on my RunKeeper app, my left foot and a root had an altercation. I knew I had sprained my ankle the moment it happened. It was a familiar feeling from a Friday night stepping off a curb in college. Lets not relive that night.

If this were a road race I could have pulled off the course and Ryan could have easily kept going. This course was different. We didn’t know exactly where the first water stop was. We thought it was likely one or two miles ahead. This means I had to walk on a single track trail with roots, rocks, and a sprained ankle for over a mile with people trying to get around us constantly. Making it worse were the million gazillion mosquitoes biting as we walked the trail.

We came upon an aid station that a local had set up. By then my ankle was bulging over my shoe. It felt just awesome! The local told us the first official aid stop was still two miles ahead and there was likely no one there. We asked where the nearest road was so we could walk to it. I would then wait for Ryan to get the car and come to pick me up. She then said that if we walked a half mile or so down another trail she had her car parked nearby and would take us back to the start. I said sure and we began our walk to her car. She was my guardian angel that day!

It was at this time that Ryan asked if he could finish the race, but I did not hear him. Since I didn’t hear him say this he took the silence as a no. We got our ride back to the start, and Ryan turned our race bibs in so the organizers knew we weren’t lost in the woods some where. We were back on the road after running only two miles and walking nearly two miles; not the 13.1 miles we thought we were coming for. It was my first DNF (did not finish) of my life. I’ve never not finished a race. Not in middle school, high school, or beyond.
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Later on the car ride home I felt terrible that I didn’t hear him. He took my no response as a no-way-in-hell are you going to finish the race. In reality I really would have liked him to finish, but I was pretty focused on getting off my foot. I said next year we’d have to be back so we could both finish. It was exciting to see Ryan’s disappointment in not getting to finish because I would feel the same way. I love that we both hate quitting things we start and not getting to finish things we worked hard for. I also think it means he likes running these things more than he lets on. He really was disappointed.
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Once we got home it was RICE time for a bit. I’m hoping this sprained ankle heals quickly. My only thoughts in the woods were how I wanted to get off my ankle and get some ice on it. Once headed home I began to think a million thoughts. How would this injury impact my PR marathon training? Will I be able to PR? How long will I have to rest from running while my ankle heals? What will I do to stay in shape while it heals? Taking off a week doesn’t affect fitness, but more than that does! What will I do? What if I can’t run in Utah in less than two months? I immediately crossed this question out of my mind. I will run Utah even if it is slower than I want and not a PR attempt as planned. Two months is plenty of time to be back on the road.
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Having never been injured I do feel lost. It is so weird to not be running-to have taken the past three mornings off and not be lacing up my shoes. I was feeling a lack in motivation about training during the summer, but was still getting in my runs. I’m going to look at this positively. Maybe the time off will have me rejuvenated and recommitted to my race goal. I think the mini-break will give me a fresh mind set and make me reappreciate my love of running. I will have to ease back into training and then really work hard during the few weeks before the taper. August’s Runner’s World has an article about Killer Weeks and the improvement runners can make by bringing two weeks of pain to their training plans and see significant gains in their training. I guess Killer Weeks are in my future. I can and I will.

Until then I’ve been catching up on episodes of Mad Men on Netflix. It is a great coping strategy!
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Tuesday afternoon update!

Tuesday afternoon update!

Dances With Dirt Half Marathon
Time: ??Runkeeper kept going until we got home!
Pace: ??
Overall: DNF
Gender: DNF
Age Group: DNF
Safe running!

{Trailbreaker Half Marathon}

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On Saturday my husband and I had a surprise party to attend in Milwaukee. After RSVPing yes to the party a few weeks ago, I checked http://www.runningintheusa.com to see if there were any races to run on the way and there was!

The Trailbreaker Half Marathon was Saturday morning in Waukesha. The weather was not supposed to be so great. When I went to bed the night before the forecast said there was an 80% chance of rain and 20 mph winds on the docket for race time. Lets just say I had about ten outfit combinations ready to go!

Ryan and I got up early and headed east. The weather was cloudy and windy, but luckily rain was no longer in the forecast. I wore my only wind repellent jacket which was great for blocking the wind that morning. Per the usual, we arrived at packet pickup and the race three minutes before the start of the race. Ryan dropped me off and headed to find a place to park and nap. With windy, cool weather and no great places to view me running by, we had decided he might as well catch up on some sleep while I ran. I hurried to get my race bib and shirt, and was still pinning on my bib when the race began. I took the shirt with me and hid it behind a column of a restroom in the nearby park when we ran by. I was disappointed to risk losing the shirt, but did not want to run with it for 13.1 miles. I hoped it would be there after the race.

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The first mile of the race I was crabby about running behind, having to hide my shirt, and not having time to get ready before the race. It was also hard to get around people because I didn’t arrive early enough to move ahead. I felt frazzled!

All that thinking and talking in my head, made the first mile fly by. The first mile took us through a park in town on some bike trails and then headed to the Glacial Drumlin Trail. A couple miles in a light rain began. I was not too disappointed by the rain because it wasn’t raining hard and it enhanced the experience by making it smell like SPRING! I’ve been soooooo looking forward to winter ending, and I’d really missed that smell. This brightened my spirits and made me forget all about being late.

mile 1-9:34

mile 2-9:10

Miles 1-2 on course.

Miles 1-2 on course.


mile 3-8:50

mile 4-8:48

Glacial Drumlin Trail

Glacial Drumlin Trail

The bike trail was fun to run on. I love being out in nature and enjoy both big city races and runs on trails away from it all. This race was perfect for letting the mind wander and enjoying outside after months of being trapped indoors (except for running). The course was an out and back route with a turnaround at mile 7. This threw me off and made me scared thinking that the race might end up being 14 miles. I pictured the course map in my head and thought I might have remembered seeing this longer out part, but it was concerning.
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mile 5-8:33

mile 6-8:34

mile 7-8:32

On the Glacial Drumlin Trail

On the Glacial Drumlin Trail


Once I’d reached the turn around point, I decided to pick up the pace a bit. I couldn’t believe how good my legs felt considering I’d felt terrible on all of my runs last week. My legs wanted to go faster which was an awesome feeling. I love how once the weather warms up it seems the legs want to go faster.

mile 8-8:19

mile 9-8:06

mile 10-8:23
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I hadn’t been doing much running this past six weeks, and the runs I did go on were not long. I ran just short of 7 miles a week ago, which was my longest run since my double weekend in mid-February. I felt good considering this. I had some major muscle memory action going on. Despite this, I did start feeling tired during the last three miles. By the finish line, I was glad to be done.

mile 11-8:17

mile 12-7:59

mile 13-8:07

mile 13.1-7:24

I loved this race. The city and trails were beautiful. The packet pickup, race, aid stations, and finish were so organized and easy for runners. Running near the river and the parks were great with spring finally here.* I’d highly recommend adding this race to your spring calendar. It is always hard to find races early in spring and this one was great. They also have a full marathon which goes off the paved paths. I’d love to try that one someday. Visit http://www.runthetrailbreaker.com/ for more information!
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Trailbreaker Half Marathon
Time: 1:52:27
Pace: 8:35
Overall: 158/588
Gender: 40/329
Age Group: 18/91

The supportive husband and I.

The supportive husband and I.

*I wrote this post on Sunday after grilling out. I thought spring was here. The Weather Channel forecast has made me rescind my previous comment about spring being here. I guess the word is still out on that.