{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.



{Rails to Trails Half Marathon}

Signing up for this race was a last minute decision. I’d been back and forth about running this race as I have a specific race entry fee budget to stick to, so I carefully choose which races to run. I also have a marathon in Kansas coming up on Saturday. Thursday night in my Twix coma after watching a movie far too scary for me, I signed up for the race. I blame the sugar.
Screen shot 2013-10-31 at 10.37.27 PM
Some of my sweet logic involved the following:
-The race is a low key event that allows you to show up, park, and get to the start line in minimal time.
-Ryan’s grandma lives in Norwalk and it would be a chance to visit her.
-I’ve walked, ran, and biked these trails since I was introduced to them when I met Ryan 11 years ago.
-I had actually ran this course a few years ago when they held it in the spring. This race was less than stellar for me as I learned the important rule of how many adult beverages are safe to enjoy the night before a race. Lesson learned and never forgotten. I wanted to redeem myself.
-I was also curious about how fast I could run if I started out fast rather than easing into the race like I’d been doing for the past six months. I did not train for a half (i.e. no speed work) and have been only running 20ish miles a week so I really wasn’t sure.
-I knew the course would be gentle on the legs with the old railroad beds.
-I anticipated some good fall colors.
-The weather looked to be near perfect running temperatures.

So maybe it wasn’t just the sugar?!
Saturday night we went to a haunted house (something I don’t do) and then we went out for Mexican with some friends. I enjoyed my delicious enchilada verde with a strawberry margarita. Ryan and I were the first to leave as I mentioned I was running the next morning and wanted to get plenty of rest. Someone proceeded to say “ohhhh, Mexican the night before a race. You’re brave.” Way to scare me even more. Let’s just say that is a myth. If you know your body, then you can eat whatever you like. Before your first few races DO NOT eat new foods!
Sunday morning was bright and sunny! Packet pick up was a breeze. I had a mental goal to run a 1:49. I wanted to run my second fastest time. I was going to run 8:30 for four miles, 8:20 for four miles, 8:10 for the last four miles, and the fastest last mile I could.
Screen shot 2013-11-03 at 3.13.40 PM
The horn sounded and we were off. This race is flat, but has some gradual inclines that will make you say to yourself “Why does this feel so hard all the sudden?” I expected this and tried to race through the feeling. It is sort of a confidence buster when you feel it early on though.

mile 1-8:20

mile 2-8:19

mile 3-8:23
It was around this point that I saw a friends mom who was handing out Powerade at an aid station. Funny how just a smiling face can make you smile. Smiling while running does make your perceived effort and pain seem less. Try it! You’ll be smiling a lot more when your running in the future.  I also think it makes non-runners think you are even crazier.  Definitely smile when running! 🙂

Mile 4 takes your through the 3/4 mile tunnel for the first time on this out and back course. Of course your Garmin will not be able to track you which is mildly frustrating when you have a time in mind. Personally, the tunnels always slow me down some. They were very well lit for being tunnels, but it is an adjustment to the eyes. I struggle with this anyways so I think it is more me than other people. The surface is also uneven at times and wet. My main focus was slow down a bit and DO NOT RESPRAIN your ankle. So I did just that. Running through the tunnels is a cool experience though.

mile 4-8:00

mile 5-7:24 (GU-Salted Carmel…YUM)

mile 6-7:51

Reaching the half way turnaround always gives me a surge in energy. The second half of the out and back was so beautiful. The trees still had their colorful leaves that looked like an arched canopy at times. The leaves were magically falling. I was starting to worry I was going way too fast, but chose to ignore the signs my body was sending me and push on. I readjusted my race goal to 1:47:something.

mile 7-8:00

mile 8-8:12
Screen shot 2013-11-03 at 3.13.27 PM
Before I knew it we were running back through the tunnel. I slowed my pace again giving my body a break and preserving the ankle. I planned to pick it up a bit when I got out of the tunnel.

mile 9-8:10

mile 10-7:50

I looked at my times and realized I had been running around 8:06 pace for the entire race. WAY faster than I’d expected. For some reason I just didn’t want to slow down. I wanted to run fast. I knew I had a chance to PR, but I had to hold on.

mile 11-7:42

mile 12-7:33

There was a whole lotta mental self talking going on for the last two miles. I so wanted to be done running, but kept telling myself I had a choice. I could cave to the rough feeling after working hard for the past 10-12 miles or I could hold on for one more measly mile. Come on! Don’t slow down. You will not be happy with yourself later on. Hold on!

I saw a familiar face or two the last quarter mile which was just what I needed. 150 meters from the finish was Ryan and his Grandma. I wanted to die, but we all know that is just a feeling. That doesn’t really usually happen. I crossed the finish line with a new PR. Totally unexpected until mile 10, but never the less exciting. PR’s never get old.

mile 13-6:45

I saw so many people I knew running today. I love to see others out there doing what I love, too. Several of them PR’d out there today, too! Enjoy the sweet taste of beating yourself and running faster than you ever have before. And really, congrats to all of you who ran! Each race is something to be proud of. It looks like eating lots of Twix bars and signing up for races is a good thing!

I'll be rockin' my Rails to Trails shirt in honor of my PR all day!

I’ll be rockin’ my Rails to Trails shirt in honor of my PR all day!*

Rails to Trails Half Marathon
Age Group-2/28

*Yes, I am wearing navy capris, a black shirt, and a brown vest. This is a horrendous fashion sin I’ve never committed prior to today. Also, I wore this into Kwik Trip to get coffee after the race and felt no shame. Funny the things an awesome race will cause you to do.

{First Bike Rides}

Wednesday after my physical therapy appointment I busted out my bike for a long bike ride. After biking 10 miles Sunday and Tuesday and feeling like the rides were pretty easy, I felt ready to push it a bit further.

During my first ride it felt so strange to be riding while also familiar. It brought back memories of having to ride my bicycle 4 miles to band practice with my clarinet case on my handlebars uphill both ways…in the sweltering heat! Oh, the torture my parents put me through aka character building!

Living in Wisconsin we have such beauty all around us! I have checked out parts of many trails, but with a bike you can travel so many miles faster.

For my longer ride I hopped on the Great River Bike Trail. I had planned to ride from Midway to Perrot State Park, however the rain changed my plans. I ended up biking from Onalaska to Trempealeau and back (32 miles round trip).

The trails were awesome-well groomed, well marked, and scenic. They are all old railroad trail beds running through marsh, prairie, and along lakes and rivers.

If you have never biked, check out these trails. They have short routes for shorter rides. If you are already into biking, then definitely get out there.

You can ride as long or short as you want because the Great River Bike Trail connects to the La Crosse River Trail which connects to the Sparta-Elroy Bike Trail and that connects to the 400 State Bike Trail. That is over a hundred miles of trails through towns, scenic paths, bridges, and train tunnels. Check out http://www.bike4trails.com for maps and distances.

I can’t wait to get out there next week to see more!





Happy Biking!

{Wanting to Quit/When a run bites you in the butt}

2013-06-23 10.54.02
So today I ran a long run as part of my training plan. It really wasn’t even all that long for a full marathon plan, but today those 12 miles felt like 20. I planned to do my run on the Sparta-Elroy bike trail once I got up that morning and realized how warm it was already. Staying up and watching a movie with Ryan until midnight was not the best choice for getting my long run done the next day.

Start of my run

Start of my run

I filled my water bottles in my fuel belt, packed two GU’s (chocolate and mandarin orange), and put my iPhone in my fuel belt. I had a new playlist to listen to and my Runkeeper ready when I arrived in Kendall to start my 12 mile run. I would be running six miles to Elroy and then turning back. The sun was shining bright, but there was a breeze. I hit play, start run, and was off. One mile in I was already soo hot. By mile two I was so sweaty it looked like someone had just hosed me off with water. The sunscreen on my face was melting off completely. I don’t know why sunscreen does this, but it does without fail each summer. I was noticing there wasn’t much shade.
2013-06-23 10.06.58
I decided not to turn around in hope that shade would be up ahead. At mile three I was still hoping for shade. My music was just there. It was unbearable with it off, but not motivating with it on. I had already taken three walking breaks AND kept my runkeeper on. I never do that, always pausing and running all my miles. By mile 4 I wanted to quit so badly. I was hating this run. I never stopped thinking about how I was running and how the sun was melting me-literally. I cursed the sun.
2013-06-23 10.11.51
I took a GU and felt my mood turn around a bit. I pushed forward. I repeated put one foot in front of the other. Then I thought about posting how hard this run had been for me. By coming up with my thoughts in a post format while running it distracted me from the discomfort I was in. It held me accountable to my training plan. At the end of the run, the only person who really cares if I finished it is me. No one else cares if I walk, cheat, or skip the last six miles (oh, I wanted to). I got to thinking that this run and I were an epic fail.
2013-06-23 10.12.14
Then I realized the person I have to deal with in the end is inside me. I hate the feeling of cheating myself, of giving up on something I want when the going gets tough, of not fighting through my own battles-so I didn’t.

Around mile 5 clouds rolled in and blocked the sun. I instantly felt stronger, fell back on pace, and knew I could do this. I began to think about what keeps runners going. Why do we push ourselves? Why do people push through the rough parts of life? I tend to think it’s because of the journey to the end. The feeling of accomplishing a hard task. Of getting past a difficult obstacle. Running has taught me that most things that are hard work are worth it in the end. If something is too easy, then it won’t be that rewarding.
2013-06-23 10.07.37
Today I also let myself off the hook. Not as in quit, but allowed myself some wiggle room to finish what I came to do however I needed to. Yes, I walked some which I normally don’t do. I ran really slow for my personal pace. I realized the important thing wasn’t how long it took me to finish, or how many walk breaks I took, or how hard it felt. The important thing was not only that I started, but that I fought past the urge to quit. I embraced the struggle when 91% of me wanted to quit and 9% of me thought I should keep going. I kept putting one foot in front of the other even when I felt like a comment from someone or the wind blowing the wrong way might cause laser beams to shoot out my eyes and melt the nearest person or object like the Wicked Witch of the West (Who as it turns out wasn’t so wicked after all. It’s just no one took the time to learn about her journey of struggles). I kept running when I wished a house would have dropped out of the sky on me. Like I would have been so lucky.
2013-06-23 10.52.08
2013-06-23 10.53.13
As it turns out I was, well not exactly! Almost as if my will to keep going moved mountains…err, clouds… there was shade! For miles 6 through 10 the sun was blocked by the most glorious clouds ever. I felt like I might actually not collapse. Then even stranger at mile 8 one of my former students, pedaled up next to me on the bike path and said “hi”. He then realized who I was and said he was going to bike next to me until we got to Kendall. Now this student wasn’t just any student; he was a student with a rough home life and who had some special needs. I couldn’t believe how much taller he was. He had come so far. We talked about his bike, how he had moved many times in the past years, his family, and why neither of us has rode a horse before. At each bridge (there were like 8) he stopped because he said “the bike hurts my butt” and then would tell me “don’t worry, I’ll catch up to you.” I wasn’t worried.

Talking with him was just the distraction I needed to keep going. When the sun came back out at mile 10 I know I would have walked if he hadn’t been pedaling next to me. His life has been full of way harder struggles than a 12 mile run partly in the sun. How could I stop running? When we got to Kendall he said it was nice riding with you, let me know where he would be riding tomorrow and what time, and we said our goodbye.
2013-06-23 10.07.49
When I was done with my run I could have been mad about my pace, how I felt, the walk breaks I took, but instead I chose to be happy and proud that I kept going! I overcame the urge to quit. The point is, life and runs are full of struggles. The hard parts can get you down if you let them. If you keep pushing on and let people around you help, you can accomplish, overcome, and finish anything. These difficult runs are NOT epic failures, rather they are just what your mind and body need to help you the next time life (or a bike seat) comes along to bite you in the butt.
2013-06-23 11.51.35
When I got home and didn’t look so well Ryan just said oh. I started telling him about my run. Then I said I ran to Elroy, and Ryan got this you-know-what eating grin on his face and just laughed. So, of course I stopped talking and asked him what he thought was so funny. He then stated, “You said you were running to Wilton. If you had said you were running to Elroy I would have told you there was NO shade the entire way.” I had accidentally said Wilton to him that morning, the entire reason for this uncomfortable run. Ryan thought it was so funny. Glad he got to laugh about it because I wasn’t laughing at all that morning.

In the end, I did get the last laugh as I got a reminder about some important life lessons out there on the bike path today.