{Better Late Than Never-2014 Review}

Some say better late than never. I suppose this is true for looking back on last year. I almost didn’t write a review as I felt like I had little running wise to share. Then I remembered I ran my butt off the first half of the year running a half marathon, three marathons and a 50k in a two and a half month time period. After finishing the year running 2 5k’s, 2 10k’s, 1 half marathon, 3 marathons and my first ultra marathon (50k), I’d say I ran plenty. Here’s a look back at a few running highlights from 2014 in top ten style!

#10-Running another Color Run
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Always fun and a great way to take the seriousness out of your training and racing.

#9-Running solid miles all winter

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Last winter was brutal for training in Wisconsin. We had school cancelled in my district four days because of the cold (windchills of -30 to -50 below). I still managed to run 100 miles during each of the coldest months of the year as I trained for my busy spring and summer racing schedule.

#8-Running a 10k at 15 weeks pregnant
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Running pregnant has been a whole new world of unexpectedness. I’m embracing it as best I can, and I am super proud of this hilly 10k I ran at 15 weeks while still experiencing all day sickness, pressure on the bladder and tiredness.

#7-The Big Ten 10k
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This was such a fun weekend and race for the husband and I to combine two of our loves-running and Wisco sports.

#6-Signing up and completing my first obstacle course 5k
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Sometimes I’m scared to try new things, but this is one thing I’m so glad I followed through on. It was a blast and I can’t wait to run another.

#5-Running the Med City Half Marathon with friends
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It’s not often I get to run with a group of people. Especially those who made this race so much fun. I hope someday they would like to run another half together or perhaps a Ragnar Relay.

#4-Cross Training and Overall Cardio
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While I didn’t come close to meeting my running mileage goal for the year, I’m going to chalk that up to getting pregnant. Despite missing out on some miles on foot, I still managed to cardio my way to almost 1000 miles. I biked more this year than any other year. I hiked well over a hundred miles this year. I went to yoga more times than any other year before. I’m proud of my cross training efforts and nearly reaching 1000 cardio miles.

#3-Completing two more states in my journey to run a marathon in all 50 states.
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Going West on a road trip was the perfect opportunity to complete two more states. Add to it that the races were nine days apart and you have an extra challenge. Even more crazy was I ran my first ultra marathon just a month before the first of my go west marathons.

#2-Completing my first ultra marathon (50k)
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This was one of the scariest things I’ve done and never before have I doubted myself more. In the end it made the finish that much more rewarding. Having run a marathon and a half marathon the month before only made me stronger. Not sure when the next ultra will be, but I’m guessing it will happen.

#1-Running with my husband as he completed his first marathon.
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As it would turn out, my favorite running memory of 2014 has little to do with my own races. Training and running 26.2 miles with the husband in his quest to complete his first marathon was more rewarding than I could have thought possible. I was so proud of him and excited for his accomplishment that it trumped any I could achieve. I still look back on this race with pride as he really didn’t ever want to run a marathon except to do it for me. Now he says he done forever, but the pride of finishing your first lasts FOREVER!

What 2015 holds exactly is a bit of a mystery. I’m sure there will be ups and downs, miles and missed runs, and new firsts abound. 2014 was a great running year, but I can’t wait to see what the next year holds.

Happy 2015 everyone!

Sarah

{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 19 Recovery}

Recovery really begins the moment the race is over. If you were prepared for your race and fueled and hydrated properly during your race, then recovery will be easier. Within 30 minutes of finishing you should eat a combination of protein and carbohydrates to replenish what your body used during your race. Bananas, bagels, fruit, and electrolyte drinks are good.

If you were me then you ate a banana, a brat, cheese and washed it down with beer. I never said all my advice was solid. The husband was feeling sick, but I made him him eat and drink something. Eating good for you foods throughout the day and hydrating are also necessary.

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Resting the legs is a good thing, but too much of a good thing is often bad i.e. You may never get up again. Balance your resting legs with easy walking or an easy hike. Moving legs will boost recovery.

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The next day moving the legs is also essential to recovering. Go for a nice and easy jog, or if that seems impossible then go for a walk. Ryan wanted nothing to do with running the next day so we opted for walking a few miles around Lake Michigan.

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Resume running and training when you feel your body is ready. Sometimes you will be sore, but an easy jog can make you feel better. Ryan had a baseball game almost every night and had no time to run so he took the week off until our hike/run. The important thing is to listen to what your body is telling you.
Tuesday-5.5 miles (Sarah)

Thursday-4.5 hilly miles (Sarah)

Sunday-8 mile trail hike/run (both is us)

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Keep eating those good foods to continue recovery and boost performance all training long.

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Total Weekly Miles: 18

Happy Training!

SS

{Friday Fab 5-Milwaukee Style}

After the marathon last Saturday (see this post Wisconsin Marathon Race Report for more details) Ryan had the following planned out: drinks at the Clear Bar in the InterContinental where we were saying, …then the…

{#1-River Walk}

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{#2-German Beer Hall}

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{#3-Water Street Brewery}

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{#4-Yummy Food at WSB}

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{#5-Clear Bar & Lounge}

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Awesome birthday surprise by a super thoughtful hubby!! Thanks to those who came!

Happy Weekend!

{Wisconsin Marathon Race Report}

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On Saturday the husband became an official marathon finisher. Over the past 18 weeks I documented our training ups and downs on this blog. We had some great runs and some challenging runs. We ran in the negative temperatures of the polar vortex, indoors on treadmills to beat the chill, in rain, in sleet, in a foot of snow, in gorgeous spring weather, and everything in between.

Training for a marathon through all these types of weather builds your confidence and teaches you you can do difficult things. Marathon training prepares you for the difficult miles ahead not unlike those of life. Training teaches you there will be miles that hurt and miles that take your breath away. There will be miles that are lost and miles you want to lose it in. All of these miles add up to the distance we completed on Saturday and sometimes are experienced all in one race.
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Friday evening we left town to stay in a hotel just outside of Kenosha. We stopped at an Olive Garden in Madison for some pre-race fuel. We had been saving our Olive Garden gift card we received for Christmas and used Hotwire to get a deal on our hotel room. We arrived to our room at 9:30, laid out our outfits for the next morning and got to bed around 10:30. This may be the most rest I’ve gotten the night before a race in a long time.
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Saturday morning we were up by 5:15. We quickly showered, got our race gear on, and packed the items we had laid out that we’d need for the race like Gu’s. I’d carefully packed everything and laid it out the night before. My race outfit had been chosen three nights earlier. We double checked the weather, loaded directions on the phone, and were off. As we walked down the hall to the car, I thought about all the emotions Ryan must have been feeling and about how I felt on the day of my first marathon. It made my stomach flip just thinking about it.
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We arrived to the race and parked a few blocks away. Parking was a breeze and we arrived to the start with plenty of time to visit the bathroom, snap a few pictures, and enjoy the emotions of the start line.
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It was around this time that I ran into Stacy from In it for the Long Run. We had both ran at the Wisconsin Marathon and Half Marathon (her the full, me the half) last year where we’d hoped to meet, but it wasn’t our day. Today was. She was originally hoping to BQ, but was dealing with a “setback.” Check out her blog post about her Wisconsin Marathon experience.

Immediately upon seeing Stacy I noticed her purple Garmin 220 watch. I noticed this because I have the same one and it wasn’t on my wrist. I had forgotten the freakin’ watch in the car. I have been so forgetful lately that this shouldn’t even surprise me. I was immediately upset. This was Ryan’s marathon and I wanted to make sure we were running a smart pace the entire race. I told Ryan if the race course took us within a couple of blocks of our vehicle, then I’d run to the car and get the watch. I still couldn’t figure out how I’d left the watch in the car.

No watch...eek!

No watch…eek!


With the start only minutes away I didn’t have too much time to worry. The national anthem rang while I silently freaked out. I’d never run a marathon without knowing my pace. I decided I’d start the stopwatch on my phone as I knew from experience the RunKeeper GPS would kill the battery around mile 17-18, and I also wanted to be able to take a few photos. This is sick irony in a way as Ryan is a math teacher. The mental math we did during this race was crazy.

Finally we were off. We quickly learned that the course was not going to go near the car so it was time to suck it up, buttercup. The first miles took us through downtown Kenosha. This area is cute and kitschy in its own way. The next few miles looped out along Lake Michigan. The views were beautiful. The houses huge, and the miles fast. Around mile two we peaked at the stopwatch and saw we were running near nine minute miles. We were okay with this, but had a goal to run around 8:45 pace. This pace was conservative, but allowed us to bank some time, too. Around mile two Stacy caught up with us. We chatted about the forgotten watch, her “setback” and goals, and running races in general. Around mile five we separated and I wished her well. I knew she would do great considering her alternative race plan as she was rocking some awesome fast paces in her training earlier this year. I know a BQ is only a race away for her. Take care of yourself though, girl!
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Miles 5-7 took us back into the downtown area, along Lake Michigan (above), and looped back past the start. We checked our pace at mile five and we were just under nine minute mile pace. As you loop past the start and the half marathon splits from the marathon we naturally checked in with ourselves. How do we feel? Are we fueling right? What is our plan? We both felt good, felt the pace was manageable, and decided to keep on keepin’ on.
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It was around this time that we caught the above awesome view and ran up on a hilarious group of runners. They were so funny and we “drafted” behind them for a mile laughing along the way. At one point we came up on a mile two marker. Someone from the group commented, “WTF we are only at mile two. Son of a bitch this isn’t going well.” When running long distances things make you laugh easily (and other times nothing makes you laugh.) Next they were joking about making jigsaw puzzles out of the view and how you definitely had to start with the horizon line. A moment later they were singing I’ll Be There For You…cue Friends. Still one of the best shows ever.

Around the halfway point we moved around the funny group and double checked our time. We came through the half way mark at 1:54:30. We were running an 8:45 pace at the half way mark and we were pumped. It was around this time that I hit a mental funk. I just felt ugh. I can’t really explain it. At mile 14 Ryan had to take bathroom break at the port-o-potty that appeared out of no where as were due to enter the Kenosha Sand Dunes area. Excellent choice on his part as I don’t recall a bathroom for miles…err till the finish.
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I stretched it out and snapped a picture while he port-o-johned it. Ryan came out asking if something was moving the port-o-potty. Some nearby girls played along with me as I thanked them for shaking the port-o-potty. In reality, I have no clue what he was talking about. The thing didn’t move an inch.

The break and the laugh found me in a better mood. We also headed into a packed gravel road. Reviewers complained about the second half of the course, but I thought it was peaceful and beautiful. I enjoyed the marshish feel, the sounds of birds and frogs in early spring, and the seclusion. If you love rows of fans this isn’t for you. If you don’t mind you, your thoughts, and you then you wouldn’t mind.

The view for miles 20-24.  Beautiful!

The view for miles 20-24. Beautiful!


As we approached mile 19 Ryan started to have muscle pains. We came through mile 20 at 2:58:30. We were doing awesome in pacing for Ryan to finish under four hours (his goal.) Around this point however Ryan began to experience muscle cramps in his hamstrings, calves, and behind his knees. In all of his training runs he never had cramps once. I attribute this to the warmer (but so gorgeous-near 60) temperatures on race day. He also drank no water before the race because his bladder is similar to the size of a small child’s. I did not tell him to skip out on all water, but he took my suggestion to limit his water before the race to mean drink nothing. Lesson learned.

The next miles were hard. Mile 22 our time was 3:20. The past two miles took us 21:30. Not good. I was nervous. I helped us devise a plan. At each mile marker we would walk a minute and then run until the next marker-no walking. We carried this plan out almost perfectly. We had some intense exchanges as Ryan felt terrible despite never feeling bad in a 22 mile AND a 20 mile training run. I waffled between cheerleader and keep your damn mouth shut, he’s in pain. I felt terrible that he was feeling rough.

Near mile 25.5 I told Ryan he could not slow down. We needed to keep the pace to achieve his goal. At mile 26 he told me his whole body was cramping; I told him he couldn’t slow down or he’d miss his goal. As we came down the home stretch I spotted some of Ryan’s family with a big sign that said Happy 30th Sarah. My family and some of our friends were on the right. We came through the finish holding hands in the air. Our finish time 3:59:35. My stopwatch was 14 seconds ahead of the chip time. We did it. Ryan did it. And boy did he.
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I didn’t make the connection about why everyone was at the finish until later because I was so excited and proud of him for finishing in under four hours. I wanted him to soak it in, enjoy every moment, and feel prouder than ever.
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It was part of a surprise birthday party he had planned for me. He kept telling me he was running the marathon for my 30th birthday. I didn’t get what he meant. What he meant was he wanted to plan a birthday surprise that was all about the things I love, that was personal and special to me. He nailed it on the head. Running together and training was ultimately an awesome experience. To culminate it with family and friends was even better.
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Little did I know there was more. He had reserved a block of rooms at nice hotel (I heart!) in the Historic Third Ward (my favorite part of Milwaukee) where everyone met after the race for drinks, then we bar hopped along Milwaukee’s river walk, and finally he had a reservation for the 25 in our group at the Water Street Brewery for dinner. Then it was out with friends for the night. The day was me to a T. He combined my favorite things (friends and family, marathons, swanky hotels, Historic Third Ward Milwaukee, craft brews, breweries, and awesome food.) What an awesome husband I have. He took a day that should have been about him and made it into the perfect birthday surprise. He gets me. And for that I’m so grateful.
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Wisconsin Marathon
Time: 3:59: 34 (Ryan) and 3:59: 35 (Sarah) He won between us!
Pace: 9:09
Overall: 284/847 (Ryan) and 285/847 (Sarah)
Gender: 199/463 and 86/384
Age Group: 31/58 and 18/71

Happy Running!

SS

{Friday Fab 5-AJ Bombers, Fancy Fit Boutique, Race attire, cheese the day…

{#1-Fancy Fit Boutique}

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Last week on Instagram a hard working momma blogger I follow, Skinny Meg, posted the cutest workout tank possibly ever. I love chevron; just the sight of the pattern makes me feel happy inside. What made me even happier was the price tag. While on the website I also found the pink tank and polka dot headband ($24 total) that came with it. Both arrived in the mail in days and fit great. I’ve run in the pink tank already and while it is not wicking fabric, it is too cute not to love on the run. I’ve yet to wear the chevron tank as of today as mother nature is extremely confused on what her job description includes these days. If it wears as well as it is cute, then we have a steal my friends. Check them out for some other great workout gear.

{#2-AJ Bombers}

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Saturday after some skydiving fun it was time to celebrate punching fear in the face and try out a new place to eat. A couple years ago AJ Bombers and Sobelman’s were matched against each other on the Food War’s. While AJ Bombers won the Food War’s, Sobelman’s consistently wins the local Milwaukee vote. We checked out AJ Bombers this time and will decide on our own food war at Sobelman’s the next time we visit Milwaukee. We enjoyed some local craft brews, frickles (fried pickles-yum), and organic grassfed beef burgers. Everything was delicious and the atmosphere made it even more fun. With peanuts on the floor, customer writing everywhere, bombers flying across tracks on the ceiling, bloody mary meals, and a laminated menu card that you check off what you want to eat-this place was fun.

{#3-Race Outfit}

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I’ll be sporting this bright and spring-like outfit on Saturday at the Wisconsin Marathon aka my husband’s first marathon ever! So proud if him!

{#4-Starbucks quotes}

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I loved this quote on my Starbucks treat yesterday. Fits my current mindset perfectly. Oh, and I have had only one diet dew this week with no caffeine in the afternoons or nights. Progress!

{#5-Cheese the Day}

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Guys, it’s the Wisconsin Marathon so I had to-cheese the day because the cheese is in the fridge. We’ve put in our training, worked hard, and there’s no last minute magic workout to improve where we are at so it’s time to trust the training and enjoy race day!

Happy Weekend!

{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 16 (the real post)}

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First of all congrats to all the runners at Boston today. I was so excited for Meb to win the men’s race today. I was cheering and on the edge of my seat those last miles. It was also awesome to see Shalane Flanagan PR and set a new American record along with a new course record by Rita Jeptoo. Watching them run reminded me that even for the elite a marathon is a challenge.
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Our first week of taper is officially over. Since accidentally posting this before it was done you can also tell that I’m already starting to lose it…sort of. Let taper madness begin. Taper madness is the self-doubt, phantom aches and pains that pop up, questioning of ones training, and general hysteria that surrounds a drop in mileage before a big race.
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Ryan is following his taper schedule which is coming at a perfect time as he has baseball games three nights a week. I’m sort of tapering, but not. Since my big race is the Chesterwoods 50k in June and my two marathons in July, I do want to taper some for the Wisconsin Marathon, but it is really serving as a long run for me.

Monday started with a snow day and Tuesday it was still cold yet. While you’d think I’d be used to this, I am so over it. I also wanted to rest the legs from our 22 miler. I should have run Tuesday, but didn’t. I later regretted that choice. I swear sometimes I never learn.

Wednesday-5 miles

Thursday-8 miles (Ryan)

Friday-8.6 hilly miles (Sarah)
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Saturday-10 miles (both of us)

This surprise package greeted us on Saturday! We opted to pay for packets to be sent to our house as we knew we wouldn't have time to attend packet pickup. This makes the race seem so much more real!

This surprise package greeted us on Saturday! We opted to pay for packets to be sent to our house as we knew we wouldn’t have time to attend packet pickup. This makes the race seem so much more real!

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We ran our ten miles on the Great River Trail which runs parallel to the Mississippi River and into the nearby marsh areas.  We even saw a pelican fly by a few times which is a new sighting this spring.  20140421-124530.jpg

This run I had hopes of going 16, but I wasn’t feeling the greatest tummy wise and we had places to go and people to see so I settled for ten miles. Sunday was the same story and sadly my miles really tapered this week. The runs I had felt great and strong so I’m not too worried. I’m looking to have a strong week and my miles up again next week although with a busy calendar it is going to take some forward planning on my part to make it happen. Get after it!

Tip of the Week: When tapering for a marathon-respect the taper. You’ve earned the time off and recovery for your legs to perform their best on race day. Remember while you might be cutting mileage, you do not need to cut intensity. Keep doing those speed sessions if that has been a part of your training. Tapering is about reducing miles on your feet not intensity. Also, now is the time to make sure you’ve done a dress rehearsal or two on you last long runs to make sure you know what you are wearing on race morning to eliminate unnecessary surprises or discomforts. A little forwards planning can really save your race ahead of time!

Weekly Mile Totals: 18 miles (Ryan) and 23.6 miles (Sarah)

Happy Training! I’m off to start my week right with a run and show some Boston Strong pride!

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{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 15}

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As I sit starting this post it is pouring rain outside and thundering and lightening. My hopes of running a long run on Saturday this week are pretty much gone. Instead I’ve been blissfully stalking reading race reports about the Wisconsin Marathon and searching for other races to add to the spring training schedule. With so many long, long runs for my 50k training coming up, I feel the need to break up the monotony of running in my boring city with only six miles of trails.

Speaking of my 50k I recognize I haven’t really mentioned how I’m training for it exactly. I’m basically following the same training plan as Ryan is for the Wisconsin Marathon with longer distances on some days and hillier and/or trail routes on other days. My actual 50k training plan is below. I’m currently on week 9.
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I’m not looking to break any times or records, rather I’m hoping only not to die or end up hurting so much I never want to do it again. I want to enjoy the trails and running and training in nature more. I want to accomplish a new distance I never have before. I want to get a taste of ultra running.

Back to the focus of this post…Wisconsin Marathon Training.

Monday-5 miles (Sarah)
3 miles with the track kiddos and two miles on my own.

Tuesday-5 miles (Ryan)

Wednesday-7 mile tempo run (Sarah) and 7.5 miles (Ryan)
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I had a dinner date with friends so we did not run together. I left school right after I could and got my miles in and Ryan ran his after baseball practice. I had a phenomenal run. It was a run that makes your heart feel full and bursting with happiness and contentment. I needed that-it had been too long. My legs just wanted to go fast. My lungs still struggled to keep up with some junk in them yet, but they are improving. I managed what I think is my fastest 10k time during this run. Hmmm…now I might need to set a PR goal in this.

Thursday-6 miles
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4 miles with the track kids plus 2 miles on hilly trails.

Saturday-5 miles (Sarah)

Sunday-22 miles (both of us)
We are so bored with the running scene in our community, so we decided to take a road trip to La Crosse. La Crosse is so runner friendly with lots of runners, beautiful trails and scenery, and lots of places to celebrate a long run. Below is our route for our 22 miler. We basically went out 5.5 miles then came back. Then we went out 5.5 miles in a different direction and came back. If you ever get the chance to visit all locations below are great for running.  We took a GU every 4-5 miles to stay fueled and drank water in the middle of the run.
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Running into MN and back. The WI-MN state line is in the middle of the Mississippi River.

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After running in a light rain from miles 11-19.75, we felt lucky it only poured on us for just over two miles. Even though we were drenched we were happy to have felt as good as we did.
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After all of our hard work it was time to relax a bit. I chose a delicious bloody mary from a local favorite of mine, Fayze’s.

Tip of the Week: When long runs get mundane and old running routes lose their allure it is time to change up your running route. There are so many running friendly trails, state parks, towns, and bike paths that there isn’t really a good excuse not to try new routes. We are usually willing to drive an hour to these places if needed for specific runs. It gives you new scenery, a chance to try new local fare, and a renewed mental appreciation for runs. More on this idea later!

Total Miles for Week: 45 miles (Sarah) and 34.5 (Ryan)