Monday, July 14, 2014

Summerfest Rock n Sole recap

On June 14th, I ran the Summerfest Rock’ N Sole in Milwaukee which was my 4th half marathon.  This was a half marathon I signed up for on a whim. I was on a mission to bring down my half marathon time. I tend to be a perfectionist and am always trying to improve myself so it was game on.  I felt like I was fairly well trained since the Cellcom Green Bay half marathon was only 4 weeks prior.  I kept my training consistent the three weeks before the race so I could perform at my best that day.  My dad and daughters decided to take part in the 5k that morning as well. Regardless of how well I did, I was just ecstatic about being able to run in Milwaukee which is one of my favorite places.  

I had an early wake-up call that morning as the race started at 7am.  I had to be really quiet so I didn’t wake my hubby as he had to work that afternoon and wouldn’t be home until after 11 that night. Being awakened that early would make for a really long day for him. Once I had myself ready, I had to get the kids ready. Have you ever tried to get kids out of bed at 4:30am on a Saturday? Well, I don’t recommend it. Thankfully I had all the race stuff out and the kids were instructed to have their race day clothes ready.  Somehow we made it out the door by 4:45am and my hubby never heard a peep! Victory!

My daughters and I before the race. 

It was a chilly morning for the middle of June. We got the car parked and we helped my mom and son get to the finish area.  We made our way to the start area and were fortunate that the Italian Community Center was open for runner so we could use a real bathroom with minimal wait times.  We had a few photos taken while waiting for the race to start and I left my dad and girls as the half marathon started 20 minutes before the 5k did.  I made my way to the corral it was one of the first times I was in the start corrals and wasn’t completely nervous.  About 5 minutes before the race started a bird pooped in my hair. It was disgusting but fortunately there was a saint named Margarita who came to my rescue. She had toilet paper in her pouch and I was able to clean myself off. She then kindly cleaned my hair so I didn’t have to smell that the whole race.  I was hoping that confident feeling and the bird incident wasn’t an indicator of my race performance.

The gun went off at 7am and it took me about 6 minutes to cross the timing mat of the start mat. I always try to keep a close eye on that because it helps me as I pass the timing clocks along the way to know if I am on track. The first mile was tough and my calves were super tight. I realized I hadn’t used my roller the night before like I normally do and was worried I was going to suffer because of it.  I tried to hold a consistent pace for the first part of the race to ensure I wouldn’t run out of steam at the end.  The first few miles were uneventful and right around the 5kpoint, we were on the Hoan Bridge.  The views from the bridge were amazing and the breeze off the lake felt wonderful.  I never realized how long the bridge was because I passed the 4 and 5 miles markers on the bridge. While I was nervous being on that bridge, I took comfort knowing that my father in law was one of the many ironworkers who working on building the bridge.  The end of the bridge is where the half marathon and quarter marathon course split.  The quarter marathoners were going to be making their way towards the finish.  

I was feeling pretty good yet at 5 miles in as we headed towards Lake Park and the east side. This part of Milwaukee is my absolute favorite. One of my first dates with my husband was a trip to Milwaukee with a drive along the lake looking at the beautiful homes along Lake Drive and a stop for a walk at Lake Park. My decision to run this race was decided when I knew I would be running through my favorite part of Milwaukee.  I loved running through Lake Park.  When I hit about mile 8, some nice volunteer told me I was doing a great job and I was almost there. Bless her heart but with 5.1 miles left, I didn’t really feel like I was almost there.  

Normally at the 10 mile mark, I really start to fade. This didn’t happen during this race. I am not sure if it was due to finally figuring out the sweet spot regarding fueling, the moderate temperatures or if my body was just feeling adjusted to this distance.  While I was paying close attention to the clocks each mile marker and doing the math in my head, I was trying not to get caught up in it. I was out there trying to run the best race I could that day.  

Before I knew it I saw the 12 mile marker and was headed on the backside of the Summerfest grounds along the lake.  I saw the clock and knew I had the potential to beat my best half marathon time. What I did now was start to pick out a target ahead of me and get ahead of them. As I was passing one girl she was clearly struggling so I gave her some words of encouragement as I passed her. What was really nice about this course was after the 12 mile mark there were signs letting you know how much you had to go. I found this to be encouraging to see the signs telling me it was only ½ mile to the finish and then ¼.  Then I knew after that ¼ mile sign I would be seeing the 13 mile sign. That is my favorite sign in a half marathon.  When I reached the ¼ mile to go sign I took my headphones out and tucked them under the strap of my shirt. I like to be able to hear the crowd and music as I approach the finish line. Then I saw the 13 mile sign. I honestly don’t remember if there was a clock on that sign or not.  I knew I  had a tenth of a mile to go and I was going to push as hard as I could across the finish line.  Shortly after the 13 mile mark, I heard my dad cheering me on. I rounded the curve and heard my youngest cheering me on.  She is truly my biggest fan.  Then I saw them and my dad was running towards them to see me finish.  Then I saw the race clock.  I knew the PR was mine and I am pretty sure there were tears in my eyes as I crossed the finish line.  

As I made my way through the finish chute, I collected my medal and gathered some post run treats. I posed for the photographers on my way out and met up with my family.  I was so stinking excited at that moment.  I tried for one of those jumping shots but it was hard after running 13.1.  After the race we headed to my sister’s house to have lunch and most of all get me a shower.  I had bird poop to get out of my hair.  This race was the first half of the M2 challenge. I will finish the second half of the challenge in August for the Madison Mini.  Be good to me Madison, this girl is going for another PR!



My dad, daughters and I after the race.

Trying for the jump shot. 

My youngest and I.

The kids and I. 

Running with Meb!

About a month ago, on an unseasonably cool June morning, I had the opportunity to take part in a charity fun run with Boston Marathon winner Meb. The proceeds of the event were going to benefit MyTeam Triumph which is a wonderful organization.  This organization allows all individuals to realize their full potential.  Disabled athletes (Captains) to take part in athletic events through the use of specially designed racing equipment and able bodied athletes (angels) helping them safely cross the finish line.  If you have never witnessed this, it is a truly humbling experience.   My husband encouraged me to sign up since the proceeds were going to such a great organization. The event included the opportunity to meet Meb, run 2 miles withMeb and the rest of the group, photo ops and breakfast. I was running a half marathon the day after this event and I was honestly more nervous about a 2 mile run than I was the 13.1 the next day. Meb was fast, strong and a champion and I was just a mom trying to figure out this whole running thing.

When I arrived, Meb was there being interviewed by a local new station. I started making small talk with some of the other participants. When he finished his interview, he made his way over and talked to those of us taking part in the run. I had a photo taken with Meb which was pretty surreal.  Yes, he ran in that outfit. I guess that Wisconsin morning was a bit too cool for him.  



There were about 30 of us along with captains and angels fromMyTeam Triumph taking part that morning. We lined up at the start and were led down the path by a Green Bay Press Gazette truck complete with photographers on back. So, that is what it feels like to be an elite running at the front of the pack. I have to admit it was kind of nerve wracking being filmed and photographed like we were some kind of celebrities. Meb kept a comfortable pace which was a little faster than I am used to but I kept up for the majority of the run. I was slightly behind the rest of the pack for the last quarter mile but I caught up with Katie who is an angel from MyTeam Triumph and we finished the run together.  She was so sweet and she gave me a big hug at the end. I love being a runner because other runners are so supportive and friendly. This was one of those experiences you never forget and I get goosebumps just writing this recap.  

After the event I was on a complete high. It was amazing getting to meet new people.  In the end, I realized that I wasn’t that much different than Meb. We were both working towards something we were passionate about.  Success isn’t always about winning but is about giving it your all. While I will probably never win a race, I am a winner every time I lace up my shoes at a race and run my heart out regardless of where I place.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Madison Twilight 10k

So Memorial day weekend marked my first 10k of the 2014 running season. This was going to be a fun race as it took place in the evening which meant we didn't have to leave at 4am to get there in time.  My parents came with us and stayed with the kids while my hubby and I ran. Had they not come along with us this would have been my hubby's race to run as he enjoys the 10k distance.  I wasn't sure how I was going to do at this race because I had just run a half the weekend before. My plan for this race was to get another PR. My approach with running is that you need to set a challenge for yourself or you will settle for less than what you are capable of. 

We spent the day in Madison and started by visiting the race expo.  My kids were having a blast in the photo booth with my mom and dad while at the expo.  We spent time around the capital during the afternoon and even ran into John's cousin who gave us some helpful information which helped us in successfully completing this race. I wasn't sure how to properly eat during the day to make sure I was well prepared to run at 8 that night. I didn't want to eat too much before the race and end up being sluggish. I decided to err on the side of caution and eat lightly between lunch and the race and that seemed to work well for me.

Our youngest daughter was running the kids race that evening so my hubby got her to the start line while I was ready for her at the finish with my mom, son and daughter. It was a .6 mile run around the capital. I love when races offer kids races as it encourages physical fitness and gives them a sense of pride when they cross that finish line.

My hubby, daughter and I before the race

There she is coming in for her big finish

I think we know who the next half marathoner is

Our race started at 8pm and it was warm but not unbearable. While my hubby and I started out running together I left him take the lead about a half mile in. I didn't want to try to keep up with him and lose steam when I needed it most in the race. Madison is hilly and I knew there were some killer hills in the first half of the race. A little before we hit the first mile we hit a steep hill. I walked up the hill to save energy.  Not much after that we hit Observatory drive. This was the hill we were warned about. When I saw this hill, I was thinking "hell no" but I briskly walked up the hill. Even the best runners were going to have trouble with this hill.  In my opinion this was a make or break hill for those who were going for a PR.  While the hill was tough, the view from the top was spectacular. The sun was setting over the water and it was beautiful.  If I wasn't going for a PR, I would have stopped to take a photo but I knew that if I had any chance of getting a PR I was going to have to work for it.

I crossed the 5k timing mat at about 41 minutes in. I felt defeated at this point because I knew that keeping that pace meant that I didn't stand a chance. I kept pushing through and saw something interesting. I was passing lots of people in that second half of the race. People were running out of steam. Before I knew it I was past the 5 mile mark and was headed back towards the capital. I continued to pass people as I headed towards the finish. Then I saw the 6 mile mark and the finish line was getting close. I kicked it into high gear. I heard my family yelling for me as I was about to cross the line. I saw the clock and I did it. I got my PR! I ran the second half almost 4 minutes faster than the first half. My strategy to start out slow and walk the hills worked. This day was fabulous from start to finish and I will be returning to run this race again! 

My hubby nearing the finish line
Almost there! 

Crossing the finish line!

My hubby and I post race

Cellcom half marathon weekend

In mid-May it was time for me to run my third half marathon. The race took place in Green Bay and is close to home which meant no overnight stay to get to the start line in time.  This was nice because packing a family of 5 up for the weekend can add a little too much stress to the equation.  I had signed up for this race less than a week after I finished the princess half. My husband laughed at me when I told him I had registered because on the bus back to the hotel after running at Disney I said I wasn't going to do another half until August when I was scheduled to run the Madison Mini. This weekend was a bit different than other race weekends as I was walking the 5k on Saturday and then running the half on Sunday.  I had lost a lot of focus between my first half marathon and Disney so I was worried about this race. I trained hard, put in the work and when race day came I needed to trust my training.

I did the 5k with my daughter and sister in law. My daughter wanted to experience a 5k but wasn't ready to run the distance so I said I would walk the 5k with her and she recruited her aunt to join us. It was a nice day and the temperature was about as perfect as you could want. My husband was running the race as well so we sent him on his way to the front of the start area because I knew he was pushing for a PR in the 5k. It was a slow start but we were walking and having fun so we moved out of the way so those running could easily get around us. My daughter, who is 10, had never done this distance before so I wasn't sure what to expect from her. Before we knew it we hit the first mile mark and I high fived my daughter and we kept pushing on. Then we hit the two mile mark and we were approaching Lambeau field.  I had checked my phone and saw the alert that my husband had finished the race. He got his PR! After we got another quarter mile in, we were making the turn towards the stadium and knew we would be headed through the players tunnel and headed onto the field for a lap around the field.  My sister in law is a HUGE packers fan so I sent her and my daughter in ahead of me. I do have to say it was a cool experience to run through Lambeau Field even though I am not a football fan. We finished in about 51 minutes and had a blast.
Outside of Lambeau at about 2.25 miles into the race. 

The three of us before the race

On Saturday night I got all my race stuff ready. It was a long day as we had an all day tennis meet for our oldest daughter after we were done at the 5k. When she was done, I headed home to hydrate and properly fuel up for the next morning.
My race day outfit
 We arrived at Lambeau field about an hour before the race started and headed in to use a real bathroom.  While waiting in line I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in years. She was going to be running her first half marathon that day.  I was excited for her! My hubby went to the car and the kids and I headed to gear check.  As we went to gear check I felt some raindrops and knew that meant my mother in law was watching over me that day. I tried to calm my nerves but the start line always makes me a bit anxious. The gun went off and we were headed out. It was slow going at first but my strategy was to head out slow and take scheduled walk breaks from the beginning to keep me fresh.
About a quarter mile into the race

Waiting for the race to start

The first few miles went well and I was holding a steady pace. I was hoping for a PR that day and I knew if I kept that pace I would get my PR. The first few miles are a bit tough because sometimes I start out too fast and I pay for it at the end. My husband had taken the kids to mile 3.8 where there was an aid station so they could cheer me on. The kids were playing in the park so I didn't see them here but I did see my husband waiting for me. I stopped for a moment at that point, took a gu, drank a bit of water and gave my hubby a quick kiss before I continued on.

Not sure what is going on here but I think my husband was chasing me with the camera

The next few miles were pretty uneventful and was continuing at an steady pace. I took another energy gel at about mile 8 and shortly after that they were handing out freeze pops. This was a great treat because the sun had broken through the clouds and it was getting really warm out. At about mile 10 we hit a monster hill and I was thinking to myself "what the heck, they said the course was flat".  I walked the hill to conserve energy and as I was nearing the top I ran into my friend. I ran the next few miles with her and I was seriously zapped of energy. I had another energy gel but didn't take it and looking back that was a mistake. During my training I didn't practice my fueling strategy and this was a critical mistake as well. I was guessing at what was going to work for me and I miscalculated.  Since it takes me a bit longer than some to do a half marathon I need a little more energy than others do. This is just how my body works and need to recognize what works for some doesn't work for others. 

Next we hit mile 12 and shortly after we were making our way to the stadium. I was tired and hot at that point. I knew I was slowing down and wasn't sure if I was still on track to get my PR but I was still going to try. My family was in the stadium waiting for me but I didn't see them. We made our lap through Lambeau and headed out of the players tunnel and were headed back out of the stadium.  I knew the finish was close so I did all I could to get that PR.  I had taken my headphones out so I wasn't hearing the alerts every quarter mile telling me how far into the race I was which had me worried I wasn't going to get my PR.  

Coming through Lambeau
The finish line was in sight. I saw the clock and knew that that PR was mine. I gunned it across the finish line and completed half marathon number three. I felt pretty tough as I came across that finish line. I got my medal from a super sweet volunteer and it took all I had not to hug her and start crying. There is something so emotional about crossing the finish line that does it to me. Every. Single. Time. I got my gear and met my husband and kids. I knew I needed to sit down because I wasn't feeling so hot. I found a curb to sit on while my hubby got me Gatorade and my oldest let my parents and sister where they could find us. After sitting for a few minutes I got up so we could head out but felt really dizzy so I sat back down. My dad and sister got me fruit while my hubby went to get me water and more gatorade. After the fluids and fruit I was feeling much better.  I was slightly dehydrated and in hindsight I probably should have made my way to the medical tent but I am stubborn.  

All in all it was a great weekend and it is a race I would do again. Next year the 5k falls on my birthday so I have already told my family that is what we are doing for my birthday. 

My oldest and I after the race as I try to recover

My sister, dad, mom and I after the race

With my medal

My daughters and beautiful niece. My daughter wearing the Minnesota hat didn't want to be in the picture but my hubby decided she should be in it anyway.  Love that expression on her face

My hubby and I.