Relaxation at its finest.

This weekend was soooo relaxing…

Friday evening, I rented the girliest movie I could find at Family Video, got some snacks, and cuddled up on the couch. I try to get all the chick flicks in when I’m not watching with Dan! I think he appreciates that…haha.

My work buddies and I spent all day Saturday on my coworker Betty’s houseboat on Kentucky Lake. It was exactly what I needed! We had fun just sitting in the sun, eating, jumping off the boat, and riding on the jet ski.

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Doesn’t get much better than that. And one of the best parts of my day was taking a trip to Coldstone Creamery on the way home! Yummm…

During the day on Sunday, I met up with my oldest friend, Theresa, for a glass of wine and some girl time! Ahhh…

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I decided when I woke up Sunday that I would do my 14 mile run in the evening. I love running at dusk, and the weather has been pretty moderate lately so I was able to wait until 6:00 to start my run without it being too hot. I have decided that my favorite temperature to run in is 78 degrees without direct sunlight (if I had a climate-controlled bubble to run in) 🙂 The run was so peaceful. I ran in the wildlife refuge again, which I love doing. I sort of mapped out my run before I started since I haven’t gone that far in the wildlife refuge before (or ever…), but I didn’t really think too hard about it. I was planning to run an out and back, but when I got to 5.75 miles, I was pretty deep in the woods and it was super buggy. I decided to turn around and make up the 2.5 miles at the end. I was glad that I decided to do that because when I was getting closer to the end, I could see up ahead a few cars all pulled over to the side of the road. Not many cars drive through the wildlife refuge, so I was wondering what was going on. When I finally got closer, I couldn’t believe what I saw. A herd of 27 deer were grazing and playing in a field! I have never seen so many deer at one time! It was a beautiful sight with the sunset. I stopped for a quick second to take a picture but it didn’t turn out the greatest since it was getting dark…

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I finished in 2 hours and 20 minutes, so I clearly took it easy, but overall I felt great! It’s so much fun to see how my body is able to do more today than it could do yesterday. It’s just a really great feeling.

Another wedding weekend in Wisconsin!

This weekend, we celebrated Katie and Pete’s wedding! I had a lot of fun with high school friends that I hadn’t seen in ages. It was so nice to have everyone back together again!

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The weekend was very busy. Dan and I have started the preliminary search for a house (yay!) so we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what we needed to do to get the ball rolling. We have a lot to learn!

As for my runs last week and into the weekend, I must admit that I felt so lazy with it! I finished everything that was on my schedule, but I just couldn’t get in the groove. I think there is just a lot going on lately, so I’ve had my thoughts wrapped around other things…

Anyways, I did my 8 mile long run on Monday instead of Sunday. Sunday was full of house things, and by the time we got back, it was storming outside. So I moved it to Monday instead, which ended up just being a better day to run. I was excited about it and really was craving a good run. Those are the best kinds! My run was HOT but it felt good to get a good sweat in. I took it pretty easy with the heat, so it took me about an hour and 20 minutes.

I have really been trying to find a good hydration system that I like. I recently purchased a 20 ounce hand-held water bottle at REI. After trying on the belts at the store, I decided that I wouldn’t like them and chose a 20 oz. Amphipod Hydroform hand-held one instead. Well, I tried it out on a few runs and ended up not really liking it. I feel like it just gets in the way. Dan got a 50 oz. Camelbak HydroBak for his birthday and I decided to try it out during my 8 miles. I ended up liking it a lot more than the handheld bottle! Now I’m thinking that I will need to invest in one myself.

In other news, we spent some time this weekend finalizing our choices for road bikes! Dan and I have been shopping around for road bikes since last summer and finally decided on the ones we want. We went back this morning to buy Dan’s and I will hopefully buy mine in the near future. I have been telling Dan that I think he would be a great triathlete. He gets bored after running 7 or 8 miles, and he is a great swimmer and loves to bike…I think sprint triathlons are the perfect fit for him! I would love to get into triathlons too, and it would be fun for us to do together.

I’m looking forward to spending the week and coming weekend in Illinois. I have my 14 mile run coming up on Sunday, so it will be nice to focus this week and not worry about packing and driving! 🙂

Dances with Dirt Half Marathon

I belong to the best sub-category of humans on the planet. Runners are a different breed, that’s for sure, and I’m so proud to call myself one! Who in their right mind runs 13.1, or in many instances at Devil’s Lake this weekend, 50 miles…for fun? Well, I do! And I can’t begin to tell you how much fun I had!

Friday was spent traveling to Madison to meet up with my very first college roommate that I had in the dorms, Krystal. After filling her in on my marathon plans, she gave me my first donation to DetermiNation! Thanks, KP! Friday evening, I headed over to Maddie’s sister-in-law’s house to spend the night. They live only a half hour from Devil’s Lake, so we crashed there to make for a shorter trip in the early morning. We made pasta for dinner and chatted until it was time to catch some Zs  before the early wake-up call.

Maddie and I woke up “dark” and early (early=4:45am) on Saturday morning to make the short trip to Devil’s Lake for the Dances with Dirt Half Marathon. We still had to register, and the race began at 7:00, so we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time.

On our drive, to our surprise, we drove onto a ferry…? to make it to the other side of the river! We were definitely not expecting that and got a pretty good laugh out of it! (On another note, the sunrise was awesome).

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When we finally pulled up, it looked like this…

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Since the 50 mile and 50K races began at 5:30am, a lot of people camped out the night before so that they could just get up and run. When we pulled in, though, it was more like a party than a campsite…there were tons of people and music!

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A little before 7, Maddie and I lined up to start. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. It was on the cooler side and overcast. Last year, they started everyone at the same time, and it got really backed up on the narrow trails. This year, they staggered the starts to help alleviate that problem. We lined up to start in the last wave of runners. We met another girl who we had a lot in common with and ended up chatting with her during the wait. Her boyfriend was running the 50 mile race, so she was on her own for the half. We sort of adopted her right away and she ran with us the whole time! I loved making small talk with other runners at the event. I run by myself most of the time for training, so it was so nice to talk to other people about shoes, hydration systems, other races, and all kinds of other things that I don’t really get to talk about very often!

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We started off the race at a pretty steady pace, and then from there it was all uphill for over two miles. We got backed up enough a few times where we had no choice but to walk, but usually the walking only lasted for a little bit of time before the trail was wide enough to pass again. We got into a groove with a group of ladies who were trailblazers and led the way. We started calling ourselves a school of fish because the 7 of us passed together and ran together! That was what I loved most about this race; the camaraderie. Every runner who passed us, or who we passed, was encouraging and giving high-fives and saying good job to each other. It was like a big community, like we were all in it together. It was just awesome.

I had so much fun during the race! It went by so quickly! I saw a quote on Pinterest the other day that said, “A run begins the moment you forget you’re running.” That’s the best way to describe it. The course was definitely challenging since we were running up and through the bluffs, and there were times where we were all tripping every few steps on rocks and roots and mud. But I had waited so long to do a half that I was just too excited to notice. I was busy making friends with other runners!

When we got to the top, it was an amazing view. There was a water station at the top so while I grabbed my water cup I had to take a quick picture before turning around to keep running. People were rock climbing (as you can see their lines) all over the place at the top. This was another part where we had to literally climb down rocks to continue. You can imagine why this course is slower! I remember saying to our “school of fish” at one point, “every time we get under a 10 minute mile pace I think to myself, wow, we are going so fast!” That’s how challenging it is with all the obstacles you encounter (including other runners).

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When we got to 10-11 miles, the course was pretty much downhill, which can be challenging on a trail, but it was a nice relief to run back down the bluff! At about 12 miles I turned around to Maddie and said, “Oh my gosh, I am so hungry!” She was thinking about anything but food at that point, but I have been so hungry lately from all the training, and all I could think about was my granola bar waiting for me at the finish line!

We finished just a minute apart and we came in around the same time Maddie had last year, so were pretty pleased! My time was 2:34, and I was pretty proud of that time with the trails and hills! I know that the race made me a stronger runner and that my road time will be so much faster than that! I told Maddie that I wanted to keep going, and she told me I was crazy…haha.

As I was rounding out the last corner, it was really weird but I got sort of emotional (which is not unusual from past races…). All I have wanted for the past few years is to get to finish a half, and I was just really excited and proud at that moment 🙂 I am so excited to finish that marathon in just a few short months.

After the race, and some food, I made my way to La Crosse to see my roommates from college! We threw Niki and Brian a small ducky-themed baby shower. They are expecting a baby boy in September and we are so excited for our first “roomie baby!” La Crosse was a two-hour drive from Devil’s Lake, so by the time I got out of the car, I was already SO SORE. I haven’t been this sore in a long, long time. It’s a good sore though! Not an injured soreness at all; just a, “I worked really hard at that race,” sore. Ibuprofen and a good night’s sleep did the trick.

I am now back in Illinois again after another fun-filled weekend. I am pretty tired of driving to say the least!

Breakin’ Records!

I have two exciting things to tell you about today!

First of all, today is Dan’s 25th birthday! We spent the day hanging out with Dan’s family by the pool, and of course had ice cream cake from Dairy Queen!

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Second of all, I ran 11 miles today! I am so excited that I have broken the 9 mile curse! During the week of the Fourth of July, my short runs and speed workout were mediocre, so I wasn’t sure how the long run would go. But on Saturday night, I told Dan, “I’m nervous but I’m definitely ready.” And that was the truth! Overall, it went great! I got up early (for a Sunday morning) and began my run at 6:45am before the heat could set in. I couldn’t help but get a big smile on my face when I looked down at my Nike+ App and see the mileage change to 10! I’m such a nerd, but it was a proud moment. My hard work is paying off!

Have you heard about my toe situation? No? Let me tell you about it…

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Sam, Jason, Aleisha, Dan, and I went to Summerfest in Milwaukee on Friday night to see Nelly! It was awesome, but it was of course so crowded! On the way out of the park at the end of the night, I ran into the back of someone’s shoe and completely hurt my big toenail on my left foot. Ouch! Sorry, Milwaukee County transit system, for potentially bleeding on the bus floor…

Mostly, I was concerned about my upcoming run and how not having a toenail (or a half on, half off toenail, to be honest) would affect my run. Luckily, my trusty Brooks Ravenna 3 shoes have a wide toe box and my toe was left untouched when it got into my shoe. Thank goodess! And I’m sure you are all glad that I told you the story of the toe incident! 🙂

With the 11-miler behind me, I am now looking forward to my Dances with Dirt Half Marathon in Devil’s Lake, WI on Saturday with Maddie! I am getting nervous but I’m really excited! This week, my mileage will be kept pretty low with only two 3 mile runs on Tuesday and Thursday, and one cross-training day in between on Wednesday. So it’s back to Illinois for a few days before coming back to WI again to spend a fun weekend with a bunch of my favorite people!

The dreaded 9…

Dum dum dummmmmmm…..

The dreaded 9 has officially arrived.

I have been worrying about this run for about 6 weeks. The 9 mile mark was my turning point for the worst during the past two training plans that I was working on. It is also the longest I have ever run, so there is a lot riding on this run! Not only have I been looking forward to getting up to this point again, but I have also been working to make sure that I don’t get injured again.

Let me back up and tell you a little about this crazy week…

First of all, this weekend was ANOTHER Relay For Life weekend (the final one!) and we had a great event. Those events sure know how to tire me out! I was so tired on Saturday from being awake more than 24 hours that as soon as I got home at 9 am, I collapsed on the couch and slept until 5:30pm. I planned to drive to Wisconsin for my week off over the fourth of July right away on Sunday morning. But, after sleeping all day, my body would not let me go back to sleep for “nighttime.” So I made a spontaneous decision and started the 7 hour drive at 11:00pm! I got to Dan’s house at 6am and collapsed once again into a long sleep. When I woke up, we made our way to Sam and Jason’s house for a cookout!

Well, after the week/weekend that I had, my Sunday long run was NOT going to happen. I was exhausted, and with so much riding on this week’s run, I decided it was best to listen to my body, rest up, and do it on Monday instead. This plan actually worked out great since the Dances with Dirt Half Marathon is in two weeks on a Saturday, so for the next two weeks my long runs will be 6 days apart instead of 7.

Today, though, I did it! I finished the 9 miles and I felt great. I ran an out-and-back near Dan’s house in the middle of the day again (why do I keep doing that to myself?) so it was pretty warm outside. The hills are getting easier though! I am barely flinching when I get to the bottom of one (especially after last week’s trail run).  My knee is feeling pretty good for the most part, too, so I’m excited! I have been keeping up with my physical therapy exercises and I know that it’s helping. I’m just hoping that I can keep up the uninjured status for the rest of the week to get ready for 11 on Sunday!