A Race & Weekend Report: Madison Mini Marathon

First, the stats.

Date:  August 20, 2016
Lifetime half:  Number 23
State:  Wisconsin – Number 13

I had been cussing myself for months for signing up for this one.  WHO in their RIGHT MIND signs up for an August race?  haha  “Just do it,” they said.  “It won’t be as hot or humid up here in August,” they said.  Yeah well, I still had to run here in the south in the summer to attempt to train for that day.  And we all know by now how I tend to slack in the summer.  I thought maybe having a late summer race on the calendar would prevent that.  NOPE.  It just means that I went into yet another race untrained.  lol  But this event was much more about a weekend with friends in a new state than it was any stupid ol’ number on a clock, so I consider it a success anyway.

My trip started out the Friday morning before the race.  It was supposed to have been right at a 9-hour drive and I had plans to make a pit stop in Rockford IL to meet some of my long-time internet friends for lunch.  They would be joining me the next day in Madison anyway, but I wanted to make the most of the time I had that weekend.  And this way I got to meet their hubbies and furbabies too!  It was a great kickoff to the weekend–Shelly, Julia, their husbands Brian and Trey, and I went to a local vegan restaurant/brewery I’d heard them both talk about before, so that was my restaurant of choice that afternoon.  If you get the chance to check out Pig Minds Brewing Co., do it.  Good food, great beer. I was all about their HappiDaze (a bluberry California golden ale).  It did indeed make me very happy.  After Shelly got me sufficiently buzzed, she took me home and took advantage of me.  LOL She’s a jewelry designer and she took me to her jewelry-makin’ room.  I left there with so many pretties!  I look at her web site frequently, but photos just don’t ever do jewelry justice.  Check out www.lavorodesigns.com to see her work and trust me when I say it’s even more awesome in person.

After hanging out with Shelly and her sweet furbabies for a couple more hours, it was time to head to Madison if I was going to make it to the expo in time.  It was only a short walk from my hotel.  It was your typical big race expo with all of the typical things.  I did get a good giggle out of one thing that happened…when I arrived at the hotel I realized that I had forgotten to pack a pair of socks for my post-race tour d’Madison.  And upon walking into the expo, the first thing I saw was a sign for free socks.  hahaha  I found it rather serendipitous.  I was in and out of the expo in no time flat.  One of the perks of going in its last hour.  I had nothing else to do that evening so I just strolled around downtown a bit in the area between the expo and my hotel.  It was really a beautiful evening.

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But as beautiful as that evening was, I still didn’t know what the next day was going to bring.  I had been stalking the weather like a mad woman all week because of the threat of severe storms.  The race director started sending out weather updates mid-week, and as of the time I pulled out of my driveway on Friday morning, I still didn’t even know if the race would be happening.  They said that they would make the call based on the conditions at the start time whether to go ahead as planned, delay, or cancel the event.  Honestly, had I not already had hotel reservations and plans with my friends, I may not have taken the chance and just taken my loss on my entry fee.  I had also forgotten to bring an umbrella, which I knew I’d need after the race with my friends if it was raining, so while I was out walking around after the expo I ducked into a Walgreens and bought an umbrella and one of those $2 poncho thingies for the race itself.  I also knew I should probably eat something even though I really wasn’t hungry given our late lunch that afternoon, but I grabbed a veggie sub and made my way back to the Doubletree and turned in for the evening.

When I awoke the next morning, it was to the sound of light rain, but a quick glance at weather.com told me that it looked like the threat of severe weather was going to miss us.  I got ready, grabbed my poncho, and hoped for the best.

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By the time I got to the start area, it was raining pretty steadily so I was glad I had my poncho, but by the time we actually started I had already taken it off.  It was down to just barely a drizzle and that thing was making me sweat like CRAZY.  It still looked like the sky cold open up at any minute, so I hung onto it just in case I needed it mid-race.  Spoiler:  I didn’t.

As I’ve mentioned, this race was solely for fun.  I still had a full day ahead of me afterwards as well as a long drive home the next morning, so I didn’t push it one bit.  My only regret is not stopping to take pictures.  However, if I had, my timing would have been off and I wouldn’t have been at the right place at the right time on the course to have met my new friend Wendy.  I ran up behind her somewhere around mile 5ish.  She had on a police unity tour bike shirt.  I asked her about that, and the rest is history.  lol  We ran (and walked) the rest of the race together talking about mostly races, traveling, and beer.  As it turns out, she’s an ambassador for the Asheville Half Marathon, and we now have a date to do that one together in March.  THIS, people.  THIS is why I love running so much!

My time was 2:30-something.  I could look it up to tell you an exact number, but I don’t even care enough to do that right now.  LOL  Wendy and I hung out at the landing at the finish long enough to get our free beer and parted ways as we both had plans to meet up with friends, but not before we got our selfie for The Facebook.

8-20-2016 - Pam & Wendy at Madison Mini
Nothing like sweating and being drizzled on for 13.1 miles to make for a glamorous post-race selfie.

And here are some other random photos from the finish area.  It was really a cool little spot.

So I made my way back to the hotel and was just finishing getting ready when Shelly and Julia made it in from Rockford.  They have another friend, Marie, that lives in Madison, so after FOREVER … lol… Julia and Mr. T finally got us to her house.  They fed me a spectacular post-race lunch of tacos and beer.  I can’t remember the name of the taco joint, but it was amazing, and they had this beer.  It, too, made me happy.

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Know what else made me happy?  I didn’t need that umbrella I bought the night before.  It turned out to be an absolutely glorious, sunshiny (and even COOL later in the afternoon!) day.  We walked, we shopped, we took silly photos, we had coffee, we laughed… a LOT.  It was just the weekend escape that I’ve been needing!  Love these girls so hard!

In the evening, they dropped me back at the hotel.  They had to get back on the road home, and I needed to get a good night’s sleep.  I was whooped and needed to get up really early to start my long drive to get home at a decent hour.

So just a few final thoughts about the race before I wrap this up.  It’s really a great one.  It’s big enough that you don’t feel like you’re running alone, but small enough that you’re not tripping over each other.  You have some AMAZING scenery throughout the course as you run past the lake and through the arboretum.  The aid stations are aplenty and the finish line well organized.  I definitely recommend this one to anyone considering it!

Next up… California!  Cloverdale Half on 10/23/16!

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A Very Belated Race Report: 2016 Garmin Half Marathon

Now this will be a true test of my memory, seeing that this race was ooooohhhh 102 DAYS AGO.  Haha!

Maybe one of these days I’ll be back in the mood to actually give a shit about my race times, but now is not that time.  I mentioned a few posts ago that I had really been focusing on strength training, and while that most DEFINITELY has helped with short-distance speed (like 400s), it hasn’t done my long distance times any favors.  But again, I’m perfectly okay with that.  I’m feeling more balanced and happier than ever with regard to fitness.  I’m enjoying it and staying injury free, and that is ALL that matters!

I made the solo 8-hour drive (closer to 9 if you count my pit stops) to Olathe, KS, the Friday before the race.  It was the picture perfect day for a road trip.  I’m talkin’ the sunroof back, windows down, hard rock blaring kind of perfect.  I made my way straight to the conference center and I’ll admit I was kind of surprised.  I had it in my head that this was a much bigger town and a much bigger race than it really is.  (I also had it in my mind that Kansas would be flat too, so that goes to show how much homework I put into this race, but we’ll get to that!)

After my long day on the road I was famished, so I pulled up the handy-dandy Zomato app and found a groovy little pizza joint very convenient to both the conference center and to my AirBnB for the night.  I’ve always had awesome luck with just randomly picking a restaurant off that app, and I’m still batting 1.000.  Old Shawnee Pizza was THE BOMB.  After I polished off an ENTIRE pizza and a couple of beers (does this girl know how to fuel for a race or what?) I headed to my home for the night.  Since I’m doing so much traveling for races in my attempt to run 50 in 50, I’m trying really hard to do it on the cheap, so I went through AirBnB.  This was my second experience with them and it was an awesome one.  I stayed with Brigette, and I would highly recommend her to anyone traveling to Olathe for this race.  FABULOUS hostess!  (BTW, I have a referral code for $30 off your first AirBnB reservation if you’ve never used them before.  If you want it, just ask!)

I turned in really early that night and woke up feeling pretty good.  I felt like I stood a chance at running a halfway decent race.  Bahahahaha…

I made my way back to the area of the conference center and got parked.  It was an absolutely beautiful morning.

4-16-2016 - Kansas sunrise

I had quite a bit of time to kill.  The race information made it sound like parking would be horrific to impossible if you didn’t arrive at dark-thirty, so I did, only to park immediately and camp out in my car for an hour.  After what felt like forever, we finally got started.  It didn’t take me long to realize, “Hmmm…. Kansas isn’t as flat as I thought it would be.” lol  What I didn’t realize when I registered is that this Kansas race is damn near a Missouri race.  It’s 13.1 miles of constant hills.  Add that to the heat and the sun and I faded pretty quickly.  I just rolled with it.  Could I have pushed myself?  Yup.  Could I have made myself unhappy out there and felt like shit when I finished and had a miserable long drive home?  Yup.  But I didn’t.  I stopped.  I texted people.  I took pictures.  I had a good time!

4-16-2016 - Garmin Half, Olathe KS
Does this look flat to you?!
4-16-2016 - Garmin Half, Olathe KS 3
Lots of people were in costume, but this was the best I saw!

I crossed the line in 2:26 something and didn’t care one bit.  I grabbed a banana (the only plant-based option at the finish) and some water and hopped in line.  There was a massage therapist and a chiropractor there giving free massages and adjustments.  Hell yeah!  I was long overdue for an adjustment anyway, and I’d had a bit of a kink in my left lower back for a couple of weeks prior and that long drive the day before kind of aggravated it.  She massaged the crap out of a big knot I had just above my hip bone and had me good to go for the ride home.

4-16-2016 - Garmin Half, Olathe KS 4
Quads on point

I went back to my host’s house long enough to hose off and hit the road, and several uneventful (boring) hours later I was back home.

There wasn’t much to speak of in the way of swag, but I dig the shirt (fits well and reminds me of Wicked).  The medal was cute.  And I ALWAYS appreciate a good reusable shopping bag.

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The medal was pretty good sized and pretty heavy, and my husband feared it would be the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Or the medal that broke the sheet rock.  haha  He insisted I upgrade my medal hanger.  I have to admit it.  It looks a lot better.  I love it.

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Before. Haha you can’t even tell there’s a medal hanger under there.
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After. Isn’t it beautiful!

 

So there we have it.  Another state down, bringing me to 12.  Next up, Madison Mini on 8/20!  And, seriously, if I ever mention running another August half marathon EVER AGAIN, please kick me hard in the nether regions.

 

TOTR: The Best Thing About Running | Six Races, One Report

Good morning and Happy Tuesday, my lovies!  I’m linking up today with MCM Mama and a couple of her cohorts for Tuesday on the Run… which is SUPER convenient for me since I already had this running-related post mostly written.  haha  Today’s topic is “The Best Part About Running.”  I shared an Instagram post a couple of weeks ago on this very thing, and since I have very little overlap between this blog and my IG, I’m using it again.  Recycled content FTW!!!!

While I was running my most recent half marathon last month, somewhere I believe around mile 4, we came out into an opening in the wildlife preserve we were running through, and the view over the water was just breathtaking. In that moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks at just how infinitely grateful I am to have found this life. Let me explain a little bit… I’ve hated my body for most of my life. I hated it when I was a kid and teenager because it was fat. Then when I lost weight in my 20s I still hated it because it bore the physical reminders that it was once fat, and I knew it had the potential to be fat again. I had a very unhealthy relationship with food, subsisting on Slim Fast and lettuce to stay thin. It’s only been in the last 10 years or so that I’ve learned to truly appreciate how strong and healthy I am (yes, even when I’ve allowed the scale to creep back up at times). And since switching to a plant based diet a few years ago, I LOVE food (REAL FOOD) instead of resenting it for having calories! Thanks to running and living an active lifestyle, I’ve been so many places and done so many things I wouldn’t have otherwise. Experiences that are priceless. I’ve explored 13.1 miles (and 26.2 a couple of times!) of some amazing places on foot, up close and personal, in a way that driving through just can’t compare. I’ve hiked into the Grand Canyon and to the top of the Manitou Incline–experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything! And the friends I’ve made literally all over the country!  Fitness has given me back tenfold what I’ve put into it, and I can’t wait to see what adventures are still to come!

And now to catch you up on some of those 13.1 adventures I mentioned…here ya go!  Six races, one report!

#1 – September 5, 2015.  The Tortoise and the Hare – Canton, Georgia (State #8):  This was by far THE HARDEST race I’ve ever run.  Marathons included.  It was also by far THE SLOWEST half I’ve ever run, coming in at 3:09:45.  But ya know what?  It was also by far THE MOST FUN race I’ve ever run!  It was 100% trail.  It was my first trail race, but it definitely will not be my last!  There were hills (oh so many hills), roots, rocks, streams, mud, and it was September in Georgia, so it was effing HOT!!!  But it was also beautiful.  I tried a couple of times to take my phone out and take pictures, but it was impossible.  My hands were so wet from sweat that my phone wouldn’t even acknowledge that I was touching the screen when I would try to swipe or tap, and I didn’t have a single square inch of dry clothes on my body with which to dry my hands.  So pics from the start and the finish are all I have of this lovely but grueling course.

9-5-2015 - Tortoise & The Hare start line
At the start.  We started and finished in this clearing.
9-5-2015 - Tortoise & The Hare Half Marathon in Canton, GA
Over three hours later…
9-5-2015 - Tortoise & The Hare finish
Proudly sporting my tortoise medal.  (It was a super cute medal.  The middle of it spins.  There’s a tortoise on one side, a hare on the other)
9-5-2015 - Post first trail run
I got muddy, so I’m officially a trail runner now!

This race kind of happened on accident.  One of our favorite comedians, Jim Jefferies, was in Atlanta that weekend, and when we were thinking about buying tickets to that, I searched for nearby races to see if killing two birds with one stone could be a possibility.  When I found this one only half an hour or so away, it was a done deal!  After the race, a shower, and a short nap, we drove into ATL for dinner, drinks, and the show.

9-5-2015 - Jim Jefferies

9-5-2015 - Jim Jefferies 2
He is fucking HILARIOUS but definitely not for the faint of heart or easily offended.

#2 – September 13, 2015, Guardian Angels Virtual Half Marathon.  I don’t know that I should even include this one here, but I’m gonna.  I signed up for this virtual race because it was for benefit of a group that helps combat veterans with getting service dogs, and of course I donated the extra few bucks to get the medal.  Because if you’re gonna run that far, it’s my belief that you should damn sure get a medal for it.  The only drawback was that there wasn’t someone waiting for me at the end of my driveway to put it over my head when I finished that day.  But here are some adorable pictures of my pups modeling it when it came in the mail a couple of weeks later.  You’re welcome, internet.

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9-25-2015 - Harley

9-25-2015 - Bella 2

9-25-2015 - Bella“Paint me like one of your French Bulldogs”

#3 – October 4, 2015, Key Biscayne Half Marathon in Key Biscayne, Florida (State #9):  Like the Georgia race, this one happened to coincide with another trip, too.  We had already planned a vacation to Pompano Beach, FL, and a few weeks beforehand I searched for races.  This one was an hour away the day after we got there.  SOLD!  It was hot AF and I was eaten alive by mosquitoes since it was still dark at packet pickup that morning, but I loved it.  The view over the bay at sunrise was just amazing.  Races like this really make me appreciate this whole “running just for fun” thing.  It’s nice to just be able to take in the surroundings without worrying about pace or PRs!   I ran the whole thing just like I’d been running all my summer long runs and was perfectly okay with the 2:25:56 finish time.

#4 – November 7, 2015, Monumental Half in Indianapolis, Indiana (State #10):  I have a friend that lives in Indianapolis that has been trying to get me to come and run the 500 Festival Mini Marathon for ages, but it’s in May and there’s ALWAYS a conflict with either a vacation or a graduation or a birthday, so I’ve never been able to make it happen (and already knew it wasn’t going to happen again in 2016!), so I gave up on that idea and went with the Monumental Half instead.  I’m not sorry at all.  It was a great race.  And despite my time of 2:22, I had a great race that day as well.  Six of those minutes were spent standing in line for a portapotty around mile 4.  That’s really my only complaint for the race at all.  It realllly needed more portapotties.  So while 2:16 isn’t a spectacular time for me, for where I was at fitness wise, I was happy with it.  And BONUS I finally got my picture with Bart at the expo!

11-6-2015 - Pam & Bart Yasso

11-7-2015 - Indianapolis Monumental Half 7

#5 – December 5, 2015, St. Jude Half in Memphis, TN.  This one is just kind of tradition now.  I’ve run it the last four years that it was held (it was cancelled due to an ice storm a couple of years ago) and will continue to run it every year.  Based on some of my tempo runs in the weeks leading up to this race, I thought I might possibly just MAYBE be able to eek out a PR at this race.  Nope.  Didn’t happen.  Although I did shave a few more minutes off of my Indy time and come in at 2:12:54, still 5 minutes off my PR.  They changed the course this year, and IMO it was MUCH more challenging.  It seemed hillier to me, but maybe that’s my lack of hill training talking.  Again, no pics during the race, except the proof I swiped.

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12-5-2015 - St. Jude Half Marathon

12-5-2015 - St. Jude half finish
A perfect, sunny day in Memphis, TN.  Finishers’ area inside Autozone Park.

#6 – February 13, 2016 – Fly with the Eagles in Marion, Illinois (State #11):  This was one of those surprises that don’t come along very often.  I chose it solely based on two things:  price and proximity.  Marion is only two hours away from where I live in Northwest Tennessee.  Pair that short drive time with the 9:00 a.m. gun time and the fact that they allowed race day packet pickup and you have yourself a hotel-less race.  Since I’m shooting for a half in all 50 states, I’m taking every opportunity I can to travel on the cheap!  Also?  The registration was $30.  Yes.  THIRTY DOLLARS.  So I honestly went into this race not expecting much.  I didn’t even really read any reviews on it.  I read just enough to make sure there was a finisher’s medal because that’s one of my self-imposed stipulations on selecting a race for a state.  Yes, I am totally shallow like that.  I was SHOCKED by this race.  Guys, it was SO well organized.  The volunteers were awesome and many, the aid stations abundant, the course beautiful, and the finish line well stocked.  This race also went down in the books as my coldest one to date.  At the finish, the temp was 14 with a windchill of 8, so the hot soup that the volunteers had waiting for us at the finish was a very much appreciated bonus.  (And the fact that they even had a separate soup for us plant-based folks?  BE STILL MY HEART!)  I found out after the race that the finisher’s hoodie is this race’s claim to fame.  It IS pretty great!  I love getting something other than an ugly t-shirt.  Oh!  And the race photographer uploaded all of the photos for us to grab FOR FREE!!!!  Seriously.  All this for $30.  I have a feeling this one will also become a yearly tradition.  It’s a gem for sure.

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And that’s a wrap!  Six races and four states, bringing my total up to 21 HMs in 11 states.  Next up–Garmin Half Marathon in Olathe, Kansas, on April 16!

Where do I even begin?

And just like that **SNAP!**, in the blink of an eye, seven months has gone by.  My last post was August 16, 2015.  What the hell?  I hadn’t PLANNED on a hiatus.  I had no reason for one…I wasn’t burned out.  I wasn’t any more busy than usual.  I wasn’t off somewhere sulking in a corner.  I don’t know WHAT happened, really.  But I’ve missed it!  For weeks I’ve been meaning to get back here and dust the cobwebs off this old thing.  I’ve even come to the page a couple of times and asked myself the title of this post.  I sat here with my fingers hovering over the home row, ready to pound out a post and drew a big, fat blank.  I did it just now, too, but this time I just decided to roll with it.  I feel like so much has happened in the last seven months, but to keep this one post from getting insanely long, I’ll do you a solid and break them down into shorter posts.   Haha  Maybe one for each topic.  But in short, since I talked to you last I have…

  • Run six half-marathons in four new states.  If things had gone according to plan, I actually would have been in the car traveling to the next one right this very moment, but due to some conflicts I decided to forego this one.  My next one will be the Garmin Marathon in Olathe, Kansas on 4/16.  (*currently accepting applications for suitable travel partners  haha)
  • Gotten very serious about cross- and strength-training.  I’ve been saying for EVER that I knew I needed to do it, but I finally did it.  And now I kick myself every day for not doing it years ago.  I have never felt better or stronger, and if you’ll allow me a moment of vanity, I’ll admit that I don’t think I’ve ever looked better either.
  • Taken an awesome vacation to Florida.  We go to the panhandle of Florida as sort of a farewell-to-summer getaway almost every year, but last year we mixed it up a bit and went to South Florida where epic shit ensued.
  • Got a new tattoo.
  • Carried out a stakeout and trap, resulting in the newest addition to our family.  I now have a new feline brother.
  • Nursed my girl Bella through her third (yes, THIRD) knee surgery.  She’s three and a half weeks post ACL repair now, after already having undergone two surgeries in the past for a torn ACL and meniscus in the OTHER hind leg.

And well I guess that’s about it!  haha  It sure seemed like more before I started writing it out.  That’ll give me a starting place for posting anyway!  Also, when I logged into Blogger, I had approximately 4 million unread posts.  There’s no way I could make my way through all of them, so I cringed and hit the “Mark All as Read” button.  So if I’ve missed any huge news on YOUR blog, please catch me up!!!!!

Updates on Running and Other Related Stuffs

  • I’m really working on getting my mileage back up.  Last week I ran 13 miles Monday, 6 on Wednesday, 8 Saturday, and 6 Sunday for a total of 33 miles.  Which is my highest weekly mileage in… well shit I don’t even know how long!  It’s been a LONG time.  As of right now I’m 18.7 miles away from hitting 100 miles for January.  First time hitting that number since December 2012!
  • I know from past experience that when my mileage gets this high I had better start doing some cross-training or my ass will be injured and sidelined.  So in the last week I’ve dusted off the ol’ spin bike and started doing the Jillian Michaels Shred workouts.  It still amazes me how little you use your glutes while running.  GAAAHHHAH my ass is sore!

2015-01-27 11.35.03

  • I have ulterior motives for adding in the extra workouts too.  I gotta shed some fat, y’all.  I was really working on getting my body fat percentage down early last summer and then things got crazy when D’s mom went from battling cancer to being terminal.  I put on several pounds by the time she passed away.  I’ve taken them back off for the most part, but now I need to pick up where I left off last summer.  It was mostly out of sheer vanity until Tiina stole this from Runners World and posted it on her blog a few days ago.

Running-weight

I WANT THOSE TWO MINUTES!!!!

  • To aid with this, I’ve started food journaling again.  I’m using MyFitnessPal.  I fucking hate food journaling, but it’s effective.
  • I’ve been curious for a while now, and I’ve finally taken the plunge.  I ordered some Hokas.  I’ve strayed from my Brooks Ghosts a few times and have always come crawling back, but I haven’t talked to a single person who didn’t like them, so I’m giving them a chance.
  • I am starting to form a real game plan toward completing a half marathon in every state.  It’s stressing me out.  I’m not a patient person, so the fact that I haven’t registered for 43 half-marathons over the next 6 months is a total win.  I’ve got a few picked out between now and June and have been researching potential contenders for several states, but it’s killing me that I can’t do them all RIGHTFUCKINGNOW!
  • I’ve always thought that people that run full marathons “for fun” were a little bit unhinged, but I think I’m becoming those people.  There’s a girl here in town that’s running a local marathon in March and I’ve kind of committed to running her remaining long runs with her.  She asked me recently if I was gonna run the marathon.  I guess it’d kinda be silly NOT to, right?  It’s super tiny and won’t sell out or anything, so I won’t register in advance, but there’s a very good possibility that I’ll be running a marathon “for fun” in less than two months.