Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 2016 Race Report

Last weekend, I completed my eleventh marathon, the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. I still hold my personal record at this event, from 2010.  I was in my best running shape at that time.  I finished with a 4:02.  Since that race, I have witnessed my husband complete the race two times, while I spectated from the sidelines.  I am well familiar with the course, the crowd support and the weather this time of year.  I was glad to be back.
My parents decided to join us for a weekend away in Chicago.  It was super nice to have them along for the journey and for the support.  My mom had just started running with me a couple weeks prior and even purchased her first pair of running shoes at the expo. Packet pick up was a breeze and we spent about an hour shopping at the expo.  I picked up a cute pair of marathon sweatpants, which were going to be perfect for the changing fall weather. 
We ate dinner at California Pizza Kitchen at Bayshore Mall and then headed back to the hotel to rest.  We stayed at a great hotel in Brown Deer.  The race starts in Grafton and ends in downtown Milwaukee.  Since my family was going to be spectating the 26 mile route, we wanted to stay close to the startline and opted not to stay downtown.  However everything in Grafton was sold-out this time.  The hotel was great and the bed was super comfortable.  Even with an infant who wasn't so sure, I still slept well the night before this marathon.  The race started at 7:30 and I wanted to be out of the hotel by 6:15.  I woke up before my alarm and got ready for the day.  I had brought my own breakfast and the hotel was nice enough to toast my English muffin for me.  I was excited and ready to race.
We checked out of the hotel and ... it was raining.  Lightly, but it was raining.  It wasn't supposed to rain, and I couldn't believe it.  We drove north to Grafton and my dad said that his phone said only a chance of rain at 7:00 am and that then it should stop.  I had already ran two of my marathons in pretty bad rain, so this was really nothing.  It doesn't matter how many marathons you run, they are still intimidating.  I was starting to get nervous.  We parked at the startline, and headed to Grafton High School, where runners assemble before the race.  I was scheduled to meet up with my client, Jenny at 7:00.  She was running her first marathon and I was so excited for her.  I even got a chance to meet her friend, Sarah, who would be running my pace.  We headed back to the port-o-potty for one last stop.  We waited in the long lines and I assured them that we would be fine.  And we were, we got to the startline with just a minute or two to spare after I kissed my family good-bye again.  While in line, I had two packs of energy chews to give me a little extra fuel.

Soon we were off and on our way.  I saw my family just beyond the startline, and planned to see them again in about 45-50 minutes.

I ran the first couple of miles with Sarah as we ran through country roads.  She had mentioned something about a broken toe, but still seemed to be running faster than me.  I let her run ahead of me, as I was already clocking a much faster pace than planned.  I noticed right away, after my watch was clocked-in to the GPS signal, that it was already at 75% battery.  I knew that it wasn't going to last for the duration of the whole race.  My first miles were all clocking sub 9 minute miles.  Something I don't even do during my training runs.  But I was consistently clocking them mile after mile.  The rain was light, but continued.  It was fun avoiding the puddles and zig-zagging through the crowd.  I placed myself in front of the 3:50 pace group, and soon was running with the 3:55.  Something that I was not expecting at all.  I just hoped that I could keep this up, as I was aiming for 4:15.
My plan was to take a gel at miles 5, 10, 15, 20 and then have another one for later on if I could stomach it.  So, at mile 5 I had my first Honey Stinger gel.  At each of the aid stations I would take a sports drink and then when my handheld bottle was running low, I would also fill it up with one to two cups of water.  I would also change out my gum and switch to a new stick.  All this while running.  I never planned to stop.  It actually seems to make the miles pass by quicker for me -- all of this arranging and something to look forward to.
Around mile 5 or 6, I saw my family at the same place that I remember spectating my husband's marathons.  I saw Baby Diva all bundled up in the stroller and my parents armed with their phones, taking photos and my husband cheering me on.  All in the rain, with one umbrella.  Cheering me on and as excited as ever to see me.  I had one of my emotional Mumford & Sons songs on and became a blubbering fool.  I was sobbing and thanked them as I ran by.  The emotions just came over me.  I could hear spectators calling out my name from my race bib and "You've got this Miss 38".  "Go get it, Jamie!".  My emotions came over me as I wiped the stream of tears from my eyes.  I reconnected with Sarah.  Her toe was bugging her and she felt that she went out too fast.  She was going to slow down.  I continued on my nine minute pace and trudged on through the country roads.
The crowd support at Concordia University was great, though I was completely wet at this point.  I thought that I was going to see my family at mile 10 or 11, but they weren't there.  Looking for them, helped time pass though, as I consumed another gel.  Apparently they were stock with bad service at McDonald's. 
We eventually came into town and it was still raining and sprinkling.  Cars passed by and splashed water on the runners.  My right foot stepped in a puddle, my shoes were squishing and noisy; and now my clothes were clinging to me like they had just came out of the washing machine. My hair was wet and I typically wear it down during a race with my Bondi Band.  It was smacking me in the back and sometimes my face.  Another runner mentioned that she had another hair tie if I wanted to use it, but I passed.  I crossed the half marathon point at 1:57 and that was my fastest half marathon in a really long time, even before having the baby.  I was feeling great, though my hip flexers were starting to feel sore.  At mile 14, I saw my family again.   Still cheering me on in the rain, all bundled up.  I told my husband that my watch was now dead.  Having another half marathon ahead of me, I had no clue what my pace was, other than looking at my Vivofit activity tracker to see what time it currently was, and passing occasional timing mats along the course.  Eventually the 3:55 pace group passed me.

My legs were already starting to buckle and my pubic bone was feeling extremely sore at mile 15.  I usually don't feel this sort of pain until mile 20-22.  But, it was there.  And all I could do was push through it.  I took another gel at mile 15 and saw my friend Bill spectating somewhere along the route there.  He noted that I was way ahead of my expected pace of 4:15.  I saw my family again around mile 16 I believe, and then the 4:00 pace group eventually passed me.  So bittersweet to get the taste of a sub four hour marathon, and then have it go right by you.  But I had to remind myself of my initial goals.  And I would be running two more halfs in one month; include one half marathon and one full marathon in the same weekend.  That was my biggest goal for the year.  Just to complete that combined distance.  I wasn't feeling great (my legs) at this point, but pushed onward.  I really dislike miles 15-19 of a marathon.  It feels like you still have so far to go.  And the miles just get kind of .... lost.  But I still kept smiling.


I saw my family right around mile 20 after I had another energy gel and something to drink.  I had another burst of energy as I approached them.  I started picking my pace back up and reassured them that I was feeling great again.  That I was going to do this.  I crossed the mile 20 mat in 3:03.  Only six miles to go.  The remaining miles were nice, as we finally approached the lakefront and there was a lot of downhill the final three.  Around mile 22 or 23 I ran into my friend Bill again, this time on his bike.  He asked if I wanted company.  I said "maybe".  So he turned his bike around and followed me the entire way to the finish time.  We weren't really conversing, but I still had my tunes on and he was instructing me how far it was to the next water stop or mile marker.  It was very helpful and encouraging, even if I didn't mention it at the time!  I also passed my friend, Dan, who I met during a half marathon a few years back.  I patted him on the back and Bill encouraged him to try to keep up.  Bill also encouraged me to pick up my feet, which helped me during the last bit, as it feel like my insides were going to fall out.
During the final mile, I heard an ambulance zoom past us on the road.  I could sense the finish line up ahead.  I made a couple final turns, and saw a runner laying on the bike path, with others assisting him.  It was so terrible to see, as he laid there in agony.  I made one final turn and could see the finish line.  I could see my family to the right.  The rain had stopped - finally.  I tried to muster up a smile for the camera, as I approached the clock ticking at 4:05.

There was no need to have the standard "stop your watch" photo at the finish line, because mine was dead.  But, I knew that I was happy with a 4:05 and some change.  I found my family, reunited, thanked Bill and changed my wet clothes and shoes.

Marathons are never easy.  They are a lot of hard work.  I really do find joy in the journey though.  I still find a huge sense of accomplishment once I finish a marathon.  The running and everything that goes with it.  The training.  The early mornings.  Learning from fueling.  Good runs.  Bad runs.  Mistakes.  Doubting your training.  Questioning your sanity.  Communication with your spouse and family.  Saying "no".  Saying "yes".  It all gets you to the finish line.
When we arrived home later that afternoon, hubby had to run about eighteen miles.  So I snuggled up with Baby Diva, wearing my new sweatpants and enjoyed the afternoon.  We even got the dog out for a couple of walks that afternoon.  And it felt good to keep moving, as my legs were really starting to cramp up.  My pubic bone was still sore for two days and I barely slept that night.  My body was in complete shock.  But I logged 58,000 steps that Sunday.

 Chip Time:  4:05:18
9:21 min/mile pace
827/2664 overall
286/1348 females
62/237 F 35-39
10K:  54:14
Half Marathon:  1:57:24
20 mile:  3:03:48

Individual Treadmill Training - Starts November

Starts week of November 6
Five Weeks - $75
Sun Prairie

Personal treadmill training with Running Diva Mom.  Clients will commit to the same time slot for five consecutive weeks.  One hour session includes indoor run on side-by-side treadmills, post-run stretching and core work.   Childrens play area available.
The following programs are available and will be personalized for each client:
Couch to 5K Running/Walking (requires no running experience)
Walking/Power Walking

There will be no session on Nov 18-19 or Nov 24 (Thanksgiving); session will be extended by one week.

There is only one slot available per time slot.  To reserve your time, place your order early!  If there is another time that works for you, please message me.
To avoid the Eventbrite fee, please message me at runningdivamom@yahoo.com

Friday, September 30, 2016

Limitless Warrior Training Bracelet from Endorphin Warrior Review

Statement bracelets are all the rage lately.  And, these cuffs from Endorphin Warrior are a great addition to your collection for your wrist.  So simple - yet they seriously make a bold statement.
I chose the Limitless Cuff in black.  It's from the collection of Warrior Training Bracelets.  These are super comfortable, light-weight and SWEAT FREE (bonus!).  So, you can wear them to motivate you during your workouts, too.  I have a few in my collection and the statements I choose are all for different purposes.  They motivate me for different reasons.
At only $20 these also make great gifts.  They are perfect gifts for athletes, runners, triathletes, yogis, birthday gifts, teacher gifts, graduation gifts, divorce gifts, survivor gifts - the list goes on and on - because we could ALL use a little motivation to push ourselves a little more and believe in ourselves a little more.
The bracelets are available in natural leather and rubber and black or brown.  Offered in five different sizes, they will also work great for men, women and children.

I also own some of the
empower word stackable rings and love them.  You can wear them each individually, or as a custom set.

Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer Review

We've been pretty lucky that Baby Diva hasn't been very sick since she arrived a little over nine months ago.  However, cold and flu season is quickly approaching.  She's recently been fighting a running nose and cold that has been dragging out for over a week.  Has anyone ever tried to get an infant's temperature?  That isn't easy.
I was happy to try out the Temporal Artery Thermometer that was sent to me by Exergen.  I had seen these "scan thermometers" at the baby store when we registered last fall.  But, I hadn't purchased one, since I figured I survived without one with my older two children.  And I wasn't sold on the pricetag compared to the standard oral thermometer.
But, I was amazed during our hospital stay this time, when the nurses were using these thermometers to take our vitals.  Results within seconds.
Parents press and hold the button, then gently stroke their child's forehead and the device captures naturally emitted heat from the child's skin over the temporal artery.  The parent releases the button and digital number is available.  The Red LED lights and a soft beep indicates a correct scan.  The device takes a whopping 1,000 readings per second, selecting the most accurate one.  Arterial heat balance computes the correct temperature.  You can even do this while your child is resting or sleeping. 
This is the safest, most convenient and comfortable place to measure the temperature.  The accuracy of the Temporal Scanner is incredible and recommended for all ages.
Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometers are currently sold at:

Babies R Us
Toys R Us

Thursday, September 15, 2016


This morning, I returned from my run in tears.  Sometimes you have good runs.  Sometimes you experience the bad.  This morning was just an emotional one for me. 
I was running my typical 5K route around my neighborhood.  The little one was sleeping in the jogging stroller.  The sun was shining and the weather was perfect.  I was planning my day, goal-setting, soul-searching and contemplating opportunities in my head.  You know, the typical daily thoughts that go through a runner's head.  As I was circling back around at the half-way point, I approached an elderly gentleman.  I maneuvered the stroller to the side to let him pass.  As I approached him he smiled, then tipped his hat.  He said something and encouraged me to take out my head phones.
"What was that?", I asked, removing my head phones.
"You are setting a good example for your little one, there", he said.
(stunned) "Thank you.".
"She looks content.  She's going to be stronger one day because of you".
(jaw drops) "Why, thank you so much.".
"You both have a good day".
"We will.  Thank you.  Enjoy your walk.".

I immediately broke down in tears, as I logged my final mile home.  It touched me.  It moved me.  The run and the moment felt *right*. 
The day prior, I was wearing my Fellow Flowers Green Courage Tee at Target.
Three years ago, I was gifted the tee from Mel at Fellow Flowers.  Yes, *THE* Mel from Fellow Flowers.  She believed in me, as I was taking the steps to making Running Diva Mom legit, a reality and continuing to follow my passion towards helping others achieving goals.
As I was shopping for an anniversary card for my husband in Target, an elderly man approached me on his scooter.  He smiled at my daughter and started a conversation.

"Courage", he said.
"Oh ... yes.", I replied, as I realized that he was reading my shirt.
"Your daughter is sweet ... and her mama must have a lot of courage".
"Yes, I'd like to think that I do.", I replied.
"I am 92, can no longer walk, but I still am strong and have been courageous my whole life.  I could tell you stories of the war and the courageous battles we fought.  We were brave.  But I have fought courageous battles my whole life.  And I always survived.".
"Wow, I am sure you did.", I replied.
He went on to tell me what the Bible states about 'courage' and how much you need it throughout life.
He finished with, "You continue to be courageous and enjoy your little one."

As I contemplate and plan all of the paths that I am taking through life, I only see these two recent interactions as great signs of great things to come.  Either that, or there are only little-old-men and stay-at-home moms out-and-about on a Wednesday afternoon.

Be courageous.  Be brave.  Be you.

I Run Wisconsin.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Life is but a dream - together.

So, there was a boy who didn't run ...
And a girl who ran ... a lot ...
The girl was looking for a boy, but it had to be the right boy.  She had so much love to give and had such a passion for running.  And the girl was looking for someone to love her two children, just as much as he loved her.  Someone that had that much love to go around - had to also be passionate about something in their life.  It didn't have to be running.  But they had to understand her dreams and commitment to the sport.
The girl didn't care that the boy didn't like to run. But, he was curious enough to ask her to go for a run one day.  So, one dark, snowy January night they headed outdoors - to run together.  Those steps in the snow would develop into an amazing love story.  Running made their love grow deeper and stronger, as she watched the boy change.  Her passion became his passion.  Her therapy became his therapy.  Their lives became one.
The boy ran his first 5K within months of dating.  Six months later they flew across the country to run his first half marathon together.  And the following spring they crossed the finish line of his first 26.2 mile adventure together - in the rain - hand-in-hand.  Months after that, they said their vows in front of 140 family and friends.
The boy and the girl exchanged vows that they had written themselves.  Vows that they would reflect on every single day. 

I ___, take you ___, to be my ___.I promise to be your faithful partner,your best friend,and your one true love.I promise to encourage you each day,to support your struggles,and to believe in your dreams.I promise to listen to you deeply,to embrace each concern,and to resolve every conflict.I promise to appreciate you always,to take you for better or for worse,but not take you for granted.I love you today,and I will love you just as deeply always.

Just like their vows stated, the boy has fully supported the girl's dreams and goals.  He's motivated her to set more goals and do everything possible to attain them.  He's pushed her to grow her passion into a thriving business, while connecting with other runners and proving to other women that their dreams can become a reality.   Their life together has changed, become more complex and hurdles have been added - but they navigated the route together hand-in-hand and conquered every hurdle together.
Now the boy has goals of his own.  As the three year anniversary of their vows are being celebrated, he has committed to one major goal - completing Ironman in 2017. 
The girl was fearful that this commitment may change them or stand in their way.  But, she finally realized that her dreams are his.  And his dreams are hers, too.  And as their vows state, that they will support each other fully.  The commitment is not an obstacle - it is just another dream to navigate - together.

Life is but a dream - together.


Monday, September 12, 2016

96 miles.

It's September 12.  Less than two weeks into the month.  This is my favorite time of year to be pounding the pavement.  I'm really feeling in my groove.  I'm not necessarily feeling fast.  But I'm feeling stronger.  Leaner.  And like my endurance is at it's best.  I have a number of big races coming up in October and November ... two marathons and two half marathons.
I just added up my mileage for the month of September so far.  And I had to add it up three times.  I thought I'd made a mistake.  96 miles.  96 miles??  96 miles!!  Just twelve days into the month.  Sometimes that is what I've ran an entire month previously.  96 miles. 
This week marks my eleven year running anniversary.  And before that I hadn't ran 96 miles in my entire life.  Just those one mile runs at the end of every year of high school.  That scared girl with low-self esteem.  She finished at the back of the pack.  Huffing and puffing.  Walking and wishing it was over.  No confidence.  Not knowing what she was capable of.
It just goes to prove what can be done with passion.  With goals.  With a plan.  With commitment.  With support.  With confidence.
And with smarts.  I'm taking tomorrow off.

Wet miles.

I coached 17 miles in the cold rain on Saturday morning! Yuck! A warm shower and some coffee were never so much appreciated. Big shout-out to Traci who pushed herself along to her first double digit run ... Ten miles!!

34 pounds gone.

34 pounds gone! So much more fun shopping when things fit. Six new pairs of pants. All approved by my tween!

Just the girls.

Completed my second run on Sunday morning with these two beauties. No complaining from either of my training partners. #fitfamily #intervals

Eleven years ago.

Eleven years ago this weekend, I watched a friend compete in Ironman Wisconsin. The inspirational athletes gave me the motivation I needed to get off the couch, focus on me and try to run around my neighborhood. Small steps turned into miles, then races, 5ks, half marathons and then marathons. And now it's my passion that I am can now share with others. It has changed my whole world. It was such a joy watching my son and husband volunteer at a run aid station at Ironman yesterday. Life and this sport are such an amazing journey.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Chicago Rock 'n' Roll 2016 Half Marathon Race Report

I returned to the windy city this summer for another epic race.  This time it was a repeat of Chicago Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.  The race took place mid-July and I would be serving as a Team Chocolate Milk ambassador, something that I have been doing for the past two years.  Learn how science proves that chocolate milk can help with muscle recovery.  Chocolate milk contains the perfect ratio of carbs to protein to aid in muscle recovery after a long run or workout.
My family and I got on the road early and headed down to McCormick Place for the huge race expo.  Parking was extremely pricey for the couple of hours that we were there and we had to walk a ton from one end of the building to the expo.  But, it was fun and we enjoyed browsing the booths and tried tons of free samples.  I also picked up a magnet and a couple of running tanks. 
After the expo, we parked in one of the parking garages downtown, walked around and grabbed some lunch.  We followed that up with a walking cupcake tour of Chicago.  For 90 minutes, we visited six different bakeries and carb-loaded with cupcakes.  We always love food tours, but this is the first one that the kids had joined us on.  It was super fun and a great way to experience the city.
After a long day being tourists, we headed back up to Schaumburg where we were staying.  Hotels were extremely costly in downtown Chicago that weekend - especially for the five of us to have a comfortable space.  So, we got a cheap room for around $150 in Schaumburg.  We grabbed dinner in Schaumburg, too and headed to bed early.
The race would be starting at 6:30 am, so we had to wake the kids up early.  The alarm went off between 4:00 and 4:30 and we packed up the gang and all of our belongings and headed back down to the city.  With no traffic, it was a breeze.  We parked in the same parking garage that we used the day prior.  We racked up about $75 in parking fees over two days.  We weren't going to be able to take advantage of the hotel's continental breakfast, so I ate a PB&J while I drove.
Port-o-potty lines were long and I was rushing to the startline area, as there were only fifteen minutes until the start.  I said good-bye to my family and stood in the line.  I had flash-backs to six years earlier when I was in the port-o-potty when the National Anthem was about to be sung at the same event.  I rushed to the startline, only to wait eighteen minutes until my wave got to start.  There were close to 12,000 participants and the waives were starting a couple minutes apart.
Once we were off, we headed under bridges, through tunnels and along the flat course through the city.  Much of the route was shaded, due to all of the tall structures.  My Garmin was all over the place and reflecting that I was running 7:30 - 8 minute miles.  I figured that it was losing signal through all of the tunnels.  I felt that I was pushing it harder than my training runs.  But, I also knew that I was not fully capable of running THAT kind of pace.
Crowd support was awesome and the music and entertainment along the course was nice.  I wore my headphones, but turned down my tunes as we passed some of the acts.  Around mile five, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  It was Margaret, another Wisconsin running blogger that I had met through Running Diva Mom several years back.  I was astonished that we crossed paths during this huge event.  I didn't even know she was participating.
My family was walking around the course, grabbing coffee and some breakfast.  They were able to spot me on foot twice during the first half of the race.  After we did the first loop of the figure-eight course, I wouldn't see them again until the finish line.
I consumed some energy chews before I started and sipped on a gel at miles 5 and 10.  I carried my handheld with water and consumed sports drink along the course.  One time the volunteer handed me my sports drink and the entire cup splashed in my face, causing me to cough.  I chewed on gum throughout the race, unwrapping a new stick after each gel.
We headed out on a more industrial route for the second half.  It wasn't as scenic or lined by too many spectators.  For the middle of July, the temperatures were quite a bit cooler than normal and the skies were mostly cloudy with dark clouds off into the distance. 
We headed underneath McCormick Place and it was almost pitch black.  With chopped up blacktop, I almost tripped a few times.  At the end of the tunnel, a DJ was playing "Whoomp there it is!" and there were disco lights.  I started getting disoriented with the flashing lights and darkness during those final miles.  We ran along the lakeshore for the last mile and circled around to the park and the finish line.  I could see and hear my family to the left in the large crowd.  The finish line seems so close yet so far away in these big city races.  I picked up my pace a little, but didn't sprint across the finish line.

My chip time ended up being 2:02:00 on the nose.
Chip time:  2:02:00 (9:14 min/mile)
3,295 / 11,074 overall
151 / 924 division
1,321 / 6,497 females

This was not a PR for me by any means.  But I am getting closer and closer back to my sub two hour half marathon finishes.  Baby Diva was already seven months old and I've been feeling great with every mile logged and every pregnancy pound lost.  I could feel myself getting lighter, stronger and faster with each step. 
Even though these big city races tend to be a more expensive experience and sometimes an organizational nightmare for a small family - it is worth it in the end.  It gives us additional opportunities to see and do things, too.
After the race, we sough shelter at a hotel over-hang as those dark clouds rolled over, less than a half hour after my finish.  It was down pouring and cold.  I also went down to our vehicle to change and feed our daughter.  Once our family exited the parking garage, the rain had stopped.  We walked to the Willis Tower to explore the skydeck.  My blood sugar was getting low and I was starting to sweat and shake.  After consuming a baggie of goldfish, I felt better and was ready to head up 100+ floors to explore the city from up above.  We also walked to Lou Malnati's for some amazing post-run food.  The sun came out and we ended up walking back through Millennium Park, explored the trails near Lake Michigan, Buckingham Fountain and did a little more wandering on Michigan Avenue.