Sunday, October 30, 2011

2011 Haunted Hustle Marathon Race Report

Last year, I ran the innaugural Haunted Hustle Half Marathon Event (HERE). They also offered a full marathon and a 10K. The event was located in Middleton, Wisconsin and the course was nice and the atmosphere was fun. When I bought a couple pairs of running shoes last fall at a local running store, they were offering free entries into some local events, including Haunted Hustle. I was given the option to run the half or the full and opted to go for the full. I had just ran a great Marathon at Lakefront from Grafton to Milwaukee and was still on a high from that race and I was doing great with my training and my routine ... and FREE MARATHON?! Why the heck not?!

Fast forward one year ... I'm now a single mommy of two ... took on more hours at work ... have been coaching many, many clients and groups in my free time ... and haven't focused on my training like I should. With my other three marathons, I ran 4:37 (Chicago 2008), 4:27 (Madison 2010) and more recently 4:02 (Lakefront in Milwaukee 2010), I stuck to my training schedule like a champ. Rarely missed a run and had at least three twenty milers, a twenty two and a twenty four under my belt before each 26.2 mile journey.

This time, I ran my fourteen half marathons (so far this year!), but did only a twenty miler and an eighteen miler. May sound like a lot to a non-runner. But, to someone that is all about routine, this was not very confidence-building.

I debated and I debated if I was going to run the half or the full. I even emailed the race director to switch to the half and he said I'd have to do it in person at the expo. Then my race number was #131, which almost convinced me that I was intended to run the 13.1 mile journey in the half marathon. I had friends running both events, but ultimately opted to stick with the full and was in the midset that this was going to be a FUN run with FRIENDS. And, it was just going to be another thing that I was going to OVERCOME after a very challenging year of learning to balance everything. I have a fabulous support system and everyone was encouraging me to just go with it. Several friends were going to be out on the course and family were going to come spectate.

So, the kids and I piled into the Marathon Mommy Minivan and traveled over to Greenway Station on Friday afternoon to pick-up my race packet. Little Diva was going to be my photographer ....

There were only about 500 participants in the full marathon and 1,500 in the half marathon and over 1,000 in the 10K event. There was no line to get my bib and then all three events streamed into one line to get our awesome race bags/backpacks and long-sleeve technical tees. Lots of excitement in the air! The entry way at the Marriott was once again decorated in fun, Halloween decorations and sounds. The kids had fun exploring and taking photos.

I don't know where Little Diva gets such fabulous self-photo picture taking skills?!?!

Bib #131

Piles of fabulous neon green backpacks

Nice long-sleeve technical tees this year

We were ALLLLL excited about the Bondi Band booth!!!

(resisted purchasing anything!)

We piled back into the Marathon Mommy Minivan and drove back home to do some trick-or-treating at local business. Then, the three of us headed to Pizza Hut for an early dinner of carb-loading. We headed home for a relaxing night of Pixar movies and headed to bed at 8pm. The kids were out quickly, and I was surprising out soon after. I had no nerves, no worries and was ready for a good night's sleep.

The alarm went off at 5:00 am. I got myself ready and loaded up the Marathon Mommy Minivan. I woke Little Diva and Little Dude at 5:30 and we were out the door by 6:00. I ate a Peppermint Stick Clif Bar and tried to munch on a banana that wasn't ripe enough (ick!) and downed a can of Diet Mountain Dew in the van. We made the 25 minute trek across town in the dark. The kids were quiet and in a decent mood, all bundled up. I was dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Little Diva was dressed as the same, under all of her layers.

As we pulled up, it was about 45 minutes until the 7:30 am start of the full marathon. The half marathon was to start at 8:00 am. There was hardly anyone in sight. We pulled right up in the parking lot next to the start line, and my parents happened to pull up right next to us. Good timing!

With no one there, there was no one in line for the port-o-potties, so I made a quick stop. My stomach was surprising settled, my nerves were calm and I was at ease. What was going on??? I was so unprepared for this race, but I had no nerves. I talked to a friend about it, and he said that it was because I didn't care. That I didn't really have any goals for myself except to finish ... have fun ... with friends. It was true. I really wanted to finish around 4:30 this time, but even that wasn't set in stone. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this ... and enjoy the journey and finish with a smile on my face, as I usually do!!!

We met up with some friends a little after 6:45 am in front of DSW shoe store. It was chilly, but once the sun came up it was going to be a perfect day for racing!!! It was suppossed to be sunning and in the 50's with a light breeze.

I was so excited to meet up with Bill, a blogger from Milwaukee, that I've met a few times before. He blogs over ar Love 2 Run (HERE). We will be meeting up again at the Icebreaker Indoor Half Marathon in Milwaukee in January -- can't wait!! Bill was running his 37th (??) marathon that morning!!

Then, my friend Mandy and her friend Kristin came up to meet us. Mandy was running her first marathon and Kristin was running her second, after a disappointing race three weeks earlier. We made a quick stop at the port-o-potty (no one still in the lines) and I still had no nerves. I downed a Peppermint Gu, stuffed four more Gu's of the same flavor into my handheld water bottle ... kissed the kids, thanked my parents ... and then we headed to the not-so-crowded startline.

I ran into my buddy, Dwight, who was dressed up in full costume ... inflatable and all. Can you imagine having to run in a battery operated costume that needs to be recharged? He is usually very competitive, but was out for just having a fun marathon that morning. The National Anthem was sung as I giggled as Dwight inflated his costume. I could tell that the morning was going to be a BLAST!!! And, we were off promptly at 7:30 .......

The full marathon course (HERE) is nice and scenic, but very hilly. The first big hill, is the same hill that the half marathoners run right away, after the first mile. But, there are several more monsters after that. Being aware of the hills from the website, and from other runners, really helped me mentally. Otherwise, I don't know if I could have tackled these hills.

Full marathon course description:

The marathon course starts in Greenway station with a flat and open first mile. At Capitol Brewery the course turns onto a 1.5 mile stretch of rolling hills on residential streets. Racers then run a moderate uphill stretch to the top of Parmenter hill before turning onto a steep descent down South Avenue. After winding back into downtown Middleton, the course crosses University Avenue just before mile 4. After mile 4.5 the racers take a right hand turn into the scenic, tree-canopied, stretch of the Pheasant Branch Nature Conservancy. The first mile is run on a new soft black top compound which changes to crushed limestone at mile 5.5. Here racers are treated to 4 miles of scenic woodland and prairie with spectacular views of the countryside. Racers exit the conservancy to run up a short hill to Pheasant Branch Road. Miles 10-13 contain the hilliest stretch as the course undulates up and down on the countryside highways. This section is capped with a challenging climb up High Road. After descending into the Middleton Hills subdivision, racers retrace their steps down Pheasant Branch Road and back into the Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Miles 15-21 are flat, fast and gorgeous as the racers traverse through the scenic and winding paved conservancy trail. At mile 22 racers are welcomed back into Downtown Middleton before retracing their previous steps. This time climbing up the backside of Parmenter hill on South Avenue then treated to a long downhill down Parmenter and Voss Parkway. After a short climb up Westchester, everything else is downhill. After turning at Capitol Brewery with less than a mile to go it will be all adrenaline through the last flat and open stretch back to the Finish Line at Greenway Station.

Surface makeup of marathon course:
Blacktop/concrete road – 53%
Paved Trail- 23%
Crushed Limestone-14.5%

Mandy, Kristin and I stuck together for the first eight miles. We ran through the rolling hills through a residential neighborhood and then, thrown downtown Middleton, where costumes were being judged. Two of us had handheld water bottles filled with water, but almost consistently picked up sports drink (lemon-lime ... not my favorite) at every water station. I'd run slowly through the water stops, never walked. Mandy would keep going. And, Kristin would slow down to sip on her cup briefly. But, we always met back up right away.

We headed out into the beautifully sceneic Pheasant Branch Nature Conservancy around mile 4.5. This wooded area was mixed with bridges, board walk, and gravel. It was awesome. It was tree-covered and a bit cooler. They had salt down on the bridges, and they were still a bit slippery. We saw my family at the break in the road, cheering us on front the car. There was great crowd support in this area, as we headed into the second half of the conservancy, which I found even more scenic. This area was pretty flat and more prairies.

We all were still together until mile 8, where Kristin and I could tell that Mandy wanted to take off. We were joking around with her, until she finally decided that she could run much faster than we could. We exchanged our "I love yous" as she sprinted off ahead of us. Kristin and I were in a comfortable pace. We talked consistently for much of the rest of the race. I don't normally run with other people during races, especially long distances like this. So, I wasn't sure how long I'd be able to kep up conversation, but this was really good and I was really enjoying the company.

The course was gorgeous and we just keept saying what a wonderful experience we were having. Kristin got very bad cramps at mile 10 during her first marathon three weeks prior, so once we hit that point, she was a bit relieved.

We headed back through the break in the conservancy and up another large hill, and continued with several more rolling hills and huge "mountains" out into the country. It was getting obvious out in the country, just how few full marathoners there were. It was very isolated. If I wasn't with Kristin, I would've been lonely and mentally I wouldn't have been quite as cheery. I never felt weak or incredibly tired enough to walk, but I probably would have if I was alone out there in the country.

At mile 11, we saw my family again and I gave them my sweatshirt. It was nice to see them out there since it was so quiet. Kristin and I were feeling awesome. Once, I took the sweatshirt, the wind was in our faces, but not unbearable. But, I was chilly. She assured me that I would warm up. And, I did.

We caught my family again, around mile 12. And, headed back towards Middleton with several more monstrous hills. There were halloween themed water stations throughout the course and spectators scattered throughout, driving the course. So, these were all nice distractions. I had never ran in costume before and am really glad I did. Kristin and I kept laughing at all of the Dorothy comments. "Follow the Yellow Brick Road", "Kansas is straight ahead", "You are wearing the wrong color running shoes!", "Where is ToTo??". It was awesome and kept a smile on both of our faces during the race.

Here is my friend, Dwight, in his crazy costume. Somehow he didn't win best costume in the judged event for the full marathon. At least he had fun!!

We saw my family again around mile 14-15 and still had huge smiles on our faces. We said over and over again how we couldn't believe how we were running so consistently 9:10-9:30 min/mile pace and how her experience was so different from her first marathon. We were hoping to kill our 4:30 goal for this race! But, we realized that we still had about 12 miles ... err two hours ... left to go.

We headed back and retraced our steps throught the Nature Conservancy and I ran into a client that I coach. Tara looked adorable in her costume. Kristin and I felt like we were rocking the race, but decided and kept telling ourselves "Slow Down" or "Pace Yourself". We came out of the Nature Conservancy at mile 18 with great crowd support. We received a lot of encouraging comments out on the flat prairie course.

Kristin and I were just two excited with what we had accomplished thus far and felt like we were nearing the finish line already. I believe I had sipped on three gels every 45 minutes or so (for about two miles each) and I had enough energy. I didn't feel like walking. We had not walked any of the huge hills or any of the water stations. We were going to try to get to mile 20 before we walked any of the water stations or had to walk for any brief period of time.

The path turns around at an aid station at mile 18 and we still hadn't hit a wall. I ran into a few runners I knew on the out-and-back and so did Kristin. The support was great! We found we were picking up pace again due to the support and again kept telling ourselves to slow down and pace ourselves.

We headed through what we both remembered from last year's half marathon, to be a very boring industrial park. And it was. We ended up seeing my family again around mile 20. They were cheering us on and I yelled "We've run 20 miles and we haven't stopped yet!!". I think my parents were amazed that anyone could do such a thing! Especially since they knew I didn't feel prepared for this event.

Kristin and I continued through the industrial park, picking up sports drink at each aid station. We continued to sip on the water in our bottles. I sipped on Gu and she chewed on Shot Blox. At one point we each set we were starting to feel the lack of energy (maybe around mile 22), but we reminded ourselves that we needed to eat before we got tired and that was goin to be key. Neither of us ever hit a wall as we continued back trough downtown Middleton and through increased crowd support. Then, up a MONSTROUS hill that every other runner was walking in front of us. But we didn't. We kept running ... slowly ... but we ran up that bad boy. Another runner said, "this is just plain mean". We agreed, but kept going.

We headed back through the residential neighborhood where we started our first fe miles. We realized that must have flew down some of these hills earlier, because the gradual inclines were tiring. But, we still kept going. We hit mile 23, mile 24, and then mile 25. Only 1+ mile to go!!!! We were so excited as we came down the down hill and into the flat road leading back up to the Greenway Station shopping mall. We picked up one last cup of sports drink and paced ourselves towards the finish line.

We realized that we still had the opportunity to break 4:10 (only 7 minutes awary from my PR)!!! And she was going to PR by one hour!!!! We NEVER hit "The Wall". We NEVER walked. We rocked it!!

As we came up on the path behind the mall, there was another slight gradual incline and I heard severl people I knew yelling my name. That was enough to keep me going. Kristin and I turned around the bend to the finish line where we both had family and friends supporting us. I saw friends and family with their hands out for high-fives and I had enough energy to SMILE BIG AND PROUD and give high fives as we approached the clock.

We finished ... TOGETHER ...

in 4:09:16 (chip time)!!!

I adore this photo that my dad captured of the two of us

... me and my new running friend ...

We continued to joke about how close we had gotten over our four hour journey and what an amazing experience we shared TOGETHER. I joked about how I had just met her four and greeted eachother with a handshake. Now we were hugging and I had tears in my eyes.

What a moment!!

I met up with Mandy and other friends after the race. She ROCKED her race by the way ... so very proud of her!!!! I KNEW she could do it!!

This race was EVERYTHING I wanted it to be!
I had fun with friends (old and new) out on the course ...

Little Diva and Little Dude and my parents
and friends were there to support me ...

I finished well (much to my surprise) ...

and I finished with a HUGE smile on my face! :)

And, as always ...

Every single moment!!!

(9:31 min/mile)
259/511 Overall

82/227 Females

30/50 (30-39F)

There were 511 finishers in the full marathon.

There were 1,568 finishers in the half marathon.

There were 1,025 finishers in the 10K.

SHAPE Magazine Running Goodies Winner ...

I was recently nominated by SHAPE Magazine as one of the Top 20 Blogs for Fitness Junkies! You can read all about my fabulous experience HERE.

More information on SHAPE Magazine Best Bloggers Awards (
Running Diva Mom Spotlight on SHAPE Magazine's website (HERE)

There were 129 entries in my recent giveaway. One winner was chose at random to receive a SHAPE Magazine Running Goodies Prize Pack.

Random.org chose ……..

Rachel @
Running in Real Life

Congratulations!!! Please email me at ( runningdivamom at yahoo dot com ) with your name, email and mailing address. And, I will get you your prize!

Thank you for following my journey!!

[If you would like YOUR product or website featured on Running Diva Mom, please email me at ( runningdivamom at yahoo dot com ) ]

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Go Go Sports Girl Winner ...

I was recently given the opportunity to review a doll from Go Go Sports Girls. You can read all about my fabulous experience HERE.

Please visit Go Go Sports Girls online HERE and start shopping.

There were 48 entries in my recent giveaway. One winner was chose at random to receive a Go Go Sports Girl Doll of their Choice!

Random.org chose ……..

Elle @ Eat Run Sail

Congratulations!!! Please email me at ( runningdivamom at yahoo dot com ) with your name, email and mailing address. And, I will get you your prize!

Thank you for following my journey!!

[If you would like YOUR product or website featured on Running Diva Mom, please email me at ( runningdivamom at yahoo dot com ) ]

Touch Chik Tee Winner ...

Little Diva and I were recently given the opportunity to review iRun Tees from Tough Chik. You can read all about my fabulous experience HERE.

Please visit Tough Chik online HERE and start shopping.

There were 151 entries in my recent giveaway. One winner was chose at random to receive a Tough Chik tee of their choice!

Random.org chose ……..

Trinity @ A Running Mother

Congratulations!!! Please email me at ( runningdivamom at yahoo dot com ) with your name, email and mailing address. And, I will get you your prize!

Thank you for following my journey!!

[If you would like YOUR product or website featured on Running Diva Mom, please email me at ( runningdivamom at yahoo dot com ) ]

Full Marathon on Saturday

Well, I've been signed up for Saturday's Full Marathon for almost a full year. I ran the half marathon at Haunted Hustle, at last year's innaugural event. I had a great experience, a great time, and met some great new running friends out on a great course!! When I purchased some shoes at Endurance House last fall, they gave me a free entry into the half or the full for 2011 ... it was my choice ... and I chose the full. Hmmmm ....

After all of the curve balls life has thrown at me this year, and the blessings and distractions that have come into my life, I am not prepared and not in full marathon training mode. The time that I've spent coaching and focusing on helping others achieve their goals has not allowed me to get my long runs in. And, I'm FINE with that. It's been a very rewarding experience. I realize that I haven't MADE the time for my long runs. I made choices to LIVE LIFE this summer, but running has still been a part of who I am (a BIG part). Along with my 14 half marathons this year, I've gotten in an 18 miler and a 20 miler over the past two months. And, I already have three full marathons under my belt. So, I'm wondering if I'll have enough to keep me mentally prepared for going 26.2 miles on Saturday morning???

I debated and I debated switching to the half marathon. I even emailed the race director a couple of months back to switch events, and then he gave me the "out" by saying that I had to switch races in person, at packet pick-up. Geesh!

Oh, and I will be running this Halloween-themed marathon as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Too bad Brooks doesn't make Adrenalines with ruby red glitter! ....

When I finally decided that I was going to run this thing with my sweet friend who is running her first, I looked up my race bib # on the event's website. I am listed as #131 ... so my mind automatically goes to 13.1 ... err, half marathon. Have I made a mistake to run a marathon FOR FUN with a friend with minimal training??

I'm trying not to have time goals set for myself. My marathons have ranged from 4:02-4:37 and I'd be completely fine with being beyond that ... as long as my friend and I both finish (she is siginificantly faster than I am).

I have several other seasoned, runner friends that will also be running this event. One running buddy has given me a little pep talk to convince me that I CAN COMPLETE THIS 26.2 MILE JOURNEY ON SATURDAY ...........

Either that or you are the 131st person in alphabetical order in the full marathon. Stop trying to find reasons why you should NOT run the full and start looking at all the reasons you SHOULD be running the full.

1. You are ready for a full
2. You have run enough halfs this year, time for a full
3. The weather will be perfect for a full
4. Dorothy doesn’t go half way (just to Oz, she comes back to Kansas)
5. I am doing the full and you want to be like me (ok, maybe a lame excuse there)
6. The full is twice as awesome as the half
7. You feel more proud of the medal you get (as small as it may be)
8. If you ran from your home to the start line, it is over half marathon so why not run it too.
9. You are going to look great in your Dorothy costume so why not get to wear it longer while running.
10. Bragging Rights
11. Hauntings are better the longer they go.
12. Suzy Favor Hamilton would be proud of you.
13. I will get to see you after your race instead of you just taking off and going home.
14. You don’t get to run the hills of Pheasant Branch Road and High Road in the half.
15. Let’s just be honest, full marathons are just way cooler than half marathons.
16. You get to be a stud for the rest of the week instead of only half of the week
17. I’ll give you a running buddy hug after the race
18. You paid for it (well, actually you got it FREE with a running shoe purchase, but whatever)
19. You have other friends doing the full so why not join them.
20. Technically, if you really wanted to, you could count it as 2 half marathons on the same day.
21. My hugs to marathoners are much better than for the half marathoners.
22. What is 26.2 miles between friends anyways?
23. You get to go an extra 0.2 at the end instead of only an extra 0.1.
24. You race report will be twice as cool.
25. You will feel so much better as you cross the finish line of the full!
26. You will be one tough chick!
26.2 I am very proud of you!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Two Happy Kids

The kids and I are approaching the one year mark from the point our lives made a detour (HERE). It's been a challenging year, but I believe we are on a successful road to happiness in our little home here.

With the holiday season approaching again, I continue to struggle with the fact that I don't see them every day or every holiday. And I struggle with the fact that I don't get to share every single experience with them. Events. Holidays. Birthdays. But, I'm trying to make the best of the time I do have with them. I'm trying to start new traditions and have new experiences with them and surround them with really positive people. I continue to remind myself that we don't need specific days or holidays to celebrate being a FAMILY. We can celebrate eachother each and every single day.

... dates with Mommy
when our busy schedule allows ...

... meeting MANY, MANY, MANY new friends with similar

stories and households - and learning from eachother ...

... finding new interests and traditions that
we can do TOGETHER ...




FALL ....

TWO Happy Kids

are gonna have it ALL! :)
(In TWO Happy Homes)

Wordless Wednesday

I'm reminded every day

from the moment I wake up ...

'til the moment I go to sleep ...

exactly WHO I AM ....

What's on your
bedside table???

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Helping them understand

A single parent's best outlet has to be the local library. So many wonderful books, entertaining videos and music, interactive play areas and computer stations ... and best of all, it's free! It's open year round ... a great outlet on a rainy day. Our's even has a nice, cozy spot by the fireplace on a cold, winter afternoon. Can't wait to snuggle up with the kids there (if Little Dude will sit still on my lap!!) sometime this winter.

Little Diva, Little Dude and I are pretty settled in our new place and our new routine ... but it has taken some time. I know that I was thrown for a loop with the lack of day-to-day routine and time away from them. Being relocated to another neighborhood and sharing walls with neighbors has been an adjustment, but I've surived. I'm sure that they've struggled with the same changes and modifications to our schedule -- Even though they haven't expressed it in such words.

I decided to visit our local library's online catalog recently and reserved several books on separation and divorce to read with the kids. Little Diva really enjoyed looking through them and I know that she (and I) related to several of the points made in the stories. Little Dude sat down with us and listened and understood the basic concepts, but was not old enough to understand some of the points made.

The books helped the kids understand that separation and divorce is not there fault. As much as we have reinforced this with the kids, these books helped get that point across.

"Feelings Only I Know; Mom and Dad Are Getting Divorced" by Susan McKenna was filled with beautiful illustrations. This was Little Diva's favorite story that we read. She enjoyed looking at the drawings that got their point across, as I read the words to her. It also includes a parental guide.

The book touches on how the parents will no longer have to SHARE the child during their time together ... that the time with each parent will be intimate, special and unique. It also mentioned how living in two households just maximizes the opportunities for neighbors, friends and family members. There are just that many more people to love you! And, I couldn't agree more.

"Cosmos' Mom and Dad are Moving Apart" by Annie Thiel was a cute story that Little Diva read word-for-word. The quirky, cartoonistic illustrations were funny, but filled with emotion. The story touched on the parents' emotions quite a bit and how that made little Cosmos feel. The book also touched on Cosmos relating to friends on the playground who had divorced parents. Little Diva appreciated that, as she developed her own "support system" at school (her words, not mine!).

The book was a really good "visual aid" for Little Diva. The pictures really helped her identify and relate. There was a map of Cosmos' neighborhood with his Dad's house marked -- with mom's apartment spotted right around the corner. It discussed how the child would go back and forth between two residences and showed the bedrooms in both homes. Similar set-ups, similar things -- yet different. Toys, clothing, LOVE ... in BOTH homes! It also showed how Cosmos sat down with mom and dad and went over a month calendar and parental schedule -- when he would be with both parents.

She really enjoyed the family photos at the end of the story ... reassuring the child that their parents would always be there parents forever and ever. The child grows and the family grows with it ... forever and ever.

"You and Your Parents' Divorce" by Katherine Krohn was not of too much interest by Little Diva (almost age 8). This book would be better geared toward a pre-teen. I think it would be a great resource for a middle-schooler, as it is lengthy and detailed.

There are five chapters:
1 - What Exactly is Divorce?
2 - It's Not Your Fault
3 - Finding Friends Who Understand
4 - Please Don't Put Me in the Middle
5 - Adjusting to Change

Even though Little Diva and Little Dude aren't currently old enough to appreciate this book, I did. It was good for me to review the information on my own and remind myself why I'm doing what I'm doing and what other changes I need to make ... for them, for me, and my relationship with their father.

It's all a learning process.

We're learning.

We're growing.

We're changing.


Monday, October 24, 2011

SHAPE Magazine Spotlight on RDM

Check out SHAPE Magazine's spotlight

on Running Diva Mom

Thanks, as always,
for following
my journey!!!

Yep, that's MY age group award ...

Recall my surprising 5K performance (HERE)
the day after my 20 miler?!!?

Yep, that's MY age group award ....

2011 Literacy Network Homecoming 5K
61/286 Overall
15/170 Females
1/33 Age Group