Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013 Haunted Hustle Marathon Race Report

This was my fourth consecutive year of running an event during the Haunted Hustle Marathon (HERE) weekend.  I had done the half marathon twice before and the marathon once previously.  Each year they seem to change the course and the sequence of events.  But, the route always seems to be just as challenging.  This year, the 5K and 10K took place on Saturday.  The Half Marathon and Full Marathon were on Sunday, October 27.  It turns out that there were 259 finishers in the full marathon and 870 finishers in the half marathon this year. 
I was very excited to be running in the full marathon.  Unfortunately, I only had two long runs (20 and 22 miles) in the month prior and really no "marathon training" since my spring marathon in Rochester, Minnesota. But, I felt really confident with those long runs I completed - I felt good and pretty strong considering.

There was no packet pick up on Friday afternoon, as in year's past.  So, I ended up heading across town to Middleton first-thing in the morning.  Little Diva and I had a breakfast date and then headed over to Keva Sports Center to pick up my goods.  I walked in and ran into sweet, Miss Margaret.  She is an RDM reader and we've met a few times before.  She was also there with her daughter.  She would be running the half marathon.  After chatting a bit, Little Diva and picked up my goods and were off.  No shopping or browsing for things I didn't need ... we were in a rush for a busy family day.
The marathon was starting at 8:00 am and the half marathon at 9 am.  It was kind of nice not to have to set the alarm before 6:00 am for race day.  I slept super well and didn't have any nerves.  It was kind of weird waking up in my own bed, on the morning of a big race like this.  Didn't seem like it was really going to happen - 26.2 miles - for real??!!  The last few full marathons I did were out of town - which causes all sorts of additional nerves and stress, I'm realizing.  This was really low-key for me.  I got up, got dressed and did my makeup (and waterproof mascara!) and had some coffee, yogurt and some cereal.  The kids got up soon after me (you can tell which one is the morning person) and bundled up.  We headed out the door with my hubby right at 7:00 am for a 25 minute drive across town.  I downed a five hour energy shot on the way and a banana.  I loaded my handheld water bottle with four mint chocolate Gu's and gave hubby shot blocks to pass along between mile 15-20 when he saw me.  There was water in my bottle and I planned to refill along the water stops and also supplement with sports drink when I could.  

We arrived at Keva, parked easily and then dozen-or-so port-o-potties were vacant.  Always a wonderful thing in my book!  Then we headed inside Keva to warm up a little.  The family headed off to try to find my parents and I headed to the indoor restrooms.  I ran into my buddy, Dan, who I had finished the half marathon with a couple of years ago.  We've kept in touch, so it was really nice to see him before the race.  His goals for the day were loftier than mine, so I figured I wouldn't see him again after we started.  The indoor bathroom line was long, so I headed outside to use the vacant outdoor bathrooms again.

We headed to the startline.  Not many full marathoners were dressed in costume.  We heard the National Anthem.  And then I saw my parents and gave them a quick hug, before we started.  We were off .... oh boy ...

Marathon course description:
The Marathon starts on the wide boulevards south of Keva Sports Center. Runners enter the Pheasant Branch Conservancy for an out and back section and are treated to a winding section of paved conservancy trail along the Pheasant Branch Creek. The course then winds through flat and open fields on the paved conservancy trails, looping around the Middleton airport and the heads east on Airport road. Racers head north on the bike path along highway 12 then cross Parmenter Street to start the looped section of the course. The residential roads are winding and flat with a nice downhill on Algonquin Drive. Runners then enter the beautiful Pheasant Branch Conservancy and are treated to scenic views, spooky forests and soft ground. After looping through the conservancy, runners enter the section of rolling hills and one challenging hill up Greenbriar Road before turning onto Parmenter Street to start the second loop. After completing the second loop, runners retrace their steps on the Highway 12 bike path to Airport Road and loop under the road on the paved Conservancy trail. The final miles are flat and fast and there is plenty of room for your spectators to cheer you on as you make your final turns back to Keva Sports Center.
Surface makeup of marathon course:
Blacktop/concrete road – 29.5%
Paved Trail- 49.6%
Crushed Limestone-20.9%

We headed out on the beautiful Pheasant Branch Conservancy Path in Middleton for the first hour, complete with a turnaround.  It is so beautiful out there.  I absolutely loved it.  It was very flat and blocked the wind.  I was behind the 4:00 pace group, which was way faster than my 4:15-4:25 anticipated finish.  But I just went with it.  At mile five, I felt the urge to pee and was dreading the next 21 miles as I would continue to drink more and more water.  Ugh.  I felt great otherwise, and picked up the pace.  Somehow, I got ahead of the 4:00 pace group.  I saw Dan up ahead of me and I caught up to him as we approached Keva again.  The half marathoners were about to start as we were an hour in.  The fire trucks wailed and they were off.  So many more runners participating in that event - WOW! 
Up ahead, I saw Little Diva holding her pink sign and the kids were ringing their cowbells.  Dan and I looped around and ran towards my family, who were a great cheering section near the airport.  I told them that in an hour, I was going to regret my fast pace.  But, I felt wonderful. 
We headed on another portion of the path and under Hwy 12 and into a neighborhood.  My family saw us again over there quickly.  By mile 10, I forgot that I had to use the bathroom.  I saw the wonderful owner of Fellow Flowers and some other running peeps that called out my name.  We headed out onto the prairie portion of the conservancy path.  During this time, all of the super fast half marathoners were flying by us - UGH.  So very deflating - especially after I had felt so good about my pace the first hour.  I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't running 13 miles today - I was running 26.  And I needed to watch my pace and hold back.  We headed out on a country road and over lots of rolling hills.  We approached the halfway point exactly at 1:58. 
After a large hill and lots of wind, I was starting to slow down.  We approached a HUGE hill that I recalled from year's prior.  I mentioned to Dan that it looked like we were turning right and avoiding the big monster.  What relief.  But, as we took a right, the other hill in front of us was just as daunting.  OMG.  We chugged up the hill slowly - together.  I think I could have walked faster.  But, I didn't.  It was hell.  Eventually we got to the top, and then we came down hill.  I felt like crap as we approached my family cheering us on.  And, I wasn't quite as positive this time around.  I complained about the hills and ventured on. 

The half marathoners would be leaving the loop to return to the finish line and we would venture out in the loop again - AGAIN.  This meant less runners on the course - and many many fewer spectators cheering us on.  Dan went to use the restroom and I ran head into the neighborhood again, alone.  I needed to get in "my zone".  As we re-approached the costume judging station, someone yelled and asked if I was the Running Diva Mom and said she reads the blog.  That made me smile and gave me a boost for the next mile or so.  We headed back into the conservancy and I saw Kristin, someone that I finished another HH full marathon with come out of the port-o-potty.  At some point, Dan passed me and he and Kristin kept passing each other as well.

 I kept on, and tossed my gloves somewhere around mile 18.  I always lose track between miles 15-19 out on the course.  And, I don't know how crazy one has to be to think - "Oh, thank good ness...I'm at mile 18, only 8 more to go". Yes, we are all nuts!  I braced myself for the country roads and the big hills again. 

We headed out to the windy open roads as I approached the mile 20 marker.  I raised my hands over my head in excitement.  I had gotten a second wind and felt awesome as those big hills were in front of me.  I just focused on each step and my running tunes.  I had 106 songs on my playlist and they were alphabetized in my iTunes.  I wondered what song I would end up at.  I could feel the middle toenail on my left foot blistering, as was the inside of my right foot.
 I saw my family again after that huge @$$ hill.  But, this time with a smile on my face.  I couldn't believe I felt this good!!  We were at 21.5 miles and I raised the roof and yelled "22 miles!!".  I then headed back in for my last four miles. 
I saw George, Michelle and the other Honey Badgers (a local running group from Sun Prairie) for a third time at the aid station.  They were great supports and kept me going each time I passed them.
I eventually caught up to Dan again (I don't know how many times we jockeyed for place - i.e. I had trouble keeping up with him!).  We ran the last 3 miles - or so - together.  And I felt phenomenal.  Once we hit the mile 25 marker, we gave each other a high five.  I had made it to R on my playlist - "Roll Away Your Stone" by Mumford and Sons.  What a great tune.  I then switched it to "Survival" by Eminem.  My plan was to play it over and over the last 1.2 miles - and that is what I did. 
I sensed that the finish line was near and we saw Kristin walking.  We looped around and I told her to run with us.  She did and then she stopped again.  I told her that she was ahead of me the whole race and that she was going to finish with us.  She said she had a cramp. She ran and she walked as we approached the finish line.  I looked at my watch and it read 4:08 and I called 4:12-4:13 for our finish. 
We approached the finish line and passed several half marathoners that were finishing the end of their race.  Kristin trailed behind and Dan was behind me.  Then he came down the chute with full speed and urged me to race him.  With a wave of his hand, I sped up and we both smiled all the way to the finish line.  I saw my family to my right and my kids cheering me on with full force.  And, we finished the 26.2 mile journey together.  And, Kristin finished right after us.  Heck, yeah!! 


We all reflected on the race, the hilly, but beautiful course, how we all passed each other frequently over 26 miles.  Our families met, we hugged, we took some pictures, and we took in the whole moment together.  I didn't head inside for the refreshments, I didn't even grab a bottle of water.  I went back to the Marathon Mommy Minivan with my family, downed a Diet Mountain Dew on the way home and enjoyed a grilled cheese and some potato chips for lunch.  I love salt after a marathon!

I will be back year after year for the Haunted Hustle Marathon weekend.  I like the course and the proximity to my home and seeing familiar faces.  And, I can't wait until my next 26.2 mile journey - sometime in 2014.  I'm addicted to what it feels like to push myself to the extreme. Something that most people think is impossible.  But, I now know is entirely possible - because I MADE it possible.

Kristin, Dan and Myself
I had finished two separate Haunted Hustle
events with each of them previously.
And, we all finished together this year!
(talk about similar pace!!)
My Parents and I

Me, Little Dude, Little Diva, and Hubby

2013 Race shirt, bag and bib
(not as cute as the bright pink women's shirts from 2012)

2nd Marathon of 2013
Marathon #7
119/259 marathon finishers
6/21 age group

Sunday, October 20, 2013

2013 Fall 15K Race Report

This morning, we ran the Fall 15K at Warner Park in Madison, Wisconsin.  I had twelve miles on tap for my Sunday morning, but figured at $15 we couldn't pass up this low-cost long-distance race.  And, the speed of "racing" a course would give me an extra boost of confidence for next week's marathon.  All in all - I figured it would be pretty equivelant to my 12 mile, slower training run.  I've ran the event previously and was familiar with the course.  After a night out with friends, and being the DD in Wisconsin Dells, I turned the alarm off a few times this morning.  I eventually rolled out of bed around 7:15 am, had some coffee, some yogurt with honey and granola and an english muffin.  We were out the door shortly after 8am and on our way.  I love running races, when there is no pressure and I haven't really put much thought into it.  I also love it when the course is less than a thirty minute drive from my garage.  So low-key.  So stress-free. 
The majority of the race proceeds will be donated to the Madison Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

We showed up and used the restrooms - I also love it when there are indoor restrooms available - and when there is only ONE woman in front of me online.  It's' the little things that makes this runner's day!  We picked up our bibs and timing chip.  We didn't receive a 15K headband, because I think you needed to be one of the first runners to register to receive it.  No biggie.  We headed back to the car to put our bibs on and walked hand-in-hand to the startline with everyone else (Did I mention, how much I LOVE this?  The startline and my man?).  There weren't too many folks running, but soon we were off rather informally by a vocal "Start!".
The race was a bit different, since the Warner Park path was closed for reconstruction.  Last year, we started across the wet grass.  And, I was glad to avoide that this year.  We headed out on the sidewalk and the wound around the park into the neighborhood.  My hubby was struggling with a foot injury and said he would run more my pace this morning.  I was feeling great and full of energy and got in the zone with my new running tunes on my ipod.  I broke away in the first couple of miles.  He said I had a great bounce in my step this morning.  We headed down the huge hill, that I recalled I would need to hike back up during the last two miles of the race.  I was no longer getting passed by folks behind me, I was passing people up the next hill and through the tree covered neighborhood. 
I could see the first relay transition point and welcomed the folks cheering on.  I crossed the mile 3 marker at 26 mins and 3.1 and 26:50.
We headed up a couple more hills near the Mendota Mental Health Facility.  I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and took a couple of sips and tossed the cup.  I then started passing people that passed me earlier and continued to sling-shot the next several miles with two of the women.  They were great motivation for me to push myself and pass them again, when I felt that my body would let me.
Today, I know that I was really inconsistent with my pace.  But, I just went with it.  It works for me.  I let gravity take me down hill and try to take short, choppy steps up hill.  I slow, I go fast, I fly, and then I slow down again, but then I always get another burst of energy and just let me running shoes and my tunes carry me.
I sipped on a gel from miles 4-6 and headed up some more hills during that time.  I continued to sip out of my handheld water bottle as I retraced mysteps backwards along the course.  I loved the scenic cover of the orange and red trees and the leaves under my feet.  I passed the last relay transition point and kept on along the lake and then up that mongo hill again.   We wound around through a neighborhood and I felt awesome.  I enjoyed smiling at volunteer I saw at each twist and turn.  Then my hubby came out of the corner of  my eye.  He looked like he was feeling better and had ran hard to catch up to me.  I had slowed down, but not all that much.  Very very cool that we were going to finish this thing together.  We ran together up another small incline and back around the park.
We ended up crossing the finishline together in about

Couch to 5K Reunion - Nov 5


Running Diva Mom and Catalyst are holding a
Couch to 5K Reunion at the store on
Sunday, November 3, 4-6pm.
A short group run will begin at 5pm.
There will be tons of giveaways, prizes, free food and cupcakes!!
Including a free entry for the next Couch to 5K session
at Catalyst (that starts on November 6)!
Attendees will receive 20% of their purchases.
A great reason to stock up on cold weather gear and running shoes.
Spread the word .. bring a friend. I hope to see YOU there and catch up!

My non-running friends are so lucky.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Playlist additions & 20 miles

As if the cooler temps, the beautiful changing trees and running over fallen leaves - many, many races being held this fall weren't enough ... you might be looking for some extra motivation to head out the door.  Update your playlist.   Here are some of the recent additions to my playlist this fall.

Hotel Room Service - Pitbull
Throw It In The Bag - Fabolous Feat. The-Dream
Still Into You - Paramore Paramore
Work - Iggy
Beat It (feat. John Mayer) - Fall Out Boy
Royals - Lorde
Berzerk - Eminem
Roar - Katy Perry
We Can't Stop - Miley

Roll Away Your Stone - Mumford and Sons
Wrecking Ball - Miley Cyrus
White Walls - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

On Friday I headed out the door on an absolutely gorgeous morning.  I had just ran 22 miles on Sunday and wanted to get one more long run in, to boost my confidence.  I have a full marathon on October 27 and haven't really been "training" for it.

I zig-zagged all over town - crossing over highways into almost every single neighborhood.  I enjoyed the bike path that connects our small town, through various parks.  I felt phenomenal as I conquered many, many hills.  I consumed water in my handheld and only two gels and had energy the entire time.   After 3 1/2 hours, I returned after completing twenty miles across town.  The weather was perfect, my legs felt great and I was in good spirits.  The only downfall, was that I had a small rock in the back of one shoe - only to discover that my sock had slipped down and I had a bloody, blistered heel.  I babied it all weekend and it's healed-up and ready to go.  All the more reason to wear some super stylish, knee-high compression socks for race day!  I took a short walk around home to cool down, stretched and enjoyed a Diet Mountain Dew.

This run gave me the needed confidence and motivation to run the 26.2 mile journey again - in less than two weeks.  I finished this week with sixty miles - my most ever.  Bring it!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

2013 Biggest Loser Half Marathon Race Report - Racine Wisconsin

Earlier this year, I was asked to serve as an ambassador for The Biggest Loser Half Marathon in Racine, Wisconsin (HERE) on Sunday, September 22.  I had watched the show religiously for several years.  I loved the motivation it gave me during my workouts and how it helped me chose healthier options for myself and my family.  I was very excited to see what the race was like and to run another race in Racine (I've ran a few in the past couple of years).
When we started planning our wedding, we scheduled our big day for September 14 and decided we wanted to do a minimoon - a small, roadtrip for our honeymoon.  So, we opted to make the last stop in our multi-stop trip across Illinois.  We enjoyed a nice, sightseeing vacation in Chicago in surrounding suburbs, and drove north to Racine, Wisconsin to run celebrate with this honeymoon half marathon. 
I was also leading a half marathon training group all summer, and we chose this event as their big race.  So, it was going to be fun meeting with several of these ladies in Racine and watching them cross that finish line as well.  Only fitting with this wondeful lifestyle that we now share.
I had been sick all week with a terrible cold (napped twice daily and every time we were in the car driving).  So, I was still a little out of it, when race weekend arrived.  The weather had cooled down quite a bit once we got to packet pick up on Saturday afternoon, as well.  I wasn't sure if I had packed appropriately or not.  We ran into my running peeps, Kim and Chris at packet pick up.  Packet pick up was a little disappointing - especially for the first time half marathoners. There were only a few small booths and there weren't many people at the talk - which was probably the largest one, with members fromm the Biggest Loser cast speaking about their journey.  A little disappointing for me, but I knew that the event wasn't all about the race "expo".  We got our bibs, tech-shirts (mens and ladies fit - yeah!) and our choice of Biggest Loser Run/Walk cinche sacks.
We opted to head downtown with Kim and Chris for a burger at a small bar and then went to check in at The Radisson.  I took yet another two hour nap and then got ready for dinner.  The host hotel was nice, but our non-smoking room smelt like smoke.  It didn't prevent me from taking my nap and getting some rest.  We didn't get to take advantage of the pool or hottub while we were their either - but they looked nice for a small, family getaway.  We met up with Kim, Chris and Sara (another dedicated gal from my group) and family members at a cute italian restaurant.  We enjoyed pasta and pizza and said our good-byes so that everyone could get some rest before their big race!  Hubby and I also made our routine stop for Target for things we needed (or THOUGHT we may need).  We love stopping at Target every time we are on vacay - our second Target this trip!
We got up early (I hate dark mornings in the fall - ugh!) and headed downstairs to get some breakfast from the breakfast bar.  They unfortunately didn't have continental breakfast.  I tried greek yogurt and some oatmeal and we shared a coffee.  We then walked the short jaunt - all together - to the start line. 
There weren't many participants at the startline, which I think intimidated the new runners in my group.  I think they would have enjoyed "blending in" to sea of runners and were sligthly worried that they would finish near the end of the entire pack.  I assured them that this was the perfect first long-distance race for them - being a very unintimidating atmosphere and non-competitive.  There would be many many runners, run/walkers and walkers finishing after them.  Nothing to worry about.

The Biggest Loser cast members were at the start line and Dan sang the National Anthem.  Soon we were off.  We headed off quick, only to go about an additional half-block and I could see people darting back out of the corner of my eye.  People were yelling and pointing behind us.  Oh my gosh - did someone get trampled??  What the heck?!  I look behind me and turned down my music - noone followed the lead biker and make the right turn.  Ugh.  We had to turn around and head back and down the hill.  Hubby was ahead of me and I wasn't sure how he and the other faster runners would find out - but they eventually did.  Oh boy.  That's a first.  We headed down towards the lake and soon hubby caught up to me and passed me again.  The morning was beautiful and I realized quickly that it was cool - but I would warm up fast - and was actually dressed quite appropriately in short sleeves, a running skirt and compression socks.  My cold was getting to me, andn I was hacking up a lung for the first mile, but soon that worked itself out too.  Sometimes when I run while sick, I forget that I'm sick and suddenly feel a lot better.

Hacking up a lung

We headed towards the lake and I was very much in the front of the pack - very strange for this middle-of-the-packer.  But, enjoyable!  We had to do a quick turnaround and run in the opposite direction.  It was fun seeing the ladies from my group at this point and doing a friendly "go get 'em" and wave.  And then seeing all of the other people running in the second half of the race.  So many new runners and so many walkers. So many different paces, levels, body-types - all with a great attitude.  It was truly awesome.  Very different from other races I've done.  And exactly what I though this race would be (though a smaller group of runners).

We headed north along the lake and on the path along Lake Michigan.  I've ran this path a few times before on long-weekend vacations and races.  I knew there were some larger hills up ahead - very glad I knew that.  I actually felt pretty strong on the inclines and passed a few runners.  We headed threw neighborhoods and across a bridge and back into downtown for a quick turn around and a very very steep hill.  I saw my hubby at the top as I headed down, only to have to head back up the hill after him and the other runners in front of me.  Once at the top, I felt great.  My head - and my lungs - were feeling clearer at this point.  Some of the Biggest Loser cast members were actually on course, directing runners and traffic.  Kind of fun.  Then we headed down a hill along the lake, a portion where I spected some of my teammates at a transition point at Ragnar Chicago last year.  Always fun being in familiar territory - knowing where you are and thinking of memories (and distracting you for a bit, too!).  We headed up yet another large hill and threw some neighborhoods, on residential streets.  We wound through a campus of some sort (or grade school) and retraced our steps.  I saw other runners that I had passed earlier in the race.

I kept replaying the same few songs to keep me motivated:  Katy Perry's "Roar", Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music" and Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire".  The female pop singers were keeping me moving and keeping me motivated.  This have been my go-to songs lately and the beats are great with keeping my up-beat pace - when my buddy wants me to otherwise be sluggish and slow down. I was so in-the-zone with my tunes and focused on what was in front of me, that I forgot to look at the oncoming runners and hear Chris yell my name and wave.  She was looking great!! So nice to see here out on the course - and doing so well.  We headed back down the hill and along the Lakeshore.  I could hear the announcer at the finish line and knew I was getting close.

I headed up yet one more small(ish) hill and took a left down the chute.  I ran my last few steps towards the finish line as the clock approached two hours.  Bam - sub two hours and I was done.  I was in discussing with my hubby after the race, and I couldn't remember the last time I ran a half.  I've run the distance with friends, but don't know when I last raced it.  I think it was at Icebreaker Indoor Half Marathon last January.  And, then I followed with a full over Memorial Day weekend.  I love the half marathon distance - and always will.  It's a great (doable) distance.  And, I"m always in half marathon shape and have been for quite a few years now.  There's something about being able to just go out and run a half marathon - and do it pretty well.  I'd like to get back around 1:55 or under and that will just come with consistency, speed work and a schedule.  I have not been good AT ALL about sticking to a schedule (especially with wedding planning, my parental schedule, and my coaching schedule). 

7/41 age group

I'm so proud of my new hubby - a semi-new runner!  He's only been running for a year and a half and is a running stud.  He finished in 1:46 (even after the early course issue - and a potty break) and still came in 4th in his age group.  If only I could keep up with him on the course!!  Someday.  Maybe.

We headed back about a half mile, along the lakeshore and cheered on runners for the next hour or so.  I saw another former client, Leanne, as she came in to the homestretch.  That was amazing to see.  And, then I ran with Chris the last half mile or so.  It was really awesome to encourage her the last 5-10 minutes of her race - something that she most likely thought was unimaginable a couple of years ago.  By the time I got back down to the shoreline, I missed Sara, as she was apparently not much further behind Chris.  She finished her race with a great time and great pride.  And then I saw Kim approach soon after and ran with her til the finish line, too.  Super, super cool sharing this experience with all of them - and my new hubby.

Thank you, The Biggest Loser, for giving me this opportunity to participate in this event and share it with so many people close to me.  I love what this event stands for - and all of the events all over the country.  It's about getting communities active and engaged in a healthy lifestyle.  Whether people ran or walked the event - they were moving their bodies and sharing the experience with spouses, friends, neighbors, children, and co-workers.
Also, one very cool thing about this race - they give you FREE downloads of all of your race photos.  Not too many races do that.  A very nice perk. 
Mark your calendar for next year!!
September 21, 2014