Tag Archives: half marathon

Door County Half Marathon 2016

This past weekend, Steve and I went on a little weekend getaway to Door County and ran the half marathon there on Saturday. Steve got off work a little bit early on Friday, and when Kai woke up from his nap we loaded up the car and headed to Steve’s parents house, where Kai would be spending his weekend. We got him all settled in and hung out for a bit before hitting the road around 5:30.

We originally planned to eat dinner in Sturgeon Bay, but I realized we wouldn’t be there until around 8pm, so I consulted Yelp and found a brew pub in Green Bay instead called Titletown Brewing.

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The restaurant was across the street from the actual brewery, and inside of an old train station. The beer was excellent (we both had the IPA), and the food was delicious as well. I had a cranberry turkey melt which was served on freshly baked zucchini bread. Genius.

After dinner we made the rest of the drive up to Door County, arriving in Fish Creek around 9:15pm. We stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house and they have been having problems with their internet, so Steve worked on that for a little bit while I passed out on the couch watching Modern Family. Super exciting start to the weekend!

Saturday was race day, and I think I woke up a little after 6am. The race didn’t start until 10am, so it was nice not to have to rush around. I had my coffee and then around 7:45 I ate a larabar and a banana.

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We left around 8:25am and made the 5 min drive to the park. Once inside the park, we had another few miles to drive to get to Nicolet Bay where the race was starting. I was wondering where they were going to park all of the cars, and when we got there we found out the answer – on the campsites! We ended up parking on a site that was really close to the one we camped on last year. We walked over to the beach and picked up our packets, then headed back to the car to wait. It was around 54 degrees, and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to wear arm warmers or not. There was a cold wind coming off of the lake, so in the end I decided to wear them and ditch them on the course if I got too warm. I ate another half of a banana around 9am and sipped on water with Nuun until the race start.

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Pretty soon it was time to use the port-o-potties one last time and head to the start. Little did we know, the start was actually a 5 or so min walk from the beach, so by the time we got to the starting area (along with many many others), they had already sung the national anthem and it was minutes until race time. We snaked our way up in front of all of the slower pace groups because I didn’t want to get stuck running around people for the first mile or two. Pretty soon it was go time. I gave Steve a kiss and we were off.

I didn’t have a major goal set for this race. I knew that it was hilly and though I am in much better shape now than I was a couple months ago, I still don’t feel like I am in great running shape at the moment. I figured I would be happy with a 1:40, and my main goal was to enjoy the course. Peninsula State Park is my favorite place in the world to run (and one of my favorite places to be period), so I was excited to take in the scenery and see some areas of the park that I don’t normally get to see.

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I hit mile 1 in 7:38, and was surprised to see the 7’s. I felt like I was running over 8 min pace, so it was a nice surprise. The first 4 miles were fairly flat compared to the middle of the course, with some gradual and rolling hills. Miles 2-4 went by really fast, splits were 7:21, 7:14, 7:27. I thought maybe I was going a little too fast, but I knew there were some major hills coming up and I decided to just go with it since I was feeling good.

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The biggest hill on the course started just before mile 4 and ended just after mile 5, so it was pretty much uphill for a whole mile. My legs were feeling the lack of hill training that I did, and I knew I was slowing down. I made a new goal to have all of my miles under 8:00. My watched buzzed for mile 5 and it was 8:05. Dang. At least the huge hill was almost over, and there was an aid station at the top of the hill that was run by pirates, complete with a wooden pirate ship. I ate a gel here, hoping it would give me a boost. Miles 6-7 were 7:48, 7:55 and my legs did not feel like they were recovering from the big hill.

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Somewhere in these middle miles, my attitude about the race became really laid back, which isn’t like me. I just didn’t really care that I was slowing down. I was still enjoying the course and I guess I kind of decided that I wasn’t going to kill myself in the second half. My stomach was not feeling great (what’s new) and I just didn’t feel like pushing it. Not much of a race mentality, but whatever. Miles 8-9 were 8:01, 7:38. Mile 10 was 8:03 even with the start of a big downhill in there, and then we were back out onto shore road for the last three miles to the finish. I was kind of dreading the last miles thinking they would go by really slow, but they didn’t. In fact, the entire race seemed to go by really fast. Miles 11-13 were 8:02, 7:51, 7:36. Before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line.

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Official Stats:

Time: 1:40:39, 7:41 average pace

19/943 women

6/169 age group

I am happy with how it went (I did say I would like to run a 1:40 after all, but I would have like to be a little under rather than a little over). I hung out at the finish line waiting for Steve, who finished in 1:48. We walked back to the car to get our warm clothes (it was probably in the upper 50’s at this point and I was freezing). Then we hung out and watched the awards while drinking our free beers from Door Co. Brewing Company.

We stopped at the grocery store on the way back to the house for beer and snacks. At the house we devoured almost an entire wedge of aged apple cheddar with crackers and then his the hot tub. We also played a game of horse in the pool (I lost) before heading back to shower. We waited for the cable guy to come and luckily he was able to fix the internet problem. By the time he left it was almost 6:30 and I was famished.

We went to dinner at The Cookery because they were one of the restaurants that was offering a free beer to racers. Steve and I split fried cheese curds, pulled pork nachos, and a club sandwich, all of which was delicious.

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After dinner we drove into Peninsula State Park again to check out the campsite we have reserved for the 4th of July weekend. On the way out the sun was setting, so we parked and walked down by the water. Imagine our surprise when we saw two huge bald eagles sitting in the tree!

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So cool! Once the sun was set we stopped for frozen custard for dessert, obviously.

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I am slightly ashamed to admit that I could not finish that turtle sundae. We were pretty beat by this point, so we headed back to the house, watched a movie, and went to bed.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in so badly. Of course I woke up at 6:25, womp, womp. I spent a nice early morning relaxing with coffee and my iPad before I finally woke up Steve because I was starving. We went out to a late breakfast at Julie’s before heading home, and it was just nice enough to sit outside.

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I was missing my little stinker pants and couldn’t wait to see him. He was still napping when we arrived to pick him up, so we went in to wake him. Instead of being excited to see us, all he wanted in his tired state was Grammy. Ha. Once he was fully awake he did seem happy to see his parents after all. We hung out there talking to Steve’s parents for a little while before heading home. We had stopped to get flowers for Steve’s mom, and Steve also bought me a beautiful waterfall orchid. My goal is not to kill it like I have every single other plant I have ever owned.

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Mother’s Day evening was spend unpacking, giving Kai a bath, and eating Qdoba (for some reason I was craving a burrito bowl). Even though Kai was really acting up last night (I’m sure he was tired and a little out of sorts from the weekend), as I put him to bed I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I am to be his Mom. He brings me so much joy and so much frustration and everything in between and challenges me on a daily basis to be the best Mama I can be for him.

I also can’t finish this post without a shout out to my own Mom (we gave her her Mother’s Day present on Friday before we left). She is the most selfless, generous, amazing lady around, and I don’t know what we would do without her.

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Kai, The run, Travel

Hartfest Half Marathon

Saturday marked my official return to distance racing, with the Hartfest Half Marathon, a small local race in Wauwatosa. As my “A” race for the year will be Lakefront Marathon in October, this race would be a good “see where I’m at in training” type of situation. The week leading up to the race I was having some problems with my right calf, which really had me worried. It felt like it was just on the brink of becoming strained after my easy run on Tuesday. I took off on Wednesday and then tried a super easy 5 miles on the treadmill on Thursday. It felt ok as long as I went slow, and actually felt a little bit better by the time I was done. I decided to play it safe and rest it on Friday, and was able to have my massage partner work on it briefly in the afternoon. I also rolled and stretched the hell out of my legs and hips in the days leading up to Saturday, something I really need to be doing a lot more often.

Saturday morning my alarm went off at 5:40, and it was time for coffee. I had one cup (oh how I wanted another one, but I didn’t think it would be a good idea for my stomach). I also had a banana topped with peanut butter, corn flakes, honey and cinnamon. Weird, I know, but it is tasty and sits well in my stomach. Kai woke up around 6:30 so I got him out and gave him his bottle. I finished getting ready and just after 7am I woke up Steve to take over baby duty.

I drove the 25 mins or so to the race and was pleased to find plenty of parking available at the start. I got my packet and returned to my car to pin on my number and stay warm. I snapped a selfie before heading out to use the bathroom and do a warm up jog.

Here goes nothin’!

I jogged a little less than a mile to warm up, and I was still really worried about my calf. I could feel it even running slow, so I had no idea what would happen in the race. I knew I had to be careful and bow out if necessary, as it would not be worth getting injured right at the beginning of marathon training.

I did some stretching and ran into Julia and her husband Nate. How those two manage to train with three littles is beyond me, I find it hard enough to fit it in with one when you factor in Steve’s training as well. We chatted for a while and headed to the start, and before we knew it, it was race time.

Pic stolen from Julia’s blog.

I started the race very comfortably, which was the plan. My coach had originally planned for me to be in the 7:40ish range for pace, and I doubted that. He told me to go out at 8 min pace, then drop it every three miles or so according to how I was feeling. I think my first mile was an 8:02, right on target. I realized about a mile in that I totally forgot about my calf, which was a good thing. Miraculously, it wasn’t bothering me at all. Miles 2 and 3 were right around 7:50, and mile 4 was 7:22. Whoops! I dialed it back to the 7:45-7:50ish range for the next 3 miles. The course was fun, it had a little bit of everything. Paved path, gravel path, sidewalk with plenty of turns and a couple hills for good measure. Not a fast course by any means, but interesting enough to not get bored.

I saw a lot of friendly and familiar faces throughout the race which was great, and one of the things I love about running. Around mile 7 there was a pretty big downhill, and I started to feel a little twinge in my calf. I decided not to push it any harder and hoped that it would hold up to the finish. Though I didn’t fee like I was pushing too much, miles 8-12 were in the 7:30-7:40 range. By mile 12 I was really starting to get tired and I couldn’t wait to be done. The fronts of my ankles/shins started to cramp a little, a telltale sign that I needed salt (Gatorade), but I knew there wouldn’t be another aid station before the finish. I held on as best I could during mile 13 which was 7:44. A woman sprinted past me in the finish chute (dang it!) and I was finally done.

My official time was 1:41:33 (7:43 average), which I was really happy with for this point in the season. After the race I chatted with a bunch of different friends and enjoyed the breakfast of pancakes, eggs and fruit. I did not partake in the free beer, and was really wishing there was coffee.

I headed home, showered, and then played with my little buddy (who was so so so crabby) for the rest of the day. That night Steve picked up a good IPA, we grilled food and had Bubba’s frozen custard (it was peanut butter custard with chocolate covered pretzel pieces and a caramel swirl, omg).

And now, marathon training has officially begun!

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Tyranena Beer Run

A while back, Steve and I signed up for the Tyranena Beer Run. I had always wanted to do this race, as I heard it was a fun way to end the season. The race is held at the Tyranena Brewery in Lake Mills, and offers a 1/2 Barrel and 1/6 Barrel distance. The finish line offers a free lasagna dinner (meat or veggie) and free Tyranena beer. Need I say more?

I hadn’t run a half marathon since my PR at Icebreaker in January, and I wasn’t sure what to expect out of my legs. I was hoping that if everything felt good, I could run around 1:40, or 7:38 pace. However, I haven’t been doing any speed work, and I hadn’t run more than 10 miles since a September trail run. I also had heard that the course was fairly hilly. As a secondary goal, I thought if I could keep the miles under 8:00 that would be ok too.

We lined up for the 11:30am start, and it was chilly, around 35 degrees. I decided to just wear a long sleeve shirt and no vest, which turned out to be the right decision. After the national anthem played, we were off. I ran the first mile in 7:24 and worried that I started too fast, although it felt pretty comfortable. The course was great, winding through the neighborhood before continuing along the shore of Rock Lake. There were definitely some hills in the first 4 miles, but overall not as bad as I was thinking.

The miles were ticking by, and for the most part I was holding 7:25-7:35 miles. The course continues onto the Glacial Drumlin Trail, which was not only pretty, but the crushed gravel surface was nice to run on too. Somewhere around mile 8 I felt things starting to break down. I was about to crash, hard. I quickly took my Double Expresso Clif Shot and washed it down with some water at the next aid station. Mile 9 turned out to be my slowest at 7:47, but a few minutes after I took my gel I felt some energy start to creep back in and was back to 7:30 pace for miles 10-11.

Then it was time to hang on for the last 2 miles. I was really tired, and I wanted to slow down badly. I focused on a few women up ahead which helped me to keep pushing. I passed a couple of them within the last two miles, and I knew I couldn’t back down. Before I knew it, we were rounding the corner towards the finish. I gave it a kick to the finish line and crossed in 1:39:04, or 7:34 pace. I am really happy with the result given the amount of training I have been doing. Or not doing. I also realized that I had fueled the night before with two margaritas, chips & guacamole, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Um…oops? I guess I should be glad I wasn’t running for the port-o-potty during the race.

Official Results:
1:39:04

7:34 average pace

98/877 overall

13/480 females

6/117 age group

Afterwards we hung out with friends while drinking beer and eating lasagna. I can’t think of anything much better than that. This was a super-fun race with a great course and I will be back next year for sure to end the season right!

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Icebreaker Indoor Half Marathon

When I was offered a free entry into the Icebreaker Indoor Half Marathon through my running team, I have to admit that at first I wasn’t super-excited. Forty eight laps around an indoor track didn’t exactly seem all that thrilling. As the race drew near, I started to see it as an opportunity for a fast race in perfect conditions. Though the track is not a forgiving surface (it’s just thin rubber over the cement floor), the temperature inside hovers around 50 degrees, it is dry, and there is no wind. There were two heats for the half marathon, 7am and 9:30am, and I was in the first heat.

I woke up around 4:45am for the 7am race start. Pre-race I had a banana with pb, honey, and cinnamon and coffee. (Pictures are from my iPhone).

I got myself ready and headed out the door just before 6am. I got to the Pettit Center and headed upstairs to packet pickup. The room upstairs was warm, and a nice place for runners to hang out before heading into the cold oval. About 30 minutes before start time, I consumed my secret weapon.

Two medjool dates. These things taste like candy and are little energy bombs. I snapped a photo of the track from above before I went down to warm up.

The timing table:

That big screen on the left of the picture was displaying names all day with the number of laps completed. It was on a scroll, so I didn’t get to see my name every time around, but I did manage to catch it quite a few times. I was planning to rely also on the lap counter on my watch, hoping that I would remember to press it after each lap. This would be key for pacing, as I was hoping to average around 2:00/lap.

I had time for a short 2-lap warm up before it was time for the national anthem. I lined up somewhere in the middle/front of the pack and got ready to run. The race started, and there was a lot of congestion right at the beginning, but I was surprised how quickly things spread out on the 2-lane track. The rules of the track are similar to a freeway, run on the right (outside) and pass on the left (inside), running counterclockwise.

Behind those people walking were the water tables. Each runner had their own water bottle with their number on it. If you wanted water, you yell your number out as you pass the tables. The next time around, a volunteer hands you your bottle. You run with it for a lap, then hand it back. They had plenty of great volunteers here, and I had no problems getting my water when I needed it.

My first few laps I really tried to just settle into a groove. My pace was spot-on, and each lap ticked by in the 1:55-1:58 range. It felt quick but manageable. I knew I had a long way to go, and hoped I could maintain the speed. Around 3 or 4 laps in, I was lapped by the race leaders, who were running well under 6 min pace. As the race progressed, it was fun to see how everyone was spread out. I would get lapped by the same guys every so often, and I would lap the same people every so often as well. I don’t remember how many laps in I was when I got lapped by the first female, but she ended up finishing about 7 minutes ahead of me.

Half way through the race I started to feel like I was losing energy. I got a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace. I ate a PB flavored GU (my new absolute favorite, obviously), and hoped that it would do the trick. A few laps later, I felt better, though it still seemed like I was working hard. With ten laps to go, I just wanted to be done. I also knew that it would be over before I knew it. With two laps to go I picked up a little speed, and finished my last lap in 1:52, which is sub-7 min pace.

Official chip time: 1:33:12

23/223 overall

3rd overall female

I wish I would have pushed it a little harder to break 1:33. Judging by the fact that I was able to pick it up at the end, I know I could have done it. Overall I am happy though, as I’m pretty sure this is about a 14 minute half marathon PR for me. I don’t even know the last time I raced one (besides on trails), but it was years ago for sure.

On the way home I rewarded myself with a Starbucks soy mocha which I’m pretty sure contains the optimal carb:protein ratio for muscle recovery.

Stay tuned this week for an announcement of my next big race. Hint: It’s a long one that involves a belt buckle.

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Icebreaker

This Saturday I will be racing the Icebreaker Indoor Half Marathon at the Pettit Center in Milwaukee. Here’s a little bit of info on the Pettit Center taken from their website:

“As the only indoor sea-level oval in the U.S. available to our country’s athletes, it is considered “mission critical” when it comes to preparing for the 2014 Olympic Game Sochi, Russia (also a sea level location). All of the U.S. speed skaters who have participated in the last five Winter Olympics have competed or trained at the Pettit Center. That includes the international icons of the sport and hometown heroes – Chris Witty, Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair – as well as high-profile medal winners Apolo Anton Ohno, Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis.”

Bonnie Blair

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Pretty cool if you ask me. On the outside of the oval is a 443 meter running track that is open year round. I have run on the track a few times when the weather was nasty, and it is a nice indoor alternative for the winter. Many people also run there in the summer, as it is kept at a cool 50ish degrees, perfect for some summer speedwork. The half marathon is approximately 48 laps around the track. I ran at the Pettit this past Saturday, and with the perfect temps in there it is hard not to run fast. I am hoping for a huge half-marathon PR, mostly because I haven’t raced one in years.

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The tricky part about the race will be pacing. I have figured out my goal “per lap” pace, and that will be what I have to go by. Since the track is longer than a standard track, it is near-impossible to pace by the mile. I am hoping to hold a pace that is somewhere around 2 minutes per lap, give or take, which would put me somewhere in the 1:35 range, my ultimate goal.

I was feeling really good about the race until this morning, when I hopped on Phillip for a pre-race tune-up. (I only got one name suggestion for our treadmill. It was Phillip. I liked it, so it stuck :-)) I planned to run a 2 mile warm up, 3 miles at goal race pace, and a 2 mile cool down. Well, I got about one minute into the race pace miles and knew it wasn’t happening. It felt awful. I tried sticking it out a little longer to see if I could settle in, but I just felt worse. Half a mile in I decided it was stupid to keep going, so I bagged it and ran easy until I hit five miles. Talk about a confidence-killer. I have been running a lot of miles lately, and I think it has finally started to take a toll on my legs. My new plan is to rest tomorrow (Wednesday), do a short easy run with a few pick-ups thrown in on Thursday, rest Friday, and hope for the best in the race on Saturday. I am hoping that by taking two days off (during which I will probably go insane), I can get some spring back in my step in time for the race. Fingers crossed!

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