Happy Thanksgiving + Run Streaking

Happy Thanksgiving!

Before the celebrating, eating and merriment of the day takes over, I want to thank all YOU readers out there! I have sure loved writing here over the last several months, and I’m so thankful to have an outlet for my creativity and passion for life, love, food & running. And that some people out in the world are finding it useful and entertaining, too. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by!

I began my Thanksgiving Day by being thankful for my comfy bed—and not wanting to get out of it. But it was time to let the run streaking begin…

I have travel plans today, so I needed to get my first official Runners World “run streak” run done first thing this morning. I got up at 6:30, but it was still pretty dark out, so I made some coffee and got some packing done while I waited. I don’t like running in the dark alone; I always feel like behind every tree/bush/mailbox/lawn gnome is someone waiting to spring out at me. Plus, the other night I heard a pack of coyotes barking and howling just outside (!!!) so I definitely wanted to wait ‘til I could see the day in all its glory.

Once it was light enough, I pulled on several layers of clothes (the “feels like” temp was only 16 degrees out!) and laced up my shoes. I only had time to run a little over a mile, but since the Runners World Run Streak ‘rules’ are that you only have to run at least one mile a day, from today (Thanksgiving) to New Years Day, it would still be official.

There was still a little dusting of snow on the ground. Pretty.

112813_snow

Even though I hate the thought of the cold, once I’m out in it, I love how the crisp air feels with every lungful of breath. It feels so fresh and freeing. I’m definitely thankful for all of the positive ways running makes me feel, and how it lets me enjoy the world.

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I’m thankful for this wonderful lake scenery, and the home we were able to buy this year that lets us see it so often.

I’m thankful these ol’ feet don’t hate me yet.

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Probably because I dress them up in such pretty colors. 🙂

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Day #1 of the #RWRunStreak complete!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Enjoy the day, eats lots of yummy food, and take a moment to remember what you’re grateful for.

Much love!

The Long Haul to Turkey Day

It’s been a busy week so far. Even though it’s a short week at work, I’m counting down the hours ‘til Thanksgiving: Family, food, relaxation & a break! I’m in need of all those things. And maybe a few glasses of wine.

Well, always some wine. 😉

Here’s what my week has looked like so far:

My weekend involved lots of house cleaning, organizing & improvements. I’ll do full reveals of these rooms once they’re completely done, but I’ve pretty much finished making over our main guest bedroom and my office. Yay! Finally.

Sneak peek of our guest room. Neutral and comfortable.

Sneak peek of our guest room, picture unhung.

Tidbit of my office: My favorite part, my "clothesline" for fun stuff!

Tidbit of my office: My favorite part, my miniature “clothesline” for fun stuff!

I took a break Sunday and broke my hermit streak. Seriously, once it gets cold out, I do NOT want to leave the house. But my friend, Liz, invited me to meet her and a friend for a beer at a local craft brewery, Rustic Road. Beer? Sure!

Rustic Road Hazelnut Harvest Beer

Rustic Road Hazelnut Harvest Beer

I drank the Hazelnut Harvest amber ale. It was supposed to have flavors of vanilla and hazelnut, but they were pretty faint. Overall, the beer was okay, but not one I’d buy at a store. Which is sad, because I love me some hazelnuts!

I came home and got into the Christmas spirit a bit… Okay, I admit, I’ve been listening to Christmas music for the past week. But, I’ve been working on Black Friday and other holiday emails every day at work, what do you expect?!

Our first Christmas wreath!

Our first Christmas wreath!

Matt got us this wreath, handmade from some Boy Scouts. Love it! Mmm, fresh pine.

Then I enjoyed an Angry Orchard amidst the romantic glow of candles…

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…while I baked some [break ‘n’ bake] cookies to bring to my running club meeting for the next night. I’m a cheater.

Simply Pillsbury break n bake cookies - peanut butter and chocolate chip. Yum!

But I tell ya, these babies are so yummy! Lots of my running club buds were even saying so. Plus they are made “simply” without a bunch of crap like normal pre-made cookies. So, uh, they’re good for you, right?

On Monday, I got into work by 7a.m. and put in a good 11 hours, trying to get everything done for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. Had to skip my planned run with friends, but it was worth getting some extra stuff done. Plus, I rocked an afternoon presentation to my boss and some execs. Ohhh yes. Hoping to help make some good changes in the near future!

Left work by 6 to go to the running club meeting and feed people with my delicious homemade cookies. The cookies were gone quickly, and they [plus pizza] fueled us through a couple hours of packet stuffing for our upcoming sponsored race, the Mayor’s Day Turkey Run!

Did you ever realize how much work goes into that packet stuffing?

I hadn’t.

Packet Stuffing for the Mayor's Day Turkey Run

Packet Stuffing for the Mayor’s Day Turkey Run

But it took a while, and a whole bunch of spunky runner folks.

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And a few paper cuts.

Packets for the Mayor's Day Turkey Run

Look at all those packets! That’s not even all of them…

But we got it done! If you’re looking for a Turkey Trot or a Thanksgiving Day race to help offset all the eating, drinking & being merry on Thursday, sign up for my running club’s race! It’s almost sold out, it’s a popular one. 🙂

Today was another long day at work, but in a good way. Getting lots done and ready to bring on the holiday shoppers! But coding a bazillion emails has made me cross-eyed. Good thing my boss brought in cupcakes to fuel us along.

I give thanks for cupcakes.

I give thanks for cupcakes.

BTW, best way to eat a cupcake: Tear it in half, and flip the top with the frosting over. Eat like a scrumptious cupcake sandwich, with frosting in every bite. You’re welcome.

One more long day of work, LOTS to get done. Then it’s Thanksgiving break time!

And also time to start streaking. A run streak, that is. You in?

Good thing this post looks so healthy, with all its boozy mentions and cookies and cupcakes. Maybe I should start taking pictures of my salads. But you know, those just aren’t as pretty.

What’s getting you through the week?
What are your plans for the holidays?
Will you be run streaking?

Race Recap: Run with the Turkeys 5K

Yesterday morning, I braved the bright & sunny, yet brutally cold morning for the Run with the Turkeys 5K at the Rec Plex in Pleasant Prairie, WI.

It was only about 20 degrees out, which is unusually cold for this time of year. We also had 20mph wind blowing from every direction, which brought the wind chill down to 5 degrees. BRR! I questioned myself, do I really want to do this?

When I went to pick up my packet that morning before the race, they didn’t have mine. Maybe it was a sign?! But no, they also didn’t have 3 of the 5 packets for my friends that I was there with, either. So, it wasn’t a sign, just bad organization. I was doing this, no matter what.

Pleasant Prairie Rec Plex Run with the Turkeys 5K

[thanks to my friend, Jeni, for taking this pic!]

A few of us went outside to do our “warm-up jog” before the race. We literally ran maybe 200 meters to my car to throw some stuff in there, then ran back to shelter from the cold and stretch. Haha!

Finally, the race was going to begin. We shuffled in a herd to the exit of the beach house and listened to a sweet little girl sing the National Anthem. With the blast of a shrill air horn, we were off!

It was very confusing, because we literally took off by the exit of the beach house; some people were still streaming out, others were along the path waiting to go, and still others were on the road next to the path, which was blocked by a car and fence. “Where are we supposed to be starting?!” I called out. Nobody seemed to know.

I finally just followed the crowd in front of me forward, only to be stopped two seconds later midstride because a lot of the people were simply walking the race. With only a 4-foot wide path to run on, they were completely jamming everyone up, and you had to run in the frozen, bumpy grass to pass. I kept waiting to roll an ankle.

After a mile, the racers spread out enough that I could stay on the small paved running path. I hunkered down in my jacket and ran. The wind was SO cold on my face, my toes had been numb since the start, and even my legs felt a little numb. How cold does it need to be, to get frostbitten? I wondered. Everyone else seemed unconcerned, and people even had their kids out running with them (crazies), so I told myself to just run faster so I could get to the dang end.

Over the next two miles, we ran along the paved path, then turned onto a gravel path. At some point, we hit a turn-around point and traced our route back along the gravel path. But, instead of dividing the road in half with the orange cones for incoming & outgoing runners, the cones were offset 2/3 of the way across. On the way in, there was plenty of room on the road to pass others. But on your way out, it was single-file running, unless you wanted to run on the rutted, ankle-busting, gravely sideline. I had to brave that a few times, due to people slowing down a ton or stopping to walk in front of me.

Finally, I made the turn off the stupid gravel path and back onto the paved path. I looked at my watch and I was at 2.89 miles. Yes! Less than a quarter mile to go. I buckled down and picked up the pace, determined to push myself to the limit and finish strong.

If only...That would have made everything worth it! ha

If only… That would have made this race better!

But then I kept going, and going… I passed 3.1 miles on my watch, but still saw runners shuffling up ahead for quite a ways. 3.2 miles. 3.3 miles. What the heck?! At this point I was so irritated with the whole race, I just wanted to stop and walk the rest of the way in, but it was too damn cold to stop. So I kept going. Finally, at 3.6 miles, I crossed the finish line. They had marked the course over by a whole half mile!

For me, this was just annoying. I had really wanted to see what my best 5K time could be right now, so I can use that to get faster over the next few months. But I really felt bad for the walkers, who would still be out there for a long time; and for other people who were out running with kids in that cold; and for anyone who had decided to do this as their first race. Push yourself as hard as you can for 3.1 miles, then run an extra half mile. That is rough!

I’m not one to be a negative nancy, but even without the crappy weather, the race itself was a mess, and I won’t be running it again! After the race was done, we had to wait almost an hour and a half for race results. (I give them credit: They tried to appease annoyance by bringing in mini Jimmy Johns subs for people.) After waiting all that time, none of the five people I was with got a medal (a few of us were just seconds off), but later when we saw the posted results online, one of my friends should have gotten FIRST in her age group! They just totally skipped her. Also found out from a running club friend that he should have also won a medal; and he had been training a teenage girl, who was also skipped when she should have won third in her age group. The adults can handle it, but what a bummer for a kid to train for a race, place in her age group, and then not get her medal! Boo.

I’d cut some slack to the Rec Plex for all these issues, except a couple people told me that things like this happen every year, every time they organize a race…which is several time a year. Come on. You’d think running a race on your own property, a few times a year, you could get it right eventually. There are plenty of other Turkey Trots out there, so next year I’ll be looking for a new one.

Overall, the race experience wasn’t awesome, but I’m still proud of myself for braving the elements and getting out there. It was time spent with friends, which you can never complain about, and I got in a good workout…extra long, in fact. 😉 My friends and I also went to lunch after all was said and done, to celebrate that we’d all survived. I’ll take it.

Final time for 3.6 miles: 35:09 

3 Runs, Better than None

Well, week three of “getting back into the groove” of running & working out is here. It’s not off to a bad start. But first, let’s take a look at last week’s workouts!

Last week, I only ran twice. I did an easy evening 4-miler with some running buddies again on Thursday night. I didn’t push the pace as hard, and I certainly felt better than I did the week before. I also notice that it’s getting easier to breathe in the cold air already than it was just two weeks ago. Hooray, acclimating!

On Saturday morning, I did an easy {almost} 6 miles with the running club. It felt pretty good!

I’ve been using a lot of my motivational tips to get my butt out there running. Every time I find myself thinking, “Eh, I’ll just skip it tonight, I realllllly don’t want to…” I try to go through my list of winter-running motivators until I come across one (or more) the push me into my running shoes.

It’s funny, really… After running a marathon, and being in the best shape of my life, I thought it would be so easy to maintain my fitness and motivation! I mean, every run should be “easy” now, since I’m not training or pushing myself to new distances, so why not keep it up?! That’s how I thought I’d feel, but just a few weeks of breaking the habit of running can make it difficult to pick up the workout habit again. Slowly but surely, I’ll get back on track. I think if I can run 3-4 times a week (about every other day) throughout the next 3-4 wintery months, I will be happy!

My goal this week is to run three times, and hopefully throw in some Pilates or yoga work into another 1-2 days. I’m already on track {no pun intended…}:

Last night, I met up with two running friends at a school’s track. I forgot how cold 35 degrees feels, and only brought a t-shirt & very light long sleeve shirt to wear over it. Luckily, I had one of Matt’s old sweatshirts in my car that I could throw on. Otherwise, I would have froze! (Or, just run very, very fast. Hmm.)

Winter running tip: Always have lots of layers of clothes on hand!

After an easy mile warm-up around the track, I ran 1 mile all-out to see how fast I could go. About 6 months or so ago, I think I ran around an 8:30. (??)

Last night, I ran an 8:56 mile.

Oy! Talk about a slow-down. I felt like maybe I could have ran it a teeny bit faster; I think I was too conservative in the first 800 meters. But ah, well.

After my all-out mile, I ran one more easy mile as a cool-down.

And here was my night-vision view of the track…

running track at night

Runners to your lanes!

No lights around it, so it’s DARK! I would only ever run around there in the dark with friends, and even knowing they’re there, it was still a little creepy in the dark.

Goal over the next few months: Get faster! Since I don’t want to spend hours doing long runs over the winter months, I’m going to focus on running shorter, but faster & harder, runs to try and gain some speed back.

I’m running a Turkey Trot 5K this Saturday morning, so that can be my baseline race time to run up against. 🙂 Wish me luck!

I’m planning to meet up with the same running friends tomorrow night for a run after work, but there’s rain in the forecast, so we’ll see what happens…

How is your winter running motivation?

Are you running any Turkey Trot races?

What’s your favorite kind of speed workout? 

Weekend: Run Club, Tornados & Toilet Water

Hi friends! Happy Monday. How was your weekend? If you couldn’t tell by the title of my post, mine was a little eventful come Sunday…

Saturday morning started bright & early at 6:30. (Funny how it’s so much easier to get up at that time on a Saturday, versus every other workday morning.) I had planned to run 4-6 miles with my running club, and even though it was a little dismal out—overcast, chilly and misting—once I got going, I felt pretty good. Two new ladies came to run with the club that morning, so I got to know them while we ran. It’s always fun making new running buds!

At almost 6 miles, my stomach started really grumbling at me, so I called it short and finished up with some walking. No sweat, since I’m not training for anything. It feels good to run without putting the pressure on every time!

Afterwards, I chatted a while with the rest of the club members while I sipped some hot cocoa (yummm). Lots of people came out this week, it was fun! We kinda took over the room. Just look at all that reflective gear.

running club @ post-run coffee

running club @ post-run coffee

[Nope, that is not Voldemort in the lower left-hand corner, whose head is a blur. Just my friend Dave. I doubt Voldy is much of a runner.]

After I got home & took a long hot shower to warm back up, Matt & I flexed our sweet Excel skills and did some finance & wedding budgeting. We made it through without getting frustrated or ripping out any hair, so I call that a win! We must have felt pretty good afterwards, because we ran a bunch of errands and spent a lot of money and got lots of needed house stuff…plus a few little extras. Love this little typographic sign for my office (it’s slowly coming together):

home office typographic sign with motivational quotes

This is my fave quote on there:

home office typographic sign with motivational quotes

We all make mistakes. What matters most is what we learn from them.

As a creative and a web designer, no truer words have been spoken!

Saturday night, we made a nice dinner, then had another low-key night in, which included wine & watching White House Down with Channing Tatum. Oh yes. I guess I enjoyed that part more than Matt.

Sunday unwrapped a series of unfortunate events for us first-time homeowners. A faulty warning buzzer failed to let us know that our holding tank was full. (Since we don’t have city water or sewage, this tank holds all of our “grey water,” a.k.a. anything that goes down a drain.) After I tried to flush a tissue down one of our toilets literally five times, trying to figure out why the water wouldn’t go down the whole way…we soon found a few inches of water on the ground in our laundry room, next to the bathroom. Thus we came to realize that the holding tank was full, there was nowhere for the water to go, and it had backed up out of the drain and into the laundry room. WOMP. At least it wasn’t, er, dirty water…

While cleaning up the waterworks, the wind howled and screeched outside. Soon the lights were flickering and tornado sirens started blaring! Crikey, I thought it couldn’t get much worse than backed up toilet water, but there you go. We were lucky nothing too bad ended up hitting us during the crazy storms all day, but my thoughts definitely go out to those in Illinois who were hit by the tornados yesterday. So scary. 😦

Needless to say, things were kind of put into perspective. Matt and I finished cleaning up, paid almost $200 to have our tank emergency-pumped on a Sunday (ouch), and all was okay again.

After cleaning up the basement floors, then ourselves, we headed to our friends’ house to watch the Lions-Steelers game. No stinky water or severe weather can keep us from duking it out over our football rivalry!

Steelers vs Lions

Steelers vs Lions

P.S. The Steelers won. But I won’t rub it in. 😉

We chowed down on some snacks, and Matt’s homemade chili.

homemade chili, football Sunday

and some candy for dessert.

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Plus I tried a new beer: Shock Top Raspberry Wheat.

Shock Top Raspberry Wheat

I normally love Shock Top, but the raspberry flavor was a little too fake…almost reminded me of cough syrup at first. After a few drinks, I guess I got used to it, because I liked it enough to finish it. Ha.

After the game, we came home, ordered in a pizza for a late dinner, and caught up on our show, Once Upon a Time, for the night.

What did you do this weekend? What do you do when home disaster strikes?

We tend to freak out for approximately one minute, then I usually call my mom (who will later make fun of me), then get down to work and take care of business. Yesterday we stayed pretty calm and even laughed while cleaning up, because of the ridiculousness of it all, so I guess we’re getting better at dealing with these unexpected things that come along with owning a house!

Eats of the Week

Well my [rather unhealthy] eats post last week seemed to be pretty popular, so here are more pictures of my eats this week. Some healthy…some not so much.

Let’s start with the “not so much”:

caramelized bacon and chocolate chip pancakes
Caramelized bacon & chocolate chip pancakes. Ohhh, that perfect combo of salty & sweet!
With bacon and eggs on the side.
Oh yeah, and rounded out with a Horny Goat HornyCopia Pumpkin Ale.
(Does it make it any better if I say I could barely finish even one of those giant pancakes?)

bacon, tomato, guacamole and cheese sandwich
The best sandwich I ate all week: Bacon, tomato, guacamole & colby jack cheese on whole grain bread. Must recreate for dinner.

chicken fajitas and taco dip
Mexican fiesta dinner night: Chicken fajitas! At least I can feel good about all those veggies. But then there’s that taco dip. Another healthy “not so much.” But I looove taco dip. Ole!

Kind fruit & nut bars
Kind fruit & nut bars. These are so yummy. Healthy, wholesome & delish afternoon snack that actually keeps me full.

homemade spaghetti and meat sauce
Matt’s spaghetti & homemade meat sauce. Love when he cooks me dinner!

wollersheim winery
Wisconsin wine. My older sister’s favorite! She didn’t finish it while here last weekend, so I did the honors for her. 😉

There you go, top eats of the week. Good thing I started running again…?

What good stuff did you eat this week?