Coming to Terms

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who replied to my last post about being injured! You’ve made me feel so much better about everything. I felt like I was giving up/being a wuss/completely disappointed, but you’ve helped to put my injury in perspective: It’s one race, and it’s not worth injuring myself worse over.

So, I’ve decided: I’m just running the half marathon instead of the full Green Bay Marathon.

And I have to say, I feel totally relieved.

Before, I was truly dreading the thought of the marathon. I wasn’t stoked for the race, the thought of 26.2 miles didn’t seem just daunting—it seemed impossible. I knew I would most likely have to drop out at some point, or limp through the last 10 miles at a slow walk. No thanks. I was not excited at all about the race weekend…which is such a bummer, because I am going with a whole bunch of running club members, and it will be a blast!

With just 13.1 miles (just?) on the docket, I’m pretty excited just thinking of the whole experience: Running a half marathon with my training buddy (who is also injured now) and simply soaking up the running love and atmosphere the whole time. My other training buddies, Liz and Lela, dodged injuries and will be completing the full marathon, so we’ll be rootin’ for them at the finish line.

I’m glad I could come to terms with the fact that it’s okay to change a big goal and aim for something new. Life requires recalibration. A half marathon might not be what I was shooting for, but it’s still a damn good goal, so I’ll take it.

On the other hand, I guess that means I have another marathon in my future… Some day. 😉

Phoenix Half Marathon Recap

The trash bag flapped around me in the wind as I squinted my eyes to see through the dark. Where was the starting line? Not too far away, I could hear the reverberating voice over the loudspeaker—we must be close! Suddenly, my sisters and I turned the corner of a low, concrete building and were greeted by a crowded mass of runners huddled around heat lamps.

Welcome to 60 degrees in Arizona at 5:30 in the morning! We entered the throng of runners, ready to race the Phoenix Half Marathon this past Saturday, March 1st.

My sisters and I, coming from much cooler climates, had to chuckle a bit about the huddled runners. Coming from the sub-zero long runs in Wisconsin, the balmy 60 degrees felt amazing—even the threat of rain during the race didn’t scare me. In fact, I thought it might help me; I was afraid 60 degrees would feel too warm!

The garbage bag “dresses” we wore proved useful.

garbage bags before a rainy race

The slight wind and misty weather turned out to be a little chilly after standing outside for 15 minutes. Even we were glad for the heating lamps that we, and all the others, corralled around as we waiting to line up for the start of the race.

It wasn’t long before the Star Spangled Banner was being sung; beautiful voices echoed over us all, and a spark of excitement ran through us all as fireworks went off. What a way to get the adrenaline going!

phoenix half marathon fireworks before start

We headed for the start line. At 6:28am, the rain started falling. At 6:30 on the dot, the starting gun went off.

waiting in line to start running the phoenix half marathon

Five minutes into the rainy run, I clenched and unclenched my chilly fingers and wondered how quickly they would warm up with the rain. But just five minutes later, the rain had stopped and was replaced with an intermittent mist. It hadn’t rained in 80 days or so in Arizona, and although we had a few showers during our half marathon, it turned out not to be the water-logged run we all expected.

We ran down residential streets, somewhat tightly packed. I got stuck behind some slower runners and walkers a handful of times. Frustrating, but easy enough to quickly find a spot to slide around. I took in the humble homes; the desert landscaping right with cacti and stones; the groves of lemon and orange trees, which completely but happily surprised me. The birds chirped as the sun came up and lit our way.

I focused on how I felt—good, strong—and tried to stick to a consistent 10:30 pace. I went up and down but stayed somewhat close—good enough. Water and Gatorade stations popped up about every two miles, and I made sure to hit up most of them. Vaseline, kindly offered by a volunteer around mile 3, saved my arm from being chafed to death. {How did I forget this tank top always did that?}

Clif gel shots, licorice, bananas and oranges were all offered along the way by smiling volunteers. I grabbed a Clif shot to try on a different run, but gobbled down my trusty Shot Blox gummies as needed. I was amazed at how well the runners were supported, and thanked the volunteers and numerous policemen (and the few cheering fans who braved the cruddy weather) when I could spare the smile and breath.

Soon, I was nearing the 10-mile marker. I felt great still, and decided to kick it up a notch. I had been sticking close to my 10:30 minutes per mile goal, but I wondered how much further I could take it. I hadn’t been planning to race this half marathon or try for a goal time, but that itch surfaced and the push began.

Mile 10: 10:34
Mile 11: 10:17
Mile 12: 10:06

This was it. The end was getting close, and I stared out at the mountains in the distance. Glad to finally glimpse some Arizona scenery, I spared the seconds to slow down and capture the moment.

scenic view during the end of the phoenix half marathon

But not for long. I opened up my stride and continued the downward descent to the finish line.

Mile 13: 9:05

I sprinted past people left, right, dodging around like a little kid running around his parents’ legs. I smiled huge, feeling so strong and fast, hearing my older sister cheering for me—“Go Mandy!”—as I stared down the fast-approaching finish line.

Then a man’s voice behind me:
“Runners, move to your left! Make room for the first marathon finisher!”

I glanced back to my right to see a male swiftly approaching at the end of his 26.2-mile run. I sailed over the finish line at nearly the same moment as him, and grinned to myself.

smiling at the finish line

At least when I got home, I could tell everyone I had tied with the winner of the Phoenix Marathon.

Final half marathon time:
2:17:38 (10:30 pace, on the dot)

phoenix half marathon medal

Week 7 & 8 Workouts {Phoenix Half & Green Bay Marathon}

Life these days: Work, eat, run, eat, work, sleep. Repeat.

I’ve had lots of long hours at my desk lately {fulfilling, but draining}. In the past, long hours on the job meant I skipped my workouts and spent that free time vegging to rest my brain. This time, I finally managed to break for a run—even when I felt like “I just don’t have time”—because I knew the mental break would be invigorating. And it was. I’ll try to remember that in the future, when stressful projects & precious free time collide again.

Here’s a recap of the past two weeks’ workouts, leading up to my half marathon in Phoenix, Arizona a short week away. (Ohh, so excited!)

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– – – – – WEEK 7 – – – – – 

Sunday, February 9th: Stretch + foam roll

Monday: 3.5 miles 3 miles + 10 minutes bike
I got to 3 miles on the treadmill and boredom struck hard, so I bopped to the bike for the rest of my workout.

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 3.5 miles
Another easy treadmill run.

Thursday: 6 miles 5.5 miles
First run on my new treadmill! Even though I complain about the ‘mill all the time, when my friend put hers up for sale for $150, Matt sprung to get it for me so I could have a treadmill at home. Woo! What a great fiancé.

It’s so nice to be able to watch my own TV shows, play my music without headphones, and work out at home whenever I want. Even with all those perks, getting to 5.5 miles was still a struggle against boredom; an hour on the treadmill is a long time! It was a good workout, though. I played around with speed and incline to keep my mind busy and test the waters of my new toy treadmill.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 11 miles
What a fantastic run! It was really cold yet again—barely above zero, I think. Meeting up to run with four other ladies (including a new running club member) sure helped make the miles fly by, though. This run was a major win with NO SNOW on the roads. I forgot how much easier it is to run when there aren’t a couple inches of snow mucking up your footing.

With that, my longest pre-half marathon run is complete!

– – – – – WEEK 8 – – – – – 

Sunday, February 16th: Stretch + foam roll
Hi, major knot in my left IT band. Meet my little friend, the foam roller. Ouch.

Monday: Rest
Switched my usual rest day to Monday, so I could work some extra hours in the evening.

Tuesday: 4 miles (10:52/mile)
AH! It was 44 degrees outside and it felt like heaven. Ha.

I met up with a handful of my running buds for a post-work run (one of those “I don’t think I have time, but I need to do this for me” runs). It felt glorious to actually be a little too warm with all our layers on. My face didn’t feel like it was going to fall off. I could actually feel all of my limbs. It was a nice run.

Wednesday: 4 miles 3 miles (10:33/mile)
Working at home ‘til 11pm Tuesday + getting up at 5:30am to get s* done in the morning = I felt like a zombie when I got home Wednesday evening. Despite that, I craved a little run to clear my mind. It was still 40 degrees out (heat wave!) and I knew if I didn’t go for a run, I’d sprint to a glass of wine instead. Glad I opted for the healthier alternative.

Taking a moment to breathe & enjoy the view on a dusk run.

Taking a moment to breathe & enjoy the view on a dusk run.

Thursday: 6 miles Rest
The late nights, early mornings and stress finally caught up to me, I guess. When I got home, I was kind of exhausted and drained of all motivation. I spent a relaxing, low-key night on the couch with DVDs of “The West Wing,” and Matt, instead.

And maybe some wine.

Friday: Rest
My “real” rest day. I was still pretty tapped out from the week—I seriously wanted to go to bed at 7pm. Yawn.

Saturday: 8 miles 7 miles
My step-back “long” run before the Phoenix Half Marathon. YAY, I can’t wait! Sunny weather, warm temps, and my sisters. I’m already daydreaming about landing there on Friday.

This run was good, because I got to meet yet another new member of our running club, and we enjoyed a relaxed run. On the not-so-good part, my stomach started feeling funky around mile 3, so the last two miles were pretty stop-and-go as I had to walk a lot. I cut the run a mile short because of that, but I’m not worried about a lost mile.

Note to self: Mexican food the night before a long run? Never again.

– – –

This week’s workouts:
Sunday: Yoga + foam roll
Monday: 4 miles
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 2 miles (shakeout run)
Saturday: 13.1 miles, Phoenix Half Marathon!

– – –

Do you squeeze in workouts, even when life pummels hectic curveballs your way?

Are you looking forward to any races on your schedule? 

Weekly Workout Recap: Treadmills + 6 miler

I did okay with my workouts this week—didn’t hit all of ‘em, but that was partially thanks to the lovely polar vortex and Wisconsin weather. Why didn’t I move south, again?

Sunday, Jan. 5th:
Off

Monday:
3 miles DNR
Hey, polar vortex. Windchill was -40 (!!!) and my little ol’ car wouldn’t even start. I hibernated, but at least got in some strength exercises for my hips, core, butt & attempted some push-ups. New goal: Be able to do big kid push-ups.

Tuesday:
Rest day
Good thing this was a rest day, because the weather was pretty much the same as Monday. My car was hopeless again, so I was stuck at home.

Wednesday:
4 miles
Hit up the gym after work and slogged out 4 miles on the treadmill. Doesn’t the treadmill seem so much harder to run on? It went faster than I thought it would, but still felt pain-stakingly long. I daydreamed of spring, sunshiney days while I stared out the window in front of me and watched the red taillights zoom down the road.

Thursday:
3 miles
I so wanted to go to the grocery store, pick up some yummy craft beer & head home after a very long day at work. Luckily, my gym is right next to the store, so realizing that I would have to drive right next to my gym and blatantly blow it off…I decided I was being dumb and just went into the gym instead.

I did 2 miles on the treadmill, but again, it felt so difficult to run. I’ve had a hard time breathing, and my body (especially hips) never seems to loosen up…but I can tell I’m still working hard because I’m sweating more than most of the dudes in the gym. Gross. After the 2 mile run, I gave myself a break and just hopped on the stationary bike for 10 minutes to finish up the workout.

Friday:
Rest

Saturday:
Cross-train
Just did some strength exercises at home. Switched my long run to Sunday due to weather.

Sunday:
6 mile long run
long run splits
I met a couple people from my running club for an easy Sunday morning long run. It was almost “warm” out (28 degrees), but the roads were still quite icy and slippery. We had to run gingerly most of the way, but it was nice to get out in the fresh air and daylight for once. The run felt pretty good overall.

After making it all six miles without fuss, I fell on my butt walking from my car to the coffee shop. Ha! Figures. Just a bit of bruising (and feeling stupid), it’ll heal.

– – –

Do you think treadmill running is harder than running outside?

What was your favorite workout of the week?

And the Sister Runcation 2014 Is…

It’s been settled: Sister Runcation 2014, here we come.

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It will be in a city slightly warmer than Wisconsin…

011014-cactus-phoenix-arizona

A little sandier. And maybe…a tad prickly.

011014-skyline-mountains

But, so beautiful.

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I can’t wait to cross that finish line!

That’s right: My sisters and I are going to Phoenix, Arizona, to run the BMO Harris Bank Phoenix Half Marathon on Saturday, March 1st. Woohoo!

Why Arizona? My friend, Kelly, told me that Arizona is great in February-March, because it’s warmer, but not humid. Last year, we ran a race in Florida and it was unbelievably humid (= torture), so we didn’t want to make that mistake again this year.

We thought it’d be a fun change of pace to escape our frigid homes for some warm & sunny desert scenery.

We’re all signed up, our flights are booked, and we’re on the hunt for a hotel. We’re stumped so far on where to stay and what to do while we’re there. Any suggestions?

– – –

Have you ever been to Arizona? What do you think we should do there?

Where would you love to escape to and run a race?

I wouldn’t mind escaping to Hawaii or some other tropical island to run right about now!

P.S. If you want to sign up, it’s $80 until the 15th, then the price goes up again. You can save $10 off the Phoenix Marathon (or half marathon) by using discount code FRIENDS10.

Last Week’s Workouts

Now that the holidays have passed, it’s nice to get back to working out and feeling healthy again. Here’s how my workouts went this past week:

Monday–Wednesday:
Family in town, didn’t work out.

Thursday, Jan. 2:
20 minutes treadmill (5.5mph-6mph, an “easy” pace)
10 minutes elliptical
15 minutes body strength

I planned to do 30 minutes on the treadmill, but my right knee started acting up at almost 20 minutes. Rather than chance anything, I hopped off onto the elliptical for the last 10 minutes. I don’t know why my knee was bugging me {very slightly}, other than perhaps from sitting all day at my desk and the fact I hadn’t run in 10 days, it was tight?

For my body strengthening, I just did a bunch of core exercises, some push-ups, squats and my hip exercises.

Friday:
Off, rest day before long run.

Saturday:
5 mile long run
Hip exercises

I’m starting my long runs for my half marathon training schedule. {I’ll post my full schedule for you to see soon.} I was only going to run 4 miles, but I joined up with my running club to run yesterday morning, and my friend Tom talked me up to 5 miles instead.

The run was challenging, but good. It was “feels like” 8 degrees out with the wind chill, but with the right clothes it wasn’t bad at all. {See my “what to wear for winter running” post!}

You know it’s windy out when the flags are blowing straight out…

flags in windy winter weather

The toughest part of the run was the varying road conditions. Forget the sidewalks—a lot weren’t even shoveled—so we were relegated to the roads. Some parts were clear, some had slush, but the worst parts still had about an inch of snow on them.

snowy roads for winter running

The snow wasn’t slippery, but it felt like running in sand! Phew, what a workout. Those parts definitely slowed me down, and towards the end of the run, I just wanted to walk through them, but I kept chugging along.

Despite all that, it sure was pretty out…

010514-winter-running-lake

I was definitely spent after the run, but it felt good to be out in the fresh air, chatting with some friends, and getting in a good run…all before 9am!

010514-stay-warm

{I need to get better at my selfie skills. ha!}

After my run, I came home and did some foam rolling (owww) and some hip exercises to help keep my knees happy.

– – –

What were your workouts this week?
Would you bundle up and run in those conditions? 

2014 Goals & Running Plans

I’m not normally a New Year’s resolutions type of gal. If you decide you want to do something, you should do it any week of the year, any day of the week, any time of day. But last night, our house was finally quiet and I had time to reflect on what I’m looking forward to this year. With that in mind, I have a few things I want to work on in the near-future…I refuse to call them “resolutions,” but I am excited to have these goals to work towards!

• Train for the Sister Run-cation Half Marathon in March
My sisters and I finally picked our run-cation half marathon, but I’ll wait to reveal that in another post. You’ll have to wait! Think warm & sunny. Here’s a hint from the event’s Facebook page…

2014 Sister Run-Cation preview

I am stoked to have a 13.1 miler to train for—I already feel motivated and amped to start my workouts and get back to more consistent running. I don’t know if I’m in any shape to PR for the half, but I’ll evaluate a time goal after I get a few longer runs under my belt.

• Cook More + Share Recipes

Southwest Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

With a busy workweek, plus getting home after 6pm post-workout, I tend to fall back on cooking the same meals. I want to spice up my cooking life and try some new recipes, including a lot of lightened-up meals to help me shed a few pounds! And lucky you, lovely blog readers, you get to be the guinea pigs.

• Lose 20 pounds
Alright, I gotta pull the cliché bride-to-be “I want to lose weight” card.

I'm on a diet until the wedding's over.

I’ve wanted to do so for the last two years, so this will be good motivation, right? Losing 20 pounds should be easy to do before August.

• Blog more often
I love writing and it makes me happy, so I want to set more time aside every day to do what I love!

And last but not least…

• Run the Green Bay Marathon
Cellcom Green Bay Marathon
The granddaddy of them all: I signed up for my second marathon! After I ran the Chicago Marathon this past October, I knew I wanted to run another marathon. I felt like I could have trained better and run faster, so here’s to an injury-free year of running and a marathon PR at the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon in May.

– – –

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? 

What are your goals for 2014?