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…

112613_angry

…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.

112613_stuffers

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 

8 Tips to Help You Stay Motivated This Winter

8 Tips to help you stay motivated this winter - ways to motivate yourself to work out in the winter

As a kid, I used to LOVE snow. I grew up along the lake effect snow belt in Ohio. It was theee best when you went to bed with no snow on the ground, only to wake up to a foot of fresh powder and pretty snowflakes falling from the sky. Oh, and school cancelled, of course!

Now that I’m all grown up and the mythical Snow Day has been snatched from existence, just like Santa Claus, my love for snow has dwindled. Not only do I have to drive in this stuff (i.e., dodge all the people who can’t drive in the snow), but now I have to find a way to stay motivated to work out in it, so I can eat, drink and be merry stay healthy all winter.

Alas, here I am, in Wisconsin, land of beer and cheese and snow and bitterly cold wind. Over the last couple years, I’ve run during snowstorms; I’ve run during monsoon-like winds; I’ve run in temperatures topping out in the mere teens. I’ve run with YakTrax (spikes) on the bottom of my shoes, so I can prance along snowy, icy sidewalks and streets. I’ve run when other sane folks are only outside because they have to snowblow two feet of snow out of their driveway, and they look at me like I’m a nutjob.

(They may be right.)

Are you dreading cold weather runs in the snow, and finding it’s hard to get your butt out the door to go work out? Well, you’re in luck!

Here are eight of my tips and tricks for staying motivated to run and work out during the winter months.

1. Good Ol’ Fashioned Self-Bribery
Reward yourself for facing the arctic conditions that any normal human would cower against. Get yourself some new (warm) workout gear, new shoes, a sweet treat, hot cocoa…you could even set aside a few bucks in a jar every time you complete a workout and spring for a BIG reward. Whatever it is, paying yourself back with some sort of incentive to get out there can help.

2. Sign Up for a Winter Race
Turkey Trots and Santa Runs can help keep you motivated for the next month or two. Or, sign up for an early spring race, and your training schedule will demand training time over the winter months. Having a goal race to train for—and a set training schedule for it—is one of the best motivators to get out the door.

3. Join a Running Club
My bah-humbug motivation savior! Find a running club, or even just a friend or two, and set concrete plans to run together at least once or twice a week. Knowing someone is planning, and waiting, to meet you will make you less likely to flake on a workout.

4. Go Streaking
Not for the faint of heart: Join the Runner’s World 2013 Holiday Streak and run at least 1 mile per day from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s. Will you win anything? No. Will it be awesome? Yes. I am going to go streaking myself!

5. Enjoy a Post-Run Warm-Up
Have hot cocoa or tea ready to heat up when you get back. Or, hop in a warm bath or shower to relax & de-stinkify. You might not want to get out.

6. Remember: Cold > Hot
When you think it’s too cold out to run, think of all the days you had to run in the sun, in 90 degree (or more) heat, and ridiculous humidity. Cold is oh-so-much better to run in than the heat.
111213_miss-hating-the-summer-heat-seasonal-ecards-someecards

7. Try a New Workout
Okay, so you’re not going to get outside. It’s just not gonna happen. Take these few months to try new workout classes or pick up some cross-training. Sign up for a spin class, yoga, Pilates, TRX, CrossFit, bootcamp—the possibilities are endless. Don’t think you’ll even want to leave your home? I like to hibernate, too. Get P90X or other fitness DVDs to do in front of your own TV, or find workouts online to do at home, no equipment required.

8. You’ll Be a Bad Ass
If you continue to run throughout the winter, even in snow and below-freezing temperatures, you’re kind of like the Super Hero of runners. Everyone wants to do it, but only a select few will really stick with it. You, my friend, will be a Bad Ass.* And as such, you’ll feel a little lighter, a little faster, and a lot more awesome come springtime.

*To non-runners, you will be a Crazy Ass. Proceed with caution.

What are your tips for staying motivated during the winter months?
Do you find it harder to get outside and run, or it’s just like any other time of year for you?