On five years of running

Sometime this month (gosh, for once I don’t remember the exact date), it will be five years since I started Couch to 5K, Week One, Day One. 60 seconds of jogging. One entire minute. I thought, more than once during that first 20 minutes, that I was going to die. 

I did not. 

My husband thought running would be like a lot of my other hobbies over the years: a passing fad, one I’d get sick of in a year. 

I did not. 

Five years and thousands of miles later, I can say: running changed my life. 

I’ve run (I don’t remember how many) 5Ks, three 10Ks, seven half marathons, and two marathons. 

I’ve run in two countries and twelve US states. 

I’ve run with friends and acquaintances and strangers-that-became-friends. 

I started this little thing called #sqlrun, and now runners at SQL events get together and run – sometimes in the morning, sometimes at 3:00 in the morning. 

I’ve inspired other people to start running, or move from a 5K to a 10K, or tackle their first half marathon. 

I’ve learned that injury can set me back a few days or a week, but even a sprained ankle isn’t a reason to give up. 

But mostly, I’ve learned about setting goals and achieving them. From running my first marathon to setting the PR I wanted in a half, it’s about perseverance and discipline and not giving up. And that has translated into so many other things in my life. 

So here’s to another 5 or 25 or even 50 years of running. Yes, I want to be that bad-ass grandma running races at the age of 80. 

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Four years

Four years ago today, I woke up knowing, for the first time, that I would never, ever, ever again hold or take a drag of a cigarette. 

1,461 days later, I’ve held fast. 

It’s hard to believe that I used to be the girl chain smoking in her car. That I’d go through a pack or so on a Saturday night while drinking a few beers around a campfire. That I would ruin hiking by stopping for a smoke break. 

Never again. 

I remember the one day about two years ago when I was driving home from work and had the worst craving in a long time. I stopped at the grocery store and sat in my car, bawling, because I thought I couldn’t do it. I thought I’d curl up and die without a cigarette that instant. I did not die. I stopped crying, went into the grocery store for dinner supplies, and went on with my life. 

It’s been the best four years of ever. 

I have two friends that just quit this week. Chris and Ted, if you’re reading this: you can do it. Soon you’ll be celebrating a month, and a year, and four years, like I am. 

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Race recap: Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon 2014

Bucket list race: the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon. Why? The finish line. But we’ll get to that.

I was stoked for this weekend because one of my best friends was coming to town to run with me. SQUEEE! Erin and I have run races together in Portland and San Francisco (and run together in many other places), but it was nice to be closer to home. (And Erin, if you’re reading this, I’ll go to Ohio next year – just pick a race!)

Saturday afternoon we made the drive to Green Bay, checked into our hotel – half a block from Lambeau Field – and walked to the stadium to get our packets and t-shirts and check out the expo. That was packed. We grabbed dinner at a little Italian place – Angelina’s – which was perfect, and headed to bed early.

One of the nicest things about this race was an 8:00 am start time for the half marathon. No rushing in the morning! Getting to the race by walking only a block was also nice.

Cellcom start

ready to rock it!

Erin and I had a plan to run together the whole way, no time goal, just finish and have fun. The gun went off promptly at 8:00 and off we went.

About a mile and a half in, what did I do? Twisted my left ankle – you know, the one I sprained two months before this. I had to stop to walk for a minute, and I knew that was going to slow me down the entire race (it did). So did the sun and warmth. It’s hard to go from running in 40º to 70º in two weeks, but welcome to Wisconsin.

The rest of the race was great. The course had a few hills, but nothing like Door County. They would have been easier without a bad ankle. The people of Green Bay are awesome spectators – so many of them sat out in their driveways, cheering, holding signs, playing music – I can’t remember even a quarter mile stretch without spectators! The aid stations were also fantastic. Water and Gatorade every mile and a half. Fruit at 6 and 9. Best of all: freezie pops at mile 8.

I was really flagging about mile 10. Erin kept me going. She’s good. I’ll keep her.

The last mile is what this race is really about. You see Lambeau Field. Then you run along side it. Then, there’s a man yelling “Welcome to Lambeau Field! Single file through the tunnel please! Welcome to Lambeau Field!” And into the player’s tunnel you go. You know, where Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi and Paul Hornung and Brett Favre and Reggie White and Aaron Rodgers and Donald Driver have walked, week after week. You emerge onto the field and run a lap around it. The stadium is so BIG. There are a couple sections that spectators are allowed in; it was fun to give the kids high-fives. As I did that, I was looking up thinking, “How the heck to they make it up that wall for a Lambeau Leap? That’s HIGH.”

selfie in Lambeau

selfie in Lambeau

Then it’s back out the tunnel, and crossing the finish line.

That was fun – let’s do it again!

26.2 miles, two medals, two brats, and two beers later

26.2 miles, two medals, two brats, and two beers later

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How much does beauty cost?

I recently spotted this piece of bathroom decor:

adrienne

I got to thinking, “How much does beauty cost?” I made a list of my must-have beauty essentials.

  • Smiling: free
  • Self-confidence: free
  • Exercise: nearly free (cost of a good pair of workout shoes, and maybe some equipment for your favorite sport – $100)
  • Drinking lots of water: free (don’t buy bottled water – really – maybe invest $15 for a water bottle with filter)
  • Loving yourself: free
  • Respecting yourself: free
  • Saying please and thank you: free

At most, $115 for three-six months. That’s about $1.25 per day. We can do this, right, ladies?

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Race recap: Door County Half Marathon 2014

I love this race. I ran it for the first time last year. I loved it so much, I made plans to go back. This year, my sister-in-law and her husband also signed up to run the half – their first! – and my mother-in-law, other sister-in-law, and brother-in-law’s wife signed up to walk the 5K.

I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. There was a four-and-a-half week break from running because of the ankle sprain. Coming back from that had been hard – and I was running really slow. The race is hilly, for a Wisconsin course.

I didn’t care.

Goal: finish, upright and smiling.

After getting ready and catching a shuttle to the park, the group of us got our bags and bibs and shirts. We pinned, we peed, we checked gear. We took a lot of photos.

we all have our eyes open and are looking in the general direction of the camera. success!

we all have our eyes open and are looking in the general direction of the camera. success!

We headed to the start line. The brother-in-law headed up ahead of me and the sister-in-law. She found a pace group to run with and so did I. I put on my punk rock playlist and settled in for a couple hours of running.

The weather was glorious. It sprinkled just a bit in the first few miles, but I remember this long, flat stretch at mile 9 going into the trees with the sunshine on my back and the wind on my face, thinking, “This is perfect.”

I walked through every water station – and a couple other times. This course has hills, no mistake about it, and I wasn’t trained for that. There were bagpipers again – I stopped to take a photo with one. There was gorgeous scenery – I stopped to take photos of it.

The scenery. This race. It is so perfect. There is no traffic. There are trees, and cliffs, and views of Green Bay, and evergreens, and birches, and a cemetery, and campers. The spectators are loud. So are the birds.

Between miles 10 and 11, a group of spectators had a cooler and were handing out small styrofoam cups of beer. Score! Heck yes, I stopped to grabbed one and thanked them. I wasn’t going to set a land speed record anyway.

Around mile 11, my ankle started to hurt. I’d been afraid that would happen. I took the last couple of miles slow – why wouldn’t I, when I could enjoy the scenery of Nicolet Bay?

When I got close to the chute, I looked for the family, and there they all were, cheering me on. That was so cool. I love that they all come for this race. I crossed the finish with a big smile on my face. Goal: met. It was my slowest half marathon to date, and I didn’t care. A month before that, I wasn’t able to run, and that day, I was able to. That explains this smile.

finish

So, that’s done. My return to racing. The first race I finished since my marathon DNF last fall. It was a long time coming, and it was worth it.

It was also worth the pile of food from Casey’s Smokehouse & BBQ that night.

 

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Taco Soup

I found out today that my dear friend Erin has never heard of Taco Soup. Let me share! It doesn’t really have much to do with tacos – I’ve never put corn in a taco, and lettuce is missing. It’s still delish.

The other thing is that there are a hundred variations. Don’t like hominy? Add another can of corn. Try different spices. Try Fritos instead of tortilla chips.

2 pounds ground beef/turkey/venison
1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (14 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 ounces) yellow hominy, rinsed and drained (or corn)
1 can (14 ounces) corn, undrained
1 small can chopped black olives, drained (optional)
1 package chili mix (or taco mix – I even saw a variation with ranch dressing mix once)
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried parsley

shredded cheese
sour cream
tortilla chips (or Fritos)

Brown ground beef/turkey/venison. Drain. Mix ground beef, chili mix, chili powder and parsley in slow cooker until meat is coated. Add canned stuff. Cook on low 3 hours. Serve with cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.

YUM. I have to make this weekend, now.

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Failure

I feel like I am no longer a runner. I feel like a failure. 

I feel like it started with my DNF at the Fox Cities Marathon in September. 

I have run one 5K since then. No other races. 

Then this Winter To End All Winters hit, and I logged less than 50 miles a month. As I start beating myself up over that, it warms up outside…

And on a Friday morning, I go out for a run, trip, and sprain my ankle. Badly. I was on crutches for five days. Three weeks later, I’m still not cleared to run. I missed my first 5K of the year. I won’t be able to run my first half marathon next weekend. 

I’m barely exercising. Yoga a couple days a week, but evening classes are hard to fit in my schedule. Spin is OK, but I can’t stand, and multiple 5:00 am wake-ups a week while it’s still dark outside aren’t happening. (And no, I don’t swim. I can not-drown, but I’m not getting in an Olympic lap pool and making an ass of myself, thanks.) 

So I am frustrated and eating my feelings and grumpy and cranky. I know I’m whining. I need to be patient, let my body heal, try to find other things to do, remember that it’s better to not run for a month and be able to run for the rest of my life, all that shit. 

Don’t care. 

I suck as a runner for the last six months. 

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