15 Things for 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!   We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. This year we came up with the 15 things about 2015. Mostly happy and fun, some sad and a lot is running relate which has pretty much taken over our life!
Love, Eric & Kim
15 Things for 2015
1 – Half Marathon:  In November we traveled to Tulsa, OK for the Williams Route 66 Half Marathon. It had the name Williams in it so we had to run it. Eric's brother Phil joined us and ran the full marathon. It was an amazing experience. We can't wait for the next half marathon on December 27th (yep, Kim's birthday) in sunny California. There was also one baptism, our newest Godchild, Carmen Helen Stayer.
2 – Funerals attended: 2015 started out on a sad note with the passing of Eric’s brother, Dan and just before Easter, Eric’s Grandma Kate passed away.
3 – Weddings attended:  Kim's niece Danielle to Bradley on ultimate pi day (3.14.15). Kim was one of the attendants. It was a great time! Also, Kim's cousin Paula to Tom and Kim's college roommate Angela to John.
4 – Graduations attended:  Eric’s nieces:  Juliette in Papillion, NE; Katelynn in Eugene, OR; Judy in Rapid City, SD. Additionally, Eric finally finished his Master's Degree and graduated in October!!
5 – Races at random distances:  Including 2 relays, an 8K, and 2 15Ks: the Hot Chocolate 15K in Minneapolis and Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago. The Hot Chocolate 15K series is really great. They give awesome medals and finisher jackets as well as chocolate fondue with food for dipping at the finish. Kim runs for chocolate!
6 – Countries Visited:  In June we traveled to Iceland (layover but we actually went outside), United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Germany, and Netherlands with Juliette and Katelynn. We had 4 days in London before taking the Eurostar to Brussels to visit Eric's cousin Elizabeth and her husband, Jim. Elizabeth took us all around the countryside of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. And she introduced us to the BEST BELGIUM WAFFLES EVER! It was an awesome trip.
7 – 10K Races:  Valleyfair Run & Ride Rt. 76 10K, Summer Breeze 10K (in London!), Women Rock 10K (Kim)/Chili 10K (Eric), Brooksie Way 10K (in Michigan), TC 10K, Mankato 10K, and Marine Corp 10K (started by the U.S. Capitol building and ended in Arlington National Cemetery). Eric’s brother Chris ran the 10K with us and Eric’s brothers Phil and Byron and sister-in-law Paula ran the marathon.
8 – Eden Prairie Community Band Concerts:  Kim still plays trombone with the Eden Prairie Community Band.
9 – High School Varsity Soccer Games:  Eric refereed a lot of games during 2015. This fall he refereed 9 varsity high school games. He also refereed 13 adult/youth games during the summer.
10 – Different states/countries raced:  Virginia, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Wisconsin, & United Kingdom
11 – Days off/worked during June:  Kim jokingly said she only worked 5 days in June. Well that wasn't quite true. She worked 11. Eric unfortunately had to work one extra day.
12 – Months in a year:  We have had at least one race a month in 2015. Actually we are going on 26 months in a row with at least one race. We have registered for a race every month through July 2016!
13 – Twins Games:  This was a low attendance year for us. Twins had a lot of games in June and as stated above, we weren't around much in June. We got to one Twins away game this year in Detroit.
14 – 5k Races:  Ok so that is a lie it is actually 18 but we couldn't come up with anything for number 14. We are not going to list them all as you probably don't care.
15 – States/DC visited:  So this list obviously includes the locations listed above for race locations. We traveled the US a lot in 2015 and the states visited include Arizona (Kim)/Colorado (Eric), Nevada, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Maryland, Virginia, DC & Oklahoma.

La Jolla Beach Sunset

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

After running the half marathon, we jumped into the hotel hot tub. It was outside so it was bit cold but the water was HOT it felt great. The pool area was very nice and had a lot of these Bird of Paradise flowers:

We took quick showers and grab some food. After eating I was exhausted and took a nap. We agreed that we would go mini golf at 3pm. So I my sore butt out of bed and we headed to play mini golf. This was our ride for the weekend:

We really didn't want the convertible but after waiting 45 minutes for our bags at LAX, 20 minutes for a shuttle bus to the car rental place and 2 hours(!!)  (only to be told our car wasn't ready and didn't know when it will be ready) we settled for this. It cost us $60 more but I wanted out of LA!

We finished the evening at La Jolla Beach for the sunset. It was amazing. 

Cabrillo National Monument

We had some time on Saturday before the half marathon to tour San Diego. Eric and I have done San Diego quite a bit so there wasn’t much we had to see. Eric, however, made it clear he hasn’t been to SeaWorld. So I guess we have to go back for that. Anyway, we headed to Cabrillo National Monument. To be honest I really didn’t know much about this place. It has always been on my to-do list but I had never managed to get over to it. Boy, we were missing out! 

The first stop was the top of the hill with great views of the San Diego Skyline. It is so nice! We saw the monument to Cabrillo himself. In 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped into history as the first European to set foot on what is now the West Coast of the United States. There was also a light house: 

Next we travelled down to the tidal pools. Parking was a nightmare down there. Eric dumped me off and eventually found a parking spot. We saw some sea creatures and some beautiful landscapes:

More pictures at Cabrillo National Monument

San Diego Holiday Half Marathon

Monday, December 28, 2015

#2 was harder but also easier. It wasn’t as emotional as the first one but still I felt accomplished.

This race was smaller than Tulsa. The start was literally 100 feet from our hotel room. I woke up 2 hours beforehand, not by choice. But I was grateful to clean the system before the race. The last thing I want to do is use a port-a-potty during a race. I had my half bagel with Nutella and a bit of a bad banana. My nerves were just as bad as the last race. I know this race was mostly downhill but the day before we drove up the one big uphill and that made my nerves a bit rattled.

The Start
We started in waves. We were in the 3rd and last wave. There wasn’t much fanfare at the start. We ran down a small hill, turned the corner and ran up a small hill. They advertise this race as a potential PR as there is over 700 foot elevation drop and only one real hill. Well that hill was quite the hill. It started just after the half mile mark and topped out at just over a half a mile later. The climb was 125 feet.  Mile 1 was during the hill and I finished at 12:00. Considering the hill, I was surprised that I was that fast. I was relieved to get to the top and start the downhill sprint. Even though I walked up a lot of the hill, my mile 2 split was only 10 seconds slower than the first at 12:10. We had our first water stop at mile 2. It was a welcome stop. I ate some sport beans and drank the water and made the turn to get on the running path. The first 2 miles were on a rough road. It was around this time we saw the first causality…a girl puking. The start of mile 3 had another hill. This hill was only about 50 feet but considering I was thinking it was downhill from the high point, that was a bit deflating. Haha! Mile 3 came in at 12:38. A little slow but mile 4 made up for that!

The Middle
Mile 4 was fast. It was almost entirely downhill. We were literally flying down the hill. I should have held back a bit but I didn’t.  Our pace during the mile at one point was under 10:30 but I slowed a bit at the end and came in at 11:19. Mile 5 had some rolling hills and we had another water stop with more beans.  It wasn’t that exciting of a mile. Mile 6 was entirely downhill however the pitch was very slight. The pace came in at 12:11. My 10K split was close to my Twin Cities 10K race time which was really good. Mile 7 and 8 were generally downhill with a few rollers here and there. I was very consistent as both miles came in at 13:20. A little slower than I would like but oh well. Eric got me through mile 9 at a respectable time of 12:58. This stretch was by a residential area. It was very quiet. I was starting to fade and knew that I couldn’t keep up with Eric’s pace. After the water stop at mile 9.3, Eric left me. I pulled out the M&Ms and ate half the bag while drinking the water. It was a welcome relief as I was hungry.

The End
As expected, mile 10 was slow, my slowest. From this point to the finish, there were no big downhills,  just rolling hills. I used mile 10 as a recovery. I walked more to stretch out the shins which were mad at me after all those steep downhills. I was also having hip pain. I don’t know what that was about. I’ve never experienced that before. Oh and lets not forget the 3 rolled ankles. I was beat up! When I saw my pace was starting to plummet, I told myself that I couldn’t let my pace go over 13:00 if I wanted to finish faster than Tulsa. So I did a lot more run/walk segments during miles 11 and 12. I would walk for a bit and when my average pace get close to 13 minutes I would start running again. This went on and on for two miles. In the middle of that was the last water stop. I finished off my M&Ms. I was happy to have them. Mile 11 and 12 were close in time at 14:10 and 14:09. After a slow mile 10, it was nice to be a bit faster. Once I got done with mile 12 I knew that I was going to PR this race unless something terrible happened. I knew that I had to keep my pace under 13:10 to be faster than Tulsa. I continued to do the run/walk thing but this time I allowed my pace to go a bit over 13:05. I finished at 2:52:31, a whole 2 and half minutes faster than Tulsa. 

I was very excited to get to the finish. It had warmed up a lot and I was hot. The food at the finish area wasn’t as great as Tulsa. A lot of stuff was already out. The bananas were green and they ran out of water. We stood in a long line for the shuttle back to the hotel. It was a successfully race. A great birthday present!

Reindeer Run 5K

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It has been a busy week that I forgot about the Reindeer Run 5K race report. Hopefully I remember how it went!

This is the 3rd time we have run this race and this year was warm for a change!  The first year was 5 below and snow and ice. Last year it was like 18 degrees but windy and icy. This year was perfect, 36 degrees with a light wind and no ice! I was very happy. Sadly I couldn’t match last year’s PR. I haven’t run that fast in a long time. But I did run it a second faster than the last race at Lake Harriet, the Terror Trot on Halloween. Whoopy!

Nothing really stands out about this race. I ran up all the hills in the first 2 miles. I walked a bit during Mile 3. My mile splits were very consistent at 11:4811:52 & 11:45. All under 12 minutes, that is considered good…lately. My sprint to the finish was an 8:07 pace which is respectable.  It wasn’t my best run but it wasn’t horrible. I would say it was consistent. Consistent is good, right? 

Rededication of Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

On Sunday was the Rededication Mass of Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church. The La Crosse Diocese Bishop was on hand. Also Monsignor Kunz, Monsignor Malnar and other priests special to SSPP. 

The church was closed in July so they could repaint. It hasn't been painted in over 30 years. I actually don't think it has been repainted before in my life time so this is a big deal. It is truly amazing inside. I wish it looked like this when Eric and I got married 12 years ago. In addition to the painting they "cleaned" the stain glass windows. They are so bright now. 

Joslyn Castle Turkey Trot 5K

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

It wasn’t as cold as in the past two years but it was very windy and poured! It sucked. 

The number of participants was a lot smaller this year. I’m not sure if more had registered but didn’t show up because of the rain. I have a feeling that is the reason. Since we are veterans of this race we knew better than to show up super early. There was no reason to. There is plenty of parking and it is not a big race. We go there with 10 minutes to spare. New this year they had opened one of the buildings for us to hang out in beforehand to stay warm and dry.  That would have been nice previous years when it was so bitterly cold!

The course was exactly like last years. We started downhill, half way around the loop out of the park and up a hill. Considering I was coming off a half marathon just 4 days before I knew my time wouldn’t be the best. I was still kind of stiff from the half and the 6 hour car ride on Wednesday to Omaha didn’t help that. I walked a lot more of the first mile that I would have liked. But my legs didn’t really like that first uphill.  My first mile was 12:04. Not bad considering it had 111 foot climb. 

Just after mile one is a downhill that is nice but immediately is followed by another uphill. I kept pacing with an older guy wearing a turkey hat. I really wish I could get into dressing up but I don’t. Mile two was way slower than I would have liked but I walked a bit and I was struggling to take my cheap rain poncho off.  Right before the end of mile two was a water stop. I really didn’t need any but I have it engrained in to my head to always grab water. I also dumped my rain poncho off.  Mile two came in at 12:37. Ugh!

Mile three and the finish were pretty good. I like the last mile of this race because you get to make up for all those up hills in mile one and two. After the water stop there is a short, steep 137 foot downhill. It is awesome. I passed a ton of people. I love running down hills and this hill has been one of my favorites of all the races I have done…Mankato’s 10K hill is my favorite. I walked a bit up the hill before another downhill into the park. The cruel thing is the finish is up the hill we ran down in the beginning of the race. I didn’t sprint up this like last year but I still managed to run it even with wonky legs. Mile three was my fastest in a long time at 11:12. My overall time was 36:39. Not my fastest, obviously, but considering I ran a half marathon four days before and didn’t get a run in in between, I think I did pretty good. 

I didn’t talk much about the rain but it was there the whole race and sometimes it was coming down pretty hard. I’m glad I wore my new “Tulsa Runner” hat. It made a huge difference. Eric and I headed to Starbucks for some warm refreshments and a couple donuts from Hy-Vee. It was so nice to get back to Bonnie’s house and take a long hot shower. 

November 2015 Recap

Monday, November 30, 2015

Runs: 15
Walks: 12
Miles: 80
Races: 3 (Joslyn Castle Turkey Trot 5K, Hot Chocolate Chicago 15K, Williams Route 66 Half Marathon)
Outdoors: 16
Indoors: 11 Longest: 13.1 miles
Average Running Pace: 12:48

November was a great month!  I ran the most miles ever (80), I finished a half marathon (a HUGE accomplishment!) and even though my pace fell off I was proud that I kept it under 13:00 (especially considering all the longer races and longer training runs). I averaged almost 5 miles per run. When I increase my mileage per run, my pace slows down.

There are 2 races in December. The Reindeer Run 5K on December 12th and the San Diego Holiday ½ marathon on my birthday (December 27th).

Williams Route 66 Half Marathon

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I did it! I can’t believe it! I survived!

The morning started off cold as it was 36 degrees and breezy. I wore my capri pants, a tank, a long sleeve shirt and a throw away hoodie. I know the day was going to get warmer so I planned ahead. After roasting in my long sleeve in Chicago, I made sure to have a tank on just in case. I was so glad I did! I had my typically pre-race breakfast of toast and Nutella. I made sure to keep drinking water to hydrate and grabbed a banana for the road. Phil, Eric and I made the short trek to downtown Tulsa for the start of the race. We parked near the finish so we had a bit of a walk to the start. We made a bee line to the bag check and said good bye to Phil at Corral B and got into our Corral…D. Afterwards Eric and I realized we should have been in Corral C but oh well.

The Start
Since we were in Corral D we were stuck with a lot of walkers. No big deal. I’m happy they are getting out there and doing the race. But it was a pain in the butt to weave around them. This race caters to walkers with their generous time limit so it was expected.  Amazingly I kept my sweatshirt on for the first mile. I was still a little chilled so I kept it on. Mile 1 was mostly downhill so I didn’t start the walk breaks until after mile 1. I had a lot of adrenaline which helped.  The first mile felt great at 12:17.

The beginning of mile 2 had a hill…one of many on this hilly course. Who knew Tulsa was so hilly? During mile 2 was the first water stop. I ate some beans and took some water. The first water stop was a pain in the butt because there were so many people. And we were being funneled down a narrow street. I had no choice but to walk as there was nowhere for me to run! My toe pain started early on this race and I was in a lot of pain after that water stop. It took a while for my toes to stop hurting. Mile 2 finished with a nice downhill which helped my time but I’m still disappointed that it was over 13 minutes!

Mile 3 surprises me. During mile 3 we had a long steep climb to the highest point on the course.  But once we got to the top it was nice downhill so I guess that is where the speed came from.  We also ran in some very nice neighborhoods with amazing houses and finished on the campus of Cascia Hall School a Catholic Augustinian, college preparatory school.  There were 7 speed bumps we had to run over and the cheerleaders/dance team made sure that we knew where each one was located. It was interesting and their drum line was out there playing too. That was nice. After we left the school was the second water stop. This one wasn’t as crazy as the first one…thank GOD! Mile 3 came in at a surprising 12:29. I was a bit off the pace I was hoping for at this point but that was ok.

During Mile 4 a family had oranges and banana pieces for us. I was so excited to see a banana. It was really only 2 bites but it was heaven. I thanked them as I continued on my way. Mile 4 was also a gradual uphill almost the whole way but it was so slight that you really didn’t notice it other than it sucked the wind out of you.  This area we ran by some nice houses again. Actually we ran by nice houses for the majority of the first 6 miles.  Mile 4 came in a bit slower than mile 3 at 12:51. My overall pace was almost 51 minutes which was a minute behind my desired time at mile 4 but again that was ok.
The Middle
The middle section was very flat as I will describe below. Mile 5 ran through a park and there were huge lines of people waiting to use a “real” bathroom. Surprisingly I didn’t need that during the race. Again thank GOD! Somewhere during mile 5 a house on the route was handing out shots. Not something I’d necessarily want but a lot of people were grabbing them. Mile 5 pace was close to my mile 1 time at 12:20. Nothing really stands out as to why I got faster. Maybe it was the beans…or the banana?  My overall pace after mile 5 was 1:03.19. That was only 35 seconds behind where I thought I’d be.  Yay!

I really don’t remember much about mile 6. It was flat and somehow was my fastest mile at 12:09. Woo Hoo! The faster pace put me at 1:15:28 for an overall pace which was 17 seconds faster than I thought it would be. That made me happy to get some time in the bank!

Mile 7 was long, straight and flat. Again nothing really stands about that mile besides I stripped down to the tank top. I got hot! My pace for the mile was 12:41 and my overall was 1:28.09, over a minute faster than I predicted. I really didn’t know what to expect after mile 6 so I was very conservative in my estimate.

During mile 8 we reached the southernmost part of the route along a busy street with lots of businesses. There was another water stop half way between mile 7 and 8, right before we turned onto this busy street. There was another beer stop by one of the running stores on this street. No thanks! It was also fairly flat. And about half way through we turned to Riverside Drive which was a welcome diversion from the busy street. As expected, this where I started to tank. I had predicted that I would run mile 8 in 13:45 and I wasn’t far off with 13:40.  My overall pace was 1:41:49 which was still almost a minute faster than predicted.

The End
I did surprisingly well on mile 9. Eric pushed me to beat my Chicago 15K time. I was about minute behind that but I had to run 4 more miles so I had to leave something in the bank! At the 9 mile marker was the “Mile 9 Block Party.” All the neighbors got together and made 5,000 Jell-O shots and all sorts of other things for runners. They had a large balloon banner over the road. It was really cool. It definitely stood out as a fun time. There was a water stop around here and that is when I cracked open my M&Ms. I promised myself I could eat them sometime after mile 8. They were the best things ever. I only ate half the pack and stuck the other half in my pocket for the mile 11 water stop. My pace got a little faster during this mile and I finished with a 13:20. My overall time was 1:55:09 which was a minute and a half faster than my predicted time. Awesome!

Mile 10 was new territory for me. I had never run more than 9.4 miles so this was strange for me. I knew that when I reached the end of mile 10 it was only a 5K to go. I knew that I could walk a 5K if I had too. But I kept going. I don’t remember much of this mile. It was residential but not the big fancy houses that we had earlier in the run. It had some hills but for the most part it was flat.  My pace fell off a lot from mile 9 but I expected that. I still did something that resembled a run. Haha! I told Eric that I had to start running only a quarter mile instead of the usual half. But he pushed me enough that I still managed to get in half miles splits. I extended my walking a bit to a minute and a half. My toe pain flared up again but I was not going to give up! Mile 10 was almost a minute slower than mile 9 at 14:10. My overall time was still doing well at 2:09:19 which was a minute and a half faster than my predicted time. Amazing!!

I love the Tulsa Police Department…at the beginning of mile 11 they had their own water stop for us. Even though we got water at Mile 9 I really need more as the M&Ms left my mouth a bit dry. Don’t get me wrong…I will make M&Ms my mile 9 treat in the future! I just have to make sure that I grab more water to wash them down. The police officers had oranges too. I’m not crazy about oranges so I passed but it was nice to have this unexpected water stop.  Right after that we had a nice long downhill to the Arkansas River. I also think the M&Ms helped as my mile 11 pace was 30 seconds faster than mile 10. Rock on!  I was back in the 13s at 13:40. My overall time was just under 1:23. Two minutes faster than I predicted!  I expected to totally tank by this point so a mile that was under 14 minutes really helped me get ahead of schedule. I knew at this point that I would definitely finish before 3 hours. It was a relief.

Mile 12 sucked. It was horrible. I hated the organizers for most of the mile.  We started running up to the bridge. We had to run across the bridge for a bit and turn around. When we got about half way there was the final water stop. I finished off my M&Ms and took a couple waters for the road. As I could see ahead of me was a big long uphill. During mile 12?!?! I had looked at the course and elevation map beforehand so I knew it was coming. But it didn’t prepare me. It was a 200 foot climb and most of that was during the quarter of a mile after the water stop. Even Eric said, “We are walking to the top.” He said later he could have run up it but he didn’t want to leave me yet and he didn’t want to burn out his legs for the last mile. If you haven’t noticed…we didn’t fight at all during this run. There were no pace arguments…it is weird. Anyways we walked up the damn hill and my time for mile 12 was 15:29. A minute slower than I expected but thanks to an awesome mile 11 I had more than enough time to sacrifice. Overall pace was 2:38:28. I still had a minute in the bank and more importantly, I had over 21 minutes to finish the last 1.1 miles. Even though the hill took a lot out of me, I was thrilled that my goal of 2 hour, 59 minutes and 59 seconds was going to be crushed!

The Last 1.1 & Finish
We got the end of mile 12 and Eric left me. I was surprised he stuck with me that long. I told him back at mile 10 that he could leave me but he said no. The last mile was mostly flat except for a long dip down and up. I told him I was fine and that I had over 21 minutes to play with. The last thing he said as he sprinted away was “beat 3 hours!” At about the half mile mark we crested they long climb from the bottom of the hill. We didn’t actually walk up to the top of the hill as I said during mile 11, we really just walked to end of mile 12 which was a short flat section.  As soon as Eric left me, we had more hills to climb.

My last mile was a mess. I had a lot of emotions going on and right around this time the half marathoners and the marathoners were split into two separate lanes. Near the end of mile 13, we continued straight to the finish while the marathoners took a right and did 13 more miles. Yikes!

During this mile, I ran into a new friend. I have no idea what her name was but we talked about how we were grateful to be almost finished and how we pitied the marathoners and things like that. A marathoner yelled at us from the other lane and said that we were “incredible” and “finish strong” and “you got this” and a whole lot of other encouraging words. It made me feel pretty amazing. We, of course, wished her luck on the next 13 mile loop.

We came to the dip and I “sprinted” down, slapping the hands of volunteers who had the hands out wanting to be slapped. Everybody in front of me avoided them so I did a quick cut over and slapped them. I got to the bottom of the dip and walked up the other side. It was at this point we saw the 26 mile sign so I knew it was less than a quarter mile to go. We turned the corner and I saw the amazing finish line. I was surprised that most of the people I was around were not running. I thought to myself this is the finish line, you always run towards the finish line. So I left them in my dust as I “sprinted” to the finish line. Just before the finish line they had the mat and photographers taking our pictures. I haven’t seen the picture but I had the biggest grin and gave thumbs up. I looked at my watch and saw that I was very close to 2:55. I wanted to be faster than that so I gave what little I had left and hit the finish line…2:54:53. I did it! I was over 5 minutes faster than I hoped. I was so excited.

They put the medal on me and wrapped me in that aluminum thing and I made my way through the finisher chute. I was so happy, it was an incredible experience. I thought to myself the entire time I was in the finisher chute I can’t wait to do this again.

I found Eric and we filled up on water and bananas and granola bars and whatever else I could find.  We got our race time printed off and for the first time ever I had my medal engraved. I just had to!

I have done so many races of varying distances but I have never felt like this before. I now understand why people say this is addictive. It is! I’m still in shock that my legs carried my fat ass for over 13 miles. (I didn’t ride bike more than 13 miles at one time this summer!)  I can’t wait for the next one in San Diego in 32 days.



Why Tulsa?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

So why did I pick Tulsa for my first half? Good question. Actually my first half was supposed to be in San Diego on my birthday this year. I had been training for a December half marathon. So what happen?

Well funny story...
It all started months ago when I found the Williams Route 66 Marathon. See this half marathon/marathon is technically called that. I told my sister-in-law DJ that we had to run this marathon in the future because it has our name in it and everything. And the time limit is 7.5 hours. So we said that in the future we would do this race.

A Month Ago...
So a month ago we were running the MCM 10K in Washington, D.C. And Eric's brother Phil was running the full marathon. We had dinner together the night before and I mentioned to Phil about our plan. His response was "Tulsa, who wants to run in Oklahoma? It is flat and windy." So I thought to myself poo poo you Phil.

2 days later...
So 2 days later I get a message from Phil, "Hey the Williams Route 66 marathon is in three weeks. I think we should all run it! It has our name and everything. How did we not know about this one???" So after some quick planning here we are. In 24 hours I will be (hopefully) at mile 10 on my way to finishing my first half marathon. Fingers crossed.

Thoughts before my 1st Half Marathon

Friday, November 20, 2015

Well here it is…in 6 hours and 40 minutes I fly to Tulsa and in 42 hours and 52 minutes I’ll be undertaking my first ever Half Marathon. To say I’m nervous is an understatement. I mean it is 13.1 freaking miles. I’ve never ran that far. I have done over 9 miles a few times but this is way more than I have ever run before. I keep reminding myself it is only 4 more miles ….I can walk 4 miles.

Can I do it?
Absolutely!  On the days that I have ran the 15Ks I usually had a long walk to start line and from the finish line so yes technically I have done 13 miles before. But 4 of those miles were not in a race setting. So it doesn’t really count. One thing is for sure, I have not had a DNF (did not finish) and I don’t want one this weekend!

Well I haven’t had much training with trying to fuel. I’ve been using Sports Beans (energy jelly beans from Jelly Belly). I’m not a big fan of jelly beans but I’d rather chew on them than those nasty gels. I also found what I think will be my secret fueling option….M&Ms. I know crazy. But during the Chicago 15K, around mile 7.5 they gave us M&Ms and they were the best thing in the world at that point and time. I was sick of my jelly beans and it was a welcome change from fruit punch flavor. So I need to figure out where to stash a pack of plain M&Ms.

Ultimate Goal?
Well obviously my first goal is to finish in the upright position. Secondly, I’d like to beat Phil to the finish line. (Eric’s brother, Phil, is running the full marathon, he averages 4 hours so I should beat him but nevertheless, it is my goal to beat Phil). My personal goal is under 3 hours. If it is 2:59:59 I will be thrilled. If it is over 3, I will still be thrilled! 

What’s the Plan?
My plan is simple. Try to not kill myself in the first 6 miles (Note to Eric…don’t go out too fast on me like you usually do!!). I’m hoping not to lose too much time on the later miles. I can run a consistent pace for about 6 miles after that I’m crap. So if I can keep the first 6 miles around 12:45 pace (which is close to my training pace) I should be able to finish it under 3. To do the math for you, after mile 6 I would have to average a 14:40 to make it across the finish line in less than 3 hours. That is practically a walk! If I keep thinking that it helps to calm my nerves. But to be honest I don’t want to walk 7 miles so I’ll be run more than that.  Also I hope that my argument with Eric doesn’t happen until Mile 11 or 12. I can’t have it happen during mile 6 like in Chicago.

So I looked up my bib number and I love it. 


So to most people it is just another number.  But to me it is a whole lot more. I like it because the 1+1+1+1=4. Awesome!  It is a palindrome (sequence of characters which reads the same backward or forward). And, as my niece Danielle informed me, it is a PRIME number. It must mean I’m primed to have good race. Haha. I have joke to take the edginess off!

Pray for me!  I need it.

Swirl, You don't like popcorn!

Hot Chocolate 15K - Chicago

Monday, November 9, 2015

We made a very quick trip to Chicago over the weekend for the Hot Chocolate 15K. Overall it was a great weekend.

The Expo
The Chicago Expo was HUGE!  It was like the MCM expo. There was a ton of stuff and a very small space…at least it felt small. It was also very confusing. Getting the bibs were easy, finding the goodie bag not so much. But I put the blame on the guy who gave us our bibs. He directed us the wrong way. Oh well…volunteers. Since we are Hot Chocolate Alums (2015 Hot Chocolate Minneapolis), we get a special embroidered jacket with the city’s logo. So when we run the 2016 Hot Chocolate Minneapolis we will get one with Minneapolis skyline on it. How cool is that?  I really like Ram Racing the group that runs these runs. They are very organized.

The Start
We were in Corral P. The corrals started with A and went through W. 5k and 15K runners were mixed together in the corral as the first 2.5 miles was the same for both races. There were over 23,000 people in the 5K and over 12,000 in the 15K. It was an insane amount of people! It took us over an hour to get across the start line!

It was a chilly morning at 37 degrees at start time. Eric and I went to Goodwill on Friday and bought some cheap sweatshirts to wear before the race started and then we ditched them along the road before we actually started. It is a common practice and it benefits the poor as the clothes are collected and donated to area shelters. (And based on our quick tour of the city there are a ton of homeless people. They are everywhere. I’m not used to that in Minneapolis.)

The horn sounds and we are off…9.4 miles here I come. I was nervous about it for some reason. I wasn’t this nervous before the TC 10K and 5K but I guess I compartmentalized the two races so I wasn’t as scared but this freaked me out a bit. I know I can cover the miles the question is how fast and how will I feel!?

The First 5K
The first 5K was horrible. Not time wise but just scenery and smell. They start us off north on Columbus Street or something, I don’t remember. Soon we enter a tunnel or underground street. This messed up my Garmin and Eric’s Nike watch. My watch kept going but its pacing was screwy. Eric’s just stopped at .37 and stayed there for 4 miles. Ha! So anyways these “tunnels” were dark, dingy and smelled of sewer gas. It was horrible. We were “under cover” for the first couple miles and when we popped out they made us running under the “L” train elevated platforms. Not cool Chicago! I was so relieved when we eventually got to Michigan Ave and could be in the sun and away from the smell. Just before mile 3 the 5K’s turned left and we kept going for another 3 miles down Michigan Ave. There wasn’t much spectator support on this course and after the 5K turned the runners thinned out a lot. Don’t get me wrong, there were still a lot of runners but we weren’t on top of each other. My 5K time was 38:12 which seems a bit slow, I had 37 something. But whatever!

The Middle 5K
For miles 4 and 5 we continued down boring Michigan Ave. Like I said, there were no spectators so it was a lonely 2 miles. There was a water stop after mile 4. I stopped for some water and I had the most tremendous pain my left toes. This isn’t a new problem. My toes on my left foot always hurt at some point when I run. I blame my horrible toes on the Stai family. Anyways my left toes always hurt but I usually can walk or run through the pain. But the pain was the worst I ever felt, I actually started crying. I really wish I could figure out why they hurt so much. Well I walked a bit and then started running and then the pain just magically goes away. I don’t get it. I blame the toes for my slower mile 5. Mile 6 is a very annoying mile. It was an out and back. We ran a half a mile up turned around and ran a half mile back. It was in this area Eric and I had our usually pace fight. He said “that mile was 13 minutes” (which it wasn’t, it was 12:22). I told him “I don’t care!” My 10K time was 1:16:35 which was almost exactly what my watch said. It was very even with the 5K time too. Not my best (a minute off of TC 10K) but not horrible either.

The Last 5K
Right past the 10K marker, the Olivet Baptist Church choir was sing songs of praise for us. Not bad, what you would expect from a Baptist choir upbeat with lots of dancing. That was about it for crowd support. Mile 7 was where things fell apart for me. I was having a hard time running and wanted to just walk. I know that is bad. I still managed to get the mile in at around 13 minutes. During mile 8 we had to run another tunnel. I was exhausted by this point and walked the tunnel. It was just short of a quarter mile and surprisingly Eric walked the entire tunnel with me and never said anything about not running. We decided the best thing for him was to leave me and sprint to the finish. I’ll get there when I get there. I told him to leave me earlier but he made sure I got through the tunnel before taking off. I was so relieved when he left. I could walk if I wanted to without the guilt. I started running quarter mile intervals and walking 30 seconds afterwards. I think that was the only way I was going to make it for mile 8 and 9.  Shortly after we got out of the tunnel there was a marching band from Kelley high school. I love a good marching band! They pepped me up! The last few miles were crazy we did a lot of zig-zagging in parks and such. I don’t really know where all we ran. I know that we ran past Soldiers’ Field (which Eric didn’t even realize). There some mean hills during mile 9. This course is flat, except for mile 9. Bastards! I knew I wasn’t going to PR but I still wanted to finish in less than 2 hours. I sprinted (the best I could) the last 0.4 miles to the finish banner. I was so happy to see it. My time was 1:59.12. I beat 2 hours!!

The Chocolate

After finishing and getting our medal we made the slow walk to the chocolate. It was quite a walk from the finish line. We picked up our bag and headed for the chocolate. From the finish line to the chocolate line was almost a mile! I was feeling pretty good and not in too much pain. I was starving when we got the chocolate goodies. I ate the banana dipped in chocolate right away and gulped my hot chocolate down. We didn’t spend too much time in the finisher area. After we got our chocolate we headed back to the hotel. Our hotel was two blocks away from the finisher area so that was really nice. We got to the room and I ate some more of the delicious chocolate. We went into the hot tub for a bit and showered before checking out of the hotel. Overall a great experience (besides the toe problem).

The Pictures, Splits and Maps