2011 in Review

Hey, remember me? It’s Amy. I haven’t been blogging. Or Tweeting. Or Facebooking. Or doing much of anything. Besides working and working out.

Let’s take a look back at 2011 (and we’ll throw in the ol’ 28 before 29 wrap up as well. Because clearly, I need to consolidate). Here are some highlights of 2011. Read ’em and weep.

Extreme Races

2011 marked the second year in my quest to reclaim my life. And as such, I decided to be stupid and put my life in danger. I lost an hour of my life on a ski hill in 90 degree July heat Dancing With Dirt. I RAN THROUGH FIRE at the Warrior Dash. And I would do it all again. And I probably will.

RAGNARRRRRR

File this under “Other crazy running shit I did this year.” Ragnar was one of the craziest, most amazing experiences of my life. And I got to do it with my friends – and with my dad as a driver. It was BALLER. Epic. Etcetera and so forth.

Family Time

2011 was hard for me. My baby sister (and roommate) moved to Minnesota. I missed her something fierce. I still do. But I made the most of our time together this year, and have spent more time with my parents and brother as well. Of course, part of that is due to my living with my parents (just a few more months), but we are trying to have a family dinner/game night once a month. My family loves board games. It’s hard not to have Emily here, but I’m happy knowing she’s happy with her boyfriend. We spent the holidays with them and I look forward to many more special times with them and the rest of the family.

Running

While I didn’t accomplish my goal of running a marathon this year, I did run 3 half marathons, a handful of 5ks, a 10k and two relays. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. I PR’d at the St. Louis Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon and the Run Into the New Year 5k. I ran a half marathon in a friggin’ tutu (see above). I finished up the year with 633 miles (some walking and biking, but mostly running). I have some big goals for 2012. But more on that later.

Cheerleading

Once again, I was able to be an obnoxious amazing cheerleader for my friends. I’m pretty sure that if I could get paid to cheer for people at races, I would make a career switch. I had the most amazing time cheering for friends at races all year long. Half Marathons, Marathons, 50ks, 50 milers… I have some crazy friends and I look forward to much more cheering in the future. AND MORE MEGAPHONES.

Besties

I’ve been blessed with a great group of close friends. While we are all on different schedules, we try to get together as often as we can. We’ve had cookouts, game nights, fancy nights out, coffee dates, book clubs, slumber parties, races, road trips and quite honestly, more fun than people should be legally allowed to have. I could write a novel about these people (you know who you are)… I can honestly say I would be lost without these girls! #bestiesforever

Career Change

Three months ago, I started a new job. That’s right. I left the TV/News biz. I was ready for a change. I’ve worked in television news since 2003. I’ll be honest – it was wearing me down and I lost some of my passion for it. I also felt like I wasn’t going anywhere career-wise, so when a friend told me about an opportunity with Milwaukee Public Schools, I applied. Six months later, I was hired. (The process was exhausting!) I am now the Web Communications Specialist for MPS. It’s a new position for the district and I’m in charge of building, training and implementing new websites for the district’s 175 schools, along with managing the district’s social media presence along with numerous other “new” media tidbits. The new gig is hard work, but I’m loving the challenge. I feel like I’m right where I’m meant to be. Oh, and I HAVE MY VERY OWN OFFICE. WITH A DOOR. AND WINDOWS.

So, there’s that. A quick overview of 2011.

And let’s take a look at my 28 before 29… My latest recap was in October. You can read it here. Rather than rehash it all, I am going to condense it to the things I want to roll over into my 29 things to do before 30, rather than just the things I didn’t accomplish. My life has changed in the past year, and as such, my goals have changed. (29 before 30 list coming soon. Even though I turned 29 in November. Deal.)

  • Continue to work out, eat better, get healthy.
  • #2-3 are morphing into “Find and settle in to an amazing apartment.”
  • Run a marathon.
  • Get a tattoo (I made a pact with peeps to get one if I raised money for charity. I just have to get around to making the appointment!)
  • Write a book (or at least start).
  • Run 100 miles in a month. (While I accomplished 100 miles of activity in a month last year, this is still something I want to accomplish!)
  • De-Clutter (this is going to be a big theme for me in 2012).
  • Pay off debts (working on this, but I have a long ways to go).

I hope you had a great 2011. I’m looking forward to a fresh start in 2012.

Race Recap: Wisconsin Half Marathon

NOTE: I started writing this two days after the race but finally was able to finish writing it this week. Sue me.

Saturday morning, I completed my second half marathon with an official chip time of 3:33:45, an improvement of 15:54 overall or 1:18 per mile. Basically, I improved my time/pace by 14.4%! That’s pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. Now, granted, with a previous half marathon time of 3:49:39, there is much room for improvement, but I look forward to many more PR’s in my future!

Now that we have some of the technical stuff out of the way, let’s get to the report.

Friday night, I met up with some of my running besties, Annie, Rochelle, Krista and Tracey. We went down to Kenosha, stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Express, ate lots of cookies and candy and had a good ol’ fashioned sleepover. Never mind we’re between the ages of 28-33. We can still be kids whenever we want.

We got all our gear ready for the race, pinning ribbons with names of friends/loved ones to our gear.

LEFT: Orange ribbons for my Aunt Janice, Uncle Will and Grandma Kant. RIGHT: Pink ribbon for my friend and coworker, Anne, who is battling breast cancer.

Because I was unable to do the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon with the rest of my Team Challenge friends, this race was my “replacement” in honor of my loved ones who’ve battled (and are battling) Crohn’s and Colitis. So of course, I ran in honor of them on Saturday, hence the orange ribbons on my water bottle. I also ran in honor of my coworker, Anne, who is one kickass woman. She is fighting breast cancer, raising 3 precious kids and still coming in to work as she is able between treatments. Her humor and determination to kick this disease in the balls are nothing short of inspiring. The station I work for sponsored the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k Walk along the lakefront Saturday morning, and since I was not able to join my colleagues, I ran three of my 13.1 miles in honor of Anne and all the women fighting breast cancer.

Some of my Real Milwaukee coworkers, including Anne (right). If she isn't a BAMF, I don't know what is.

Ok, now that we’ve gotten all sappy, let’s get back to talking about me.

Even though I’ve been through this before, I was physically ill about this race. I put so much pressure on myself and was nauseous all morning (and actually, for the week leading up to the race).

Here’s my view before the race started. There were only signs up to a 12 minute pace group, so I lined up behind them. And laughed because there was no way in hell I was going to run a 12 minute pace.

Jodi, Rachel & Me

The night before the race I was dead-set on running the race alone, but it was nice to see some familiar faces (Jodi and Rachel) while waiting for the race to start. Just in case they wanted me to run with them, I warned before the gun went off that I was going to walk the first mile or so and then start my run/walking and that there was nothing against them, I just had a plan and I was sticking with it. We saw Karla shortly after starting the race and all walked together for the first 10-15 min. Then I told the girls I was gonna start my intervals and Jodi joined me.

Lake Michigan - about mile 2 or so

Jodi is faster than me so I remember repeatedly telling her she didn’t have to slow down – that she could take off whenever she wanted to and I wouldn’t be upset. But she said she didn’t mind because she didn’t really train the way she wanted to and said it would be better for her to stay with someone who had a plan (run 5min, walk 3). She said it would also keep her from going too fast at the start.

It only took a couple of miles for the field to really start to thin out. This is most evident to slow runners like myself. You don’t really have to fight for a spot on the road when you’re at the back of the pack.

Me, smiling at mile 3-ish.

Jodi and I began giving other runners nicknames. Don’t judge. I know you ALL do it too. There’s the weird breather, tutu girl, crazy hat lady, guy in jeans, etc. Well we had Shuffleupagus (the guy who was constantly shuffling his feet – for 7+ miles. The sound became worse than nails on a chalkboard. I wanted to punch him). There was cane lady, who we were dead set on passing early on (C’mon. Who wants to get beaten by a lady with a cane?). There was also das boot – the lady running with a stress fracture boot. INSANITY.

It was great to see familiar faces out on the course – Marty, Kelly, Laura, John, Marge, Becky, Courtney, Lisa and of course my parents! It was also pretty cool to see friends running back to the finish (much of the course was an out-and-back so you saw runners headed the other direction). I high-fived Matt, Tracey, Krista, Annie and Rochelle.  I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention someone, so please forgive me if I forgot to post your name).

Looking back, the middle of the race is a bit of a blur. I remember it getting overcast and a bit cooler. I remember drinking some gatorade that had obviously not been mixed properly (hello syrupy electrolytes) and playing leap frog with the same groups of people the entire race, thinking “My God, when are we going to hit a turnaround point?”

At some point, I told Jodi I was turning up my music to drown out shuffleupagus and to focus on my intervals. Seriously, this man made my blood boil. We took advantage of downhills to burst ahead.

We got to the turnaround point at Carthage College a few minutes before they started taking down the course and moving the runners/walkers to the sidewalks. I knew this was going to happen, but it was a little startling nonetheless. (Race directors said participants would be moved to sidewalks if they were slower than a 15 min pace).

Shortly after the turnaround point, I saw my parents in the distance. I’ll be honest. I kind of started crying when I saw them. I stopped and gave them each a huge hug.

 

Oh hi mom and dad – I seeeee you! If you look carefully, you can see shuffleupagus in the back. He’s wearing a blue shirt and black sweatpants.

Hiiiii mom! Hiiii dad! oh, and hiiiiii gullet!

The pictures above were taken around mile 8 or 9 I think. It was the right time in the race to get a little pick me up from my parents (also, the course didn’t have any spectators at this point).

I remember my dad trying to run ahead to get more pictures. I know I yelled at him, “Hey dad! I’m running a half marathon and you’re making me look bad! Stop it.” He replied, “I need to get a picture!”

Giggles. I love my dad.

Jodi and I trudged on. I started to fade (read: slow down) and we parted ways around mile 10.5. I never lost sight of Jodi but just couldn’t move my legs any faster than they were going.

As I ran into downtown Kenosha I saw my parents again!

Note the other participants and I maneuvering around pedestrians.

Me: Dad, stop. I look like shit. It's mile 11.

Just as I passed the mile 11 marker, I saw someone taking down the mile markers, cones, etc. By this point we were running/walking on the sidewalks of downtown Kenosha – me trying to get around people “Hello! I’m running a race here people!” Again, I expected us to get moved to the sidewalk. I didn’t expect the mile markers/guides to be taken away. Luckily, this didn’t affect me and to be honest with you, I was so focused on finishing I didn’t think about it.

The last 1.5-2 miles of this race are such a tease. You see the finish line but have to head south almost a mile before you can turn around and head to the finish… So you have to run past all the people who are almost done – who have those looks like “yes! almost there!” when you’re hitting the wall. It’s pretty NOT awesome.

I got to the final little turnaround and it started to hit me – I was almost done with my second half marathon. I could crawl the last mile and I’d still beat my previous time. I had this in the bag. Of course, that didn’t keep me from ignoring the pain, it just helped me to keep my mind off it.

With less than a quarter mile to go, I remember a marathoner whizzing past me as a spectator yelled at me, “Looking good! You got this!” I was clearly struggling and the marathon douchebag replied, “Oh please, this is easy.” I’m pretty sure that if someone was videotaping me at this point they would have seen my jaw hit the pavement. For one, she wasn’t talking to you. She was looking at me, the fat girl, clearly struggling through the last quarter mile of the race. Secondly, you’re an a-hole. Shut up. Even the woman was shocked by his douchebaggery.

As I approached the finish line and the final tenth of a mile, emotions overcame me. I saw my mom at the corner, cheering and waving. I started blowing kisses and I heard a group of people erupt ahead. It was my besties! One of the benefits of being a slow runner is that every single one of your friends has crossed the finish line waaaay before you. So they’re obligated to stand there and wait for you to finish. It’s a rule.

kisses!

high-fiving my besties! Note: Shuffleupagus beat me to the finish. Bastard with shuffling feet.
Throw your hands up!
Oh.Mah.Gawd. I’m done.
Oh wait! Garmin! Stop! Garmin!
Cue the tears
Yay! Cheese medal! And a banana! Note: I loathe bananas.

So there you have it. My race recap. Like a million years late. 😉

Splits: 16:16, 15:19, 16:10, 16:10, 15:16, 15:46, 15:51, 16:37, 16:26, 16:28, 16:46, 17:51, 16:51, 13:17 (pace for .15)

Make your own 5k adventure (and PR)

As you may know, The Run into the New Year 5k was supposed to be “Amy’s triumphant return to running.” Earlier this week, I feared it would be “Amy’s not-so-triumphant return to running.” In the end, it became “Amy’s really effed up return to running.”

My wonderful sister Emily K. said she would run this 5k with me, even though I told her she was free to go at her own pace and just find me at the end. She said she wanted to do this with me and that it didn’t matter how long it took, she’d be there with me the whole time. Yeah, I know. *tear*

Em & Me, pre race

We started off near the back of the pack and, well, we stayed there (hello, slow running FTW). My goal was to do intervals, but listen to my foot and lungs to determine how those intervals would be. We ran the first quarter mile in less than 3 min, which was pretty fast for me, especially for the start of a race where I didn’t know how my body would handle it. We did some running, then some walking, then some running… passed the 1 mi marker at just over 14 min, which is a great time for me – normally my run/walk pace is in the 16-17 range. My lungs were burning, my foot was starting to act up but Em kept pushing me on and encouraging me along the way.

My sister, looking too beautiful to be running. WTF

We turned the corner after going around the race track and were headed down the hill toward the start/finish line… and got very confused. The race was a 10k and a 5k and they had the first loop of the course going past the start/finish point around mile 1.2. The fast 10k-ers were coming around at this point and all the course marshalls seemed more focused on directing them than helping us. We asked someone at the water table where we were supposed to go and they blew us off.

No, YOU look crazy when you run.

It sucked because the people who were only running were far enough ahead we couldn’t see them and the walkers were far enough behind we didn’t want to wait for them to find out where to go so we just continued on south just like we did at the start of the race. We started to get worried that we missed a turn or something and I looked over and saw runners about a block away. So we cut across the street to figure out where in the hell we were. Realized we were about a third of a mile from the finish so we looped back with some other runners. Knowing full well that if we finished with this crowd, our time would be a sub-30 (more like a sub-25), we did the same quarter mile loop three times, cutting across the group of runners like a couple of fools. We saw some friends pass us who gave us looks like “how in the HELL did you pass me”… we laughed and said we’d explain later, as we took another walking break.

We got so confused it was laughable. Eventually we started to goof off and take silly pictures. We knew we would be close to the 5k mark, depending on what the last leg of the race was so after the 3rd li’l loop we headed to the finish. As we rounded the corner for the final straightaway, we made sure we were running so everyone would think we had ran the whole time (duh, we’re so smart)… and came down to the finish with a flurry. I heard some friends cheer and I’m sure they couldn’t figure out how we finished in 40 min. After we got the timing chips off our feet my friend Rochelle came and hugged us and congratulated us on an awesome time. I couldn’t stop laughing and shoved my garmin in her face… I said, “look look at the distance!” “2.62 mi? what happened?” And so we had this fun story to share with everyone as we found them post race. It was a Make-your-own 5k… complete with a choose-your-adventure option.

yay! we did it!

Afterwards we had beer and caught up with some friends.

Then we headed over to Paulie’s on Greenfield with a few people for post-race libations… Em and I had the nachos and quesadillas… and a lot of beer.

Photo: Kay

Then, we went home and decided we had to fit in the rest of the 5k we missed earlier… so we ran on a full stomach of beer and nachos a quarter mile from home and back. We had to stop to walk so many times because we thought we were gonna puke… but we did it, even sprinting the last .1 like we were sprinting to the finish line. Then I really almost puked.

Good times, great people. Happy freaking new year.

Splits: 14:10, 16:47*, 14:49 (.62), 14:32 (.48)

*this is where all the race confusion was, as evidenced by the time

Oh and PS: This was a PR for me, even with the disaster of a race!