Friday, April 26, 2013

Oshkosh Half Marathon Recap

Good morning, and happy Friday!

On Sunday, I ran the Oshkosh Half Marathon.  It's a great race that I try to run every year... beautiful course, great small-town feel, and horrific weather.  Seriously, the weather has been so bad in past years that it's become a bit of a legend among local runners.  Hail, sleet, rain, wind, blizzards... it's basically like the universe chooses this day every year to punish us for living in Wisconsin.

Photo: Wisconsin

The weather this year was a total surprise.  It was, dare I say.... pleasant.  It was in the forties, a little breezy, and overcast.  Perfection.

Rachel and I were originally planning to run it as a relay as part of a little bet we had with a couple of our runner friends.  Fueled by intense competitiveness, a little gender pride, and our love of beer, we put a bar tab on the line against our two runner dudes.

However, our need for mileage for marathon training overshadowed even our desire to get drunk for free, so we bowed out of the relay and planned to run the 13.1 together, in all of our hand-holding glory.

We feel pretty.. oh so pretty...
Rachel was gunning for a sub-2.. it's been awhile since she's gotten one, and she was ready.
We lined up at the start, sang the anthem, and took off.  The first two miles were difficult because we were forced to start in the front of the field, and were passed by literally hundreds of runners as we struggled to find our pace.
As a lot of you know, a 2:00 hour pace is 9:09, and I wanted to keep us in the 8:50s or lower nines to bank a little time in the event of a rough last few miles. 
Mile 1-3 - 9:10, 9:16, 9:31
When we glanced down at our Garmins after the first mile, we took it as a sign that this shit was going to happen.  Sub 2 baby.
But over the next two miles, we struggled to find a good pace, and I could tell Rachel was pushing a bit for so early in the race.
Mile 4 - 8:43
The fourth mile had us running on a beautiful trail, and we picked it up considerably.  Rachel always, always runs faster on a trail. I think she's secretly a fugitive and wants to escape in the woods.  I hadn't started doubting a sub-2 finish, but this mile helped bolster my confidence that it was doable for us. 
Miles 5-10 - 9:12, 9:02, 8:56, 8:54, 9:06, 9:06
We were finally falling into our groove in these miles.  The pace was faster, and I was doing the delicate dance in my head of talking enough to keep Rachel distracted and on pace, and not so much that she would reach over and punch me in the face.  By this point, our average was about 9:06/mile, so I knew we were going to be close. 
Mile 11 - 10:23
Oh Mile 11, you dirty, dirty whore. 
We were running in a residential area, with a pretty good headwind, when I heard from behind me:
Fuck.  Rachel had a look of pure pain on her face and was walking with her fingers digging into her side.  Crap crap crap.  We flirted with a little walk/run during this mile, but her sideache was so bad she could only keep running for a hundred yards or so at a time.  Every time she had to stop and walk, I could see the disappointment and frustration written all over her face. 
It's tough to watch someone work hard and suffer for 90 minutes only to have it all slip away. 
The 2:00 pace group passed us.  Crap.
Shortly before mile 12, Rachel started running, slowly.  I jogged with her, trying to peek at my Garmin out of the corner of my eye and working out the pace we would need for a sub 2.  It was close to Rachel's 5k PR pace, and it wasn't looking good.
Mile 12:  9:00
We started running faster, and faster.  There was no talking, only running, and we both knew we were still trying for sub-2, but to say something would have jinxed it (or landed me a black eye.)
Mile 13:  8:24
Where is this speed coming from???  I actually choked up a little, and I knew that if we ran down the finishing chute and saw a 1:59 on that clock, that I was going to cry. 
It's hard to put yourself out there, especially with someone running with you, and this mile told me that Rachel wanted this.  I so, so badly wanted to help get her to the finish under two.
The .1
We rounded the corner off the bridge and down into the finishing area.  I looked up and saw it.  1:59. 
1:59!!!  But I couldn't see the seconds!  Was it 1:59:01, or 1:59:59? 
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.. here is us when the finish line came into view:

Run bitch, run!!!
Rachel sprinted her ass off at a 6:44(!) pace, and we triumphantly crossed in 1:59:36.

Sweet, sweet victory.

We hugged, I got teary (shocker), and then we went to celebrate and drank more beers than is ever acceptable at 9 o'clock in the morning, starting in the bathroom of the warming area of the race.

Recovery Drink of Champions #fuckchocolatemilk

I am SO PROUD of you Rachie!!! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tommie Copper Winner!

The gods at have handed down their decree for the winner of the Tommie Copper Long Sleeve T. 
 And the winner is....

Thanks to everyone that entered, and to Tommie Copper for sponsoring the giveaway!

If you're super bummed that you didn't win, here's another chance!  We'll be giving away a $50 gift card to Tommie Copper as part of our hugely awesome raffle benefiting the Alzheimer's Association.  Just $5 gets you an entry... go check it out!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tommie Copper Compression Shirt Review & GIVEAWAY!

Get ready for some sweet free stuff guys.

Tommie Copper sent me their Long Sleeve Compression Shirt to review, and I love it.


From their website:
Tommie Copper's women's long sleeve compression shirt uses compression to provide support for the muscles and joints in the neck, shoulders, torso and back.
  • Comfortable enough to be worn all day under your work clothes.
  • Wear while working out in cooler climates
  • Wickable fabric keeps skin dry
  • Helps provide support for shoulder and back strains and sprains
  • Gentle, effective compression allows for 24 hour use, even while asleep
  • Machine washable. Do not use fabric softeners.
  • Long sleeves provide full upper-body compression
  • Provides warmth

Right out of the package, the first thing I noticed was how soft it is, and the beautiful teal color.  It's pretty sweet.

I tried it on, and let me tell you, this sucker is TIGHT.  The material actually seemed like it was suctioned to my skin, but oddly, it was very comfortable.  Like wearing nothing at all.  This picture would not be a lot more disturbing if that was the case:

Thank god for clothes.

Listen, I had twins. My belly is less washboard and more like the playground rhyme: "Roses are red, leaves are green, you've got the shape of a washing machine..."

1950s bitches be trippin.

So anyway, the point is that I have two issues with compression shirts:  I don't like things tight on my stomach, and most of the shirts seem too short.

This shirt was tight, but not unflattering on my stomach, and it is a great length. 

Covers part of the ol' caboose.

I took it out for a long run, paired with a light jacket and compression tights, and it was perfect for the 30 degree weather. 

The only downside was that it did ride up a bit at the beginning of the run, but I tucked it into my waistband and it didn't ride up over the next 13 miles. 


Do you want to win one?  Of course you do.

To enter, simply leave a comment letting me know why you want to try this shirt, and you'll be entered to win one in the size of your choice!

Giveaway closes at midnight on the 23rd and I'll announce the winners on Wednesday, April 24th.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Something evil.

I was at work today, serving drinks to businessmen on their lunch breaks, when I saw the CNN coverage of the events in Boston.

The fear and disbelief that gripped me was reminiscent of watching the 9/11 attacks unfold, and I know so many of you were watching the same thing.

How many times have we run races, sprinting joyously, trudging determinedly, putting one foot in front of the other to the finish line?  How many times have we been in the same place mentally, emotionally, and physically as these runners in Boston?

There are horrible tragedies every day, in all corners of the world, but this.  This hit home to me, and to all of us in the running community, in a way I can't even put into words.

I had a dear friend in Boston today, running her second marathon, an amazing PR.  Kimba was on my Ragnar team, and has been my friend for more than a decade, and when I saw the footage of the bloody pavement and the runners getting blown over by the shock wave, I felt panic so acute I felt like my throat was closing and my heart was beating out of my chest.

She mercifully sent a text soon after the bombs went off, that she was OK.  She finished before the explosions. 

I don't know if it's that Kim was there, or that we could see the flags of all of the countries represented in the race being pulled out of the wreckage, or that I feel this was an attack on my community... runners.   I don't know why I feel so shaken to my core.  It's not only the devastation of the viciousness of the attack, of the lives of the innocents lost, of the horrific injuries... it's a complete assault of the optimism, the free-spiritedness of the running community.  Why?  How?  Who would do this?

My heart is in Boston tonight. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

April Fool's 5k Race Recap

Top of the morning to you all.  It's dreary and raining in Wisconsin today... and my soul is mildewing from lack of sunshine...
Luckily, it didn't rain on Friday night.  I made the last-minute decision to run the April Fool's 5k, held at 6pm on a flat, super fast course close to home.
It was the first time I've run this race, and my first ever evening race.  The only logistical problem of the race not being in the morning was that I had so much more time to get nervous.  As in all day.
I didn't have any concrete goals in my head.  Of course, I wanted to try to beat my longstanding PR of 22:42, but I'd had a few glasses of wine the night before and was battling the ol' wine headache for the better part of the day, and I was having trouble getting myself in the racing spirit.
The course was a point-to-point, so we were instructed to park at the finish and take a shuttle to the start.  As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, we knew we were in for a long wait.  A line of several hundred people snaked through the parking lot and no buses were in sight.  Runners in shorts and tank tops huddled together for warmth in the forty degree weather.
It was a 40+ minute wait before we were able to board, and my Raynaud's was in full force.  My fingers and toes were frozen, and I couldn't wait to get onto that damn bus.   Luckily, I had the best company on the bus:
Me and my hubby. 
As it turns out, there were only 2 school buses for 1,000 people, and we were still in freezing our asses off in line at 6pm when the race was scheduled to start.  The race director was forced to delay the start of the race by 20 or 25 minutes.  As soon as we hopped off the bus and made our way to the start, the anthem was sung and the gun went off.
I wanted my overall pace to be below 7:18/mile to get the PR, and I started fast - my pace for the first quarter mile or so was in the 6:20s.  I was having trouble falling into a rhythm because my feet were so cold it felt like I was running with bricks strapped to the bottom of my shoes.
I looked at my Garmin only once or twice during the race.  It's a freaking 5k, that shit is so uncomfortable I wasn't thinking of too much other than running tangents and crossing the finish line.
One or two miles in... pretty sure I was hallucinating here.
I was lucky enough to meet up with a friend of a friend at some point during the race and we helped push each other and even managed a bit of gaspy small talk.
Soon I saw the 3 mile mark, and turned the corner to the finish.  I could see the finish line clock, and the first two numbers were a 2 and a 1.  Sweet victory.
Rasta leprechaun photobomb.
April Fool's 5k
*** 21:40 ***
6:59 pace
Overall: 40/887
Div: 3/85
Sex: 6/584

 The time was good enough for second in my AG (I was really third, but one girl won the overall women.. so thanks to that speedy chick for boosting me up in the world).  The award was... drumroll please... a cheap fleece hat. 

A fleece hat, and you got to give a tiny lady a ride on your shoulders.


The best part of the race was that almost everyone in our group got a huge PR.  And I got to run with some awesome buddies and my super fast husband who busted out a 25 minute 5k with no training.  I know you might be tempted to hate him because of that, but then you see how cute he is:

PRs all around!  Me, Alicia, Sarah 
I'm pretty sure I'm done with 5ks for awhile.  That time is faster than I ever thought I was capable of, and I'm not looking forward to trying to beat it anytime soon. 
Do you enjoy doing 5ks for fun?  Not me.  I love running longer distance races for fun, and I don't feel the need to PR every time.  But for some reason I always feel I have to race a 5k.
What's your next big PR quest? I'm going to go with the 13.1.  I've got a half in a month, and despite my worrying lack of long runs, I'd like to try to best my PR.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Close Call and the Five Stages of Violent Crime

Happy Thursday to everyone.

I debated whether or not to write this blog post, but ultimately, I decided to because although it's weird and uncomfortable to write about, I think this information is so important for all of us to think about, especially women.  So here we go...

Last night, I was at the YMCA with my family for our kids' swimming lessons.  We use the family locker room, which is a large cinderblock room with several small shower rooms. 

After getting my kids showered and dressed after the class, my husband herded them out and I stayed at the large mirror doing my hair and makeup for my bartending shift. 

All of the other families had left, and I was putting on some eyeliner when a guy walked in.  He was in his mid-thirties, shirtless and tattooed and wearing swim trunks.  He strolled over to me and said, "Are there showers in here?"  I pointed to the various shower rooms, and he said, "Pretty weird they have men and women showering together, huh?"

Somewhere in my mind, little alarm bells were going off. 

I said, "Yeah, well, it's the family locker room."

He walked behind me, watching me in the mirror and opened up a couple of the shower doors to my left.  He made a little small talk while keeping his eyes on me: "I really need to relax.  I've been looking for a job all day, and I think I found one at McDonald's.  A job's a job, right?"

At this point, I started thinking, "What's this guy going to do to me? I'll scream and fight back".  And then I realized that he was a lot bigger than me, and I was alone in a cinderblock room with a heavy metal door. 

He crossed behind me, slowly, and headed to the other bank of showers and peeked his head into one of the rooms.

He turned around, took a step directly towards me, and I ran.  I grabbed my stuff and literally ran for the door. 

He didn't follow me.

I reported him to the front desk, and got the hell out of there. 

Long story short.  Nothing happened. 

A while back, I stumbled on a website that listed the Five Stages of Violent Crime.

I reread it this morning, and was shocked at how typical this guy's pattern of behavior was for a predator, and I want to make we all know how to spot these signs, and most importantly, to trust your instincts.

The Five Stages of Violent Crime
The Five Stages of Violent Crime is an internationally recognized system to identify if -- and determine when and if -- you are being set up for a crime or violence.
1.  Intent
This is where the person crosses a normal mental boundary. From this point, the person is mentally prepared to commit violence in order to get what he wants – whatever that may be. Often a person who has decided to commit a physical assault is either looking for an excuse to attack or is trying to hide his intentions until he is in position.In other words, he's ready, willing and able to become violent. If you are willing to spend the time to learn the body's cues such a person is incredibly easy to spot. They will literally stand out like lighthouse on a dark night -- and once identified, you don't want to stay around.
 The way this guy was prowling around behind me, making extended eye contact, and generally acting suspicious were all signs of his possible intent.

2.  Interview
This is where the criminal decides if you are safe to attack.
There are five types of interviews, but the guy's behavior last night definitely fell under the "Regular" interview:
 The criminal will approach you under the guise of normalcy, i.e., needing information or small item (e.g. matches). This is a distraction. While he is talking, he is not only getting in position to attack, but a) checking your awareness about what he is doing and b) your commitment to defending yourself.
3.  Positioning
This is the criminal putting himself in a place where he can successfully attack you. A criminal (or even a violent person) doesn't want to fight you; he wants to overwhelm you. To do this, he has to put himself in a position where he can do it quickly and effectively. Positioning is the final proof. Someone trying to position himself to attack removes all doubt that the situation is innocent.
I was in a great place for a potential attack - a low-traffic, sound-proof room with plenty of further insulated spaces for privacy.  Looking back, it was his casually looking around the corners and into the shower rooms that told me he was further checking out the safety of the room - for him. 

When he turned to move towards me - it tipped the balance in my mind between an awkward situation and a direct threat. 

The next two stages are what didn't happen:

4.  Attack
The attack is the criminal/violent person using force, or the threat of force, to get what he wants. The 'triangle' (first three steps) has been complete and the assault -- or the threat of assault -- occurs.
5.  Reaction
 Reaction is how the criminal feels about what he has done. In the aftermath of robbing someone, the criminal decides, on a whim, to shoot the person -- despite the fact that the person has cooperated utterly and offered no resistance. This also can be where a robber suddenly decides to rape his victim. Of all the reactions, one of the most consistently dangerous occurs among rapists.  f the rapist feels that the rape did not empower him as he thought it would, he often turns violent. Nearly 80 percent of women seriously harmed by rapists are hurt after the actual sexual assault.
I don't know for sure if this guy would have attacked me.  Based on the fact that he was in a family locker room as a single guy, that he kept his eyes on me, that he was walking suspiciously around, all points to that conclusion, but luckily I'll never know for sure.

A final note:  TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.  We may feel the hair standing up on the back of our necks, the tightening in our stomachs, the sudden influx of adrenaline, and still ignore these things because we have been so conditioned to be NICE.  We don't want to make someone feel bad by acknowledging that we feel threatened by them.  We want to give someone the benefit of the doubt. 

Ten years ago, I probably would have stayed in that locker room because I didn't want to make the guy feel bad.  That's stupid, and dangerous. 

Please take some time to read the articles I've linked here, and share with your friends and family. 

***All italicized text is taken directly from No Nonsense Self-Defense.  Please peruse this website and challenge yourself to honestly assess yourself as a potential victim, and take steps to NOT be an easy target.***
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