Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Year In Review: My Year of Spectacular Failure

2019 was the year I was going to qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon in my dreams. My OTQ dreams did not come true (not even close) in 2019, but I can't really complain about a year which brought me PRs in the 5K (18:38), half-marathon (1:25:37) and marathon (2:55:36) can I? 2019 was a spectacular failure.

I ran 2,316 miles in 2019, which is the most miles I have ever ran in a single year and a 17.5% increase over last year's mileage total.

Here are some thoughts on the year:
  • I switched to a more personalized marathon training plan after four marathon cycles using Hanson's Marathon Method.  [I am still a big fan and advocate of HMM as it led me to increasing both the consistency and mileage of my training cycles which showed in my marathon finish times.] This was a good move and reinvigorated the joy of running for me.
  • Speaking of joy, I do better with someone else telling me what to run. I came to the realization this year that while it sounds like always following a plan would take the joy out of running, for me personally, I get much more joy from running if I don't have to think about what to do. I have a lot of decision fatigue when I am left to my own devices, likely because I have so.many.decisions to make in all non-running areas of my life being the owner of a small business, I am responsible for all work-related decisions. Being a parent means that I am responsible for a lot of decisions about my kids. It all adds up. Having someone just tell me what to run completely removes the stress of deciding what to do in that area of my life and for that I am extremely grateful.
  • I am still on the lookout for the most magical running shoe. I continued having different shoes for different purposes in 2019, a tactic that has served me well. I usually use my shoes with high amounts of miles on them (i.e., approaching retirement) for low mileage easy days. I have a pair of shoes specifically for speed/tempo workouts, another pair specifically for long runs (usually more cushioned), and a shoe with about half of it's lifetime spent for middle distance easy paced days.  I will rotate these 4 pairs of shoes in this manner every week. (Yes I have a spreadsheet that tracks the mileage for each pair of shoe in current rotation.) I used to get close to 400 miles on each shoe, but I've noticed this year that once a shoe crosses into the 300 mile space, it's usually not long before I retire it from running.

Here are shoes I ran in in 2019:
1. Adidas Adizero Boston's were my shoe of choice for Chicago Marathon and I loved them.Will definitely be re-buying those for a speed/tempo/race shoe. They don't have quite the amount of cushioning that I prefer for regular middle-to-long distance training runs.

2. Saucony Triumph (meh). I wore these for middle mile recovery runs, and easy long runs. They felt too squishy for me to love, but they got the job done.

3. 2 pairs of Nike Pegasus (good). I ran the Illinois Marathon in these and used them for speed/tempo work. Overall I like this shoe but trying to not buy Nike until they clean up some of their policies.

4. Newton Motion (decent) I ran my 5K PR in these. Wish I could get the shoe without the nubs on the forefoot, which I realize is their whole schtick. I love how lightweight these are.

5. Adidas Solar Boost (meh). These were the equivalent to the Triumph for me.  A little sloppy of a fit but got me through a lot of easy miles.

6. Nike Zoom Fly SP (thumbs down). Bought on clearance in the early part of the year to use as a tempo/speed shoe and I just hate them. They are really stiff and my legs always feel more sore when I wore them. Stopped using them after 42 miles.

7. Hoka Clifton (good).  I have had two pairs of Cliftons in my life and they are the only shoe to get over 400 miles for me. I love the extra cushioning in them for regular middle-to-long distance training runs. The only reason that I didn't re-buy them in 2019 was that I had several pairs of shoes to use from BibRave Pro campaigns.

8. Under Armour HOVR (decent, especially for the price.)  I am on my 3rd pair of these, which disclaimer, I got all pairs for free through BibRave Pro, but I would buy these. I just wish I would get more miles out of them. 285 was it.

9. Brooks Adrenaline (meh). I did get close to 400 miles on these but I never loved them - they always felt a bit too stiff for me. I am interested in trying the Brooks Ghost in 2020.

  • The biggest obstacle I have to work on in the marathon is overcoming fear of the pain cave. Over time, I have come to the realization that the marathon is going to hurt, regardless of your fitness level. I used to think that I just have to get in better shape and it won't hurt. One thing that following professional runners on social media has showed me is that that is just not the case. I know that I have to get over my fear of pain to really be able to take my marathon finish time down. I have never successfully entered the pain cave, preferring to just dip my toe in and for sure as hell stay where I can see the cave opening so as not to venture in and get lost in darkness. So that is my goal for 2020 - start going into the cave.
  • I am already into my next marathon training cycle, gearing up for Boston 2020. It's a little audacious to think that I can PR on that course, but in my old age I'm getting more daring and I'm going for it.  With that, I encourage you to read this article and join me in another year of failing spectacularly.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Product Review: Turtle Gloves

Product Review: Lightweight Turtle Gloves

Disclaimer:  Turtle Gloves sent me a pair of their Lightweight Turtle-Flip Convertible Mittens in exchange for this review as part of the BibRave Pro Ambassador program of  Search and submit your own race reviews at

Mitten season is upon us here in Wisconsin (yes, I am Team Mitten (vs. glove) through and through).  November started off mild, got very cold, and now is back to mild again. I have been lucky to product test a new product from Turtle Gloves throughout the month: the lightweight turtle-flip convertible mittens.

The mittens are designed to be comfortable in a range of temperatures that are typical of "spring or fall" during low or high activity.

I liked the ability to change the mitten mid-run. Most of my running last month was in 20-30 degree temperature range. I am often cold when I start running so I would start with a full mitten:
While running, if my hands got warm, I would flip the top over, and roll it down a bit to give my fingers some ventilation:

The mittens were very versatile and warmer than I thought they would be given how lightweight the material is.  I have washed them several times (as they also functioned as tissues a few times) and they look good as new. I probably will continue to use them throughout the winter because they kept my hands plenty warm.

If you are interested in trying them, please visit their website and use code TURTLEGLOVESBR for 15% off.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Chicago Marathon Race Recap!

Yesterday I ran the Chicago Marathon.  So I guess it's time for a race recap!!!


I haven't blogged much about my training, but after several marathon training cycles using Hanson's Marathon Method, I made the decision to shake things up for a few reasons. First, I was getting bored with HMM. Marathon training is a slog. A slog that I love, but a slog nonetheless. During my training for my spring marathon (Illinois Marathon), I started realizing that I was not looking forward to any workouts.  Second, I was stuck on a bit of a plateau at 3 hours.  My last 3 marathon finish times were 3:01:52 (spring 2019), 3:01:58 (fall 2018) and 2:59:50 (spring 2018). I felt it was time for a change if I wanted to keep shaving time off. I asked my friend Eric, who has accrued several coaching accolades, if he would make a training plan for me and he agreed.

We focused on speed in the early summer before switching to more marathon based work. I was running more miles than I had ever before (weekly mileage peaking in the low 70s a few times) and it was paying off. I ran a 5K PR and a half-marathon PR in training leading up to the marathon. However, in his words, "It was not a perfect build-up." I continue to be plagued by anxiety-related insomnia and sleep is CRUCIAL for running recovery. The biggest change, and the best one, is that I was excited to do workouts again. (Well, except for ones that had me sh**ting my pants like NINE one-mile repeats.)

My favorite change about the actual workouts was incorporating more marathon paced work into my long runs. In HMM, the longest run you ever do is 16 miles and it is done at an easy pace. I was doing lots of variations of long runs with chunks of miles in my goal pace range (6:30-6:40/mile) and they were my favorite part of training. I ended up doing 3 20+ milers, and several in the 16-19 range.

Day Before The Race

Our plan was to leave for Chicago early morning so we would get to the Expo relatively early in an attempt to avoid crowds. We ended up not leaving our house until close to 9 AM because we left way too much to do for the morning, including packing and I still had a 3 mile shakeout run to do. (We are in the middle of a bathroom renovation so had to spend Friday night at Menards buying and ordering supplies.) Traffic was not in our favor getting to the Expo (on the south side of the city) but we made it there! It was a ZOO. I love marathon expos but was completely overwhelmed. My kids managed to get a few swag items, I got my packet and shirt and then we went to our hotel. We stayed at the Embassy Suites on State Street which was a great location. We went to one of our favorite spots, Eataly, for lunch, which was also a complete zoo. My son really wanted to go to the Bean so we walked there and back. I was having a bit of a mental tantrum about how much time I was spending on my feet and suggested maybe a swim/hotel time. My husband took the kids swimming and I took a nap, which was glorious.

After that, we headed to the American Girl store, which was another item on my kids' to-do list.  Their Christmas lists are made, ha ha ha. Everyone was good and tired by that point so we headed to the hotel for the night. We hit up the hotel happy hour and snacks and then my husband went to a nearby pasta takeout place to bring dinner back for us all. Once I finished dinner, I went to the train station to buy my tickets for the morning in case it was a zoo. The red line was only a block from our hotel!  I got my stuff all ready for the morning.

I also had a few text threads going.  First one was with Maeluen who I met at the Boston Marathon in 2016 and also ran Ragnar 2018 with and was in the American Development Program (ADP) with me (more on ADP later). We could not decide if we were going to wear race crop tops or singlets given the weather forecast. Another text thread I had going was with Eric decided on race strategy.  He thought I could do a 2:51. I was not so sure about that. But the strategy was start with 6:40 pace for mile 1-2, ease into 6:35 until mile 16ish and decide what to do from there based on how I was feeling. (Spoiler alert - this was not what happened.) I decided that I was going to do the crop and bring the singlet in my race bag. How cool was my outfit?! I was proud of this one:

Initially, my kids were going to sleep together on the pull out couch in the living room area of our hotel and that left a double bed each to my husband and I.  At the last minute, my son wanted to sleep with me and I let him.  So that meant getting thrashed all night long.  I still actually got more sleep than I thought I would!

Race Day!

My alarm went off at 4:30 AM.  I got up, grabbed my overnight oats from the fridge and holed up in the bathroom, which is my usual process for races.  I was not hungry at all but made myself eat the whole bowl.  [I always eat a package of Picky Oats How 'Bout Dem Apples oatmeal prepared as overnight oats on race days.]  I chugged some grape Nuun and braided my hair.  Layered on all of the clothes and left the hotel around 5:00 AM.

I got to the train station expecting to see tons of people but only a few other runners were with me.  I rode the train a few stops to Jackson.  My husband figured out all of the logistics for me the night before but I still ended up walking the wrong way out of the station.  Seriously - I used to live in Chicago but had no brain that morning.  I finally realized, DUH.  I could use my phone, so I was walking around downtown with the race map in one hand and my phone in the other.  #Tourist

I arrived at Gate 1 and was early enough that I had no lines to wait in to get through security.  SO DIFFERENT from the last time I ran the Chicago Marathon (2006) and I literally handed my mom, best friend and then boyfriend (now husband) my warm up clothes over the corral gate before the start.

After I found the right gate, it was time to find the American Development Program tent.  This required me to pull up another email on my phone and try to make sense of the directions.  I clearly was looking like an idiot because another woman asked me, "Are you trying to find the American Development tent? I am too."  We managed to figure it out and then walked into the tent and HALLELUJAH IT WAS HEATED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Backstory on the ADP: After I barely got the sub-3 at Grandma's, several people said to apply for the ADP in Chicago.  The program standards for women are qualifying with a 3:01 marathon finish time or better. I was so happy that I applied because the pre-race experience was incredible.  We had this heated tent to sit around in and chat, our own line of porta potties (which made it easy to use the bathroom 6 times before the race) and a little "track" of park paths to warm up around.  We also could just leave all of our stuff in the tent without having to go through gear check.

I loved meeting some other FAST AF runners in that tent, many of which were going for the Olympic Trials Standard (sub-2:45 for women).  I chatted with fellow Wisconsin-ite Jessa Victor who, spoiler alert, ENDED UP GETTING THE OTQ!  Everyone was so freaking nice.  Another woman (who OTQed but I don't know her name) let me borrow some Vaseline.  Since I was wearing a sports bra under my crop, I had created a nice little pouch for gels between the two in the middle of my boobs and idea that I got while watching other people store their gels.  I used (and loved) the SIS gels which are longer and bigger packages than other gels and storing more than two in my shorts is difficult.  I ended up storing two in my hand held water bottle, two in my bra and a bonus in my shorts.  I took two warm up laps around the "track".  At around 7 AM, the corral directors started telling us to get out to the race corral.  Maeleun let me use one of her throwaway layers so I could save my hoodie.

We ended up getting escorted to the race corral but having to wait for the Elites. I cannot even explain how much I was fangirling when the parade of elite runners walked right past us to the start line.  At the risk of being a huge cheeseball, I yelled out "GO STEPH" to Steph Bruce.  We had to wait for the elite runners to warm up before getting to go in our corral.  AND THEN WE GOT TO STRIDE OUT NEXT TO THEM.  My foot was on one of the starting mats ON THE STARTING LINE of the Chicago Marathon!!!

I ditched my clothes with a few minutes to go and then felt that I needed to pee, despite all of my pre-race bathroom visits.  The woman right next to me crouched down, pulled her shorts aside and peed. I was desperate so I followed suit, except that I got stage fright and couldn't actually pee.  Apologies to anyone who may have gotten a crotch shot.  Runners are gross.

At the advice of many, I had turned my watch to manual lap setting given that I knew the GPS doesn't work well in the city.  I had it all ready to go and BANG! The gun went off.


I had no way of knowing how fast I was running (because the GPS was wonky) and literally EVERYONE WAS RUNNING PAST ME.  I felt like I was crawling.  My plan to manually tap my watch at every mile marker was only ok because I missed the first mile marker.  I knew I was going to see my husband and kids at around miles 1 and 3 so I was scanning the crowds.  They ended up being right next to Sarah Sellers' mom (who graciously let my kids in front of her so they could see) so after the race Nate was telling me all of these facts about Sarah Sellers which I obviously already knew from listening to podcast interviews about her, but it was cute.  I digress.

I saw them at mile 1 and waved enthusiastically.  The noise from the crowd was almost deafening.  People were still flying by me and I still felt like I was barely running.  But ahead! I saw the mile 2 marker and tapped my watch.  12:48.  My Garmin had that at 2.17 miles which is 5:54/mi pace.  UMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Yeah.  Went out way too fast.  I started slowing down even more but it was so difficult because people just kept passing me which was the biggest mind f.  I almost missed my family again at mile 3 but at the last second I heard them and turned around and waved.

I just kept focused on the blue line on the course and trying to maintain pace.  I missed a few mile markers but overall, my watch kept saying 6:33 pace and I felt good. I took a gel at mile 5. I saw Leslye and Josh at mile 7ish and was so excited.

I ran through the next miles which all feel like a blur.  More low 6:30 miles and feeling good.  I missed the 10 mile marker and didn't even think to look at the distance ran on my watch so I took my second gel late - a little after 11 miles.  I was still holding my water bottle of Tailwind, which I hadn't used yet.  I started coughing and feeling like I was going to vomit.  Thankfully this was short lived.

I got through the halfway point at 1:26.  I didn't know whether this was good or bad.  Did I go out too fast?  Am I going to die?  These questions started popping up, though I still felt good.

I honestly don't remember a lot from the halfway point to Mile 17.  I know that I took another gel around mile 16 - the gels between the bra and crop top worked AMAZING - and I threw my water bottle away during this stretch.  It started to feel like a 20 lb. weight in my hand and I really did feel very light after ditching it.  At mile 17.5 I saw the Oiselle Cowbell Corner and got a huge burst from that.

After this, I was still in the 6:40s for pace.  I just kept telling myself little mantras that people told me leading up to the race - "Have yourself a day" is one I remember.  At mile 23 we turned to go back north and then the wind also picked up.  I grabbed my hat because I thought it was going to blow off.I remember trying to calculate if I was going to even sub-3 and I thought it was going to be close.  Somewhere in this stretch it started to smell like poop.  I felt so bad but a man passed me with poop all over his back and legs. [After the race, I found out that Steph Bruce was the 2nd American woman finisher, ran a race PR and also pooped herself.]  I told you runners were gross!

I got to the top of the "hill" on Roosevelt with a little under 0.5 miles left and just willed myself to "sprint" to the finish.

I looked up at the finish clock when I rounded the corner and was THRILLED to see 2:54:xx.  I crossed at 2:55:36 and let out a huge "YESSSSSSSSSS" scream.

Then, I had to walk through the finish chute.

My legs hurt a lot but I kept walking. Got my medal, heat sheet and then I hear, "AMY!" A former colleague, Patti, was running over to me.  I lost it.  I just kept hugging her and crying.

I FINALLY GOT THROUGH the long ass finish line chute and saw two cute faces poking through the chain link fence.  MAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Followed immediately by, "Do you have any snacks?"

One of the photographers snapped a pic of the four of us and it is so so good.  I might buy race photos just so I can get it.

We then had to walk back to the ADP tent to get my stuff. My family couldn't come in the tent with me so I was going quickly but I learned that Jessa and another girl at my table got the OTQ and also learned that Maeluen had a huge PR.  I also took two Gatorades for my kids.  THANKS ADP! ha ha ha

We headed back to the red line to take the train back to the hotel.  We had arranged for a late check out but still had to be out by 12:30pm. We got all of our stuff packed up and got in the car and went to the Chicago Children's Museum, which fulfilled the last thing on my kids' Chicago to-do list.  I was moving pretty slowly but the extra walking likely did me good. I ended the day with almost 50,000 steps (inclusive of the race)!!!

So that's that. I am happy with my time, AND am a little disappointed that I was on the high end of my pace goal range. I am proud of myself for going fast off the line (even if it was too fast) #gofasttakechances and for NOT STOPPING OR WALKING, which might be the first time I can say this.  AND I FINALLY GOT OFF THAT DAMN PLATEAU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Prioritizing Recovery with Nuun Rest!

Disclaimer:  Nuun Hydration sent me a tube of Lemon Chamomile Nuun Rest and a tube of Blackberry Vanilla Nuun Rest in exchange for this review as part of the BibRave Pro Ambassador program of  Search and submit your own race reviews at

Last week, my one goal was to prioritize recovery.  The week prior, I had a killer workout - nine one-mile repeats and in the days that followed, I had my usual recovery workouts which were to be done at a pace where my heart rate didn't go above 135.

The trouble was, my heart rate jumped into the 150s even at 9:00+/mile pace, even three days after the mile repeats workout.  After a failed long run attempt where my legs felt concrete-filled, I was rewarded with an extra day off.  Typically I have one rest day (i.e., no running) per week, but in the last couple weeks, my plan was stingy on rest days.  That long run made 17 days of running in a row, so I had earned the bonus rest day.

Last week, my total weekly mileage was lower due to having not one but two planned rest days and I still got two quality workouts done.  I had a speed workout of 12 800s mid-week which felt hard but I managed to hit the intended paces.

At night, I have been incorporating Nuun Rest into my wind down routine.  Nuun Rest is made by Nuun Hydration and is currently available in two flavors: Lemon chamomile and Blackberry Vanilla.  I prefer the lemon chamomile but both are light tasting.  

Unlike the Nuun electrolyte tabs, the Nuun Rest tab is to be dissolved in about 4 oz of water.  This is good because any more liquid before bed and I would have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. 

Ingredients in Nuun Rest include magnesium, tart cherry and potassium which help promote relaxation responses in addition to reducing exercise-induced inflammation and overall muscle relaxation.  I was definitely sleepy within minutes of drinking it.

Overall, I liked the product as a consistent reminder to prioritize recovery, particularly with less than a month to go before the Chicago Marathon, my goal fall race!

My recovery week culminated in a beast of a workout - running for 2 hours and 40 minutes broken down by 90 minutes easy running, 40 minutes running in 7:00-7:30 pace land and finishing strong with 30 minutes of 6:30-6:50.  My legs felt great after the first six miles (#oldladywarmup) and I nailed the workout!

If you want to try some Nuun Rest, head to their website and use code HYDRATEBIBPRO for 20% off your order!

Let me know your favorite recovery tips!  I have 71 miles on the plan for this upcoming week and I'm going to need all the help I can get!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

A Sunscreen for A High Mileage Month!

Disclaimer:  Sawyer sent me a bottle of Stay Put SPF30 Sunscreen Lotion in exchange for this review as part of the BibRave Pro Ambassador program of  Search and submit your own race reviews at

August was a big month of running as I continue to train for the Chicago Marathon. I ran 272.77 miles, which is a lifetime high for me!  I have some pretty strong runner tan lines from a summer of high mileage and something that I am not very great about is wearing sunscreen for running.

I have tried the spray-on sunscreens for ease of use but just do not like how sticky they make me feel.  I have used traditional lotion sunscreens and find that many leave me with streaks of white that run off as the sweat comes.

I had a renewed dedication to sunscreen when someone told me to get a strange spot on my ear checked out.  I hadn't given the area much thought but made an appointment with the dermatologist.  Thankfully, the spot is benign and nothing to worry about but how many times had I used sunscreen on my ears? Probably never.

The opportunity to try Sawyer Stay Put SPF30 sunscreen came at a perfect time!

I really like the consistency of the Sawyer sunscreen.  It feels and applies like regular body lotion, which is a product I use daily.  The lotion itself is white but disappears into skin without that strange white residue that many sunscreens I have tried leave.

The Sawyer Sunscreen also dries quickly.  I usually apply it within 5-10 minutes of leaving my house to run and I don't feel sticky or greasy.

I have had some tough, long workouts this month and the sweat has been running off me.  The Sawyer Sunscreen has lasted through a lot, including my personal best half marathon in Madison a few weeks ago!

I have been impressed with the product and have continually used it all month.  I have thrown it in our bag for lake activities too. My kids and I went fishing with my dad last Friday and we were wearing Sawyer:

Another important factor for me are breakouts.  Sawyer hasn't led to an increase in breakouts which is always a nice thing :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Madison Mini As Told By My Free Race Photos

Disclaimer:  I ran the Madison Mini Marathon as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me in exchange for promotion and a review of the race.  Learn more about BibRave Pro ambassador program and read and write race reviews at

The Madison Mini provided free race photos, which is always fun.  This year, they partnered with Strava to disseminate them and mine just arrived!  I really love how all of my photos really tell the story of my day so I thought it would be fun to show you all my photos with my captions:

And we're off!  Aw Shit - I almost lost my visor

Mile 1:  Running is FUN...

Mile 1:  Man, I just LOVE running

Mile 1: I even love when the photographer gets the dreaded downstroke of the leg photo. 

Mile 5/6ish: Yeesh.  This is starting to feel a little less fun, because Anne and I are no longer leading.


Mile 12ish: I do not love the downstroke leg photo as much any more



Finish line:  I LOVE RUNNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Finish Line: That was SO.MUCH.FUN!!!!!!!!!!!

PODIUM FINISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I mean, that about sums up running a half marathon, doesn't it?! :)

You can register for next year's Madison Mini on their website.  Right now, the next 250 participants get special pricing - $59.99!

You can read my review of this race on BibRave here.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Madison Mini Race Report: New Half-Marathon PR!

Disclaimer:  I ran the Madison Mini Marathon as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me in exchange for promotion and a review of the race.  Learn more about BibRave Pro ambassador program and read and write race reviews at

I ran the Madison Mini half marathon on Saturday and it was a great race. I had a crazy week leading up to the race - a work trip to Bismarck, ND and a day trip to Green Bay for work which threw off my training schedule and my sleep schedule.  (One night in Bismarck, my Garmin shows that I got 3 hours of sleep, which I thought I was generous.)

We left for Madison on Friday morning and got to the expo at the Alliant Energy Center after lunch.  My kids were running the kids' run so they were excited to also get packets and spin wheels for prizes.  The race director for the Illinois Marathon gave Will a box of Kodiak Cakes which he is enthusiastically clutching in the photo below.
Team Schlotty at the Expo

After the Expo we checked into our hotel and walked around Allen Centennial Gardens and then to dinner at Everly.  I had salmon, broccolini and risotto cakes with a version of my favorite cocktail: the French 75 (which Nate shared with me).  [Side note: I will be eating that before every race now, ha ha ha.] After dinner, we went to the Terrace to get some ice cream, watch the band and do the scavenger hunt in Alumni Park. We did a fair amount of walking on Friday, which I was a little nervous about.

On Saturday morning, I woke up at 5 AM and ate my Picky Oats in the hotel bathroom and got dressed.  I felt very calm and well-rested, which I was happy about. I was able to braid my hair on the first try!  I left my hotel around 5:30 to run to the start as I needed to do a 2 mile warm up.  The run to the start was exactly one mile.  The night before we had gotten an email from BibRave saying we had access to the VIP area, so I went into the Memorial Union to try to find that and go to the bathroom.  The VIP area was really nice.  They had several tables set up, a breakfast buffet, coffee, separate bathrooms and gear check.  I didn't really take advantage of any of the amenities pre-race but was THRILLED to have separate bathrooms because of my bathroom snafu at this race last year.  I found the bathroom and proceeded to drink my water bottle of lemon Tailwind.  I chatted with Emily and fellow BibRave Pro, Ang in the VIP area and then went to the fountain to take the Oiselle picture.  
Ang and I like the VIPs we are! :)


I had plenty of time to go back to the bathroom several times.  At about 6:45, I headed to the start and did another little jog warm up and saw Anne!  I ran some miles of this race with Anne last year and was excited to be running with her again after Illinois.

I knew that I was in good shape given where I was in the marathon training cycle, but the crappy training week and lack of sleep gave me a little pause so my main goal for the early miles was to run by feel. I really felt like a PR was in the cards for me because I ran much of this course for the first half of the Madison Marathon last fall in a time that was a second off of my half marathon PR.  The gun went off at 7 AM and we were off.  

I felt good and was running side by side with Anne through the first mile. Two bikes came upon us and referred to us as the leading elite females.  Anne retorted, "Um, we're just two moms approaching 40" and we were laughing.  We could not believe that we were leading the race.  I made some comment about the fast people not showing up that morning and we kept running.  We did some chatting but were moving at a good pace.  Outside of a really fast second mile (6:21) we were keeping it in 6:30-6:40 land.  My brain was definitely freaking out a bit that I felt good but what if I died.  I tried to ignore it and just keep running.  I took a SIS gel at mile 5.  I kept telling myself to stay in it - don't back off when it gets hard.

I think it was around mile 6 that another woman joined us and took the lead.  I can't remember exactly.  We were running in a small pack of three at that point and there was no more chatting.  I was focused on staying with the lead and the bike escorts.  For the most part, I did this and just kept repeating to myself "just stay with her just stay with her".  I struggled through mile 9 and thought it was over.  That was my slowest mile - 6:48.  Thankfully, I was still with the leader and we headed to picnic point.  She pulled away from me sometime between the mile 10 and mile 11 markers.  

I kept up my pace and tried to keep the leader in my sights.  She was not that far ahead of me but I couldn't make my legs go faster.  We had to get to the top of the hill on Observatory Drive, which is a doozy, especially after running 12 miles.  I got to the top of the first part and thought I was not going to get to the top of the whole thing.  I crawled up the top and paused there because I felt a bit dizzy.  I am fairly certain my bike escort was probably thinking I might need a medic.  She continued talking me through  - "Just keep going c'mon you got this".  The guys around me were cheering, "Let's go - go get her [the leader] you got this."  I don't know where it came from but I started sprinting down that hill.  I am a terrible downhill runner and always hold back for fear of falling but I let it go.  The bike escort was cheering, "YES!! It's go time!  You got this!"  She had to pull off the course for the last bit but she congratulated me on a great race.  I wanted to hug her but instead awkwardly patted her on the back and thanked her for being so awesome.  She literally talked me through the entire last two miles, nonstop.

I turned the corner to the finish and was scanning the bridge over the street for my family and I heard them before I saw them and I just went crazy!  I was so so excited.  Apparently my daughter was too (make sure you have the sound on for this).

I got under the bridge and saw the finish clock and really freaked out when I saw the 1:25.  I didn't drop any f-bombs Shalane style but I crossed the finish line with my arms in the air screaming YES YES YES!!!  I just ran a 1:25:37 half marathon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Holy shitballs.
Fellow Flower Amy took this shot of me approaching the finish!

I was handed my medal and a hat and so many people gave me high fives, including all the guys I was running with.  One even congratulated me on my kick.  I gave a hug to the first and third place women and cheered Anne to her PR 4th place finish.  So many sweaty hugs and smiles.
Anne and I at the finish!
My daughter made sure I rang the PR bell!
By this time, I realized that I had not stopped my watch at the finish line, as my splits below will indicate.  Apparently my frantic movements throughout the finish line and with my family are really a 11:29 pace mile, ha ha ha.

We all went to the Terrace to get our post-race beer and the awards ceremony.  Casey Fitzrandolph, an Olympic speedskater, gave us our trophies and he told me that he thought I made it look easy to which I laughed.
Awards ceremony - cool Terrace chair in the foreground

We then headed to the VIP area to see if Ang and Jonathan, the two other BibRave Pros who were running the race were there.  I saw Ang, but missed Jonathan due to the fact that my daughter was super anxious to get to the start of the kids' race.

The race does a great job with the kids' race.  This is the second year in a row that my kids did it.  My son was pretty nervous beforehand, but was all smiles during and afterwards.

Bucky Badger does an amazing job with the kids before the race.  I managed to snag a selfie with him between heats wearing my new Madison Mini Marathon hat:
We had a great morning at the race and I'm already looking forward to next year!!  Put this race on your list if you haven't already participated!
2019 Team Schlotty on State Street Post-Madison Mini

I can't remember a race where I heard so many cheers consistently throughout.  The water stations were amazing (The girls' swim team on Old University (around mile 9) is on of my faves).  We had great weather - a tad humid but otherwise perfect. 

I am heading into the final weeks of my training for Chicago Marathon with a lot of confidence!

Medal, Trophy and a Hat! 

I did it for the insta. ha ha ha

Friday, August 9, 2019

Madison Mini Marathon in one week!

Disclaimer:  I am running the Madison Mini Marathon as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me in exchange for promotion and a review of the race.  Learn more about BibRave Pro ambassador program and read and write race reviews at

Marathon training continues to move along.  I am about to wrap up my tenth week of training for the Chicago Marathon.  En route to that, I am running a half marathon next weekend (8/17) in Madison, WI.

I am returning to the Madison Mini Marathon!  Despite having a less than stellar race at this race last year, I LOVED the event so I am thrilled to run it for the second year in a row.  I actually was thinking that I don't repeat many races these days so the fact that I am repeating this race says a lot!  (You can read about last year's race here.)

While my priority has been marathon training (I just hit my first ever 70+ mile week last week!), I think that I can squeak out a half marathon PR next weekend.  The course is a bit hilly, but it is very similar to the first half of the Madison Marathon and during that race in Fall 2018, I DID PR my half marathon by 1 second.  My current half marathon PR is 1:28:35 and my first half split of Madison Marathon was 1:28:34.

The race is really well organized, you run through UW Madison campus (my alma mater!), the shirts are cool, the medals are blingy, you get free race photos and a beer on the terrace after the race.  Honestly, that comes quite close to perfect for me.

My only remaining to-do is get my kids registered for the kids' race.  They had a great time with this race last year...or maybe they just liked meeting Bucky Badger.

My family is excited to spend a long weekend in Madison as well.  Madison is always a family favorite vacation spot for us.

If you want to run the Madison Mini, you can take $15 off the half marathon entry fee with code BIBRAVE15 and $5 off the 5K entry fee with BIBRAVE5.  Registration closes on 8/16 at 11 AM CDT.