Friday, February 27, 2015

How to...

How to:

Run on the treadmill: Get on it and run.

Run in the cold of the winter: Go outside and run.

Run in the snow: Go out in the snow and run. Maybe wear warm socks.

Run in the heat of the summer: Go outside and run.

Do a trail run: Run on some trails.

Run when you're injured: Don't run.

Join a group run: Find a group, introduce yourself, run with the group.

Survive a long run: Run far, eat some stuff.

PR a 5K: Run 3.1 miles faster than you have before.

PR at a Marathon: Run 26.2 miles faster than you have before. Don't forget to eat some stuff.

Run a destination race: Go somewhere, run a race. Maybe sleep in a hotel.

Find the perfect running shoe: Try on shoes, run in them. If they suck, get different ones.

Lose 10 pounds quickly: Chop off your arm.

Love your body: Just fucking love your awesome body. Wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze.

Be happy: Change your name to Happy.

I hope you've enjoyed my free expert advice. (yes, I'm an expert because I have a blog)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Denver Trip!

Earlier this week Kevin and I escaped reality and made an impromptu trip to Denver! We had been wanting to visit there for quite a while and with our upcoming anniversary and awesome prices on flights, it was meant to be!
When we booked our trip we had no idea that the weather would be so nice while we were there. It was in the 20's in Wisconsin and in the 60's in Denver! Hallelu! It was so nice to walk around in tees and sandals the whole time.
So, what did we do while we were there? Well, we walked EVERYWHERE including up to the top of the capitol building where we got to see amazing views!
The pics really don't do the mountains justice.
There is a marker on the steps of the capitol building that signifies exactly one mile above sea level. I was so excited that I got a Big Gulp to celebrate:
Haha, I feel like when Kev and I travel we inadvertently hit up as many 7-11s as possible. We went to at least three different ones over the course of 4 days. Call it Slurpie tourism...
I'm not even kidding - this was when we were in Philly last year.
Besides delicious frozen drinks, Denver has a pretty kick ass sunrise view:
 I could totally wake up to this every day!

There is also some cool art:

 Big bear, little bear. :)

And of course, no vacation is complete without a race! Sunday morning we took a short Uber ride to Washington Park so I could do the Valentine's Day 5k. I wanted to take it easy because I wasn't sure how I'd feel running at altitude, but it really didn't feel too hard besides some tired legs towards the end (which could have been from all the walking we'd been doing). I ended up finishing in 26:55 and the best part was racing in a tank in February!

Ok, you know the real reason we went to Denver - the breweries! We did a walking tour that included stops at 4 different breweries. The samples were all delicious and my favorite ended up being an Agave Wheat from Breckenridge Brewery.

 Our livers certainly got their workouts in while we were there. So. Much. Good. Beer.
Our last activity was going to a Denver Nuggets basketball game. It was fun, but I really wanted to be at a game here:

But alas, baseball season is still over a month away.

The slam dunks were pretty cool though.
Clearly, we had a really fun time and are already planning to go back some day. It was nice to unplug and spend some time exploring a new city with Kevin. This is the first time we've ever taken a vacation where it was just the two of us and there was no real 'reason' for the trip other than just getting away. We TOTALLY need to do it more often. And we will.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Running is Hard!

That was the thought that kept popping up in my head during my treadmill speedwork session on Monday night. (Though the actual thought probably had a curse or two added to it.) The workout on my plan was for 3 x 1 mile repeats. For anyone who doesn't talk runner language, that means I had to run 1 mile really fast, take a short break and then do that two more times.

I was pretty nervous going into it. Mile repeats are hard and long! (Yeah, yeah, that's what she said.) Also, I've been battling a cold/congestion for a week and I was tired after a busy day at work. I was so tempted to just curl up on the couch with the cats and call it a night. BUT! I know that if I get a good start to the week that I stay motivated as the week goes on. Monday workouts always leave me energized and wanting more.

It's really hard to pass up couch cuddles though...

So, I changed into my running clothes as soon as I walked in the door and 10 minutes later I was at the gym. There was a lady on my favorite treadmill so I hopped on the one farthest from her so as not to be the gym creeper (there are only 4 treadmills at my gym and I am usually the only person using one, so this is a rare conundrum). Well, not even 2 minutes in to my warm-up I noticed the treadmill had a very distinctive squeak each time my left foot hit the deck. I really didn't want to listen to that during my whole run and I figured this was more annoying to the lady than sidling up next to her on a neighboring treadmill, so I moved. It worked out for the best because my new treadmill had a TV within its summary screen, so I could watch Seinfeld reruns as I ran. (The two finale episodes were on, for anyone that cares)

See? Running is hard and I hadn't even really started running yet!

Ok. Onto the workout. Here's how it went:

1 mile warm up at 9:50
1 mile at 8:06 pace (7.4 on the treadmill)
.25 mile walking at 20:00 pace (3.0 on the treadmill)
1 mile at 8:00 pace (7.5)
.25 mile walking at 20:00 pace
1 mile at 7:53 pace (7.6)
1 mile cool down at 9:50

Yeah, this run was hard for me, but I never believed that I wouldn't be able to complete the intervals. I felt energized and happy when I was done, which really justified getting out the door after a stressful day. I wanted to type a post up about this workout to remind myself of a few things:

-Running is hard, but it's supposed to be if you want to become stronger

-No matter how much Monday was a Monday, just get your effing workout done

-I can do hard things (like run under an 8:00 pace)

I have some races coming up that I'd like to do well in, which is why I'm re-committing to speedwork. This post is already pretty long though, so I'll save outlining my goals for another day.

Have a good day!

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Week's Worth of Smart and Dumb

In the span of a week I amaze myself at how quickly I can flip a switch from being really smart to really dumb. It's a gift, I think.

Would you like to hear this week's examples? Of course you don't.


At work I figured out how to import a big jumbled contact list from an obsolete program into my Outlook contacts. I realize this may not be rocket science, but I was pretty pleased that I was able to do it myself without having to ask our IT consultant, who, let's just say for the sake of being nice, is not the most helpful person. My boss now thinks I'm a genius. Which I am, of course.


I was walking into work from the parking garage and fell down a flight of stairs. My heel missed the top stair and down I went. I'm ok, but my left ankle got caught up under me, so that is pretty sore and my right shoulder is strained since I decided it was really important to hold on to the hand rail as the rest of my body bounced ever so gracefully down the stairs.

Bringing back a favorite gif from another post about me falling.

Thank god there were two people behind me to witness it. Having to report it to my boss wasn't nearly embarrassing enough.


Last night my company had two teams at a trivia night fundraiser. There were over 50 teams participating and our team did well, coming in only a few points behind the winners. It was a really fun night and I was able to contribute some useless knowledge that the rest of my team did not know. This included being able to recognize Seal's song 'Don't Cry' and knowing that a monkey wearing a fancy shearling coat wandered into a Canadian Ikea. Yep. S-M-A-R-T.


I run with a Pub Run group every Tuesday and for some unknown reason, my fellow runners tend to think I know where I'm going. Even when I tell them "I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I'M GOING!" This Tuesday was yet another episode in the recurring saga of Rachel Takes a Wrong Turn.

Long story short, my friends Chris and Allie ended up doing 4.5 miles with me instead of the 3.1 we had set out to do. Oops.

Short story long, I thought I had studied the route map well enough, but we ended up following a couple other runners who we later figured out weren't actually part of our group and were just doing their own thing. The kicker may be this: we realized 1.65 miles into our run that we were 'lost' so we just decided to turn around and do an out and back - and then proceeded to get lost going back. And then almost took one more wrong turn once we finally got back on track. Luckily, there was beer waiting for us upon our return and no search parties had been sent out. 

So, yeah. That's been my week: showing off my rudimentary IT skills and useless knowledge all while tumbling down stairs and wandering around the city. I told you, it's a gift.

Do you have any good smart/dumb stories?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cold as Ice

My weekend was dominated by ice. First, I ran 47.5 laps around ice. Then I ran a non-snowshoe snowshoe race over ice.

That all makes sense, right?

Haha, I'll explain it better. On Saturday I ran the Icebreaker Indoor Half Marathon at the Pettit National Ice center in Milwaukee. This is my second year participating in this unique event where you get to run an indoor race around the ice arena. The organizers make it fun - they play music that the runners have requested, they have an announcer calling out your lap counts as you near the finish, and they have stands for spectators to cheer you on for all 47.5 laps if they want! Another bonus is getting distracted by all the speedskaters whizzing by as you plod along. The announcer even let us know that some Olympians were on the ice as we raced. Way to make me feel mediocre! Haha! I kid. (Kind of.)

The race also provided back bibs if you wanted to write a message. I went with this:

It made for some good conversations. :)

So yes, I think this race is a lot of run. Just bring along some friends and it's like a party where you're never more than 445 meters away from a running buddy. (That's the length of the track at the Pettit)

Mattie wins the bib number lottery this time!
I was hoping to run this race under 2:10. I haven't raced a half in quite a while (lazy runner alert!), so I wasn't sure what my capabilities were.  I ended up feeling really great after the first 30 minutes or so and my finish time was 2:05:15 (9:31 pace).  Yay!
Photo from Running in the USA. I think I may buy it - it's cute!
After the race (and appropriate post-race beer refueling with the gang) I headed just over the border into Illinois to stay at Kim's because we were signed up to do the Frozen Zucchini Snowshoe Adventure the next day! Kim has been saying for a long time how much fun (and hard!) showshoe running is and how much she enjoyed this race in the past. Sadly, it's really difficult to do a snowshoe race when winter is being lazy and not producing snow! The race organizers sent out an email during the week that the race would have to be a trail running race, which is totally understandable. They also sent out an email the day before the race to warn us all that the course was very, very icy. Ah, an adventure trail race!
So Kim and I and our crazy outfits made the most of it!
Photo from Kim
The race organizers went above and beyond by spray painting all of the icy spots (and there were a lot!) and having volunteers along the course to warn us of the ice. The course was a double loop, so it was nice to know what to anticipate the second time around. I'm overly hesitant on ice, so I did slow down quite a bit on the bad patches and Kim was nice enough to wait for me. I'd say the conditions were 50% ice covered pavement, 40% snow covered long grass and 10% clear running conditions. So it did end up being challenging, but in a different way than running on showshoes would have been! And it was still crazy fun because I was with Kim and because the volunteers and other runners were having fun too.

Photo from Kim
We finished in 33:26, which is actually faster than I thought we were going with all of my tiny, baby steps over the ice. I really enjoyed the race but I know I want to come back next year and tackle it on snowshoes!
All in all it was a (n)ice weekend!
Have you ever done an indoor race or a snowshoe race? Dang, I can't even say yes to the second one yet!

Friday, January 23, 2015

You're Boring

I haven't posted in a while, and that seems to be the trend in the opening of my last few (sporadic) posts.

I'd love to make excuses like "I've been too busy" or "My thumbs were bitten off by a crazed housecat that went overboard on the nip" but the truth is I just haven't wanted to blog. Over the last couple years blogging has become so BORING. Aside from a handful of blogs that I enjoy, reading the blogs in my feed makes be want to scratch my eyes out and wish I had never become literate.   It seems like the whole blog world has turned into kiss-ass product reviews, canned 'top 10 tips', Pinterest clickbait or overzealous bragging complete with dozens of selfies all from the same angle.


Boo bloggers.

I used to enjoy writing my stories and reading everyone else's. I used to enjoy interacting with bloggers and actually feeling a connection with someone who was otherwise a random stranger. I used to enjoy reading posts with no ulterior motive other than just being a goddamn genuine person talking about their life.

I feel like I need to throw in a "GET OFF MY LAWN!"

Whatever. I'm going to try to enjoy it again. I'm going to write my shit, because I like to document my running adventures and I have a lot of them coming up in the near future. I'd also love recommendations of blogs anyone actually enjoys reading.

Here's hoping...

Friday, November 14, 2014

What gets your rear in gear?

I know I'm not the first person to ever ask this question, but I've been thinking about it a lot lately: What motivates you? I'm finally starting to find the motivation I've been lacking most of this year when it comes to running and fitness. I'm trying to figure out what the factors are that turned the light on for me, but I think it's a combination of a few things:

1. A new running group. In the beginning of October I started running with a Pub Run group that meets every Tuesday night. Ever since the first time I joined I haven't missed a week and I look forward to every Tuesday evening. This also means I get a 6 mile run done early in the week, and that motivates me to get more miles as the week goes on. Also, I really enjoy everyone's company no matter who shows up from week to week. Runners are (for the most part) really awesome people to talk to! (One more perk - you don't feel like you're bragging when you talk about all the races you've done, because they've all done a ton of them too!)

2. Being sick of being mediocre (for me). Now, I have nothing against running for fun, winging a training plan and not having goals for races. The majority of my races are for fun and if I was constantly chasing goals I know I would get burned out. BUT. I haven't chased a goal in quite a while. In early 2013 I consistently trained and knocked out some big PRs in the 5k, 5 mile, 10k and 1/2 marathon distances. AND THAT WAS REALLY FUN! I still feel a sense of pride over the times I ran, but also a sense of sadness that I didn't keep my training going. I'd like to have pride in a new race time that isn't over a year and a half old!

3. Summer is over. I love summer and doing all of the summer things: Boating, tubing, canoeing, camping, fishing, hiking, going to baseball games, sitting outside drinking beers etc, etc etc. I don't make running my priority and I'm really ok with that because I don't want to be a slave to my fitness routine. I WANT to do all the fun things and make new memories. But now my schedule is clearing up and my weeknights aren't as busy. I can make running more of a priority because I'm not as tempted to skip my workouts. I also joined back up at my local gym which has 24 hour access, so I really have no reason to make excuses!

So, I think that's big chunk of the reasons that I'm finding my running mojo again. It's time to kick my lazy butt in the face!

So, what are the things that motivate you? Cooler weather? Warmer weather? Running buddies? A running coach? Signing up for a race? Pants don't fit?