Monday, August 23, 2010

Fun, fun, fun at the MMM

Saturday was the Madison Mini Marathon in Madison, Wisconsin, and - wow! - it was such a great day. There was a half marathon and a 5K run simultaneously through the center of Madison. Nearly 5,000 people participated!

I was so excited to get to meet the amazing women and supporters of Girls on the Run of Dane County. We were able get together before the run to introduce ourselves and take a group photo. Then we ran and cheered each other on. In fact, I crossed the finish line beside a fellow SoleMates runner... we helped each other finish strong through the last half mile of the course to achieve a sub-2:00:00 finish, a PR for me! Seeing my cousins Scott, Christina and baby Sam cheering me on a few blocks from the finish line also helped me earn my PR goal. Thanks for the support!!!

My fabulous cousin Christina also ran her first 5K - in an awesome 31 minutes! Welcome to the runner community, Christina!

After the running events, there was a big post-race party at the UW Madison campus student union terrace. We were able to enjoy live music, food, drinks and a fun, laid back atmosphere alongside Lake Mendota. It was a perfect way to celebrate a great run... that and a pint of Spotted Cow beer and Wisconsin-specialty cheese curds!

Dane County GOTR - I hope you'll come visit us in NY sometime! :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Of Bears, Beer and Cheese... and Running of Course!

I just spent the weekend in Vernon, New Jersey with some old girl friends that I grew up with. Since we were staying at a mountain resort that had several miles of low-trafficked roads, as well as peaceful trails, I was excited to pack my running gear and explore the wooded property. On Saturday, late afternoon, I laced up my sneakers, turned on my iPod Shuffle, and headed out. After about a half mile, I stopped dead in my tracks.... A big, black grizzly bear was standing in front of me across the street! My instinct was to run but I've heard somewhere that you shouldn't try to outrun a bear, even if you're a decently-fast distance runner like me. So I waited in place until a car passed by and scared it back into the woods.

The bear I saw didn't look at innocently competitive as this road running bear, right.

I was reminded of the start of the Poconos Wurst 5K. For some reason, the announcement that there had been a bear on that course earlier in the morning didn't phase me. Coming face-to-face with a bear armed only with a tiny music player this weekend made me realize that trail running perhaps requires a little more preparation and understanding of your environment. Anyone have tips about their favorite running accessory, especially for trail running?

Also, I'd like to remind everyone that this weekend is the Madison Mini Marathon. I'll be in good ol' Wisconsin from Friday to Monday. If you're a midwesterner, it's not too late to join the half marathon or the 5K event - or just come and cheer and then enjoy the post-race party! There will be beer and cheese and other Wisconsin culinary specialties, as well as local bands providing entertainment. And, I'll be there with my cousin Christina and the Girls on the Run of Dane County. We'd love your support as a cheering spectator, a GOTR volunteer with your local chapter, or with a donation though this link or through your local GOTR chapter's fundraising page.

Of course, while I love sharing my experiences running around the country in support of meaningful charities that are near to my heart, I also want to encourage all of you to actively engage within your community. Whether you go out for a road run and discover a new place in town, or you volunteer to help a local non-profit for a day, do something active - it will make you feel great! We'd love to hear from you if you have a project or charity or even a great local road run you'd like to tell us about!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The important stuff first. I've decided that my RUS charity will be Jamal Place, a group home for troubled boys and young men on Chicago's west side. Jamal Place makes positive changes in the lives of boys and young men through superior residential care, individual therapeutic programs, quality educational opportunities and extended family resources. Jamal Place helps young men become caring and responsible citizens. (I admit borrowing all that from JP's website.) Anyways, I was previously involved with Jamal Place, primarily as a donor, and got to know its founder and Executive Director, Ann Deuel. She's incredible and may be the most dogged and indefatigable person I know. She has no agenda other then to do what is in the best interests of the boys and young men at Jamal Place. She's in a constant battle to find funding to keep Jamal Place open, especially these days. My goal is to help as much as I can through the generosity of my friends, family and anyone I can harangue in to donating money. I encourage you to visit Jamal Place's website to learn more about it and make a donation.... pretty please!

On to the other stuff... last weekend I did the "Whirlpool Ironman 70.3 Steelhead Triathlon presented by Pizza Hut" in Benton Harbor, Michigan. That's the actual, official title. Guess they've got to keep the corporate sponsors happy, altho I have no idea what the "Steelhead" part means. The 70.3 part comes from 1.2 miles swim + 56 mile bike + 13.1 mile run = 70.3 miles. That means it is really a 1/2 Ironman. The real Ironman is 2.4 + 112 + 26.2 = 140.6. The company that owns the "Ironman" brand created the 70.3 series a few years back. Kind of a smart move because they can put the Ironman logo (the infamous M dot above) on races that are 1/2 the distance of a full Ironman. Why go 140.6 when you can go 70.3 and still get the same cool finisher shirt?

As for the race itself, it was great. It was well organized. The course was fast. Lots of spectators. It was my friend's first triathlon in 9 years so going slow and pacing ourselves was the theme of the day. We also didn't train too seriously, so it was just a matter of finishing. We endured a downpour for the first hour, some bike breakdowns (why do I keep getting flats!), intestinal issues that led to potty stops, and the usual unexpected issues to deal with, but we finished strong. I'm a happy camper.

Next up, the NYC marathon.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010


If you can't guess from the image, my next state run will be... Wisconsin! (Yes, that is a running cheese.) I'll be running the Madison Mini Marathon (aka "the MMM") on August 21. This half marathon loops through the University of Wisconsin, Madison campus, the Henry Vilas Zoo, Wisconsin Arboretum and along Lake Mendota and University Bay.

I am really excited to share with you that I've connected with the Girls on the Run Dane County for this event. I'll be meeting a group of Dane County GOTR coaches, volunteers and supporters at the start line so we can introduce ourselves, have a photo op and encourage each other through the 13.1 mile run. Of course, we'll be wearing our GOTR and GOTR SoleMates shirts... if you spot us on the course, please cheer us on! And if you'd like to support GOTR's running programs for girls ages 8 to 13 that foster a healthy lifestyle, self-confidence and build positive relationships, you can always do so here.

If you're a Mid-Westerner (Chicagoans, I hear you're only about 2 hours away, hint, hint!), there is still time to sign up for the MMM! There is a 5K event for anyone interested in taking part in the MMM but not yet ready for a half marathon. My amazing cousin Christina, a new mommy, will be running the 5K - and then we'll celebrate our finishes at the big post-race party at Memorial Union Terrace. This being Wisconsin, there will be lots of Spotted Cow beer, Wisconsin cheese curds, brats of every kind, and fresh fruit available for post-run nourishment. If that sounds good to you, but you don't want to run, you can cheer at a spectator area and join the post-race party after cheering on the runners.

See you in Madison!