twenty nine.

i’ve been thinking of things that might commemorate my birthday this year: a list of 29 things. they can’t be all about running because frankly, i haven’t been running long enough. maybe a combo of things about running and life? hmm. perhaps. or 29 repeats of a big hill? running-related, no less.

IMG_4680maybe there’s no grand gesture to celebrate another year on earth. that’s a distinct possibility, too.

i don’t even know.

tonight i showed up at practice – with the team i help coach and they humbled me and another coach and friend (whose birthday was today) and lit candles and brought sweet treats and we warmed up briefly and then did about an hour of awesome yoga led by a fellow-coach (and new friend). i felt honored and something. when you do yoga with others – it’s a truly transformative experience.

i guess i felt the love.

NAMASTE!

(does it break the rules if you type it in all CAPS?)

whatever, NAMASTE, CRRC!

we’ll see what tomorrow brings!

Birkie 2015, here we come!

a few months ago i met a new friend. we initially met and bonded over a mutual love for the Ironman Wisconsin finish line. (well, that’s how i remember it…and what’s not to love about the Ironman Wisconsin finish line?) flash forward to November -a few months later along with a few messages and ultimately a handful of pottery classes later, with winter upon us – we were both deeply immersed in wedging some clay at the start of class and my new friend turned to me and said, “shayla, what are you doing this weekend – saturday and sunday? do you have plans?”

i replied that i was busy friday, but my inquiring mind also asked, “why? what’s up?”

and then she quickly responded, “do you want to take a trip up north to kick off our Birkie training?”

YUP!

you see, she and i had briefly talked about doing the Birkie a while back and then another friend of mine mentioned that she was new to skiing, but also signed up – so i bit the bullet and committed to skiing the Birkie in 2015.

my brief history with cross country skiing is as follows: in 2010 i decided to spend a decent amount of money on a pretty good skate ski setup. i skied a fair amount that winter, a little bit in 2011-2012, and very few times over the past two winters. some of it was cold (read: me being wimpy) and some of it was life (read: excuses), but i actually realized over the past two winters that i really enjoy being outside and being active in all of Wisconsin’s seasons – winter included. and what better way to get out and enjoy it than to ski an ultramarathon event? (yep, 51km!)

so, after a day or maybe two i let my friend know that yes, i was indeed in for a mini ski adventure weekend!

we hit the road early(ish) saturday morning towards Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (the UP). admittedly, i knew we were headed to a place called Ironwood but i didn’t realize until we were there that it was in another state. oh, details…

when we arrived, driving down back country roads to the trails we were greeted with this:

IMG_4603a snow-covered winter wonderland! i think at one point we both turned to face one another and somewhat giddy, said, “WOW!”

after pulling into the packed place and some fun banter with the guy working the gate, we quickly (ok, me pokily) changed and headed out for some solid ski time. my first 20 minutes were close to awful. i hadn’t waxed my skis since February and i felt like a fish out of water or some other appropriate analogy. after watching me struggle, my awesome friend swapped skis with me (so i could glide a bit and attempt to keep up). we toured around a bunch of trails and i only wiped out once. it was a perfectly balmy 35-degree day and we ended up logging at least 10 miles.

IMG_4612here we are early into day 1 – fresh faced and obviously excited for the adventure ahead.

we soon called it a day, but not before snapping some photos of the amazing scenery:

IMG_4605we spent the remainder of our saturday relaxing, eating dinner with the locals in nearby Hurley, Wisconsin, and each enjoying glasses of the best $3.50 wine i’ve ever had.

sunday morning we were up again relatively early – well, early enough to grab some breakfast before arriving promptly at 9am when the trails were slated to open. sunday morning the weather was 20 degrees colder. we were sitting pretty at about 15 degrees (with a bit of a windchill), so we both bundled up a bit more ready to tackle a few more hours before heading back to Madison. my friend skated with me a bit and also got the opportunity to laugh at me as i attempted to climb and descend some of the biggest hills on the trails. let’s just say that my descents especially need some work. when i lost my balance i simply tried to kind of sit down or bail softly to the side. after we finished that first 5k or so i said i would be done with hills for the day. we skied a bit more – parting ways once or twice and i snapped this (not fantastic) selfie at some point. at least you can see how much more frosty i was on sunday than when we were out saturday.

IMG_4609then, a bit later, after a break in the warming house, my friend switched to her classic skis, we went out, and voila, i could finally keep up! i snapped another picture as i logged my final miles for the day!

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all in all, i think i logged a bit over 20 miles in the two days we were out there. i’ve definitely got a bit of work to do, but i feel a lot better knowing that i successfully started building a skiing base.

thank you Ironwood and Hurley for the loads of snow. thank you body for holding up for me to log some awesome first miles of the season. and thank you friend for asking me to take this adventure with you into the north woods to kickoff our 2015 Birkie training! really, here goes…

well, hello!

i’ve been away for a while and i’ll explain all of that sometime soon, but in the meantime – here’s a bit about a woman, an ultra runner, a #sisterhero runner that i just learned about this week. so really, hello!

take a read here of an interview with her on iRunFar.

and checkout her blog, too: http://larisadannis.wordpress.com/

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my favorite treadmill workout.

between my run streak and the weather lately, i’ve recently become reacquainted with the treadmill at work. i love that my office has a workout room – even though i don’t utilize it 90% of the year. in fact, in 2012 i tried to absolutely not use it at all. and i think i probably kept my use of it to less than 10 times that year. wow.

nonetheless, while trying to squeeze in at least one mile as the weather turned truly into winter during the month of December, i hopped back on. and while the first run there was just a mile, i think the next time on was two and then i decided that i had a half hour (our TM’s at work have a 30 minute limit) so i’d better use my time wisely.

it brought me back to a workout we had done in college when i was rowing. well, we would frequently do something like 3 X 10′ – 4/3/2/1 (minutes). each time that interval was up, you would change speed/effort.

on the treadmill, so far, my workout has gone something like this: 1/2/3/4/5/4/3/2/1 minutes. i start out usually, at about 6.5 mph and bump it up one each time the interval changes. i realized that gets me just about a minute short of exactly three miles. not too shabby.

yesterday, the weather was like this:

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and ok, that’s not even “the weather,” just a photo of how cold it was outside (before the windchill) on my way to work. oof!

so midday today, i hit up the ‘mill again – my boss was in the workout room getting his sweat on, too. i still can’t decide if that’s awkward or not. i am so used to talking to people when we’re working out in the same space (ex: running together) that i think i found it awkward. anyway, our department wins today for working out.

yup, i made that up.

nonetheless, i digress. i love this workout and i was thinking today that i should start trying to bump up the intensity a little – either by starting a bump or two higher or by having back-to-back 5 minute intervals in the middle (rounding it out to exactly 30 minutes of work). what do you think?

do you have any favorite treadmill workouts you do to save your sanity? oh, and up next, lifting…stay tuned!

 

#RWRunStreak. <– I did that.

so my running in 2013, in terms of my say, past 4 or 5 years of running, to put it into context…it kinda stunk.

in the end, i almost made it to logging 600 miles. almost.

but instead of spending this entire post talking about my feeling about what may or may not be shortcomings in my running year past, I want to talk a little bit about the highlights.

last may I headed to the east if Madison a bit to run the Ice Age Trail half marathon. it was a kind of chilly day, but i ran hard and finished 3rd in my age group. i came in well under 2 hours (1:51 and change) and was in the top 10 women overall.

i also raced my first 5k. ouch!

oh, and in April, I did the MadCity 50k relay with a bunch of my favorite run buddies as a part of Team Unicorn Apocalypse. with that name alone, we are totally winning, guys.

but then I mostly laid low, trying to run for fun, not running a ton, in general – besides ultimate frisbee, and trying to heal this (sometimes literally) pain in my ass injury.

for the most part, i know what work i put in and what i didn’t so i understand why i am where i am physically…and i also want to get back to where i was.

in November i was supposed to run the inaugural fall version of the Madison Marathon, but unfortunately i had to drop to the half a few weeks out. it was an ok day and when i finally took a minute to really reflect, i realize that I ran a solid race – that it was my second best time, and while i didn’t feel awesome, the race also didn’t make me feel worse.

oh, and flash back to october….i ran the relay version of the Fall 50 with Krista and Jenny…again under the moniker “Unicorn Apocalypse.”

but turkey day rolled around and some of my aforementioned running buddies (Krista and Mel) mentioned that they were going to try to complete the #RWRunStreak and i decided to join them.

so, i saddled up. i accepted the challenge. and i completed it.

for one, for me this seemed like a HUGE accomplishment in the world of running. i had a goal and i accomplished it. i had some structure for exactly thirty five days. hallelujah!

but seriously, it was a big offing deal.

the thing is – and i think i could ask any yogi (as an example) who does some sort of intensive training how they feel during and after and i think they would feel similar. i think they would talk about how they discover something about themselves. and about something outside themselves.

so while there were days (quite a few) when i ran just over one mile. there were also moments of mental toughness to be earned on the treadmill. a seven-miler on a beautiful december day. runs with company. traditions. and also solitary, and eye-opening runs everywhere in between.

i wanted to keep my streak alive, for at least 50 days, but with today’s temps and it being a monday and other responsibilities made it pretty hard to get done. so, i decided it was in my best interest to get my feet under me this week – this first week of january. and then to get back into a swing.

tomorrow’s going to be colder than…well, it’s freaking freezing here. but i’m hoping i can sneak away from my desk for a bit to get a run in. and if not, i’ll deal and try again on wednesday.

in the end though…i am so glad i decided to run-streak.

it reminded me why i do this. it reminded me why i run.

and that is priceless.

cat’s outta the bag.

well friends, you heard it here first…

actually, you’re hearing it right now for the first time.

just before my head hit the pillow (the pillow it barely left all weekend as I was laid up with some awful virus) on sunday night, I did it. I registered for the Madison Marathon.

ok, no gasps, really. I love this city. I love it in the fall. and truth be told, I needed a little kick in the ass ahem, motivation to help me find my running groove again.

the past, let’s say 6 months or so….have left me straying ever so slightly from my original love. and honestly, I want her back. I am not too proud to say I missed you, running. I’m not too big to admit that I left you hanging. I knew it all along and while I’ve given you just enough attention to keep this flame we have flickering going, I realize now that I’m not the same without you. Nope, I guess distance really does make the heart grow finder. Oh, and relationships like ours, why yes, they take work. and running, please remember this: you are worth it.

it was funny that I was lying in bed all weekend ill. ok, funny in a “this is a sign, shay, to get your @$$ in gear and to treat your body better and to start prioritizing the most important things.”

all funnies aside, on sunday night, I recommitted – to running and to really being the best me there is.

oh, and some gorgeous new Mizunos showed up at my door friday afternoon and I haven’t even gotten them out for their maiden voyage yet. embarrassing.

I really do know how to rub salt in a wound….

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looking ahead.

i’ve been itching for a goal race for a little while now. yes, it has been fun getting recovered over the last 6+ months – running when i wanted, as far as i wanted, and as hard as i wanted (or really, could…i pushed that last one a bit at times). that said, with friends gearing back up into their racing seasons, i’m getting the itch. and, i’ve been feeling pretty darn good lately, so i think it’s time!

a while back – maybe a month or so ago a few things happened. 1. i ran a trail half marathon (in newer shoes, no doubt) and thoroughly enjoyed it, despite being a little undertrained. 2. my littlest sister, Jordie – she mentioned that she wanted to start running. and 3. i saw that Mizuno was offering an(other) opportunity to run-test some of their new shoes.

that combination lit a spark in me.

first, as i mentioned earlier, the running itch is back. second, i want my sis to re-discover running. (i say re-discover because she was a high-school trackster, even though she hasn’t run in a while) and i thought new shoes – for both of us – might be the perfect storm!

today i got an email from Mizuno that we were selected (i signed us up) to try out their new Wave Sayonara shoes. they’re slated as Mizuno’s improvement on the Wave Precisions (which are going away) – and the Precisions were my FIRST pair of Mizunos. i loved them. they helped me to find running again and soon thereafter, i snatched up a pair of Elixrs, too, so i had some options within the same family.

Elixr's on the left, Precisions on the right.

Elixr’s on the left, Precisions on the right.

i loved both of these pairs of shoes. as a sidenote, i lost the Precisions when my apartment building had a fire two summers ago. but i did slip on the Elixrs as i ran out of the burning building. they got me through summer running – the only thing that kept me sane at the time – and eventually, a pair of each later, i’ve run countless miles and distances ranging from 5k to 50 miles.

so, i love Mizunos.

and recently, i decided that my end goal for this Fall is too run my fastest marathon. i’m not sure which race that will be yet – i have a few ideas – but i know the new Sayonaras will be a key to getting me to that line healthily and happily.

and perhaps the most important part of this post is that i hope that looking ahead also includes a race (a 5k, maybe) with my little sister.

she was there when i ran my first marathon in 2010…

Jords and me after the Chicago Marathon. 10-10-10, baby!

Jords and me after the Chicago Marathon. 10-10-10, baby!

she wrote me a note for every 10 miles i ran of 50 a little over a year later…

and you better darned well believe that i’ll be there for her – no matter how many miles she decides to conquer.

i’m looking ahead and it looks good!!!