Saturday, December 31, 2011

Run Into The New Year 10k Recap

I promised myself one more PR (personal record) this year, and today I made good on that promise.  I ran my first official 10k - thus guaranteeing that no matter how I did, it would be a PR.

The weather was unbelievable for this time of year.  We've been having something of a warm spell the last few weeks.  Temperatures have been in the high 30's - low 40's.  It hasn't snowed at all.  Normally by this time of year, the snow is piled up and everyone has taken to huddling on the couch with blankets and warm beverages, so I definitely have no complaints in the race day weather department.  We arrived at the starting line about half an hour before the race, just in time to watch the 5k start. The 5k racers did one loop of the course (10k runners would be doing it twice) and the lead male came in in just over 15:30.  Watching those guys finish never fails to amaze me.

Then it was my turn to run.  I settled myself in toward the rear of the pack, knowing that my lack of training was going to make me slower than I would normally be.  The gun went off and the race was on.  The first mile felt pretty good and I was pleased to see that I clocked a 9:57.  Not bad for a girl who has been slacking big time.  After that, I slowed down a bit, knowing that there was still over 5 miles to go.  The first loop of the course wasn't bad - other than the mile markers being misplaced (some miles were short, others were long).  I figured as long as I had my Garmin, the messed up mile markers really weren't a big deal.  The sun was shining, the wind wasn't crazy, there were relatively few hills, and I was racing for the first time in months.  I was happy.

My second lap had just started as the lead male finished the entire race.  About half a mile into that loop things started to go wrong.  My right IT band began to flare up and I had to pull off the course and attempt to stretch it out.  The stretch seemed to help and I started running again.  That didn't last.  Before long, the ache in my right knee demanded attention again.  After that, I moved to a pattern of running until the ache became too much, stopping, stretching and slowly working my way back up to something that resembled a run.

I was thrilled as I power-walked up the last big hill, knowing that the finish line was less than 2 minutes away and all down hill!  I pushed the pain in my leg out of my mind, cranked up my iPod, and sprinted to the line. It may not have been my best race ever, but I was proud of finishing strong.  Official Finish Time: 1:04:31.

I collected my shirt and champagne (oh yes, they gave us a full-sized bottle of champagne for running), located The Husband (who finished in just over 56 minutes), and headed home.

My last race of 2011 is in the books and I'm already excited about my first race of 2012 - where I will try to begin the New Year the same way the previous year ended...with a new PR.

Happy New Year everyone!

In The Rear View Mirror: 2011

2011 is almost over and it wouldn't be New Year's without a 'Year In Review' post!  Like any other year, 2011 had its high points and its low points. I ran. I raced. I traveled.  I did a ton of yoga. I blogged for a full year (blogiversary: 12/27). I also got off track, cried, and had a few meltdowns.  Overall, I think the positive far outweighed the negative - something I am truly grateful for.

So without further ado, here's my 2011 Year in Review!

Most Popular Post: Mountain Paradise - Day 2

Runner Up: Full Moon Half Marathon Recap

Honorable Mention: A Change of Perspective
*based on total number of page views

Favorite Race: Green Bay Marathon
-I trained for 18 weeks, ran 26.35 miles (instead of the standard 26.2 miles due to a mis-measured course) in 40mph wind gusts, and finished the race with a smile on my face and a deep sense of personal satisfaction.

Runner Up: Warrior Dash
-The race course was incredibly fun, but what really made this race amazing was doing it with my husband and our friends.
Honorable Mention: Full Moon Half Marathon
-I didn't even want to race that night, but ended up having the race of my life.

Most Fun Post To Write: Run With Me
-The post itself is nothing all that special, but I really had fun taking the pictures and planning the post while I was running.

Favorite Photo-Heavy Post: Mountain Paradise - Day 2

Runner Up: A House of Divided Loyalty
Honorable Mention: The Emerald City

Best Read of the Year:

Runner Up:
-Honorable Mention:

And now I just have one more order of business for 2011.  I'm running a 10k at noon today.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Memories of Christmas Past

Christmas Day was sort of a blast from the past for me.  For the first time in almost 25 years, my mom's side of the family gathered at my grandma's house to celebrate the holiday.

We haven't had Christmas in this house since 1988 when it was decided that the house where my mom and her 5 siblings grew up had become too small for the rapidly expanding family.  Family size in 1988: 11 adults, 5 children.  I think I'm the only one of my cousins who can actually remember having Christmas at Grandma's!

This year, 17 adults (1 aunt/her husband and 3 cousins/1 cousin's spouse weren't able to join us) and 2 dogs crammed into the 984 sq. ft. house that has been home to our family since it was built in 1953 for what is likely the last time since Grandma passed away last month.  I think my mom and her siblings wanted to 'go home for Christmas' one more time before the house is sold.  Seems perfectly reasonable to me.  Sure, we were packed in like sardines and it was a little weird being in the house without Grandma there, but it brought back so many memories and really illustrated how much the family has changed since 1988!

Some things haven't changed - like Grandma's collection of spoon rests on the wall above the stove.

And Grandma & Grandpa's wedding photo:

 Other things have changed - like the addition of my mother-in-law's amazing Christmas cookies (a fixture every year since I met The Husband).

Seriously...the woman is one chromosome away from being Martha Stewart (but much nicer).

Due to the immense size of the family (22 people all told), we did away with a gift exchange long ago, so imagine my surprise when each of Grandma's grandchildren received one last Christmas gift from her.  When I opened my box, I found this:

This music box is one of my earliest memories of Grandma's house.  It used to sit atop the stereo in the living room - right at a little girl's eye level.  Every time I was at Grandma's house, either she or Grandpa would wind it up and let me pull the little pin on the side to make it play - over and over.  I've always loved this music box and I'm so happy it was entrusted to me. (I would have added a video of it playing, but it refuses to upload properly!)

After the gifts were opened; dessert was had, football was watched and then we all departed - for likely the last time.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Since we all know that there are two little reasons that I don't decorate for the holidays, I thought I'd wish you all a Merry Christmas with pictures of adorable fuzzballs instead of pictures of twinkling trees and piles of presents!

(Sorry for the image quality on some of them, but Walter and Spot don't like to hold still and wait for me to get my regular camera!)


Merry Christmas from The Rabbits and Runs Family!

Friday, December 23, 2011

In The Kitchen

It's been a busy day in the RabbitsandRuns house - especially the kitchen, but I'll get to that in a minute.

Today is also my mom's birthday!  She's never been a fan of being a Christmas baby.  As a child, her birthday and Christmas presents were often combined, or if they weren't, they were usually wrapped in Christmas paper.  As a result, I've been well-educated over the years as to what to do and what not to do when dealing with a holiday birthday.  This came in handy when my half-sister (dad's kid) was born on December 26th!  In honor of the occasion, The Husband and I took mom and my uncle to lunch at a build-you-own-stirfry place (mom's request) and then followed it with cake and presents at mom's house.  Low key, but still a separate celebration (Holiday Birthday Rule #23: Always have a separate celebration.)

After lunch and a sugar rush, it was back home and into the kitchen.  I seem to have been assigned to bring all things carbohydrate to the family Christmas celebration on Sunday.  Original Assignment: Bring stuffing and mashed potatoes.  My Interpretation: Bring two kinds of stuffing and two potato dishes.  What? I like interesting food and my mom's side of the family is the size of a small army!

First up: Garlic & Romano Smashed Red Potatoes

I started by washing and hacking up 5 pounds of red potatoes and boiling them.
After draining, they were smashed with milk, butter, romano cheese and minced garlic.  I love this dish because it's perfectly acceptable to leave some lumps - they taste better that way.

Finished Product
Dish #2: Mushroom Stuffing. 

Diced onion, celery and sliced mushrooms were sauteed in butter, seasoned with some black pepper, and then combined with bread cubes and chicken stock.  The results are not photogenic (and a wee bit on the moist side), but they taste awesome - see below.

Ugly, but tasty!
Dish #3: Apple Cranberry Stuffing

More chicken stock, more bread cubes, 2 cups of peeled, diced apples, and a small bag of craisins combined to make this dish.  Oddly, this one turned out much drier than the first.  It's also not quite as flavorful, but that's probably a good thing since some of my relatives are not the most adventurous eaters on the planet.  The two stuffing recipes could easily be 'vegetarian-ized' by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock or even 'vegan-ized' by using a non-dairy butter substitute like Earth Balance.

The final dish is the one I was most excited about.  It's a Three Cheese Mashed Potato Casserole that I stumbled onto on The Hungry Mouse.  I loved the step-by-step instructions, complete with photos  - it made me less nervous when my potatoes began to look more like a giant, gooey cheese ball before I topped it and put it in the oven.  The only part I'm not happy about is not being able to taste-test the final product before serving it since it would be totally obvious that I had! (I seriously can't wait to try more of the recipes from The Hungry Mouse)

See what I meant about obvious?

It pouf-ed up like a souffle when it baked!
On that note, I've got a full dishwasher to run and sink full of dishes to wash!

Are you doing any holiday cooking?  If so, what are you making?  If you're not cooking, what are your must-have holiday foods?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Survey

So this little survey is making its way around the blogosphere, so I thought I'd play.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
This is a no-brainer for me.  I don't like egg nog (nor does my stomach), so hot chocolate it is!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
When I was a kid, Santa always wrapped the presents.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
I like white lights. Colored lights are tolerable. Blinking lights drive me insane.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Nope.  It's poisonous to rabbits, so it's banned from this house!

5. When do you hang your decorations up?
Um, about two days after never.  We're always out running around between December 23-26, so there's really no point in decorating.  Also, Walter and Spot would either chew the cord for the lights or knock the whole tree over!  We did decorate one year - Harley just liked to sleep under the tree!

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
I really don't have a favorite.  My family doesn't have any special Christmas food traditions.  If I had to pick something, I'd go with my mother-in-law's shrimp and crab spread.  We always have it on Christmas Eve (and other times of the year as well).

7. Favorite holiday memory from childhood?
It's only a vague memory, but I remember my (then much smaller) extended family cramming into Grandma and Grandpa's basement rec room to open presents and awaiting a phone call from a relative who was studying overseas and couldn't be home for the holiday.

8. What's on your Christmas Wish List?
What I really want for Christmas is this:
However, I think asking for a $700 road bike is a little greedy, so I went with this:

9. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve?
Yep. The husband and I celebrate Christmas with my dad (and the accompanying zoo) on Christmas Eve as well as with my in-laws later in the evening.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
See #5. Although if I ever put that tree up again, the light cord will be hidden better.

11. Snow. Love it or dread it?
I hate snow with a passion.  I don't like driving in it. I hate shoveling it.  I firmly believe that anyone who wants a 'White Christmas' should volunteer to shovel for the rest of us!

12. Real tree or Fake tree?
Fake please.  Real ones make me sneeze!

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I still wear it!  The Husband (before he was The Husband) gave me a bracelet from Tiffany's that he picked up from the flagship store in New York while traveling on business.


14. What's the most important thing about Christmas for you?
I'm really not a holiday person, so for me, it's about surviving the season without losing my temper. (Feel free to call me 'Scrooge' or 'Grinch' - I'm used to it)

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
I really don't like most desserts - too sticky and sweet for my taste.  I do like a nice cup of coffee with a splash of Bailey's.

16. What is your favorite tradition?
Buying presents for my in-laws dogs.  After the dogs have unwrapped their presents, they help us open ours.

17. What tops your tree?
See #5 and #10.  I think we have a star as a topper, but I can't remember and I'm not inclined to go digging around in the attic to find out!

18. What do you prefer: giving or receiving?
I like giving.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?
You're asking this of a girl who avoids listening to the radio between Thanksgiving and Christmas solely to avoid Christmas music.  I actually like some of it, but I only willingly listen to Christmas music on December 24th and 25th.   That said, my favorites are Carol of the Bells and O Holy Night.

20. Candy canes: Yuck or Yum?
I like the miniature candy canes.

21. Favorite Christmas movie?
The only tolerable one out there: A Christmas Story

22. What do you leave for Santa?
Nothing anymore, but I always left cookies as a kid.

23. Do you have a Christmas morning tradition?
Ours has kind of evolved over the years.  The last few years have involved breakfast at my mom's house followed by brunch at the in-laws house.

24. Do you prefer to shop online or in a mall?
Malls make me twitchy.  Amazon is my best friend.

25. Christmas card or Christmas letter?
I've given up on cards this year.  I do love mocking most Christmas letters.

Answer one of these questions in the comments section...or all of them on your own blog.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A House of Divided Loyalty

Let me be clear - I am a Packers fan, but I also like the Oakland Raiders (they're my dad's favorite team).  Normally this isn't a problem as the two teams rarely play each other.  Today was all about divided loyalty since my two favorite teams played each other at Lambeau Field.

My dad, brother, The Husband and I set off around 11am and before we knew it, we were in Green Bay.  The last time I was at a Packer game it was freezing cold and the seats and the ground were covered in an inch of ice.  They don't call Lambeau Field the Frozen Tundra for nothing!  Today, on the other hand was practically tropical in comparison (high 30's-low 40's).

After parking the car, we joined the gigantic party that surrounds the stadium.  We stopped at an outdoor bar, grabbed a couple of beers, enjoyed some live music (good cover of Jesse's Girl, bad cover of Livin' On A Prayer) and people-watched.  Packer fans really do go all out!

Before long, it was time to head inside.
Dad & I
The stadium was much more 'alive' then the last time I was here.

Pre-game Warmup
Finally, it was game time!

Your Green Bay Packers!

By half time, it was pretty obvious what the end result was going to be.

Dad wasn't the happiest guy in the place, but he was still having a good time - despite the good-natured teasing from the people around us.

Frozen Foursome
The game continued on with a lot more Green Bay touchdowns, Raiders penalties, roaring fans, and some fun people-watching. 

Welcome to Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood

Note the ABSENCE of foamrubber cheese on my head

Raider Nation - Represent!

The sign says it all
The Packers are 13-0. The Raiders kind of embarrassed themselves. And I loved every minute of it!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Make It Happen

I said I was going to be better about working out and taking care of myself.  I tend to be more consistent when I have a goal - and a training plan. So here it is:

Goal #1: Run the Run Into The New Year 10k on 12/31/11.
-I don't really have a goal time for this race. I'm doing it to give myself a reason to run and a time to beat, which leads me to

Goal #2: Run the Great Lakes Expo Run 10k on 01/29/11 in under an hour (or at the very least improve on whatever I do at the New Year's Eve race).

Today is Day 1 of my 8 week training plan.  I got home from work and promptly crawled under the covers for 45 minutes in an attempt to get warm (and let the joys of rush hour traffic dissipate). Finally, I couldn't stall any more.  I pulled my winter running clothes out of the closet and laced up a new pair of Adizero Tempo running shoes since my old ones are due for retirement.
Woo...glistening white running shoes. Must get them dirty!
I headed out into the cold for 3 miles.  The first mile and a half sucked pretty bad due to a not-so-gentle wind in my face, but after a while I was so cold I stopped caring!  The second half of the run was a little better since the wind was at my back.  Overall, it was an okay run.  My pace was a disaster, but that's to be expected since I haven't been running at all lately.  I've got my work cut out for me!

Distance: 3.11 miles
Time: 31:05
Avg. Pace: 9:59

I've got 7 weeks and 6 days left to make this happen.  Wish me luck...and kick my ass if I start showing signs of slacking!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Looking Forward

Who am I?  It depends who you ask. I seem to have a lot of titles:
  • wife
  • daughter
  • bunny-mom
  • sister
  • friend
  • accountant
  • blogger
  • wannabe writer
  • athlete
I've been neglecting that last title for the past few months and I'm determined to change that.  I've spent some time investigating possible events for next season and I thought I'd share some of the more intriguing options I've found.

First, I really want to stay active over the long, cold, dark Wisconsin winter, so I'm thinking of doing the remaining races in the Great Lakes Running Series.  I missed the first race in the series, but I should be able to be at the rest of them.  Each of the races provides a 5k or a 10k option.

12/31/11: Run Into The New Year
-I'd likely do the 10k at this one.  I've PR'd in every race I've done this year and I know there's no way I can beat my 5k time right now, so since I've never raced a 10k it's an automatic PR!

01/29/12: Great Lakes Expo Run (10k)

02/18/12: Big Chill Run (5k or 10k)

03/17/12: Luck of the Irish Run (5k or 10k)

I also want to run a spring half marathon.  As much as I bitched and moaned about training for a marathon last winter, there were definite advantages to doing so.  It may have been freezing cold, but the indoor track was always an option on the worst days!  Contenders for my spring half include:

TBD: Mount Pleasant Half Marathon (some time in early April)
04/22/12: Oshkosh Half Marathon
05/27/11: Madison Half Marathon

I've been entertaining the idea of branching out into multi-sport events, so a few of those have made my list of 'maybes'.

Early June: South Shore Rock 'n Ride Duathlon

07/29/12: Iron Girl Triathlon - Racine

 I also want to do another mud run/obstacle course event.  Contenders there include:
01/14/12: Tundra Challenge
06/30/12: Warrior Dash Minnesota
08/18/12: Warrior Dash Wisconsin

And last, but definitely not least are the summer/fall half marathons that I don't want to miss!
08/11/12: Full Moon Half Marathon
09/23/12: Fox Cities Half Marathon

So there you have it.  There are lots of possibilities.  All I have to do is decide what I want to do and, of course, TRAIN FOR IT!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thanksgiving Hike(aka Take A Dog To The Woods Day)

I opted out of a traditional Thanksgiving this year.  Instead, I took my mom hiking - and my uncle's dog (aka Puppy Girl) was so excited that we took her along too!  I'm happy that we did because she was hilarious to watch!
Between the long, steep hills and watching the pooch plow through piles of leaves I figured we'd be carrying her after a mile.  I was wrong!  Puppy Girl had more energy than Mom and I combined.  Of course, she did demand frequent water breaks!
She's such a good girl, she even posed for pictures!

After 3 miles of hiking and chatting we arrived back at the car.  Puppy Girl slept in Mom's arms the whole way home, so I guess we finally succeeded in tiring her out!

I think I see a new Thanksgiving tradition in the making!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Letting Go

The quote and accompanying picture above pretty much sum up everything for me yesterday and today. 

In an attempt to let go (and trying to nicer to my body), I laced up my shoes and ran yesterday.  There was nothing remarkable about the distance (3 miles) or the pace (frighteningly slow since I haven't run in so long), but it was freeing.  Somewhere in those three miles I let go of everything else that's going on in my life.  The relief was short-lived as I came crashing back to reality shortly after I finished my run, but for that brief period of time, I felt better than I have in weeks.

Over the next few weeks I hope to return to some sort of reasonable fitness/healthy eating routine and in the process, begin letting go of all the things that have been weighing me down.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dear Body, I Lied

Dear Body,

I lied.  I promised you that I was going to treat you better, but I didn't.  I had the best intentions, but sometimes life happens.  The last two weeks or so have happened hard.

I promised to move you.  Instead, I've spent a lot of time on the couch and I feel it in so many ways.

I promised to fuel you.  Instead, I've either had no appetite or have eaten excessive amounts of crap and chased it with enough caffeine to keep an elephant up all night.

I promised to rest you.  Instead, I've forced you to function, in some cases, on only a few hours of sleep at a time.

I'm truly sorry.  I will try, but I'm not making you any promises.  I'm done making promises that I can't keep.

Monday, October 31, 2011

An Apology

Dear Body,

I owe you one hell of an apology. For the last six weeks I've stayed up too late, fed you a steady diet of junk food, alcohol and enough caffeine to make an elephant bounce off the walls, and slacked on exercise.  In short, I've treated you like crap.  I'm sorry. 

I'm offering you this humble apology and a promise to try to be better - starting today.  After the day I had, all I really wanted to do was order takeout and lay on the couch watching reruns or reading.  Instead, I laced up my running shoes for the first time in 3 weeks and took you out for 3 miles.  Considering what I've done to you, you performed pretty well (or at least I think you did - since my Garmin died half a mile into the run).  I'm pretty sure that you were pleased with the curried lentil soup and a bagel I fed you after the run too! 

And now, in keeping with my promise to treat you better, I'm going to read for a little while and then head off to bed in hopes of getting 8 solid hours of sleep.


P.S. We have a date with a yoga mat tomorrow night.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gone Camping

The Husband and I love to go camping, especially in early spring and late fall (minimal crowds, no sweating to death in a tent, the campfire actually feels good).  We weren't able to get out in early spring due to my marathon training.  I may love to camp, but I do not love the idea of a long run after sleeping outside the night before!  We had planned a trip in mid-November, but that got derailed after our bunny sitter (aka My Mom) let us know that she would be out of town that weekend on a much needed and much deserved vacation of her own.  Between work, weddings, birthday parties and about 800 other obligations it looked like our only chance to go camping in 2011 was a 1 night trip this weekend (i.e. get there late afternoon on Saturday, bail out by noon-ish on Sunday). Thanks to The Husband (and my mom for watching the bunnies for an extra night), it turned into a two night trip! 

I got home from work on Friday night (around 5:00) to find the house pretty much cleaned/bunny-sitter ready and was told to start packing because we were leaving in an hour!  It was on!  I tossed some clothes in a backpack and we started packing up the car (yes, we cheat and go car camping).  By 6pm we were on the road.

We pulled into the campground and discovered that our favorite campsite was available.  We registered ourselves and then set about the business of pitching a tent in the glow of the car's headlights.  After that was done, we got a fire going and spent the remainder of the night relaxing around the fire.  When we finally headed for bed IT WAS FREEZING!  We've camped in cool weather before, but Friday night's low was in the high 20's-low 30's!  Fortunately, several layers of clothes, sleeping bags and a hat made it manageable.

On Saturday morning we drove into town to pick up supplies (food, beer, firewood) since we'd gotten in so late on Friday night.  The rest of the day was spent hanging out on our multi-level campsite (tent was on one level and the fire pit/eating area was on the lower level)...

...wandering down to the lake:

...and making a short foray onto the trail around the lake before realizing that the woods were full of hunters and we weren't wearing blaze orange:

After we got back to our site, we spent the remainder of the afternoon basking in the (relatively) warm sun and reading.
Before long, the light began to fade and the temperature began to drop.  The Husband set to work building our fire for the night...
...while I set to work making dinner (cheesesteaks) since I don't love cooking by lantern/firelight.  After dinner we sat around our fire, which we made larger as the temperature dropped.

By midnight, it was bed time.

This morning we tore down our camp in about 30 minutes and headed home.  The weekend away did wonders for my stress level and I'm ready to tackle the week ahead!