Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015

#2015bestnine

The last day of 2015 has arrived. It has been a great year of running for me. I have met some new incredible people, strengthened relationships with some others, and have enjoyed the views along the ride.
2015 highlights include:

  • Guiding a visually impaired runner with the assistance of another seasoned guide. 
  • Running Boston!!!!!!!!
  • Running a race with both my dad and husband, and other extended family
  • New PR for the half and full marathon
  • Zoriana racing two races this year
  • Fun races with great people 
  • Finishing with just over 1796 miles-my highest yearly total
Looking forward to 2016, renewed my membership to the Fellow Flowers Crew. Heading back to Boston. Chosen to be an ambassador for the Her Madison Half Marathon & 5K Which will be a great weekend and event...Sign up today before the first price increase! Join in the fun!








  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Milwaukee Running Festival (MRF)

The Inaugural PNC Milwaukee Running Festival. aka MRF

To say I was looking forward to this race is a bit of an understatement. After bowing out of the Marine Corps Marathon, this was now my only fall marathon. Initially I would have been running it a week after MCM, and the plan was to just take it all in. Good thing on thing you can count on in life is life changing. 

I knew this race was going to amazing. As in inaugural event, I knew there could be some kinks to iron out, but having known the race director Chris, and the people he surrounds himself to put on events, I was confident any kink would be minor to the amazingness

This event consisted of a Milwaukee Miler on Saturday, along with the Expo. Sunday was a 5K, Half Marathon, Marathon. 

Before the mile on Saturday, was a Walk A Mile With Ruth, a walk to celebrate health and wellness to one of the sweetest, kindest, and badass Runner out there. Ruth originally thought perhaps she'd be doing the mile walk with a walker, but of course, her determination and positive attitude has allowed her recovery to be steady and stronger each day. She walked the whole thing no problem, in the rain, and a smile that radiated on us all so it felt like we were walking in sunshine.
Zoriana walked with me, which was a great way for her to get to preview the course for the Miler. She got a little nervous before it, and asked if I would run with her for awhile. I ran with her, she was doing great, asked to walk for just about 15 seconds, and kept going strong. I ran over to the finish, and waited for her to come around, and when I saw her coming she looked fantastic! I love watching her run. Her time was 8:19! 
Then it was Expo time. I loved the products that Brew City Brand Apparel had for sale. I bought several items, hesitated about buying the Finisher shirt, it was gray on gray long sleeve with thumb-holes and a hood. Knowing they were going to be at the finish, I thought I'd wait, because you know, superstitious. Turns out they were sold out, but I ended finding something else that I loved, too! Really awesome stuff, love everything I bought! (typing in my zip up hoodie right now)

Sunday came, and not only did the rain go away, we even got an extra hour of sleep because of daylight savings time! How great is that?! I was pretty much ready to go, had my basic goals planned, knew my parents were going to try and make an attempt to see me around mile 20, Jason was going to be at the finish, and Alberto was going to try to be somewhere on the course.

Gear check took a little bit longer than I anticipated, so I ended up packing my clothes to toss, so it worked out well, save them for the next one.
It was pretty exciting to know how hard this race fought to be in existence, and now it was Go Time. I might have teared up a bit waiting at the start...And like that we were off.
If you've read my blog before, you know I start off too fast almost always. I tried to keep it in check. 

Things were going well, miles were quick, but my body felt good. I tried to focus on my marathon rituals that I like to do-dedicate miles to people and reflect on them during that time. Stay in each mile. 
I was doing a pretty good job, but here's the thing, this course is no joke, there are hills and there was some wind. I worried a bit about maintaining pace, but tried to focus on the present.

So here's how it went down:
Continued to feel pretty good, was neat to see some friends running during the 13/14 mile turnaround. 
It was about at that time, some serious red devil/white angel thoughts starting entering my head. When I saw my parents at mile 19, I am pretty sure I high-fived my dad, but there was no smile. There was GU at that mile, which I dropped, so they threw it to me, I had to stop and bend down to pick it up and groaned, holy tightness, that hurt. Shortly after that I saw Jason, I told him the wheels were starting to fall off. He told me I was had this, and I could do it! Then he posted this on Instagram, awwww! 
Then the struggle got real. I saw Alberto and his wife, and shook my head. Ugh! Mile 21 the red devil on my shoulder told me to stop and walk, or quit. White angel was having none of that crap, get it done, you are almost there now, your time is good, you got this. Then mile 23 my music stopped. I was all about the mental game at this point, counting, etc. Just keep moving, get to the finish.

I could hear the finish, I just had to get there. I did not have a lot left in the tank and the wind greeted us strongly in that final stretch, but the end was in sight.
I gave Chris a big hug, wow! It was an amazing course! (more on that in a bit)
Jason came to the end of the chute, I just wanted to sit down. He walked with me, Alberto and his wife came over. Legs were pretty mad at me for a bit. I finally changed, walked over the announcer stand to talk to Bill, he somehow had missed me come in, and I wanted him to know I was done. Big hugs! 

The course-I am not a Milwaukee Native, and I saw things on this course that I did not know existed. However, I heard that sentiment from life long residents. It truly was a showcase of our city, well thought out. The crowd support was pretty decent. The aid stations were plentiful and no Gatorade-YAY!! I love nuun! The course really was tough, with the hills and wind, but a good tough. PR worthy, never saw that coming :)
It was so exciting to see this event come to fruition. The media support was great, I saw it on several different news channels that night, and the paper the next day. I am exciting to watch this race grow and mature in the years to come! 

P.S. Sidenote: The blue and orange colors are the same as my alma-mater UW-Platteville so totally loved that!







Monday, August 3, 2015

Team Running Strong




This summer is going by lightning fast, as it seems to do every year. I have been running in the early hours of the morning to beat the heat and to get it done. I did the 5th annual Rock N Sole in June, a 5K on the 4th of July, but other than that just training. 

Speaking of training...the next big thing for me is the Marine Corps Marathon. To make a long story short, I wanted to run the MCM for awhile. I hesitated to sign up for the lottery. Shortly after letting that pass, and thinking about the anniversary of my brother's accident, I decided I wanted to run it this year.
Now I would have to do it as a charity runner, which giving back this year as a runner has been part of my goal. There are a lot of options out there, but Team Running Strong could not be more perfect for me.
In high school cross country we watched the movie Running Brave, the Billy Mills story. Billy Mills, a Lakota man overcame many obstacles and won the 10,000 meters in the 1964 Olympics. He is the only American to this day to do so. He later served as a Captain in the Marine Corps. His organization raises money for Indian Youth. Many of you know I work at a school for Native Americans, so this is a perfect match for me.

So...of course I am asking for your donation to support this great cause. The money raised is for the organization, not race fees, travel, etc. 

I appreciate your support: Click HERE to donate!

To learn more about the programs that Running Strong promotes, click HERE.

Thank you for your support, more to come!
Image result for marine corps marathon logo 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Drew

I woke up this morning, after an "eh" night of sleep. Hate when you have those nights where you toss and turn. Then I realized today's date. June 30th.
June 30th, 2015. I quickly went out for my run. 
It's funny how come dates stick out for emotional reasons. What once was a bad day in life of my family, has become cause for celebration.
20 years ago I was 18, lots of life stretched out in front of me. Fifteen days before my brother Andy, aka Drew's, wedding. 

Now a word about Drew-We have pretty much always been good friends, rarely fighting (well put us in a car long enough, and there were bruises). Our last years in high school we were in sports, plays, band, spending time in similar activities. I actually struggled with him leaving for the Marines more than I ever thought I would. He is an upbeat guy, really what's not to love.

Anyway, on June 30, 1995 we get a call from the Marines, saying that he has been in an accident. Long story short, Drew, as a result, had to have his leg amputated. Now don't get me wrong, at the time it seemed like a big deal, a big f'ing deal. It was 15 days before his wedding, he was 20 years old, he was in San Diego, we were in Wisconsin. We all ran in high school, he was my big strong older brother.
The next few days were a whirlwind, miraculously my brother Doug, who was in Africa, called out of the blue, so he was able to be notified right away. There was the business of canceling wedding plans, his fiance getting out there as quickly as possible. My parents had some loose ends to tie up and didn't go immediately, so they sent me.  
Here's what happened when I got to the hospital. A lot of self talk on my part that there was no way  I was going to cry when I saw him, no way.
I walked into his room, he sits upright, looks at me and says, "Amy are you alright, you had to travel across the country all by yourself, are you ok?"
Shit. Tears. Here Drew just lost his leg, and instead of sitting in a bed of pity he was more concerned that I was ok, traveling alone to see him. I knew right then and there he was going to be just fine.
Fast forward a year later, June again, different day, I found my friend John was in a fatal car accident. It was then that I realized how lucky Drew had been. Lucky that he lost his leg. Only his leg, not his life, not his spirit, not the things that made him the awesome brother that he was.
Today marks the point in his life where it has been 20 years. 20 years he had two legs, and now 20 years he has had one.

There are days when I might want to sleep in and skip my run. Not to say it never happens, but I am driven by something bigger than me. I'm not one to remember how many races I've done, or my time at each one, I might have a few PR's memorized, but this running thing isn't just about me. I know I have mentioned it before, but I run because I know others cannot, I run because I want to feel, I run because my spirit isn't always upbeat-and I know I am better mentally because I run. I run because I was given the ability to do so, and I do not ever want to take that for granted.

After my run this morning, I sent Drew a text...Happy Birthday!

I ask you...today is your day, what are you doing to celebrate this day you are given?! 


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Unicorn Sightings...

Post Boston there has been some unicorn sightings...From Spike going to school...

To my trip with my daughter to Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown for her fifth grade trip. 



Who knew the beer brewed where my bestie librarian friend lives has a unicorn label?! 

 While on my trip, my ring came...
Unicorns everywhere! Where will we see them next?!?

Crazylegs 2015

On our way to Madison
Boston was Monday, Crazylegs was on Saturday. It's an 8K run in Madison supporting the athletic department. They have an awesome turn out. The weather predicted was cold and rainy. After Monday, I was not about to do that again. I thought about driving to Madison an sitting in a bar while the runner ran. However, several years ago I made a commitment to a friend that I would run at least race a year with my dad. 
We had a crew of people we were meeting, cousins (first, second), first at Perkins, then after. 
The plan was to take this race and go with it for however long my legs were feeling. Things felt good, and I enjoyed it overall. I pushed it through the hills, so by the time I finished I could feel the burn in my quads. I waited on the field for Jason to finish. 
Race done!
Then we met mom, and waited for Dad to finish. I pulled a Jason and got distracted by another runner and missed my Dad cross the finish.
Yay Dad!!

It was cold and windy, so we waited in the stands, saw my cousin Boyd, met a Fellow Flower Friend, ran into Carly, the Dummer's but decided to head to The Great Dane to get warmed up. We grabbed a bite to eat, and as we finished eating, the rest of our original group was there, so we had had a drink with them.
The Sonsalla Crew (minus Boyd and family)
It was such a great opportunity to reconnect with these relatives, and hope to make Crazylegs an annual event to get together!




Saturday, June 20, 2015

Boston 4-The Boston Marathon

Finally the day had arrived. The day I had looked forward to forever. A culmination of a lot of hard work, early-to-bed nights, early-to-rise treadmill mornings. Weather looking icky, but that is what training is for to prepare you for all types of weather. 
Jason walked me over to the T stop to board, where I would hopefully follow the herd to where I was supposed to be.

I had determined the night before NOT to check a bag. I quickly found a "friend" to chat with, she was from California,we had great conversation and  we boarded the bus together to head up to Hopkinton. 
*There is always that moment on a point to point run, when you are shuttling to the start, how damn far it seems to be. That happened.* 
We grabbed a coffee, hung out in Athlete's Village, tried to stay warm/dry. With another runner we met, we finally decided it was time to hit the potty. After that, we had to part ways, she was in a later corral, so I headed to the corral. It was amazing as we walked how far it was to get to the start. I ran into Krista right before the start, which was kind of amazing. 
I've had this strange calm lately before races, and this was no exception. I was ready. The hardest part was departing with my warm, dry clothes. And suddenly, we were off...
Of course the rain came down shortly after we started. Ick. Not wanted weather to be an issue, I thought about how I was truly getting all the feelings of Boston, weather included. I could feel it. Things really felt well. I heard that the weather wouldn't dampen the spectators, and maybe there were a few less, but to my virgin eyes, they were out, in full force, cheering their hearts out. A few things that happened out there...
This is corny, but oh so true. EVERY time for the first half of the marathon that I crossed a timing mat, I thought about all the people who were tracking me. Then crazily the rain would pick up and chill me to the bone, and I kept thinking if only they knew what it was like out here. But I swear I could feel me peeps sending me vibes, thoughts, etc. For real, it was like a mental embrace.*
Around mile 10 I got a side-ache, it came and went for the next few miles, my pace dropped a bit, but I was ok with that. 
Around mile 13 I started looking for my family. I think it was later than that when I finally saw them. I threw them my drenched socks (I use for mittens) and was so happy to see them. It was a mental pick-me-up. 
After I saw them, I tried to focus on taking in the moments around me. Feel the crowds, the course. Not to miss anything. That was easy enough to do, as the hills of Newton were upon us. I was prepared for them, and remembered my old cross country coach's mantra-it's only a pile of dirt. They were not easy, but they didn't kick my ass. I felt them, and that is what this was all about.

Here's a crazy thought that I had for the first time ever in a marathon. "I don't want this race to end." -Now I wonder WTF was I thinking?! Seriously though, it was just this race, and everything that I had worked for was here, I felt decent, I just wanted to suspend the moment forever. 

My mind tried to replay seeing my family, and I was pretty sure that Jason was not in the mix. With that running through my mind, I started to look for him near our hotel, as that was plan B if he didn't meet up with my family. I did not see him, but just thought maybe I missed him in the crowds. Soon I was at the beloved Citgo sign, signalizing that there was 1 mile left to go. I couldn't wait to get to the finish line at that point. 

The slogan is Left on Hereford, Right on Boylston. Sure enough right at that intersection, there was my family again!
This made me all kinds of happy as I crossed headed to the end. I felt good going to the finish...you'll see the pics as I cross.

The finish. I have Raynaud's, which makes my hands swell up when I run, and when they are cold they go numb. It happens a lot after I finish, but with how wet I was my hands were freezing for most of the run. After I finished, I couldn't use my hands at all. Again, one volunteer with smiles, assisting me in velcroing my cape shut as my hands were useless. When I got to the family reunion area, my family was not there yet. I was cold and wet. I finally had to sit down, 'cuz legs-cold+stiff+26.2 miles=done. This man came up to me to ask if I was ok. I said I was cold and just waiting for me family. He sat down next ot me on the curb, put his arm around me to try to warm me up. He texted Jason for me, again because my hands sucked. I was afraid at this point of how cold I was. As soon as I saw my family, my first words were, "Where is JAson with my clothes?" They sprang into action, Doug gave me his waterproof pants, John R. gave me his gloves, we moved out of the the wind, until Jason got there. Once I was dry and clothed, it was all smiles...and the Jacket!!!!!!!

See how blue my lips were? Brrrrrrr! 
We all headed our separate ways, M&D were heading out of town, Doug and Elisia back to VT, John and Kathleen to MD. Us to our hotel.
We ventured back out into the rain for a freakin' delicious burger!


I expected a let down afterwards, a post-marathon blues. I have to say it didn't happen this time. I think that things just went well. It was what I expected, the spectators were amazing, the runners out there were awesome, the course was tough. The texts, FB posts, emails from people were so nice to know people took time out of their day to give me support, it was humbling...*I really was not alone on that course at all. When I came back to school, I was overwhelmed with how many classrooms and staff members tracked my progress. The kiddos were excited about running, and that was so cool to me. I hope that they may find the love of running someday.

Here are a few of the professional pics from the day...