In Her Shoes

Tackling my bucket list, one half marathon at a time.


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Negative One Year

Look at me…posting again already! Maybe my blog itch has returned? I couldn’t help but blog because I have so many important things to share.

First of all, I bought a bike! I am so stoked. I took it out for my first ride last night and I’m in love. I am most excited to do something active other than running and this is a hobby that Bennet and I can do together (he runs too fast for me). I got the bike at the Trek store and let me just say, the guys there are saints. They know everything there is to know about bikes, which is exactly what I needed as I know nothing.

My Trek beauty

Second important thing: I’m running my 2nd half of 2014 tomorrow and I’m not a bit mentally prepared. It haven’t even thought about the fact that I’m running a race tomorrow but maybe that’s a good thing. I’m running the Madison Mini, which is ranked the #14 best half marathon by Runner’s World. In terms of time, I have zero expectations for this race. I have quite a few friends running it so I just want to go out and have a good time.

Now for the most important thing: Today is Bennet and I’s Negative One Year Anniversary! What is that, you ask? We have just one year until our wedding day! I say “just” loosely. 365 days is 365 too many because I am so incredibly excited to marry this guy.

I won’t be gushy, but I have one thing to share. Yesterday I saw this link on my Facebook feed: 21 Uncommon Romantic Gestures That Would Make Any Girl Melt.

As I started to read the article I thought, “I’m totally going to send this to Bennet as a hint.” But as I continued on I thought, “Well, at least he does that one…oh, he does that one too….Yep, there’s another.”

I finished the list and I realized how lucky I am. He’s actually amazing. Sometimes I forget all the little (and not so little) things Bennet does for me. Lately I have been stressed with wedding planning and let’s just say I can give him some ‘tude. I need to remember that the planning should be fun and in the grand scheme of things they won’t even matter. Because at the end of the day, I get to marry my best friend in the world and most definitely my better half.

365 days to go

Of course, as I’m typing this blog post, flowers are delivered to my office.


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A Picture A Day

Way back on January 1st (I say this because it’s been awhile since I blogged…again), I decided to attempt taking a picture a day throughout 2014.

I love pictures. I love looking at pictures; I love taking pictures. So I figure this is a great “resolution”. I also figure this will give me an excuse to blog once a week to share the past 7 pictures.

So here we go! However, forgive the lengthiness of this post; it’s the 14th of January and I have yet to post about this.

1/1/14: My boyfriend and I attempted a 7 day cleanse. Before we got started, we took a trip to the grocery store and our cart was full of greens!

1/1/14: My boyfriend and I attempted a 7 day cleanse. Before getting started, we took a trip to the grocery store and our cart was full of greens!

IMG_6346

1/2/14: Day 1 of the cleanse (we quit after completing day 2). For dinner, all we got was a smoothie…with just fruit. Not too bad actually!

1/3/14: Finally picked up the Christmas gift from my apartment's leasing office that my sister sent 2 weeks prior. Gloves for snowboarding!

1/3/14: Finally picked up the Christmas gift from my apartment’s leasing office that my sister sent 2 weeks prior. Gloves for snowboarding!

1/4/14: Running date with my girls, Mel and Krista. Post run, we went to brunch then shopping. And all fell in love with these ridiculous hats.

1/4/14: Running date with my girls, Mel and Krista. Post run, we went to brunch then shopping. And all fell in love with these ridiculous hats.

1/5/14: Iowa/Wisconsin basketball game! Yes, this is the game Fran went nuts. And the game that almost gave me a heart attack.

1/5/14: Iowa/Wisconsin basketball game! Yes, this is the game Fran went nuts. And the game that almost gave me a heart attack.

1/6/14: Today was absolutely frigid. I think it got down to -15. Anyway, I got in my car and had to scrape the INSIDE windshield!

1/6/14: Today was absolutely frigid. I think it got down to -15. Anyway, I got in my car and had to scrape the INSIDE windshield!

1/7/14: I was laying in bed at about 11:30 this night and realized: I haven't taken a picture yet today! I looked around my room and this is the best I could find. A true, but cheesy, quote on a Lulu bag.

1/7/14: I was laying in bed at about 11:30 this night and realized: I haven’t taken a picture yet today! I looked around my room and this is the best I could find. A true, but cheesy, quote on a Lulu bag.

1/8/14: I was recently promoted at work to our Operations and Marketing Manger. My boss gave me 3 of these "stress balls" in case employees (or myself) need them to relax. I've used them quite a bit already.

1/8/14: I was recently promoted at work to our Operations and Marketing Manger. My boss gave me 3 of these “stress balls” in case employees (or myself) need them to relax. I’ve used them quite a bit already.

1/9/14: My lovely BFF Emily surprised me and sent gorgeous tulips to my office to congratulate me on my promotion.

1/9/14: My lovely BFF Emily surprised me and sent gorgeous tulips to my office to congratulate me on my promotion.

1/10/14: I actually forgot to take a picture today! However, I posted this one on our company Facebook page, so I figured it's almost the same thing, right?

1/10/14: I actually forgot to take a picture today! However, I posted this one on our company Facebook page, so I figured it’s almost the same thing, right?

1/11/14: I took a weekend trip up north with my boyfriend and his parents to their cabin. I took about 30 pictures while snowshoeing, but this is my favorite from today :)

1/11/14: I took a weekend trip up north with my boyfriend and his parents to their cabin. I took about 30 pictures while snowshoeing, but this is my favorite from today 🙂

1/12/14: Got back from up north and hung out with Mila the Moo! Tayler, this one is for you. She's playing with the remote you bought her!

1/12/14: Got back from up north and hung out with Mila the Moo! Tayler, this one is for you. She’s playing with the remote you bought her!

1/13/14: Bennet and I made awesome Chicken Avacado Egg Rolls tonight and I took a screenshot of what I needed from the grocery store. Wish I had taken a picture of the final product!

1/13/14: Bennet and I made awesome Chicken Avocado Egg Rolls tonight and I took a screenshot of what I needed from the grocery store. Wish I had taken a picture of the final product!

1/14/14: Not going to lie, our regular coffee at work is pretty terrible. A coworker brought this deliciousness in and it upped my morning about 6 points.

1/14/14: Not going to lie, our regular coffee at work is pretty terrible. A coworker brought this deliciousness in and it upped my morning about 6 points.

So a lot of these pictures are quite boring, but I’ll get better at it! I need to remember to take pictures earlier in the day, it just gets hard with work. So there you have it. My first 14 pictures of 365! Hopefully.

I haven’t given you a beat to enjoy in a while, so I’ll give you a great one.


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2013 In a Nutshell

If I were to sum up 2013 with 3 descriptions, it would be the year of Mila (my niece), weddings and running. In honor of the last day in 2013, let’s recap.

Mila Moo

My beautiful niece was born on June 13th, 2013. Moo, as I call her, is the cutest little peanut on the planet. And I’m not being biased. To spare you, I’ll only post two recent photos. Our entire family is obsessed with her. She’s the constant center of attention, which she should be. It has been so fun to watch her grow over the last 6 months. I cannot wait until she’s old enough to run around and chat with.Stocking stuffer Mila Moo's first Christmas

 Weddings Galore

Earlier this year, it seemed as if I had a wedding every weekend. And I know this is only going to continue for a few more years. But I’m so grateful to be able to witness some of my favorite people get married.

Wedding Party

My best friend Gretchen’s wedding party, May 2013

Running

In the past 12 months, I’ve run 6 half marathons and one full marathon:

  • Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon: January 20th
  • Iowa City Half Marathon: May 5th
  • Madison Half Marathon: May 26th
  • Rock ‘n’ Sole Half Marathon (Milwaukee): June 15th
  • Brewers Half Marathon: September 28th
  • Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon: October 20th
  • Madison Marathon: November 10th

I’d say that’s a pretty good year of running! But still not enough. I didn’t hit 1,000 miles in 2013 like I wanted. But maybe that’s what 2014 is for?

So which race was my favorite? Hands down, no doubt about it…Iowa City. Why? 2 reasons. I finally broke two hours and because I did this race with a few of my best friends…none of which had ever run a half marathon. I was so proud of these girls, not only for running the half, but enduring the training and my annoying encouragement. Now, let’s see if I can get them to do another in 2014?!

start of race

Half marathon finishers

This year was dominated by running and I loved it. Yes, there were times I hated it, but I didn’t get burned out. Even after marathon training for half of 2013, I still love going out for a quick run after work. However, I will admit…it’s nice not to have a strict schedule to follow.

I have yet to sign up for a race in 2014, but I plan on kicking out another handful of halves. I’d really like to cross Minnesota and Illinois off my “Half in Every State” bucket list item. And let’s be honest…I’ll do another marathon, even though I always say, “I’m never doing this crap again.”

So there is 2013 in a nutshell. The years come and go too quickly. Thank you to all my followers for reading over the past year. See you on the flip side.


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She’s ALIVE

Yes, I’m alive and well. I know you were all so worried. I know, I know. Miss Social Media hasn’t blogged in over a month. And it would have been longer if Emily hadn’t reminded me. So this post is for you, Wank.

But why haven’t I been blogging? Because I haven’t been running…much. Yes, I finished my marathon. And yes, I forgot to post about it. So here I am, finally remembering that miserable but successful day. The Madison Marathon was a month ago yesterday, so I’ve forgotten details except for these:

  • It was freezing at the start…absolutely freezing!
  • I was terrified at the start. I had the worst attitude ever and wanted to get these miserable hours over with. My friend Jen and I huddled in Starbucks until minutes before the gun went off and I ran into my running friends Cindy and Mike who gave me a brief pep talk.
  • Once I got going, I started feeling great. Miles 1-10 were awesome. I remember seeing my family around 5 and I jumped and ran towards them, hugging them all. Hugs subsided after that point.
  • Jen ran with me up until mile 8. We said our goodbyes right by Camp Randall where she told me she’d meet me at mile 22 to finish the last 4 miles with me. She, unfortunately, had to drop out of the run due to a IT band injury.
  • I saw so many of my wonderful Neckerman coworkers at mile 10. There was a long stretch of them on University Ave, waiting to take my picture. I remember I stopped and gave my friend Mel (the one I do most of my half marathons and training runs with) a hug here.
  • The rolling hills on Gorham (miles 11 & 12) were NOT fun.
  • My knee started killing me at mile 13. I saw my family around this time and asked for Ibuprofen. A few minutes later, my awesome brother comes running up to me with a bottle of pills and asks how many I want. Those were clutch. Pain went away within minutes.
  • I started really feeling the pain at mile 17ish. This was through the Maple Bluff neighborhood. The wonderful people of the Madison Marathon decided to put the largest hill in Madison at mile 17.5. I forever hold a grudge against them for that.
  • I saw my friend Mike at mile 19ish and told him I hated life. And that I was never doing a marathon again.
  • Miles 19-22 were a challenge. I wanted the run to be over, I was bored and knew I wasn’t going to see family or friends for awhile. I was aching to find Jen at 22.
  • Jen joins me at mile 22. The first thing I said? “You can talk to me…but I’m not talking back. I hurt. I hate this. I want to cry.” Jen was such a trooper. SUCH a trooper. She encouraged me, pushed me, motivated me, put up with my bad attitude, put up with me snapping at her (“YOU DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH I HURT JEN!!!”) Good God I owe her. So seriously, J, I love you. I could not have finished the way I did without you there.
  • We see my family again at 22.5. I yell at Lauren to stop taking pictures of me while running. (“SERIOUSLY…STOP. YOU HAVE ENOUGH.”)
  • I see Mel right after my parents. I stop. “Mel…I hurt.” She wouldn’t let me stop…and pushed me onward.
  • 23-26 were agony. My quads were pulsating. Jen was amazing. The view was gorgeous on John Nolan Drive. I hated life. Everything in the world was terrible.
  • My friend Amanda joined Jen and I for about .3 miles around 24. She’s a gem.
  • As we are coming up West Wash at mile 25ish (another HILL), I tell Jen I need to walk. WHO walks with .7 left of a marathon?! Well, me. A stranger and spectator (his name was Kevin) comes up and starts motivating me. He gets me running again. What an encouraging guy he was. He left with .2 miles to go. I saw him again at the finish and thanked and hugged him.
  • I crossed the finish line in 4:32. 2 minutes after my goal. 12 minutes after my stretch goal. Did I care? No. Because I was done.
  • The most important thing I remember? My family. They were EVERYWHERE. I think I saw them 14 times on the course. They would drive by me cheering, park the car up ahead of me, jump out, cheer me on again until I passed them, and repeat. It was so amazing. Before the marathon, I was not looking forward to seeing people I knew on the course. Once I was running, I couldn’t have been more thankful for anything else. So to my mom, dad, Lauren, Jeremy and Bennet: you guys were amazing. You kept me going.
  • On the topic of amazing support, I was overwhelmed by all the texts, phone calls, Facebook posts, tweets and verbal “good luck” wishes I received. Before, DURING, and after the marathon. I don’t know what else to say other than I am incredibly fortunate to have the people in my life that I do. I could not reiterate that enough.

Woah, now that I think about it…I remembered a lot. Phew. That’s a lot to post in my first blog back. I’ll be back more often, I promise. For now, here are some pics from my marathon…

Mel made this sign for the marathon. Our friend Krista loves Unicorns, I love the Hawkeyes. Perfection.

Mel made this sign for the marathon. Our friend Krista loves Unicorns, I love the Hawkeyes. Perfection.

The start was FREEEZING.

The start was FREEEZING.

right wrist

Right wrist motivation

Left wrist motivation

Left wrist motivation

Mile 10...I was so happy!

Mile 10…I was so happy!

Hugging Mel at Mile 10

Hugging Mel at Mile 10

My lovely boyfriend high fiving me. No idea what mile this is.

My lovely boyfriend, Bennet, high fiving me. No idea what mile this is.

Mom and Bennet at mile 18. I didn't enjoy this time period.

Mom and Bennet at mile 18. I didn’t enjoy this time period.

Crossing the finish

Crossing the finish

Jen, my savior, and I at the finish

Jen, my savior, and I at the finish

Mel and I at the finish

Mel and I at the finish

My amazing support group and family

My amazing support group and family


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Running 17 Miles Hurts But 18 Is a Cinch

A successful 18-mile run calls for a blog post. After all, that’s what I’m supposed to write about, isn’t it?

My 17-miler in Minneapolis last Friday (week and a half ago) didn’t go so well. I was in vacation mode and wasn’t in the mood to get up and run 17 miles. But then again, who ever has an itch to run 17 miles? Maybe Dean Karnazes, but that’s it. Don’t lie to me and tell me you do. Anyway, my route was gorgeous…ran around the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes (Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles). But even with the gorgeous scenery, I hated almost every minute of it. I think it’s because I did it alone. In addition to running 17 miles, WHO in their right mind wants to do that alone? Definitely not me.

So this weekend, I finally had 2 days of peace and quiet in Madison. No plans. Zip. Zero. Zilch. This girl isn’t familiar with that concept lately. And I was able to reconnect with my running buds! We met bright and early Saturday morning: half of us with 18 miles on the schedule and half with 20 miles. I won’t bore you with details, but it went great. And even better…I had energy left at mile 18 and kicked out an 8:55 mile. Who am I?

Half-way into it, we ran into a fellow runner who is pacing the Chicago Marathon in a couple weeks. Her name is Kay. Kay has done…take a deep breath…101 marathons. And has done one in every state. How incredible is that? My mind was blown. Just thought you should know there are THAT ridiculous of people out there.

I’m heading into week 11 with confidence. I’m definitely nearing the burnt out stage of training, but I only have 8 weeks left. That seems like a lot of time, but it will be gone in the blink of an eye. This weekend is my first half marathon (Brewers Half Marathon) since June and I’m super excited. Quite a few of my friends are running it as well and we’re making a weekend out of it in Milwaukee. Plus, I absolutely love kick-back weeks.

Lastly…guess what! A friend of mine from college is on this season of The Voice! His name is Michael Lynch, so look out for him in auditions next week (if you watch the show). Here’s one of his videos from a couple years ago, but still SO good.

 

And in honor of the season premiere last night, here is my beat of the day. Caroline Pennell quickly became my favorite.


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Spreading That Marathon Love

I have exciting news that I haven’t been able to share until now.

You know how I absolutely LOVE getting people into running? And LOVE influencing people to sign up for races? Well, I’ve done it again. Back in April when I signed up for the Madison Marathon, a great friend of mine signed up with me. But she didn’t want anyone to know about it…just yet. But now word is out……

JLO IS RUNNING THE MADISON MARATHON WITH ME!

Meet JLOMeet Jen. I call her JLo. We’ve been friends since the beginning of time. Not really, but since middle school. She is one of those great friends that you don’t talk to for a while but when you see each other, you pick up right where you left off. In high school, we were sidekicks…and got into way too much trouble together. She was the girl I always went to about my boy problems…yep, always. And she gave advice like a married 30-year-old. It was great. Yeah, I still do that to this day. And still, she gives the best advice.

Jen just finished law school in Spokane, WA, has been studying her little butt off for the bar, which she took and probably passed with flying colors this week. This girl is one of the most determined, loyal, well-rounded people I know. And I couldn’t be happier to be running this marathon with her. If only we were training together! Unfortunately, Jen lives in Chicago, but we’re doing the Brewer’s Half Marathon together in September so we’ll get some miles in together before the Full.

SO…remember when I forced my Iowa friends to do a half with me and I asked them questions about their training for my blog? Well, I did this with Jen as well. And used the same questions.

She apparently follows my blog religiously (thanks JLo), so after reading her answers…any advice/encouragement you can give her would be great!

1. Have you ever run in a race before (5k, 10k, half, marathon, etc). If yes, what were they?

Yes, I’ve run the Spokane Half Marathon, BLOOMSDAY 12k twice, and a couple of 5K’s

2. How is training going?

Training has been hard! It’s so hot out, but when I reach the end of my long runs, my hands are up on the trail and I am cheering on the inside while everyone is literally staring at me because I am running with two arms in the air like I just won the gold.

3. What is the hardest part about training?

The hardest part of training I think is staying motivated and not getting bored on long runs, but I perk up when I hear Wild Ones by Flo-Rida.

4. What do you like about training?

Feeling really accomplished after every run whether it be short or long.

5. Why are you running the Madison Marathon?

I am running the Madison Marathon because I’ve been wanting to run a marathon once and who better to accomplish this goal with then an amazing person and motivator like Megan Cabalka!

6. If you normally do a different physical activity, what is it?

I normally run and love to do yoga or barre classes.

7. Any injuries so far?

I have really tight IT bands that put pressure on my knees, had it when I ran the Half, but nothing so far yet in my training!!

8. What are you looking forward to most?

I am looking forward to running the last 2 miles of the race… feeling like its only 2 more and I accomplished this extremely challenging goal that has tested me mentally and physically! And seeing my friends and family cheering at the end!

9. Do you have a time you’d like to do the marathon in?

I’d like to finish it b4 they start closing off the course 🙂

10. Tell me your best joke.

What is a DJ’s favorite sauce? Marrrra-marrinnaara (saying this as I am scratchin the vinyl)

There you have it. Jen Niesen is running her first marathon! I cannot WAIT.


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A Kick in the Butt

After my most recent blog post about skimping on marathon training, I got tortured by my friend Dom on DailyMile. I asked for motivation (a kick in the ass) and he gave it to me. If you’re familiar with DailyMile, you know that people can send you “good job,” “get better,” “great performance” notes. Here were his (8 “motivations” in a matter of 5 minutes):

DailyMile motivation from Dom

Just hilarious (sarcastic tone, but I really did find this comical).

SO, I’m dedicating all my mid-week training runs to him this week. And I know if I DON’T complete every mid-week run, his sarcastic little voice will be singing in my ear and hanging over my head. Why thank you, Dom. Thank you. Stay tuned for an update.

On the music front…Just do yourself a favor and listen. What a gem.