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Chicago Marathon 2014: a race recap

Are you ready to share in my crazy adventure?
We made it to my aunt Maureen’s beautiful Chicago home at 3:00 in the morning, and tried to go to sleep. I did end up getting about three hours of sleep, then I had to get up and get ready to run.
I set out my bib ahead of time, and at Robert’s suggestion, put my name on it.

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That was awesome. It resulted in hundreds of strangers cheering for me by name.
I was proud that I’d kept everything organized, so race morning was a breeze. It took me about fifteen minutes to get dressed, and we headed out, with a quick stop at Starbucks for a hot cup of coffee. I drank that, and fueled with one of my favorite treats- Rice Krispie treats made with chex instead. Extra bonus if there is sprinkles… And since I made these, they were covered in rainbow sprinkle magic.

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We’d anticipated some traffic, but tried to make a plan for a good spot for Brian to drop me off. I was chilly, so I wanted to stay in the warm car as long as possible. As we neared the place to drop me off, the map looked a little disheartening.

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After waiting in the car as long as I felt comfortable (I didn’t want to miss the start!), I got out and started walking. It was a little confusing, as runners were literally walking every direction. Normally, I can just follow everyone else. I relied on my GPS, and eventually I found these angels!

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They directed me through to security, where I was scanned with the magic wand.

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I started out near this guy, who was the pacer for the 4:30 group, and he was running his 100th marathon! How cool. πŸ™‚ Way to go, Jerry!

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Brian wins the award for most awesome support team at every race, but he came to my rescue this morning by picking up an emergency blanket for me to use to keep warm while waiting for the race to start, and surprising me with it when I got out of the car!

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While I waited for the race to start, with a few thousand of my closest friends, this was the view in front…

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…and behind me.

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I met this super cute girl who was running her first marathon. How cool! I did my best to encourage her, and I offered to share my emergency stash of Skittles, if she needed them.

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After about a half hour, I finally crossed the start line!

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I tried to take pictures as often as I could, but to be totally honest, I was just enjoying the course! I loved running along the Magnificent Mile. When I was growing up, I watched Oprah religiously, and that’s the only reason I knew what the Magnificent Mile was. πŸ™‚ As I ran, I cried a lot… almost every time someone called my name! Putting my name on my bib was a great idea. I high fived a ton of spectators, and thanked every volunteer and policeman.
Wrigleyville was awesome- I’ve run through that neighborhood frequently- almost every time I visit my Chicago family.
Before I knew it, I found myself in Boystown.

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Brian popped up to cheer me on, and caught me mid-stride! I was SO excited to see him. ❀

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I can’t remember where these Taiko drummers were…

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I loved all the music in the different neighborhoods.
I made it to the halfway point, still wearing my signature smile!

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In most of the half and full marathons that I’ve run, there is one guy who runs the whole thing carrying a full size American flag. This race was no exception!

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I stuck with that guy for a while, as the crowds were all chanting, “USA! USA!”
Somewhere around mile 20, we went through Pilsen, a big Latino community. The crowds were huge, and there was a lot of fun music playing. I danced my way through that neighborhood!

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About this time, I noticed my right arm was stinging pretty terribly. I thought I’d managed to cover my entire body in Body Glide to prevent chafing, but I’d forgotten the inside of my right arm, by my tricep. After, oh… 40,000 steps, and 40,000 times that I’d rubbed my arm in the seam of my shirt, my arm was screaming for help. Luckily, just in time for the festivities of Chinatown (and keeping with the red is lucky theme)…

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DOCTORS! I ran up to them, and said, “I need help.” They were so awesome. I was still smiling, so they knew I wasn’t seriously hurt, but I couldn’t see the bottom of my arm and they were the ones with the magical Vasoline, so they helped me and rubbed it on my arm. Good as new! Thanks, guys. πŸ™‚ They were a lifesaver!
There were a few corners with cameras and big screens, so we could see ourselves coming around the corner.

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Once I got closer to the finish and entered the Prairie District, I started crying all over again.

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I started my princess wave to the crowd about a mile from the finish, and Brian had snuck his way into the spectator crowd around mile 26!

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If you look closely, you can see me, in my orange skirt, just to the left of that sign, waving! πŸ™‚

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The security was really ramped up after the bombings in Boston, so general spectators weren’t allowed at the start and finish lines. We had spectators until about 26.1, though, which is where I stopped for my final race selfie… πŸ™‚

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…before running the through the finish chute.

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I cried. A lot. Of course!
A few yards past the finish, our first stop was these kind people who gave me my medal.

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They were so sweet, and they offered to take my picture!

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Next stop? Bananarama.

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Mountains of bananas, with a castle of banana boxes built behind the tables. I can’t even imagine how many bananas they brought in!
Third (and most important) stop: beer.

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I had been crying for quite some time, so she gave me two beers. I told her that I wasn’t hurt, I was happy… but she insisted I take two, anyway. πŸ™‚
I hobbled over to the finish area, and I had planned to make my way directly to the massage tent. Big races often have a massage tent with massage students, and it is like a little slice of very painful heaven. I was sort of surprised at how far we had to talk after the finish line to see our families, and the icing on top of the cake was the SET OF STAIRS that we had to walk down. It was only about 8 steps, but we all stared at each other as if this was some kind of cruel mirage. I didn’t take a picture, I was too busy holding my beer, banana, and trying not to topple over while waddling down. I went straight to the massage tent, and waited in line for a few minutes, when Brian found me! He surprised me with roses, and I was so excited. πŸ™‚ I gave him my beer while I spent fifteen minutes being stretched and massaged. I walked out of that tent a new woman!

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We walked a few blocks to the L…

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…those stairs. Ouch.

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Brian, in his infinite wisdom, parked right by an L stop in Wrigleyville, and next to a Starbucks. πŸ™‚ Cold runner + hot coffee = VERY HAPPY HEIDI!

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When we got back to Maureen’s house, I took the most amazing hot shower, changed into cozy clothes, and enjoyed some serious Chicago pizza with my cousins. Oh… and champagne. Lots of champagne.

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It was an incredible race. I’ve never smiled so much during a marathon! πŸ™‚
One of the things that made this race experience unique for me was the spectators. At most races, there are normal spectators, who half-heartedly clap while very busily looking for their friend/spouse/child who is running. Here, in Chicago, the spectators were people who live here. People who came out to cheer just because they can. πŸ™‚ The neighborhoods all seemed to have their own identifying flair and they welcomed us all with open arms! Of course, individual runners had their own little cheering squads, and since there were so many countries represented along the athletes, the spectators were speaking and holding signs in different languages!
I ended up placing 27,563rd, coming in at 4:54:49. It was definitely not my fastest, but my happiest race, and running without headphones was a great challenge.
Thank you all so much for supporting me and cheering for me from afar!

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Miles this year: 507.1

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Henry and Christina, and my last taper week

Hi, friends! I spent my last taper work keeping busy with all sorts of things, including a trip to Green Bay to work with Henry and Christina and capture their engagement portraits. We took advantage of a beautiful fall day along Baird Creek.

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I love Henry’s bow tie. Too cute! Congratulations, friends. We’re looking forward to working with you again next year!
I stopped at my “local” fly shop, Tight Lines, and had my new fly line put on my birthday present to myself, my new seven weight reel.

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I can’t wait to put that baby to good use!
I also went to dinner with my friend, Aaron. πŸ™‚ it’s hard to get him to come out- combining grad school with someone who works in politics a month before an election, and I was lucky to snag an invite!

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I started working on a secret photo project with some beautiful products…

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Did some very cliche photo work “out of the office” at Starbucks…

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Ate some of my pink applesauce…

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And went on my last run before the race with my Abbie pup.

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It was all good preparation for my ridiculous weekend ahead… Stevens Point to Milwaukee to Chicago to Stevens Point to Wausau to Chicago to home.
That story is up next! πŸ™‚

Miles this year: 480.5

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Happy birthday to me!

I celebrated my 29th birthday with a 20 miler. It was tough but I made it through πŸ™‚

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Long runs build character, as well as strengthen my body. I took four five mile loops, and fueled at home in between. The fall colors were starting to show, and I took some beautiful loops on the Green Circle. I was even stuck behind a train at mile 18!

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I finished along the Wisconsin River by my house, and relaxed in compression socks for a while πŸ™‚

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My mom and Bill invited us up for pizza at Sam’s, the place where I had my first waitressing job. πŸ™‚
I celebrated my birthday and long run with some thin crust deliciousness and a frosty mug of beer. Pretty awesome. Afterwards, we went to the campground where they’ll be having their wedding reception.

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We returned home, and I tried to take a selfie with my curly-haired Grammie, but she was being camera shy. Too cute.

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I had Friday to recover from my fun birthday, and we headed over to Waupaca on Saturday to capture the wedding of Mary and Scott. These two are so cute together, and they had lots of personalized details- especially featuring their shared love for Scott’s Cadillac. They had their reception at the historic Gerold Opera House, and it was a beautiful and unique setting! All the lush red velvet and well-danced wooden floors…
Take a peek!

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Congratulations, friends!
I took Abbie out for lots of miles the next week to burn off that delicious wedding cake, and I wore her out… She loves her new bed!

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Brian was gone the following week at an AFL-CIO conference, so I filled my time with friends.
I ran with Sarah…

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Met Stacey for coffee…

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And hooked up with my cutie patootie BFF Nikki for dinner.

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Too much fun in one week, if you ask me. πŸ™‚
Next up? Engagements with my friend Staush and his beautiful fiancΓ©e, Colleen, dinner with the Phares’, and a whirlwind weekend with a trip to the apple orchard. Thanks for reading, friends!

Miles this year: 464.5

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Flag cake and Lake Superior

Since we had Ashley and Erik’s wedding on the Fourth of July this year, I made my celebratory flag cake on the fourth of August!

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This is my ninth annual flag cake, and it was every bit as delicious as it looks. Angel food, with whipped cream and fresh berries. πŸ™‚

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We ate it all in three days- since we knew it wouldn’t last past our fun weekend ahead.
We headed up to Grand Marais, MN, for a personalized, quaint wedding of Allie and Toby. Grand Marais is just a gorgeous place, and these two said their vows right on the rocks along the shore of Lake Superior. Start with cute kids, add longtime friends, and finish with perfect weather. After the intimate ceremony with a vast backdrop, we headed to Harbor House Grille for dinner, drinks, and laughter. Allie and Toby came back to the lake with me at sunset, before spending the evening celebrating at a rooftop bar. Stunning doesn’t even begin to describe it…

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This was one of the most serene locations that I’ve ever visited with a bride and groom. I saw this area, and just fell in love.

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Congratulations, Allie and Toby! πŸ™‚ Thanks for inviting us up to capture your day!
We were so happy but exhausted on Saturday night, so we collapsed into bed and slept in a bit on Sunday. We walked downtown to get breakfast and coffee before heading out on the water, and I found these…

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Umpqua. A company that makes awesome minnow flies and oatmeal? Interesting… πŸ˜‰
We walked and explored…

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The cold water was calling us on such a warm day, so we grabbed our boats and headed onward!

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After a couple miles, I was steamy, so I pulled my boat up on some rocks, and jumped in! Damn, that lake is cold. πŸ™‚

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Every time I paddle Superior, I like it more and more. πŸ™‚
We knew we had a long drive home, since there was a lot of construction, so we hit the road around 1, stopped at Red Mug for coffee and snacks…

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…and made it home around 9:00.
Phew!
I will leave you with two questions:
1) anglers, I saw this beer up there. Can a trout actually get lost?

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2) does anyone remember the drama around this guy’s website? I love kale, so his court case stuck with me… But I haven’t seen a sticker in quite some time! It’s probably no surprise that this truck was next to the adventure gear shop, in front of the co-op.

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Be back soon to share more adventures. πŸ™‚

Miles this year: 374.75

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Meetings, so many meetings.

Part of my new job with TU involves traveling to regional meetings, meeting our members, and having some really awesome discussions about getting women involved and active in TU. Here’s a few of my favorite memories so far:
Reno.
I bought a new luggage tag, ran into friends in Madison before I flew out, and flew into an airport with cutthroat trout in the tile floor. I ran by myself and also with my friend, Steve Moyer, in terrifying interesting areas, with power poles in the middle of the sidewalk, along the Truckee river, stayed in a big hotel/casino/spa/resort (The Atlantis), drank some weird things at a hipster bar, and gambled for the first time.

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Dillard, GA.
I loved an early taste of spring. I ran downtown, did yoga in the grass, ate a Moonpie and drank a Nehi soda, and bought cowboy boots. I listened to a bluegrass band, ate grits, met a ton of great people, and sat in meetings at a really cool venue- The Dillard House.

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Westby, WI.
I learned about stream restoration techniques, talked with members about engaging our women volunteers, fished with my friend, Pete, and his pup, Teak. I hung out with nerdy staff (Brennan!), bonded with some of my favorite Wisconsin TU people, and came home to a crazy snowstorm.

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Lewiston, MI.
I stayed at the Garland Resort, ran on golf courses, met some incredible female leaders (and men, too!) within TU, hung out with my WITU guys, and got closer with our TU staff. I went to a fly fishing historical museum, and found some Weber reels made here, in Stevens Point! I caught my first Michigan fish, and was welcomed home to Wisconsin with a view of the Capitol from the plane and a hot cup of coffee.

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I have one regional meeting left, over in State College, PA. I have just been so inspired by the people I’m meeting and I am so proud to work for an organization that does so many good things in our communities. πŸ™‚

Miles this year: 219.55

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Madison Marathon recap 2013

I’m skipping ahead chronologically because I want to tell you all about the fun that was the Madison Marathon this year.
When the marathon organizers changed the date from May to November, I was a little nervous about the cold, and I was right to be. Race morning, it was in the 30s, with a slight wind. The race starts and ends at the capital, which is exciting , but presents some problems… the first 1/2 mile is downhill (so people go too fast) and the last 1/2 mile is uphill, so you’re spending your last bit of energy struggling up a hill! Good thing we stopped for coffee before the race. That cup of steaming liquid magic got me through the wait for the gun to go off!

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I started with the selfies around the first mile πŸ™‚

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I tried to catch photos that show how hilly the course was…

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Here is my sexy shadow self, somewhere around mile 10, next to a stranger in a hat.

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There is a big hill around mile 17, and once you make it to the top, there is a beautiful view!

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How about this sign?

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I know that some of you think I’m crazy for taking photos and tweeting while running, but here is proof that I’m not the only one…

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I loved this little kid and I definitely touched that sign. You betcha.

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Around mile 18, I started to feel a little jello-y in my legs, but nothing too serious. I felt like Gumby!

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Brian was waiting for me right around mile 19, and caught me midfueling… Swedish fish FTW.

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The course had a little loop, so I saw him again around mile 20…

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I’m typically a hot runner, so cold races are kind of miserable because I want my gloves for the first two miles, then my hands get too warm. I ended up taking my gloves off and putting them back on a dozen times during this race. The wind got to me!
Amanda was volunteering at the mile 21 water station, so I was looking forward to seeing her! Even with the hills and the cold, I was feeling great.

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I walked through the mile 22 aid station to drink my water, and when I tried to start running again, I noticed that my right quad had tightened up noticeably, and my gait changed dramatically. It’s almost like my right leg refused to land on a bent knee, so I had to land on an almost straight leg. How crazy. It changed the end of my race big time.
Luckily, Santa was there, coming to my rescue at the mile 23 aid station. If I didn’t have pictures of this, you would probably think I’d started hallucinating.

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The last three miles of this race are basically an out-and-back on John Nolen Drive. It overlooks Lake Monona, right in Madison.

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When you turn around to head back, you’re at about mile 24.5, but it feels (and looks!) like the Capitol is sooooooo far away.

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Mile 26, starting the last uphill…

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Brian was waiting right by the finish line for me…

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And I did it. Marathon number seven, finished. It was a slow race, made worse by the last five miles (I was in my way to a PR until mile 20!), but I pulled my gimpy butt across the line in 4:54:36.

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We ran back to our hotel in Middleton (the Extended Stay suites, highly recommend!), I took an ice bath, ate leftover Chinese food, and headed home. Oh, after a quick stop at CherryBerry to eat my weight in froyo. πŸ™‚

Miles this year: 400.2

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Nicole and Michael, lots of friends, my birthday, and stockpiling coffee…

What a busy and incredible fall I’ve had. πŸ™‚
It’s been filled with friends, like this little reunion with my Starbucks girls…

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…an incredible photo shoot with Sharon Fujimoto, a glass blower…

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Sharon is one of the featured stops on the Hidden Studios Art Tour, and her work is beautiful.
We captured the beautiful wedding of Nicole and Michael here in Stevens Point.

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Nicole is such a beautiful woman, inside and out, and Michael is the perfect compliment to her! We’re so happy for you, friends ❀
Their wedding was a perfect example of how I'm a full service photographer…

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I’m never too busy to dance with an eager flower girl! πŸ™‚
Amanda’s brother and sister-in-law were in town, so we all went out and lit up downtown! πŸ™‚

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I’m always amazed that I have any energy left after shooting a wedding, but if I’ve learned anything from the loss of TK and Rachael, it’s that friends are to be cherished. I never miss a chance to catch up!
I had a few good runs…

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…stockpiled my favorite coffee…

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…and celebrated my 28th birthday with Amy and Brian. Father Fats, wine, and froyo? A perfect night.

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More adventures to come… after the newest iOS update, I find myself in a bit of an office nightmare…

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Miles this year: 369

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You can’t catch me…

…is what I feel like my work is saying to me these days. I long for the winter days of being caught up. πŸ™‚
Of course, a big thing on that list is this poor little blog. The neglected story of my crazy summer weeks is overdue! Here’s the past two weeks in a whirlwind recap.

Last weekend, we headed to Ames, Iowa for the beautiful wedding of Lisa and Brian. It was a very long drive- about 6.5 hours for us. I didn’t realize how many wind turbines are in action in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa.

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We went to the rehearsal on Friday night to get a feel for the lighting in the church, and we got to meet everyone. They had the rehearsal dinner at the clubhouse at their apartment building- it was a very classy place and it was nice to hang out with everyone in the wedding. After the wedding stuff, we went to a frozen yogurt place πŸ™‚

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We were pretty tired after all the driving, so we went to bed early to be ready for Saturday. πŸ™‚
I woke up early and went for a run in the fitness center in our hotel.

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Since I don’t normally run indoors (and the treadmills at my gym are on the balcony), it is always very strange for me to run in hotels when they have mirrors facing the equipment. I look strange from straight on when running! I could do without the few miles of watching my cheeks bounce with every step and having my ponytail remind me of a metronome. πŸ™‚
Even the hotel keys were welcoming!

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We headed downtown to meet the ladies at the salon, but we were a little early, so we stopped at a coffee shop.

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The girls (and moms!) were at The Salon.

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Brian dropped me off at The Salon and headed over to a disc golf park with the guys.

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Lisa was my very first, randomly-assigned college roommate at UWSP, and she has been a blessing in my life ever since. I cried a bunch during this whole beautiful wedding day. The ceremony was at Collegiate United Methodist church, and the reception was at the gorgeous Alumni Center. Lisa and Brian met at Iowa State, so it was very appropriate that they had their wedding there. πŸ™‚

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On a side note- I love Lisa’s parents! They are the sweetest couple of folks, and I was so happy to be able to catch up with them! πŸ™‚

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These photos were taken outside the very building where Brian proposed! How sweet.

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Congratulations, Lisa and Brian! You are a wonderful couple and we wish you a very long and happy life together!

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On Sunday morning, we headed out to get coffee and snacks for the drive home. We stopped at the co-op and picked up some baked goods and jalapeΓ±o chips πŸ™‚
We went to a coffee shop on/near campus called Stomping Grounds and liked the coffee so much that we bought two pounds of beans to take home. While we were waiting for our coffee (they pour-over brew each cup individually), I loaded my Matt Wilson station on Pandora for the drive home, and guess what song came on first?

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Stomping Grounds at Stomping Grounds? Awesome. We packed up our coffee and picked up more frozen yogurt for lunch, of course.

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After a nice long drive home, I was welcomed home by a garden full of produce and herbs. πŸ™‚

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We were also met with very happy pups.

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Misty is getting old these days. She is having a harder time getting around. I’m so happy that we have wonderful dogsitters that come to the house when we’re gone, so we don’t have to take them to a kennel. Does anyone have any advice for making the most of our time with our old girl?
The week flew by, as I was mostly holed up in my office or out on small photo shoots. I am trying to “catch” up on all that work. I did have a memorable little run as I finished up the sideshow for Davin and Kari and ran it, literally, to Davin’s work to drop it off. If you saw a girl running down the street carrying a DVD, now you know why. πŸ™‚
I ran an uneventful long run of 14 miles on Friday. The weather was perfect, and I was feeling perfect- not sore or tired or dehydrated or anything. Of course, I just didn’t want to go. I cleaned the house and worked on photos for three hours in the morning, stalling because I didn’t want to run. I hate mornings like that. In any event, I pulled off the run without a hitch. 7 miles to Starbucks in Plover, refilling my water, then heading back. I’m hoping this week’s 16 miler is better- I don’t really have my head in the game yet. I’m hoping to suction some inspiration off my friend Kim, who is going to demolish her last PR from IM Louisville when she competes this weekend. I’ve got all my Ironman friends in my heart this week. Kim and Nancy- let’s meet up when you get back! πŸ™‚
Last weekend, we were heading to the Twin Cities for Sarah and Nate’s wedding. It was sort of a miracle that we were able to make it to their wedding- the couple that booked us for that weekend ended up having to change their wedding date late in the game, so I didn’t rebook the weekend and we were able to be guests, once again. πŸ™‚
Hello, St. Paul…

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…and Minneapolis!

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Their wedding was at the Walker Art Center in downtown Minneapolis, and it was a beautiful venue on a beautiful day.

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Sarah is our Delta Omicron sister, and we attended the wedding with our sister, Jaime (and her husband, Karl), and our sister, Mary, who was in the wedding, with her fiancΓ©, Joe.

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They had some awesome arrangements for sax quartet. The musicians in us just geeked out about the great tunes.

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I’m still a little rusty at this whole being-a-guest-at-a-wedding thing, but I’m working on it. iPhone photos just don’t do it justice! πŸ™‚ Of course, I did bring my “real” camera along for our traditional DO sibling wedding photo, and I snapped a few others during the evening. Brian took a few, too.

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Look at that view from my table!

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Congratulations, Sarah and Nate! Thank you for inviting us to be a part of your day!

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We booked the Doubletree downtown for the night, and I got a promotional package that included some fancy upgrades, like room service breakfast! I’ve never ordered room service before.

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Brian got the cutest little bottle of Tobasco sauce with his egg sandwich.

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We rented bikes and rode around downtown and through the park to the sculpture garden.

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I was very excited to see Spoonbridge and Cherry.

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After returning the bikes and checking out of our hotel, we stopped by Ikea, ate lunch at Whole Foods, then headed home.

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Our most noteworthy purchases from Ikea are a new area rug and coffee table for the living room. I also got some great new lighting for my office, and some neat beer mugs for Brian. πŸ™‚

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I’m so happy to be home. Yesterday, Brian went on his longest run so far- 4.5 miles! I’m an incredibly proud marathoner-wife. I forgot to snap a photo. Next time! πŸ™‚
Hope you are all enjoying the cooler weather! See you soon!

Miles this year: 421.45

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From Robyn and Rodney to Kari and Davin, and everything in-between.

Hi, friends:
I’m back and boy, am I in business! I’ll start with last weekend’s beautiful wedding of our Chicago couple, Robyn and Rodney.

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Robyn wore incredible purple shoes!

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They had their flowers done by Inspired by Nature, LLC, and Fawn did a beautiful job.

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Rodney was overcome at the sight of his beautiful bride. πŸ™‚

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We stopped at her parents’ home for some photos…

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…then headed to downtown Wausau!

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Their reception was at the Wausau Country Club, and the scenery was beautiful.

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I’ve known Robyn since junior high school- we graduated together. A few of the girls from the class of 2003 were there!

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Thanks for including us in your day, R & R. You two had a beautiful wedding and a fabulous party!
We wore ourselves out at the wedding, but turned right around on Sunday and headed to the Fremont area for the Oberstadt Family Reunion, complete with plant checkers…

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…picnic tables (and good food!)…

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…and official business. Think “does everyone approve the minutes” kind of official.

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I officially took over as next year’s president. I have to plan the whole shindig! The ceremonious passing of the binder:

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No Oberstadt party would be complete without farm cats!

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I miss my I-subscribe-to-Cat-Fancy-and-volunteer-at-cat-show days.
I started off the week with a bunch of flowering chives in the garden. I put them in a jar with white vinegar, and it turned into delicious chive vinegar.
Before:

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After:

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I went for my first real post-marathon run. A hot little 3.25er around my neighborhood. I noticed they’re doing a lot of work on the old Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia “house” next to the co-op. We had a lot of good times at a particular toga party in that house! There used to be a marimba on the second floor πŸ™‚

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No aches + no pains = happy Heidi!

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I spent a lot of time painting and cleaning this week. I love that we’re in the stages of home remodeling where I can have fun! I fixed up the old mirror that came with the house.

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We also got the kitchen all painted and trim installed. Almost all of it, anyway. Yay!

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I picked a bunch of black raspberries and made cookies for small group, too. It was so hot, but I turned on the oven anyway.

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I rehearsed with Dale (hello, empty ballroom!)…

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…made a lot of salads and iced tea…

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…went on a pretty long bike ride (Kimmy, I was thinking about you a bunch!!)…

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…baked fresh black raspberry tarts…

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…and painted my fingernails for the fourth of July.

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My inlaws, Greg and Jayne, came in to town on Friday to celebrate a late Father’s Day. I made a delicious dinner and served those tarts. We went down to Riverfront Rendezvous to hear Here Come the Mummies. I had a ton of fun! πŸ™‚
I finished that week of fun just in time to prep for Kari and Davin’s Waupaca wedding. We met these two in college, and they are an absolutely perfect couple.

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They had a little problem with the aisle runner, but that happens all the time! It got a good laugh out of everyone.

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The bride and groom are both musicians, and they had lots of musical friends and family there to help with the ceremony!

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It was a beautiful church on a beautiful day with a hot getaway car!

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Their reception was at Smiley’s in Plover. What a beautiful floral backdrop for these outdoor photos!

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Their cake was so good that I ate two pieces. πŸ˜€

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Congratulations, Kari and Davin! πŸ™‚ We’re truly happy for you and wish you a lifetime of love.

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We spent Sunday at the lake for our annual 4th of July celebration, it was just a few days early.

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Mission lake is our spot, and I was accompanied by these two bathing beauties.

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The key to a good lake trip lies in what’s packed in the car. A cooler, fun noodles, and lawn chairs? Perfect.

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After a long day of swimming, reading, swimming, napping, swimming, and laying around, we headed up to my mom’s house for dinner.

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I love seeing family and friends, and I really love spending time with my Grammy and Grampie. Grampie loves ribs, and so does his twin, Sam (the Newfie).

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They’re like two peas in a pod. I skipped the ribs but had all sorts of delicious stuff! My mom made a green salad and my favorite fruit salad.

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I made my seventh annual flag cake…

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…but it turned into upside down cake on my plate. Whoops.

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Have I mentioned that I adore my Grampie? He wins the award for most precious person ever. <;;3

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We raced home from dinner to hop in our yaks- I love watching fireworks from the water. I apologize in advance for how poorly this photo represents the experience, but I love fireworks too much to tinker with the camera at a time like this:

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I started my day with cracking open my last bag of coffee. I haven’t had to buy coffee in six years! I guess I do miss Starbucks. This is the good stuff!

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It’s so hot in our home today that I have been tempering my photo work with bike rides to clear my head and get some air.

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See you later, friends…

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Miles this year: 364.25

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I fought tooth and nail for that medal… Grandma’s Marathon recap.

I had one hell of a race in Duluth, but I’m going to start with my stories from earlier in the week.
Thursday night was a TU work evening out on Rolling Hills Road. The project for the evening involved cutting down a willow tree that was hanging over the water, interrupting the current, and shading the bank, so no grass was growing. It’s important to have grass growing there, so when the banks flood, the water just flows over the grass instead of washing the bank away. I have some really neat photos that I’ll post later. When we first arrived, Wyatt gave me a special fly. It’s a stimulator, and it’s the fly that I caught my first fish on! πŸ™‚ I put this fly on the visor in my car. I’m not sure what this means about me, but I’m pretty sure I’m turning into a fisherwoman for real.

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I met with Nancy this week, too. She’s my sole sister and the closest thing I have to a running coach, and she’s incredible. She’s a Boston marathoner, a grandma to an adorable little guy, a professional spectator for Ironman events, and an all-around inspirational Christian woman.

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We went over my plan for Grandma’s, and she set me up with some Rock Tape for my hamstrings. That stuff works miracles! She also suggested that I switch to a new pair of shoes. My “old” pair is only at about 400 miles, but with my aggravated hamstrings, it’s probably a good idea.
I also made another batch of jam. It was actually a double batch, since I had so many berries.

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Yes, I was also watching Drop Dead Diva. I love that show.

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It was time for another dental appointment this week, too. I love my dentist. I’ve been going to the same place since I was 1 3/4 years old. No cavities for this girl! πŸ™‚ Once I was done with my cleaning, I headed across the street to the orthodontist. I’m going in to have them look at my teeth- they’re starting to move back to where they used to be. I’m hoping that I don’t need braces again. My initial appointment is next week.

After that whole morning of focusing on my mouth, I stopped home to visit my mom and grandparents. I’m very blessed to have grown up right next door to my grandparents, and I love them a lot. My mom and I ran a few errands in Wausau, including a stop at Eastbay for much-needed new shoes! I always have two pairs of “working” running shoes- one for indoor use and one for outdoor use.

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Hello, Mizuno beauties.

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I cleaned the house and packed up all my gear on Friday morning. We headed out at noon, since the drive is 4.5 hours!
I carb loaded with fruit and granola bars in the car.

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Even my blueberries think I’m a star. I love the star on the bottom of those berries!

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One of the interesting places that we drove past on the trip north was the Jack Link’s headquarters, with a field of cows in front. I wondered if those cows are next week’s jerky?

We had a beautiful drive- I love looking out our windshield at kayaks with a backdrop of nature. Like trees and Lake Superior.

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The traffic getting into Duluth was horrible. It took a long time to get a parking spot, and we had to pay for parking. I’m spoiled with parking in Point. We had a good time at the expo- there were a lot of people, as usual. We looked through the booths and stopped at our favorites. I got a new 26.2 charm for my necklace, since my last one broke.

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We also found out that the cows in front of Jack Link’s are actually Jack’s personal cows. They’re safe. πŸ™‚ Jack Link’s had a booth at the expo and gave out samples.
On our way out of the expo, Brian saw Jeff Galloway’s booth with Jeff Galloway standing in it! He was a featured speaker at 2 pm, so I knew I was going to miss him, and I didn’t think he was going to stick around for the expo. In any event, he’s so nice! He gave me a hug and said that he was so happy that he helped me through my first marathon and that I’m still running.

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Holy humid, huh? Curl much? After the expo, we headed to our hotel. All of the hotels in Duluth and the surrounding area were full, and mostly with runners. Ours had a cute sign and little goody bags with bottled water, granola bars, bananas, little bottles of sunscreen, and helpful tips about navigating Duluth with marathon traffic.

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We ran to the grocery store next door for dinner ingredients… Pasta! I usually fuel with Chinese food, but I wasn’t feeling it.

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I had a pretty early wake up at 4:15 on race day. I ate my usual pre-race breakfast- yogurt, chia, bananas, walnuts, and coconut. I also threw in blueberries and honey.

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I had to be up so early to catch a shuttle to the start line. I really wanted to take the train, but it was pretty far from our hotel, so I took a bus.

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Brian’s role as spectator-of-the-year started early, as he poured me my iced coffee and drove me to the shuttle pick-up. I waited in line for the shuttle for about a half hour, then boarded the bus with a few new friends.

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That trip took almost 45 minutes, and as soon as I got off the bus, I got in line for the porta potties. There are a lot of them, but there were almost 6,000 marathoners!

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I struck up a conversation with an older man who was running his 70-something-th marathon. He was looking for his friend who was out there, running his 310th marathon! I hope to be as awesome as those guys someday. Our conversation was interrupted by the singing of the National Anthem. There is something so powerful and great about all those runners standing, focused, singing and listening. I always get teary-eyed during that part… And THEN, there was a jet fly-over. I’ve never been at a race with jets before. I was standing there by myself, crying full-blown tears, and the race hadn’t even started yet. That might have been my bad sign #1.
I started with a clean slate.

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We all lined up at the start and waited for the gun to go off.

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The race started right on time, at 7:45. I was wearing my Running for Rachael jacket because it was awfully chilly in the morning, but I ended up taking it off around mile three and tied it around my waist. I kept looking at my shadow and thinking I looked like a superhero with a cape.

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Around mile 6, I saw a fun sign. I appreciate that it’s informative, but I’m pretty sure that we all knew what was going on! The road was closed to all traffic, so I wonder who the sign is for? πŸ™‚

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Around mile 7.5:

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The course was beautiful. There were a few hills, but most of the race was pretty flat. I felt like I was always going just slightly uphill or downhill, which was a nice change.

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The first half was wonderful. I was right on track with my pace, and Brian met me with cool sponges and his handsome smile both times we caught each other.

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There wasn’t anything too notable about the first half- the course was right along the lake and there was just a little bit of a sweet breeze that felt heavenly.

Around mile 15, I saw a couple guys tethered together. As I got closer, I read on the back of one’s shirt that he was guiding a blind runner. The emotional runner in me thought that was amazing, and I shed a tear for those guys, silently wishing them a safe race.

Around mile 16, I started to feel some cramping in my quads. I thought maybe it was just a temporary thing, and I really hoped it would go away. I prayed that the cramps would leave my body. I tried to reason with my body- why would I start getting cramps in a new place? I haven’t had quad cramps in any of my long runs. I shed another tear.
I kept running, though my pace was slowing.

Around mile 17, I had to walk for a while. I was in some serious cramping-kind of pain. I shed a lot of tears. I tried to run again, and couldn’t. Some spectators were enjoying brunch on their front yard and offered me a slew of things they thought would help. I politely turned them down. I took out my phone and called Brian, sobbing, “I don’t want to do this anymore! I don’t know how this happened.” I feel bad, in hindsight- I never prepped Brian for what to do if something like this happened. He handled the situation perfectly, asking where I was, if there was anything he could do for me, and if I was okay. He didn’t know Kim’s number, but tried to call Nancy for advice. I kept power walking. I ran for a couple hundred yards at a time.

Around mile 18, Brian appeared like an angel. I cried so hard that my body was shaking. I don’t know what was happening in my body, and I didn’t want to admit that I was not going to set a PR and I was not going to feel good afterwards. He gave me a pep talk, a fresh cold sponge, and a kiss. I kept running, but I was going slowly enough that he was able to walk to keep up. Yikes.

I headed out back on my own, mostly walking, sometimes trying to run. I passed a home where they had put out about 50 trolls on the curb, about a foot apart. It was a colorful, belly-button-jeweled cheering section!

I must have started looking horrible around this point. I wish Brian had taken a video of me. I know there are those of you who’ve never seen this happen to someone, and you really have to see it to believe it: what happens when our bodies can’t run anymore. I looked like a cross between a 90 year old with arthritis and a penguin. I know that I was in rough shape, because I didn’t hear the normal cheers from strangers. I’m used to the typical, “Looking good!” or “Keep it up! You look strong!” or “Love the skirt! Love the smile, too!”
This time, three people said, “I’m proud of you.” I cried every time. The well-meaning spectators looked at me with pity, or something like that. I couldn’t take it, so I made a joke to several groups of people who looked particularly concerned, “There’s no need to be jealous- this isn’t as much fun as I make it look.” Then we all laughed. πŸ™‚ Even though I was in pain and in some sort of emotional chaos, I still had a sense of humor, and I knew I’d rather fall over on the side of the scenic highway than not finish.

Around mile 22, I saw this sign.

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Only 4.1 miles to go! At this point, I was with a group I’ve kindly named the Pained Powerwalkers. We were all struggling together. Strength in numbers, baby! My good feelings were disrupted when the 4:30 pace group passed me. So much for a PR.

Around mile 23, I took a small glass of beer from some spectators. Hey, if I’m not going to set a PR, why not try and enjoy myself through the pain, right? Thanks, excited college-age kids.

Around mile 24, Brian popped up again, to my delight. Another kiss (sorry about the salt, honey!) and a big smile. Right around this time, the roads changed from paved to brick. It was uneven, and I wobbled quite a bit. When my legs are fatigued like that, it makes it hard for me to keep my balance! I’m happy that I didn’t faceplant. I kept trucking on. I saw these photos and immediately thought of my Sole Sisters saying, “It isn’t about pretty.” NOW I get it.

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Around mile 25, I noticed that every medical staffer was asking me if I needed help. Are they nuts? If I’ve made it 25 miles, I will drag myself over that finish line by my fingernails if I have to. I must have been looking pretty rough. I know my gait was completely unrecognizable at that point.

Around mile 26, it seemed like every spectator was cheering for me. I looked up to see the clock was reading over 5 hours. Sigh. I pushed ahead.

Mile 26.2. More tears. A sweet medical staffer.

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A medal.

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AND an escort to the massage tent.
My massage therapist was wonderful.

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I talked to the man on the table next to me who’d just finished his first marathon. I remember that excitement πŸ™‚

I made it, friends. Sometimes, races are hard. They can be humbling! I am always learning to respect the distance. 26.2 miles can be a great run, but it’s still a long way.

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We hobbled back to the car and headed to the hotel to get cleaned up.
I forgot to turn off my Garmin right away, but here’s the final shot.

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I’m pretty sure that every part of my body hurt. I think that as my muscles started cramping during the race, they became less effective, and other parts of my body tried to compensate. Even my teeth hurt. No joke. I skipped the ice bath because I already had a chill, and I sat in a warm tub with a big bowl of frozen yogurt, and contemplated what the heck happened out there.

Possible reasons for the race being so rough:
1) I knowingly made a bad choice to wear new shoes on a race day. It doesn’t matter that they’re the same model as my old ones, they were new. I also ate a different kind of meal the night before. Don’t do anything new on race day!
2) I sat around waiting for the shuttle, riding it, then sat on the ground for two and a half hours before the race started. I might have gotten a little stiff from sitting that whole time.
3) Even though my hamstrings felt fine, they may have been a little out of whack, making the rest of my body work harder to compensate.
4) Fill-in-the-blank. I’ve run enough races to know that even though I can control my rest, nutrition, and other factors, sometimes our bodies just can’t do what we ask. Mine was just not able to pull off a marathon with 10:00 splits. Maybe next time πŸ™‚

I rested in bed for an hour, then we headed out to a fly shop that had caught our attention on the way in to town.

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We stopped at the grocery store, picked up some delicious looking (and okay tasting) sushi and soup, and headed back for an early night. I was sound asleep by 8.
We spent this morning paddling on Pokegama Bay. The drive out of the hills was beautiful.

20120617-220637.jpgIt was pretty windy- 15 mph winds but it felt worse on the water. We saw an eagle, a blue heron, a turtle, and a million seagulls.

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We had fun playing in the waves and white caps, then headed back to shower and check out of the hotel. I’d highly recommend our hotel- the Residence Inn in Duluth. It is a newer hotel with a very friendly staff and very nice rooms. Also, by some act of premonition, they put us in a handicap-accessible room, and after a rough race, those handrails by the shower and toilet came in handy! Sitting down and standing up is awful after hard marathons. Try it!
It’s mayfly season. They’re everywhere!

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After we said goodbye to our wonderful hotel room, we went to the Rose Garden. The roses aren’t quite ready, but I found one bud that is almost ready to pop open!

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The garden was beautiful, and I loved reading about how they take care of the roses. Those roses can be finicky!
The peony garden was in full bloom! I picked out a few favorites.

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That garden has a beautiful view and was a great place to walk around and shake out my sore body.

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Special thanks to Gretchen, who suggested it! After the garden, we went to Canal Park, where the finish line was yesterday. I was so focused in the end of the race that I barely remember anything except trying not to trip! We got to see their famous bridge (that is featured on our medal).

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They have a lot of great sculptures and fountains downtown. This was one of my favorites- you can walk though it!

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They also had a sculpture that was scraped out of a brick wall. Amazing.

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We made a quick stop at Red Mug for lunch and coffee at Bill and Beth’s suggestion.

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I’m writing this blog in the car, to help pass the time. πŸ™‚ If you’re reading this, I made it home and have probably fallen sound asleep in my own bed.

Happy Father’s Day to all of you wonderful father-figures out there!

Mom, if you’re reading this- I love you and I’m proud of you. You are a great student! Good luck on your test. Don’t worry about me, I’m already feeling better. I’m young and resilient! πŸ™‚

Miles this year: 360

PS who wants to do a Ragnar relay in November?

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