Turkey Trot Race Recap & Thanksgiving

I know a lot of people kicked off the Thanksgiving holiday with a turkey trot or other race. I did too! I was in my hometown in Wisconsin and they have an annual Turkey Trot. I’d heard about it on the news in past years, so this year I looked up info on the race and found out it’s a 5 mile run and they have a 2 mile walk. My family was on board for participating too, so my parents and the dog did the 2 mile walk (along with some of our other relatives) and I did the 5 mile run.

turk trot bib

It was about 20 degrees that morning and I had such a hard time deciding what to wear! I couldn’t decide how many layers I wanted. It’s always that dilemma of  being semi-warm while waiting at the start line but not getting overheated once you start running. I brought an extra shirt, hat, and socks in the car and figured I’d make a game-time decision with whether to add any layers.

We got downtown about 7:15 a.m. and found a parking spot just 3-4 blocks from the start/finish line. The race started at 8 and we hung out in the warm car until about 7:45 since we were so close to the start. I got out of the car at 7:40 to do some dynamic stretching and see what the temperature was like. I decided not to add any other layers which ended up being the right decision. Since we were so close to the start, I only had to hang out at the start line for about 15 minutes before things got underway.

Start line
Start line

I wasn’t sure what my legs were going to feel like for this run. The last run I had done was the previous Sunday. The only other harder workout I did this past week was a spin class at 6 a.m. on Tuesday (more on that later). I was still recovering from the Las Vegas half, so I told my parents that I expected to be done in about 50-53 minutes (10:00-10:30 min miles). I was kind of thinking they would be closer to the 10:30 mark. 

We took off and I felt good. Honestly, it was just nice to be moving so I could warm up. I was looking down at my watch periodically and noticed that I was running a bit fast (well, for me). I was hanging around a 9:30 pace for a bit. Partially the adrenaline and partially because I think the cold weather makes me want to run faster. I told myself to slow down a bit, but my mile 1 split was still about 9:45.

My toes were a bit cold for the first 2 miles and I was regretting not wearing another pair of socks, but I’ve never run with 2 pairs of socks and felt like that might cause more problems than it would solve. After mile 2 my toes were warmed up (or numb) and I just focused on running. I was still holding a pace near 10 min miles.

Before I knew it we were crossing a bridge to head back downtown and I saw the mile 4 sign. With 1/2 mile left I still had a good amount of energy, but I didn’t kick it into high gear yet. I was coming down the home stretch and realized that I could actually finish under 50 minutes, so I picked up the pace as I crossed the finish line. My official time was 49:37! I’m really happy with that cause, like I said, I was not sure what my legs were going to let me do that morning and I was definitely not expecting it to be sub-50.

My parents and the dog (Duchess) had just finished the 2 mile walk and saw me cross the finish line.

Duchess made it through her first turkey trot too!
Duchess made it through her first turkey trot too!

You don’t get a medal for finishing this race. You get something better: A personal Pumpkin Pie!

Who needs a medal when there's pie?!
Who needs a medal when there’s pie?!

We showered and got ready for more relatives to come to our house to watch the Green Bay Packers play the Detroit Lions and to eat a feast. We were in WI, so of course it was a Packer party. Unfortunately they lost, but we still had a good time and the bloody mary bar helped.

thanksgiving bloody

The day was spent hanging with family, watching football, and eating lots of yummy food. Of course we broke into one of the pies from our race as part of our dessert. 🙂

I have a lot to be thankful for! It was a great Thanksgiving Day!

Friday was spent decorating the house for Christmas – a tradition for my mom and I. We’re not black Friday shoppers, and it was so much better to sleep in and just spend the day listening to Christmas music while decorating. I’m in full-on Christmas mode now!

Did you have a good Thanksgiving? Did you do a Thanksgiving Day race or go for a run? What kind of socks do you wear for winter running to keep your toes warm?


Team Challenge & Las Vegas Half Weekend – Part II

Sunday (11/17) – a.k.a. Race Day!

I slept til 8 and then met up with some Team Challenge teammates for breakfast at 10. We just grabbed some food at the little food court by the casino in the Venetian. I had an egg and cheese sandwich on an English muffin and a hashbrown. Didn’t want to eat too much because I was trying to be smart about what I ate with the race happening later that afternoon. After eating, we all kind of went our separate ways for a bit to relax and get ready. It was nice to be able to sleep in and relax before the race since it didn’t start until the afternoon, but that also meant I had a lot of time to think about the race. The team met in the lobby at 2 for a photo.

Minnesota/Dakotas Team!
Minnesota/Dakotas Team!

Then we headed to the shuttles to get to the start line. One awesome thing about doing this race with Team Challenge is we didn’t have to worry about how we were going to get to the start line at the other end of the strip because buses were provided for us. They actually closed down the strip a little bit early this year so our buses could just drive down to the start instead of having to take back roads! There’s more about the actual run in my race recap, so be sure to check that out!


After we got back to the hotel, we did a quick shower and changed to meet up at the Grand Lux Cafe for some more food (I think runger had set in for all of us). I had a chicken quesadilla. Then we headed over to one of the bars/clubs, Rockhouse, in the Venetian for the Team Challenge after party. Rockhouse was donating 15% of proceeds to CCFA that night! They had karaoke, a mechanical bull, and music. It was a lot of fun! I ended up hanging out with some Team Challenge folks until 2 a.m. Then I got into bed and crashed after an awesome but exhausting day!

Monday (11/18)

Monday morning was about packing and relaxing. I got my stuff together, said goodbye to my roommate, ate my Pop Tarts left over from the Team Challenge tent after the race, and headed over to Starbucks to treat myself to a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

These made for a really good breakfast
These made for a really good breakfast

After killing some time and placing a couple of (losing) bets on the roulette table, I met the group to catch our shuttle to the airport. The whirlwind weekend was coming to an end. It was a truly amazing experience and I will definitely do another Team Challenge season in the future. Not sure if it will be Las Vegas or one of their other awesome locations, but I know it will be a blast!

I got to meet some amazing and inspiring people from all across the country. Each one had their own story and reasons for running and fundraising for CCFA. Some were living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, others were running in honor of someone they know who is living with one of these chronic diseases, and some were just out to run and raise money for a good cause. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. I highly recommend Team Challenge to anyone looking to do a charity race!

TC Vegas sign

Have you ever done a charity race?

Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Recap

Our Minnesota/Dakotas team made it to the parking lot across from the Luxor hotel where the start village was. There were toilets, food, water, and music. All American Rejects played a pre-race concert!

Live rock 'n roll
Live rock ‘n roll

I headed to my corral (corral 19) at about 3:50 p.m. The gun was set to go off at 4:30. There were 36 corrals. This is a huge race with about 30,000 people participating.

Can see the start line in the distance
Can see the start line in the distance

The sun was setting and it was starting to get a little chilly, but nothing compared to Minnesota. I was still glad I had my new Team Challenge arm warmers.

lv blvd

The gun went off (or rather a horn sounded) at 4:30 and the elite runners were off. They were releasing each corral about 45-60 sec apart, so I hoped that corral 19 would be starting about 5 p.m. and I was dead on. The course starts out by going past Mandalay Bay and you turn around right by the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. I had been to Vegas twice before and had never seen this sign, so apparently all I had to do was run a half marathon. 😉

By the time we turned around the sun was gone and the lights were on. Miles 2-6 are on the main part of the Las Vegas strip. Miles 6-11 are in downtown Las Vegas and some side streets. At mile 11 you’re by the Stratosphere again and heading back down the strip. Two short miles later, you’re at the finish line in front of the Mirage.

I took off and felt great. There was lots of energy and excitement in the air. The strip was full of cheering spectators. Even with the waved start, there was lots of weaving around people (actually, I thought the course was pretty crowded the entire way). I tried to settle in to a pace of about 10:15/mile, but it was a little tough to find a steady pace (probably the crowded course).

Water stop #2 was a bit of cluster. They fell behind with having water out on the tables, so the first several tables were empty and I slowed down far longer than I wanted to. I tried to make up for some lost time.

Around mile 4.5 Coach Chris caught up to me. She was out on the course with us for support and she ran with me for about a mile. I was still feeling strong as we headed away from the main part of the strip and to the halfway point of the course.

Being part of Team Challenge and wearing the orange singlet was great on the course. There were tons of Team Challenge supporters along the course, and they would all cheer for you when you ran by shouting “Go Team Challenge!” Always nice to get that extra boost of support even from strangers! I saw our team manager Lindsay at mile 9.25 and it was great to see her smiling face and hear her cheering.

By mile 11 I was ready to be done and hungry for a PR. I tried to pick up the pace a little. My legs cooperated pretty well and I still had some gas in the tank. Before long the finish line was in sight. I had my Garmin on, but wasn’t totally sure if I would get my PR or not, so I gave it all I had. I crossed the finish line with a big smile on my face and my hands in the air. It felt so good to be done and I felt like I had run a pretty good race.

View of the finish line
View of the finish line

I started to make my way down the finish shoot (which is actually about a 1/2 mile long). I grabbed my medal first.


Then I got one of those foil blankets to help keep warm as my body cooled down. (I had always wanted to get one of these after a race and didn’t think I would unless I ran a marathon, so I was kind of excited.)

race blanket

I grabbed an apple, bagel, water, and some chocolate milk (which I didn’t end up drinking) and got my official finisher photo taken.

Finisher photo hi res

I checked in with Team Challenge at the end of the shoot to let them know that I had finished. There, I got a 2nd medal! And my finisher pin!

More race bling
More race bling!

Team Challenge had a finishers tent set up for us with food and drinks, but even more importantly, there were chairs and it was heated! I found some of my teammates and we celebrated being done.

Me (right) and a few MN/Dakotas teammates after the race!
Me (right) and a few MN/Dakotas teammates after the race!

My official time was 2:14:50. Here’s how I fared with my A, B, and C race goals:

A: Cross the finish line in 2 hours, 14 minutes, 30 seconds or less (avg. pace ~ 10:16). I didn’t get a PR –  just 5 seconds off. (My goal would’ve been a 15 second PR.) I was disappointed at first, but then I realized that it was quite an accomplishment to run my 2nd half marathon just 3 weeks after my 1st half marathon and hold a similar pace on a crowded course. I am really happy with how I did and if nothing else, it just gives me another reason to sign up for more half marathons in the future!

B: Follow my plan for fueling during the race (and fuel smart before the race). Check! I did a much better job of fueling during this race. I still felt tired near the end, but I didn’t feel as sluggish for the last few miles, so I think this new strategy really worked.

C: Have fun! Check (times a thousand)! I had a fantastic weekend and really did have fun during the race. I love Las Vegas and got to see it in a whole new way by running 13.1 miles around the city.

Having fun, representing Team Challenge, and raising awareness for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation were really what this was all about. I was very proud to wear that orange singlet and so proud of all of my teammates for making it across the finish line too. The 600+ Team Challenge participants running the Las Vegas half raised over $2.3 million for CCFA and that money will help us cross a different finish line on the day that cures are found for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. That goal is also a marathon–not a sprint. It will take time and dedication, but I got to witness the passion of CCFA staff and volunteers, so I know we’ll reach that goal one day.

finish line photo2 hi res
Crossing the finish line!

Team Challenge & Las Vegas Half Weekend – Part I

Friday (11/15)

My alarm went off at 4 a.m. and the weekend started! I was at the airport to meet up with other Team Challenge participants who were traveling to Las Vegas on the group flight. We took off as the sun was coming up.

take off

Temps in Vegas were in the 60s for highs and 40s for lows. Perfect running weather, but it made it really hard for me to pack. I was already in fall/winter running mode, so I went with layers so I’d have lots of options.

After we arrived in Vegas, we shuttled over to the hotel and checked in at the Venetian. I have always wanted to stay here, so I was super excited! It’s a gorgeous hotel. The rooms are all suites, so we had lots of space!

room 2

We had a little time to unpack and regroup before hoping on the monorail to head to the race expo. The expo was huge! I think this was the biggest one I’ve been to. We got our race bibs and then I ventured around all of the booths with a couple of my Team Challenge teammates, Jenny and Kristi.

expo 5     expo 1

Practicing our finish line pose!
Practicing our finish line pose!

We checked out almost every booth at the expo and grabbed a lot of free samples (some good, some not) and bought some fun gear.

So much stuff!
So much stuff!
New gear
New gear

We had some time to chill out after the expo and it felt so good to put my feet up. Lots of walking in Vegas! A bunch of us met up to head over to the Stratosphere and ride one of the rides at the top. We were going to take a taxi, but there was a long line outside the hotel, so we thought the bus would be better. Unfortunately, we waited about 30 minutes for a bus to come and then it was too full for any of us to get on. We had dinner plans, so we had to scrap the Stratosphere trip, but I did get to snap some cool pictures outside the Venetian.

venetian outside   venetian tree

winter in venice 2

We had a great dinner at I (heart) Burgers in the Venetian. They were donating part of the proceeds to CCFA. After that, a group of us wandered to a few places along the strip to celebrate our first night in Vegas. I started to fade around 10 p.m. (which was midnight central time) after the long, busy day. All in all, it was a great first day in Vegas!


I slept til 8 a.m. and took my time getting ready before meeting some people for brunch at 10:30 at the Grand Lux Cafe. I ended up going for the buffet and loaded up on fresh fruit and waffles.

grand lux

I had some time to kill, so I walked around the Grand Canal Shops for a bit to do some window shopping. This is one of my favorite (indoor) areas in Vegas. It was all decorated for Christmas too.

grand canal 1    grand canal 5

grand canal 3

I guess you could say this is festive
I guess you could say this is festive

I wanted to get in a couple of easy miles on Saturday just to get my legs ready for the race on Sunday evening, so I headed to the exercise room for a 2 mile run.

exercise rm

That night was the Team Challenge inspirational pasta party! Over 600 Team Challengers from across the country came together to carb-o-load and hear from some very inspiring speakers.

Sea of people heading in to the pasta party
Sea of people heading in to the pasta party

pasta party 3    pasta

pasta party 11

Oh, and Denis Haskins (a.k.a. Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell) was our emcee for the evening!

"Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! What is going on here?"
“Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! What is going on here?”

We found out that Team Challenge raised $2.3 million dollars during this Vegas season! That will go a long way to help CCFA find cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The pasta party was great and totally got us pumped up to run the race the next day! More on the race and the rest of the weekend coming soon!

Las Vegas Half Marathon Complete!

I completed the Las Vegas half marathon! It was an amazing experience. I’ll have a race recap and some more posts about the whole weekend with Team Challenge coming later this week, but here are a few pictures from the weekend to get things started.

Ready to go at 5:15 a.m.
Ready to go at 5:15 a.m.
Can't fly without buying these! Some travel fuel ;)
Can’t fly without buying these! Some travel fuel 😉
Our home away from home for the weekend
Our home away from home for the weekend
Brooks Run Happy Island at the Expo
Brooks Run Happy Island at the Expo
Inspirational Pasta Party the night before the race. CCFA CEO, Richard Geswell, speaking.
Inspirational Pasta Party the night before the race. CCFA CEO, Richard Geswell, speaking.
Me (right) and a few MN/Dakotas teammates after the race!
Me (right) and a few MN/Dakotas teammates after the race!

Did you race this past weekend?

Las Vegas Half Marathon Goals

My second half marathon is coming up, so I’ve been thinking about my A, B, & C goals for the race. Here’s what I’ve come up with…

A: Cross the finish line in 2 hours, 14 minutes, 30 seconds or less (avg. pace ~ 10:16). Ok, that probably seems really specific, and it is. I ran my first half in 2:14:45 and I’d really like to beat that time. I know this is a big race with thousands of runners, so I’m not sure how crowded the course will be, but I’m going to do my best to get in the right starting spot for my projected pace and to stick to this pace (or faster ;)).

B: Follow my plan for fueling during the race (and fuel smart before the race). I felt like I could’ve fueled a little better during my first half marathon, so I tested out something slightly different on my 9.5 mile run a couple weeks ago and felt a lot better. I’m going to give this new plan a shot during the half and hope it helps give me just a little more energy for those last few miles. Fueling properly is also important to me because this is a destination race so I won’t necessarily have my usual food. It’s also an afternoon/evening race. I’m used to morning races, so I’ll just need to be extra conscious of what I eat for breakfast and lunch.

C: Have fun! This is the most important goal of all. I decided to join Team Challenge for three reasons:

  1. It was a destination race (and one that sounded like a lot of fun)
  2. I’d get to do another half marathon this year
  3. It would give me the opportunity to raise money and awareness for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

This experience has helped me become more open about living with ulcerative colitis and has helped me to not feel alone. No matter what happens on race day, that is worth every training run, strength workout, fundraising email/Facebook post, and thank you card. The funds raised through Team Challenge will help others living with these diseases and support research so that one day there can be a cure.

This is why I’m running.

I’m running for me and I’m running for the millions of people who are living with these diseases. I can’t wait to rock Team Challenge orange as we run down the lit up Las Vegas strip!

TC Vegas sign

Running & Sports Weekend

This past weekend was a Gopher Sports filled weekend with a couple of running workouts mixed in!

On Saturday morning, I got up and met Hyedi for a nice 3 mile run. The 3 miles flew by as we were chatting along the way. After that I headed home to get ready for the Gopher football game against Penn St. I was excited to get to see a Gopher football game live again this year, but wasn’t super excited about the cold, windy day. I did pretty good with staying warm with a blanket over my legs and my new winter coat, but it was still pretty chilly. The large coffee I bought was definitely necessary — both for the warmth and the caffeine!

But, it was a great game because the Gophers won!

Gopher football

On Sunday I got up early to get in my last long run before the Las Vegas Half Marathon. 6-8 miles was on the training schedule. Our instructions from Coach Chris were to listen to our body and do 6 miles if your legs are tired or go for 8 if you’re feeling good. I planned to do about 7 and ended up doing 7.5. I felt great for the run and had another great view.

Love the skyline view!
Love the skyline view!
Feeling ready for my 2nd half!
Feeling ready for my 2nd half!

In the afternoon I went to the Gopher volleyball game with my family. The match went to 5 sets, so we got to see a lot of volleyball, but unfortunately the Gophers fell a little short. Still fun to see them play.

Gopher vball

Made me miss playing sooo much! Need to work on finding a rec volleyball league to get back into playing.

What sporting events do you like to go to? Do you play any recreational/intramural sports?