Monday, January 20, 2014

Samson Stomp and Much Needed Night Away

It is no secret that I have been a little blue.  Not seriously, but enough. My running life is in flux, and I am not sure which way to turn. Should I go with the flow, or fight the flow with everything I've got?  I'm at a loss.  What is clear is that despite my despair this past weekend about heading to Milwaukee for a race I couldn't race, the night away was a much needed distraction.

Our busy 36 hours began with ski lessons in the Green Bay area for the kiddos.  We had already packed up the car, made a sandwich lunch, tucked some movies for the DVD player in the backseat, and dropped the dog at the kennel.  Skiing could have easily turned into a chore to get through before heading to Milwaukee for the main focus of our weekend, but instead it became a nice way to kick things off.

With the kids ensconced in their age-appropriate groups, the husband and I hit the ski trails. The snow was fantastic, much better than two weeks ago. And, although, the temperature was in the chilly single digits, our hour and a half spent skiing was pleasant.  Aside from being a bit overdressed, I quickly found my rhythm on the trails and really enjoyed the time out there.  I managed to go down the couple of hills along the route (including that one with the curve I wiped out on two weeks ago) without incident, and I even managed to walk UP a hill without holding everyone up or having to take off my skis.  Really, all in all, a fantastic experience.  To top things off, the kids each seemed to have a good day as well.  Skiing-wise, things are coming along.

As soon as we all got changed and into dry duds, it was time to take our adventure south.  We ate our lunch, plugged in a movie for the kids, and hit the road.

Every time we go to Milwaukee I am reminded of what a nice city it is.  There are areas that are absolutely charming, and I always leave there with the feeling that I would like to explore it more.  As with other visits, though, this one was a whirlwind tour, so we didn't get to see as much as I would like.

Getting into town, we had decided we would go see a National Geographic Penguin movie at the public museum's Imax.  (Our son is in love with all things penguin.)  Having some time to kill before the matinee, we headed over to Trader Joe's for some shopping.  We don't really go too crazy while there, but it is fun to pick up some TJ-branded items, such as cereal, dried fruit and trail mixes, wine, sauces, and chocolate items.  It's more of a novelty than anything, I think, but we enjoy it.

After the movie let out, it turned out we had ten minutes until the museum's free last half-hour of the day.  So, we got a little bit of bonus educational time going through the butterfly house, dinosaur and rainforest exhibits before we had to vacate the premises.  Dinner that evening was at Beans and Barley, a vegetarian-friendly restaurant and health-food store not too far from the museum.  Delicious food and then an hour in the pool for the kidlets was the perfect end to our day.

Sunday morning, we got up early to get ready to check out and head over to the real reason for our weekend trip - the Samson Stomp 5K, 2-Mile, and 1-Mile running events at the Milwaukee County Zoo.  After packing up and checking out, we had a nice breakfast at First Watch in Brookfield, which offered a really nice selection of healthy and not-so-healthy breakfast items.  (I had the banana granola-crunch multigrain pancakes, while the husband had house-made muesli and fresh fruit. E. had scrambled eggs, which she loves but never gets at home, while LG had a bagel with cream cheese.  Both kids had fresh fruit as well.)

Samson Stomp

As we were waved into the zoo's parking lot by the booth workers, we couldn't help but notice a sign: Samson Stomp Sold Out.  This is a popular event.  Two years ago, when we did it for the first time, we noticed that as well, and it wasn't even nearly as pleasant weather-wise then as it was yesterday.  With temps forecast into the 30s, but with a brisk wind, yesterday's race really wasn't that bad for a winter event in Wisconsin.

Originally, the husband and I had both signed up for the 5K race, while the kids were registered for the 1-Mile.  The husband's mom, who was hoping to come visit had signed up for the 2-Mile, but when her trip was canceled and my injury became a nuisance it was decided that I would take her 2-Mile bib.  Not a terrible deal because I had run the 5K two years ago. This would be husband's first time with it.

So, getting into the zoo and wending our way through to the packet pickup, we got our race numbers and shirts and then found a cozy corner to pin our numbers on.

The way the races are staggered at the Samson Stomp make it an ideal family event.  With the husband's 5K race starting at 9:30 a.m., and my 2-Mile starting at 10:15 a.m., he had time to run and wrap up his event while the kids and I watched the penguins and visited the ape house.  Then I was able to walk my 2-Mile event with enough time to see my kids and the husband off at the 1-Mile race start, which began at 10:45 a.m.  A kids' race of .25 miles also kicks off at 11 a.m.

There isn't too much to report on my 2-Mile event.  I had planned to walk it, and that I did, with the exception of four or five downhill segments, where I could not ignore the temptation to run. I could definitely feel the hamstring tendons tightening up on me, but the walk (or the short duration of the event) seemed to keep any real irritation at bay.  I finished in 30:10, and that is with stopping to take the following photos along the route.

Dall Sheep
One of the roads we traveled.
Polar Bear
Finish Line
All things considered, I was happy with my effort.  I failed to bring my heart rate monitor, so I have no way of knowing if I kept my heart rate under that 132 rate, but seeing as I know I spiked past that skiing the day before, oh well. Today is a rest day, but I will pick up the HR monitor again tomorrow for my treadmill walk. Sigh.

The others in my small group did well in their respective races. The husband bemoaned that he was "so slow" with a 20-minute or so finish.  Cue the violin.  The kids did great finishing their mile run in the 12-minute range.  Lots of fun.

After the race, we hit a Starbucks where I finally earned Gold membership.  (I am such a dork.  I really don't even care, but their marketing scheme worked. They threw out the challenge of the Gold level and I took it on.) After coffee and smoothies, we worked our way to Performance Running Outfitters where I spoke to some perfect strangers about all my woes.  After listening to me patiently, measuring my feet, watching me walk, and asking me lots of questions, they brought out the Brooks Defyance - a huge departure from my beloved Cortanas (at least stack-height-wise).  However, for the lady who can point out at least 10 things I hate about a shoe as soon as I put them on, I was struck dumb.  I had nothing to say. I put these shoes on, and I was just sort of like - oh, they feel pretty good.  I jogged around their minute track and hopped on the 'mill, and really I was sold.  So, I am trying something new - at least until Saucony comes around and gives me my old-style Cortanas back.

The interesting thing about PRO was that when I was videotaped on the treadmill, the person watching me commented that, running, I was about as efficient as efficient can be. To which I responded, then why am I always fricking injured?  He shrugged and agreed it's a mystery.  The husband's theory is that I clean up my running act when I am "on display."  That could be, I suppose.

In any event, having walked out with a brand-spanking-new pair of running shoes, we then went to REI where I bought a new pair of Dansko clogs on sale. It was my day for shoes.  I have now almost doubled my shoe collection.  Ha-ha....and you probably think I am kidding.

A linner at the Cheesecake Factory finished up our weekend.

So, a busy but good time, and as I said it was good to get away, even if just for a day.

Food-wise, I fell off the wagon on my one-rawish-meal-a-day challenge on Saturday. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch traveling to Milwaukee, but getting to a veg-friendly restaurant in Milwaukee, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have a regular dinner there.  So, instead of the salad I should have had, I ordered a vegetable and tofu stirfry with coconut ginger curry sauce served over brown rice.  It was delicious.

I did get back on the wagon yesterday, though, as after the Cheesecake Factory for our late lunch, I really wasn't too hungry again until about 8:30 p.m., when I had a banana.  Today, I got back to the salad thing for lunch, and what do you know? It tasted good.

Happy  Running!

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