Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Recap! File Under: Not Too Shabby

I’ve been procrastinating writing a 2011 wrap up post because there were so many things I loved about this year I don’t know how to start. Really, I should have started this post back in October. That would have been smart.

I know. Having too many awesome things to sort through is NOT A PROBLEM. Shut up.

So I thought about doing a top ten list but when I went back through my calendar, photographs and previous blog post I realized this business was looking more and more like a Top Twenty* list. So let’s dig in. I’ve decided to keep each description brief but it’s still a helluva list. We could be here a while.


Technically I included this on last year’s list because the vacation started in December but it did spill over into January of this year and honestly, it was too great of a trip not to talk about again. I can still close my eyes and feel myself sitting on a chair at that resort right by the ocean, Mai Tai in hand. I will go back. Oh yes, I will go back.


What? Just a concert? What’s so awesome about that? Especially a band I’ve seen a bunch of times? I see a lot of concerts every year but this particular show just really stands out to me because it was the night where about twenty of my Twitter friends seemed to spontaneously take over the balcony of the Riverside. It was so much fun to sing along with my friends to one of my absolute favorite bands. Good friends, good music, good times.


Jason took my to Alinea in Chicago and I died. That’s the end of the year!

Ok no. But it was the most amazing meal I’ve ever had in my life. Twenty mini-courses (or bites) of art were served and I learned that the most exciting way to dine is to sit down and let the chef bring you whatever he or she thinks is best. When Grant Achatz came out and painted dessert of various chocolates, creams and sauces on our table my jaw dropped like a school girl.


This event could have been unbearable. The weather was freeeezing cold and the wind was relentless. But because I was there with my besties Rochelle, Krista and Marty, somehow we turned it into one of my favorite races of the year.


Jason and I spent the weekend in Portland (or really eating our way through) and I discovered what hipsters everywhere already know: Portland is rad. Whenever I travel to a new place I alway enjoy myself but can never imagine living there. However, I could totally see us living in Portland. It’s like Milwaukee... amplified. But just a bit. Not too much. I can’t wait to go back- for Portland Marathon next fall!


I’ve been visiting the Naples, Florida area since the mid-eighties so that’s nothing new. This year however, Juli, Ava and I met up with my uncle and his kids who I hadn’t seen in about ten years. (The girls finally got to meet their mysterious cousins who they only knew through Christmas cards and photographs.) The kids all had a fabulous time and it was really fun to watch. The moral of the story? Don’t let ten years go in between seeing great people.


The whole fam drove to St. Louis to see the national championships for the FIRST Robotics competition. I can’t say enough good things about this program. Awesome smart kids building awesome robots. And the crowds there cheered like we were at a major sports event. But for science! It was all very inspiring to watch. Spending the weekend in St. Louis was a bonus too. My favorite part was at the top of the Arch when the guide warned us, “Right now we’re experiencing a bit of a... sway.”


I wrote about this race in great detail here so I won’t bore you again with it. I ran my current marathon PR on this day (3:56:02) and I rode that high for as long as I could. The second half of the course at this race is painfully boring and solitary but for some reason I’m able to run a great pace there so I’ll keep coming back for it again and again. I’m hoping to break 3:55 this spring.


2011 was the year I became Coach Tracey. I went in thinking I knew what to expect but the girls always found a way to surprise me. And make me laugh. I had such a big proud for them at the 5K in June- especially because it was approximately eleventy hundred degrees.


12 friends. 2 vans. 30 hours. 197 miles. Fun right? Duh.


We pulled off an awesome race for the second year in a row! I’m so proud to be on this team of organizers and I can’t wait to watch our baby grow again this year.

You guys. It’s still only June. Halfway there!


We surprised my dad at Christmas last year by telling him we were taking him on a trip to New York City to see a Yankees game (his most favorite team ever.) Although it was sad to watch said Yankees CRUSH the Brewers, it was worth it to see the absolutely thrilled look on my Dad’s face.


I think this may have been the hardest race I’ve ever done. Somebody put a mountain in the middle of Wisconsin and we climbed iit that day. Whenever I’m feeling down I though I just look at those post-finish photos and I smile. Naturally, I’m going back to do it again.


Yup. We did Maker Faire in Detroit again at the end of the summer. Nerdstravaganza!


This weekend ruled. We spent three days living in a beautiful sprawling home in Santa Fe with some of our oldest, dearest friends. It culminated with a lovely wedding that I’m so happy I got to be a part of. This was also the weekend discovered I liked whiskey (along with my Whiskey Sister, HBT) and the lot of us fit a record amount of people in a tiny hot tub.


Dude. Do I really need to talk about this some more? You can read about it here. I still think about this several times a day. Sometimes it seems like it was all a dream.


This was the year I sucked it up and started working out with a trainer- in group sessions as well as a series of solo workouts in the fall. I realized that even though I’m capable of pushing myself very hard, having trainer will always give you that EXTRA push. I literally got my but kicked up and down the lakefront. And I discovered that I love football drills! There was one day when I think he almost broke me and because I’m a crazy person it was one of my favorite workouts of the year.


I spent a lot of time in Chicago this year (which isn’t that strange for me) but I feel like I really fell in love with the city again this year. From the 50K and Alinea in March, to summer weekends downtown with the fam, my first ever Bears game at Soldier Field (!!!!) and the Chicago Marathon with my besties in the fall. I kept finding myself there again and again and loving it. And of course we finished the year again with the Google holiday party! Milwaukee is my home now but I still have Chicago in my heart.


After hemming and hawing for years and making excuses as to why I couldn’t fit dancing into my schedule, I finally dragged myself down to Danceworks and started taking a modern class again. It sounds cheesey but I really feel like it’s good for my soul and Im excited to expand this part of my life again in 2012.


Dang, we really rocked out the besties events this year! From Besties ‘Stallis Cookout to Besties Book Club- and who could forget Besties Hanging Out and Making Fun of “Grey Gardens” Clips? Spending time with this very different, very incredible group of ladies was for sure a highlight of my year. We even got to cap off the year with Besties Night Out at Lake Park Bistro where we shut the pace down (with our awesome.)

Looking back and writing about all of these makes me feel so incredibly lucky to have the life that I have. I feel like any time I’m having a grump fest now I should look at this list and virtually slap myself upside the head. Because wow. If 2012 can be half as great as this year then I’ll the luckiest girl in the world. Happy New Year!

*Honorable mentions incude the personal marathon I ran on my 33rd birthday, our Mary Poppins sing-a-long, and that time I GOT TO SEE JON STEWART.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

That Time I Ran 2000 Miles and Didn't Know It

Remember when I talked about that little goal I had of running at least 2000 miles in the year 2011? As it turns out, that part wasn't that hard at all. The hard part was doing the STUPID MATH so that I would actually be aware of it when I acheived the milestone. You see, I had been taking my yearly mileage number from Dailymile's "leaderboard" page- a section that shows how your miles measure up against all of your friends. I put my faith in that number. I lived by that number.

That number was WRONG.

Oh, Dailymile, your'e so cute sometimes with your little bumps and glitches. How did I come to this realization? Well, on Christmas Eve when I was logging my morning run, Jason looked over my shoulder on my laptop at this page on my training log. It looks like this:

(Yes, I'm aware that this particular display includes last December's mileage as well, but don't worry, I'm not counting that.)

Anyway he says to me "All those monthly numbers already add up to over 2000 don't they?"To which I PSHAWED and replied, "Of course not! I know my yearly total! Do you think I would have passed 2000 miles and NOT KNOWN IT?"

So I opened up my calculator and added up January, February, March, April, and so on.

And I got 2003.

So I added it again.



I passed 2000 that morning and I had no clue. In fact, I had finished 2000 exactly with my friend Sara merely an hour earlier and then bounded off for three more cooldown miles around the park, completely oblivious to my milestone.

Here is a screen cap of the leaderboard from the SAME DAY showing me at 1973 running miles:

Wrong, wrongwrongwrongwrong, Wrong, Wrongity-WRONG.

Maybe you think this is all a tad obsessive but for people like me it really is a big deal. My friends and I all use this site to track our workouts and believe me if any of us had gotten to January 1st and then found out Dailymile shorted us a few miles of our goal- it would not be pretty. At least in my case the discrepancy was in the other direction, but I still feel like the whole build up was a bit... anti-climactic now.

But still, yay? Now I get to spend the last week of the year running whatever miles I want, whenever I want, JUST BECAUSE I LIKE TO. And that's awesome.

One more thing: Did Jason really just "happen" to notice in passing that the two totals were off? Well, not really. You see, he was secretly working on a project for me and was actually more than just casually interested in how I was tracking my total. You see, he had been spending some time at the Milwaukee Makerspace building me an odometer that would download my miles from Dailymile. Yes. I said an ODOMETER. You know, like this:

I can plug this guy into my laptop and it will grab my miles from the interweb and display the running total accordingly. (His blog post about how he made it can be found here.) As it stands I'll probably wipe it out after the 31st and start over for 2012 and I'll keep it on display somewhere in the house. Really, the whole thing just tickles me. Robot Lady has an odometer now. It's too perfect.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ava Year 8

8 years old. EIGHT. Ridiculous! Bonkers.