Tag Archives: La Crosse

Father’s Day


Last week, I avoided doing school work during my prep by choosing to clean my classroom shelves. I still had binders from my classes at UW-La Crosse! I had emptied many in the past and dumped them, but the few that remained in the bottom corner must be ones I thought I may use??…well, I still had some of my “methods” classes down there. Language Arts binder, Reading Methods 432…yeah, don’t need these anymore. The binders were in great condition, so I emptied the contents into the recycling bin and was going to call it a day.

Until I found my journal entries in the back of my RDG432 binder.

This RDG 432 course I remember clearly. It was fall of my senior year, and we met once a week on Monday. The class was 3 hours long. I initially dreaded it, because I really had no interest in teaching reading or language arts, but I came to enjoy it. Part of it was the professor, Michelle Boge. She was very humorous, approachable, and realistic. The journal entry activity was something she did with us at the start of a few of our classes, as it was something we could do in a classroom of our own. She wasn’t going to read them, but they were meant to get us to reflect on a broad topic for 5-8 minutes and write. Michelle would write a statement on the board for us to copy down, and then we had to write whatever came to mind. One entry I did was on chocolate chip cookies, one was on my first job of being a caddy. And the one below was on my dad.



Was this a happy day I wanted to relive? Not really at all. But it is still a day engrained in my mind. Is there anything I can do about it, now 10 years later? Not really. Except not beat myself up over it. I have matured and I have come to better terms with the situation. I have handled the loss of my father by running for him, using that time during my races to reflect on our family and the times we spent together. I am still not 100%, nor will I ever be, but I can say I am in a better place than I was in October 2006.

It’s never too late to say “I Love You.” I love you Dad—Happy Father’s Day.


Chicago 2006 vs Calgary 2014


All of you reading my blog know I have my big race this Sunday in Calgary. It’s the Calgary Full Marathon, all 26.2 glorious miles of it, and my goal is a sub 3:35:00—a Boston qualifying time for my division.

Flashback now to October 2006, when I ran my third full marathon. It was my first marathon other than the now-extinct May-time running of the Madison Marathon. During those previous races, I had ran a 4:27:38 and a 4:48:03. My goal this particular race was to break four hours.

It’s funny to now look back at this race and see how my goals and ability has evolved. It also makes me feel hella old, because it’s now been 7.5 years since that race! I was still fairly inexperienced when it came to long distance road races, but I had caught the bug.

My good friend Matt and I drove down from our college town of La Crosse, Wisconsin, to Chicago on the day before the race. The expo in Chicago was unlike anything we had ever experienced. It was insane and a sensory overload.

The lead up to the race was equally as amazing. Close to 40,000 runners that year if I remember correctly. This was also back in the time when they didn’t have a corral system to start. I just positioned myself in the masses and after the gun went off, it took me about ten minutes to get to the timing mat.

The weather was overcast, a bit chilly, and rainy. I think I was wearing a long sleeved cotton shirt, which now I realize is a huge rookie mistake. Come on—I was a poor college kid. Why would I pay lots of money for a fancy tech shirt?!? Along with that, why would I pay lots of money for a decent watch? (Photo to follow)

The support from the friends, family members and volunteers throughout the boroughs of Chicago was amazing. I got in such a running trance that the race felt effortless. Before I knew it, I was approaching the finish. After a final push, I crossed, with my official time as 3:59:25. I broke my four hours! (even with a crappy $5 Wal-Mart watch too!)

Matt finished his race in 3:00:17. A ridiculous time! He was upset he didn’t break 3 hours, but he qualified for that elusive race held every April in the springtime—-The Boston Marathon. He went out there the following year and experienced every runner’s dream.

This Sunday, I hope to cross the finish in Calgary with the same combined end result as what Matt and it had in Fall 2006—a new personal best, and a Boston Qualifying time.


Race Reflections-My first full marathon…what was I thinking?


Mad City Marathon
May 29th, 2005
Madison, Wisconsin
Time-4 hours 27 minutes 38 seconds

My first full marathon. I can’t clearly remember the moment I decided I would train for a full, though, I know it was sometime halfway into my sophomore year at UW-La Crosse. My roommate Katie and I became best friends with Matt and Nick up on the second floor of Angell Hall. The four of us, and a circulating group of others, would always hang out-play video games, drink, and the like. Matt was a former high school track athlete at neighboring Whitnall High School, and we most likely saw each other at track meets during high school. We grew up ten minutes away from each other and didn’t know we’d become friends during University. Matt got the idea in my head that I could do a full marathon-he made us a training calendar, I signed up for the Mad City Marathon, and there was no turning back.

Training for a marathon obviously requires more mileage than a half. Matt and I would occasionally go on runs together, but we never stuck together, as he was always blocks ahead. We got really good at winding our way through the beautiful city of La Crosse….university trails, the bluffs, down by the Mississippi…I’d even run to Minnesota! (Because I could!) Training for marathons in university worked well because of the class schedules. I remember during this second semester I had three classes on Tuesday and Thursday, all in a row, starting at 1:00 pm. I had more than enough time to get up in the morning and do my running. One thing to note is that I didn’t have any fancy running gear. Probably the same Nike shorts I had in high school. A crappy sports watch from Wal-Mart. Socks with holes in the toes. Crappy cotton tank tops and white beaters. And shoes that I thought were good running shoes, but were really just labelled as running shoes in Kohls Department store.

The race weekend came. My ex-boyfriend Mike and I headed up to Madison the night before and stayed with a friend. I remember not being able to fall asleep that night. I probably slept four hours and got up at sunrise. I met Matt and his dad Steve down by the Capitol in the morning-this was the starting line. I didn’t know what the hell I was getting myself into!
The Mad City marathon course changes slightly year to year, but the basics are always there. You start at the Capitol, run through downtown, out down through some very nice neighborhoods….but the real bitch part occurs when you enter the nature reserve. You can hear crickets. Not just because you are in a nature park, but because there are no people there cheering you on. It is empty. You just wanna scream and be done! This particular year, they also had the nerve to make you run up a swirly cement incline after exiting the nature reserve. You know. One of those cement slides the goes up to an overpass….then we ran over it, to just go down the slide again. Pain. You circle part of the circumference of Lake Mendota and also run by some people having more fun than you trying to hand out beer as a water station.

The race was so quintessential Wisconsin that you ended at Brat Fest. I have now done this race 4 times and never have I ever gotten a bratwurst after, though I always think I will.  I finished with a time of 4:27. Really respectable considering that while I trained, I was clueless. I remember walking around feeling like a rock star after. But then, on the way to the car, I became a drama queen and crashed. I sat on the sidewalk and made mike go get the car to pick me up because I couldn’t walk anymore…..when I took a shower later, I could barely lift my legs over the tub to get in. I felt 100 years old.
Two days ago, my husband Dan and I went on a 4 mile run. He’s starting to get into running, but just shorter distances. 4 miles is his max right now. Anyways, when we were running I made a comment to him that when we were done today, he would have completed the distance he will be doing at the Moonlight Run in Lethbridge on March 9th. His response-“And I’m paying to do that, why?!?”

I bring this up because after he said that, I thought of all the races I’ve paid to do. All the money I’ve paid to run these crazy distances. I paid to run that 26.2 miles in Madison. I felt like glorious garbage after. And I have kept on paying to run more and to feel like even more garbage after. But feeling like garbage after these races can never feel better.

On a group run, you can’t avoid the hill…


In my years of running, I will admit to not doing much, if any, hill runs. I hate hills. I try to avoid them. If I go out on a training run, I usually stay on as flat of a path as possible. Maybe once a year I get the wise idea to go do a steep hill. It usually ends up with me swearing out loud to myself during it. Grandad’s Bluff in La Crosse, Wisconsin…that was a hill I did maybe three times. It sucked every time. You get to the top, feel such a relief, then going down is almost as painful, since you feel like you are basically rolling down the bluff as you decline. Whoop-Up Drive in Lethbridge is comparable in pain, due to the fact EVERYONE driving sees you and thinks you are a complete idiot. It feels like that hill never ends!

My dad gives us his opinion of being on top of Grandad’s Bluff in LaCrosse, WI…this was his famous ‘finger pose’ when he didn’t want his picture taken.

Then, there is the trail from the river bottom up to Scenic Drive in Lethbridge. I always saw it when I’d drive down Scenic Drive, but since its on the south side, I never ran it. I live on the West side of town. Lethbridge is split into two pieces by the Oldman River, so anything on the South/North side is more of a pain to get to. I usually just do my runs in the neighborhoods and parks close to my house, so I don’t have to drive anywhere. This allows me to avoid this hill.

My first time up this hill was this past October, 2012, when I did the Bare Bones Half Marathon. I didn’t train for this run ahead of time, stupidly registering for it a few weeks prior after hearing about it from some teachers at school. The run was put on by Runner’s Soul and it benefited the Lethbridge SPCA. The race started in Softball Valley, heading south along the river, and at about mile 4 or 5 we hit the hill up to Scenic Drive.

Since I was at race pace, I really did not want to slow down. It was extra tough to keep moving since there were not many half marathon runners in this race to keep you pushing. You start with an incline that looks roughly 60 degrees, then it flattens out. You hit the last incline of about 45 degrees, then you are on Scenic Drive. Your legs burn like hell, but at least you’ve made it.

Today, with marathon club, we did this hill. I realized the hill was part of the run when looking at the Runners Soul webpage last night. http://www.runnersoul.com/admin/resources/4.5mile-7.2km.pdf  I almost missed the run today too, because I’m an idiot and set my alarm for 6:45 am…only to then realize at 7:35 am it was set for ‘weekdays only’. I bolted out of bed, got ready in ten minutes, and made it to Runners Soul on time for the run. If I had just stayed in bed and tried to tackle the 6.5 miles on my own today, I wouldn’t have gone and done that hill. This forced me to do some hill training.


The sign greeting runners before descending down into the river bottom

It was my second meeting with this monster. For the training run today, we headed down 10th Ave to the top of the hill, descended into the river bottom, only to immediately turn around and head back up. I now know that this hill is 0.6 miles, at least according to my Nike+ SportWatch GPS.  Also, in looking at the elevation map after uploading my run, it looks like the river bottom elevation is 2742 feet above sea level, and Scenic Drive is 2962 feet ASL. That makes it a 220 foot climb in elevation in the 0.6 miles. And it burns the whole way.

The whole route today was 4.5 miles.  I needed to do 6.5 for my own training calendar, so after getting back to Runners Soul and having a water break, I made the lonley trek to Henderson Lake and did a 2-mile loop.  It was flat.  But it was boring.  I kind of wished I had been back at Grandad’s Bluff for revenge….kind of….

Race Reflections-I didn’t realize how soon it was until now….



St. Clare Health Mission Half Marathon
May 1, 2004
Great River State Trail, Trempealeau County, Wisconsin
Time-2 hours 5 minutes 30 seconds

My first long-distance race. I was 19. I was a freshman in college. I took a runner’s bus from a parking lot in Onalaska, Wisconsin, to the starting line. I ran the 13.1 miles alone. A straight and level trail. When I was finished, I vaguely remember the finish line. But I have no photos. No one came to the race with me. I went back to my dorm room in Angell Hall at University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.

My dad had his heart attack and passed away on April 25th, 2004…

I left my hometown to go back to La Crosse, Wisconsin, on the day after my dad’s service to run this race. My mom said I insisted on this, to run this for dad. I didn’t show emotion. I didn’t cry. I just went back.

This is my first entry of race reflections, as I look back at all my past half and full marathons. I am looking forward to doing this, however, I didn’t realize how I would ‘feel‘ about it. I honestly had forgotten how few days had passed after my dad died until I looked up the race date online tonight. I think my jaw honestly went ajar. I can’t believe I did it. But yet I am so glad I went through with it.

If I hadn’t, I may not be here now, doing this, feeling this.