Jason and I left for Wisconsin mid-morning on Thursday, September 8. We would not be returning home until Saturday, September 17 and that week fell smack in the middle of my ultra marathon training. I knew I needed to get in some good runs amidst all of our traveling, site seeing and fun, so I tried to come up with a plan.
Running is a great way to see the sites of a new place, and during our 10 days of traveling I ran in 5 different cities, in 2 different States. While my mileage numbers were not as high as I would have liked had I been at home following my usual routine, I was pretty happy with them considering that we were traveling and completely off our regular routines. This is what it looked like:
Friday, September 9 - Madison, Wisconsin
6 miles, 9:04 average pace
We woke up Saturday morning in Bloomington, IL and drove the 3+ hours to Madison, Wisconsin where Jason checked into the Ironman Village. After checking in, we changed clothes in the car (tricky, but doable) and ran along a path by Lake Monona. I ran 6 miles with views of the water, a nearby park, and a brand new city all around. I was a little tired from all the driving and standing in line at the Ironman registration, but having new surroundings in which to run made it more pleasant.
Saturday, September 10 - Middleton, Wisconsin
8 miles, 9:12 average pace
Our hotel was located in Middleton, Wisconsin and just happened to be perfectly located next to another greenway. It was near a Research Park-like area with sidewalks so I veered off a few times to see what was around. I was pretty tired this day as well, but it was gorgeous weather in a new place and I ran 8 miles before going with Jason to set up his bike and go for a practice swim in Lake Monona.
Sunday, September 11 - Madison, Wisconsin
0 miles, Ironman Day
This was not a run day for me, as I spent over 12 hours with and watching for my Ironman as he completed his 3 events.
Monday, September 12 - Middleton, Wisconsin
3 miles, 9:31 average pace
This was almost a day of no running as Jason and I lazed around recovering from the day before, but Jason (the Ironman) got us both out and we went for a short 3 mile jaunt together. My legs felt like lead and I could tell I was just shuffling along, but it was another gorgeous day and it was nice to be out in it with Jason.
Tuesday, September 13 - Middleton, Wisconsin
12 miles, 8:39 average pace
I had set aside this day as my longer run day, and I got in a wonderful 12 miler on a gorgeous and windy Wisconsin day. My Ironman was safe and sound and whole after his event, we were traveling the world (okay, just Wisconsin and Illinois) together and life was good. This run was full of thankful thoughts. We left Middleton that afternoon and drove to Milwaukee where we attended a Brewers baseball game.
Wednesday, September 14 - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
6 miles, 9:30 average pace
We stayed up late at the baseball game and even later once we got back to our room, but we still wanted to get in some miles so we Googled local running parks and greenways and found one very close by. We ran in Grant Park, which had endless greenways in all directions. I was a little nervous at first because there weren't many people out, but I stayed in the more populated areas and discovered some gorgeous scenery. I ran along the top of a cliff overlooking Lake Michigan, saw two dear and several chipmunks. I was super tired from the day before, but I managed 6 miles. They were tough, but my surroundings made it better, once again.
After this run, the "terrible awful" happened and broke my heart. I'll save this for another post. After we ran and experienced the "terrible awful" we drove to Chicago.
Thursday, September 15 - Chicago, Illinois
0 miles, 4+ miles of walking
Because of the "terrible awful" and staying up until 2:00 a.m. the night before, I stayed in bed until 10:00 a.m. (a record-breaking sleep-in for the last 5+ years) with the curtains pulled shut against the sun. Jason ran and when he got back we walked down to the Lakefront Path and to the Shedd Aquarium. After touring there, we walked down to Navy Pier where we ate shrimp cocktail and steamed clams and mussels, and I indulged in the largest margarita they sold. I do not make a habit of drinking away my sorrows (or of drinking much for that matter) but the mixture of long walks, seafood, and lingering sadness made it the perfect day for such.
Friday, September 16 - Chicago, Illinois
7 miles, 8:34 average pace
A new day dawned and Jason and I made our way back to the Lakefront Path where I ran 7 wonderful miles along Lake Michigan. It was a somewhat overcast and windy day, but lovely none the less and I allowed the miles to heal the lingering sadness within. After running we left Chicago and drove to Carbondale, Illinois, Jason's old stomping grounds, for the Apple Festival. I bought a few crafts and we rode the ferris wheel and another ride called the Cliff Hanger. Hilarious and fun. Before leaving we shared a funnel cake, which I would later regret, but in the moment it was the most delicious thing my taste buds had ever known.
Saturday, September 17 - Murphysboro, Illinois
1 warm-up mile, 10:00 pace/Apple Festival 5k, 22:59, 7:24 average pace
By this point in our vacation I think we were both sick of hotel rooms and hotel beds and sleep became hard to come by. We fell asleep around midnight, only to wake up again around 4:00 a.m. as my tummy rejected the delicious funnel cake. We left for the race at 6:30 and I felt nauseated up until the time I ran my warm-up mile. The goal for the race was not to barf while running, but I ended up coming close to a PR and feeling great. My splits were 7:13, 7:20, 7:25 and feeling that good I knew it wouldn't take much more to reach that PR (currently 22:40).
I got to meet a few of Jason's high school friends as well as his high school track coach. He had the most wonderful things to say about Jason - his work ethic, his willingness to do what it took to improve - and the interesting thing is these traits are still with him today. I loved hearing about his high school self. Jason won first in his age group and I was 4th in mine. We went back to the hotel to get cleaned up and then made our way home sweet home, reaching Madison, AL just in time to pick up our pup from the vet.
All in all it was a wonderful trip and running in each place enriched the experience showing me more of the local community and surroundings than I would have seen otherwise. I loved running along all the greenways and lake-side paths and the weather was always so cool and crisp, perfect for running. I am glad to be home and back into my old routines that I enjoy so much, but I will remember fondly all the miles and all the places I ran them while on vacation.