Monday, June 30, 2014

Celebrate Wisely, My Friends

Did you ever wonder what the most calorically dense holidays are?

Well, have no fear!  This article helped me create the following info-graphic!

Average Total Calories Consumed
Fourth of July
New Year's Eve
Super Bowl
Valentines Day
St. Paddy's Day
Cinco de Mayo

The best part?  Where the Fourth of July calories usually come from:

- 155 calories per hot dog
- 317 calories per cheese burger
- 277 calories per slice of apple pie
- 358 calories per cup of pasta salad
- 150 calories per beer

I'd like to contest the above list.  Where the hell are the s'mores?!

With our without the extra sweets, I just have one word of advice.  Don't partake in the 150 calorie option above and then light off fire works.  It won't go as well as you'd imagine it to be:

Happy 4th of July.  Celebrate wisely, my friends.

Friday, June 27, 2014

I'm Blowin' Sunshine #3

Awhile back, I was asked to do some more Q&A type posts ...

Since I tend to get a little long winded (no - really?!), I decided to chop up some "typical" Q&A posts into multi part segments to make them a little more digestible.  In the next few weeks, I'll randomly be incorporating some of those questions into a post. 

Today, I'm continuing with the below.  I've taken my inspiration for this series from the Sunshine Award Q&A format (see part one of this conversation here, and part two here).  Below are questions 7-10 from that. 

Yep, 4 questions today.  You get a bonus!



7.     What’s the most worn item in your closet?
Speaking in terms of ... "costumes"... I think you've likely noticed by now  that I've worn my unicorn outfit quite a bit.

It's true, I always meant the unicorn for skiing - not running.
How nice that it's ended up being multi functional!

If you've got a keen eye, you've noticed I've worn just the skirt quite a bit, too.
Unfortunately I can only find one photo of me
wearing it as a non unicorn right now.
Aside from the unicorn stuff, I also love my Ink-n-Burn skull tee.

But I suppose the point of this survey is to expose me BEYOND working out, so we can talk my day to day fashion.
*Yawn*  Be prepared to be bored.  There is definitely much less glitter and sparkle in my everyday life.
This might come as a surprise, but I really love to wear dresses.  I didn't always used to, but when I started losing weight and changing sizes all the time, I realized the huge benefit in a dress that fit you in the shoulders and could be a little more free hanging around the waist (unlike pants, which become very obvious when they don't fit correctly).
A few of my favorite dresses right now are from the Jessica Simpson collection:
And the Free People collection:

Obviously not me in either of those photos.
I like that I can wear all these dresses with cowboy boots, since my runners feet don't exactly love high heels anymore.  (Which, btw, is weird that I love cowboy boots - since I really hate country music).
As you can tell from the dresses, I like a feminine / bohemian look.
8.    What’s your favorite breakfast food?

That all depends on the day and what I have going on afterwards.  For example:

If it's a race day, or a day where I am going to teach a morning aerobics class, I keep it light.  Bananas are my go-to, or if I'm tired of the same old I might do cantaloupe, honeydew or an apple.  Sometimes I'll add a regular cup of coffee (although less and less so these days since I quit drinking caffeine months ago - here's the before and after of that).  If I'm extra hungry, I might throw in a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, too.

Just don't expect a smile that early in the morning.

If it's a normal day at the office, I might have a banana and a bag of instant oatmeal (low sugar or plain versions, since the other stuff can really be packed with sweeteners).  Sometimes I'll switch that out for a sliced apple with natural peanut butter smeared on it.

If it's a guilty day at home or if I'm out to brunch with friends, I have to admit ... I love me some biscuits and gravy.  Or corned beef hash.  Or, my husband makes a mean sweet potato hash brown with scrambled eggs.

And can't forget the SOS my FIL makes if it's a cabin weekend.  Don't judge.  (SOS = chipped beef on toast).

You might notice the obvious breakfast sweets missing - donuts, pancakes, French toast, etc.  I don't know why, but I've never really been a huge fan of sweet breakfasts.  The sweetness that early in the morning actually seems to upset my stomach, even.  So I usually avoid them.  Or eat them very rarely.

One last thing.  I go through cycles where I really love making green smoothies for breakfast.  I took a break on those for awhile because I felt like I had OD'd on them.  But now that I think of it, I'm kind of craving one...

9.    If you could live anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

Oh man, this is so tough.  There are so many amazing places in the world.

For the longest time I really wanted to live in Hong Kong.  The fast paced lifestyle there mixed with being right in touch with the ocean really made me happy.  And I love riding the Star Ferry and the Peak Tram.  When you think of it, it's a good thing I like it there so much, since it wasn't uncommon for me to be there for weeks/months at a time while I was traveling for business.  I don't think I'd mind ending up there if it came down to it, but I doubt that would happen now, since I don't really do any work overseas anymore.

A close second might be the pacific north west.  Think north of Seattle, heading towards Canada.  I've done a handful of sailing vacations up there and really enjoyed the laid back lifestyle the locals seemed to lead.  I just don't know how the rain would do me ... but I think I could manage.

Regardless of fantasy, I actually like living in Minnesota.  Despite the cold, harsh winters filled with snow and ice, the metro has a lot to offer.  We've got some of the best bike trails and public parks of any metropolis in the USA, we've got tons of lakes within a stone's throw of any major city, and we've got a good balance of big city living with small town safety. 

It's true, there really is such a thing as Minnesota nice... in both people and surroundings.  And I like it.

10.   If you could do anything over what would it be and how would you do it differently?

The only thing I wish is that I would have found my joy in fitness years sooner.  It's an amazing feeling when you start to really enjoy working out rather than seeing it as a chore.  It really changed my outlook on life.


And that wraps up the Sunshine Award Q&A!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Thanks to this blog, I don't know if I'll ever be able to trail run again... I'm having flash backs to my bike ride at the cabin last summer and my own black bear encounter. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

FIFA-foofa, Get Back On Track

Is anyone else out there tired of the FIFA takeover yet?

Yeah, yeah.  It's all over right now.  And everyone is just *so excited* about it.

Let's be real.  Pretty much no one in the USA REALLY cares about FIFA, and yet suddenly, everyone is talking about it like it's some hot sh!t.  My theory is, people only like it because it means they can drink beer and yell loudly without any ill effects.

Maybe I'd like it better if all the games came out like this.


In other, totally unrelated news, life in my neck of the woods has pretty much SUCKED lately.  All of last week it rained every day.  And not just a little, either.  A LOT!  Roads have been flooding out, and some serious erosion has happened.  Here are some photos of the City Hall building and a local road, both of which are just down the hill from my house.


Things appeared to be under control by last Friday, since they did some emergency/temporary re-enforcement, but still...

I'm just grateful that I live on top of a hill, nowhere near a river or creek, right about now.

That, and the fact that my body has finally come back on track. 

For those of you who read my blog a few weeks back about my miscarriage, a simple update: everything seems to be back to normal.  And of course, although I'm saddened by the loss, I'm feeling OK about moving on.

So - that's about it.  Nothing too "fitness" oriented today, but what I can say is... it's a great time for everything to get back on track. 

Now lemme take a selfie.

Who wears cheetah, anyway? #cheetah

Friday, June 20, 2014

I'm Blowin' Sunshine #2

Awhile back, I was asked to do some more Q&A type posts ...

Since I tend to get a little long winded (no - really?!), I decided to chop up some "typical" Q&A posts into multi part segments to make them a little more digestible.  In the next few weeks, I'll randomly be incorporating some of those questions into a post. 

Today, I'm continuing with the below (see part one of this conversation here).  As I said before, I've taken my inspiration from the Sunshine Award Q&A format.  Below are questions 4-6 from that. 



4.   Tell me about what you consider to be your best attribute.

A lot of people tell me I have a great smile or a good laugh.  That's probably because I use them both a lot, when most people don't.  Couple that with my sense of humor ... and you can see I like to be silly and have fun.

I don't see the point in taking life too seriously.  It's not fun.  In fact, it's kind of boring.

Besides, what can be more fun than dressing up like this?

5.    Why do you blog?

I pretty much answered this in a previous post.  To avoid repeating myself, I'll direct you there.

6.     What is your favorite animal?

Are we leaving this wide open for debate?  Because, you know based on the above, what animal that would be.

But if I have to chooses a REAL animal, I guess I would pick my old man beagle, Toby.

I call him an old man, because he's 14.  I suppose the above photo doesn't really depict that well.  It was the first one I found on Facebook, and is from Christmas quite a few years ago.  We ... I mean, Santa ... used to bring Toby a giant rawhide like that every year.  And he LOVED it.  If it lasted a month, that was a miracle.  The best was when he would drag it around the house and clothesline himself trying to run through a doorway or something.

This is a more accurate photo of Toby today.

As you can see, Toby has much more gray then he used to.  And, last year Santa switched to delivering Toby's new favorite toy (now that he has old man teeth and can't chew rawhides anymore).  He was a bit overwhelmed by having too many options, and basically just laid down in the center of the pile hoping he could protect them all.

People often ask me if Toby is a good running partner.  The short, immediate response to that is "Yeah, right". The second, longer response is "Do you know ANYTHING about beagles?  They can't go more than 2' without stopping to smell every scent that has been left on the ground."

I tried to run with him once.  I made it about half a block before he looked at me and said F YOU.

Questions 7-9 to come!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Recipe: Delicious "Burger" - Feta Stuffed Portobellos

Recently, I've been a bottomless pit of hungry.  You know the feeling?  Like, where you could eat something the size of Texas?  And then, when you find that thing, you want to inhale it immediately?

Yeah, like that.

If I'm being totally honest, the last month has been terrible for me in regards to eating and weight management.  I'm hungry all the time, I haven't been working out as much as I should, and I've been eating a lot of crap.  Since March I've put on just under 10 pounds, and that all needs to come back off NOW.  (Yes, I know that weight gain isn't all food driven.  Oh the joys of hormones.  But no excuses, it still has to go.)

Anyway!  Taking a trick from my own weight loss book, whenever I feel like my eating is out of control, I take a hard turn towards fruits and vegetables.  They help me fill that hungry hole with lots of volume and very little calories. 

So, needing to fill up on veggies Monday night, I whipped together this creation on a whim.  And I liked it so much, I thought I would share.

I served myself one of the below "burgers" with a side of cantaloupe and a fresh chopped romaine lettuce salad.  Since the feta made me think Mediterranean, I used a tzatziki style dressing on the romaine.  I liked the combination so well, I was pretty happy to know I'd have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Oh, and given the rainy weather here, I was forced to pan cook inside.  But these would be even more delicious on the grill I'm sure.



Feta Stuffed Portabella Burgers


  • 4 "burger sized" portabellas
  • 1/4 medium green pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 medium roma tomato, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 box of reduced fat feta cheese
  • 1 mounded palm full of shredded reduced fat mozzarella (less than 1/4 cup)
  • 1 mounded palm full of shredded parmesan (less than 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Buns (to serve burgers on)


Mix all three cheeses, green peppers, tomatoes and herbs in bowl, breaking up any feta chunks that are irregularly large.  Set aside.  Clean portabellas by removing center stem and gently scraping out "gills" with a spoon (this may not really be necessary, but my mushrooms were a little too shallow and I needed some extra room for the cheese stuffing to sit nicely inside).  Divide cheese filling between all 4 mushrooms, being careful not to over stuff or break the edges of the mushroom. 

In a non stick frying pan, put a very minimal amount of oil on the bottom of the pan and bring to cooking temperature.  Add mushrooms.  Before covering, carefully drizzle each cap with balsamic vinegar and a very small amount of high quality olive oil (less than 1 teaspoon of each).  Cover mushrooms and cook at medium high heat.

Check mushrooms every 2-3 minutes to ensure they are not sticking to the pan.  Eventually, as they start to cook down, the natural moisture released from the mushrooms will aid in preventing them from sticking.  When mushrooms are uniformly cooked throughout and cheese appears melted, place on buns and serve.

Monday, June 16, 2014

2014 - Racing Review Thus Far

I can't believe it's June already.

It seems like just last week my husband was traveling for business and we had a massive snow storm.  THAT was a fun time... (also known as, "The One Where I Learned How to Snow Blow For the First Time, Cellphone Aided Edition".)

I guess, technically, it kind of was still winter a few weeks ago.  For those of you who don't live in Minnesota, or for those of you that DO live in Minnesota and are having stress induced memory blocks, sad fact: we had an extremely late ice out again this year, with lots of late season snow to boot.


Why do I live in Minnesota again?

Moving on.

Being that we're half way through the year, I thought I would recap my races thus far and talk about my plans for the future.  Here goes!

January & February

For these months, nothing, thank god.  Racing in -50 weather would not be a good time.


I actually ran my earliest race ever in a year, racing the first weekend in March rather than waiting for St. Patty's day.  I also made my first (failed due to mid race cancellation) marathon attempt. I guess I can accept the failure given I got a ride home from the cops, with a drunk Wolverine in the front seat.

Also, I ran Get Lucky.  *Choke, cough, cough*  At least it was with a good group of friends.


In celebration of my birthday, I drug my sister down to Chicago for their semi-official season opener race, the Shamrock Shuffle.  I got an ugly race shirt, and wore an awesome costume.


I re-ran the Lake Minnetonka Half as a relay and broke the "Cool Runner's Creed" by wearing my race shirt on race day.  Whatever, it matched my socks.

I also volunteered as a Course Aid at the Chaska 5K/10K.  This is when my true fabulousness was finally acknowledged, since I was taken for someone of real celebrity.  AND, everyone finally admitted I was kind of a big deal.


I nearly peed myself several times over at the Lola's Lake Waconia Half Marathon, running as relay team "Rainbows & Sunshine".  Disappointingly, despite the rain, I did not turn into a mermaid like the race shirt suggested I would.  To make myself feel better about that, I bought a new pair of shoes.

As For Future Races...

At this point, I'm kind of flying by the seat of my pants and registering whenever I feel like doing a race rather than booking up my schedule for months/a year in advance.  I decided awhile ago that for 2014 I wasn't going to over-tax myself with races, which I have to admit has resulted in a mixed bag.  I do miss looking forward to races and having a reason to train more, but it's also nice to have more freedom in my schedule, not to mention being able to pocket a little extra cash. 

Regardless of my pseudo "non-scheduled race" calendar, being that I've already been involved in 6 races this year, I'm hoping to at least race 6-9 more events before I call it quits for the winter.  Why?  If you recall, I ran 15 races last year.  And I'm competitive with myself.  So, I'm trying to stay as close to 15 as possible for 2014 as well.  It's totally an arbitrary goal that means pretty much nothing to anyone except myself.  But, I don't think getting in 9 more races is unrealistic given my jump start to racing in 2014, and the fact that I have the following 5 races for sure on the schedule:

June - TC Pride 5K
July - Siren Freedom Five
August - Minneapolis Duathalon, Webster Education Foundation 5K, Lake Run 5K Shell Lake (this one is pending registration - the organizers are typically really late in releasing registration forms)

Also, I'm a total caver to peer pressure when it comes to racing with friends, so I'm sure I'll be suckered into a few additional races in the near future. 

Which brings me to late fall... come on folks... here's your chance to have huge influence.

September - Hmmm... empty month, tempting... suggestions???
October - Mankato Half Marathon???

And as for winter, well...

November/December - Leaving this open for now.  I don't want to plan too far in advance with Minnesota winters the way they are.

Floor's open.  Entice me to run your race below.

Friday, June 13, 2014

I'm Blowin' Sunshine #1

Awhile back, I was asked to do some more Q&A type posts ...

Since I tend to get a little long winded (no - really?!), I decided to chop up some "typical" Q&A posts into multi part segments to make them a little more digestible.  In the next few weeks, I'll randomly be incorporating some of those questions into a post. 

Today, I'm starting with the below.  I've taken my inspiration for the first few posts from the Sunshine Award Q&A format.  Below are questions 1-3 from that. 



1.  What is your greatest comfort food?

This is going to shock you, but I'm going to go for something ... less than healthy.

I am a huge sucker for cheese.  Anything with cheese.  Can you tell I'm a good Wisconsin girl at heart?!

I know that I used to eat far too much cheese, though, so I really started to work hard at trying to eliminate it from my diet as much as possible a few years back.  I even did a dairy elimination in January 2013... that was an interesting month.  Things I learned:  when you "detox" from diary you get a NASTY taste in your month for days, vegan cheese is NOT good, and nutritional yeast does NOT make a good nacho sauce.

Anyway, back to comfort food.

If I'm at a restaurant, especially for happy hour, you can almost bet money that I'll end up ordering a giant mountain of nachos (and eating most of it myself).  I prefer them if they have the extra nasty, bad for you, nacho cheese goo on them.  But I'll settle for shredded cheddar.

If I'm at home and looking for some comfort, I'll make mac & cheese with Velveeta.

I'm also a softy for the Velveeta-Rotel-sausage nacho dip.

I know, I can't believe I'm admitting this either.  But - all is OK in moderation!  Uh ... right ... ???

2.  What is your biggest accomplishment?

Fitness wise?  I used to be very proud of my personal weight loss, but now that's sort of old hat.  These days, I'm super proud of myself for having a group fitness certification and teaching aerobics classes (although I don't toot my own horn about it or anything).  I think it's such a big deal to me because it was something I never dreamed I could ever do, it seems kind of unreal.  And, I really enjoy it.  Not to mention it gives me a chance to preach about how fun working out can be ... despite the fact that most time my students are looking at me like this:

Aside from fitness, my biggest personal accomplishment in life... huh.  That's tough. 

I guess I can look at where I came from versus where I am and call that an accomplishment.  I say that because my parents both worked non-professional jobs when I was a kid (my dad was a cement mason and my mom did daycare out of the home).  Neither of them made a very substantial income or had any experience in a office type setting, let alone experience traveling overseas or anything like that. 

For crying out loud, we used to shop for clothes at Goodwill and garage sale on the regular.  I think that says something about where we were at.

Anyway, when I think about where I am now, and my role at my company and the business I conduct on a regular basis, it's pretty amazing I was able to figure it all out without my parents leading the way.  Not many people out there break the mold of where they come from and venture into something above and beyond.

3.    What is your greatest regret?

You know, there is always something dumb floating out there that I've said or done that I wish I hadn't. 

But the truth of the matter is - that stuff all fades away.  People forget or move on.  So I don't really consider those regrets.

This might sound cheesy, but I try to live life without regrets. 

And so, I honestly cannot think of a single thing in my life that I truly, truly regret. 

Don't get me wrong.  I definitely did things in years past that I wouldn't do today for a million dollars.  But the flip side of that is, I'm a different person today then I was then.  I did what seemed right for me then.  And maybe it was right for me then (or maybe it wasn't).  But I can't change it.  So why worry about it?

Regretting life is too much work.  I need to save my energy for the gym.


Questions 4-6 to come!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lola's Lake Waconia Half Marathon 2014 (I Have to Pee)


Lola's Lake Waconia Half Marathon Relay (6/7.1 miles)

Team Time 2:22:21

Average Pace 10:52/mile

Ok, ok.  I know pretty much one month ago on the dot I posted my last race recap.  And in that recap I said I didn't know when I'd race again.  But then, the weekend before Lola's Lake Waconia Half Marathon, something terrible happened. 

Team Ortho cancelled the Minneapolis Marathon / Half Marathon. 

I know, big surprise ... something Team Ortho did didn't end well.  *eye roll*

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't registered for the Minneapolis Marathon / Half Marathon.  But guess what?  Two people I've been hoping to see run a half for awhile had FINALLY bit the bullet and signed up for one.  And, of course, Minneapolis was "the one".

With Lola's race only a week later, I knew those two had to do it.  They were already trained and mentally ready to go.  And they were trained at a pace that I thought I might be able to keep up with.  So, I pushed them to register and told them I'd join them ...

And then I did a test run on the Monday night leading up to this event.  BAM!  Instant regret.


Yeeeaaaah, it wasn't good.  I realized something that Monday night: I am quite out of shape speed and endurance wise right now, despite just having come off of Run100 last month.  Yes, I realize some of you might scoff at my "being out of shape" statement, but I honestly could not see myself racing an entire half only a few days later.  (Side note, it's possible that my 30+ mile averages in the last two weeks of Run100 with no ramp up to it, plusbeer mile at the end, had something to do with my "being out of shape"... but I digress.)

Anyway, as I was perusing the race's website considering my options ...

Wait - I can run the race for almost HALF the price, AND not have to run more than half of a half!?  Ok, this is going to happen.  Queue CCC Run Club. 

True to form, within minutes, partner found.  And so, team "Rainbows & Sunshine" was born.

Fun fact - my newly found partner was born the same year as me and
got married the same year as me.  It must be a sign that our team was meant to be!

With everything all wrapped up pre-race, all that was left to do was packet pickup - which my partner graciously offered to do.  By the way, packet pickup provided this very cute shirt:

I just have to say how much I love the mermaid on the shirt and finisher's medals:
Ok, once packet pickup was done, it was time to get down to business.  Race day.  Let's do it.
But wait, being that this is a race run by me, you know of course this is NOT going to go smoothly. 
Let's start by pairing a 5:30am wakeup call race morning with a late business outing at the Twins game the night before.  Yes, that includes a rich dinner of appetizers, nachos with plenty of jalapenos, multiple beers and a giant slice of dark chocolate hazelnut cake ... the last of which was eaten just shortly before 11pm.  It also includes an arrival home well after midnight, a bed missing sheets (I had a smart idea to do sheet laundry Friday morning but hadn't put them in the dryer yet), and a very tired me.  I am not too proud to admit that I pulled out a second set of sheets, only laid the flat sheet on top of my mattress, put a fresh pillowcase on, and collapsed into bed just before 1am.
As you can imagine, my wakeup call was not pleasant.  I can honestly say that is the first time ever I woke up with heartburn so bad I thought I might puke... and I hadn't even started running yet.
No time for that, though.  I had to get dressed. 
Realizing that the potential rain forecast from earlier in the week had become a hard yes, I scrambled around the house trying to figure out what to wear.  Considering my late night out the night previous, I had put no thought into what I needed for race day, and it promptly bit me in the ass.
My GPS watch was totally dead.  The display screen didn't even turn on.  I couldn't find our oversized trash bags for a quick pre-race rain poncho.  I didn't have any "cute" chafe free clothes clean for racing.  And sin of all sins, in my tizzy I forgot to pack a post-race gear bag.
As I sipped my coffee on the way to Waconia, I figured it was a sign that the day was doomed.
On the up side, when I arrived in Waconia, I was pleasantly surprised to find that parking wasn't too terrible.  Within a few minutes, I was able to find a spot just off the main drag.  At which point, the skies began to open up, so I started to evaluate...  Nope!  This rain is too heavy.  I am NOT running with my phone today.  That means no music to motivate me through what may be the worst run of my life.  This race was shaping up wonderfully.  Oh well, onward!
I forced myself to nibble on a banana as I headed up to the pre-race check in area, where I started to look for friends.  My trusty / ugly wicking running hat was doing double duty that morning: it kept the rain totally out of my face, and everyone I was looking for could see me from miles away.  I grimaced at my banana as my friends meandered over one at a time.  Eventually, I tossed the last half of my banana and we all huddled in the park's gazebo, hoping the announced 30 minute rain delay would pass and we could get started.
Finally, as promised, the shuttles started running and my relay partner took off.  Shortly after, the first of my friends headed out too; she was running the 10 mile, which started a few minutes before us. 
In no time the 10 milers were lined up, the national anthem was played, and then... they were off!
Feeling slightly jealous that they were en route while we still had to wait, the rest of us lined up.  While we were milling about, I saw my friend the pacer (from the Lake Minnetonka report) holding a 2:00 sign, which I was entirely too tempted to follow, but thought better of given my heartburn.  I yelled a quick hello and traipsed further back with my friends.
There we waited for our turn to go.  While we waited, we decided to document that we made it to the start together, and took a quick "before" photo:
As you can see, I wasn't joking about an ugly hat and drab outfit.
I look so ... average!!  :-( 
At least my shirt & hat match my shoes.  We'll pretend that's intentional.
As we waited, the usual pre-race jitters somehow amped up the entire crowd despite the dismal weather.  I personally found the mood to be generally very cheery.  And then, before we knew it, it was time to ... GO!
Oh god.  Not only did I have heartburn, now the wind had hit me and I needed to pee.  Just make it to the first water stop, I told myself.  There should be porta-potties there.
My friends and I ran along, and at first everything seemed tough for me... maybe because my friend's promised 11:00 pace was more like a 9:30?  I dunno.  (Thanks a lot guys, *wink*).  I managed to keep pace and chat as we ran along, with only a slight curse word or two as we approached the base of each hill.
And then something suddenly jarred me... why were we climbing so many hills without having any down hills afterwards?  WTF, I didn't know we were climbing a mountain for this race!!  That's the only good part about a hill, and we weren't getting it!  BOO!
As I lamented the hills, time quickly passed.  All too soon, the first water stop arrived.  My friends took a quick sip and scampered on.  But, since I prefer to take more time at water stops, I let them go on ahead.  Somehow during all of this, I decided to skip the potties and wait for the next water stop, hoping that my need to pee would push me to run faster.
Wishing for super speed, I powered through the ever lasting hills and past the rhythmic lapping of water on the shoreline - I had cleared the city and finally started to make the loop around the lake.
As I passed mile three leading into mile four, I saw what I thought was my pacer friend.  Giddy at the idea of running a 2:00 half marathon (to mile 6 anyway), and being able to make the statement that I "kept pace with a sub 3 hour marathoner", I started to chase that Boston unicorn.  I picked up my tempo, and the pace sign in the distance got closer and closer.
But alas, I finally caught the sign and realized it was actually the pacer just behind my 2:00 friend.  Rats.  Oh well, it was good motivation either way.
Somewhere around mile 4.5, I arrived at the next water stop.  Just as I finished my last sip of water, I saw my friends from the start pop out of the porta-potties ahead of me.  I don't want to slow them down, so I let them cluelessly scamper off.  I again skipped the potty stop, wondering if the cold wind would make me regret that decision before the 6 mile mark.  I continued on.
Between mile 4.5 and 5, the run transitioned from asphalt to ... I don't know what it was, but I'll call it a grassy mud pit.  The rain made a semi-woodchip-paved trail into a literal slip and slide.  Although I'd already taken more than my fair share of walk breaks at the two water stops (one of which I had literally just walked through), I decided to use common sense safety skills and walk the trail.
Eventually I hit asphalt and yes, another hill.  Not even to mile five, and another hill.
At least the hill topped out at this guy:
"Run faster or I'll drop my sign"
Right around this somewhat long climb at mile 5, I realized something.  Despite my awful heartburn and need to use the bathroom... I felt... GREAT.  My pace was good, my running felt smooth.  What the heck happened?  Earlier in the week I felt like crap in ideal running conditions, and suddenly I felt fantastic in crappy running conditions.
I kicked myself for not signing up for the 10 miler and continued on.
What seems like seconds after passing the 5 mile marker, I saw it - the checkered flags in the distance.  I started manically waving my arms at my partner, also in a pink hat.  We waved like idiots at each other, and I ran in screaming "HOORAY FOR RAINBOWS & SUNSHINE!!!"
The people in the exchange all laughed at my fanatical approach.  I don't think they realized I was screaming out my team name and not commenting on the foul race day weather. 
Before I could explain to the crowd what I meant, my partner snapped on our belt and was gone.  Wasting no time, I jumped on a bus and headed back to the finish line... where I learned my walk strategy in the mud pit was the right choice.  The woman across the isle from me on the bus said she slipped in that stretch and "felt something pop" in her knee.  She was supposed to complete the full half distance, and was immensely grateful to find the relay point just a mile down the road.  While I outwardly pitied the woman for her fall, I inwardly I patted myself on the back for my choice to walk that section of the race, even if it did cost me some time.
Minutes later, the bus pulled up to the finish line, and I jumped out to I await my friends.  During this time, I found out that they were running through vineyards and contemplating a pit stop winery tour.  True story!!
Due to my massive mistake of not packing a post-race gear bag, life caught up with me once I stood still at the finish line, in the rain and wind.  Wearing nothing but wet race clothes to keep me warm, I could wait no longer and hustled to the bathroom.  I spent as little time as possible there, and hoped that my friends wouldn't cross the finish line while I was MIA. 
Fortunately, I missed nothing.  When I re-appeared, one by one my 10 miler friend, my relay partner, and my half marathon friends came to the finish line.  Of course, those of us already there screamed our heads off when the half marathoners came through - it was their first, after all.
Tired from our runs, we all enjoyed the immediate finish line snacks of fruit, potato chips, mini nut rolls and bottled water.  After everyone had a moment to collect themselves (and drop things at their cars if need be), we headed down the street to the official post race BBQ in search of beer.
As I arrived there, I could barely control my shivers and get two sips of beer down before, again, I needed to pee.  My body and I apparently need to have a little chat about appropriate timing of events. 
I asked my friends to supervise my Summer Shandy (YES!  They had GOOD beer at the finish line) and scurried away.  I came back to a group of well fed friends, as they had all found the burger & pulled pork sandwich tent.  I threw down a burger myself, and then we all took some victory photos.

Of course, we all hung around long enough to maximize our drink tickets, but not much longer considering the weather (and my shivers).  About as soon as all our drink cups were empty, we shared congratulations all around one last time and headed home.
For me, home meant one of the most heavenly showers I've taken in a long time.  Cold, wet clothes + mud soaked feet = one great hot shower.
Post shower, I pulled up the relay results for Rainbows & Sunshine, and found that strangely enough our paces were very even - which was totally unintentional.  Despite all my walking, I maintained a respectable 10:46, and my partner came in at 10:52.  We really were a great match!! 
Then, I began evaluating the mess that was my race shoes.  Eventually, I came to a conclusion.  Training for a marathon, running most of that marathon, completing Run100, and finally running a muddy half marathon relay has done my shoes in. 
(Note: I must have put a true 500+ miles on those shoes.  They were well past my typical 300+ and my feet were not too happy about that.)
With some less that desirable results from my last few pairs of Sauconys, I decided I'm going to give a new style a go ... farewell Saucony, hello Brooks.
My decision has nothing to do with color, of course.  But it does help me love them a little bit more.

And that's the story of how race bib # 42 joined my collection.  With this race, I am forced to admit to myself that I haven't been pushing hard enough in my running lately.  That will need to change.  Next up???  Rainbow / TC Pride run.  More to come...