Monday, October 31, 2011

Wooooooo... scary

In honor(?) of Halloween, here are two scary facts about UW Madison.

1. There are two people buried at the top of Bascom Hill near the statue of Abraham Lincoln.

That grey thing in the middle of the picture is Abe.
According to the University News,

"One is the grave of Samuel Warren, of Middlesex, England, who was killed by lightning in Madison in 1838. The other plaque memorializes William Nelson, who reportedly died of typhoid fever in 1837.
The remains of the men were discovered during an excavation in 1918 that moved the Lincoln statue from further down the hill to its current location, but were not removed."
2. The UW Science Hall *might* be haunted.
Seriously, how could this place NOT be haunted?
"With its creaky, maze-like hallways, bat-infested attic, underground tunnel system, and a basement that was once a morgue, University of Wisconsin’s Science Hall has all the ingredients for a haunted house. The original Science Hall burned down in 1884 and the current building was rebuilt upon the same foundation. One man was killed and several were injured during the construction of the building. Frank Lloyd Wright worked his first construction job as an architect’s assistant for the rebuilding of Science Hall, which was designed to be fireproof.
When it was completed in 1887, the Hall became home to the UW Anatomy Department and human cadavers potentially outnumbered the living in the building’s corridors. Medical students were allowed 24-hour access to the cadaver laboratory in order to practice their surgical skills, and they disposed of dissected corpses by way of a four-story body chute."

Um. ew.

"During the 1970s, rambunctious UW students would climb up the body chute in the dead of night for the fun slide down, perhaps unaware of the chute’s morbid function. As late as 1974, students were finding human bones in the attic of the building, which now serves as a storage room and a home to many bats."

Um.  Double ew.  FYI Science Hall is now the geography department.

Are there any scary stories related to buildings/places near where you live?  Do you like being scared, or are you a wimp?

I am a wimp.
For something Halloween related that is cute and non-scary, I give you the marching band practicing in costume.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A nice surprise all around

So the Haunted Hustle was an all around success!

Executive summary: The race was well organized, the course was great, and I finished in 1:50:22- not a PR, but a good time for me.

The long version: As I said yesterday, I went into the race with low expectations.  I got dressed and donned my "Halloween costume".

See... I'm a fork... In the road... A fork in the road.  *Cue the drums*

I was not going to hold the thing for the entire race, so I tucked it into my waist band and hoped for the best.

I got to the race start right at 7:30 when then marathoners took off.  I did all the necessary pre-race rituals, reluctantly packed up my warm outer clothes, and stood around checking out the costumes and freezing for 20 minutes.  There were lots of your typical devils and angels and cats, a few angry birds, a very realistic looking Flo from the Progressive ads,

and a guy who was wearing only a tiger print Speedo with a tail stuck to the back.

We lined up at about 10 till 8, and I tucked in with the 1:50 pace group.  Local Team in Training celebrity Dan Tyler sang the national anthem, and we were off.

The first mile was flat through the parking lot and shopping area where the race started.  My fingers and toes were numb, but it felt good to get moving.  The fork bit the dust.

Miles 2 and 3 wound through the neighborhoods in Middleton.  This was the hilliest part of the race, but it was actually not that bad.  There's one infamous mega hill, and we avoided it (thank you, race director).  All the runners were squeezed onto the shoulder of the road, and I kept getting pushed back away from the 1:50 group.  There was a long downhill at the end of mile 3, and I was able to catch and pass the 1:50 pace group.  I heard the pacer say the rest of the course was basically flat, and I was feeling good, so I decided to pull away.

At mile 4.5, we entered the Pheasant Branch Conservancy.  It was wooded, and the course was very gently rolling.  Up a little, down a little.  There were a lot of boardwalk bridges that made for a nice scene but  were still a bit slick from the morning frost even though the race organizers salted them.  We ran on mostly asphalt but there was some crushed limestone trail mixed in, too.

Right before the mile 6 we hit the first "haunted" section of the course where local Team in Training Celebrity (of national anthem fame) Dan Tyler chased runners with a chainsaw.  Miles 7, 8, and 9 blend together in my mind.  Even though I looked at a course map before the race, I wasn't sure where we were and when we would start to turn back toward the finish line.  I was surprised when right after mile 9, we were back where we'd seen chainsaw guy.

Mile 10 was back along the original course, but, at mile 11, rather than going back through the neighborhoods, we did a short out and back under the belt line.  This was the hardest part of the race for me because I was starting to fatigue and it's hard to watch people running back past you but not be able to see the turn around.  I knew I was slowing down after the turn around because that's when the 1:50 group finally caught and passed me.  I was okay with that, though, because I knew the 1:50 group leader was actually trying to pace for 1:49:30, and I had a little extra time.  We wound through the parking lot of the shopping center where the race started and FINALLY I saw the finish line.  I managed to pick up the pace a bit right at the end and finished in 1:50:22, according to the official results.

Even though I didn't get a PR and probably didn't push myself as hard as I could have, I was happy with my results and felt like I did as well as I could have expected.  All things considered I give the Haunted Hustle two thumbs up.  It's definitely a better race than the Madison half and I think it's on par with the Madison Mini.

If only athletic endeavors had gone better for the Badgers and the Gators yesterday.  Both teams managed to clutch defeat from the hands of victory in last minute, crappy losses to teams they shouldn't have lost to.  We watched the first half of the Badger game at Buffalo Wild Wings for a friends' birthday, and left at half time, confident of at least one victory.

But alas, it wasn't meant to be.

Now it's time to get ready to re-enter the real world tomorrow.  I've got all the stuff for my *real* Halloween costume now, and I'm excited to put it together.

Are you going to dress as anything for Halloween?  


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Oh dear

T minus two hours until the start of the Haunted Hustle half marathon.

Registering for this race seemed like such a good idea at the time...  I'd come off a break from training, I'd done some good workouts, and I was ready for fall racing season to start.  Fast forward to now, and, well, I'm ambivalent.  Which is not exactly the way you want to feel two hours before race time.

Or maybe that's fine.

Unlike my last race where I expected some kind of miraculous PR despite the fact that it was hot and I was sick (must have been the NyQuil), this time I kind of don't care.  Actually, I never really don't care.  I've never been able to do a race "easy, just for fun", but I have no great expectations for the outcome, and I'm at peace with that.  My plan is to start out not too slow and not too fast and then keep that up for the remainder of the race.  Actually, I think I'm going to line up with the 1:50 pace group and see what happens.  1:50 is an ambitious goal, but knowing myself and knowing I tend to go out too fast, I think as long as I don't go out faster than the 1:50 group, I'll probably be okay.  

I'm still dubious, but- despite the fact that this race does loops through Middleton- not exactly the most scenic course in the Madison area- it got rave reviews from friends who ran it in its inaugural year last year.  It's also very small.  There are only 300 runners in the marathon field (and one is RDM, good luck, Jamie!).  Runners are encouraged to wear costumes and all the water stops have themes.  I'm not one to go all out for Halloween, but my mom came up with a cute idea for something that would be easy to run with.  Here's a hint:

I'm still not 100% sure how I'm going to attach it to myself, but I'll figure that out when I get dressed in a minute!

Have you ever done a race "just for fun"?  Raced in a costume?  Any guesses what mine is?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


It's another installment of What I Wore Wednesday!

This morning it was 42 degrees- feels like 36 with- a heavy wind blowing off the lake.

Even though it was about 10 degrees warmer than last week, I wore almost exactly the same thing (don't worry, I washed everything since then!).  My ears got a little warm with the headband, but this outfit was perfect for a cool but not cold 5 mile run this morning.  I highly recommend a pair of capris to get you from shorts weather to hardcore tights weather.

In other news, I finally saw one of the campus ROTC groups doing something hardcore for once.  To see most of their workouts, you'd think the greatest threat to democracy in this country came from enemies playing basketball in Halloween costumes.  On Monday as I was returning home from my run, there were a group of guys who were doing this

up the long steep hill that leads to our apartment complex.  I don't like having to run up that hill with my own body weight let alone someone else's.  Gives a whole new meaning to the term "hill workout".

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Goal Goal Goal! Sieve Sieve Sieve!

Wikipedia was made for games like hockey that have rules and cheers and rituals that are totally inscrutable unless you grew up wacthing/playing them.

We went to our first college hockey game on Friday night to watch the Badgers take on the North Dakota Sioux.

The first thing to know about hockey is that getting a goal is a HUGE deal.  Bigger than a touchdown in football.  Every time the Badgers scored a goal, they blasted the foghorn thing that signals the end of the quarter of a basketball game for like 20 seconds straight.  Then the audience gets up and screams and cheers and yells "Goal Goal Goal!  Sieve Sieve Sieve!"

What the heck does sieve mean?  According to our helpful WikipediaAt many college and high school hockey games, fans refer to the visiting goalie as "sieve", This is a reference to the holes in sieves and implies that the goalie cannot stop the puck from entering the net. Don Cherry famously dubbed Colorado Rockies' goalie Hardy Åström the "Swedish Sieve".

See, it's real!
The idea that the game is about getting your hockey puck into the opponent's net and preventing them from doing the same is clear, but there are plenty of other things about hockey that make no sense.  For example, every now and then a player would get put in the penalty box for "roughing" or "tripping" but you had to wonder what it was about any of the rest of the 923847 plays in the game that didn't constitute "roughing" or "tripping."  These guys hit each other hard.  There was a woman who was sitting in the front row of the section next to us who would scream every time one player would check the other into the plastic wall in front of her.

They stop the game at random times for time outs and face offs and there's something called "the zone" that the woman behind us was very concerned about us getting out of.  "Come on, Red, clear the zone!"

All things considered, it was fun and I'd go back to another game if we had visitors in town who were interested.  Plus, we got to see the Zamboni!

Yesterday I did my final long run before the Haunted Hustle next Saturday.  I finished 12 miles in 1:49:30, which is the best long run I've had in a while, and confirmed that I had a horrible race and long run last week because I was sick/ recovering and not because I'd begun the long slow decline.

I also go to go to a "make up" baby shower for a friend who gave birth the day before the original shower date.  Baby E was more awake than I'd seen her so far.  It's crazy that she isn't even supposed to be born yet!  Her due date was the 30th.

So tiny!  I can't believe how pulled together Mom J looks
despite not having slept for the past month!
Not much going on here this afternoon- just the usual cleaning, laundry, getting ready for the week, yoga class at 4pm, and guitar marathon in the living room.  We were up early to get to church and lead the set-up team for the first time.  I think things went well despite the fact that the three other people on our team had never done set-up before.

Hope you have a relaxing Sunday!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Time to break out the down jacket

It's a gym morning, but "feels like 26" makes a cold bike ride.

Like it or not, winter is coming.

Book Review: The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Finishing the third book in Stieg Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series feels a little bit like finishing the last of the Harry Potter books.  On one hand, I wanted to be through with the last book so I could find out what happened to all the characters, but on the other hand, I'd been reading this series for so long, I wasn't sure what I'd do with myself after the last book was finished (answer: back editions of magazines I've been ignoring).

This book builds so heavily on the second that it's almost impossible to say anything about it that wouldn't 1. be totally meaningless to anyone who hadn't read the first two books or 2. give something away to someone who was still reading.  What I will say is that even though the characters were the same and each book in the series builds on the previous ones, it was a still a very different book from the first two.  More like the second than the first, but still different.

All in all, I give the series two thumbs up.  Yes, there are some disturbing parts in the first two books that probably didn't need to be quite as graphic, but the characters and story line were new and interesting enough to make up for it.  Also, the books are long so if you don't have a lot of time to read, I'd suggest trying to borrow from a friend rather than the library.  I felt like the last novel ended in a satisfying way that wrapped up all the plot points.  There was only one thing that I felt Larsson left unfinished in the last book, and I wonder it it would have been the subject of a fourth book had he lived to write it.

Now I have to catch up on magazine reading but I have three other books in the queue:

  • The Blind Side 
  • The Help 
  • The Lady Tasting Tea 

Is it cold where you live?  Reading anything good?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


There's a lot of Wednesday blog memes (WIAW, Wordless Wednesday, WTF Wednesday) and I'm going to throw another one into the mix: What I Wore Wednesday.  This isn't going to be about my normal clothes, though.  While I make an attempt to look cute on a daily basis, I'm no fashion expert.  However, it has come to my attention that a lot of people don't know what to wear when they run once the temperature starts to drop.  After three Wisconsin winters, that is something I can claim to know a bit about. 

So from now on, each Wednesday I'll post a description of the weather conditions, show a picture of what I wore (just warning you, I need to work on my self portrait photo skillz), and tell you how it worked for me.  I think I'm also going to tag the photos with the temperature range so if you want to know how I add layers as the temperature drops, you can search that way.

This morning, according to the temperature was 39 degrees, "feels like" 33.  The reason for the difference in temperature is that it was really really really windy. 

Here's what I wore from the bottom up: athletic socks and shoes (not pictured), Under Armour capris, a tech t-shirt underneath a long sleeved tech shirt, a reflective vest, a regular headband to keep my hair from bouncing around, a fleece headband to cover my ears, and a headlamp.  I also wore some thin cotton gloves. 

This outfit ended up being perfect for my 6mi run.  The only time I felt cold at all was when I was running directly into the wind.  I'm kind of cold-natured and another runner could probably get away with wearing shorts instead of capris and maybe even ditching the gloves and fleece headband.

The one thing I plan not to show in future pictures that I will ALWAYS wear is my reflective vest and headlamp.   For me, both items are a must when I run in the dark (which is every morning from Oct to April).  I want cars to see me and I want me to be able to see the ground.

Do you run outside in the dark?  If so, what kind of extra precautions do you take?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just waiting for my own big idea

Our other activity this weekend was visiting the Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe, WI, which is billed as the oldest Brewery in the Midwest and the second oldest brewery in the US after Yuengling.  I'd never heard of any of the beers they brew, but the tour/tasting had been recommended to me by a coworker and I had a Groupon for 1/2 off admission for four people, and plus, Minhas sounds like a good German name, right? How could we go wrong?

Well, if you say so...
We got to taste a variety of the beer and soda they produce (orange cream = delicious, Blueberry cream = cotton candy, chocolate stout = strange, wheat beer = still my favorite, IPA = nasty), and the woman who led the tour was knowledgeable and enthusiastic.  We each got a glass and a 5-pack to go, and Daniel and I kept the wheat beer and root beer for ourselves and sent the rest a long with my in-laws. 

What was most interesting about the brewery is that the most recent owners,  Ravinder and Manjit Minhas, are actually a brother and sister from Canada who are just in their mid-20s.  Manjit had owned one of the brands of beer produced at what was then called Monroe Brewery, but the company was actually in financial straights before the pair bought it in 2006 and put up a bunch of capital to fix up the machinery and grow the business.  Kind of crazy to think of being a business owner at 26!  And- at least according to the woman who was running the tour- the family isn't mega rich or anything.  The family was in the alcohol business in Canada*, and, after earning engineering degrees, the kids decided to follow along. 

I think it's impressive but it also feels kind of weird when I learn about people younger than me who have already accomplished something I never will.  Not that I really want to own a brewery, but coming up with a cool business or creative idea would be... well... cool.  Maybe I'll write that mystery novel one day... 

If you could become really famous or successful for one thing, what would it be?

*Evidently it's good to be in the beer business in Canada because you can sell really big cans with really high alcohol content.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

My in-laws are in town this weekend and yesterday we went to the UW Homecoming Game vs. Indiana.  As a medical school employee, I get first dibs on any tickets from the Homecoming block that aren't purchased by members of the Medical Alumni Association, so I sprinted over to the health sciences building last Friday as soon as they went on sale and picked up four.  Unlike last year, our fabulous spot in the south end zone was packed.

Unlike another team near and dear to my heart, the Badgers are having a great season.  We enjoyed the 50 degree fall weather and walked down to the stadium and joined our friends dressed in red 2.5 hours of the Badgers laying the smack down on Indiana.

Fun was had by all.

We left at the beginning of the fourth quarter when the Badgers were safely ahead by 47 points and stopped for some fortification at Babcock Hall.  New favorite flavor: Mad Grad Medley (it's the UW version of Cherry Garcia).

On the agenda for today is a trip out to the Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe, WI.  It's the Midwest's oldest  brewery and they also make soda.

Enjoy your Sunday and Good Luck to Kerri who is running the Des Moines Marathon today! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In some ways I'm still 5

I want to be a big girl and eat my vegetables.  I tried to like beets.  I really did.

You're not so scary, are you?
  I even tried to get myself to eat them by disguising them as brownies.

Red?  The brownies?  I don't know what you're talking about.
You must have that red-brown color blindness.

But it just didn't work, so I've been passing the ones I get from my CSA over to a friend.

Now I've run into another vegetable I just can't seem to get myself to like: Brussels sprouts.  We got a baby Brussels sprouts tree(?) in our CSA box last week, and I was determined to try to like them one more time.

I cut them off the stick, and Master Chef Daniel sauteed them with a little butter, rice wine vinegar, and maple syrup (going for the sweet and sour thing).  They looked good, the sauce was good, but the actual sprouts were just so... bitter.

I'm tempted to give up on this vegetable, too, but they are so healthy and other people like them (actually Daniel liked these).  Any tips for combating the bitter?  I'm not sure I'd even eat these smothered in Velveeta...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On the downhill slide

Despite the fact that the highs are still going to be in the 70s for the next couple days (and I'm not complaining!) there are plenty of other signs that fall is really here.  Trees are starting to lose their leaves, and the daylight hours are decreasing.

I found this neat little animation (you can click through the picture) from the astronomy department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that shows you the number of daylight hours for a given latitude and date.  At 43.5 degrees, on Oct 11, Madison will get a 11 hours of daylight per day.  Fast forward to Christmas time and it's a mere 8.6.

Daylight Hours Explorer

It was also interesting to play around with the latitude to see how much more and less daylight we get in Madison (43.5 degrees) than in Orlando where I grew up (28.5 degrees).

Science/nature geeks, enjoy!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In retrospect, that's not the smartest thing I've ever done

I'd be mad except the whole thing is laughable.  I earned a giant PW (that would be personal worst) at the Literacy Network 10k this morning.  My time is so bad I refuse to give it any publicity by posting it on my blog.    Despite the fact that it was hot (for Madison) and I'm still really congested and getting over being sick, I decided to run the race anyway because a)We were already downtown for church b)I'd paid for it c)Maybe a miracle would occur and I'd get a decent time and d)In the worst case I'd just jog the whole thing.

If you answered D then you're correct.  (Yes, I know that doesn't really make sense with the previous sentence, but it's as good a segue as I can come up with right now.)  It was the longest (feeling) 10k I've ever run.  I spent the second half of the race praying for death or a water stop, whichever came first. Thank gosh I wasn't running Chicago today*.

That is my race report.  The best that can be said is that my next race probably won't be so bad.

Despite it being not so great for racing, I am in love with the weather we're having.  78 in October in Madison???  Um, can I put this in a jar and release it in February? 

*Although it looks like it went pretty well for some people.       

Saturday, October 8, 2011


  • The sunrise over the lake was beautiful.  I stopped to take a picture as I was biking into work.  Those little black things on the water are the crew team practicing. 

  • I got four tickets to the Indiana - Wisconsin game next Saturday when my in-laws visit.
I was never super impressed with a rodent as a mascot, but
that thing looks pretty mean.
  • I sat at my desk at work and decided that what I was trying to convince myself were allergy symptoms were really symptoms of actual illness, and I should take my first sick day since 2008(!) and go home.
  • Three episodes of Mad Men, a 3-hour nap, 200 pages of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, 1/2 a 2-liter bottle of Diet Mt. Dew left over from our work chili cook-off lunch, and 11 hours of sleep later, I feel much better.  I'm still coughing a bit, by I have my energy back and the achy joint, hot-cold swing symptoms are gone.
  • Which is good news since I'm signed up to take a photography class today.  It's warm, but we have a lot of fall color going on- the perfect combination.
  •  As long as I continue to feel better, I'm still planning to run the Literacy Network 10k tomorrow but with "managed expectations".
Enjoy your Saturday!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Aren't I supposed to feel less tired after the weekend?

1. It was really hard to get up this morning.  Forget clocky; your bladder is the best alarm clock. He's cuter, though.
2. Friday night we went out to Sushi Muramoto to celebrate Daniel's final day at Google/ the end of our discretionary income.  The last time we were ate here was almost a year ago to celebrate finishing the Milwaukee Marathon.  Even though part of me realllly wishes I hadn't let myself get out of shape over the summer, I'm also glad I didn't run a marathon yesterday.

3. Between my long run Saturday morning and the epic walk we took around campus in the afternoon, I moved myself around 17 to 18 miles, which is by far the most exercise I've gotten in one day since... ummm... this time last year.

4. We walked from our apartment through campus, around the stadium and down Regent Street to check out the tailgating festivities before the Wisconsin/Nebraska game.  There weren't as many people around as we'd expected, although we'd heard that Madison was expecting something like 15,000 people from Nebraska who didn't have tickets to drive over for the game anyway.  It is an 8 hour drive from Lincoln, NE to Madison, WI (through Iowa- yuck!).  Nebraska must be really boring.

6.  The whole Nebraska Blackshirt thing is kind of creepy.


7. Not that Badger fans would know anything about creepy.

 8. Move over bags and ball toss, the most impressive tailgating/party game is Giant Jenga.

9. We tried to watch the both the WI/NE game and the FL/AB games on our internet TV, but it just didn't work so we went to The Great Dane and watched the first half of the Badger game there.  Very exciting game with lots of big plays.

10. We saw during the half time show that Florida's quarterback was taken out with a (probably) season-ending injury.  Daniel thought it might be the best thing to happen to the Gators.  It wasn't.

11. Sunday was a very musical day.  Daniel played at two morning church services and we went to singing in the afternoon.

12. And Sunday evening we went to see Richard Thompson play at the Stoughton Opera House.  If you aren't familiar with Richard Thompson, imagine Captain Picard as an aging folk rock star.

14. We didn't get home until after 10pm, which made my 4:30am alarm even more painful that it usually is on Monday.  But I'm one cup of coffee further toward feeling like an awake, alert human being.  The chilly bike ride to the gym will also help.

15. I'm beginning the countdown to my first race since March.  This is going to be a mini-taper week with some things re-arranged so I feel rested on Sunday.  I'm doing weights today and Thursday, a sort-of speed workout on Tuesday, easy runs on Wednesday and Saturday and yoga on Friday.  Then 10k here I come!