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Race recap: Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon

9 Oct

The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon was another for the books. Three years ago, this race was — what felt like then — the race of a lifetime. This year, this race was better, if only because it brought me a new personal record.

I again went into this race relaxed. I had a good shot at beating my time from three years ago. I had trained hard, putting in the hill training and speed work over the previous four months. I had endured some brutally hot, humid weather. I had stayed, for the first time in a few years, illness- and injury-free. I was excited to see Christopher and the girls, my mom and my dad along the course. I was excited to run through familiar neighborhoods and along the iconic lakefront.

My mom drove me to Grafton High School, and we scurried inside to stay warm until it was time to head toward the starting line. We finally headed outside with about 15 minutes until race start. I lined up behind the 4:20 pace group, but ahead of the 4:30 pace group with intentions of staying comfortably between them. The race director counted down and blew the horn, and we set out for our 26.2-mile journey.

Just like three years ago, somewhere between Mile 1 and 2, as the course ventured into its only truly “rural” setting, the breeze blew in the unmistakable smells of a dairy farm. I laughed as everyone around me grimaced. I took that moment of deja vu as a good omen for the race.

At about Mile 5, I saw my mom. I did not expect to see her out on the course, so I was pleasantly surprised. She was so excited and cheered so loudly and proudly.

I felt some aches and pains around this point of the race, but I shook them off. I had too far to go to get into my own head about those tings and twinges. I told myself to push forward, nice and easy.

Around Mile 8, I saw Christopher and the girls, my dad, and our good friend Bass. I was so glad to see them with their signs, which together read “There goes our hero. Watch her as she goes.” (Extra credit to those of you who know from where those phrases were clipped.)

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Between miles 8 and 15, the course heads south through Mequon and Bayside, fairly close to the lake, where the houses are beautiful and large, but the roads are pretty quiet. There were plenty of spectators, many who used our first names, which were printed on our bibs.

LFM midrace 3

Around Mile 15, and again after Mile 20, I saw Christopher and the girls and my dad again.

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At that point, my low back was really sore. I tried to focus on remaining upright and pulling in my core to support my spine and tailbone. I reminded myself there was just over 6 miles left of the race and, with a steady 10-ish-minute mile, a personal best at the finish.

After Mile 20, the course gets into familiar territory–the UW-Milwaukee campus, Lake Park, and Lincoln Memorial Drive. It’s always such an incredible sight to head toward downtown.

There are three aid stations between miles 21 and 25; I had not truly walked through any of the aid stations until those last three, forcing myself to relax my stride. I probably lost the most time in those three stops, but I needed those mental breaks.

In the last two miles, I pushed it as much as possible. Whereas Mile 23 was my slowest mile of the race at 11:22, Mile 26 was my second-fastest of the second half at 10:01 (Mile 13 also was a 10:01, while Mile 15 was a 9:58).

The last quarter-mile of the race is unlike the last stretch of any other marathon: The crowd is thick on either side of a fairly narrow path. Spectators fill bleachers 10 feet into the air on either side of the chute. It is loud, as people are cheering, clanging cowbells, and clapping, and the race director is calling out the names of runners as they cross the finish line.

LFM chute 3

I picked off other runners down that quarter-mile stretch, catching up to the 4:30 pacers, who I had lost in the last 4 or 5 miles of the race. The clock read 4:30…

LFM finish

It was close. But I didn’t care. I wanted nothing more than to stop running; my stomach was uneasy, my legs were shredded. I had given it everything.

After I had my medal around my neck, I trudged through the muddy finish area to claim my gear bag and my snack bag. In the runner-spectator meeting area, I finally found Christopher and the girls and my dad. At that moment, I found out my time was about 4:29 — a PR by 10 to 20 seconds. I couldn’t believe it. I squeaked it out. I truly had left everything out on the course.

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The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon was, once again, such an incredible race. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m really doing this running thing and not just dreaming it. I can’t believe my body, my mind, and my heart allow me to dream so big and accomplish so much. I am blessed to have a husband who, year in and year out, supports me through weekend-morning long runs and busy race days. I have daughters who fuel my fire and are my motivation to do hard things. I have an incredible family and amazing friends who believe in me, support me, and put up with all of my crazy running adventures.

Here’s to another 26.2-mile adventure…

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Distance: 26.2 miles
Duration: 4:29:18
Average pace: 10:16 per mile
Miles 1-6.2: 1:00:38
Miles 6.2-13.1: 1:09:08
Miles 13.1-20: 1:13:10
Miles 20-26.2: 1:06:22

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Merry Christmas!

22 Dec

Christmas 2017 - edited

Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Virtual Coffee Date (aka Long-Overdue Life Update)

31 Aug

Hello, friend! It’s been way, way too long since we’ve talked. But what’s a few months between friends?

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This spring and summer have been extremely busy for the Heimerman household!
Christopher accepted a job as the news editor of the DeKalb Daily Chronicle in April. He commuted the 75 minutes each way between Sterling and DeKalb in the initial weeks as he felt out the job and made sure it was smart and worthwhile for us to uproot our family and our life and start over in a new city.

We furiously searched for houses in DeKalb and fixed up (new microwave and dishwasher, new front window, new shower) and cleaned our house in Sterling, and ultimately, the sell-one-home-and-buy-another-home process took only 10 days.

It was a very emotional two months, as we prepared to leave our first home–the site of so many firsts for our family–and as we prepared to leave Sterling–a community we had truly grown into and in which we made meaningful friendships over 5 years. In the last few weeks leading up to the move, and especially in the last week, as we packed during the free moments between work and school, I had many weepy moments. I just couldn’t fathom leaving it all behind. And yet, I was so excited to start anew. It was an emotional rollercoaster.

We moved June 30 and July 1 and were completely settled within just a couple of days.
I landed some part-time work as a group fitness instructor at the Kishwaukee Family YMCA. I am co-leading a senior strength and balance class three mornings a week, and starting after Labor Day, I will also lead a bootcamp class four mornings a week. I have filled in as a pilates, yoga, and BodyPump instructor, too.

I also studied for the NETA personal training certification. I went to the certification workshop Aug. 5-6, conveniently hosted at the local YMCA, and took the exam Aug. 6. After more than three long weeks, and after the exam results were mistakenly sent to our old address, then forwarded to our new one, I learned yesterday that I passed the certification exam with flying colors and now am a certified personal trainer!

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I’ll jump right into training within the next few weeks, and while I’m a bit nervous as to how to go about it all, I’m really excited to embark on this new journey–and honestly, to have a meaningful career in a growing industry.

I had a meaningful career as a reporter, too. I am an excellent writer and storyteller and a solid journalist. But while I enjoyed being a reporter, I most enjoyed meeting new people and telling their stories; I never was in it to be a watchdog, to uncover the truth, to right the wrongs of the world. I just wanted to tell stories that were important, that were special, that made people feel important and valued.

I discovered that I can do all that and more as a group fitness instructor and now, as a personal trainer. I will meet new people, I will learn their stories, and I will hopefully help them write new and better stories for themselves. I will honor people where they are, and I will value them and hopefully help them value themselves, so that as we work together, they want to be the best version of themselves, inside and outside.

Anna and Elise finished up 3-year-old preschool at St. Mary’s in Sterling in May. They had a fabulous year of learning, discovering, and growing. They are so smart and funny, and they are very well-behaved.

The summer has been challenging, though, as we got out of our school routine and into a more laid-back summer schedule. The first part of summer was spent cleaning, packing, and moving. And the latter part has been spent establishing our “new normal.”

They start school at the YMCA on Tuesday. They will go to a 4-year-old Kingergarten-like program five days a week, from 9 a.m. to noon. And they get swimming lessons, sports, and music throughout the week. It’s not a traditional preschool program, like what they had at St. Mary’s, but it’s got its perks (swimming lessons!) because they’ll be at the YMCA.

We’re definitely ready for school–for the girls to get back into that routine, and for me, personally, to dive a little deeper into my new jobs.

All this time, Christopher and I still have been running. We trained for and ran the Summerfest Rock ‘n’ Sole half marathon on our wedding anniversary June 10. (I had good intentions of writing a race recap, but I got caught up–and rightly so–in moving and changing jobs.) Christopher posted a great time, considering the incredible heat and humidity that day, but I really battled, and so I just ran for the fun of it.

We took just a couple weeks off to move and settle in, and then we picked back up and now are in the waning weeks of training for the Milwaukee Marathon on Oct. 15, for which I am a race ambassador. (Use code KaylaRunsMKE for a discount on any of the races!) Both Christopher and I are doing well, especially with our long runs. We’re scheduled for two 20-milers, one next weekend, and the other two weeks after that. Distances that long still sort of freak me out, but not nearly the way they used to scare me. #thingsdistancerunnerssay I’m excited for the marathon, and I hope it’s a better race than last year.

That’s the long and short of it. Lots of changes, lots of adjustments, but already some good stories and memories.

Let’s do this again soon.

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Review: Maple Holistics shampoo and conditioner

8 Mar

Disclosure: I was sent the Winter Blend shampoo and conditioner set to review. I am not otherwise being compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

My beauty routine is pretty simple, and thus, my arsenal of haircare, skincare, and cosmetic products is pretty small.

In terms of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face wash, I prefer products that are fairly natural with clean, fresh scents and that leave my skin feeling clean and invigorated.

Maple Holistics, an American company that makes all-natural haircare and skincare products, with an emphasis on shampoo and conditioner, offers several items that fit that bill.

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I’ve used their Winter Blend shampoo and conditioner over the past 8 weeks, and I love it.

The limited edition Winter Blend formula contains five varieties of mint: peppermint, spearmint, eucalyptus mint, bergamot mint, and wild mint.

The scent is lovely and transforms your shower into a cooling, refreshing environment. It’s perfect in the morning, to wake up your senses with the brightness of invigorating mint; it’s wonderful after a sweaty workout, too, to cool and refresh your body and mind.

The conditioner specifically is Maple Holistics’ own Silk18 blend of ingredients to treat dry, damaged hair; it contains 18 silk amino acids, plus argan oil, jojoba oil, botanical keratin, sea buckthorn, pomegranate, aloe, and more.

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The shampoo, naturally, left my scalp and hair feeling clean, thanks to the bright mint blend. And the conditioner, which feels thick and silky straight out of the bottle, left my hair feeling soft and smooth.

The two 8-ounce bottles retail for $19.95, which is far more than I would ever pay for shampoo or conditioner. But you are paying not only for high quality products, but also for products that are all natural, sulfate free, and made (animal-cruelty-free) in the United States.

So if natural hair and skincare is important to you, and if supporting domestic manufacturers is important to you, Maple Holistics offers some wonderful products.

The company currently offers free samples of its lemon oil, massage oil, or sage shampoo in exchange for honest reviews online, either on social media, a blog, or Amazon. The offer is good only through March 17!

I finished the Whole30!

15 Feb

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We finished the Whole30!

I won’t lie to you and tell you it was easy or that it completely changed me (for the better or for the worse). But I will admit it was not as hard as it is purported to be. It also was not as life-changing as it is marketed to be, either.

Some quick thoughts:

  • Christopher lost about 10 pounds during the program. I lost fewer than 5 over the 30 days.
  • We both reported better sleep — an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep — although we did not usually wake up feeling as well-rested and restored, probably in part to both of us being sick with a cold at some point in the last two weeks and to dealing with sick toddlers in the last two weeks.
  • We mostly avoided the withdrawal and “carb flu” early in the program — a testament to the quality of our diet and exercise regimen pre-Whole30? — but we never really experienced the “Tiger Blood” that supposedly comes midway through the program. We are most disappointed about that.
    • We both came down with a cold in the last two weeks, though, which probably had a lot to do with lackluster energy.
  • Neither of us really suffered from digestive issues before Whole30. So I don’t know if the emphasis on meat and fat did is to blame, but I suffered from diarrhea (sorry, TMI!) for almost the entire 30 days.
  • I successfully ditched MyFitness Pal. I had been religiously counting calories (and often lying to myself about the amount by conveniently not tracking some foods) for years. I didn’t count a single calories over the 30 days, and I don’t plan to start counting calories again, unless I notice my pants stop fitting properly. It is so liberating to cook and eat without having to log every bite.
  • We did not fully follow reintroduction protocol. At the start, we did; we reintroduced legumes, then waited a day, then reintroduced non-gluten-containing grains, then waited a day. But on Saturday evening, four days after the end of Whole30, we went out and finally indulged. And while we didn’t feel too badly after that, we continued to indulge and imbibe Sunday and by then, we felt crummy.
    • We learned that we simply need to watch it with things like sugar and alcohol. My personal rule going forward is no sweets and treats unless they are homemade or a once-a-year indulgence (i.e. Cadbury Mini Eggs at Easter). I don’t need to waste my time or calories on crappy candy or store-bought cookies. My other rule, which sort of goes along with the limit on sweets and treats, is no refined carbs or sugar, again, unless it is 100 percent worth it. No white flour or sugar, no white pasta or rice. There are much better options out there that make my body feel so much better.

Christopher swears he will never do Whole30 again — that the benefits we experienced do not outweigh the effort we put in. And I can’t say I disagree entirely. I would do a Whole30 again, if I felt myself spiraling out of control, but I concede that the ends did not justify the means. We spent a TON of time planning and preparing, and a TON more money grocery shopping and for what, really? Frankly, our wallet really took a hit eating this way, whereas before Whole30, our grocery cart was filled with very little processed or patently unhealthy foods, and our bill was two-thirds the size. The fact of the matter is oatmeal, brown rice, black beans, chickpeas, Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese are a part of a well-balanced diet and do not make us feel crummy; and those foods are just not as expensive as pounds on top of pounds of chicken and beef and pork (and let me tell you, we went through two or three dozen eggs a week!).

Overall, I am really glad we did Whole30. We learned a lot about our food, our emotional attachment to food, and how our bodies respond to having (and not having) certain foods. We also learned that we can do something that most people consider damn near impossible for 30 freaking days! That is definitely something to be proud of.

 

Whole30 Recap – Week 3 and Meal Plan – Week 4

1 Feb

Well, we’ve reached the proverbial summit!

Week 3 was supposed to be all about Tiger Blood — the newfound energy, through-the-roof confidence and pride. While both Christopher and I are confident within the Whole30 framework and proud of ourselves for making it two-thirds of the way through the program, we certainly haven’t experienced boundless energy. We understand that the program affects everybody differently, but to say we are slightly disappointed and underwhelmed would be an understatement.

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(A day of eats: Left column – breakfast: two eggs, hashbrowns, and avocado; lunch: chocolate chili with onions and avocado; dinner: burger with sauteed onions, chimichurri, and Ranch dressing and roasted carrots. Right column – snacks: mixed nuts, pineapple, strawberry-apple-chia bar, and plantain chips.)

Here’s how Week 3 shaped up for us:

  • We’re still snacking. Homemade cashew-date balls, Larabars, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, and fruit are our go-to snacks.
  • I’m still drinking 88 to 96 ounces of water every day.
  • We have yet to experience the purported physical benefits of this program — especially the surge in energy. Christopher is still battling a cold. And I now am feeling run down. Our weight has stayed mostly the same. My cravings are not as strong — but they are not gone.
Recipe wins from last week:

(Italics denote the recipe is from the Whole30 book.)

And here’s our meal plan for the week:

Breakfasts

Lunches

Dinners

We are definitely ready to be done, but we want to do reintroduction the right way so these 30 days weren’t for nothing. Any Whole30 alumni have some advice?

Whole30 Meal Plan – Week 1

5 Jan

Christopher (who agreed to do the Whole30 with me!) and I planned our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the first two weeks of our Whole30.

Here’s what we’re going to eat in Week 1:

Breakfasts

Lunch

Dinner

(Italics denote the recipe is from the Whole30 book.)

We plan to have fruit and nuts for snacks, if necessary. We’re also going to have frozen fruit, spinach, and almond milk on hand for green smoothies for pre- and post-workout fuel.

What’s on your Whole30 menu?