Madison [Half] Marathon Recap

Last Sunday, two friends and I ran the Madison half marathon.  Sticking to my goal to do marathons in capital cities, I suggested Madison, WI when a friend mentioned her desire to do a full marathon…that’s right, her first!  It was Memorial Day weekend, so we’d have some solid recovery time and I’ve always wanted to visit Madison.  Who doesn’t love a good midwestern town and as a UofI grad, I’d only heard great stories about State Street!

So, LMGB and I signed up for the big race and started training.  Eventually, we talked another friend (KP), who is a rockstar runner and triathlete into coming with us and running.  So last Friday, the three of us left for the city of recent political unrest.  Unfortunately, the forecast wasn’t looking all that great.  I’m not talking about freak winter storms in May.  This was 93 degree temps with midwest humidity.  With the type of humidity they were predicting, not event a breeze from the lake were going to do us any good.

To back up for a minute, I had another good friend, who we’ll call N.Bisou run the Green Bay marathon the weekend before.  They cancelled the race after 3 hours after sending 18-20 people to the hospital and running dangerously low on medical staff.  N.Bisou was at mile 18…yuck!  With that in mind, the Madison Festivals sent out an alert on Tuesday before the race, warning of an upcoming cancellation of the full marathon.  They announced they would let us know on Friday, which didn’t leave any time to change plans if we were depending on the outcome.  So, we sucked it up and went anyway!

About 1:00 pm on Friday and one hour into our drive, we got the alert that the full marathon had been cancelled and we would have the option to run the half marathon, as well as a $20 credit to next year’s full.  This was disappointing, to say the least.  I’ve been lucky enough to run a few marathons, and this certainly wasn’t going to be my list, so my biggest disappointment was breaking my streak of running capital city MARATHONS (Des Moines, Lincoln, Sacramento).  My feelings were the least of our problems.

My good, good friend LMBG had just trained for many months (like 5 or 6) for a full marathon and she’d done most of the runs, if not all, on her own, with her own motivation.  She worked her freaking butt off and she was ready and excited…I’m not really sure I’ve ever felt that before a race!  I’m really lucky to have some awesome, similarly crazy friends who like to go out and run massive numbers of miles with me, but  I promise you, I’m not sure I’d be as dedicated without their support and the fact that they’re counting on me to show up in the mornings to join them for runs.  I’m very good at coming up with excuses when I don’t really want to do a run – don’t ask me for help on this, because you might never run another day in your life.

My point…LMGB handled the cancellation with grace and ease, but I know it was killing her knowing that all the work she spent the past months putting in wasn’t going to follow the timeline she planned for.  In true kick-ass fashion, she started looking up races in the upcoming weeks and months that might work in her’s, mine, and KP’s schedules.  We’ve got some ideas, but nothing confirmed at this point.  We’ll definitely be using that $20 credit for next year’s Madison full!

After the initial disappointment, we started planning for all the good shopping, food, and beer we’d be enjoying in Madison!  I want to get to the race recap, so I’m not going to spend much time on Madison.  I’ll save that for another night.  I will say that Madison was fantastic.  We stayed across the street from the Capitol, which was beautiful!  The restaurants we found were phenomenal and we certainly made some good “American Hero” memories! (Yes, sorry for the inside joke…that’s for LMGB and KP).

It was already about 75-80 degrees when we woke up around 5:30/6:00 am.  At least they had made the right call!  I had been a little worried that midwestern weather would pull a trick and give us sprinkles and “great” running weather.  We made some crappy packed hotel coffee, had a quick snack and took our sweet time getting out the door…I mean, we were just across the street from the start line anyway!

The three of us jumped into the pack and took off with the gun.  The good thing about running in unfamiliar territory is it doesn’t get boring and there is always new stuff to look at.  However, this also means that when I go back to remember the race, I barely remember any of it.  I think the memory part of my brain shuts off during runs to remind my legs and muscles what to do.  I know the route contained a lot of turns, not a terrible number of hills, and had a great mix of neighborhoods.  We did run by the Governor’s mansion and I wondered how he felt about seeing his opponent’s signs in his neighbor’s yards.  Speaking of that…I’m looking forward to Tuesday’s election results!!  Did you vote??

I think it was around mile 10, we were headed towards the “out and back.”  Now, don’t get me wrong.  A lot of my morning runs are an “out and back,” and sometimes it’s a good strategy to tell yourself that all you have to do is run 5 miles.  Then after 5 miles, you then tell yourself that you have to get back home, so you better keep running.  However, that’s usually when I know how far the “out and back” actually is.  This time, the end did not appear to be insight…for quite a while!  I think all three of us founding ourselves cursing at one point, questioning when the heck they were going to let us turn around and run back downtown.  At least this was along the river and we had a slight breeze!

Once we turned back, I think there was just about 1.5 miles left.  I knew I had enough juice in the take to kick it into gear and keep my pace up.  By this time, it was really hot out.  They ended up getting some fire hydrants going to spray the runners.  I think I just missed that!

Right as we’re about to run up to the Capitol, which was a great view, they throw one more, fairly steep hill at us.!  Then the last 100 yards were downhill/flat to the finish line.  I finished the race and then went to find KP and LMGB.  We grabbed some water, snacks, and then went to find the beer tent!  Some cool grass in the shade around the Capitol, with beer in our hands, was…well, heaven.

Personally, I wasn’t out beating any records, but my official time was 1:48:25, just a few minutes slower than my PR, so I really can’t complain. The timing chips they gave us were disposable, which was something I hadn’t seen before.  They were plastic, laced through our shoe laces, and we could just throw them away.  Once less thing to worry about right after crossing that finish line!  The only other thing I want to mention about the race was the awesome support from the crowd.  This is, by far, the most support I’ve ever seen throughout the course!  It seemed like we were never without a cheering crowd…even if it was 5 college guys cheering us with their keg beer from the front porch as we made bets about whether they got up early or were still up from the night before. 🙂  I should also mention the “rogue” beverage stop – they were passing out cups of beer and slices of bacon.  KP’s kind of heaven!  Other than that, I think things were pretty standard.  If KP or LMBG remind me of anything, I’ll post an update.

Here’s to another half marathon and a commitment to the full next year!  Oh, I should probably get to bed…Dam to Dam is going to come way early.  Good thing for Saturday naps!

Until next time…




Annie, Annie, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

Growing up on a farm, we always had a really large garden.  This was my introduction to vegetables – zucchini, carrots, peas, egg plant, squash, green beans, kohlrabi, cabbage, and many more varieties.  It was also my introduction to gardening, as I spent enough time helping my grandma that I picked up the gist of how to make things grow.  If only the fern in our apartment was so lucky.  It’s slowly coming back to life.

Anyway, I definitely took it for granted that growing up we ate canned green beans and bagged sweet corn all year around.  To this day I refuse to eat store bought canned or frozen corn.  It’s just not the same {said with a sigh}.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I pay more attention to my nutrition or what, but I have found quite an interest in gardening.  Not only do I try to shop the perimeter of the grocery store (minus spices, pasta, and the occasional frozen treat), but I am interested in knowing where my food comes from.  I’m more apt to purchase the apples or tomatoes from a local farm.

I know this should be much easier with the farmers market starting, but that would require me to have my meals for the week planned out on Saturday, instead of Sunday, and I’d need to free up my Saturday mornings so I could do more than just race through to the croissant sandwiches.  I’ll get there eventually!

Having a garden plot at the Downtown Community Garden is making things a little easier.  I’m a little late getting things in (as usual) and although I had planned to start growing some seeds inside, that never happened.  Tonight I got the garden weeded and acquired some blisters along the way.  That leaves planting to do this week, followed by a lot of watering. The 8 tomato and pepper plants shoved in a small planter on our balcony are screaming to get some space.  At least they get to come inside overnight.

Anyway, I really love having the garden.  Weeding is therapeutic and I kind of enjoy playing in the dirt,  but I always seem to have a hard time being consistent.  It’s sort of like working out.  It’s hard as heck to get out of bed to get to the gym (which is why I often recruit buddies to run or swim with as motivation), but once I’m there, I never want to leave.  I love being in the sun, keeping the garden clean of weeds, watering the plants as if I”m nourishing them, and then watching them grow.  The best is when I haven’t been down there in a few days, usually because it has been raining, and I’ve got 3 zucchini’s some tomatoes, and a bunch of lettuce.  Zucchini’s probably make me the most happy…they’re my favorite!

Some quick background – how did I get this garden plot?  A few years ago, the  Junior League of Des Moines, did a project where we got a spot at the Community Garden and then donated all the produce to local charities.  Unfortunately, the project was not chosen to continue, but on the bright side, I got to keep the plot and I’ve kept a garden for 2 years on my own now.  Before, most of my seeds were leftovers from my mom, but this year I’ve purchased my own!  Thank you to Seed for their excellent selection.

I’ll be planting red peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, kale, lettuce, green beans, and peas.  I would love to start branching out more, but one year at a time.  Plus, the plot isn’t all that large, so I’ve got to keep myself limited.

With all these vegetables, I might be donating some of it myself this year!  So, here’s to a fruitful (or vegetable-ful) harvest in 2012.


post-weeding photo to come…this might take me a while!

What fun things did you do with your parents or grandparents as a kid that you still enjoy doing today, even if it’s a little nerdy?

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Making Workouts a Priority

It’s been almost 4 years since I started training for my first long distance race – the IMT Des Moines Marathon in 2008. It’s been a long journey from sprinting in high school to realizing that running a mile wasn’t torture. I’m still not sure what made me decide to run a half marathon and after that, decide I was able to run a marathon. It’s a little scary when I make comments like “I only ran 12 miles this week.”

My running group has heard this story more than once, I’m sure. In high school, our coaches used to punish us by running “campus.” Cedar Rapids Prairie has all 7 buildings (5 when I was there) on one “campus.” Running the perimeter was usually to punish us if they found out we might have attended a party over the weekend or if they knew we were slacking at practice. It was awful. Running campus was the worst thing they could have done. The hills, the distance, the heat!

I graduated in 2003. When I was training for that first half in 2008, I was back at my parents and had a 6 mile training run to accomplish. It’s hard enough to do anything but sit around and eat at family functions, so getting out to do 6 miles was a feat in itself. Since my parents live on gravel, I figured I could drive over to school and run campus before finishing on the track. This was before I had my Garmin GPS watch, so I’d need to drive the distance and finish the rest on my own.

I remember driving around and thinking, “this can’t be right.” I knew it had to be at least a few miles. Nope…1.5 miles! This torturous route was only 1.5 miles!? I honestly couldn’t believe it. After 2 laps around campus, I got bored, so I ran a little on the track and finished a 3rd campus lap.

It was that day I truly considered myself a long-distance runner. I still take the hills too fast thinking, “the faster I get up this thing, the sooner it will be over.” My short runs end up turning into speed work. And when I head back to CR, I know not to run at Prairie…I get way too bored on the short little loop I used to dread.

Getting into distance running has taken some getting-used-to. In college I would go out for a quick 15 minute, full-out run, be home to shower and go out in 30 minutes. Today, I’ve now got to wait for the Garmin to find a satellite, run at a little slower of a pace, run longer distances, and find time to eat shortly after a run, and now I’m trying to improve my stretching habit…which was basically non-existant. It’s a huge commitment, but completely worth it.

After 4 years I think running has finally reached the top 5 of my priority list, along with work, family and Grant, food, and outside activities. It’s hard to make it a habit and sleep has definitely taken a fall as this habit has taken root. Don’t get me wrong, I totally skip out some mornings and if I’m out late the night before a fun run, I have not hesitated to text the running group and declare my AM absence. But I rarely miss my Monday morning runs…a short, but glorious way to start the week.

To switch it up, I attempted 2 sprint triathlons last summer, incorporating some swimming and biking into my morning routines. The bike is way behind on it’s workouts, but swimming has gotten more and more consistent, thanks to some good friends who get me to make the commitment to the pool. It’s them that keeps me motivated to keep running high on the priority list. They workout daily, yet still enjoy life and their families. They’ve qualified for and run the Boston Marathon, done half ironmans, and join in on 20-mile training runs just to be good company. It’s those friends who I’m lucky enough to have. Not to mention all the other running buddies who are constantly motivating themselves, without the company during a run…just themselves and their determination. They’re the one’s who really keep me going.

Anyway, I think I’ve rambled on enough and I’m not sure this has anything to do with my typical blog posts, but we’ll chalk it up to a “journal entry” and call it a night.

One more quick ramble – I’m not sure I’ve ever really adhered to the “Iowa Farm Girl” blog title, so as I hope to pick things up again, I should probably start applying my posts to the reason I started the blog in the first place, which I can get into another time.

For now, I’ll say that this blog is a reflection of where I’ve come from – the Jansa Farm. Without my dad’s love for running, the Hershey race my mom had me participate in elementary (along with some Freedom Festival fun run, I think), some great coaches (Ramaker, Perkins, Becika, and Hall), and a good friend in college who showed me that slowing down was the key to running farther, I might be stuck in some gym somewhere and not outside running the streets and trails of DSM. Running is one thing I brought from the farm.

And so I don’t leave you without a photo and just a boring blog post that really, was more therapeutic for me, than it will be enjoyable for you…


Finally time for bed…until next time!



The Second Wind

I’m definitely someone who seems to get a second wind at night. It drives me nuts. Here I am, a late night at work, and all I want to do is go home and go to bed. However, there are still things to finish up, and once I start working it’s like I just downed a Red Bull. I keep on working. Normally I wouldn’t mind, but it’s going to make that 5:30 am gym class harder to make. Maybe next week, right? This can’t be healthy!

What I wanted to blog about was having a nice evening at home, which is rare. Work made it a little more difficult so instead it was spuds at Quinton’s. Yep, you heard right. The place whose soup I adored all through college is now my favorite place for a baked potato with veggies and queso dip. Yum!!

But, on the bright side, it was a productive evening, I’m blogging two nights in a row (though I should be sleeping), and I promise I’ll get up for that cardio conditioning class. I’m starting to wonder why I’m still blogging when I should be in bed. Actually, this post is more of a test to see how I like blogging from the Ipad app. So far, so good!

Plus, I’m really into the 5 minute Crest White strips, and I always get really antsy waiting for my 5 minutes to be up.


Ok, it’s been 5 minutes…I mean 10. Time to floss, brush, and get to bed because I’m getting loopy!

Till next time…

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Busy Start to 2012

Wasn’t it just Christmas?  I had my (I mean our) tree up…

Andrea C. and I headed to Sacramento for the California International Marathon, a visit to my good friend Matt, and a tour of the California State Capitol.

My favorite two facts about the California State Capitol was that they don’t allow the Governor in either legislative chamber.  Not on the floor or in the gallery.  Also, their State Senate still does every vote by roll call.  So much for technology!  Oh, and I also enjoyed the first portrait of current Governor Jerry Brown.  It’s unknown whether he’ll get a second commissioned after this second stint in office.  I think I would if I were him!

Then it was off to Mexico…

Holidays with the family, NYE at where else? Carl’s in Sherman Hill!

And then came a new job!  Though I’m still up at the Capitol, I’ve now moved out to the lobby and I’m working for LS2Group and loving it!!  What a great group of people to work with and I still get to walk into this beautiful building everyday.  And walk I do!  Our new office is just a few blocks away, so I’m barely driving.  Exercise, check.  Helping the environment, check.  Lucky for a mild winter, check!

It’s great walking to work everyday and yes, the weather has made it a little easier, but in other news and 2012 excitement, I finally got a new car!

Luscious (the name we gave her in high school) was with me for 9 1/2 years and we went from 65,000 miles as a senior in high school to almost 198,000 this January.  We’ve been through a lot, she’s seen the backside of many tow trucks, been hit by a deer, hit a deer and a yellow pole in the Wendy’s drive through, she’s driven all over Iowa, to Los Angeles and back, and although it was hard to see her go…

I couldn’t be more happy with my new purchase or the service I got at Karl Chevrolet!  A big thanks to Steve Ames and Brandon Williams for their help in getting me set up!

The only problem is that with all this walking, I don’t get to drive it much.  It’s already been to Creston with GW and I’m sure there are many more road trips to come!  And yes, I’ve decided to grow up and stop thinking of my car as a he or she and I promise, no nicknames!

So, now that I feel caught up a bit, maybe I’ll get around to doing this more often.  It’s not like I don’t have a lot going on that I can’t share.  Just finding time is the issue!

Speaking of time, sleep takes some, and I’m starting to ramble.  Off to bed!

Till next time…



I’m Still Alive!

Hey all –

Wow it’s been a busy year.  I promise I haven’t forgotten about the blog, but I’m having a big of a blog idenity crisis.  I’m hoping to do some brainstorming on vacation next week and I’ll be back with some nice posts. 🙂

In the mean time, I wanted to post my favorite photo from capitol #3 in Sacramento, CA!  A nice tour before we ran the marathon on Sunday and it was a gorgeous day!  Not quite my Iowa Capitol, but beautiful, nonetheless.


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Filed under TRAVEL

Volunteering in Des Moines

So, a bit different type of post today…but a post at that!

For the past couple of years, I have driven down to SW 9th and Porter Avenue once a week during the summer and fall to spend time with a student at Orchard Place.  As stated on their website, “Orchard Place is a nationally recognized leader in children’s mental health and juvenile justice services.”  I have served as a mentor to three kids over my tenure as a volunteer.

I first learned of Orchard Place when the Junior League of Des Moines (an organization I’ve mentioned before) chose to partner on a project to fund the creation of a small workout work for the kids at OP.  I got the opportunity to attend a breakfast in which the CEO, Brock Wolff, talked so passionately about his work and the work of  all the staff at OP.  It’s something I have been lucky enough to witness while hanging out with my mentee.  Not only does the staff work hard, enjoy their jobs, but a large chunk of the funding for OP comes from staff and volunteer donations…an amount I
don’t recall but I remember being amazed.

Other than spending time with these awesome kids, one of my favorite parts of volunteering is getting to do all those things you used to do as a kid, but might not take the time or have the time to do anymore (especially since I don’t have children of my own) – playing HORSE on the basketball court, Chutes and Ladders, coloring with crayons and coloring books, and currently I am learning how to play chess.  Last week I was introduced to Bananagrams and it’s on my Target list already!

Since I’ve been posting food and workouts for so long, I feel weird not posting something along those lines, so here is a quick snapshot from my lunch.  A small salad with Romano cheese, grilled chicken, and a drizzle of olive oil.  On the side is some delicious prosciutto from a local farmer in Norwalk…La Quercia.

By the way, my small camera I’ve had since college and carry around in my purse for those non-massive-camera situations died the other week.  I ran it by Christian Photo here in Des Moines (fantastic customer service, by the way), and it’s official…it died.  So, the camera I typically use to take quick shots around Des Moines is no longer and until I get a replacement, the Blackberry will have to do. 😦

So enough gabbing from me.  It’s time for bed.  Just the life in an average Iowa farm girl, right? 🙂

If you’re interested in volunteering for Orchard Place, they are always looking
for volunteers to serve as mentors and I highly, highly recommend it!  Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll get you the contact information for their volunteer coordinator.

Till next time!



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