Get Out of MY Park!

View from today's 10+ mile run at about 6 am this morning.  That wood bridge is actually on some sort of pontoon system - challenging to run across (almost made me "seasick"!).

MY Bunker Hills Park in the early morning.

My new coach had a 13 mile run on my schedule yesterday.  While I have run plenty of half marathons, this was my longest training/unsupported run yet.  I left my house at about 7:00 am ready to start my run through the park that backs up to my neighborhood.

Let me take a moment to describe this park.

My park.

Bunker Hills Regional Park is filled with a maze of paved bike paths on undulating hills.  I know these twisting bike paths better than I know the lines on my own palms.  When I started running, I ran Bunker.  I’ve run two 5Ks through Bunker.  I’ve participated in running groups through Bunker.  However, I prefer to run alone.  And it is usually pretty quiet.  Only a few other people pushing strollers, jogging or walking.

Much to my dismay, yesterday the park was packed with people!  Lots of them!  Everywhere!  People riding bikes, people walking, people pushing strollers, people roller blading, people on skate boards, people sitting around, people running.  Lots of other people running.  I literally wanted to shout “GET OUT OF MY WAY!  GET OUT OF MY PARK!”

But as I was heading out of the park (frustrated and sweaty) and on to the next leg of my run I wondered what were they all doing in there today?

And a thought occurred to me.  I bet some of these people are just kids looking to have fun outside on their bikes, just like I was.  I bet some of these mothers pushing strollers are just looking for some time out of the house and an opportunity to work off that baby weight just like I was.  I bet some of these people are learning to run just like I did.  And… I bet at least some of these people are training for the same damn marathon I am.

I knew I needed to check my mental game at that point and I did.  There will not be a field of 1 starting this marathon, nor would I want there to be.  Everyone has their own fitness journey they are working through, and yes some of those journeys happened to be through my park yesterday.

This morning I ran through Bunker again as usual for my scheduled 3 mile run.  It was almost empty.  Which actually made me a little sad.  Come back everyone!  I will share next time.  I promise.  🙂

Race Recap: Blair’s Balloons for Hope 5K (w/video)

My kids have been asking me to take them to run a 5K for the past few months.  I ran this same 5K last year and when I got an email on Thursday about last minute registration for 2015’s race I realized it would be the perfect first 5K to run as a family.  I remembered the post race snacks were great, it didn’t start too early (that would appeal to the hubs), and there is a medal at the end which is pretty rare for a 5K.

Here’s the video of our race!

We got up bright and early, had some biscuits and jam and headed over to packet pickup before the race.  Packet pickup was perfectly smooth, no lines and very well organized.

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The race started right on time at 10:00 am and we were off!  My 7 year old took off sprinting and my husband jogged after him leaving my 9 year old and I to walk jog together.  We did an easy jog the first half mile and then started taking walk breaks.  We had some tough moments but got into a groove after a few minutes.  He agreed to run on the downhills and past any volunteers.  I can’t tell you how proud of him I was.  He was a real trooper and did a great job jogging when it counted.  Afterwards we had some post race snacks included bagels, cookies, coffee cake, bananas, and full size water bottles.

We had a great time and got some great pics!

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And before I forget – here’s a quick update on the marathon training.

How was your weekend? 🙂

Running Long on the Treadmill without Losing your Sanity

My husband has been out of town this weekend for so I wasn’t able to get in my normal long run outside.  I was faced with the following choices:  skip the long run, move the long run, or get it in on the treadmill.  All of these sounded terrible so I considered the one that would help my training plan the most – the treadmill.

The cons of treadmill workouts are many:

  1. It’s boring.
  2. No fresh air.
  3. It’s boring.
  4. No sense of adventure.
  5. It’s boring.
  6. No natural hills.
  7. It’s boring.
  8. Nothing to look at… and it’s boring.

There are some pros though as well:

  1. Convenience to home amenities.
  2. You can “bring” more stuff than you could outside – food, fluids, band-aids, technology, etc.
  3. …. alright I just have those 2.

But sometimes you just *have* to do it!  Here is a short video I put together to sum up how I execute a long run on the treadmill when there aren’t other options.

I also filmed a short video recap of my week’s training. 🙂  Hope everyone is having a great week!  Have you ever had to run long on the treadmill?  How did it go?  Would you do it again?

 

Race Recap: Lebanon 10K Trail Race (with video)

The Lebanon 10K trail race is one of five races in the Endless Summer Trail Run Series (ESTRS) hosted by Twin Cities Running Company and Rocksteady Running.

Looking back and reviewing my thoughts on this race I realized that it gave me a lot of firsts for one little 10K run.

  1. This was my first race where it rained through the entire event.
  2. First race I’ve ever gone to completely solo.  Drove there myself.  Check in and packet pickup on my own.  Started running alone.  After party of one.  Drove home by myself.  There are pros and cons to this.  I had the freedom to do things on at my own pace and didn’t worry about where anyone else was or how to meet up or any of those coordination items.  That said, it was super lonely!  I don’t think I would go it alone again if I could avoid it.  The after party was especially lonely.  It was a great event with pizza and beer and I just didn’t have anyone to share it with and recount the race with.
  3. Not my first trail race but it was my first trail 10K!
  4. First 10K that was a 3 mile loop twice.
  5. First race on a Tuesday evening after work.
  6. First race while recording with a GoPro.

The night before was a Monday evening.  I packed everything I would need into my gym bag instead of laying it out as I would for other races simply because the race was after work and not my first item of the day.  I also knew it would probably be rainy so I brought my rain jacket, a plastic sandwich bag for my phone and a towel for after the race.

After work on Tuesday I drove over to Lebanon Hills Regional Park and parked in the overflow lot.  Check in was IMG_0376seamless.  I gave the volunteers my name and bib # and was good to go.  Race registration also included glassware from Solomon.  Since my car was at the overflow lot, it was raining, and I didn’t have anyone with me to hold my stuff I hid my glass by one of the picnic tables.  Felt very sneaky for doing this but it worked out fine and was waiting for me when I finished.

I have to give race directors a shout out for starting on time.  And I mean really on time.  Super punctual.  The race was scheduled to start at 6:30 and we started exactly at 6:30 pm.

The race started on asphalt and quickly progressed into the trail through the woods.  It had been raining for 4 days in the Minneapolis area prior to Tuesday.  The mud was out of control and it was very difficult to not slip and fall.  Great workout but made for some slow running.IMG_0386

The first 3 miles felt like they flew by.  I had turned off the voice notifications on my Map My Run app to avoid bothering anyone and I didn’t notice any mile markers.  If they were there, I didn’t see them.  The whole time I didn’t know how far I was which I think made the time seem to go by faster.  Aid station was great (back at the start/finish) with water, gels, and really supportive volunteers cheering.  The second loop felt like it went by more slowly.  I think this was because I knew I was repeating everything I had just run through, I was more tired, and more soaked by then.  (Disclaimer: It wasn’t pouring, just a heavy mist/drizzle.  If it had been an outright downpour I might not have stuck it out!)  The park trail was beautiful despite the weather.  Picture lots of green foliage with wood bridges throughout.

I finished in little under an hour and 17 minutes.  Not too shabby for me considering the muddy trail and rain!  It was a great workout and I am proud of my time.IMG_0385

Afterwards there was pizza and beer.  Pizza and lemonade for me since I was driving myself home.  I have to say though, it tasted like the best meal ever after running in the rain for an hour!  This was a very well organized race and I truly enjoyed myself.  The volunteers were so nice, helpful, and encouraging.  I would absolutely run another ESTRS race again.  Next time though, I’m bringing some friends! 🙂

One Lovely Blog Award (with video)

Thank you Alison of MostlyHealthyLiving for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award!  I was so flattered you thought of me for this recognition.

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To quote Alison’s quote from her nominator Eat2Health Blog: “This award is another friendly way of getting to know your fellow bloggers whilst helping to give your blog supportive and mainstream exposure, and of course some recognition for all of your hard work!”

The recipient’s participation is to then disclose 7 things about them and nominate 15 other bloggers.  I’m happy to play along so here we go! 🙂

  1. I love 80’s music.  When it’s treadmill time I flip on Pandora’s 80’s Cardio playlist and am good to go.
  2. I love sandwiches.  Quite a bit.  Also my favorite post-race food.  If someone suggests eating something else after a race I get sad.
  3. I have a really unique sneeze.  I have never sneezed around someone for the first time without a comment on it.  Not sure if I should feel proud or self conscious of that…
  4. I like to use smiley faces as much as I can in any digital interaction – email, texting, tweeting, even here.  I try to not use them but feel like it makes my tone too serious. 🙂 🙂 🙂
  5. I really love making dinner and eating at home.  Like many of us, my hubby and I are on the go so much with full time jobs, kids activities, my grad work and marathon training, his hockey that we often eat fast food for dinner or grab something that can pack easily.  It’s so nice to spend time cooking and eating a real meal.
  6. In my teen years I liked to dress up in period costume and participate in civil war reenactments.
  7. As a kid I was home schooled.  I also composed music, sketched, bred finches, and collected stamps for fun.  (I was super popular.) 🙂

And my nominees for the One Lovely Blog Award are below!  I have truly enjoyed reading all of the blogs I’ve listed and highly recommend you check them out.  Looks like Alison and I ‘run’ in the same circles so some of you were already nominated by MostlyHealthyLiving too.  Double nominations for you! 🙂

Don’t feel obligated to participate if you’re not feeling up to it but I would love to read your blog posts on this and learn even more about you. 🙂

  1. Run with Faust
  2. Pirate Bobcat
  3. Live Slim
  4. Piper’s Run
  5. Slacker Runner
  6. Runs on Syrup
  7. Tangent Media
  8. Miss Adventures in Running
  9. See Sebby Run
  10. The Tipsy Runner
  11. Running in Paradise
  12. Dashafitness
  13. Darlin’ Rae
  14. Destination: Minneapolis
  15. Chronicles of a SAHM

In closing, here is a video I shot of my training run on Monday while messing around with the GoPro.

And a little teaser for my upcoming race recap of the Lebanon 10K Trail Race I participated in yesterday. 🙂  Let’s just say there was some mud involved.
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Fueled by Birthday Cake (with video)

Wow, it’s been a crazy busy week.  Work has been super nuts and we’ve had family in town with a couple of birthday parties, one being for my son who just turned 7.  So much fun though!  It can be a challenge though to train for a marathon around life obligations.  That said, where there’s a will there’s a way.  Plus it’s also helpful when family is supportive. 🙂  I was able to stick to my training plan and get a run in on Saturday.  It also worked out that Saturday’s normal long run was actually only about a half hour this week.

I left the house Saturday’s run thinking I would be extra sluggish after eating bagels, pizza, sandwiches IMG_0362and birthday cake all day.  It was after my son’s party.  It was getting dark and it was rainy.  It was just IMG_0355one of those I-don’t-feel-like-doing-this-but-know-I-need-to runs.  I laced up, grabbed a rain jacket and got out there.  The 5 minute warm up was tedious but I did feel better to be out in the fresh air.  Once I hit the faster part of the workout though I felt surprisingly strong and was able to finish the rest of the workout at the required pace without even feeling tired or exhausted at the end.  Not every run is one of those runs where I feel amazing and like I’m nailing it so I’ve grown to appreciate those days where everything just seems to work out. 🙂

I also published this week’s video blog on YouTube!  Enjoy!

Tracking the Track

It’s been a weird couple of days.  I drove to Sioux Falls from Minneapolis and back yesterday.  The one way trip is about 4.5 hours… fancy math boop beep boop…yup, 9 hours total in the car yesterday with a few hours of working in Sioux Falls in the middle = one loooong day with very little physical activity.  I think my fitbit was something like 2,000 steps.  For the entire day.IMG_0314

So I missed my workout yesterday and needed to make it up today.  Luckily, my sons’ lacrosse practice is held in the middle of a running track at a school.  I’ve actually never done a workout on a track before so I thought I’d give it a shot.  Turns out it isn’t too bad.  Not super exciting since it’s just circles but it was a great way to get some fresh air while my guys were at practice anyway.IMG_0316

Bummer is MapMyRun does not like it when you run in small areas at all.  Here is what MapMyRun thinks I did today:IMG_0324

This is what I actually did today.  Yay for running a backup app to track the track workout!  I was just disappointed because I was really looking forward to seeing how my splits actually came out.  I think I might have been a smidge faster so let’s just say that’s how it went down since there’s no evidence to prove the contrary. 😉

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Marathon Training Recap – Week 1 (with video)

Yay!  First week of marathon training is done!  Video recap below. 🙂

This week’s workouts were really tough.  I had to push out my usual Thursday run to Friday which put some difficult speed work (for me) the day before my long run.  I will try to avoid that in the future and give myself the rest day between.  Those back to back runs were just a struggle.

Here’s what next week looks like.

training week 2

 

In other news, I took a break off of dieting.  It’s just been one of those crazy hectic weeks and I didn’t feel like logging anything which isn’t like me.  I’m not eating badly, just not counting every little thing. 🙂  Do you ever have one of those days?  Or weeks?

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Also, saw some geese yesterday on my long run.  Cute!

 

I’d App That

If you haven’t guessed already, I love documenting and tracking everything about my fitness.  Here are a few of my favorites that I use on a weekly/daily basis.

What are your favorites?  What am I missing? 🙂

  1. MyFitnessPal – I use MFP daily to track calories in/out.  (1,070 consecutive days going strong!) (Free!)
  2. MapMyRun – I signed up for the MVP access on MapMyRun (includes all MapMyFitness apps) and love this app for tracking my runs.  The route genius feature is ultimately what sold me on this over Runkeeper which was my go-to prior to MapMyRun. (Free but I payed for the MVP version, I think $20/year?)
  3. Gipis – I use Gipis for my marathon training plan.  When I start a run I initiate Gipis and MapMyRun simultaneously so the data is saved both places.  For treadmill runs I upload to both manually after my run. (Free!)
  4. Fitbit – I took a year off of Fitbit only because it was becoming something of an obsession.  However, I just picked this back up again recently to track how my steps add up with my marathon training.  I am also interested in tracking my sleep to be sure I am getting enough rest as well. (The Fitbit app is free but you purchase the device.)
  5. FitnessBuilder – I’ve been using Fitness Builder for my strength training workouts.  Right now I’m working through the dumbbells program twice a week since I have that equipment both at home and at the LA Fitness I frequent.  I like that it has timer and you can save the weights used.  The weights used on the same exercise last time are shown below which help me gauge what to use for the current workout. (Free!)
  6. Withings – This app links to some other apps I have like MFP.  I mostly use this to log my weight.  I weigh-in once per week on the scale which then sends that data to the app on my phone.  (App is free but you purchase the scale.)IMG_0268

That’s all I’ve got for now!  I’ve tried many others and either disliked or become bored with them.  Would love to know what else is out there though.  Happy Tuesday everyone!

Race Recap: Zumbro 17 Mile Trail Race

Friday night I didn’t have much to put together.  I had been picking my outfit out all week and lining things up.  Went to bed early and got a good night’s sleep.  Yesterday morning I woke up bright and early at 4:30 am.  Had plenty of time to take a shower get dressed, curl my hair, decide I wanted it braided instead, make breakfast, remember I needed sneakers, look for sneakers, forget my glasses, go back for glasses, and get to M’s house by 6:00 am.

A two hour drive from the cities to Theilman Minnesota later we arrived at the start of the Zumbro 17 mile trail race.  The race starts at the Zumbro River Bottoms campground area.  Here is info on the course and altitude for anyone interested.  The scene at the start was very laid back.  At packet pickup and check in we just gave them our names.  No scanning, no code, no ID necessary.  IMG_0076People were camping in tents with camp fires.  The weather was sunny and mild in the mid 50’s when we got there but was closer to 70 by the time we were done.  This race was the shortest distance of the event with 2 ultra marathon races already in progress.  50 miles (3 loops of the 17 mile course) and 100 miles (6 loops of the 17 mile course). 100 milers started 8:00 am the previous day and 50 milers had started at midnight on Friday.

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Just after the start, heading into the woods.

So now that the stage has been set, here’s how this thing went down and what I learned along the way.

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At the top of the first hill.

The race starts out with a brief flat straight away into the woods that immediately shoots straight up a massive incline which is the first of 4 major climbs on the course.  I don’t think I’ve ever been up something quite so steep.  I had looked at the elevation prior and realized I had 2 or 3 more of these to go.  The first couple miles M and I ran together.  She’s done plenty of these including a rim to rim to rim through the grand canyon and a major trail marathon.  This is a pretty good depiction of what I’m sure we would have looked like (picture M is Merlin and I’m the wolf):

After the first incline I was holding my own and felt pretty good but didn’t want to hold her back.  I was glad she continued on (and met her goal!).  Miles 2 through 3 were incredibly muddy.  And not a puddle here or there.  I’m talking about the super thick, sticks to your shoes nasty muck.  The course was full of giant rocks, leaves, roots.  Very different than the flat road races I’m used to.

Having just made it out of the mud and happy to be on dry land, mile 4 provided an extra special treat: SAND!  It was tough and slippery and I was happy to get out of the sand pits without breaking an ankle.

After the sand fiasco I picked up speed a little and cought up to some other racers.  I watched what they did, realizing this trail was definitely a different kind of race animal.  I walked as fast as I could up the hills.  Hydrated and took a short break at the top, jogged as fast as I could safely on the down hills.  Ran as fast as I could on any straight flat areas.

I also learned that trail racers are very chatty and super nice.  You can’t pass someone without having a conversation.  I tried once – it was super awkward I got a bunch of bad vibes.  You can talk about anything: the weather or the difficulty of the run or the nice scenery but you *have* to talk to each other and the pace is slow enough that this is doable.  I stuck with a pack of about 6 individuals (at least one was a 50 miler) from miles 6 to the finish.

Aid stations are weird.  People are super nice and helpful but it’s not the grab a cup of water or Gatorade and continue on.  There was a whole smorgasbord of snacks an beverage options.  Water, soda, candy, sandwiches, cookies, pretzels.  It all looked very tempting but I stuck to my nothing-new-on-race-day rule and skipped it all.  I only stopped at the last aid station at mile 14 for the porta-potty.  I probably could have skipped that one too but didn’t want to regret it on the next mile!

Speaking of regrets, my only true regret is not taking enough pictures.  As difficult as this race was, it was equally gorgeous.  I made the mistake of putting my phone in my jacket pocket.  When it got warmer I chucked the jacket in my hydration pack.  At the time, I was exhausted and it just felt like a hassle to get to it.

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Finished! With our wood medals, course map in the background.

The number one lesson I learned is that trail racing is NOT road racing.  At all.  I would actually call it a completely different sport.  Different crowd, different pace, different expectations, and a drastically different course.

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I finished the 16.86 miles in 4:35:40 with an average pace of 16:20.  I would have been extremely disappointed with that pace on a road race.  However, given the extreme conditions of the course, I’m damn proud of my finish at my first trail race.

Would I do it again?  You bet.