Marathon Countdown: 5 Days

So… I’m running a marathon in 5 days.  But seriously folks, *I* am running a *marathon* in *5 days*!  I’m freaking out.  Like honestly seriously really really psyched up for this race.  The good news is that this is following all the normal race feelings.  I’m almost always cool as a cucumber until I get “the” email.

(Vlog from this past Sunday.)

“The” email is the one that has all the important stuff you need to run.  It basically says this: You have to pick up your bib and swag, you need to park somewhere for that and you need to park somewhere on race day.  You need to show up on time on race day.  Remember to drink water so you don’t die.  Here’s the giant course you have to run through and here are where we’ll give you said water so you don’t die.  You have to finish by this time or else something not so cool will happen.  You can store your stuff over here and your entourage can cheer for you over there.  You can order pictures from said ordeal at this site. Etc., etc., etc.,

And so I read through this and all I can think is “oh crap”.  I actually signed up for and trained for this giant thing and now I have to go do it.  I talk myself out of the same tree every single time.  Usually it’s just the first time at that distance and this is a big one.

The real bummer about this race is there is a very EASY out.  After you run 13.1 miles you can take a simple turn, get your medal for the half marathon and call it a day.  They’ll give you the appropriate time for the half and everything.  All you have to do is stop running.  Get your banana, take your pics!  You can go home to air conditioning, naps, cupcakes, the works.  Be done in half the time!  That will be, by far the biggest challenge I am going to face on Sunday.  I know that is going to be extremely tempting.  Especially if it’s as warm as it’s going to be.

But I didn’t start this thing to run a half marathon.  Been there, done that.  This is my time, I’ve earned it, and I’m going to do this.  That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.  🙂  If you have any other words of wisdom 5 days out of a big giant thing, please share. I could use it!

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Marathon Countdown: 14 Days

Just two weeks from today I will run my first marathon.  I’ve trained as well as I can up until this point and am just getting through the next couple weeks one day at a time.  I’ve also started working on my dissertation for my Ph.D. this week which will make things a little more complicated.  I’m going to focus on balancing adding the grad work back as the running continues to taper off.

As I’m writing this I realize I didn’t write about last week’s Hot Chocolate 15K at all!  No PRs there but it was a fun day with friends and chocolate.   Here are some pics from the event.

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Also found a new bike path this week!  Every time I think I’ve run every road I can get to from my house, this town surprises me.  I really do feel lucky to live in such a run-friendly neighborhood.

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The Early Runner Gets the Sprinkler

While my tagline for this blog is “wake up, lace up, show up”, for me this mostly applies to race day.   I truly believe that a big part of being successful in anything is making the effort to just be there.  When the alarm goes off early in the morning on race day, wake up, lace up, show up has been my mantra.  Basically – just get yourself out the door and you’ll be fine.

However, this has not been my mantra for training.  I train whenever I can get it in.  I’ve assumed that as long as I get the run in at some point, I’ll be fine.  I am usually up late studying or getting my stuff/my kids stuff ready for the next day until 11:00 pm or midnight, occasionally 1:00 am these days.  I need to be up by at least 6:00 or 6:30 to get ready for my day.  The few times I’ve tried to get up early to run, I’m just too dog tired or don’t feel like it.  I also have this nagging feeling that I’ll be too sluggish to really put in a good effort and I’ll just dial in the workout instead of giving it everything I’ve got as I do with my evening or lunchtime runs.

That said, I’ve had some issues come up that have been problematic with my evening runs and the blaring facts point to switching to morning running.  So here’s the situation with the evening runs…

  1. Trouble sleeping: I’m having trouble with insomnia lately.  Just can’t fall asleep.  It’s hard to calm down by 11:00 when I may have just come home from a 45 minute run at 10:00 pm.
  2. Scheduling: Additional evening activities (golf/kayaking/kids lacrosse) are taking away from my running time so I run either super late or move my workout or scramble to finish homework at the last minute on Sunday or all of the above.
  3. Weather: It’s getting hotter.  Even in Minnesota.  My runs this weekend were brutally difficult, made worse by the blaring sun, even in the evening hours.

All of this smacked me in the face yesterday afternoon.  I looked at my husband and said “I have to start running in the mornings”.  To which he said “Good luck”.  I told him I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it and proceeded to whine and complain about waking up early.  He said “Just do it.  Put out your stuff the night before and go before your brain even registers you’re outside.”  I figured this is all easy enough for Mr.Snooze-55-times to say but whatever, maybe it’s worth trying.

My alarm this morning went off at 5:30 am.  I didn’t hit snooze.  I got up, got a drink of water.  I wanted to go back to bed but I didn’t.  I put my stuff out and went outside.  I have to say, I felt great.  It was one of my best runs I’ve had this month.  It was another speed interval workout and I was able to hit all of the intervals without issue.  The sun was just coming up and the air was cool.  As an added bonus toward the end of the run when things started to heat up, I got an unanticipated treat – sprinklers!  Getting a nice mist when you’re pouring sweat is a pretty sweet little bonus.

I was home in time to get in a half a banana and a protein shake before my shower.  I also have the luxury of knowing that this evening I have golf lessons with my boys, then some homework and plenty of time to relax with the hubs.  No 15 minutes changing, half hour running, 15 minute shower and recover.  I actually kind of hate how well this went because it means I probably need to make the effort to get out there early on a more regular basis. 🙂  Operation wake up, lace up, show up continues this week.  Stay tuned!

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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! 🙂

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!

No Meal Prep? No Problem.

Google “meal prep” and you’ll find oodles of information on how to spend a few hours one day a week to get all your food ready for the rest of the week.  I completely idolize those of you who can do this!  What a cool thing to be able to have everything ready to go.  This just wasn’t a solution for me.

So what is the alternative?  Fast food and vending machines?  No thanks.  I know my body needs actual nutrition to power me through my day at my office, my quality time with my kids, and my killer workouts.  I rely on grab and go breakfasts, lunches and snacks to get me through the day, then throw together something super fast for dinner.  I had to change the way I thought about food to get here though.  It didn’t come over night and I had to get out of my comfort zone and be creative.

Packing:
For starters, you don’t have to use fancy Tupperware or lunch bags.  I take a grocery store plastic bag, walk around my kitchen to collect all my food, then throw it in my big stuff-I-need-for-work-bag.

 

Always in my big bag: a can opener, a bowl, a fork, a spoon, a vegetable peeler, water bottle, salt & pepper and a small food scale.  (I wash utensils and stuff in the office break room or wash it when I get home.)

What to Pack – 1 minute:
You don’t have to portion things out into individual portions!  Just take the whole container. Stuff can be portioned out as you need it.  Example: Just take a whole cucumber.  I used to think I had to peel it, cut it, Tupperware it.  That takes time.  Time I don’t have.  Ranch dressing?  Throw the whole bottle in there.  Frozen veggies?  Take the whole bag.  Deli meat?  Take the whole package.  Things that can be purchased already in small containers is great too – individualize oatmeal pouches, yogurt, fruit cups, cheese sticks, etc.

Unpacking – 3 minutes:
When I get to work I take out my grocery bag of food, remove anything I don’t want refrigerated onto my desk.  Take the rest of the food and my water down to the break room.  Fridge the grocery bag and fill up my water.

Breakfasts (I like stuff I can eat in the car on the way to the office)
English muffin
Granola bar
Banana
Protein powder in water or milk or coffee

Lunches (protein + vegetable)
Deli meat (turkey, chicken, ham) with carrots
Can of tuna (straight out of the can) with a cucumber
Eggs (scrambled in the microwave) with broccoli

Snacks
Fruit
Greek yogurt
Instant oatmeal
Cheese

These are just a few ideas I’ve found helpful for me, but I’m sure there are more!

What are your go-to food and meal ideas to get you through the week?

Sister of the Year

What a great, awesome, fantastic, amazing, super-fun long weekend!  My sister (I’ll call her Pan because I can :P) lives super far away from me on the east coast but was able to take a few days to visit me all the way out here in Minnesota this weekend as her 2014 Christmas present from her hubs (totally felt like MY present too!).  We were lamenting today as she was heading out that we wished we took more pictures or did a better job documenting her time here.  We just generally spent the weekend enjoying ourselves instead of hamming it up in with selfies and facebook check-ins.  Which was a LOT of fun but now I wish we’d done more hamming!  So before I forget how awesome our weekend was I’m going to save it here instead.

Her flight was a bit delayed but she made it in more or less on schedule on Thursday.  I happened to be just getting to the airport as she got her checked baggage (super lucky, that never happens!).  Picked her up, she hadn’t had dinner yet so I fed her some left overs (sister of the year right here folks).

Friday we went grabbed some coffee at carribou, dropped my dog off at the groomer, then headed down to the city in search of some cronuts since neither of us had an opportunity to try them yet elsewhere.  Cronuts were super delicious!  Not what I was expecting but yummy.  I would say better than a croissant, but not as good as a doughnut, in my opinion.  After that we went to Panera Bread for some real food.  Pan also needed to get some productive stuff done and I needed to work on homework so we hung out there for a bit before heading back up to my suburb.  Got back to the house and caught up on a bunch of stuff – laundry, car wash, picked up the dog (See?  I’m building my case for sister of the year here).  Next we picked up the kids, took them to see the new live action Cinderella flick before finishing the day with dinner at our favorite pizza joint and some Pictionary at home.  (Hubby was at the Wild game.)

Saturday I hit the pavement with a 35 minute run in the morning.  Finally, after years of searching I found the perfect 5k loop through my neighborhood.  No busy intersections.  Virtually no overlapping and half of it is through the bike trails to get a change of scenery.  The route starts at my front door and ends at 3 miles right back at my house.  1mappicOnce everyone was up and at ’em, Pan and I ran to Target (not for the last time this weekend) for syrup and other breakfast essentials and made a big brunch with my hubby and kids.  Spent some time doing some leisure reading and hanging out then decided to go to liquor store  to grab a bottle (or three) of wine.  My 6 year old was with us and wanted to go to Target (Target run #2)  where Pan indulged him with a science kit.  In the afternoon we all went to see the Huck Fin play at the Children’s Theater.  The acting was terrific and the whole family enjoyed it.  Had some all you can eat sushi for dinner with cupcake for dessert.  Oh my goodness, so much eating but also so much fun!  Pan and I wrapped up the evening with a couple glasses of wine while working on a puzzle of Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow. (After spending over an hour trying to figure out where this nostril goes and where that chin hair goes I will never look at the man the same way again.)  One of my favorite parts of the weekend.  It was really wonderful to just relax and catch up.  I really wish we could have more time like that (love you Pan!).

Sunday we slept in before going to a nice brunch out.  Pan helped the boys make slime from the science kit.  (I let her have this as special time with my kids and didn’t intervene on their slime time. Yup, sill going for sister of the year.  :D)  Later we went to Target (Target visit #3) to pick up a present before going to the birthday party for said present.  Had a great time at the party visiting with friends.

Throughout the weekend we had been playing the who-can-pay-for-stuff fastest game.  She definitely won more than she should have.  Last night we had an arm wrestle throw down for who could pay for late night hot wings.  She WON!  Grr.  (Need to get back in the gym asap.)  We hung out, scarfed hot wings and played some card games with my hubby before we called it a night.

Today we got some coffee and swung by my favorite nail salon for some pedis.  It was great to just relax and chat.  We stopped back at the house to get her luggage, my hubby and kids then drove her to the airport.  Bummer.  Worst part of the weekend.

So there you have it.  One of the best weekends ever.  The sister of the year award definitely has to go to my sister Pan.  I couldn’t be more grateful that she took the time to come out to spend time here in Minnesota with us.  She is heading into a bunch of exciting but stressful changes and I just can’t say how much I appreciate her.  She may be my little sister but I look up to her in more ways than one.  Since we were kids: She’s into Irish dance?  I think I want to try that.  Through adulthood: She’s a runner?  I want to be a runner.  She’s getting a Ph.D?  I think maybe I’ll do that too.  I only wish we could have more cronuts, more pedis, more time for chatting and hanging out.

And… We’re Back

Back in school, that is.  With a full time job, a house full of active hockey players and running/fitness aspirations, I’ve been taking my Ph.D. studies at a relatively leisurely pace.  One class at a time. Usually with 2 or 3 week breaks in between.  I’ve taken two 3 month breaks for the past two summers to focus on the kids’ sports, the race season, and mental sanity.  That’s unfortunately not an option this Spring/Summer and the way things shake down I’m on just 1 week breaks between classes until sometime early November.

Last week was that one, short week off.  Last month I took a brief glance at the required textbooks for this class that has started this week.  One was the beloved APA manual. Got it, no worries.  Two other books were used in another course – done, no big deal.  The third was new to me so I ordered it.  Done and done.  Logged into my course yesterday to glance at the syllabus, read the instructor welcome, yada yada – essentially giving myself “class 1”.

Today I decided to gather all the books together and start going through the week’s material.  I busted open the box from Chegg (should have done that a couple weeks ago).  The used book is falling apart but at least I have it.  APA manual, have it but probably don’t need it.  (Most of that stuff is available on the internet and I’ve been writing with APA for so long I could do it in my sleep.)  Where are my Tochim and Creswell texts?  Searched all over and wouldn’t you know it?  These two happen to be the only two books I’ve ever borrowed and returned from Chegg.com prior to this course.  A quick check on my Chegg order history confirms what I was dreading.  I have never, ever, ever returned or sold a book before these two.  Not for my undergrad.  Not for my masters.  $200.00 and 15 minutes later, one text is on it’s way rush shipped to me and the other is loaded on my kindle.  Thank you technology.

The lesson here kids? DO. NOT. GET. RID. OF. YOUR. TEXTBOOKS!!!  Like, ever.

Lol Amazon.com - No.  I will not be buying this book for a third time.  Nice try though.

Lol Amazon.com – No. I will not be buying this book for a third time. Nice try though.

While it is tempting to sit here and continue to blog and research the latest and greatest running tips I will get started on my homework and do what I can.  Working in the education industry as instructor and administrator, one of the most frustrating excuses a student can give is “I don’t have my textbooks for X reason, so I didn’t do the work”.  I’m not that student.  That’s not how I roll.  My rushed book (which is the majority of this week’s reading) will be here Thursday.  In the meantime there is plenty else I can do to get started and enlighten myself on the intensely interesting and gripping subject that is quantitative research design.