Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pile on the Miles 2012

I can't believe another week has gone by. Time has felt like it is just flying by lately!

First of all, I promised some pictures of the whole crew on Halloween, so here they are:

The whole Toy Story gang: Buzz, Slinky Dog, Rex, Jesse, and Woody!

Slinky's coils didn't stay on very long...

In an effort to get my running back on track, I'm participating in Pile on the Miles 2012!

Pile on the Miles is hosted by Monica at RunEatRepeat, and it's a challenge to run more miles during the month of November. I think this is the perfect month to do it, seeing as at the beginning of the month you have tons of leftover candy from Halloween, and at the end of the month you have tons of leftover turkey from Thanksgiving :) It's also perfect for me since I could use a little extra motivation to get back into the running game.

When determining my mileage goal, of course I wanted to do something crazy like top my all time monthly high (78 miles). Instead, I settled for a more conservative goal of 50 miles. I'm only planning on running three times a week, four max, because I also want to focus on stretching and strengthening in order to prevent my ITBS from coming back. I did some leg work on Saturday, and being the overeager fool that I am, I went right back to using the same amount of weight I had been what, three months ago? It didn't feel too hard at the time, but it's been three days and I'm still sore. May want to think about taking it down a notch...

I've actually really been enjoying running in the colder temperatures, which is weird for me. I used to shy away from outdoor running during the winter months because I never did well with it in highschool. As it got colder, my running times got progressively slower, mostly because the cold air was a trigger for my asthma. Now that I seem to have outgrown my asthma (I haven't used my inhaler in years), it really isn't so bad! I just need to purchase some more cold weather running gear. Today I purchased these from Running Warehouse:

Saucony Drylete Headband
Saucony Drylete Neckwarmer

Well I'm off to get my teeth cleaned- call me crazy, but I love the dentist! After that I'm going to get some strength training and yoga in before my happy hour date with Ben :)

Did you run to your polling place yesterday?

Do you like or hate going to the dentist?

What is your must have winter running accessory?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!

Maggs started puppy preschool on Monday, so I had my first Wednesday completely "off" since we got him. I thought it would be nice to have some extra down time, but I missed him like crazy all day!

He's growing up way too fast. I took him to the vet last week for the rest of his shots and he had already gained 5 pounds! He was so roly-poly when we got him, and now he's long and lanky. He reminds me of an awkward pre-teen.

It has been really hard to find time to work out with a 3-month-old puppy to take care of. I figured since he'd be in preschool for this week and next that I could use this time to get back into a routine. Monday and Tuesday I didn't get around to it... our house hadn't yet fully recovered from our housewarming party the weekend before, so my obsessive compulsive cleaning side made a rare, but necessary appearance.

On Wednesdays I usually go to cycle class with my friend Felicity, but yesterday I was craving a run. It's starting to get chillier in Minnesota- the temperature hovered around 45 degrees- but it was perfect running weather. I managed to get 4 miles in, and averaged around 9 min miles for all except for the second mile, which was a 7:50. Apparently a good song can affect your pace dramatically :)

Speaking of songs, I just downloaded some new music to revamp my running playlist. Here's what it looks like right now:

That 7:50 mile came during songs 3 and 4...

After my run I had planned on going to yoga but ran out of time. I really need to find a way to be more diligent about stretching... you would think that I'd feel somewhat compelled to do so after all my injuries lately, but I don't.

Ben and I got home around the same time, so we went to Caribou for BOGO mochas and then to pick up our little guy from preschool. Then we got in our costumes and headed over to Carrie and CJ's for pictures and some trick-or-treating. Ben dressed up as Buzz Lightyear and I was Rex from Toy Story. Maggs was supposed to be Slinky Dog, although his costume didn't stay on for long. Carrie and Chloe were both Jesse and CJ and Charlie were both Woody. I'll post pictures of everyone as soon as I get them from Carrie (our camera died right before it was time to dress up- go figure). For now you'll have to settle for pics of Ben and I only:

To infinity... and beyond!

What did you dress up as for Halloween?

What was your favorite costume you wore as a kid?

Would you rather run in warm or cold weather?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I'm Baaaaaaack!

It has been quite some time since I graced the blogging world with my presence! I'd like to apologize for disappointing all of my loyal followers who probably checked the site every single day, hoping for a glimpse into my glamorous life (I'm looking at you, RM). While my life has been severely lacking in the running department lately, a lot of non-running-related things have happened since my last post in May.


We bought a house!

I know, crazy.

Right before we left for California, my sister-in-law saw this house for sale, brought us a flyer, and said "BUY THIS HOUSE." We didn't really think too seriously about it at first. Well once we spent an entire week with Max, my other sister-in-law's golden retriever that we dog-sat for in California, we had some major puppy fever. No, we didn't buy the house just so we could get a dog, but we knew we would need to move out of the apartment we were currently living in if we ever wanted to get one.

A week after we got back from California, we met with a realtor and and a lender. You know, "just to see" if this is something we wanted to do. A week after that we put an offer on the house, a couple days later it was accepted, and we closed on August 24th. BAM BAM BAM- just like that. If you know me personally, it shouldn't surprise you at all that we only looked at one house and the process only took a couple weeks.

Fast forward another month to September 27th. We had agreed we wanted to wait a couple months to get a dog- Christmastime sounded like a good plan to us. We knew we wanted a male golden retriever, and Ben wanted him to look like Max, so he had to be medium-colored. I had a breeder all picked out (mostly because they charged about $600 less than any other breeder I could find) and I was watching their website like a hawk for when the next litter would be born. They posted that a medium-colored litter was born on the 27th and would be ready in late November/early December. Ben and I talked about it, decided we were ready, so I called that morning. Except wait a minute- all the males were gone already!!

I went to work really disappointed, so my friend Brenda vowed to help me find a golden retriever puppy. We came across an ad in the classifieds for male goldens on a farm about an hour south of here, and for about half the price the breeder was charging. The only catch was that they were 9 weeks old and ready go NOW, rather than two months from now. So what do you think we did?

We went and picked up this little guy, of course!

Meet Magglio, aka Maggs :)

He'll eventually be my running partner, but we'll have to wait until he's at least a year old so we don't put too much stress on his joints.

So when I said a lot has happened, I wasn't really exaggerating ;)

As far as running goes, however, not much has happened...

Not much at all.

I started my marathon training after three weeks off of running due to my most recent bout with ITBS. To make a long story short, my IT band never fully healed, and I just kept getting more and more discouraged until I just stopped running altogether. I didn't run my goal half in August, and I definitely didn't run the Chicago Marathon. Which brings my grand total of DNS marathons in the last thirteen months to two.

When I finally decided not to run Chicago, I initially felt like a failure. This was the second marathon I'd registered for in a year and for the second time I wouldn't be toeing the line. But then I started thinking about why I wanted to run a marathon so bad in the first place. And I couldn't think of a good reason.

Runners are a different breed. We constantly strive to be better, and once we meet our goals, that still doesn't seem like enough. So we set new ones. I have a very competitive personality in general, and although I'm not fast by any means, running brings out my competitiveness even more. Even if I run a great time, I get disappointed that I didn't run a minute faster. So naturally, after running three half-marathons, the logical next step seems to be a marathon. And a lot of the runners I know are running marathons. So to be a better runner, I need to run a marathon. Right?

But my body isn't built for marathon training- at least in the condition it is now. I've found that if I stick to running three days a week, and definitely no more than four, I can stave off injury. And it's hard to run enough miles to train for a marathon on three days a week. It seems that no matter how much strength training or yoga I do, this ITBS will keep coming back if I push myself past a particular weekly mileage threshold.

Right now, there are no races on my calendar (except for a fun run Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving). For now I'm just going to run because I love to run. Run because it's good for my health. Run because having a 3 month old puppy can be a little stressful at times... :) Racing season in Minnesota pretty much over, but come spring I'm sure my calendar will start filling up with 5ks, 10ks, and 13.1s.

No marathons... but that is more than okay with me.

Have you ever made a big life decision on a whim?

Does running ever bring out  your competitive spirit?

If your a baseball fan, who do you want to win the World Series?

The hubby and I are HUGE Detroit fans... GO TIGERS!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My New Goal Half and Recent Race Cancellations

Since I am currently en route to California with a lot of flight time still left on my hands (I can never sleep on planes), I figured I would once again grace the blogging world with my presence.

The reality of the matter is that it’s hard to keep up a running blog when you haven’t been running. Even more so when you’re doing anything and everything else to distract yourself from the fact that you haven’t been running. Shocking.

Rewind to a couple weeks ago on May 13th. I had gradually worked my way back to running 3 miles, three times a week. But I was still feeling that all too familiar twinge of ITBS here and there on my runs. Obviously, I was going nowhere fast on the road to recovery. So I decided to take three full weeks off of running and focus on strength training, yoga, and cross training (although since I loathe cross training, I’ve been doing mostly strength training and yoga). I’ve mostly been focusing on my core, hips, butt, hamstrings, and quads, and I’ve been seeing good progress in the strength department. Taking these three weeks off allows me exactly enough time to complete Hal Higdon’s 18-Week Novice I Marathon Training Program before Chicago in the fall. I picked this plan because the mileage starts small (15 mpw) and works you up to 40 mpw very gradually. There is also no speedwork, but I can work some of that in later once I’m back to 100%.

I also picked my new goal half marathon! I’ll be racing the Urban Wildland Half Marathon in Richfield, MN on August 4th. This race has been advertised as Minnesota’s “green” race and describes the course as “mostly flat and fast.” I’ll only have 8 weeks to train for it, and I’ll just be following my marathon training plan. The plan actually prescribes a half marathon the same weekend that this one takes place, so it kind of felt like fate.

Urban Wildland Half Marathon

The time of has been brutal- now I understand why people go nuts during their marathon taper. I’ve thought about lacing up my running shoes several times in the last couple weeks, but I just keep reminding myself that I’ll only be prolonging my injury rather than letting it heal.

In other news, the Midwest has been facing some uncharacteristically high temperatures for May, and as a result, race cancellations have been a problem. The Green Bay Marathon was cancelled after the start last weekend, the Madison Marathon was just cancelled, and there is speculation that the Med City Marathon (my original goal half) may also be cancelled tomorrow. The La Crosse Marathon was also cancelled, albeit for thunderstorms, not heat. I understand that the race directors take a lot of factors into consideration before they cancel a race, but it seems that a lot of runners are angry, and I totally get why. You can train for months and pay a hefty race fee, only to not be able to run or even get a refund. But at what point does it become the race director's responsibility to "save runners from themselves" and not even allow them to start?  

I am so excited to be on my way to California! We’ll be dog-sitting for the first part of trip while my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and nephew are in Georgia. I foresee a lot of walks and lounging by the pool in my near future!

What are your thoughts on cancelling a race due to heat? Have you ever been registered for a race that was cancelled?

Taper time- do you enjoy it, or does it drive you crazy?

What are your plans for Memorial Day weekend?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chi Running and the Problem with Comparisons

Hi everyone! My friend Rachael complained to me on Friday that she hadn't felt inspired all week because of my recent lack in blogging. My excuse was something like, "It's hard to blog about running when I'm not really running." Nevertheless, I feel compelled to deliver an extra-inspirational post today ;)

First of all, I found my new favorite drink today:

Starbucks Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappucino

Yes, that is chocolate whip cream on top. And yes, you should go buy one right now. It was life-changing.

I've been making progress (albeit slow progress) with my ITBS as of late. You may remember that I had scheduled an appointment with a physical therapist last week. Well, after finding out that it would cost $200 out of pocket for the initial consultation, I decided to just stick with deep tissue massage and my own strengthening exercises. And, I'm happy to say that over the last two weeks I've gotten three pain-free 3-mile runs in. My knee has still been sore, but no debilitating pain, which I couldn't be happier about.

I feel that I owe at least some of the credit for my pain-free runs to a little movement you may have heard about called "Chi Running." I haven't read the book (although I'm contemplating buying it), but the Chi Running website features a little blurb about IT band syndrome and how you can alter your running form to help keep the pain at bay. The two main things it talks about is keeping your pelvis level (both front-to-back and side-to-side), as well as making sure your feet are landing midfoot either directly below your body or right behind it. I've been mostly concentrating on the pelvis part, because I think the side-to-side movement is what's really screwing with IT band. On my 3 mile run yesterday, I noticed that I felt a slight twinge when I got lazy and started ignoring my hip movement, but as soon as I corrected it, the pain was gone! I'm going to continue to implement these Chi Running principles into my training, and hopefully once I'm fully healed it will keep me from suffering from this injury in the future.

I have a bit of sad news, although it comes accompanied by much happier news! I won't be running the Med-City half-marathon on May 27th, because we're going to California to meet my new nephew, Henry! :) He's two months old now, and we can't wait to see him. There will be many more races to sign up for, but we'll never get to see Henry this little again.

Alright, time for a more serious topic- yes, even more serious than my injury ;) Lately I've been struggling with comparing myself to other runners- whether it be people I know personally, people I don't know at the gym, or other running bloggers I've never even met. And I know I'm not the only one who struggles with this. Racing brings out the competitive nature in all of us, whether we're racing against others to place in our age group, or just racing against ourselves for a new PR. It can be disappointing when we don't meet a time goal, especially if someone running their first race ever makes the time goal we missed look silly. Or if someone runs a much better time than you (a time you'd kill for!) and yet they're disappointed about it. But that's the thing- we all fall differently on the spectrum when it comes to talent. For example, I just read in the most recent issue of Runner's World that if you can run a sub-25:00 5K, you're a "serious runner." I was confused- by whose standards am I a "serious runner?" I definitely don't consider myself one, but I know that some of my friends might, based solely on my race times. In comparison, I consider women who run sub-20:00 5Ks serious runners. It's all about personal perception. Another example- last fall while running a half-marathon, I passed two girls with shirts on that said "Friends don't let friends run 5Ks." I wanted to smack them across the face- especially since I had three friends who were running their first ever 5K that day, which is a HUGE accomplishment!

My point is, some of us have to work really hard for a sub-30:00 5K, while others might run a sub-2:00 half marathon with minimal training. But as one of my friends told me today, it's those of us who have to work harder for our goals that achieve the greater satisfaction. I definitely think a sub-1:50 half marathon is within my reach, once I'm 100% again. Even though that may not be fast by some people's standards, I've worked hard for it, and endured injuries for it. And when I DO run a sub-1:50 half, I'm going to be ecstatic about it, no matter what everyone else's finishing times are. But first I have to focus on getting healthy :)

What was the highlight of your week?

Any long runs/races this past weekend?

Have you ever struggled with comparing yourselves to other runners?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Status Update: INJURED

Long time, no blog.

Truth is, this post is about two weeks in the making. Long story short, I haven't been running. And when I so badly want to run but can't, I don't really want to blog about running. It has even become hard for me to read blogs of fellow runners, because although I'm happy reading about your awesome training runs and races, it saddens me just a little because I wish I could be out there doing the same thing!

Why am I wallowing in my own self-pity, you ask? Well, let's start from the beginning...


It all started when I ran all of my workouts at a faster pace than I normally do two weeks ago. I ran my tempo run at 10K race pace, and my easy and long runs at about an 8:40/mile pace (for comparison, I should be running them at closer to a 9:15/mile pace). Normally I'm usually pretty good at reigning in the speed on my easy and long runs, but I was feeling a bit discouraged about my recent race and speed workouts, so I ran my long run faster as a way of "proving myself" to myself.

Do I even need to tell you what happens next?

...Let's just say it didn't work out too well.

I took my first ice bath ever after my long run (10 miles) that Sunday, and I had barely any soreness Monday, which is my day off. On Tuesday I went out for a 3 mile easy run, and right around mile 2 is when I felt it... the all-too familiar twinge of ITBS in my lateral knee. I stopped and stretch for a quick minute, then kept running.

As you might recall, I've had a couple random twinges over the past few months, but it never came back during my next run, so I just attributed it as some sort of fluke. I took Wednesday off and went to PiYo, figuring the ITBS would be gone by Thursday. But when I went out for my easy run that day, it came back- right at mile 2 again. I stretched and then ran home, freaking out a little bit more with each step.

When I got home, I wanted to cry. Pain during two consecutive runs definitely warranted some unplanned time off, but I felt like I couldn't afford to take time off. I haven't gotten in as much quality speedwork as I'd like to, and my longest run so far has been 10 miles. But then I decided I'd rather finish this half marathon (whether or not I make my time goal) than have to drop out of it. So I reluctantly took a 5-day hiatus from running.


I was hoping I had caught this round of ITBS early on enough that I hadn't do too much damage. I was also really proud of myself for making the smart decision to take a little bit of time off (definitely not what my normal type A, extremely competitive self would have done in the past). I went for a 3 mile run the following Wednesday and didn't have any debilitating pain- a bit of tightness, but I figured it was on the mend. I went to yoga immediately after as well, and the next day my hip and leg feel great. I made plans to go for my originally scheduled 6 mile run on Friday, but vowed to take it easy and stop at the first sign of pain.

Initially, I planned to run my 6 mile run in two 3 mile loops, so that if I did need to stop, I wouldn't be too far from home. Once I got 1.5 miles in, I was feeling good, so I decided to be ambitious and run a larger loop. Stupid me... if I would have waited until the 2.5 mile mark, when my ITBS decided to make an unwanted appearance, I would have only been half a mile from home instead of 2 miles. Not only was the walk a mental struggle (some tears may have been shed), but 29 degrees with windchill is also much colder when you're walking, not running.

I've read a lot about ITBS online- research articles, Runner's World forums, you name it. But clearly I'm not an expert, so I decided to seek the help of one. I saw a sports medicine doctor at Mayo this past Tuesday and he confirmed what I already knew. He noticed that my hip muscles were weak (again, not new to me) but he also saw that my right hip is slightly higher than my left, and my right kneecap faces slightly more inward than my left. He thinks that these minor biomechanical issues are the reason I've only had problems with my right IT band. I have an appointment with a physical therapist on Monday and I'm planning on going, although I'm assuming I've already seen the majority of the exercises they're going to show me. I'm hoping they'll give me a routine to follow though, because then I'm more likely to stick to it.

I'm registered for a 10K this Sunday, but I'm planning on dropping down the 5K and taking it easy. I haven't run since last Friday, and I won't be running until the race (the elliptical and I have been spending a lot more time together, though). I'm hoping I can get this resolved so that I can run my half-marathon, which is four weeks from this Sunday. I don't know if I'll be able to make my goal time, but there will be more halfs to register for this summer. Right now I'm taking the pressure off and just focusing on getting back to doing what I love- RUNNING!

What have YOU been up to these past few weeks? Any races?

What is the longest amount of time you've been sidelined for an injury?

Have you ever sought professional help for an injury?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Shoe Problem and the Best Tempo Run EVER!

Saucony Kinvara 2

Yes, I bought them. And yes, I have a shoe problem.

I've been wanting a pair of lightweight shoes for my tempo/speed workouts, and I've had my eyes on these babies for awhile. I knew the Kinvara 3 would be coming out soon, so I've just been waiting and waiting for these to go on sale. And on Monday, they FINALLY did.

I found a steal of a deal at they had the Kinvara 2 on sale for $49.99! Plus, if you sign up as a DSW Rewards member, you get free standard shipping. They also have three other colors available. You have to hurry if you want to score this deal, though- sizes are selling out all over the place! If you do miss out though, the Running Warehouse has them on sale for $64.91, and they have free 2 day shipping.

Mine are scheduled to arrive on Monday, but I'm crossing my fingers that they'll get here tomorrow :)

In other news, this morning I had one of the best tempo runs I've had in awhile (quite arguably the best ever... or at least in this training cycle). After my 10K, I was feeling a little discouraged about my ambitious half-marathon goal. Although I ran a PR, I didn't sub-50:00, and I think I would feel a whole lot better about my goal HM in May if I could do that in my next 10K. I considered not taking a cut back week after my race, but ultimately decided it would be best, and I'm glad I did- my body definitely needed the rest. I hadn't been increasing my mileage before my cut back week because I had two races two weekends in a row, so my mileage hovered in the 19/20 mpw range. This is the first week I'm starting to ramp it back up:

Monday: REST
Tuesday: 3 mi. easy
Wednesday: PiYo, 15 min stairmaster, 15 min elliptical
Thursday: 6 mi. tempo
Friday: 3 mi. easy
Saturday: PiYo or yoga?
Sunday: 10 mi.

Is it weird how excited I am to get back into the double digits on Sunday??

Anyways, back to that amazing tempo run I was telling you about.

My hips and butt were more than a little sore from PiYo yesterday, so I wasn't exactly sure how well this run was going to go. But after my warm up mile I was feeling good. I was aiming for 4 miles at an 8:15/mi. pace.

Mile 1 (warm-up): 8:57

Mile 2: 8:06- Hmmm, maybe I started a little too fast. I could barely hold 8:00/miles for the first half of my 10K, how can I expect to hold 8:00/miles for 4 miles during a training run?

Mile 3: 7:56- I ran a sub-8:00 mile during a training run! This never happens!

Mile 4: 7:58- Another sub-8:00? Is my Garmin broken?

Mile 5: 8:08- Ok, now I'm getting a little tired...

Mile 6 (cool down): 9:03

Total time: 50:09
Average pace: 8:22

After I finished, I realized if I would have ran 0.2 more miles, I could have run a 10K PR... during a training run.

Honestly, I think this may have been just the encouragement I needed for my upcoming races! :)

Has your training been encouraging or discouraging lately?

How many pairs of running shoes do you own? Favorite brand?

Any big plans for the weekend?

What's your favorite Easter tradition?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Running "Naked": Leave the Tunes at Home

I think that sometimes we get so caught up in reaching our racing goals, we forget how much we just love to run :)

On Sunday, I went for a glorious 7 mile run. It was seriously one of the most enjoyable runs I've had in a long time. Don't get me wrong- I always enjoy running (except maybe during track workouts...) but this one was special. Why? Because I left my Garmin and iPod at home.

Of course I didn't do this by choice- I realized both were dead right before I left. In fact, I almost skipped this run altogether. I woke up with a head cold on Sunday, and then I had a headache from doing a lot of cleaning with bleach products. But then I looked at the weather forecast for Monday, and seeing as it would be 20 degrees cooler with 25 mph winds, I decided I should just suck it up and go.

I started out with a 4 mile loop, and I can't even describe to you how good I felt. It's been so long since I last ran without music, I forgot what my footstrikes and breathing sounded like. And at the risk of sounding super cheesy, it was a beautiful day outside- 60 degrees, a light breeze, birds chirping- the whole shebang. When I got home, the door was locked- which meant Ben had gone to play with our niece and nephew at the park. So I ran another mile to there and played with them for a little while too. Then I finished with 2 more miles, ending at Carrie and CJ's house, where we cooled down with a game of baseball.

Total: 7 miles
Time: No clue, easy by feel :)

I just received the latest issue of Runner's World in the mail on Wednesday, and one of the articles inside, called "Tech Time-Out," made a lot of good points about running "naked" (meaning sans-techonology- get your mind out of the gutter).

Some of my favorite points (from Runner's World):

1. Checking your pace, distance, and heart rate every few minutes means you're focusing more on numbers than on your body's cues.

2. "As much as numbers sometimes motivate us, they sometimes limit us," she says. "We all have this number in our head--we think we can't perform well unless we're at that exact spot, and we limit ourselves to that number." But by blinding yourself to the various digits, you might push past your own barriers and discover another level of running.

3. Good tunes can get us through a long, boring run, or drown out the chitchat of the people power-waling on the treadmills next to you. But music can also block sensory feedback your body is trying to give you, and be a distraction. For example, when you run with earbuds, you're missing out on the sound of your breathing and your footstrikes--important clues that give you an idea of how hard your working, says Underhill.

4. Listening to music all the time, every time, means it loses its value too. "You can become desensitized to its motivating effects," says Ben Greenfield, an exercise physiologist, certified coach, and author of Run With No Pain.

It's no secret that I've become quite dependent on my running gadgets. On easy days, I'll sometimes leave my Garmin at home- but I ALWAYS have my iPod with me. But I think I'll start saving the tunes for harder runs, like speed workouts and long runs. I've gotten so used to basing my "easy pace" on the numbers my Garmin shows me, rather than the sound of my breathing and my footstrikes- both of which are drowned out by my iPod.

I think I could definitely benefit from running "naked" a couple times a week. My hope is that it will improve the quality of my training runs, and as a result, allow me to run faster and perform better in my upcoming races.

Do you always run with either your watch or an iPod?

How often do you run "naked?"

Any big plans for the weekend- racing or otherwise?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Race Recap: Race for Research 10K

Today I ran the Race for Research 10K, which is organized by the Mayo School of Health Sciences Program in Physical Therapy. I love racing, but I love it even more when I know my money is going to a good cause, so I was happy to learn that all of the proceeds go to the Foundation for Physical Therapy. It was a fairly small race, but I think in the coming years they'll start getting more entries. The course was flat and fast, and the weather was perfect for racing.

I left work an hour early last night to make sure I got enough sleep. My pre-race routine was a little thrown off by the fact that we had no bananas, but I didn't let it phase me too much. We got to Soldier's Field around 8:15 to pick up my race packet, and I got to chat with my friend and roommate from last year, Kim, who's in Mayo's DPT program. I jogged about a half-mile to warm up, stretched, and then headed over to the start line.

Like last week, the race was gun-timed, so I started pretty close to the front. I wasn't sure if I was ready to conquer my sub-50:00 goal yet, but I decided to aim for it anyways, and tried to stay around a 8:00 min/mile pace. My first three mile splits were fantastic:

Feelin' good.

The course was set up as a 5K loop, so the 5K runners ran it once and the 10K runners ran it twice. I tried to ignore all of the 5K runners finishing and made the turn for my second 5K loop. There weren't many 10K runners at all- during mile 4 I could see only one guy in front of me and nobody behind me. The lack of spectators- and people in general, for that matter- didn't do much for my mentality, and my pace started to slow.

No longer feelin' good.

Right around the 5 mile marker there was a switch back, and I noticed there was a woman about 100 meters behind me. I had passed her around mile 2, but she was looking strong. I couldn't recall having seen any women in front of me- if there were any, they had to be waaaaaay in front of me. I knew if I was in first, I'd be ticked if I let this girl pass me- because let's face it, how many times does an average runner like me get a chance to win a race? So I picked up the pace and was able to shake her in the last mile.

Time: 52:02* (New PR!)
Average pace: 8:23
1st female

Shortly after I finished, my name was called- turns out I was top female! My prize was a $30 Trader Joe's gift card, which just so happens to be the same amount the race registration was. In the end, I paid for my race with chocolate covered almonds, wine, and various other goodies.

Random beers, wine, Clif bars, chocolate, dark chocolate-covered almonds,
bananas, coffee, bananas, granola bars, an dried fruit paid for my race.

This race was really small- since the results aren't up, I don't know exact numbers- but I think only 15-20 women ran the 10K. But SO WHAT?! I'm totally owning this win. It's not like I didn't have any close competition, and it involved some serious guts on my part towards the end of the race. So although it's probably a freak occurrence and may never happen again, I'm going to enjoy my moment in the spotlight... perhaps by overindulging in the bottle of wine I bought with my winnings.

My next race is the Spring Fling Diva Run 10K on April 28th. I'm going to be ready to run that sub-50:00 10K!

What was the highlight of your week?

When is your next race?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Race Recap: Lucky Green 5K

Yesterday I ran the Lucky Green 5K, a small race organized by the Rochester Track Club and the Running Room in Rochester. This was its fourth year running and they had a record number of participants (154). It was also the first year they didn't have to use ice melt on the course- we've had record high temps in the 70s and 80s all week!

I got up around 6:45 and had my regular pre-run Eggo with peanut butter and banana. I headed to the race around 8 and met up with my friend Felicity. Since it was a small race, the only bathroom available was a single bathroom inside the Running Room, so we hopped in line for that pretty early. After that we went for a short jog around the parking lot and did some stretching, then met up with Ben right before the race.

We all walked over to the start line together, which was about a block away. The race was gun-timed, not chip-timed, so I started pretty close to the front. I knew I probably couldn't hang with half the guys up there, but they weren't going to stop me from getting a PR!

The race director yelled, "Runners to your mark... GO!" (small race, remember?) and we were off.

Showin' the guys what's up- for about a quarter of a mile.

Remember how I said I couldn't hang with the guys at the start line? Well I definitely couldn't, but I tried for about a quarter of a mile, before I looked down at my Garmin and realized I was holding a 6:45 pace. Definitely not where I wanted to be! So I dialed it down, let a few women pass me, and settled in around a 7:30 pace instead. I needed to average 7:40 min/miles to make my ambitious goal of sub-24:00, or 8:00 min/miles to make my secondary goal of sub-25:00.

The first mile flew by- literally. 7:30ish. I can't tell you my exact splits, because I'm an idiot and didn't turn the Auto Lap on my Garmin back on after my speedwork sesh last week. You can bet this came back to haunt me later in the race- stay tuned.

Second mile was a little tougher. The course was flat the whole way, great for racing a PR. I monitored my lap pace a little bit more during this mile, and it had slowed to 7:38- funny, because I felt like I had slowed down more than that. Turns out since I turned the Auto Lap off, the entire race was my "lap" and I had really ran around a 7:46 second mile, and my average pace for both miles had dropped to 7:38.

The third mile was not so good. I felt like I might throw up, or possibly pass out, probably from sustaining a pace I wasn't quite sure my body could handle for 2+ miles. So when I looked down at my Garmin it said my pace was hovering around 7:45, I was (again) slightly confused. I (again) felt like I was running much slower than that, but I still hadn't realized my mistake, and thought, "I might as well slow down, because I can afford to give up a few seconds and still make my sub-24:00 goal."

Imagine my surprise when 100 meters from the finish I catch a glimpse of the race clock, which says 23:57.

At that moment, it all clicked, and I thought, "Well, crap." So I used the small amount of energy I had left to sprint to the finish.

Final time: 24:22* (Post-high school PR)
Average pace: 7:51
9th female (out of 86)
1st in 20-29 age group (out of 29)

While I was disappointed I didn't break 24:00, once I got over it I was extremely happy with my shiny new, sub-25:00 PR. I just know I can break 24:00 at my next 5K- whenever that might be. No plans for one yet, but obviously I'm using a separate tab on my browser to search for one right this second.

I left shortly after I got done because I had very little time to shower and get ready for work. I didn't even know I had won my age group until I checked the official results today! I was pretty excited when I found that out. I emailed the race director, and he said they're holding my award for me.

Next up: MSHS Race for Research 10K next Saturday, March 24th

You better believe both my Garmin and I will be ready!

Anybody else race on St. Patty's Day? How'd it go?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Track Party and Carb Loading

Yesterday I did my first track workout since highschool, and it went surprisingly well. And by surprisingly well, I mean I survived.

I did 6x400 at 5K goal pace with 400m recovery in between. I HATE 400s... I had to block out the flashbacks of Coach Hofacker yelling out my split times on 400 repeat day at high school track practice.

When I was a freshman, neither me nor my coaches knew what event I was good at. They threw me in the mile (sucked). Then they tried me at the 800 (sucked even more). They even entered me in the 800 at a couple more meets to see if I would improve (still sucked). Then they put me in the 400, and I ran a 1:06 (or 1:07- I don't remember). Seeing as I wasn't absolutely terrible, they were all "The 400 is your event!" and I was all "YAAAAAAAAY I'm good at something!" Then they got all fancy and tried to talk race strategy with me, and I never ran under a 1:10 after that. I'm pretty sure I ran a 1:15 at regions. Turns out I was never good at the 400, it was just a fluke. It took until my junior year for us to figure out "my event"- the 100m hurdles. And we didn't have a track, so I only got to practice once or twice a week when we used another school's track. But I digress.

The track I ran on yesterday is the only public track in town (all the high schools lock up their tracks) and it's measured in yards. So I relied on my trusty Garmin to mark my start and end points (which were different every time). It was also made of dirt mixed with pieces of rubber... not the most glamorous, but its squishiness still felt better than asphalt.

Here's what my splits looked like (yes, I am aware that I am extremely speedy):

1:59, 1:58, 1:54, 1:49, 1:56, 1:53

Slowest pace: 7:51
Fastest pace: 7:21
Average pace: 7:41

Clearly my consistency could still use some work. But my average pace came out right around my 5K goal pace, and I'll take that as a small victory. Never mind that I felt like I was dying and I'm not sure how I'll hold that pace for 3.1 miles on Saturday.

Today is the start of one of my favorites times of year- MARCH MADNESS. It is the one time of year that I can pretend that I am an expert college basketball analyst for ESPN and pick my bracket based solely upon which teams I like and dislike because I haven't had time to a watch a game in its entirety all year. I won't tell you how good my bracket is doing for fear of jinxing it, but I will tell you that it's doing pretty darn good.
I took a half-day at work today, not JUST to watch basketball, but because we were fully staffed without me on the schedule and because a day of work sandwiched between two days off is never fun for anyone. I picked up an order of boneless wings from B-dubs (that's Buffalo Wild Wings, for those of you who have been living under a rock) for Ben and I to enjoy. I've also had two 16 oz. Coors Lights (the 24-pack of big cans was only $2 more than the 24-pack of 12 oz. cans- ummm, yes please!) and a mint Dilly Bar when we went to visit the niece and nephew. Did I mention that I'm trying to eat healthy before my race on Saturday? Ben was quick to point out that it's only a 5K, and in high school he would eat cake before races. I mean, beer has carbs... right?

Do you try to eat healthier in the days leading up to a race?

How is your bracket doing? Who do you have winning it all? 
I've got Michigan State and North Carolina in the final game, with the Spartans taking it all.

Do you try to eat healthier in the days leading up to a race?

Monday, March 12, 2012


Long time no blog!

Last week was a good running week. Had a good 5-mile tempo run (where I actually stayed within my tempo pace range) on Thursday:

Tempo run success!

On Saturday I went to a PiYo class with a different instructor than I normally have. It was SO MUCH HARDER than my normal class! But it was good for me to push myself. After that I did an easy 2-miler on the treadmill, during which I felt a slight twinge of ITBS (eek!). Rather than stop running completely, I stopped and stretched, then finished the run. Probably not smart on my part, especially because it was only 2 miles. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time with my foam roller on Saturday. I was really nervous for my long run Sunday, because I knew that if my ITBS was back, I most likely wouldn't be able to make it past mile 2. But mile 2 came and went, as did mile 3, and 4, and so on... Although I felt some tightness, I finished all 9 miles with ZERO PAIN! And I finally mastered the whole "easy pace" thing. Although I started out closer to 9:00 miles and ended closer to 10:00 miles, my average pace ended up being 9:30. Easy peasy!

Probably the best part of my long run was that Ben ran all 9 miles with me! He's not quite sure, but this may be the farthest he's ever ran, and if not, it's at least the farthest he's ran since high school. I thought he was just going to run the first 2 miles with me and then turn around, but he decided pretty early on that he would stick it out for all 9. Even though I suspect he only did it to prove to me that he's better than me at EVERYTHING, I appreciated the company :) I tried to convince him to run the Med-City half with me in May, but he's not to keen on the idea. He says he won't be running that far again in a very long time... but we'll see if I can change his mind! He ran an 18:00 5K in high school, so he could be pretty awesome runner if he wanted to. Let's be honest- he could beat my half marathon PR without even training. He amazes me, yet makes me angry at the same time ;)

Spring has come a little early this year, as we've been having some fantastic weather in Stewartville lately. Here's what our 10-day forecast is looking like:

Weather is looking good for 5K race day (St. Patty's Day)!

My favorite was this warning that we saw right before our long run on Sunday:

Watch out folks- it's a HEAT WAVE!

This is what my week is looking like in terms of workouts:

Monday: REST
Tuesday: 3 mi. easy
Wednesday: Cycle class
Thursday: 5 mi. speedwork (maybe some mile repeats?)
Friday: Yoga
Saturday: 5K race
Sunday: 10 mi. long

Would you rather run with a friend/significant other or run alone?

What is your favorite season for running (spring/summer/fall/winter)?

I'd have to say mine is probably spring!

Do you plan your workouts at the beginning of the week, or just go with the flow?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Recovery Week and My Next Race

This week was a much needed recovery week. I ran three easy runs consisting of 3-4 miles each and did some cross-training (spin class and elliptical). I also got a deep tissue massage on Wednesday- it hurt so good! The last time I got a massage was during my terrible bout of ITBS, and my massage therapist had told me I had some of the tightest IT bands she'd ever seen! This time she had much better things to say about my IT bands, and about my legs in general. "All I felt was the normal tightness I always see in runners," she said. "Keep doing what you're doing!" Don't mind if I do :)

I have been having some shin pain off and on since I got back from California. Although my return to outdoor running has been nothing short of glorious (save for my windburned face and cold ears), I suspect that running on pavement three times a week after not having run on pavement in three months might have something to do with the pain. Just a hunch. And the fact that my shoes aren't entirely broken in probably doesn't help either. It's not excruciating pain- just a dull, aching pain that I sometimes feel while running and after standing for long periods of time at work. So I ordered some of these to help with recovery time:

CEP Compression Calf Sleeves

They're supposed to get here Tuesday. Can't wait!

My cross country coach in high school always told us, "If you had shins splints, you wouldn't be able to walk!" I don't know how much truth there is to that statement, but nonetheless, it's always stuck with me! So I've been running through the little pain that I have been having, taking ibuprofen, and icing. I've seen some improvement this week, and hopefully I will be back to 100% in the next few days.

My first race of this year is two weeks from yesterday- the Lucky Green 5K! I've really missed the excitement and adrenaline rush that comes with running a race. Plus, I think I'm in the best shape I've been for a 5K since I was in high school. My realistic goal is to finish in under 25:00, but I'm going to try to get under 24:00. Either way, I would be running about as fast as I was senior year of high school. Although that may not be very "fast" for some people, I'd still be pretty excited about it! :)

I've already planned out my workouts for this week and I'm pretty excited about them:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 3 mi. easy + strength
Wednesday: Cycle class
Thursday: 5 mi. tempo
Friday: 2 mi. easy
Saturday: PiYo
Sunday: 9 mi. long

Did you do anything exciting this weekend?

When was the last time you got a massage?

Any upcoming races?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spin Class > Arc Trainer and How I Survived a Wind Advisory

Let's start from the beginning of the weekend- Saturday morning.

Spin class started at 8:15 in the morning, and I hadn't cross-trained all week so I decided to wake up early and go. Ben doesn't like to work out until later, so we agreed to go separately. I got to the gym 10 minutes before class started, which seemed like plenty of time to me. Turns out the class was already full (people were getting turned away when I walked in). I foolishly thought that an early Saturday spin class would be half-empty- I guess I underestimated how many hardcore people work out at my gym. Oh well, on to plan B.

The elliptical and the bike both bore the heck out of me (I can only bike in spin class where there's good music and the instructor yells commands at me), so I decided to give the arc trainer a try. It was... interesting. I think I liked it better than the elliptical, but not by much. It's supposed to target more muscle groups and burn more calories than the elliptical, but I didn't feel like it did either. The leg motion just felt super awkward to me. The day wasn't a total loss though- I got in some abs and arms as well. But this week I'm going to spin class on Wednesday (like I normally do) to avoid another cross-train fail.

I ate like crap yesterday.  I was actually doing really well until dinner- I bought some grapes and apples and baby carrots (since I never get enough fruits and veggies) and snacked on those instead of Samoas. Satisfying enough. But then we met up with some friends for dinner at Whistlebinkie's, and it was all downhill from there. Ben and I both got a sampler platter OF BEER!

Ben purposely obscured my face with bright
sunlight so that you would focus on the most
important thing in this picture- BEER.

It was nothing short of awesome. You get 4 oz. of six different beers, all for $6. So basically, the equivalent of two beers for $6. Pretty sweet deal, in my opinion. Then I had the BBQ bacon cheeseburger with fries, like I always do because I'm afraid to branch out. I thought about getting a salad but figured it wouldn't be satisfying enough, and I would just leave hungry and eat a bunch of Samoas when I got home. In hindsight, perhaps I should have given that salad a chance.

I don't really need to LOSE weight, and I by no means watch what I eat (quite the opposite, actually). But if I want to race a PR in May, I don't need any extra pounds slowing me down. I think I'm at my healthy weight right now- I only go overboard every once in awhile (like last night), but I never go to bed feeling hungry, either. I got to my lowest weight senior year of college, but I was grumpy because I rarely ate what I want and when I did indulge, I got upset with myself. I'd rather weigh 5 lbs. more and eat what I want.

Sorry for the random rant about watching my weight. My point is, I just want to maintain the weight I'm at now. And BBQ bacon burgers every weekend probably aren't the answer :)

Today I went for a run that really tested my mental toughness. It was 41 degrees outside, which would normally be perfect, except the 25 mph winds with gusts of 45 mph made it feel like way less than that. I did 7.5 miles total in 1:09:30. Ben ran the first 2 miles with me before he turned around, which helped a little. At one point my headband flew off, and I had to run back to get it. Another time the wind gusted so hard from my left side, that it made my left foot kick my right calf. I just kept saying things to myself like, "What if it's this windy on race day?" and, "If you can tough this out, think of how easy long runs will feel in the spring!"

Save for some minor windburn on my face, I emerged relatively unscathed and with a sense of self-pride. Can't wait to do it again next Sunday! (But hopefully with less wind...)

What is your cross-training method of choice?

Do you watch what you eat? How often do you allow yourself to indulge, and what does your indulgence usually consist of?

Do the elements ever cause you to change your running plans (i.e. take it to the treadmill or cross-train in light of a freak windstorm)?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Surprise Hill Workout

Today I went to PiYo and then went for a 5 mile tempo run outside. I've decided that 30 degree weather isn't so bad after the first mile. But that first mile was FREEZING!

I started my run from the DAHLC (my gym) for the first time. I had never run this route, but I was pretty confident that I knew where I was going. At one point, I thought I took a wrong turn (which in hindsight I now know I was going the right way) so I decided to turn around. Problem is, I had just gone down a really long downhill, so then I had to go up a really long uphill. After that, I still didn't know where I was, so I just kept going west until I found the highway, then took the bike trail from there. It actually didn't alter the distance of my run much (it only added a tenth of a mile) but it sure screwed up my splits. Here's what they looked like:

Miles 1 and 5 were at warm up/cool down pace; miles 2-4 were at tempo pace. You can probably deduce that mile 2 was where I ran down the huge hill and mile 3 is where I had to run back up it. (Note to self: incorporate some hill workouts into training.) Mile 4 was probably closest to my ideal tempo pace, although it was probably a little fast.

After my workout I went to the dermatologist since I've had a rash on my face for a little over a month now. It started out as a small dry patch, but now it's spread over my entire chin. The PA shined a little light on it and was like "Oh yeah, that's perioral dermatitis." But since it was my first time being seen in that department, he wanted to get the doctor to confirm it. Same conclusion. Turns out I have to take doxycycline for one to two months to get rid of it. Meaning I'll have to apply copious amounts of sunscreen every time I go for a long run outside so my overly sensitive skin doesn't burn. And I'll probably get sick at some point because I love my dairy, and dairy and doxycycline don't mix well. I'm just glad it's not psoriasis- my grandma had psoriatic arthritis and so does my mom, so I was little worried that I was destined for the same fate. But it appears as though I don't need start worrying about achy joints just yet.

Do you incorporate hill workouts into your training?

How cold is "too cold" for you to run outside?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


We're back in cold and snowy Minnesota! YAY!

Running outside in California was nothing short of glorious. However, there was a lot of shin pain involved since I've grown accustomed to the cushioning of the treadmill. Since I have two races coming up next month, I've resolved to run outside at least twice a week. When I ran 7 miles last Friday in California, it was in the 70s. When I ran 3 miles yesterday in Minnesota, it was 20 degrees with windchill. This may take some getting used to.

Our trip was great, but it was way too short. Saturday night I wanted so badly to change our tickets and stay another week, but that's super expensive and I didn't have enough PTO.

Highlights of our trip included:

Jay Leno with Dave Salmoni and The Fray
We were pumped about getting tickets for this show! If you don't know who Dave Salmoni is, he hosts a show on Animal Planet called Rogue Nature, and if you have Netflix you should check out his other show, Into the Pride. Ben tweeted Dave asking if he'd be bringing any animals on the show, and he replied with "You bet I am!" He definitely didn't disappoint- he brought a baby jaguar, baby Eurasian brown bear, a ring-tailed lemur, and an albino python. The Fray performed their newest single "Heartbeat" and they sounded really good live. Christina Aguilera flaked out and cancelled, but we didn't want to see her anyways.

Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach
It was just fun to go for a walk on the beach. The water is freezing this time of year, so we didn't go swimming or anything. Venice Beach was really interesting... lots of characters there. "Marijuana doctors" are everywhere, as well as lots of homeless people. They have the right idea- if I was homeless, I would definitely live on a beach! We also saw Muscle Beach, where Arnold Schwarzeneggar used to work out. Later on I suffered a short bout of heat exhaustion (and no, this isn't the first time this has happened in 70 degree weather). Luckily I caught it early, chugged some water and rested, and was fine within an hour.

Ben and I at Santa Monica Pier

My 7 mile run in 70 degree weather
Lame, I know, but this was definitely a highlight for me. Ben ran with me for the first 3.5 miles (I love having my running buddy back!) so that made the entire run go by super fast. I felt like I could have gone another 7 miles! It just feels great to be getting my long run mileage back up (slowly but surely).

Finding a pair of Nike Tempo shorts for $10
Also lame, but definitely worth mentioning ;)


OMGGGGGG, best froyo ever! I got their blood orange frozen yogurt with blueberries, raspberries, blood orange pieces, strawberries, mango, and pineapple. So refreshing and delicious! It's a shame we only got to go one time. We thought we were in luck when we saw that there was one at the San Francisco airport, but it turns out you had to leave security to get there :( Our next Pinkberry experience will have to wait.

Horse Races at Santa Anita Park

This is where the movie Seabiscuit was filmed. Jenni and I had no idea what we were doing, but Ben did his best to bring us up to speed. Ben ended up winning $35 on the first race because his horse won. I had bet on the horse with the worst odds, but he got passed by Ben's horse right at the end. I lost $10 altogether, and we ended up finishing $10 up on the day. But we didn't get charged for parking (the races were almost over) and we got in free because we accidentally walked in the employee entrance. So overall, it was good, cheap entertainment! 

San Diego Zoo
We walked around for about 5 hours and still weren't able to see everything! This was definitely the coolest zoo I've ever been to (which actually doesn't say much, considering it's closest rival would be the Alaska Zoo). My favorite animals were probably the elephants, gorillas, and giraffes. We didn't get to see the pandas because we went on a Saturday (the busiest day, and on President's Day weekend) and we would have had to wait in line for about 45 minutes. It's okay though, I've seen them in the movie Anchorman.

This elephant kept using a log to scratch his back.

Angry gorilla pouting in the corner.

Today I experienced my very first Fat Tuesday! I don't know how I've never heard of this wonderful celebration. I've never given up anything for Lent, but I would have at least celebrated Fat Tuesday with people who do give up things for Lent. This morning I had breakfast with some friends before work. I consumed four pancakes, two sausage patties, and a whole lot of fruit and orange juice. I took a late lunch for me (2:30) and still wasn't hungry, so all I had was a protein bar and two Samoa cookies. Then for dinner I had three pieces of pizza and two breadsticks. A successful Fat Tuesday, if you ask me. Good thing I'm going to PiYo and running 5 miles tomorrow!

Are you a Jay Leno fan?

Have you ever been to the San Diego Zoo? What are your favorite animals to see at the zoo?

Do you celebrate Fat Tuesday?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Oh Well, We're on Vacation!

Vacation week has begun!

Yesterday, I woke up at the ungodly hour of 3:30am to shower and make sure I didn't forget anything (which is an all too likely occurrence when I go on trips). Then we drove an hour and a half to the Twin Cities. But first, we stopped at Kwik Trip, which is where my crappy eating day began. What else would you expect with 12 hours of traveling?

Here's what my meals looked like yesterday:

Breakfast: sausage, egg and cheese biscuit from Kwik Trip
Snack: 16 oz. vanilla white chocolate mocha from Caribou (BOGO for Valentine's Day!)
Lunch: orange chicken, fried rice, and an egg roll from Panda Express (if it helps at all, the egg roll was on the "Wok Smart" menu... whatever that means)

My healthy airport lunch.

Ben broke his plastic fork. He doesn't know his own strength.

Snack: lots and lots of Valentine's peanut butter M&Ms
Dinner: two beers and a BBQ bacon cheddar burger at Yard House

I think the only thing healthy I had yesterday was some OJ on the plane.

Oh well, we're on vacation :)

The Yard House was a pretty cool sports bar. They had hundreds of beers on tap, so I decided to try some out of the ordinary beers. I had their House Honey Blonde ale and the Rogue Dead Guy ale. They were both delicious! Ben ordered his burger medium, and it was rare all the way through. Of course he didn't say anything until after he ate half of it. So I did what any good wife would do and let him have part of mine. It was Valentine's day, after all.

This morning started off great. We had coffee and a much healthier breakfast than yesterday, then Ben and I headed out for a run together. It was 50 degrees and overcast, which is perfect for me. We only took one wrong turn, which I considered a success. Ben hasn't run since November, but he kept up with me just fine (jerk). We ended up doing 3.2 miles in 27:57 (8:45 average pace). I also got to use my Garmin for the first time, and I'm already in love with it! I hope it warms up in Minnesota soon, because I'm not going to want to go back to treadmill running after this week!

One thing I wasn't prepared to look out for on runs here is the peacocks. There are tons of them around here and they're protected under some bird law (basically they are to Arcadia what crows are to Rochester). Did you know that they are collectively called "peafowl?" The males are called peacocks, and the females are called hens. The males are the ones with the crazy feathers. Thankfully we only saw one male on our run, but it came out of nowhere and we both jumped. I'll put up some pictures as soon as it's nice enough to go for a walk (it's raining out now).

We were going to go to Jay Leno today, which is exciting but it wasn't a very good guest or band (Bill Maher and The Punch Brothers, who I've never heard of). We've been trying to get tickets for Friday because the guests are Christina Aguilera and Dave Salmoni (from one of our favorite big cat documentaries, Into the Pride) and the band is The Fray. I got an email back with tickets for Thursday, and Jenni hadn't heard back yet, so we figured we had no chance. Well, we were just talking about our plans for Jay Leno today, and Jenni got an email saying she got tickets for Friday! Needless to say, we are pumped! :)

Have you ever been to California?

Have you ever been to the Yard House?

Did you run today?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bloomin' Onions and Social ICE

Workout: Easy 3 mile treadmill run, 27:25. Legs felt fresh after my rest day. Also did abs and arms.

Today we were going to hit up the Pizza Ranch buffet for dinner, but then we decided to go to Outback with the brother and sister-in-law, niece, and nephew. We actually went to Outback last year on February 13th to celebrate Valentine's day, and about 5 hours after we finished dinner, our niece Chloe was born! So we figured there was no better way to celebrate V-day and Chloe's birthday than going back to the Outback. Our nephew Charlie wasn't sold on the idea right away, but halfway through our meal he exclaimed, "I didn't know this place was so good!" :)

They have an awesome "Sweetheart Deal" where you get a bloomin' onion, a 9 oz. sirloin plus a side and salad for each of you, and cheesecake to share for $38.99. We did the same deal last year, too. We got there at 4:45 hoping to beat the rush, but it was still a 50-60 minute wait. Nothing can keep me from my bloomin' onion (or my sangria)!

Ben and I took down that bloomin' onion in
record time!

Delicous steak, medium well of course.

If you like your meat or fish undercooked or raw, don't ever work in a parasitology lab. Ignorance is bliss, my friends.

(I don't have a picture of the cheesecake because we ate it too fast.)

After dinner we headed over to Social ICE. It was a really cool experience... emphasis on the word cool. 15 degrees, felt like 3 degrees with wind chill. I'm surprised I lasted a full hour- it's no secret that I'm a wimp when it comes to cold weather. I wanted to get an ice glass, but decided on the hot mulled cider instead. It was way too cold to be holding ice in my hands.

The ice bar. Bartender in the parka is a smart girl.

What Leah and I would look like if we were
ice sculptures.

This thing didn't do a very good job of keeping
us warm, but all the good heaters were taken.

All in all, it was a fun experience. I'll probably go back next year. Ben says this just prepared us better for California- now 60s and 70s will feel downright tropical!

Do you like Outback? Are you a bloomin' onion fan?

How do you like your steak?

Have you ever been to an ice bar?

Friday, February 10, 2012

An Overdue Rest Day, Complete with Dilly Bars

Happy Friday everyone!

I feel like I'm already in California mode, so today has felt extra long to me. (Never mind the fact that I still have to work Monday before we even leave.)

Yesterday I took my new shoes for a 4 mile tempo run on the treadmill. 1 mile warmup, 2 miles @ 8:20 pace, and 1 mile cooldown. Today was my rest day, which was long overdue. I try to take a rest day at least once a week, but my schedule got kinda shaken up this week, so today is my first rest day in 10 days. Oops.

My Garmin came in the mail yesterday, but I haven't gotten to play with it yet. I did set up my Garmin Connect online, and I plan on getting the watch itself set up tomorrow morning. I don't foresee getting a chance to use it until I get to California, though :( Any temperature below 30 degrees is a no-go for me. I think running the Alaska state cross-country race in snow with nothing but a tank top and split shorts on scarred me for life.

Tonight one of my co-workers brought in salt and pepper kettle chips and Top O' Tater onion and chive sour cream. There are no words to describe how tasty it was! Definitely the best snack combination I've had in awhile. Then another co-worker bought DQ for everyone, so I had a mint Dilly Bar for dessert. I think it's safe to say that I ate my weight in chips and ice cream. My fettucine alfredo Smart One can stay in the freezer until Monday night.

Tomorrow night we're going to Social ICE, "the largest outdoor ice bar in the upper Midwest." They have ice glasses, ice sculptures, and of course, several ice bars. I think it's safe to say there will be lots of pictures in tomorrow's post!

Yesterday I realized the ice bar was this weekend and I said to Ben, "Oh, ice bar on Saturday!" To which he replied, "You SPAR?!"

Then on Sunday we have my niece Chloe's 1st birthday party! I can't believe she's 1 already- it seems like just yesterday we were visiting them in the hospital on Valentine's Day.

Any big plans for the weekend?

What's your favorite Dilly Bar flavor?

Are you working out tomorrow?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wine Wednesday

Today I bought yet another running accessory:

My Mizuno Wave Rider 15s!

I know, it's like running Christmas around here (made possible by our Minnesota tax return). Once again, I bought them on a Wednesday (spin class day) so I don't get to try them out until tomorrow's tempo run. WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?

Spin class was awesome, as usual. I finally felt comfortable, so I pushed myself harder than I have the last two weeks. I realized just how hard halfway through my ab workout afterwards, when it became evident that I should probably eat something before I passed out.

After my workout, I did some grocery shopping and took my car for a much needed bath. Note: one time through the Kwik Trip car wash does not remove all crow droppings. I had to do several touch-ups once I got home. And with my luck it will probably get pooped on while I'm at work tomorrow.

Wednesdays are nice because I actually get a home-cooked meal. Tonight we're having beef stroganoff- one of my favorite (and easiest!) recipes I got from my mother-in-law. All you do is throw 1 lb. stew meat, a can of cream of mushroom soup, and a can of french onion soup in the Crock Pot and cook on high for 4 hours. Serve over rice or noodles, and voila! You have delicious beef stroganoff.

Ben sent me to the liquor store for a bottle of wine. I came home with three.

My liquor store haul

Okay, so they were only $2.97 each. I am by no means a wine snob, so I really don't mind buying cheap wine. The liquor store in Stewartville is extremely overpriced, so I'll take what I can get.

Do you like wine? Red or white?

Have you filed your taxes yet?

What was the highlight of your Wednesday?