Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Free Pilates Videos and a New Form of Precipitation

Today I woke up late and couldn't get myself in workout mode quick enough, so I decided to continue this week's theme of "taking it easy" and just stay home instead. Then I felt guilty about not doing any physical activity, so I found this short pilates routine on YouTube:

It's only 10:00, so I did it twice. I have to say, my butt was really starting to hurt after the second time through!

I also found this routine, but I didn't have enough time to do it:

I might try it when I get home tonight, if I don't fall asleep first. Denise Austin seems really excited about life.  But I suppose I would be too if I had palm trees and the ocean in my backyard.

Some local news: Rochester has a bit of a crow problem. I'm almost surprised it hasn't made national news or something- it is THAT BAD. If you don't believe me, here's a picture:

What I walk through every morning on my way to work

Gross huh? Not only is it gross, it is SCARY! When I walk out to my car after work at 9:30, there are thousands (not an exaggeration) of them roosting in the trees on the way to my car. And it literally rains bird poop- you can hear it falling from the sky as you walk by them. One of my co-workers got pooped on, so now we take a whole block detour to get to our cars just to avoid the nasty things. The city tried to solve the problem once already by using birds of prey to chase them to nearby towns, like Stewartville (where we live- awesome). It actually worked- for about a week. Now they are back in full force! The city council is trying to obtain a permit to kill them now, since they are protected under some migratory bird law. I hope they get one soon, or I'm going to have to include the cost of car washes in our weekly budget.

Another piece of fantastic news- it appears that the toenail on my big toe is going to fall off. I was opening the door of an instrument at work and I assumed it would open over my foot, but instead it just tore my toenail halfway back. If I would have cut my toenails two days ago when I tought about it, I probably wouldn't be having this problem. Oh well, live and learn. I just hope it doesn't affect my running.

Do you own any workout videos? Use any free ones like me?

What was the highlight of your day?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mandatory Rest Day and Old People Yoga

Today the only yoga class at a time I could attend was "Gentle Yoga." The class description read:

"Restorative for all levels of yoga practitioners. This practice includes the use of functional movement, breathing techniques, and gentle stretching."

I figured I could definitely use some restoration. Gentle stretching sounded nice too. So my friend Felicity and I decided to see what Gentle Yoga was all about.

We were easily the only people under the age of 50 in that room. Or maybe 75- I couldn't be sure.

I definitely felt out of place when I walked in. I was a little late because I had trouble finding a parking spot, and as I was scanning the room looking for Felicity's face, all I saw were elderly people. And I felt like they were all looking at me like I was a freshman that accidentally walked into senior home room on their first day of high school.

I'm not gonna lie, I feel like I exerted almost no physical energy in that class. But I think that may have been just what I needed. Physically, taking a total rest day at home would have probably benefited me the same, but then my mind would have been busy with Facebooking or watching tv. Instead, I feel like I actually got some good mental rest in combination with physical rest.

One important lesson I learned from the old man downward-dogging in front of Felicity:

It is perfectly acceptable to fart in yoga class! ;)

Have you ever felt out of place at a fitness class?

Do you like yoga?

How often do you take a rest day?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Zombies and Homemade Bread

I had a disturbing zombie dream last night. I was living with my parents and a baby- not sure whose baby it was- in a version of the trailer home we lived in when I was 5. Zombies were circling our house, trying to find a way in, and my parents kept doing stupid things like talking loudly and turning the lights on. And the baby kept crying, which was also attracting lots of attention. I love babies just as much as the next person, but this was a life or death situation! I was all, "Who's baby is this and why the heck won't it stop crying?!" I'm not sure what exactly what my subconscious was trying to tell me- that my parents have absolutely no common sense, or that babies (although extremely cute) may in fact be a liability when zombies are trying to make you their dinner. Bottom line- I think everyone should watch more of The Walking Dead to brush up on their zombie knowledge, in order to be properly prepared in the event that there is a zombie apocalypse.

My run today consisted of 5 miles on the treadmill:
1-2% incline
6.7-7.1 mph
Time: 44:25

The training plan I used for my half-marathon last year classified 5 miles as my first "long run." It's encouraging to know that although my next half is just under 4 months away, I'm already ahead of where I was 8 weeks before my half last year!

At the beginning of my last mile, however, my left knee started to hurt. It didn't feel the same as ITBS, and it was in the opposite knee than I had problems with last year. I maybe should have stopped running, but I turned the incline down to 0% and slowed down for the rest of the run. After I got off the treadmill, my knee stopped hurting, but now my outer hip on the same leg is sore. Not really sure what's going on there, but hoping it's just some soreness. Ben pointed out that working out 6 days a week could just be taking a toll on me, and I think he might be right. Time to listen to my body, since I decided to ignore it on the treadmill today. Tomorrow is supposed to be strength day, but I'll either go to yoga or take a full rest day. We'll see how I feel in the morning. But tonight, I have a date with the foam roller!

Afterwards we got post-workout protein shakes at Inta-Juice, one of which we scored for free since we're such frequent customers. Then we headed over to play with our niece and nephew for the rest of the afternoon.

Remember how my sister-in-law Carrie had post-run cookies for me last Sunday? Well this Sunday she didn't disappoint- she had delicious homemade bread with icing waiting for us:

(No watercolors were used in the making of this delicious bread)

She also sent us home with a whole loaf of bread. Thanks to her, we can avoid grocery shopping (my least favorite thing to do in the entire world EVER!) for another day.

Ben was craving spaghetti for dinner (since we have like three jars of sauce in the cupboard) but neither of us wanted to stop at the dreaded Target to pick up spaghetti noodles. Turns out they also made spaghetti and invited us to stay for dinner. WIN.

We're going to spend the rest of our night watching Billy Madison on Netflix and planning our California trip!

Do you like zombie movies/tv shows? Have you ever watched The Walking Dead

Do you hate or enjoy grocery shopping?

Do you mind running in the cold? Or are you strictly a treadmill runner all winter like me?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Time Crunches and Tempo Runs

Today's workout schedule involved some careful planning on my part. There were two yoga classes today at 12:15 and 3:30, but I also had plans to meet a friend for lunch at 11:30. Even though I only live 15-20 minutes away from the gym, that's enough for me to only want to make one trip into town. In the end I decided to run, go to lunch, then go to yoga 12:15.

I headed into town around 10 and pounded out my 4 mile tempo run on the treadmill:

Mile 1- 6.5-6.7 mph
Mile 2- 7.1 mph
Mile 3- 7.1 mph
Mile 4- first half 6.7 mph, second half 7.1-8.0 mph
(All at 1% incline)
Total time: 34:41

I think I'm already getting used to the 1% incline- it barely phased me today!

After my run I headed over to City Cafe to have lunch with my good friend Terri. We haven't been able to see each other much because of our differing work schedules, so I'm glad we found time to hang out today. I had planned on not eating my entire New York pastrami sandwich (which are huge by the way) since I was going to yoga in less than a half hour, but it was too delicious not to eat the whole thing.

Yoga felt great, except for the few times that I thought my sandwich might come back up.

I finally made that chicken stuffing Crock Pot thingy I wanted to make on Wednesday:

Chicken stuffing Crock Pot thingy

It may not look very appetizing, but it was DELISH! Although next time I'll try not to buy the lower sodium Stove Top on accident. It may be better for us, but it definitely does not taste as good.

I think we're going to rent 50/50 On Demand tonight. I've been wanting to see it since it came out in theaters! At least I'll be in the comfort of my own home when I start bawling my eyes out.

Cookies are in the oven (the pre-made break and bake Toll House kind, of course). While we wait for them to bake, we're going to tell Jay Leno why we want tickets to his show!

Do you ever have trouble finding time to work out?

How often do you use your Crock Pot?

Do you make your cookies from scratch or cheat and buy the pre-made kind like me? :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spontaneity and Oversleeping

Today Ben and I did one of the most spontaneous things we've done in a while.

We bought plane tickets to visit my sister-in-law and brother-in-law in California- in less than 3 weeks!

I cannot tell you how excited I am for some warmer weather. Even though it's only been winter in Minnesota for a couple weeks now, it's starting to get to me. Plus, I really miss running outside- although I have to admit, I am learning to tolerate actually like the treadmill. While it might be super lame to do on vacation, I'm hoping to wake up early and get in some outdoor runs. (Is it bad that I already looked to see if there were any races in the area while I was there?)

We're going to try to get tickets to Jay Leno, go to the Comedy Store, and go to Pechanga, a local casino. At least that's what we've planned so far. I'd also like to hit up a winery (or two... or three), go to the beach, and maybe catch a USC vs. UCLA basketball game. And go to Hollywood- I've been there, but Ben hasn't. So much to do, so little time! Pretty sure I don't need to sleep at all while we're there :)

I missed running today. I took a rest day, and I feel like I was a bit cranky because of it. Whenever I oversleep, I tend to be more tired than if I hadn't, which has never made any sense to me. More sleep should equal more energy. Not so, my friends. If I don't get 8 hours +/- 15 minutes, I am a not a happy camper (just ask Ben).

4 mile run and some yoga on tap for tomorrow. Bring it on, Friday!

Have you done anything spontaneous lately?

What was the last trip you took?

Any suggestions of things we should do in California (LA area)?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My First Spin Class and an Epic Smoothie Fail

I feel like I deserve some sort of badge that looks like this:

So I made myself one :)

Seriously though, spin class was AWESOME! I already can't wait to go back next week. Sure, I had no idea what zone I was in half the time, but it was a great workout! The best part is, I actually made it through the whole 45 minutes! I probably wouldn't have made it through Zone 4 without this song, though:

Already downloaded on iTunes. Thanks for the inspiration, Kelly!

Now let's talk a little bit about my day before spin class.

I wanted to make my protein smoothie before we went to the gym, since we had to run a few errands afterwards and I didn't want to be tempted to eat at Taco Bell (like Ben did). I got out the Magic Bullet and all my supplies. I was going to make it one of the portable cups, but then all the ingredients didn't fit in it, so I transferred them all to the blender attachment:

Epic smoothie fail.

I kind of forgot to connect the bottom to the blender before I poured the ingredients in, so when I picked it up to put on the Bullet, my ingredients went all over the counter. I hope I cleaned my counter recently, because as you can see, I just swept them all back into the blender using my hand.

After that fiasco, I realized there are no lids for the cups, so I improvised:

Aluminum foil is insulative, right?

After enjoying my delicious, yet time-consuming smoothie, we headed to the mall to pick up my new clothes. Since I had a $50 Foot Locker gift card, I also picked up a few necessities- new sports bras and socks! Here are my spoils:

I know, I know- black is boring. But it also matches EVERYTHING!
By the time we were done running all our errands, it was almost 3. We eat at 6 at the very latest, so sadly, I didn't have time to make the new chicken and stuffing recipe I wanted to try. Instead were having Creamy Basil Chicken (a Progresso box dinner), and we'll save the chicken and stuffing for Friday.

Oh yeah, and our word of the day is "meld":

verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
1. to merge; blend.
2. a blend.
1935–40;  blend of melt1  and weld

1.  mix, fuse, combine, consolidate.

Ben used it today in reference to two lanes converging, and I made fun of him for using what I thought was clearly a made up word.

I should know by now that he's always right.

Do you have any specific songs/artists that get you pumped for working out?

What are your favorite smoothie ingredients?

Do you own a Magic Bullet?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

So Many Shoes, So Little Time!

My easy 3 miler was not so easy today. I was still incredibly sore from strength class yesterday (lots and lots of squats and lunges). But I stuck it out at the 1% incline for the whole time (26:49) anyways. I'd like to think my buns and thighs will thank me for breaking up that lactic acid, but for some reason I think that I'll wake up even more sore tomorrow.

But sore or not, I am super excited about tomorrow because I get to go to my first ever spin class! :)

I decided it was probably best to attend the Wednesday class at 12:15 while most people are at work, so if I make a total fool out of myself there won't be as many people there to watch. Once I get comfortable (and by comfortable, I mean making it through all 45 minutes of class) I might brave the Saturday morning session with all of the hardcore spinners.

And to make my exciting Wednesday even more exciting, I have brand new pairs of Nike running shorts and capri tights waiting for me at Foot Locker! They've actually been waiting there for me since Monday, but because of my work schedule, I haven't been able to pick them up yet. The anticipation is killing me!

Lately I've been reading a lot of running shoe reviews. I've been running in the Asics Gel Nimbus 12's since April:

Asics Gel-Nimbus 12

They're great shoes- but I also got injured while running in them. Sure, my injury may have been due to the fact that I ramped up my mileage way too fast as a last minute effort to prepare for a marathon, but I can't help but wonder if the shoes played a minor role. I'm a midfoot striker with a neutral gait, and although the Nimbus 12s provide lots of cushioning, you won't find much in the midsole. I know there are people out there who pick one shoe and wear them for the rest of their life (or until the brand stops making them, in which case they stock up). I just can't help but have a "grass is greener" mentality- I keep wondering if the other brands I haven't tried are better. Here are the trainers I'm trying to decide between:

1. Asics Gel Nimbus 13
2. Brooks Ghost 4
3. Brooks Glycerin 9
4. Mizuno Wave Rider 15

On top of that, I'm looking at buying my first tempo/track workout shoe. Something lightweight, but still sturdy enough that I can wear for races as well. I haven't done as much research in this department, but so far I've looked at these shoes:

1. Saucony Kinvara 2
2. Asics Speedstar 5
3. Mizuno Wave Ronin 3
4. Nike Lunaracer+ 2 (just for tempo/track workouts, not racing)

I'm obsessed with finding my perfect running shoes. I constantly look at them online. It's kind of like when I was obsessed with getting a new car- I just couldn't stop looking at them.

Now if I could just get to The Running Room and try some of these shoes on, I might figure out which ones I like best!

What shoes are you running in right now? Do you have a different pair for tempo/track workouts?

Have you ever tried a spin class?

Do you get as excited about new workout clothes as I do?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Redemption and Post-Run Cookies

Today I taught Sunday School sans Ben. It got a little crazy, mostly because I forgot about all the little things he does to help. And although we have two other helpers (who are in sixth grade and practically preschoolers themselves really mature for their age), having one less adult in a class of fifteen 3-year-olds makes a big difference. Especially when they are wired like they were this morning. We still had a lot of fun playing London Bridge, although I was the only one singing the song the whole time and I'm still not certain any of them understand how the game worked. All in all, a successful day at Sunday School.

It was a little bit warmer in Stewartville today (high of 30), but the freezing rain was enough to make me not want to drive into Rochester to work out. Plus I wanted to watch football, and a 20 minute drive both ways meant I would miss a considerable amount of the game. So instead we went to my brother and sister-in-law's house, which is only 0.3 miles away (one of the perks of living in a small town) so I could use their treadmill.

I feel like I've redeemed myself after yesterday's run. 4 miles at a 1% incline in 35:15. It could have been the difference in treadmills, but I felt a lot better with the incline today. Regardless, it definitely boosted my confidence a bit.

I have come to the conclusion that running at the relatives' house trumps running at the gym. Why, you ask?

One reason: delicious post-run cookies.

(And then they send you home with even more of those delicious cookies.)

Leftover pizza and beer is what's for dinner tonight. Ben had pizza for lunch too, but I skipped out. Although it has plenty of carbs, I wasn't about to test it out as pre-run fuel.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and I think I'm going to try it on Wednesday:

Slow Cooker Chicken and Stuffing

Ben loves chicken and stuffing (as do I), so I think it will be a hit. If it weren't for my Crock Pot, I don't think we would ever have home-cooked meals. Seriously.

Tonight we're going to indulge in several episodes of The Walking Dead and a bottle of wine, basically trying to enjoy the last few hours of precious weekend we have left.

Which football teams were you cheering for today?

Are you watching a TV series on Netflix/DVR/DVD right now?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Redefining My Impossible

I'm not gonna lie, today's 3 mile run was rough.

A lot of you may already know this, although some of you may not- but running on a treadmill does not exert as much energy as running outside. There's no wind resistance. So in order to mimic outdoor running, you should turn the incline up to 1% or more. Here's a useful link if you want to figure out what pace you're actually running: Treadmill Pace Conversions

So although I knew this already, for the past month and a half I've been running at a 0% incline to avoid an ITBS relapse. Steep inclines and hills can aggravate it, and although 1% isn't exactly steep, I wasn't taking any chances.

I could not believe the difference in effort! It was absolutely ridiculous! (And now some of you out there are probably thinking, "Well, DUH.")

I mean, obviously I knew it was going to be harder, but I still planned on trying to run my second mile at an 8:00 pace. Instead, I ran half of the second mile at a 8:25 pace and ran the rest at roughly a 9:00 pace.

But I refuse to get discouraged!! Just three weeks ago I didn't think I could run faster than 6.5 mph on the treadmill, and lately I've been running at 7.1 mph. If I could get comfortable with a speed increase, I can get comfortable with an incline increase.

After our work out, Ben headed up to the cities. Since then, I've been cleaning all day, while also taking frequent breaks to watch college basketball, roll out my IT band, and of course, update the look of my blog. I decided to just elaborate on the dinosaur theme- what do you think?

Girls Night In commences in T-minus 1 hour. I bought my favorite beer to enjoy with the pizza were having:


Thank goodness liquor stores in Minnesota started carrying it! When we first moved down here, I even tried to special order it (along with Alaskan Amber), but no one would do it for me. Now it's everywhere!

Did you run today?

What's your favorite drink to have with your pizza?

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Listening to my Body and Unwelcome Snow

One thing I'm really trying to focus on in my training is listening to my body.

When I woke up this morning to go to the gym and get a run in, my body (mostly my stomach) said something like this to me:

"Aimee, please don't do this to me again. You jostled me around on your run yesterday and then we both felt like crap for the rest of the day, remember?"

So I listened, and got some extra rest instead. Probably necessary.

Later I listened to it again when it told me I should go to Bruegger's for lunch rather than eat the soup I brought. My body has really good ideas sometimes.

Southwest Minnesota got dumped on today. For those of you who may not know, we have been having an extremely mild winter. Like, no snow on Christmas mild. Like, 55 degrees in January mild.

And now it's -10 degrees with lots and lots of snow. I knew winter would hit us eventually, but I was kinda hoping we could just skip it and go straight to spring. I'm really not looking forward to clearing my car off after work...

Lately I've been daydreaming about things I can buy with my tax return (maybe a little premature, seeing as we haven't even gotten all of our W-2s yet). The top two things on my list are:

1) New running shoes
2) Garmin Forerunner GPS watch

Right now I'm running in the Asics Gel-Nimbus 12s, and I really like them, but I might switch to another brand (Brooks or Mizuno, most likely). We'll see. As for the Garmin, I like this one:


Running clothes and accessories are kind of my weakness. Some women like to buy fancy make-up, some like to get their hair done... just give me a new pair of Nike Tempo shorts, and I'll be a happy camper.

Ben's going up to the Twin Cities for "Boys Night Out" tomorrow night, so some of my lab mates and I are having "Girls Night In" at my place. Some pizza, some wine, some cards, maybe some impromptu snow angel-making... who knows what kind of crazy shenanigans we'll get into :)

Oh, and speaking of Ben, he just started his own blog! What a copycat, I know... he wishes he could be as cool as me ;) Seriously though, he's hilarious. Check it out: Words with Ben

Do you have any big plans for the weekend?

What shoes are you currently running in?

What is your weakness when it comes to spending money?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mobile Blogging on an Upset Stomach

Sadly, Mayo Clinic doesn't pay me to blog, so I have to blog on my dinner break.

On my smart phone. Which has a really tiny touch keyboard.

It won't be easy, but for my few loyal readers (I know you're out there) I'll do it! :)

I've been having stomach pains since after lunch on Tuesday. I blame the alfalfa sprouts I've been putting on my turkey sandwiches- they've made me sick once before, but being the genius that I am, I keep eating them. So, either I have food poisoning, or my digestive system simply does not agree with sprouts. I really don't care what it is, I just want my stomach back to normal by tomorrow. My run today wasn't easy to say the least, but I somehow powered through (4 miles in 35:03).

This is what I'm having for dinner tonight:

So delicious and sooo filling... NOT.

I think Weight Watchers' secret is to make only half of the meal edible, so that in the end you end up consuming even less calories than the already ridiculously small portion size they give you. Half of the tiny pieces of meat were too hard to chew and the mashed potatoes tasted fake. And now my tummy is rumbling.

Ben and I just started watching The Walking Dead last night. My brother-in-law is obsessed with it, so he sent us the first season for Christmas. I'm not much of a zombie person, but I have to say it's pretty good! No zombie nightmares... yet.

Lately I've been listening to Blink-182's album Neighborhoods on repeat. I was a huge fan in high school and college, so I don't know why I didn't pick up their newest album sooner. It's SO GOOD- and its quick beats make it great for running too!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TGIW (Thank God it's Wednesday)

Today is my day off! I LOVE having Wednesdays off. For one thing, I have no excuse not to get a good workout in. Today I went to PiYo and a Cycle intro class. PiYo has been really good for me because it really works both my butt and hips, which I need to strengthen to make sure my ITBS doesn't come back. In Cycle intro, we basically just learned how to set up our bikes and then rode for about 10-15 minutes. I still feel like I got some decent cardio time out of it. I need to work some cross-training into my schedule too, so we'll see how I like this spinning thing!

Another reason I like having Wednesdays off is because I feel like I get SO MUCH done. I wish I could spend the day with Ben, but he has a normal schedule and has to work (today is an especially long day for him). At least we get to spend the majority of our night together, rather than just going to bed when I get home like the other nights of the week. And, the honest truth is that I get way more done around the house when he isn't around. Plus I can catch up on my tv shows that he hates to watch (i.e., Glee) and not feel bad about it :)

After my workout, I was really craving a protein smoothie from Inta Juice, which is where Ben and I usually go after our workouts on Saturday. It's kinda pricey though, so I feel bad going more than once a week. So instead, I just made do with what I had:

1. Frozen Market Pantry mixed berries
2. EAS Lean 15 protein powder
3. Milk
4. Chobani strawberry Greek yogurt

I didn't really measure anything, I just threw it all in there and hoped for the best. It actually turned out to be quite tasty!

I got a great deal on some workout shirts at Target- thanks Rachael! They were on sale for $9 a piece, so I bought three different colors.

I also found out that the Starbucks in Target serves peppermint mochas year-round (BEST NEWS EVER)! So, of course, I had to treat myself to one!

Yesterday, my roommate from last year sent me some info about the 2012 Race for Research. The race is organized by the Physical Therapy program at Mayo, and the proceeds benefit PT research. I haven't decided whether I'm doing the 5K or 10K, but it is definitely going on my list of races to run!

Monday, January 16, 2012

"Because I have to"

I am not a morning person, or a Monday person, so getting out of bed this morning was pretty hard for me.

Ok, I lied... it's hard for me to get out of bed every morning!

My alarm went off at 7:00, as usual, and then I laid in bed until 7:30ish, as usual. I finally drug myself out of bed and got some coffee in my system, since I had to be at strength class at 9:15. Getting to strength class on time means I can leave my apartment no later than 8:45, since it takes about 20 minutes to get to the gym, and there's never any way of knowing how long it will take to find a place to park.

(Notice I say things like "I HAD to be at strength class." Saying I HAVE to work out and I HAVE to run makes it easier for me to actually go. It's becoming part of my daily schedule. Try it sometime!)

Strength class kicked my butt, just like it always does. We did the defensive shuffle for awhile and I felt like I was back in high school basketball practice. Although I don't think my thighs hurt as bad back then...

After my work out I tried some of this:

I usually just steal some of Ben's protein (he uses the EAS 100% whey), but we had a coupon for this stuff and I though why not give it a shot? Plus, I think Ben will enjoy not having to share his protein with me. It's almost like we have "his and hers" protein.  It didn't taste quite as good as the whey, but it still wasn't bad. Mix it with some milk and it's like a globby vanilla shake.

We were understaffed at work today, so things were pretty busy at the beginning of my shift. I wasn't able to take lunch until 3:00, which is really late for me (I usually go around 1:00 or 1:30). By that time I was pretty ravenous, and one of my friends brought a package of Sweet Tarts Gummies. DELISH. I'm pretty sure I owe her a new bag...

This day was an exhausting one, so I'm headed to bed. Here's to hoping the protein does it's job and I'm not too sore for my run tomorrow! :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Funday

Today has been a glorious day off.

Ben and I teach the 3-year-old Sunday school class at our church. It really is the highlight of our week! We've been teaching these kids since September, and it's been really fun watching them learn and grow. They are a funny bunch. Today before I read our lesson, I asked everyone what their favorite animal was. When it was our nephew Charlie's turn, he was curled up in a ball with his nose to the floor. I said, "Charlie, is your favorite animal a turtle?" To which he replied, "Yes!" Later we found out from his dad that Charlie just likes to curl up in a ball to avoid answering teachers when they ask him questions. Ben's favorite animal was a lion, and mine of course was a gazelle!

Yesterday we watched the end of the marathon Olympic trials. The top three women were Shalane Flanagan (1st, 2:25:38), Desi Davila (2nd, 2:25:55) and Kara Goucher (3rd, 2:26:06) I'm excited to watch these three women represent the our country in London this year!

(Can you believe Kara Goucher just had a baby in 2010? I  hope I can look half as good as her after I have kids!)

This past week was my second week at 13 mpw. My competitive nature constantly tries to push me to run farther, but I promised myself that this time I would start small and follow the 10% rule religiously!

After my half marathon last May, I registered for the Twin Cities marathon in October 2011. Well, I started a new job, got married, and as a result, really slacked on my training. In August I ran the Rochester half marathon in a decent time with minimal training, so I tried to use the remaining six weeks before the marathon to get back in shape.

Saying that it backfired would be an understatement.

After about three weeks of high mileage, I went out for an easy 5 mile run. I was cruising along at a good pace, when suddenly I felt an excruciating pain in my right knee. I had to walk the remaining 2 miles home.

I had ITBS, aka IT band syndrome.

I decreased my miles drastically and bought a foam roller, but ultimately I ended up dropping out of the marathon (bye-bye, $100 entry fee). I tried deep tissue massage, but even that didn't help. Every time I tried to run, I couldn't get farther than a mile without doubling over in pain. So I gave it rest for two whole months.

So far, so good. I stretch for a good 10-15 minutes before and after my runs, and I go to both a strength and yoga class each week. I try to foam roll most nights, but I probably don't as much as I should (I really despise the thing). Dealing with this injury has helped me run smarter, but I still freak out at the slightest twinge of pain I get in either one of my knees.

So while I feel like I could be running more than 13 miles/week, I'm sticking to the 10% rule, which means I can only increase by 1 mile a week right now. I'm hoping to be around 25 mpw when it comes time to start training for my half in May. I'm confident that, in time, I'll get there.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Big Cats

I can't imagine there will be very many days when I post twice in one day, but today is one of those days!

My husband, Ben, is obsessed with documentaries about big cats- lions, tigers, cheetahs, and leopards. After reading my blog post about gazelles, he told me I need to envision myself as a gazelle bounding away from a lion. Well, I tried that today during my 4 mile run on the treadmill.

And it worked!

Remember how I said I ran 4 miles in 36:25 yesterday? Well today I did it in 35:04! I feel like I'm finally overcoming the mental block I get from stepping on a treadmill.

Speaking of gazelles and lions, I found this on Pinterest:

Ben may be obsessed with big cats, but I think I'm more of a gazelle fan myself!

Everyone is Someone's Gazelle

I hate the treadmill.

Okay, so maybe I don't hate it as much as I used to. Let's just say we don't exactly get along. Having grown up in Alaska, I'm used to running on open trails with beautiful scenery. Compared to that, the treadmill is just so... boring. But the winter months always force me to jump on the dreaded machine. I've always wanted to be a hardcore winter runner- you know, those runners who go out and run 10 miles in -20 degree weather while it's snowing- but the cold air really aggravates my asthma. I constantly feel like I can't get enough air in my lungs, which isn't a very pleasant feeling. So the treadmill and I have learned to put our differences aside between the months of December and February (and that's during a "good winter"- if there is such a thing).

Regardless of my feelings toward the treadmill, it has helped me make some steady progress as of late. Each week, I make mini-goals for myself- like, "I'll run all 3 miles at 6.7 mph," or "I'll run at least 1 mile at 7.0 mph." Yesterday I ran 4 miles in 36:25 (a little bit over 9:00 miles) which is actually pretty fast for me on the treadmill. I always run faster outside than on the treadmill, which I blame on my short legs not being able to keep up with the speed of the belt (although I'm sure it's just a mental thing).

There's a girl who runs at my gym, who I have nicknamed "the gazelle." She usually ends  up running on the treadmill next to me at least once a week. But her running is more like prancing, and she makes 7.5 mph look effortless! She's half inspiring and half irritating. Yesterday my friend Rachael- who just so happens to be the artist of the amazing picture at the top of my blog- was running on the treadmill behind me (unbeknownst to me) and afterwards told me that I was her "gazelle." So I think the lesson here is that everyone is "someone's gazelle," no matter how slow or fast you may seem compared to the person on the treadmill next to you.

One of my co-workers recently passed her CLS (clinical laboratory scientist) certification exam, so last night we celebrated by eating three different varieties of pie. I kept thinking to myself, "Thank God I ran today!"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why I Run

I've been wanting to start a blog for quite some time, and what better time is there to start something than at the beginning of a new year?

Since I'll mainly be using this blog to ramble about running, I figure I should give some background about how I came to call myself a "runner."

I've been running since I joined my school's cross-country team in the sixth grade. I went out for the sport every year until I graduated high school, save for my sophomore year. I was a four-sport athlete in high school, but cross-country was never the most important to me- I  mainly used it as a tool to get in shape for the other sports I played. Running was always on the back burner.

After I graduated high school, I didn't run much in the years that followed. In fact, I didn't take care of myself very well the first three years of college. Sure, I ran off and on, but exercise wasn't exactly my priority.

In October of '09, during my senior year of college, we found out that my Grandma had stage IV breast cancer, and she was given less than two weeks to live. I was able to fly home during fall break to spend time with her, and was lucky enough to be able to see her again in December when I went home for Christmas break. We said our good-byes when I flew back to school in January, as we both knew the likelihood of her surviving was slim. I will always cherish those last days I got to spend with her.

In March 2010, my mom called me to let me know my Grandma's health had taken a turn for the worst, and on March 15th, she passed away. I was a senior in college, taking 18 credits my final semester, and trying to keep my grades up so that I could graduate magna cum laude. Grandma would not want me to dwell on this, I was sure of it. But I had all these feelings bottled up inside of me, and I had no idea what to do with them. So although I hadn't in awhile, I decided to run.

I ran 5 miles.

It was completely exhilarating. I had never viewed running in such a positive light. In high school, it was almost something I suffered through. Since I told my Grandma about how I wanted to run a half-marathon one day, I decided to register for one in May. Over the next couple months, I fell in love with running. Not just the activity itself, but how I felt while running and after I was done running. It brought a whole new meaning to "runner's high" for me.

I've since run two more half-marathons, and various other races. However, with finishing my graduate certificate, planning my wedding, starting a new job, and getting married, I haven't run quite as consistently over the last year and half as I would have liked.

But it's a new year! So here are my running resolutions for 2012:

1. Run a sub-24:00 5k (something I haven't done since high school)
2. Run a sub-50:00 10k (PR is 53:35)
3. Run a sub-1:52 half-marathon (PR is 1:57:54)
4. Run my first marathon!
5. Run 1,000 miles in 2012