Operation Mickey

As I mentioned yesterday, at least one mouse was visiting my home.  Being not at all cool with those arrangements, I'd set a bunch of traps to remove said visitors.  Late last night as I was falling asleep I heard one of the traps fire.  That didn't take long.  But no way was I going to go deal with the situation at that exact moment.  I'll just dream about it instead.

So I had this dream...
I woke up to a big black rat in the trap.  The mouse trap wasn't quite strong enough to kill the rat, but the rap was quite trapped.  So when I came into the living room to turn on the television the rat made eye contact with me and rolled it's eyes as if to say "this is ridiculous, can I go now?"  Because I had no desire to address a live trapped rat I just left it there.  In walks a live possum.  That thing looked at me too, before it sat on top of the rat in an attempt to keep it warm and comforted.  I got an eye roll from the possum too.  And I'm all "how did a possum get in here?!?" and "what is going on?!?" 
So I start chasing the possum.  It's not in a trap, it can run.  And it runs into some door that I didn't know existed that leads to the stairs and the people who live upstairs, but also to a window in the stair well.  The window is notable because everything else in the house is nice, but this window is in disrepair.  It's opened and the screen is straight up torn out.  Which leads to a discussion with my roommates about getting the house fixed.
To recap - I had a dream where I made it someone else job to fix the house but never delegated emptying the rat from the trap. Priorities?

Back in real life, this dream kind of woke me up.  Shortly after I woke up, I decided to go face Mickey.  I reasoned it was early enough, my brain was probably still too tired to figure out what was going on so that would make it less awful. Why?  I think the big black rat comes from the imagery in this video which I watched yesterday to figure out how to load the traps.  It's one degree less obvious than you'd think.  For reference, the rat in my dream was slightly larger and less plastic than "Mister Mouse" but roughly the same in all other aspects.

The internet also tells me that rats are about evaluating the clutter around you, relevant because I spent so much time last night cleaning.  Possums are about taking a passive stance in things that are happening around me.  I love the imagery of my dream of the Possum coming in and laying on top of the rat.  Trumped.


Productivity Saturday

So, late last night I swear I saw a mouse run across the floor.  I don't think it was the wine.  This event helped me plan my day today.

5am: Wake up, it's dark but I have to pee.  All I can think is "I hope the mice are hiding right now".  
5:01am - think "I should turn off my alarm.  I don't want to wake up for real in 2 hours" and then do so.
9:45am - Mo starts to vacuum and wakes me up for real.  God bless vacation.
10:00 - 6 Mile run.  I'm still not totally loving heart rate training.  I'm back into trying to keep lower heart rates and moving so slow it hurts.
12:45 - meet friends for lunch.  Hello Biscuits and Gravy. 
2:00pm - So this is why we don't go to Home Depot on Saturday.  PS - Home Depot does not have compost pails but they do have mouse traps.
2:30pm - Walgreen's does not have my shampoo/conditioner.  I hate shopping on Saturdays all together.
3:00pm - I think I met the girl who has been responsible for several police calls to my building.  Her name is Laura.  She was perfectly nice to me, and let me know she was only using one washing machine, the other four were open.
3:01pm - Let the cleaning begin.  First I did the kitchen.  Because mice.  I didn't find any mice nor any poo nor other signs of varmints.  I put away the dish washer, got the counter top totally clean and everything put away, did all the dishes, cleaned the stove and toaster oven, etc.  As I was starting to do the floor I had to change out the laundry.  I got basically the whole house clean, and it was lovely. I also got all the laundry hung/folded/put away. 
5:00pm - Operation Mouse Trap begins.  I used moldy mozzarella as my bait.  The instructions said peanut butter.  All I have is almond butter and I refuse to use something that costs $10/jar for rodent bait. 
5:30pm - I sat down on the couch.
6:00pm - I do not want to cook food in the kitchen.  The dishes are clean, the counters are clean, the floor is clean.  I must go out to seek food.
7:00pm - Himself and I head out to Sober Fish and had a lovely dinner.  We agreed that we had an excellent server tonight.  If we go back I hope we get her again.
9:00 - Got home.  Nothing in the traps.  Not sure if happy or sad.
10:30 - Blog.  Plan tomorrow.  Not sure when to run.  Because it's cold outside now, but cold is still sometimes better than Treadmill.  


Tuesdays on the Run

Trying something new, thanks to this site for the prompt:

Do you run with music? 
Outdoors - typically not. Here's a brief history.  There was a point where I never thought I'd do any runs without music, so the progression has been quite shocking.  The best part is not having to make so many playlists to keep myself interested and not frustrated by music.
Indoors on the track or treadmill - Hell yes.  Music is essential to my sanity.  There has never been a moment when I was all "maybe I'll try to give up the music completely".  When I'm inside, it's on and it's loud.

What’s on your playlist?
Pandora Latin Workout Playlist is important.  This is only usable when I workout with my phone, and when there's signal.  There's a part of my gym that is like a cave and gets no signal of any kind.  Long time favorites include Bad Romance - Lady Gaga and Echa Pa'lla - Pitbull ft Papayo.  Newest addition is Bring it Back - Shy Carter ft Aleon Craft


Heart Rate Training - Again

Did you know you can biomechanically be running and only moving at a 15:00 mile?  I do.  Because Z2 running is awful.  I was looking back at this blog to find encouraging stories of improvement from my first round of heart rate training.  I'm disappointed that I never wrote how utterly frustrating it is, and how slow it forces me to to run.  I should've said that before.  I keep trying to remind myself there was a time I couldn't run a 15:00 mile with a heart rate below 150, so keeping it around 135 is a good thing.  But some days, I just want to go. 

Mio Alpha: Last April I got my first heart rate monitor.  It was a plain watch that paired to my iPhone.  It had some downsides, particularly that it didn't work with any apps that tracked indoor running, but I thought it worked quite well and I was happy with it.  Until it broke 1 week before my A race this year.  Sigh.  The wrist band is the part that broke, but the monitor won't work without being strapped tightly to my wrist.  Sigh

Garmin 225: The day the first thing broke, I got myself over to REI and bought a Garmin.  I can't believe I never owned one of these before.  This thing is way more sophisticated than the original heart rate monitor and I enjoyed putting it through its paces.  One of my favorite features is the display of 'heart rate zones' complete with pretty colors. 
One the other available features are in depth training plans on Garmin Connect.  (I have yet to decide if I like this feature.) There are training plans that are heart rate based (vs a traditional distance/speed based plan).  I was checking them out in advance of my 2016 races, and all the plans have significant amounts of time running in zone 2.  Z2 is not an intensity to which I'm accustomed.  And it's slow.  Like, I mean, SLOOOOOOW.

I haven't started the actual training program yet, but it's clear to me the Z2 runs will be my Achilles heel so I'm trying to practice them now.  I'm still seeing this as part of my race recovery time.  As Z2 runs are considered "recovery runs" it seems appropriate.  Hopefully this time around I post more about the heart rate training progress.  And hopefully it becomes less frustrating this time around, as it did last time. 


TCM - Loony Challenge Year 2

Goals for year 2: I had no idea what to expect this year.  It's been a solid year of heart rate training.  But as soon as I got to racing season I was all "how do I set goals for this?!?"  Should my goals be based on pace?  Heart rate?  A mix of both?  I knew I badly wanted to go sub-2hrs in the 10 mile, but I had no idea if that was realistic or not.  I had no idea what I wanted for the 10K and the 5K.

Packet Pickup: Olive volunteered in packet pick up and reported there were some issues.  TCM mails out some pretty sweet Runner Guides well ahead of the race.  Among other things, it shows my bib number for the 10 Mile race.  Since I am a genius, I left it at home.  When I got to Packet Pickup I had to go to the "find my number" table, showed my ID and told the helpful volunteer I'd registered for Loony Challenge.  She printed off two slips for me, one with my Saturday events number and one with my Sunday events number.  I went to the two different tables and collected my things.  Olive was at Saturday events packet pick up and reports that most Loony runners only knew their 10 Mile bib number from having their guide mailed to them.  I reviewed and nothing I was sent ahead of time had my bib number for Saturday events.  I guess forgetting to write down my bib numbers saved me time in the end.
Goal: Find Olive.  Thank all the volunteers I saw.
Outcome: Done
Bonus Goal: Get a new race belt.
Outcome: Also done.  I wore it for all three races and I was tremendously happy with it.

This year,  I found myself wishing I'd written down what I wore last year.  I was having a hard time with the logistics. 
Outfit - Day 1:
Skora PhaseX (blue - yes, I have more than one pair of these shoes); Injinji Socks; Saucony Running Tights (full length, not lined), Short sleeve technical shirt and long sleeve technical shirt.  New race belt.  Sunglasses for part of the race.  Temps around 40* for the start of the 10K, slightly warmer for the 5K but I was still freezing my tail off.

TC 10K: I went easy up the first hill and about 500 people passed me in the first quarter mile. I passed many of them back later so it was all good.  I had a very hard time at the beginning of this race.  It was partly nerves and partly standing in the corral and not being able to warm up properly, and partly literally being cold.  My shoes are very thin and my socks were thin, and my feet felt like ice cubes for a solid mile.
Goal: Be back in time for the 5K
Outcome: Done
Bonus Goal: Run under a 12:00/mile pace
Outcome: 11:19/mile, that really shocked me

TC 5K: I'd warmed up after the 10K, but I got really cold again, waiting for the 5K to start.  Olive did not run this year with me and that made me sad. I started off heading back up this stupid hill again, happy that I got turn around much sooner in this race than the first one.  This race was packed with kids.  No matter how high up I seed myself, they're always there.  I think TCM needs to have the kind of corrals that were in the Flying Pig's 5K last year because that worked really well.  The end of this race was really tough.  I kept running and feeling like, I cannot kick.  What is the deal?!?  And then I checked my run data and saw how fast my final mile was, and felt much better about myself.
Goal: Finish
Outcome: Done
Bonus Goal: Another sub 12:00/mile pace would be nice
Outcome: 11:19/mile.  Weird right?

Day 2 Outfit:
Skora Phase X shoes; Smart Wool Running socks with high cuffs; Fleece lined tights; Smart wool long sleeve shirt; "Liz shirt" over top.  On Summit Ave I ran with a guy who'd been racing for years, and when people were all "go Liz" he's like "I'm going to do that to my shirt next year".   Temps around 40* for the start.

TCM 10 Mile: I was really looking forward to another crack at this course, hopefully routed correctly this time.  I found myself back in Corral 4 again.  I wonder what it takes to move to Corral 3. The day before, the strategy that worked was for me to feel my body going hard and strong.  Hard, but not hurting. Since I was surprised and pleased by the outcomes of both the 10K and the 5K I decided it was quite a sound strategy and went with it. 
Early on I was quite frustrated.  There is a huge bottle neck in this course where the runners go through a narrow tunnel.  It happens just before Mile 1 so the runners are still fairly bunched up.  This year, the bottle neck was so bad I had to walk and got almost completely stopped.  WTF?!?  This was not an issue last year.
My goal for the hills in the middle miles of the course was to challenge myself but also to stay within myself.  These were comparatively slower miles, but I was pleased when I saw how things worked out.
On Summit Ave I met this dude who was a race walker straight up walking an 11:30 mile, or so he told me.  I made it my mission in life to stay with him, since he'd walk me right into my own goal of going sub-2hrs.  We talked and it made that part of the course go really quickly. He also kept me challenged and focused on the up hills in that section.  He dropped me in the last mile on the flats but I almost totally caught him back on the down hill.
Goal: Sub 2 hrs
Outcome: 1:55:52, 11:36/mile pace.

The Finisher Area: beyond insane.  (There was a significant stretch of spectating area between the Cathedral and the finish line that was reserved this year for a protest.  Typically it is filled with spectators and runners who've already finished.)  Olive had race credentials so she came in there to meet me after I grabbed my medal and food.  Bag check was super fast but finisher t shirts had lines that stretched back to bag check.  Olive stood in line for my shirt while I changed.  I was going to try to connect with another friend who was race walking, but things were so cramped in there we just made a run for it. 

Marathon: On the way home, Olive and I decided we wanted to cheer for the marathon runners.  We found our way to about mile 14 on the course.  We'd only been there a few minutes when the 5:00:00 pace group came by.  We made sure we stayed for the 5:30:00 pace group.  These are my people.  And then we stayed after.  I was really surprised how many people were behind the 5:30:00 pacer at mile 14.  About three people looked good and strong and like they knew what they were doing.  Everyone else looked like they were suffering.  Hard.  Olive and I went for Donuts and watched a bit.  Finally Olive was like "I don't want to watch anymore." 

Loony Challenge: I'm glad I did it a second year.  I don't know if I'll do it again next year because of the timing of another race I want to try. If I don't do it again next year, I'm going to volunteer with Olive so I get Race Official Credentials and Clothing.  No joke.
Goal: Go faster than last year
Outcome: Mission completely accomplished

Suggestions for next year:
  • Corrals for the 5K and the 10K - look at how Flying Pig does them because it actually works
  • Two bag check bags, one for Saturday and one for Sunday - mine always rips the first day
  • Last year, Loony Challenge and Summit Challenge people had back tags. Not this year.  Any chance of bringing them back?

What I liked:
  • The Volunteers: No race is complete without volunteers.  Thank you! 
  • The Expo: I thought it was really good this year. 
  • Get the 10K and 5K medals after both races are done.  Thank you!  Flying Pig didn't do it that way this year and it severely annoyed me.
  • One bib for 10K and 5K.  Again, thank you for simplifying the logistics of my race life.
  • Corporate Team Challenge: My employer participates in the 10K, 5K and Marathon corporate team challenge.  That means on Saturday we got a special tent with a special changing area and our own potties.  The tent was heated.


Trail Monday: WIlliam O'Brien 10 Mile Trail Race

It's race day, the reason I made sure I ran on trails at least once a week with pretty good regularity all summer. William O'Brien 10 Mile Race and 10 miles is a very sensible trail race distance.

Trail: We ran parts of the lower park and the camp ground by Lake Alice, and parts of the upper park which was mostly prairie and some woods.  The course was very well marked.  We had aid stations at mile 3, and then at the loop by miles 5.5 and 6.5.  I was happy for the water and Gatorade because I didn't carry any of my own. 

Hills: The hills are for real.  To recap, Pike Island has 144 feet of gain, all at the end up that big hill.  Baker has 178 feet of gain, and I whine about it a lot. Elm Creek actually has the most gain at 211 feet. For reference the Flying Pig Half Marathon clocks in at 696 feet of gain.  This trail had a whopping 709 feet of elevation gain.   Lesson for next time: I need to run more hills. 

Ease of Running: Absolute pleasure.  The only single track is up and down that ginormous hill at miles 1 and 3.  The rest of it is a mix of cinder trail and wide grass track.  I was so happy the grass was mown and fairly beat down by the time I got to it.

Nature: I did not see many animals.  I'm going to guess the 200 runners in the woods scared them off. My parents said they saw some butterflies.  I did see lots of flowers.  The course is straight up gorgeous.

Will I come back: FrontRunner put on a great race, and the course was great.  I would run this trail race again in a minute, if I keep up with the trial running next year.  My training plans for next year are definitely the wild card.

About the race: My parents were in town for the race and told me to only run trail races from now on.  Another friend joined us today, and they three were together spectating. While I was running, they had a visitors center to walk in, and they checked out some of the trails themselves.  At the end of the race there were leftover shirts and my parents scored them as out of town spectators.  Park entry, parking and packet pick up were all super easy.  The course was very well marked.  The volunteers were awesome (shock!).  I met some people who seemed to be running about my pace and wound up sticking with them.  I knew I would be slower than them on the up hills something to practice for next year.  I was really surprised how much faster I was than them on the down hills.  Something I should keep practicing for next time, because it earns me time on the courses. I was both crazy hungry and not wanting any food by the time the race was over. 

Special thanks to my crew: Mom, Dad, and Lucinda!


Trail Monday: Trail Sunday

Today was the final trail run before my only trail race of the year.  The most important thing this run did was help me make a decision about which shoes to wear on race day. It's not the ones I wore today.

Trail: Ft Snelling's Pike Island.  I've run here several times before this summer.  The loop around the island is roughly 3 miles, so it's the shortest of all the trails I've found acceptable.  The Anoka Preserve is technically shorter, but I'm divorcing that trail.

Hills: The island itself is fairly flat.  The run on the mainland from where I park my bike to the island is another story. This is the hill I use to identify my "max heart rate" for heart rate training.  174BPM may be a new record for me.  Is that good or bad?

Ease of Running: There was more gravel on the island than there has been in the past, and that's what hurts me in my itty-bitty minimal trail shoes.  It's clear gravel was added to some parts of the trail that had been flooded for a while, probably as a way to improve drainage. And it was those moments it was clear to me I needed different shoes for the race.  Shoe choice aside, this path is an absolute pleasure.  It's wide and clear and most runners don't even bother with trail shoes on it because it's so well done.

Nature: I saw road kill on the bike path.  I can't imagine being the biker who managed to run over a squirrel.  How does that happen? 

Will I come back: Likely.  I've liked this path for several reasons.  It's by far the closest to my house and the only trail that doesn't require me to drive to it.  I also like the excuse to add biking to the workouts.  The trail is short enough that I can easily do it, even when I cut back miles for the post-race season.