Winter is coming

Minnesota has been enjoying a weak La Nina year (or so I'm told), and it's been crazy warm.  We've had a couple of snows that have basically melted and our lakes are not yet frozen.  I'm told, though, winter is coming.

Sunday - I woke up to 2 to 3 inches of snow.  I had delusions of grandeur thinking that the Greenway would be plowed.  Sigh.  I ran six miles anyways.  In the snow.  My shoes were so wet by the time I was done. This was out to be a good run because I didn't look at my watch or my heart rate ever.  I kept the HR relatively low until the last mile or two, and then it was fun to kick things up a bit.

Monday - Most of the snow has melted, though there are big patches here and there.  Winds were coming up from the south, around 10mph.  I ran outside anyways though, because the words artic blast are being tossed around in the forecast for the rest of the week.  I also didn't look at my watch on this run.  I was feeling ish and my heart rate was all over the place.  Not looking at my watch was a good thing, because my heart rate turned out okay for the most part.

December Running - I had a great slump in October and November.  It involved a lot of hamburgers and beer.  And it was glorious.  I am coming back to actual running this month.  And I'm adding the challenge of figuring out how to increase mileage with 3 weight lifting sessions per week.  This week, goal is 26 miles and I think I'll get there.  I'm seeing the importance of high mileage days when I'm not lifting weights.


Run Streak - thoughts 4 years on

In October 2012, I started this little run steak, just thinking I'd do it for a couple months as part of a fitness challenge.  Well... First I made it six months.  And I kept going.  Then, I made it a year and honestly didn't know if I would keep it up.  But I did. I wrote about my 2 year anniversary but obviously skipped year 3.

Here's how things are 4 years on 1500 days on: 
  • I definitely didn't mean this to go four years, nor 1500 days when I started
  • I don't remember a time when I didn't run every day.  And that is weird.
  • I honestly have no desire to give it up. 
  • I have nightmares about missing my mile.  True story.  The worst is when I get home and take a nap on my couch in the late afternoon, and I'm all "I'll run when I wake up".  All my dreams will be about messing up my mile in some way. 
  • People often don't get it, but they still try to be supportive.  In general.  There are those who really don't understand why working out makes a body feel good and not bad.  I keep working out in the hopes that doesn't happen to me.
  • Those "I am so lucky I get to run everywhere" statements that pepper this blog, still true!
PS - my 1500th day, I got up at 5am and ran 1.2 miles before getting in the car and driving for 10 hours to be with family for Thanksgiving.  It was quite a way to celebrate. 


November Running Slump

Each year, I ramp up to big races in October.

And then I fall off the training wagon in November.  And it's a freaking pleasure.  Here's how things have been going so far.

One mile per day - still happening
Anything else - not really happening
Goal: get mildly back into running with my annual "Turkey Trot" (not a race, just something I do by myself)

Once/week - usually I'm taking a walk with a friend at least once/week, sometimes more.  That's been a fantastic addition to my life.
Goal: If it's nice, keep it outside.  If it's meh, maybe the track at the gym.

Weight Lifting:
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays - have become my weight lifting day.  I'm swinging kettle bells all 3 days.  Soon I will have rock hard abs.  If only you could see them under all the hamburgers I've eaten in October.
Goal: Keep it up! 


Training Update: Weight Lifting

For the rest of the year, training plan looks like this.

  • Try to lift weights 3/week.  This is an exploratory phase.  Nothing right or wrong can happen here.  Just put in the work.
  • Drink all the beer you want.  Eat all the hamburgers ever while drinking all that beer.  It's still the off season.  This can go on until the weigh ins for Maintain Not Gain. 
  • Run at least a mile per day.  Mileage per week does not matter.  Hills, long runs, etc do not matter.  Running has to be fun.

  • Sign up for Maintain Not Gain which is a late fall tradition at my gym.  Maybe pull back on the beer and hamburgers a bit. 
  • Run at least a mile per day.
  • Thanksgiving - do my own personal "Turkey Trot" and use it as a jumping off point to get back into running a bit more. 
  • Lift weights 3/week.  Hopefully this continues.

  • Don't screw up Maintain Not Gain
  • Run at least a mile per day
  • Lift weights 3/week
  • Problem solve how to lift weights at home when I'm there for Christmas, and then complete said action plan.

  • Early in the year, seriously improve my 5K times.  I haven't decided if I'm going to hire a personal trainer for this or not. 
  • Lift weights with the goal of getting stronger and losing weight (or at least losing inches and clothing sizes)


What matters most in running tights?

So Run to the Finish asked "What matters to you in running capris?" 

In a word: Drawstring.  
I'm completely not at all down with the 'wide comfort waist' bullshit.  In anything other than shorts, I want a drawstring.  End of story.  I don't care about zippers or key pockets or 'reflective' whatever the hell.  I have the kind of body with a skinny waist and big legs.  Something that is two sizes too big in the waist will still be touching my thighs.  Just give me a drawstring to keep that stuff up.

My favorite tights of all time are the Nike Running Carpis in several different colors, and almost always available at the Nike Outlet store nearest you.  All of the big running brands also offer capris and tights with drawstrings.  I have some from Asics, Addidas, Avia and cold weather sweatpants from Brooks. 

I haven't bought pants from Running Funky yet, but I'm sure I will.  Because with every style, length, and print, they offer the option of a drawstring in the waist.  ::Love::
These are Asics tights paired with an Ink N Burn Christmas Shirt


TC Summit Challenge - Races Review

Races Included: This race series was for

Registration: Like all TCM race series, there is online registration.  One transaction takes care of all 4 races.  One of the reasons I suspect the race series have been popular for TCM is the guaranteed entry into the 10 Mile.  It's quite a draw for me at least.

Training Volume: I think I kept my training volume a bit too high, especially in early summer getting ready for RW&B, and then didn't really have an adequate down time before training started for the 10 Mile.  By the end of September I was done with everything and that was not a fun feeling.
 I originally signed up for this because I liked the idea of having a few key races throughout the year, more of a "year round running" thing than just having 3 races in one weekend like the past two years with Loony Challenge.  Having tried it both ways, I learned that my strong preference is for one weekend with a whole bunch of racing.

My Plan for Next Year: (at this moment in my mind)
MNy? I considered the Summit MNy for next year, 3 5Ks and then a 10-miler.  But the 5K course for Hot Dash is the same as Red White and Boom.  And I hate big crowded 5Ks anyway.
Loony?  I think I'll probably do Loony again.  I loved having all that stuff going on for race weekend.  It's also a bit easier to build up in training since all the training is building towards one particular weekend.
Flying Pig 3 Way?  There's also a discussion of returning to the Flying Pig.  If I go back, I believe it would be for the 3 Way.  Bonus is that I may have a running buddy or two for the 5K so that would be amazing.
Both: I could do both Flying Pig 3 Way and Loony.  There's enough time to build to each, and enough time to rest in between.

TC 10 Mile - Race Review

Registration: Online.  My registration for TC 10 Mile was included by registering for the TC Summit Challenge that probably deserves it's own post.  For those not participating in a race series, the entry is by lottery.

Packet Pick Up: There is a huge race expo for the TC Race Weekend.  Races include TC 5K, TC 10K, TC 10 Mile and the Marathon, as well as a bunch of kids/family races I don't pretend to understand.  Race expo is at the Xcel Energy Center and it's always a big deal.  This year I met Olive for some big shopping.  I found good deals on running belts because all of mine seem to have broken right at the end of my training session.  Olive found her dream pillows at the expo.  We both had a good time.

Weather and Wardrobe: Start temps for the 10 mile were 35* and 90% humidity.  I wish I was joking.  I take a city bus from my house to the start line, so I was outside from 5:30am on.  Race starts at 7am for the Pro Women and my corral took off around 7:20am.
  • Throw away layers: Sweat pants, a fleece top I didn't want, fleece headband, and mismatched socks used as gloves
  • Shirt: I work my 'ugly Christmas sweater' running shirt and it was totally the right decision, technical short sleeve shirt underneath as well
  • Bottom: Saucony full length tights
  • Socks: Smart wool socks
  • Shoes: Brooks Green Silence
  • Head: Visor.  I did not wear sunglasses.  I thought they would've fogged instantly in all the humidity.

Start Line: Race starts in downtown Minneapolis near the Viking Ship.  (I refuse to learn the real name of the Vikings stadium).  10 Mile and Marathon have different start lines, though they are within a block or two of each other. 
  • Weather: Runners were not allowed inside the Viking Ship which was a bummer because it was really cold outside.  Apparently this will be different in future years.
  • Amenities: There seemed to be plenty of potties.  I walked a block or two off the starting line to use the 'Marathon' potties which had basically no line.  That's fairly amazing given the number of people there. 
  • Corrals: So, my Corral seemed to have the most people.  From the train station, Corral C is the easiest to get to.  The other two corrals seemed to involve some walking, and knowing which way to go.  It didn't bother me.  I couldn't tell if the fasties I saw in my corral meant to be there, or just got to the race late and didn't really know where else to go.

Course: I finally got to test out the 'real' course.  The past two years I ran on a modified course.  West River Road had been closed due to a mud slide and ensuing reconstruction of a hill side and some other stuff.
  • Downtown: The course starts in downtown and runs by the Guthrie and a few other landmarks.
  • The River: Everyone remarked on how amazing this part of the course was.  There were ice chunks floating around and steam rising off the river, with the some coming up over it.  It was early in the course and fairly down hill, which also probably helped everyone's enjoyment.
  • Up the hill to Franklin Bridge: Let the climbing begin.  Don't try to win the race on this hill.
  • Over Franklin Bridge: There were lots of spectators here
  • Up East River Road for a while: The 10 mile and marathon courses are the same on this side of the river, so I'd see marathon mile markers and I knew then I had 0.2 to go to get to the 10 mile marker.  There are a few hills, but this is the last reprieve before more climbing
  • Up the hill to Cretin: Big hill.  Don't try to win the race on this hill.
  • Along Summit Ave, more hills: Summit Ave is climbing to "the Summit" which means it's still a lot of up, though nothing as steep as the climb to Franking nor that damn hill before Cretin. The spectators are out in full force here and there's parties every block or two.  My favorites for this part were the sign that said "Summit Ave is your B!tch" and the people that hand out beer.
  • Look for the Cathedral: Nothing like being on Summit, rounding the corner and seeing that Cathedral come out of nowhere.  Now it's really downhill to the finish. 

Finish: The finish line with the cathedral on the left and the Capital way off in the distance is fairly amazing.  Even if it didn't have the emotional piece that goes with the finish line, this part of the course would be amazing. The finish area is well done.  Bag check was easy.  There is a changing tent which I used.  Lots and lots of good food including hot broth for recovery.  And then there's the beer garden. 

Race Recommended For:
  • New to going far: If you want to go longer than a 5K or 10K, this is a good step up in distance before trying the half marathon.
  • Experienced: This is a great course and a well done race.  Go enjoy yourself.
  • Climbers and mountain goats: Any trail person that wants to try a road race, this is the one for you.  For a road race, there is a lot of up.
  • Anybody: This is a really well known and well done race.  Just try it.

My Race: I was happy with my race but disappointed with my time.  I thought I could've done a little faster given my training this year.  But when I think about how I was feeling, I was digging pretty deep.  I did go hard, and I did negative split the race. Intellectually I know I should be happy with this, but I can't help feeling a bit bummed too.

Lessons Learned: I need to have a better mental game on race day. 
The best race I had all year was Red White and Boom.  I think a big part of that was having such a strong mental game going into the race. I knew what paces I wanted to hit starting out, I knew my plan for the hill, and then I knew what I was going to do in the middle and end of the race.
This race, I knew to not start out like a nut, and not to try to win the race on any of the hills.  I had no mental game for the back half of the race other than "I wonder if I can hit this pace".
In the first part of the race, I hit paces okay.  I'm not sure if I could've gone faster in the first mile or two, but I really wasn't feeling it at the time.
I did maintain my senses on the hills and let people go by me.
Everything after the Franklin Bridge is where I had the most room for improvement. I just kind of turned off my watch and tried to go by feel.  I should've had a "try for this pace, if not, then use this pace as plan B" strategy.  I didn't have enough confidence in myself that I could hit my A paces, especially while climbing up Summit, and I didn't have a back up plan.


TC 10 Mile - 2 Weeks to Go and 1 Week to Go

Two weeks to go 
Two weeks to go started with a bad run and the panic attack from hell. Which caused me to do only heart rate based work outs and abandon all else.  Plus, I feel much better for surviving the panic attack.  And when I get done with this damn race training, I want to do all the fun things including all the classes I haven't been to in forever.  ::Phew::

Plan: Long Run
Actual: Run 10.15 miles and I don't want to talk about it.  Walk/run 3.3 miles with a friend.  Foam roll and stretch.

Plan: Run 1 mile, elliptical the rest
Actual: 4.15 miles run outside on my favorite route.  Pity party from yesterday is over.  Today helped me remember that I like to run, and running should only be used to make myself feel good.

Plan: Low heart rate run, elliptical.  Lift weights?  We'll see if I've recovered from Sunday
Actual: 2.3 miles on the treadmill, Avg HR 129 (this was a good run), and then 60 mins on the elliptical.  For many reasons I opted to skip weight lifting.  The one I'll share on here is that the TRX frame is now caught in a construction zone at the gym, and it would've annoyed now.

Plan: 1 mile run
Actual: 1.2 miles run, very early in the morning.  Very early.

Plan: 1 mile run, elliptical the rest this can be switched with Saturday if I want
Actual: 5.75 miles run, Avg HR 136.  Bonus spin class for 20 mins or so. 

Plan: 1 mile run
Actual: 1.21 miles.  Avg HR 126.  For such a low heart rate this was a very fast run.  Mildly encouraged.

Plan: Low heart rate run, no more speed.  Maybe Zumba?
Actual: 4.15 miles run and some walking and taking pictures around Lake Hiawatha.  No Zumba.

One week to go
Plan: Long Run at Ft Snelling
Actual: No long run.  I woke up not feeling it and thought to myself, "why would I do this when I feel like crap?  Rest will be better"   Instead I ran 2.55 miles to get Ice Cream and then walked 1.5 miles home.

Plan: 1 mile run, elliptical the rest
Actual: 5 mile run.  It's a gorgeous day and I was not going inside to an elliptical.  I did feel mildly guilty for not doing yesterday's last long run.

Plan: Low heart rate run or 1 mile run and elliptical
Actual: 1.20 miles run, low heart rate.  No elliptical. 

Plan: 1-4 miles run, or 1 mile run and elliptical
Actual: 4.2 miles run with a friend. 

Plan: 1 mile run
Actual: 1.2 miles run

Plan: 1 mile run
Actual: 1.2 miles run, stretching

Plan: 1 mile run, cheer for friends in the 5K
Actual: 1.2 miles run, stretching, yoga.  Cheering for all of my friends.  Then I spent the rest of the day watching IM Kona.


Running Bucket List

Thanks to Tuesdays on the Run for this one.

What races or running experiences are on your bucket list?

Must Have: 
Flying Pig full marathon.  This is the one that always comes to my mind and the thing that is most likely to pull me back into marathon training.  I'd thought about 2017, but now thinking maybe 2018.  My heart rate training isn't quite where I want it yet.  I am running 13:00/miles in Z2, I'd like to get that down to 12:00/mile or 11:30/mile.

Other marathons: 
Big Sur is another one that always comes to mind because it's supposed to be amazing. 
Run Crazy Horse Marathon in SD, looks like it has a little up and a lot of down.  If I get back into marathon shape, that would be fun.  No, I changed my mind, the marathon course has an out and back in the beginning.  I hate those because I'm always so close to being last.
Marine Corps Marathon if I could ever get in, just because I want one of those medals.

Other things: 
Go long: If I do get back into marathon shape, and really into shape, then I'd like to try for a 50K.
Go fast: I've been toying with the idea of breaking 30:00 in a 5K.  (Yes, I'm so slow I've never done that.)  That goal is probably within reach, but I'd have to train hard.
Go faster: After the 30:00 5K, the next goal would be a sub-60 10K.  That goal is probably not within reach right now, but could be in the future.


Cooking Monday

Productivity Monday turned into just "Cooking Monday" because I have so much stuff from the CSA boxes.

Pepitas.  I haven't finished this one, because the seeds will have to dry out over night.  This page had the best explanation for how to get the gunk and the seeds separated.

Cilantro Chutney is one of my favorite sides of all time when I get Indian food.  Mine didn't turn out quite as good as it is in the restaurant, but the two jalapeƱo peppers I used did capture the spicy quite well.

Thai Pumpkin Soup.  I really used this recipe as inspiration instead of following it to the letter.  I had 2 spaghetti squash and 2 acorn squash instead of pumpkin.  I had yellow curry paste instead of red.  And I had now coriander chutney instead of fresh cilantro.

Tomato Lentil Soup. Again, this recipe is inspiration, not the final story. I've made my version of this a few times.  It involves the tomatoes from the CSA box, onions, red lentils, coconut milk and an immersion blender.

PS - the dishes are done.


TC 10 Mile - 3 Weeks to Go

Planned: Long Run
Actual: 12.65 miles.  This was a rough run.  I kept the heart rate in check mostly but it was slower than I wanted.  Perhaps I couldn't made better decisions last night regarding nutrition and fluid intake?

Planned: Hills or trails
Actual: 3.02 miles, little neighborhood hill route.  Apparently the bad decisions regarding nutrition and fluid continue.  I meant to do a longer

Planned: Low heart rate run, lift weights
Actual: 3.73 miles, Avg HR 138.  15 mins elliptical.  TRX/Kettlebell class. I got started a bit late because work was trying to win today, so I didn't spend as much time on the elliptical as normal.

Planned: 1 mile run
Actual: 1.22 miles.

Planned: 6-10 miles.  (I used to make this 8-10 miles and that seemed to be setting myself up for failure.)
Actual: Laid in bed instead of running.  Eventually did 1.23 miles.

Planned: 1 mile run
Actual: 1.21 miles run, 3.5 miles walk with a friend.

Planned: Constant speed 20 mins, 5 recover; 15 mins, 4 recover; 10 mins
Actual: 20 mins at 10:37 pace (this was a mistake); 15 mins at 11:12 pace; 10 mins at 11:25 pace including that massive hill at the end.  I ran the first 20 mins by feel.  Mistake because I took it out way too fast, and it made it hard to hold the pace at the end.  All valuable lessons for race day.