December Monthly Totals

What Worked Well: Running a mile per day. That may be the only thing that worked this month.

What Could Go Better:  This was a rough month emotionally, and all those emotions took their rage out on my body. Among other things my sleep was wrecked which in turn lead to my running being wrecked.  Time will heal this one; there's nothing else I need to do.

Biggest Surprise: My hear rate while running up hills in Cincinnati.  It was not totally aerobic, but much closer than I'd expected it to be. I feel like the whole 'heart rate training' thing is finally starting to pay off.

Plan for January: 1. Run a mile per day.  2. Get outside.  I ran with a friend at the gym this morning and was already lamenting the craziness that will be January on that track. It won't take me long to prefer braving the cold to the wretchedness that is the gym in January. 3. Start 'training' for the Flying Pig 3 Way.  4. Try an 'Insanity' class with Running Neighbor.  That seems like a class gym newbies would avoid.  Am I right? 5. Wear a heart rate monitor while running.  (This mildly conflicts with getting outside and running becuase I can't see the HRM under my jacket sleeves.  Oh well.)


Year of Running 2014

This isn't my official review, but I am using Miss Zippy's questions to get my mind going.

Best Race Experience: Tie between my first trail race and the Loony Bin.  I mean "Loony Challenge".   The trail race was fantastic because it was utterly low key and welcoming.  Loony was fantastic because I liked so many races in one weekend and it was basically well organized and fun.

Best Run: Get in Gear was a revelation.  I was NOT expecting the time I ran in that race.

Best New Piece of Gear: My Heart Rate Monitor. I have a love/hate relationship with the thing.  Although I've liked it much more this winter than in the summer when it was making me run super slow.

Best Running Advice Received: When a friend said 'when I was swinging kettle bells, that's the most solid my body has ever been'.  TRX/Kettle Bell class was really fun.

Most Inspirational Runner: Meb Keflezighi.  Because we needed a win in Boston, and he was all heart and class in New York.

Sum Up Your Year in A Couple of Words: Just Keep Running.


November Monthly Totals

What Worked Well: 1. Running at Julie's house.  Although the woods were closed for deer hunting, I was able to work in a run on the crushed limestone trail.  I got utterly soaked by the end of the run but had a blast.
2. Running 10 miles on Thanksgiving day.  I even threw in a 'finisher' of squats, standing bicycles and standing toe touches. 
3. Started the TRX/Kettlebell class at the gym.  I'm finding it quite challenging.  I'm enjoying it and hoping to add some of what I learn to my 'finisher' repertoire.

What Could Go Better: You know it drives me nuts that I missed 100 running miles but less than 2 miles right? 

Biggest Surprise:  I was going to say 'the elliptical' but then I realized I only went to two Spin classes this month.  That seems not quite right.

Plan for December: Run a mile per day.  Run 28-30 miles per week.  Finish up the TRX/Kettlebell class. Add 'stair running' to my track workouts at least six times this month.  (There is a stair case at either end of the indoor track.  I would like to run down and back up the stairs every lap excluding my first mile and my cool down, for at least six workouts.)  Run lots and lots in Cincinnati for the holidays.


Running Indoors - sometimes fast and sometimes slow

I am still running.  Monday sort of ushered in 'in-door running season' which hit brutally quick this year.

Tuesday I ran outside, just for a mile, and then did TRX/Kettlebell at the gym.  Running outside was fairly icy.  Winter is reminding me of the other use of my trail shoes: Ice Running.

Wednesday started out as a track run but my heart rate was all over the place and there was just no way. I did a mile and half on the track and then headed over to the elliptical where my heart rate was much easier to keep under control.  I walked on the track and took some serious time to stretch out afterwards.

Thursday I had zero problems with my heart rate and had a great run.  I ran 5 miles, walked half a mile, and then headed down to Zumba.

Friday I was in a bit of a hurry, so I only had time to do 3 miles.  I think I was dreaming of running with a higher heart rate and didn't freak out when it got to 150, but mostly I kept it pretty low key.

Saturday I was somewhat hung over and recovering from the Garth Brooks concert, so I just ran my mile and then slowly and surely made my way back to the couch.

Sunday I decided to check out the Downtown gym.  I've heard it's a ghost town on the weekend and I was not disappointed.  I had another day where I could not keep my heart rate in check so I did 2.2 miles on the treadmill and then headed over to the elliptical.  It was a bit of a learning moment for me to be able to keep my heart rate at 150 or 151 for so long without seeing a big spike.  I guess I know what the treadmill is good for now.


Monday: Adventure Day

Massive snow storms were predicted today.  I decided that I needed to keep a positive attitude about the snow.  I will be driving in it for some time to come.  So I named Monday as an adventure day, although without the driving.

Bus: I walked up a couple blocks to a bus stop.  Two different routes come to that stop.  So  I decided that whichever route came first was the one I'd take.  One route would take me to the Uptown Gym and one to Downtown.  Either way I could run.
Result: In a surprise twist, a neighbor was driving to work and spotted me and offered to give me a ride to the close gym, Midtown, which is hilariously inconvenient for busing because of routes and transfers.

Workout: I ran 4 miles on the track at the gym.  Because it's snowing *sleeting* outside.  I did a warmup, then 1 lap at 148-150 heart rate, 1 lap at 141-144 heart rate, etc and then a couple cool down laps.  I really had the urge to move and this worked out nicely.

Bus 2: I took the 21 all the way to the end of the line in Uptown, hopped off, grabbed coffee and made my way to the apple store.

Apple Store! I bought myself my very first iPad today.  I'd been wanting one since the beginning of time, but more so recently.  There's a few things that I do that work well on a touch screen but the iPhone is just a bit too tiny for them.  I'm now hunting down photo editing apps, so name your favorites.

Bus 3: I took one last bus home, and by then I was ready to call it a day.  It didn't really feel like an adventure until this guy was driving like he was running behind and there was no snow nor ice on the ground.  I could've lived without that part of it.

Home: I spent the afternoon getting to know my iPad.  We are still dating.  I also grabbed clothes for tomorrow, and for the gym, and made myself lunch.


Sunday: Lake Harriet Sans Snow

Sunday morning: last run without snow for 2014.  Massive snow storms were predicted for Sunday night and all day Monday, so I had to get out and run one more long run without cleats or twenty five pairs of socks.  Minnesota already appears to have gone gray.  All the color between the sky and the ground is gone.  I won't see it again until spring.  Le sigh.
I ran an interval training workout that I had programmed into Endomondo.  It builds some walks in.  When running, I try to keep my heart rate on the higher side of aerobic for me, 148-152.  Walk breaks allow me to 'burn hot' for a longer distance.  I've run this interval workout a few other times, and it gets quite challenging by the end.  This time I got a couple extra breaks waiting for lights at Nicollet and Lyndale.


iOS 8 Updates: Nike and Strava and Endomondo

I use my running apps on an iPhone, so the iOS 8 update was a big deal.  Every year I notice an iOS update the week before Twin Cities Marathon, and every year I refuse to update until after race weekend.  This year was the same.  Here's what I've noticed about the apps.

Strava: I cannot tell one single difference.  In a very good way.  This app wins the prize for being the only one that found my heart rate monitor straight away, without needing to re-pair it.

Nike+: Nike+ and I have always enjoyed strained relations but we had recently achieved a detente of sorts.  The iOS 8 update blew that all to hell.
  • Health kit: I never uploaded/integrated/whatever the health kit.  Apparently now there's a way for me to connect some kind of heart rate monitor?  I can't figure it out.
  • Music controls: are 10 kinds of screwed up.  The music sort of insists on having the controls go through the app while listening to itunes, but interacting with the app at all during the run seems to impact playback in less than ideal ways.

Endomondo: Still my favorite app and my favorite website.
  • Heart rate monitor: I had to re-pair my heart rate monitor after the update.  This wasn't the only app that had this issue, but I didn't notice until some runs were completed so I was kind of bummed.
  • Vibration: A feature lost in an earlier update seems to be restored.  The phone now vibrates at the end of a lap in addition to giving an audio cue.  I really missed that feature and am glad to see it back.
Some other information, since many many people seem to search these things:
  • Interval workouts: Not available with Nike+ nor Strava, available with Endomondo Premium (or legacy Endomondo Pro)
  • Goal workouts: Nike+ allows goals by distance, time, or speed.  Endomonodo allows goals by distance, time, and on Premium accounts also calories burned.  Strava allows goals of time or distance on premium accounts only.
  • Foot pods: No.  Just, no.
  • Heart rate monitors: Endomnodo and Strava seem to support loads of these. I use a Mio Alpha with no problems.
  • Running indoors: Nike+ has an indoor setting that uses the accelerometer on the phone.  Endomondo and Strava do not support indoor running.


Race annoyances

One of the blogs I read is Miss Zippy which I typically enjoy.  She wrote an article Sorry, Not Sorry which I also read.   I found it basically oh-so-true, with a hint of 'the times, they are a-changing'. 

Coming to a dead stop at water stops: Oh so true.  In every race.  Walking through water stops is totally acceptable.  But coming to a dead stop won't be fun for anyone.  I don't see it that often, so it's not a big pet peeve of mine.

Listening to music on your headphones loud enough you can't hear your surroundingsOh so true.  I don't run too many races with music, the last one being Get in Gear.  When I do use music, I tend to leave one ear bud half way out so I can hear what's going on.  This is even more important on courses that are not closed to traffic.

Seeding yourself incorrectly: Both 'oh so true' and 'the times they are a-changing'.  The options I've seen are 'free for all' at the starting line.  This happens most often in 5Ks (TCM 5K and Flying Pig 5K, I'm looking at you), and incorrect seeding is just going to happen because there's no feedback for anyone about where they should be standing.  Next up is the 'no corrals, but pace signs and times posted' and this is my favorite option.  It relies on runners following the honor system and having some understanding of how fast they are going to be moving.  The most stringent solution is obviously the corral system.  It's certainly the most fool proof, but sometimes penalizes runners who know they are faster but don't have a qualifying time so wind up in the back corral with the really slow people. 

Running four or five abreast at a leisurely paceBoth 'oh so true' and 'the times they are a-changing'.  This is not fun at marathons where people are trying for a Boston Qualifier or whatever.  But I think some races are really designed for this kind of thing.  I'm thinking about the big ones like Race for a Cure, Color Run, and some similar races where the level of competitive running is much lower, and the social aspect of the race is highly marketed.

Taking selfies during the race: Is this a thing? Apparently I'm too far in the back of the pack to be impacted by this.


That time of year indeed!

I'd said last week it's the time of year when I run to find myself (or sometimes not to lose myself).  It's also the time of year when it's starting to get cold and running inside seems not so bad.  The beauty of this situation is twofold.  First, the track is less crowded and I haven't been on it in a while, so running inside seems not so bad. Second, if I'm outside it means we are having a fantastic day.  Wins all around I say.

Last week I had two inside runs.  Because 20mph winds are not my friend.  I also had a run on the Greenway, Elm Creek Park, and a run/walk around the neighborhood.

Today I *accidentally* ran 4 miles in the neighborhood.  I'd meant to run my mile and then start walking but it was a bit windy and I didn't feel like slowing down.  (Not that I was going terribly fast to begin with.)  So I kept running until I got home.  Excellent.


October Monthly Totals

What Worked Well: ZumbaMy fitness goal for October was a triumphant return to Zumba.  And I did in a big way.  I went to all the Thursday and Saturday classes after race weekend, and I threw in a couple Wednesday classes as well.

What Could Go Better: Stretching.  Sometimes I am grumpy and lazy and don't want to get off the couch.  And I'm sick of listening to the same youtube videos telling me how to foam roll.  Apparently I need a hug.

Biggest Surprise: Spin.  This was my biggest month for spin ever.  I had a blast and may try to go every Monday from now on, instead of the every other I've been doing.  I started wearing my heart rate monitor in class, which helps me force myself to work to the right intensity.

Plan for Next Month: Average 28-30 miles per week.  Run at least one mile per day. Run in the woods at Julie's place at least once. Run 8-10 miles on Thanksgiving Day. Start the Kettlebell/TRX class at the gym. 


Aparently it's *that time* of the year

Not that time of the month.  Calm down.

It's the time of the year when I run more as a habit, and so I don't lose myself, than for any other reason.  As such, I rarely feel motivated to write about it.  This week's running didn't even lend itself to photography really.  Sunday and Tuesday I did my normal Lake Hiawatha route, Monday was the Greenway, Wednesday was just a mile around my house and today was inside on the track. 

What else am I doing?  Zumba.
I declared October to be the month of Zumba, since I missed so much of it in September.  I've gone on Thursdays and Saturdays and even gone to a few Wednesday classes as a special bonus.

In the meantime, I had a photo-repost on Instagram, which felt kind of cool.
A photo posted by Midtown Greenway Coalition (@midtowngreenway) on


8.5 Miles on Cedar Lake Trail

I had actually two workouts tonight.  I took the unusual step of driving to the downtown gym so I could take longer at the end of the night without rushing.

Workout 1 - Run 8.5 miles, interval workout.  As I've mentioned before, I'm not training for a single thing right now, and I'm really taking steps to enjoy that.  I still wanted a longer workout today, so I did run/walk intervals along a new-to-me section of the Cedar Lake Trail.  I had a nice time.  The intervals let me run harder than normal, but for short enough bursts that my heart rate didn't get out of control.

Workout 2 - Spin.  With the Dungeon Master.  She earned that nickname herself.  We did the long hill workout, which was my favorite from before.  Except I didn't remember coming out of my seat so many times in the last workout.  I am terribly lazy on bike, and hate coming out of the saddle.  The only thing I hate worse is jumps. 

After the workout, I leisurely got cleaned up, dried my hair, etc.  Then I stopped by a Chinese Restaurant (it's been too long) and grabbed some takeout for dinner.


Sunday - today I am grateful for:

I headed out for a Run/Walk around 4:00 on Sunday afternoon.  I ended it feeling pretty good, several moments of gratitude sparkled through the time.

1. I am grateful not to be running a race right now.  So when I want to run lazily up the hill and then back down the other side, I don't have to worry about strengthening my legs or improving my times.  I can just run for the joy of it.

2. I am grateful for this fall that seems to be lasting forever.  I feel like it came on really early, but then the leaves have held on forever.

3. I am grateful for the motivation to actually leave the house.  It took all day to find. The 'get the run in and then we'll walk and take pictures' seemed to be the right compromise.


Gym Bag Neccessities

Thanks to Shut up and Run for this topic.  What's in your gym bag?

Small plastic sandwich baggies.  When I drive to a run, I need a way to carry my car keys with me.  My 'key' at the moment is a remote.  If it gets sweaty and shorts out, my car will not start.  So I put the remote in a little sandwich bag in my pocket, to keep it sweat free. Remember the old fashioned days when you could just tie something to your shoe?

Ear buds.  I tend to run sans music outside.  Running around the track for an hour, or bobbing up and down on an elliptical, I really appreciate my tunes.  I remember the moment I discovered noise blocking headphones for the gym, as I was looking at a guy pounding away on the treadmill but couldn't hear the offending sounds.  My life was forever changed in that moment.

Elastic Headbands.  Because my hair is a hot mess and needs to be contained.  I have a rotating stash that live in my gym bag.

Plastic dirty clothes bag.  Nothing fancy.  Right now I'm using an old Gap shopping bag.  It just has to be plastic so it keeps the smell and the funk contained.

Lock.  It sounds stupid but the moment you forget it, you'll really miss it.

My Gym ID card.  It just stays in the gym bag with my lock.  Because I am lazy.

Race belt, arm band, or similar.  To carry my portable music device. And possibly my keys.

Spare clean underwear and clean socks.  Because we all forget things from time to time.

Emergency fruit snacks.  Sometimes I just get hungry.


Best (or Worst) of My Racing HIstory

Thanks to The Right Fits for this topic.

Best Finisher's Shirt: The 2013 Flying Pig 10K and 5K shirts.  They are made out of this magically soft material that words cannot describe.  All of the Flying Pig finisher shirts have pig tails on the back so they are cute.

Worst Finisher's Shirt: TCM 2014 10 Mile because they ran out before I got one. 

Best Finish Line: Bolder Dash.  Because watching kids finish a 5K and cheering them on is fantastic. For all that I love about the Flying Pig, I hate what happens in the finishers corral. Mostly because everyone stops moving, it's impossible to get through, and my legs cramp up every time. And according to my parents it's hell to try and spectate on the course and then find a way to the finish line on foot.  They get screwed up every year by barricades and impassible streets.

Best Overall SWAG/Gear: I agree with The Right Fits.  It has to be be the Flying Pig.  I have a backpack (that I've since beaten to death), duffel bag and cooler from them.  Are those really the only years I ran?

Best Crowd Support: Twin Cities Marathon.  Hands down.  Flying Pig Half Marathon is next.  The first few miles are easy for spectators to navigate on foot, but there are gaps in the crowds when we run through some more industrial/business areas.

Hottest Race: 2012 Brew to Brew, with honorable mentions going to 2011 Brew to Brew and several years of Ragnar Relays.

Coldest Race:  2013 Dreidel Dash.  Dreidel Dash being the correct answer to that question.  The first one that came to mind was the 2010 Monster Half Marathon becuase I was absolutely shivering the back half of that race.  Honorable mention goes to this insanity.

Most Beautiful Course:  TCM is the Most Beautiful Urban Marathon, truly.  But Trail Mix was nice just for running on grass through a park for so long.

Race That Took the Most Mental Strength: My first marathon.  Because I was alone on the course for so freaking long looking at one side of the Amstel River and then the other. 

Most Disappointing Finish: 2014 TCM 10 Mile.  I wasn't disappointed in myself so much.  But I thought I'd reached my goal and then found out that TCM shorted the course.  And they ran out of finisher's shirts.  For a race we had to register and pay for months in advance. 

Best Start Line: Trail Mix.  Trail races are so low key. Honorable Mention goes to Ragnar Relay because the start line is like a party, and to Brew to Brew because the start line is a party and beer is officially part of the party!

Most Organized: Flying Pig.  For local races, anything put on by Final Stretch or Mary Anderson Races.

Flattest Course: The old Bolder Dash course around Lake Nokomis.  I had to rack my brain for that one.  For living in Minnesota, I sure can find a lot of hilly courses.

Best Finish Line Food: Have you run a trail race?  Otherwise, I'm going to go with Flying Pig because one year they had a tent with free Goetta.  The food at TCM is generally pretty run of the mill, but they do have chicken broth which tastes good on cold race days.

Coolest Medal: The 2011 TCM Medal is my favorite.  In general the best medals come from TCM and Flying Pig.  Gopher to Badger is also a funny medal. 

Most Emotional Finish: 2009 - Amsterdam Marathon because it was my first marathon.


Wordless: Sunset

Sunset before Zumba. #sunset #powderhorn #powderhornpark #minneapolis #reflections


Happy Two Years! - I am so lucky because I get to run everywhere!

Today, the running streak hit two years.  (Started October 14, 2012.)  Here's how I was feeling after one year.

This morning, I had the worst headache I've had in living memory.  So at 6am I took some really strong medicines and went to sleep for a few more hours.  I left the house around 1030 for a short run that ended at my local coffee shop.  I got myself a latte and a cookie to celebrate two years of running without missing a day!

I got a little misty when my phone informed me I'd run my mile this morning.  Here's what I was thinking about:
  • Running every day helps keep me even.  I mostly mean emotionally, but there are days it literally drags me off the couch as well.
  • Running every day helps me from feeling bad about myself for missing a workout.  A 15 minute run is not nothing.
  • Running every day helps keep my appetite in control.  Even days I eat more, it's not like it used to be.
  • Running every day helps keep pain under control when I get my period.  This one is amazing to me.  The worse I hurt the sooner I get out and run.

I agree with two of my points from last year's post as well: I've never been ashamed to call a one-mile run my workout for the day. More importantly, I am so lucky becuase I get to run everywhere.