Happy Pride!

If I knew how to put rainbows on this blog, I would.  This weekend was Pride Weekend and my first time ever for going to the festival.  I was invited to go yesterday but my couch made a better offer.  

The only thing I knew about Pride ahead of time was not to drive there.  I checked the bus schedule but on a Sunday nothing was going to work so I got on my bike and headed up.  First Avenue is way more pleasant for biking on the weekends than at rush hour.  And that's even including all the cars legally parked in the bike lane.  Which is a stupid design.  But I digress.  Pride even had a bike corral for me to stash my bike.  It wasn't as crowded as I expected, probably owing to the billions of other bike racks in the neighborhood along the edge of the park.

The event itself was about like I expected.  I loved all the rainbows, and was really proud to see so many Minnesota companies in the mix.  The thing to do seemed to be walking around talking to people in booths and eating food, which is pretty much what we did.  To be clear, Walk-a-taco is fine, but Los Ocampos is way better.  Sorry Maggie.  The lemonade was my favorite and a big hit today because of the heat.

After Pride, I biked home and ran my mile.  Now I know why they call it a brick workout.  My legs did indeed feel heavier than rocks. I'd planned to go 2-3 miles but my stomach made it quite clear that 1.25 miles was plenty.  Will we ever be at peace?  For the evening entertainment, we headed to Lake Harriet to watch the Minneapolis Pops play what turned out to be their first concert of the season.  The concert started at 5:30pm and we sat in full sun in 89* temps.  I am so screwed up from this winter that the head didn't even bother me. 


A Short Distance Week - 1 more mile today

I think being sick on Monday really killed any chance of working out this week.  Sigh.  I woke up this morning and basically went back to bed until 10am.  I skipped Zumba.  In the evening, I got out and ran my mile.  In the rain, and thunder.  I kept thinking the thunder was airplanes.  And then I had a finisher of Reverse Lunges and standing bicycles.  I started from 10 and went down to 1.  I would've started at 15 but I was afraid for myself on the lunges, not being able to finish that many.  I'll know for next time that I can do it.

We're having crazy flooding and rain here obviously.  The park by my house is usually dry and used for dog walking and stuff.  Right now it's a drainage pond.  And the Family Dollar parking lot now has an unwanted water feature.  Maybe with a dry night, some of the water will drain into the sewers and down into the river.  Once the rain stopped though, the skies were beautiful.

After running, I finally found strength to leave the house.  First place I hit was Los Ocampos for some lovely Tacos.  It was after 8pm.  The line was to the door.  Because this place is that popular.  Then I hit up the co op for some food and I will have to use some of my time tomorrow to actually make lunches.  This week coming up I am working Monday through Thursday because Friday is a holiday. It made this weekend only a 2-day weekend and that's really screwing me up right now.


4 Miles and a finisher

I think I'm on a quest to see all of the Anoka County Parks and Trails.  Today I finished my day pretty close to Rum River North County Park.  I found a library to use the restroom and change clothes and then headed over to the park.  Apparently I'm also on a quest to see all of the Anoka County Libraries.

The Park: Rum River North seems to be a tiny strip of land along the river bank.  I'm sure it's normally a much larger strip of land but much of it was underwater today.  The big attractions seem to be canoe access points and a canoers only camp ground.  It doesn't have a super lot of trails and I had to run one loop a couple times just to get up to four miles.  What it lacks in mileage it makes up for in variety.  I had a paved trail most of the way, crushed limestone/gravel, dirt and grass, all within four miles.  I also had lots of hills, up and down, which I'm making peace with.

The Finisher: Today's finisher was Single Leg Front Raises and side stepsI didn't use a band, but legs were on fire afterwards so that probably means I worked hard enough.  I started at 15 leg raises on each leg and then 15 lateral steps on each leg; 14 on each, all the way down to 1 on each side.  That's a total of 120 of each element on each leg, in 11:25. I did some dynamic drills and then headed back to the car, hips aching.

Bottom Line: The short mileage of the trails means I probably won't go out of my way to come so far north again.  If I'm nearby at the end of my day, I'd go here again.  It's close to a library and gas station for changing into workout gear. It has nice trails, lots of portopots and even a drinking fountain.  The trails were in really good shape, except for the far out grass trails which could've used a mow but were ultimately easily avoidable. 


Blog-streaking: Pros and Cons

Last week, I decided that I'd try to write every day until the end of the Runner's World Run Streak and so far, I have written every day.  I think in the future, the rule should be "no writing on 'one mile run' days" because one mile runs are like a place holder.  It's not a ton of training, just a bit, enough to keep the streak alive but not to build a ton of fitness.  There's nothing interesting to say about runs like this. 

I mention these thoughts because today was indeed a 'one mile run' day.  The most remarkable thing may be that I ran in my Vibrams and I ran much faster than usual, because I still haven't dug my heart rate monitor out of whatever hole it fell into.  I was so tired at the end of my work day I was seriously considering not going to Zumba until a friend offered to come fetch me and provide transportation.  So today, among other thing, I am grateful for great friends!


6 Miles - Elm Creek Preserve

My biggest accomplishment today was being able to keep solid food down.  For the most part.  Running six miles felt pretty nice too.  I had a weird ending to my day.  I'd originally planned to try out Medicine Lake Trail, but a cancellation and a visit further out meant I was really close to Elm Creek Park Preserve so I headed that direction.

Originally I was really excited to try some of the single track trails because there seem to be about eight billion of them.  Sadly they are totally muddy.  The bikes could make it through, but I didn't have spare clothes and wasn't in the mood.  So I turned around pretty quickly and headed to a beautifully paved trail instead.  I ran 3 miles out, 3 miles back along the trail.  It vaguely went around a lake, but not in the way that paths go around the lakes in Minneapolis.  The trail was all up and down, not a ton of flat to enjoy.  But the return trip felt more 'down' so I did just fine.  I did not have my heart rate monitor.  I was secretly relieved.  Thank goodness!  Now I can just run how I like!

After my run I did a 'finisher' that really finished me off.  Side steps (hello IT band) and then standing bicycle crunches.  I started at 20 and worked down to 15, which took me ten minutes.  By then I could barely stand and my hip flexors were starting to seize up so I declared defeat and just stopped.  I did some dynamic drills and stretched out a bit before jumping in the car to go home.  My plan worked beautifully because by the time I got in my car and hit the road, I'd completely missed rush hour traffic (win for me!).   While I was cooling off, I saw tons and tons and tons of mountain bikers roll in.  I was at a trail head they use apparently.  I heard one of them say this is one of the only parks in the Twin Cities that's still open to bikers and not flooded out.  That explains the crowd!

I'm pretty excited to get out here again and try some more of the trails.  Particularly once the rain stops and I can go play in the dirt!  It looks like there's a few different places to park and trail heads.  It seems like this park will have no end of exploration for me.


Sometimes dreams do come true

Today, I just had one of those moments of doing something that felt right at the moment that I knew I'd regret later and was kind of right.  Oh, being an adult.  Sigh. Hopefully this video will help you understand my breaking point.
In the mildly positive category, I got this email from FrontRunner, and thought "I'm sure I'm the only person on the planet happy about this".  The race I was supposed to run on Saturday got postponed.  Good.  Because I am under-prepared to run 10 miles together.  On a trail.  Let's try again in September.  Or next year.  Either way is fine.



I spent the day under attack from my stomach.  It was not awesome.  I finally got out for a run at the end of the day with the thought of "it'll calm my stomach down or make me puke; either would be fine".  Since nothing interesting happened today, enjoy a pic from yesterday instead:


Lazy Sunday

Running: the streak continues, but that's about it.  I declared today a Rest Day and only ran 1.25 miles, just enough to keep the streak alive.  Instead I had a bit of time to do laundry and clean, and lots of relaxing and eating.  I talked to Nathan and met his family, and got to talk to Mom and Dad on Facetime.

Breakfast:  I went with a neighbor and his family to Hell's Kitchen.  I had the Bison Benedict.  The food that was on my plate was excellent but for $15, there should have been two poached eggs, not one. 

Farmer's Market: We headed over to the Farmer's Market and I grabbed some fresh strawberries.  On the way home, Nathan showed me the flooding at Minnehaha Creek and Cedar Ave which is crazy impressive.  We drove through standing water which is just not normal.

Dinner: I had a strong desire for some grilled squid, so we went to Kyatchi which has crazy good food.  The beef melted in my mouth and the grilled squid was fantastic as always.  I was sad they were out of donuts for desert, but it's okay, I had plenty of food without that.

Dessert: We headed across the street to Five Watt Coffee, where we'd been once before.  It was busy inside, nice to see on a Sunday night. I had what is apparently called "the Kingfield".  The first time we went in there I told the guy, "I usually just like a straight up latte, no sugar, no flavors" and he said "we make our own vanilla syrup here, I'm going to make you something I think you'll like".  When I came back tonight and described it, they told me the name of the drink.  It is crazy good.  Not super sweet, but a nice flavor.  I'm excited this shop is doing so well because it's a cool place to hang out.


Happy Birthday to Me!

6.3 miles run, slowly, this time with a heart rate monitor which kept me honest.  Sigh.  The Greenway was full of bikers training for I can only imagine what.  Peleton after peleton!  I pretended it was a parade of bicycles for my birthday. 


Hot Hot Hot Running on the Trails

I found a new favorite place to run.  Wow!  Today I went through the Anoka Nature Preserve for a short 3-mile run.  I went at the end of the word day and it was hotter than fire (almost) so I didn't want to go too far, but I was so excited to see the trails.

I could see this place on a map, close to another trail I've tried, so I wanted to check it out.  When I got home and started on this blog post, I had a hard time linking to the right place.  My friends at Google Maps unhelpfully name this place 'Rum River Park' there are two, this isn't either one of them, and my friends at Open Streets Maps didn't know what the hell to call this place and just left the space blank, as did Bing and Mapquest.  Wtf?  Eventually I looked on the City of Anoka's website and found this place listed as their newest nature preserve.  I say it's fantastic.

Aside from being thrilled with the location, I kept thinking 'I wonder when the heat's going to start bothering me' and it never really did.  I think this most recent winter (the one that didn't end until last week) really made me appreciate running in hot weather.  Before this year, a run in 85* at the end of a work day simply wouldn't have happened.  My, how things change!


Track Workout: That Was Quick

In honor of my comittment to posting every day until the end of the run streak, I will tell you that I ran 1.1666666 miles today, on the indoor track.  Because everything else is flooded or having a mudslide.  It's kind of rough here.  The track was actually safe but really hot, like the a/c wasn't on.  Normally I don't sweat buckets for just running a mile.  After running, I did Zumba.  It was a good music night which made the class even better.  I told the teacher for my birthday I wanted to skip the arms song.


6 Hot Miles - Rum River Trail

For a long time, I'd see the Rum River Trail was pretty highly rated.  Bonus for the trail head being at a library so I have a place to change after work.  The starts finally aligned tonight for me to give the route a try.  It was definitely not a fast run for me.  Nonetheless, I had a blast.

Construction: Despite consulting several maps more than once, I had a bit of a hiccup to start off with when the trail was literally not there and I found myself running in the tracks of graders and other construction equipment.  Luckily a quick consultation with Google Maps pointed me in the right direction and I was able to find a different way back to my car post run. 

Route: I started at the Rum River Library and headed south into the city of Anoka where the Rum River meets the Mississippi River.  The trail stays pretty close to the bank of the river and it's fantastic.  The trail goes by a bunch of other parks which seem to have bird watching and grass trails.  I didn't have the right shoes tonight, otherwise I would've explored those a bit more.  The trail is decidedly not flat.  I keep telling myself this is a good thing.  It kept me honest about pace and heart rate.

Heat:  It was hot and muggy tonight.  I'm finding that the craziness of our most recent winter has given me new enthusiasm for running in the heat.  There's something exactly no one ever would've predicted.  A fair portion of the trail is in the shade, but not all of it.  The weather was a mix of sun and clouds, and tons of wind.  I was a massive ball of sweat and mosquito bites by the end of the run.

Overall: I really liked this trail, and I'd do it again in a heart beat.  So far with the new job, I'm finding it hard to plan a run after work.  I've really only done it 3 or 4 times successfully.  This trail has some pluses, including a safe place to park and a good place to change into running gear, and I'd really like to do it again.  I've also read it's one of the better plowed paths in the winter (gah!) so it's a year-round possibility.


5 Early Morning Miles

Last night I posted on Facebook, "I'm looking for someplace I can run that isn't flooded" (which is harder than it sounds right now)  A friend helpfully posted "go to the gym" which had honestly not occurred to me.  I did go to the gym but ran outside on the Greenway from there, because why run in circles on a track when outside is available and not covered in snow?

The run itself was 5 miles (fairly slow) with a nice even heart rate hovering just below 150bpm for most of the time.  I was surprised with the number of people along the Greenway so early in the morning, given its near desertion on the weekends.  This morning there were tons and tons and tons of bikers, more than a few runners and a couple dog walkers.  I was glad for the company.

After the run, I did a few dynamic stretches to get my hips back into proper shape, but not much other stretching and no strength exercises.  My legs haven't quite forgiven me for the squats of the past few days so I'm on a bit of a peacekeeping mission.


Well hello...

Yes, I've been away for a while.  Lack of blogging is usually an indicator of my mental and physical health.   My prolonged absence was honestly a bit of both.  I was so blah and sick for a while that I wasn't really running, and then when I got back into running a bit, I was a head case for a while and so not writing.  Right now I find myself in the middle of the Runner's World Summer Run Steak so I thought I'd try writing about every run from now until the end of the streak. 

Run: I had a quick short out and back run, just as a rain storm started.  I went 2.3 miles, fairly slowly, which was fine with me.

Strength: I use that world loosely because I'm not sure what else to call it.  I did a Finisher of squats, lateral jumps (left+right = 1), low impact;  standing leg raises; single leg dead lift - no weights because I was working on ankle strength; standing bicycles, and it was tough.  It took about 16 minutes.  I was glad I did it though.  

My goal right now with runs is to keep them nice and even, and keep a mostly even heart rate (even though I didn't wear my heartrate monitor today).  My goal with strength right now is working on lateral leg strength and balance.  And my next race, a 10-miler, is in 2 weeks.  I am wildly under-prepared and am secretly hoping the course will be flooded out.


Running in the heat: How to

Perhaps the only thing this winter was good for all eight months of it was making me really happy for the chance to run in the heat.  In years past, I have a great time running outside until summer and then usually find myself back in the air conditioning.  Not this year.  Almost 80* today?  No problem.

I've had a couple 'hot' runs this year.  I know people in Florida and Arizona are dying at what I call hot, but I laugh really hard at what you call cold so we're even.  Today I ran 7.5 miles and then did dynamic stretching for another 15 minutes.  In the middle of the day.  It felt hot to me, but I know there will be times this summer when that temperature feels relatively cool.  I wonder if I'll still like the heat when it's 90*?  I had a relatively long warm up and ran/walked up all of the hills on the route.  To my utter surprise, I felt great the whole time, even during the gale force winds at Lake Harriet.  What has made this wild change of heart possible? 

Helpful hints for running in hot weather:
  • Heart rate monitor: Wear it.  Love it.  Listen to it.  It's nice to have a second measure of how hard I'm working (pace being the primary measure).  My heart rate creeps up in the heat, even at paces where I 'should' be able to hold a relatively low rate.
  • Walk breaks: Are my friend and yours.  I find the easiest way to get my heart rate down and keep it low is with regular walk intervals.
  • Longer warm ups: while counter intuitive, are important.  It seems like you'd just want to go out and get the run done as fast as possible and then get out of the heat.  In my experience, a longer warm up brings my heart rate up gently without spiking it, and I can generally last longer for the workout itself.
  • Hills: I reiterate the point about warm-ups and walk breaks.


Weekend Workouts: Feeling a bit better

This week, I really started to feel better.  Fingers crossed and knocking on wood.  I got back to running, biking and Zumba and have a hope that I can finish my 10-mile race at the end of June without too much carnage. Again, fingers crossed.  I started off the week with more walking than running, and built back into running.  Thursday marked the first time in several weeks that I ran 4 miles in a row without stopping.  Friday I saw a Blue Heron chilling by the lake.  Saturday the Greenway running was really hot which meant lots of shirtless guys so I was super happy.  Just keeping it real.

I did get some nice pictures this week, especially while I was walking and getting back to myself, but also on a couple of the runs.  Enjoy!