Long Run - Taper

I'm racing Saturday. I wanted to do a long-ish run this week, but not a really long run ahead of the half-marathon.  Also, I believe this is day one of the Runner's World Run Streak.  Welcome to the summer streakers.

Plan: 8 miles.  Heart rate is actually less important on this run.  The race is going to be anaerobic, some of the training should be too right?

Route: I've done this route before, but Strava said it's been almost a solid year since the last time I went this way.

Weather: It was in the 60s and humid.  I was using this as a test case for Saturday.  There was some sunshine and some clouds.  It made me realize if Saturday is any warmer, it will hurt.

Execution: I really didn't look at my heart rate much after mile 3. I just had fun with it.  I really had myself questioning what pace I should run on Saturday with the heat and the hills.  It may be one of those "just go hard and do what feels good" kind of races after all.

Nutrition: I did not eat before I ran and I did not carry anything with me.

Bonus: No pictures, but I did do another finisher like last week.  Then I lay outside in the grass to stretch.  I can't stretch inside in my living room right now because it's been swallowed by new floor boards.


Long Run - Revenge

Remember this winter when I had this horrendous long run that included my watch running out of batteries (my fault) and my heart rate being too high for no good reason (apparently also my bodies fault).  I was finally ready to tackle this route again.

Plan: Do nothing stupid.  You have to race in 10 days.  Keep my heart rate low.

Route: My new-ish 10 mile route.  The end is more up hill than I'd realized.   But I like it.

Weather: 60s and crazy humid.  I actually woke up around 4:30am to the sound of rain.  My brain was all WTF?!?  It wasn't supposed to rain.  I could tell from the radar that it would be mostly through by the time I headed out the door.  I got about 10 drops on me as I started the run.  The humidity took a long time to bake off.

Execution: I stayed in my target heart rate almost the whole time.  Towards the end, my heart rate was getting a bit out of control.  I was all "what is wrong with me?" until I saw the elevation profile had significantly more up hill than I'd realized before.

Nutrition: I had a small bottle of water and a pack of gummies.

Bonus: The best thing about this run is that it gave me a lot of time to think about the Half Marthon I signed up for on impulse.  That's a whole other post.
I'd read all these articles about planning your race in your mind, and planning how you're going to handle bad things that happen, like feeling tired early or dropping all your food.  Like I wished I'd had a mental plan for what would I do if the pacer just doesn't show up?.  
Lola's has a 2:30:00 pacer and I'd been thinking I'd try to keep up with her.  But for a June race, Lola's starts kind of late.  And running fast in the heat is a dumb idea.  And there's other challenging goals I could make for myself.  Plus I want to have fun because this is my 10 year runnerversary.  I made what I'm calling my "cool weather plan" and my "warm or humid weather plan".  I don't want to call them Plans A and B, because they are both plan A. It was a helpful way to spend my time.

Bonus 2: After the run, I did a finisher involving standing bicycles, standing leg raises, squats and some other things.  Then I tried to take a selfie for my friend Deb who says I need to smile when I selfie.  I believe this is called a smirk.


We Walk Half Marathon

This race was a long time coming.  A loooong time ago I was talking to a friend who improved her 5K walking time.  I told her she should come walk the Flying Pig Half Marathon.  We looked at the course time limits and it wound up not being the right fit.  I knew such thing as a walking half marathon and marathon did exist though.  After a little time on the google, I found the We Walk Half Marathon.  We started training sometime last fall.

Registration: Online registration was very easy.

Housing: This race is far enough away, with an early enough start time, that it seemed worth it to stay nearby.  College of St Ben's has dorm rooms available for one or two nights.  We opted for the one night stay.  Dorms were nice for a dorm.  The bed moved every time I moved, but I was almost expecting that.

Packet Pick Up: We did pick up the night before.  It was at the same place we had to sign in for housing.  There was some catastrophe with the shirt order, but the race organizers tried their best to make things right with what was delivered.

Pasta Dinner: This was my first time going to a pre-race pasta dinner.  I'd wanted to do it because I knew it would be simple and offer predictable pre-race food.  We also got to meet the race organizers and hear about the course for the next day.

Weather and Wardrobe:  Starting temps were in the 60s, finishing temps were around 80* and a slight breeze.  It was crazy sunny all day.
Top: Tank top (and a long sleeve shirt I dropped at the first water station)
Bottom: Running skirt (yes, seriously)
Shoes: Altra Intuition Running shoes.  I bought them specifically for this. 

Start Line: We parked at the finish line and took a school bus to the start line. There were 30-50 people at the start.  It was very friendly.  We got a bit of a pre-race speech and then "take your marks, go" and that was it.

Course: The Lake Wobegon Trail is a rail-trail.  Since trains can't climb big hills, this course didn't have any.  It was relatively flat and very scenic.  Lots of fields, some lakes, and some back yards.
The trail itself is marked every mile.  Our mile markers were counting us down.  We started at 13.1 and worked our way back to 0 which was the finish.  I was really confused.
There were water stops every couple of miles at trail access points.  Some water stops also had cut up fruit.  The watermelon was great.
The trail was obviously open to non-races.  I liked that the bikers actually called out "on your left" which is something they don't often do here in the cities.
The full marathon and 50K both start at 26.2 miles up the trail from the finish.  The 50K people get about 1.5 miles from the finish, and then have to turn and do a little out and back to get the rest of their distance.

Race: Walking a half marathon takes a long time.

Finish: The finish line was about as small as the start line.  My two racing companions both placed in their age groups so they got their age group medals and finisher medals right away.  I was told there were too many people my age in the race for me to have placed.  I was not surprised.

Race Recommended For: If it sounds good to you, definitely give it a try.  Everyone is welcoming and encouraging.  For such a tiny race it's very well organized and well supported with volunteers.
These races also had a "run/walk" category, particularly for the marathon and the 50K.  So if going the distance is a good thing but typical race time limits are a bad thing, this is a great race to look at.


Running Gear - Tuesdays on the Run

This is a few Tuesdays late, but a topic near and dear to my heart:
Tuesdays on The Run: Where to get your gear.

Step 1 is to get fit at a local running store.  In Twin Cities my favorite is Run n Fun(They partner with Bolder Options so they are automatically wonderful.)  In Cincinnati, the best place is Ronkers.  Long term - Amazon, REI, REI Outlet and other sites.  Once I know the brand, model, size, etc, I order online.  I tend to find 'last year's models' in the ugliest colors available, but super discounted.  Having ugly running shoes is a badge of honor.

Outlets: The Nike Outlet has so much of my money it's ridiculous.  Mostly for pants.  I've also had surprisingly good luck at the Adidas Outlet store.
Marhsalls/TJ Maxx/Ross etc: I tend to be able to find really good basics at these stores.

Specialty - my favorites:  Sometimes affordability is the most important thing in running clothes. And then sometimes it's worth paying a bit more for exactly the perfect thing.
Graphic tees, shorts, skirts - InkNBurn Last year I badly wanted that Christmas Sweater Running Shirt.  I did the pre order and found it totally worth the massive amount of money I paid.
Skirts - Skirt Sports is a new favorite of mine.  I run in these but also lounge around, take walks, and hang out in them.  Totally legit.
Minimal Shoes - Skora shoes have been a favorite of mine for a while.  They do sometimes have sales or run specials so the site is worth checking.
More good gear - 2xu Outlet is an online outlet that also has a lot of my money. I have several of their jackets and the old tri shorts are a favorite of mine.  I will wear them until they disintegrate.
Compression Gear - ProCompression makes great compression socks.  I wear them for work, for fun, for laying on the couch, and I have several designs.  It's worth liking their Facebook page becuase they will put huge discount codes on there.

Honorable mention:
Joes New Balance Outlet has crazy good deals and I have used them before.  I find their website a bit under-developed.  Even with the advanced search, the sorting mechanisms are useless.  I find myself sorting through a bunch of crap I don't want to find anything I'd like.


Long Run - Outdoor Adventure

I'd been wanting to do this run for some time.  Rain, fatigue, and some other sad circumstances kept me from it for a while.  Once I saw my schedule and geography for the day, it seemed the right time to try it again.

Plan: Have a running adventure.  It will be hilly but try to keep the heart rate in check.  Have fun!

Route: This is a lollipop route, down a long path, around a loop and then back up the path.  I've seen and been on parts of the out/back path and the loop in the past.  It took me a while to figure out this combination of paths and starting/stopping points to get the correct distance for my current training.

Weather: It was projected to be cloudy.  Those clouds were making my crazy nervous.  I felt a total of 3 drops of rain, mostly in the cool down.  The wind was for real too.

Part 1 - Panic and impatience.  I started running what I thought was a reasonable pace and my heart rate just kept climbing.  It took me several miles to figure out that was mostly up hill.  Miles 1-4 did not have a lot of even nice paced running.  It was just up or down. 
Part 2 - It doesn't look flat, but the running got easier.  The 'loop' for miles 4-8 was actually quite runnable except for a couple of awful hills. I was starting to enjoy myself.
Part 3 - Fast finish.  I told myself that for the last 4 miles, I could just run and not look at my watch.  This always means I go faster than any other time of the run (and my heart rate climbs quite a bit too).  It was fun.  It was also good to have a push at the end, bit of a confidence builder for the half marathon I just signed up for.

Note to my future self - I need 2 bottles, 8oz, for a run of this distance.  3 or 4 bottles is overkill for temperatures below 75*.  Obviously I carried more water than I needed.  I had a bag of gummies too.  I took a few at miles 3, 6, and 9.

Bonus: I saw a Pileated Woodpecker.  I tried to take a pic but it flew away. But I saw it in real life.  So that's two so far this spring.  Since I couldn't get a pic of the woodpecker, here's my face when I realized I was almost done running.


Before and After - Rum River North

Last time I found myself at Rum River North County Park was all the way back in June of 2014 when there was wicked flooding pretty much everywhere around the metro (and somewhat outstate as well).  Today, the river is maybe a bit high, but certainly not at flood stage.  See how the bases of the trees are above water? And there's grass as well?


Trail Monday - Rum River North

In a surprise for 2016, I did a (sort of) trail run.  I hadn't been doing that since winter and then my catastrophic fall and ankle failure.  Also unusual is that I worked on a Monday (which is not my thing)  These two circumstances together put me near a trail I remember but hadn't run in a couple of years

Trail: Rum River North County Park is this little gem in St Francis, MN.  The park itself doesn't have a ton of mileage for hiking or running, so I did some loops more than once.

Hills: There are hills.  They are steep but mostly short and survivable.  Running down them is fun as hell.

Ease of Running:  This has a little bit of everything.  There is paved trail, wood chip trail, grass, and even a little bit of single track.  The majority of the non-paved trail is a gravel road masquerading as something pleasant to run on.  It is pleasant until the ball of my foot lands on a big piece of gravel and then it blows again for a while.  I should've worn something other than minimal shoes for this trail.  Lesson learned.

Nature: Nothing exciting.  It's the middle of the day and there's a huge construction project on the road nearby, so I wasn't terribly disappointed.

Will I come back: Yes, I will run here again if I'm in the area.  But I won't go out of my way to get here.  The main drawback is the mileage on the trails is quite short.  The biggest plus is the wonderful scenery.


Sunday Long Run - Sun and wind around the lakes

I have an odd week before me.  My only option was to do my long run this morning.  Because of other plans, I got up at 6am to go for the run.  I surprised even myself by actually getting up for my alarm.

Plan: Keep a loooow heart rate until at least Bryant Ave (roughly mile 2, and the top of that big hill).  Try to keep the low heart rate magic going for as long after that as possible.  Have fun.

Route: I added a bit of mileage to another route I've run often. (This day for example.)  This time, I went around Lake Harriet before heading up to Calhoun and the Greenway.

Weather: Winds were out of the NNE at 10mph, though I would've sworn it was closer to 20mph.  Running up the side of Calhoun was challenging, but the last mile or two felt really nice.  It was about 45*.  I wore capris, short sleeve and long sleeve shirts and was fine.

Execution: Biggest WIN ever.  The whole time I was telling myself: When I started heart rate training, I was running a 15:00 mile with a heart rate above 150.  Now I was down in the 13s and my heart rate was mostly below 143 until I got on the Greenway.  Wheels had to fall off the wagon somewhere.  My long term goal is to be able to run much faster than this.  Today's workout was definitely a step in the right direction.

Nutrition: I carried gummies with me.  I had some at miles 4, 8, and the end of the run.  I carried water mixed with juice but didn't drink much.  It wasn't a hot run and I didn't feel terribly thirsty.

Bonus: Saw this Pileated Woodpecker.  I always hear them but I almost never see them. 

Bonus 2: I did a 'finisher' at the end.  11:00 more work.  Then I stretched and cooled down to a yoga video.