Sleep Tight

Anyone have trouble falling asleep? Do you toss and turn throughout the night? Or hit the snooze button (a few times) because you just don’t want to get out of bed?

Sleep.

When our schedules get filled–both with fun and not so fun things–sleep can often be one of the things we sacrifice. We stay up later and get up earlier to cram everything in. Or we don’t get a restful night sleep because our minds just won’t shut off.

I was inspired by Leesa, an online mattress company, to write this post about sleep. I know I’m guilty of not getting a good night sleep. It has always taken me a long time to fall asleep at night because I just can’t shut my brain off. I’ve even had some restless nights of sleep this week making me feel more tired by the end of the day and not motivated to do much.

It’s important to remember that sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle. I’m always striving to eat healthy and stay active, but those things become a lot harder when I’m just too tired.

With a new half marathon training cycle starting next week, I’m going to try and take some steps to promote better sleep. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Sticking to my bedtime. I aim to go to bed at 10 p.m., but that sometimes gets pushed a little later if I’m watching TV or busy doing stuff.
  • Reading before bed. I think I could help myself relax and get my mind to turn off by reading more regularly. I just started a new book, so this is a good chance to get into it.
  • Continuing my workout routine. Exercise is a great way to de-stress and it promotes good sleep.

I’m excited to dive into another training cycle. I think these tips will help me stay in good mental and physical health so I can accomplish all of my 2017 goals.

Image provided by Leesa
Image provided by Leesa

What are your tips and tricks for getting a good night’s sleep? 

Leesa inspired this post. All opinions are my own.

Reflecting on 2016 and Looking Ahead to 2017

As one year ends and another begins, we can’t help but reflect on the things we’ve done and look ahead at what’s to come.

2016 was a pretty good year for running–if I do say so myself! It was the year of the half marathon. I ran three, and managed to improve my time with each one. It all started with the New Orleans half in February, then the Garry Bjorklund half in June, and finally the Vancouver half in October. As you can see, these races took me to some pretty cool destinations too!

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New Orleans half
Garry Bjorklund half
Garry Bjorklund half
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Vancouver half

Along with a PR in my half marathon, I also managed to get PRs in my 5 mile, 10K and 10 mile!

I’m looking ahead at races for 2017 and trying to decide what I want to tackle this year. I have a few things figured out, but I’m still up in the air on a couple others.

I’ve already registered for the Goldy’s Run 10 mile in April. This will be the 5th year in a row that I’ve run it. I love the 10 mile distance and love having this race in the spring to keep me motivated through the MN winter.

I’m also planning on a spring half. I’ve got two options depending on whether I’m out of town at the beginning of May. The day of either race is three weeks after Goldy’s 10 mile, so great timing for training.

I’m considering joining a local running store’s race team as well. That would mean I’d need to run at least three races from their list, and I already have several that look good.

The big thing I’m contemplating for 2017 is doing another full marathon! I did my first in 2015 and I think I got the bug to do it again while spectating at the marathon a few months ago. I know the training is time consuming, but I made a lot of progress in my running during 2016, so I’d like to see how I can improve not only my marathon time but the training.

The good thing is, I’ve got lots of good options! I have no doubt it will be another wonderful year of running!

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What are your 2017 running goals?

Holiday Hunger

1 in 10 people in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin experiences hunger.

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It’s a startling statistic.

With the abundance of food facing us this time of year (holiday parties, cookie baking, potlucks, etc.), it can be easy to forget that there are too many people struggling to put food on the table on a daily basis.

Last week I had the privilege of attending an event at Second Harvest Heartland, a food bank in the Twin Cities.

At the beginning of the event, their Director of Development, Marketing and Communications gave us some background on the organization. Second Harvest is part of Feeding America, the nationwide network of more than 200 food banks. They serve 532,000 people each year, and 33% are under 18 and 10% are over age 60.

Then we took a tour of their 61,000 sq. ft. warehouse. It’s an impressive place!

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They ship 9,800 boxes of food per month from this place and share food with 6 other food banks.

One of the most impressive things I learned on the tour is that 55% of the food Second Harvest distributed last year was fresh. They have been making great strides to get fresh produce out to people who need it. It’s great to know that people aren’t just getting food but good, nutritious food.

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That’s a lot of onions!

After the tour, we participated in a simulation called Hunger 101. We paired up and took on the personas of real people who have struggled with hunger. We were given bios and a budget. Our task was to figure out how to buy food for our family for one day. The simulation was timed to show some of the stress these families feel. Let me tell you, it was hard!

We were able to visit the bank to withdraw money, but our family only had $4 to take out. Then we could visit an office to see if we qualified for food stamps. The family I was part of was just two people and earned “enough” not to qualify for food stamps. That meant we still only had $4 to buy food for the day. Another stop we made was to the local food back where we received some food to help us out. After looking at our shopping list and budget, we went to the grocery store for our food. Due to our limitations with budget, we weren’t able to pick out the most nutritious food and didn’t hit the recommended amount of calories for the day. A really eye-opening experience.

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I’m glad a place like Second Harvest Heartland exists in the Twin Cities to help families in need. They have an impressive operation and their programs are doing great things for the community.

A big part of their success depends on volunteers, so if you’re looking to give back, check them out!

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Turkey Trot 5 Mile Race Recap

It’s not turkey day without a turkey trot! This was my 4th year doing the Turkey Trot 5 mile run in my hometown. I was happy to see the temps were close to 30 the morning of the race – not bad at all for a run.

My parents and I got to the start about 15 minutes before the race started. They made their way to the start line for the 2 mile walk (with the dog) and I headed to the run start. I made my way into the corral and stayed near the front to hopefully avoid a lot of weaving around people.

The strategy worked out pretty well. The road is also wide at the beginning of the course, which helped. I did notice that my pace was a little faster than I was planning since I was moving with the flow of the crowd, but I was feeling good and getting warmed up.

Not long after we started, some snow flurries started falling on us. It was actually really pretty!

As I passed miles 1 and 2, my watch beeped close to the mile markers. At mile 3 I ran passed the mile marker and a little ways away noticed my watch hadn’t beeped yet. I was about 0.1 miles off. It was the same story at mile 4. I was thinking the course was going to be short. As I made my way through the last mile, we rounded the path down near the river and then up by the ice arena where my watch beeped for mile 5 just before crossing the finish line. So things worked out in the end!

I had told my parents that I was expecting to run a 9:30 pace. I ended up keeping up my fast pace from the beginning of the race and ran a 9:16 pace! More than enough for a new 5 mile PR!

I made my way to the food lines at the end and found my parents. With our mini pumpkin pies in hand, we headed back to the car. We were on our way to pick up my grandma and had to stop at a gas station to get some pumpkin spice cappuccino (our new tradition). We ended up stopping at three different gas stations before getting all of the drinks we needed — long story, but worth it!

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The rest of the day was spent relaxing and enjoying the holiday. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Did you run a turkey trot? 

Don’t roll the dice – run safe!

This weekend, thousands of runners will be descending on Las Vegas to run the Strip at night for the Las Vegas Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon. I ran this half in 2013 with Team Challenge and had a blast!

Finisher photo hi res

Vegas.com asked if I had any tips for being active and staying safe while visiting the Strip. In honor of November being National Running Safety Month, I shared with them 7 safety tips for working out while traveling whether it’s for a race, vacation, or work.

  1. Double down: Run with a buddy 
    Besides the safety benefits, running with a friend can be a lot of fun! If you can’t run with a buddy, tell someone where you’re going and about how long you’ll be gone.
  2. See and be seen: Wear bright colors, reflective gear and/or a headlight
    As the days get shorter, we have more darkness than daylight to contend with. Make sure people can see you by wearing gear that have reflective elements built in, buying a reflective vest, and/or wearing a headlight.
  3. Cut the cards…and the headphones
    Even if you love rock ‘n roll, leave the headphones behind so you can stay alert to your surroundings.
  4. Drink up: Stay hydrated
    It can be easy to get dehydrated while traveling, so make sure to keep drinking water — especially if you’re drinking some other beverages as well. 😉
  5. Stay connected: Bring your phone
    If you get injured or just don’t feel safe, having your phone handy will allow you to make a quick call for help. It can also be nice for snapping a quick picture as you explore a new area!
  6. Have a game plan: Map out your route 
    Especially in an unfamiliar area, know where you plan to run ahead of time. And if you follow tip #5, you can always check a map on your phone if you make a wrong turn.
  7. Stay in: Hit the hotel gym
    It’s an easy, safe, convenient way to get in a workout while traveling.

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Now go out, have fun (check out these Las Vegas deals), and run safe!

Seattle/Vancouver Weekend

It was a couple of weeks ago that I was out west for the Vancouver Half, but I wanted to share more about my trip! It was a jam-packed few days.

Friday

I flew out to Seattle early on Friday morning and met up with my friend Anna. Our first order of business was brunch. We grabbed some delicious biscuits and gravy at a cute little restaurant. Then we headed to her place to drop my luggage and regroup. We headed out so she could show me some of Seattle. Of course, we had to walk around Pike Place Market.

 

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We walked around a bunch of the shops and restaurants. So many fruits, veggies, fresh flowers, and other goodies in the buzzing market.

We wandered past the market and headed down to the sculpture garden and then made our way back. We were wearing our running clothes so we could do a shake-out run in West Seattle. To get there, we took a water taxi! It’s a big boat that gets you across the lake in about 5 minutes. A little different from the ferries, but pretty slick!

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There’s a nice path along the water right where the taxi drops off, so we did a 3 mile run along the water with a view of downtown.

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We lucked out with our timing and the taxi was just getting ready to leave when we got back, so we jumped on really quick to head back to the car. As soon as we got in the car, it started to rain – perfect timing!

We cleaned up and headed to dinner. When we got back we were both pretty tired, so we headed to bed fairly early.

Saturday

We spent the morning getting packed and ready to head to Vancouver. We grabbed brunch and did a couple of quick errands before hitting the highway to head north.

This was one of the craziest and most amazing things I have ever seen…a tiny dog in a carrier attached to the back of a motorcycle. And he was wearing goggles!

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I can’t even!

Soon, we were in Canada and made our way to the hotel. After checking in and dropping our luggage, we headed to the race expo to get our bibs. It was about 4 p.m. and the expo closed at 5 p.m. Luckily, it was just a few blocks from our hotel, so an easy walk. There was hardly anyone at the expo by the time we got there, and it was actually pretty small. I was a little surprised, but ok with it because I hate fighting my way through a busy expo.

We explored the harbor area and took in the pretty views after grabbing our stuff.

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We both loved this orca statue! It looks like it’s made of giant leggos.

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In the evening, we headed to a delicious pasta dinner at Lupo. Complete with a roasted beet salad and handmade ravioli stuffed with braised short rib. So good! After finally getting back to the hotel (we had to wait a while for a cab), we relaxed for a bit and went to bed early so we’d be ready for our race.

Sunday

Having our hotel a block from the start line was amazing for an easy, low stress race morning. The race was great, and we were both ready to celebrate our PRs with some food after we got cleaned up!

We walked over to the Gastown neighborhood and found a restaurant that was still serving brunch. After stuffing our faces (hey, we ran 13.1 miles!) we explored the neighborhood a little. It’s a cute area with lots of shops and restaurants, cobblestone streets and some pieces of history.

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We stopped in a tourist store and picked up some maple candy and fun Canada souvenirs — including mugs with a plaid moose on them. 🙂

On our way back to the hotel, we grabbed an afternoon treat at Tim Hortons because, donuts!

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We ended up just lounging for a bit in the afternoon watching Happy Gilmore. We both felt funny not exploring the city more, but we were exhausted.

After getting our second wind, we set out to get some dinner back in Gastown and then stopped at a restaurant along the harbor for the free beer we got with the race. The end of the Seattle Seahawks game happened to be on, so we got to watch that as we drank our beer.

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Evening harbor views
Nighttime harbor views

Monday

We grabbed breakfast at a restaurant along the harbor before checking out of the hotel and heading back to Seattle. We rolled in around 2 p.m. and had a little time to kill before I had to be at the airport. We walked around the Fremont neighborhood and saw the troll under the bridge.

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I got another view of the water and skyline, too.

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Soon, it was time to head to the airport and say good-bye.

It was a fantastic weekend! I was so happy to explore two new cities and spend some quality time with a great friend.

I know that I can travel and explore new places anytime, but I love how running has become a part of those adventures. A “runcation” or “destination race” has become one of my favorite ways to travel. One of the best ways to see a city can be on foot during a race! Need to figure out where I want to go next!

What are your favorite destination races?