Top 13 Runs of 2013

Well, since everybody’s doing it, I guess a recap of 2013 running is due. In all seriousness, it was nice to look back and reflect on my training and races from this past year. 2013 was my first full year of running, and I totally exceeded my expectations. I ran more races and longer distances than I thought I’d be able to. I stepped out of my comfort zone several times by signing up for various races, and they all paid off. I want to keep that going in 2014.

So, here are my top 13 runs of the year. Lots of them are races because those are often the most memorable, but I realized I have some fun runs and training runs that stick out in my mind for 2013 too.

Las Vegas Half Marathon with Team Challenge: This race stands out for more than just running the Las Vegas strip at night. I got to run with people from across the country representing Team Challenge and raise awareness for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Documenting my training and fundraising for this race was the whole reason I started this blog. I met great people and really learned to open up about my ulcerative colitis.

Minnesota/Dakotas Team!
Minnesota/Dakotas Team!

Monster Dash Half: This was my very first half marathon, and it fell on my birthday. I was really happy with my performance in this race.

MD finiser

Big Ten 10K in Chicago: Hyedi and I ran (and ate) our way through Chicago this summer and it was awesome! We’re already plotting our next destination race.

Me and Goldy at Big Ten 10K
Me and Goldy at Big Ten 10K

Myrtle Beach: I traveled to Myrtle Beach with my family over the summer and got to do some runs on the beach. I was training for Ragnar Relay and half marathons. If you’re gonna be training, you might as well do it somewhere beautiful!

Morning run on the beach
Morning run on the beach

Ragnar (Leg 3): I ran 3 legs for our Ragnar Relay, but my third leg stands out to me. It was my longest leg (6.7 miles), I was running on a couple hours of sleep, and it was hot in the middle of the afternoon in August. But, even with all of that, I felt great the entire way. I ran faster than I expected (and faster than my team expected). Great way to end my first relay race!

After Ragnar Relay 2013
After Ragnar Relay 2013

10 mile milestone run: I did a 10 mile training run around a couple of the Minneapolis Lakes as training for my half marathons, and this one stands out because it was one of those running milestones where I ran farther than I had ever run. On top of that, it was a gorgeous day to be running around the lakes!

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Lake Nokomis runs (and Sandcastle for dinner after): I fell in love with running around this lake over the summer. I loved all of training and fun runs I did there. Having a super yummy restaurant there made it a great place to meet up with friends for a run and some food.

Post run dinner by the lake
Post run dinner by the lake

Turkey trot: I did a 5 mile turkey trot on Thanksgiving. It was just a couple weeks after the Las Vegas half, but I felt great and ran a bit faster than I thought I’d be able to. Plus, we got pie!

Who needs a medal when there's pie?!
Who needs a medal when there’s pie?!

Run @ Work 5K: I PR’d! And that made it very memorable 🙂

Finish line!
Finish line!

Goldy’s 10 mile: It was literally last New Year’s Eve that I registered for this race. At the time, I hadn’t run anything longer than a 5K, so 10 miles was a huge step for me. Signing up for this race was a New Year’s resolution to myself to make sure I kept up with running during the winter, and it totally worked! I ran a great race, had so much fun, and gained a lot of confidence. And now, I’m coming full circle and have once again registered for Goldy’s 10 mile on New Year’s Eve. Bring it on!

Finished on 50 yard line
Finished on 50 yard line

Get in Gear 10K: This race was just 2 weeks after Goldy’s 10 mile, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. I started out and felt great. Apparently the 10 mile training did wonders for my 10K because I finished in 1:00:04 and was not expecting that at all! That’s still my current 10K PR, but I’ll be back for the 2014 Get in Gear and hope to break that 1 hour mark.

8 mile training run on Summit: This was a chilly Sunday morning training run with my Team Challenge group, but it was a new location for me to run. Summit is a street in St. Paul. It’s got a slight hill that starts around mile 21 of the Twin Cities marathon, so it has a bit of a reputation. It’s not a super steep, but I imagine any incline at that point in a marathon is not pleasant. The street is also lined by beautiful houses, so I was excited to run in this iconic area of the city.

Summit Brewery Beer Run 5K: I took this race really easy because it was the day after my 5K PR. I ran with some friends and it was a gorgeous day for a leisurely 5K. Plus, it ended with beer and bagels, so who can complain?!

Beer and bagels - breakfast of champions ;)
Beer and bagels – breakfast of champions 😉

I’m so excited for all of the races I have planned for 2014 and hope you’ll continue to join me on this fun run we call life! Happy New Year!

What are you doing New Year’s Eve? Any New Year’s resolutions involving running?

A Little Loony & Week 4 of 30 Day Challenges

I might be crazy, or at least a little loony, because I’ve officially registered for my first race in 2014. Well, actually, it’s 3 races in one weekend – hence, crazy. I signed up for the TC Loony Challenge in October. This Challenge involves running the TC 5K and TC 10K on Saturday and then the Medtronic TC 10 mile on Sunday.

I really wanted to do the Medtronic TC 10 mile this year, but it’s so popular that they have a lottery for registration. By signing up for the challenge, you get an automatic entry into the 10 mile. Plus, early-bird pricing on all 3 races, so not a bad deal.

I was a bit nervous to register for the challenge (for some reason I always get a little nervous before registering for a new race/distance). But, then I realized that the challenge is a lot like Ragnar Relay. I had a blast running Ragnar last summer, and not only survived it but felt great during all 3 of my legs. After I realized the similarities, my nerves subsided. I know I can train for multiple runs in a couple days. The 5K and 10K will be back to back, which will be a little tougher, but I’ll get to sleep in my own bed before doing the 10 mile instead of trying to sleep in a van (or on a football field :)).

After Ragnar Relay 2013
After Ragnar Relay 2013

I’m excited to have some fall races to train for over the summer and something to look forward to as 2014 gets underway. I’ve got a 10 mile and 10K race that I plan to do in April. I’m also looking at doing a destination race this spring, so 2014 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for races!

30 Day Challenges update – Week 4 is complete! I started breaking up the planks to reach my total time since I can’t seem to break the 2 – 2:30 minute mark. I’ve actually only got one more day to go and can happily say that I didn’t miss a day! I’ve greatly increased my plank time, upped the number of push-ups I can do, and can feel my legs getting stronger from all the squats.

The challenges were a great addition to my December workouts and really helped me keep fitness top of mind during the holidays. Maybe I’ll do another one in January too; just gotta figure out what it will be!

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I hope you had a great Christmas!

What races do you have planned for 2014? What should my next 30 day challenge be? 

Holiday Hangover

No, not that kind of hangover. 😛

This week between Christmas and New Year’s is kind of a holiday hangover. Christmas is over, but all of the decorations and treats are still hanging around. Christmas music is still on the radio and it’s perfectly acceptable to wear Christmasy stuff and watch holiday movies (at least in my opinion).

It’s a time where you’re recovering from all of the family fun and holiday parties and have a little extra time to do anything you didn’t have time to do before Christmas.

Even the dog is feeling the holiday hangover
Even the dog is feeling the holiday hangover

For me, this week is about relaxing at home with family and maybe watching a couple Christmas movies I haven’t had time to watch yet. Our family has been extending Christmas a couple days, so we still have some yummy holiday food to munch on and lots of new “toys” to play with from Santa.

I’m also starting to look ahead to 2014. I’m already planning out races and trips for the next year (more on that soon) and it’s getting me really excited! I think 2014 is going to be a good year!

How are you recovering from the holidays? What plans are you making for 2014?

Week 3 of 30 Day Challenges & Holiday Treats

Week 3 is complete! I made it through another week and got all of my challenges in each day. I have to admit that the planks have gotten a lot harder. I do okay getting up to 1:30 – 2 minutes, but now that I’m up to 2:30 and 3 minute planks, I’m having trouble holding it the whole time. I was supposed to hold a plank for 3 minutes today and just couldn’t do it. Crapped out around 2:30. But, that’s okay. The important thing is I’m doing it every day, holding it a long as I can, and getting stronger in the process (just maybe not as fast as the plan calls for).

The temps were in the 20’s on Saturday and I geared up for my first outdoor run since Thanksgiving. But, when I got to the bike/walk path, I saw that it had a lot of packed snow on it. A braver runner might have attempted it, but I opted to go back inside and hit the treadmill. Might need to invest in Yaktrax or something so I can get outside and feel confident in my footing. I got in 3.5 miles on the treadmill (10:30 pace) and felt great.

This morning I woke up and could feel a little soreness in my legs after my run and a total of 145 squats the day before. So, I just walked for 30 minutes and did my plank and 80 squats to complete my challenges for the day (it was a rest day for push ups).

The 30 day challenges have kept me active each day, which is good because this weekend has been full of holiday fun and treats. Including this guy at a fabulous Christmas party Saturday night…

Reindeer made of cupcakes!
Reindeer made of cupcakes!

And a Sunday afternoon of baking these…

Cookie baking party! (I made the gingerbread men :))
Cookie baking party! (I made the gingerbread men :))
Seriously, we made a lot of cookies!
Seriously, we made a lot of cookies!

What holiday treats did you eat/make this weekend? What do you wear for running in the snow?

Putting Running Back in the Rotation

I ran on Tuesday night for the first time in about 2 weeks. It felt great! I’ve enjoyed taking a break from running; I think it’s helped me appreciate it in a new way and allowed me to miss it. Tuesday’s run wasn’t for training–it was just for fun.

I met Hyedi at the Metrodome for Dome Running. The Minnesota Distance Running Association opens up the Metrodome on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for runners to get in some miles off the treadmill during cold Minnesota winters. It costs $1. Yes, $1. This was only the second time I’ve gone, and it will be the last time – well at least at the Metrodome as we know it. They’re tearing it down to build a new stadium for the MN Vikings. So, the end of December will mean the end of Dome Running, but Hyedi and I had to get in one more run.

2.5 laps around the stadium is about a mile. We ran for 30 minutes and did just over 8 laps – a bit short of a marathon. 😉

dome running sign

dome running miles

Apparently I can't walk and take pics at the same time
Apparently I can’t walk and take pics at the same time

I think I’m still going to keep varying my workouts, but I’m going to start working running back into my rotation. I’m already starting to think about spring races and training is going to need to begin in the new year. Until then, I’ll enjoy the variety and cross training. I swam last Sunday morning and it felt great to get back in the pool–and to wear flip flops in the middle of December in Minnesota. 🙂 Of course I followed my swim with a few minutes in the hot tub.

sunday swim

What are your favorite cross training workouts? Are you thinking about 2014 races?

Week 2 of 30 Day Challenges

So, this is a little late. But I wanted to give a quick update on my 30 day challenges. I’ve done my challenges every day! I still notice progress with each day, and I’m up to a 2 minute plank! While I have to admit it’s a bit shaky in the second half, I still held it!

2 min plank

These challenges are definitely helping me stay active this month and I can feel myself getting stronger which is the real reward.

How is your month of workouts going?

There’s No Time Like The Present

I love this time of year. Seriously. I start thinking about Christmas around August. While I actually hate that Christmas commercials are appearing around Halloween, I am one of those people who sometimes breaks out the Christmas music in mid, okay early November. I’m a sucker for the twinkly lights, cute decorations, cheesy Christmas movies, yummy treats, and the all around good feeling that Christmas time brings.

This time of year offers the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the small things. But, I do have to admit that I’m guilty of forgetting to slow down and savor the things I love. So, I’m making a conscious effort in these last couple weeks before Christmas to slow down (even for a few minutes each day) and appreciate the here and now.

This past weekend I enjoyed a relaxing dinner with my friend Hyedi. We treated ourselves to an amazing dinner. This is only a small sampling of the awesome food.

Burch Steakhouse
Burch Steakhouse

On Sunday, I needed to finish up some Christmas shopping. While the stores can be crazy and stressful, I wasn’t in a rush and was able to take my time. I love finding fun gifts for friends and family, so I really enjoy Christmas shopping. It was a successful outing and I finished up all my shopping and got more gifts wrapped.

On Sunday afternoon, I whipped up some Christmas treats.

Something sweet :)
Something sweet 🙂

Tonight, I finished writing some Christmas cards and got them ready to mail. Christmas will be here before I know it. Over the next 9 days, I’m going to continue to make an effort to slow down and enjoy moments with friends and family, because…

no time like present

What’s your favorite thing about this time of year? What do you do to slow down?