Life Updates

Sorry for the radio blog silence. Feels like life has been really busy lately, but needed a break from blogging. So, here are a five highlights to catch you up:

1. Still running! I actually have a race on Saturday – the Big Ten 10K. I’m hoping for a PR, but have been having some soreness in my shin lately. Recently got new shoes and am hoping that and some rest will help. So, we’ll see what my legs will let me do. I don’t want to overdo it because…

2. TC Looney Challenge training has officially begun! I’ve got a couple other races on the docket after Big Ten, but gearing up for the challenge is my main goal for the rest of the summer/fall.

3. Speaking of summer, I’m not doing too hot on my summer bucket list. I’ve checked a few things off, but I’m gonna have to kick it in high gear to get to all of them before Minnesota winter rears its ugly head. This rooftop happy hour was one thing I got to check off recently!

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4. I found a new apartment! Getting ready to move has definitely been a big part of my busy life lately. Hate all the packing, cleaning, etc but I’m so excited to get in my new place!

5. Got a haircut to get ready for the second half of summer. 🙂

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What have you been up to lately?

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?

Turkey Trot Race Recap & Thanksgiving

I know a lot of people kicked off the Thanksgiving holiday with a turkey trot or other race. I did too! I was in my hometown in Wisconsin and they have an annual Turkey Trot. I’d heard about it on the news in past years, so this year I looked up info on the race and found out it’s a 5 mile run and they have a 2 mile walk. My family was on board for participating too, so my parents and the dog did the 2 mile walk (along with some of our other relatives) and I did the 5 mile run.

turk trot bib

It was about 20 degrees that morning and I had such a hard time deciding what to wear! I couldn’t decide how many layers I wanted. It’s always that dilemma of  being semi-warm while waiting at the start line but not getting overheated once you start running. I brought an extra shirt, hat, and socks in the car and figured I’d make a game-time decision with whether to add any layers.

We got downtown about 7:15 a.m. and found a parking spot just 3-4 blocks from the start/finish line. The race started at 8 and we hung out in the warm car until about 7:45 since we were so close to the start. I got out of the car at 7:40 to do some dynamic stretching and see what the temperature was like. I decided not to add any other layers which ended up being the right decision. Since we were so close to the start, I only had to hang out at the start line for about 15 minutes before things got underway.

Start line
Start line

I wasn’t sure what my legs were going to feel like for this run. The last run I had done was the previous Sunday. The only other harder workout I did this past week was a spin class at 6 a.m. on Tuesday (more on that later). I was still recovering from the Las Vegas half, so I told my parents that I expected to be done in about 50-53 minutes (10:00-10:30 min miles). I was kind of thinking they would be closer to the 10:30 mark. 

We took off and I felt good. Honestly, it was just nice to be moving so I could warm up. I was looking down at my watch periodically and noticed that I was running a bit fast (well, for me). I was hanging around a 9:30 pace for a bit. Partially the adrenaline and partially because I think the cold weather makes me want to run faster. I told myself to slow down a bit, but my mile 1 split was still about 9:45.

My toes were a bit cold for the first 2 miles and I was regretting not wearing another pair of socks, but I’ve never run with 2 pairs of socks and felt like that might cause more problems than it would solve. After mile 2 my toes were warmed up (or numb) and I just focused on running. I was still holding a pace near 10 min miles.

Before I knew it we were crossing a bridge to head back downtown and I saw the mile 4 sign. With 1/2 mile left I still had a good amount of energy, but I didn’t kick it into high gear yet. I was coming down the home stretch and realized that I could actually finish under 50 minutes, so I picked up the pace as I crossed the finish line. My official time was 49:37! I’m really happy with that cause, like I said, I was not sure what my legs were going to let me do that morning and I was definitely not expecting it to be sub-50.

My parents and the dog (Duchess) had just finished the 2 mile walk and saw me cross the finish line.

Duchess made it through her first turkey trot too!
Duchess made it through her first turkey trot too!

You don’t get a medal for finishing this race. You get something better: A personal Pumpkin Pie!

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

We showered and got ready for more relatives to come to our house to watch the Green Bay Packers play the Detroit Lions and to eat a feast. We were in WI, so of course it was a Packer party. Unfortunately they lost, but we still had a good time and the bloody mary bar helped.

thanksgiving bloody

The day was spent hanging with family, watching football, and eating lots of yummy food. Of course we broke into one of the pies from our race as part of our dessert. 🙂

I have a lot to be thankful for! It was a great Thanksgiving Day!

Friday was spent decorating the house for Christmas – a tradition for my mom and I. We’re not black Friday shoppers, and it was so much better to sleep in and just spend the day listening to Christmas music while decorating. I’m in full-on Christmas mode now!

Did you have a good Thanksgiving? Did you do a Thanksgiving Day race or go for a run? What kind of socks do you wear for winter running to keep your toes warm?

Birthday Weekend

My birthday was this past weekend and I kicked it off by running my first half marathon! I’ll have a race recap in the next day or so, but spoiler alert: I finished! 🙂

After the race I made my way out of the parking garage and headed home. I made a pit stop at Caribou Coffee to get my free birthday coffee.

Free birthday coffee!
Free birthday coffee!

I showered, changed, and headed out one more time to pick up some lunch. I really wanted Subway for my post-race meal. The rest of the afternoon was filled with a lot of lying around and watching old episodes of The Office.

My sister and I met up with some friends that night to have a drink and celebrate our birthday. Yes, I said ‘our.’ I have a twin sister, so it was her birthday too. 🙂

When you finish the Monster Dash half, you get a free Finnegan’s beer. You can either get it at the post-race party or use the coupon later in the weekend at one of the participating bars. I knew I wouldn’t want my beer right after the race, so we planned to meet friends at one of the bars so I could get my free beer.

Second free beverage of the day!
Second free beverage of the day!

We had a great time hanging out with friends for the evening.

On Sunday morning I got up and ventured out to do some much-needed shopping. I had a lot of luck too! I got some great fall/winter clothes and found some great sales. In the afternoon, I met up with Hyedi to go get some birthday fro-yo at Forever Yogurt. We found Forever Yogurt when we were in Chicago for the Big Ten 10K this summer and they just opened a location near us, so we had to check it out. It was super yummy and a great birthday treat.

Fro-yo = birthday cake
Fro-yo = birthday cake

Overall, it was a fabulous birthday weekend!

What do you like to do to celebrate your birthday?

Group Run and Relaxing Sunday

It’s Sunday, so we had our Team Challenge group run this morning. We met at Lake Harriet bandshell at 8 a.m. Except it was a little later for some of us because lots of roads were blocked off due to a race going on. I was a little frazzled once I got there after searching for a parking spot on the street, but all of that went away as soon as I started running.

Today’s long run was 7 miles. It was a gorgeous morning for a run! Cool and cloudy – felt like fall. My average pace for the whole run was 10:15 which I was really happy with. I felt great at the beginning of the run and even had to remind myself to conserve some energy because I had a long way to go. I was afraid I’d get to 4 or 5 miles and just be out of energy. Obviously that didn’t happen considering I ran mile 6 in 9:53 – I think it was the GU I had at about 5.25 miles. 🙂 I had actually never tried GU, but now that I’m getting into some longer distances I wanted to try it out on a training run so that I know if it’s something I want/need during the half marathon. I was feeling hungry and a little sluggish around miles 4 and 5, so I think the GU did the trick to give me a boost for the last part of my run. I stopped when I hit 7 miles, but I felt like I could keep going. I have another GU that I’ll bring with me next week when we do 8 miles.

Splits for my 7 mile run
Splits for my 7 mile run

After the group run, I made my way home (navigating around a bunch of closed roads, which was a little annoying because all I wanted was some food and a shower!).

Football season is upon us! I spent most of the day doing laundry and watching football. I dozed off on the couch during part of the game which felt fantastic and was much needed after a busy and early travel day yesterday. Is there anything better than dozing off during the 3rd quarter of a football game? It’s the perfect afternoon nap.

I ran a few errands in the afternoon. I was definitely taken over by the cool weather this morning (even though tomorrow is supposed to be 96 degrees) because Dunkin Donuts coffee was on sale at Target and I stocked up on Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie flavors. The day was capped off by grabbing ice cream and catching up with Hyedi. Perfect end to a lovely Sunday.

How was your Sunday? Do you ever nap on the couch while watching sports?

Fun(draising) Friday 8/30/13

My fundraising is at an even $800! Thank you so much to everyone who has donated already! Since I’ve raised over $500, I was able to get my Team Challenge training shirt. They look pretty cool! I’m in the process of brainstorming some creative fundraising ideas to get my fundraising to the next level. What cool fundraising ideas have you seen?

Team Challenge training shirt
Team Challenge training shirt

Whew, it’s still hot here! Had to do an evening tempo run on the treadmill this week since it was so hot out. The treadmill is fine, but I definitely prefer to be outside. I was able to get in a morning run yesterday (Thursday) while it was a little cooler. Still pretty humid (even after we got some rain overnight), but was nice to do my 3 mile run out in the morning air. I had a chance to test out my new running shorts from Athleta. In support of the start of Gopher football season last night, I also wore my Minnesota shirt from the Big Ten 10K. Must have been good luck because the Gophers did win. 🙂

Go Gophers! And new shorts!
Go Gophers! And new shorts!

The shorts fit well and are a good length for running. One thing I didn’t realize until I put them on is they don’t have a zipper pocket like my other pair of Athleta shorts, but that’s why I have my SPIbelt. I thought this was a good plan, but then realized the slippery fabric of the shorts was making my SPIbelt move around a little while running. May need to tighten the belt if I wear it with these shorts in the future. I think I’ll keep the shorts, but that’s one thing I love about Athleta is they have a “Give it a workout guarantee.” If you don’t love it, you can return it for free. I feel a lot better about spending a little more money on quality workout clothes knowing I can return them if they’re not perfect because no matter how much you jog in place in the fitting room, you don’t really know how things (like shorts) are going to work until you actually run in them.

Well, I’m looking forward to this heat wave being over. While I’ll be sad to say good-bye to summer, I do LOVE fall! (Can you believe September is a day away?!) The start of football season is making me want fall weather even more. Fall is my favorite season for so many reasons, and I’m looking forward to some fall running and getting to cap off the season with my two half marathons!

What’s your favorite season? Are you excited for football?

Ragnar Relay Recap

Happy (and proud) to say I survived Ragnar! And I can still walk. 🙂 Actually not as sore as I thought I’d be after running 16.1 miles in 36 hours. We lucked out with great weather. It was a lot of fun and a completely new running experience.

Our team was the Lumberjack Heroes. We had 12 people split up into 2 vans for the relay race. I was in van 2. Van 1 had to take off early in the morning to get to Winona, WI to start the race at 8 a.m. Van 2 met at 10 a.m. to load up the van and head to Modena, WI (exchange 6) where our first runner started around 2:45 p.m.

Van art! Lumberjack heroes
Van art! Lumberjack heroes

Leg 1 – 4.5 miles

At 6 p.m. it was my turn to run my first leg. Felt so good to finally start running! I had been anxious and excited all day watching the other runners in my van take off for their first leg. The ‘baton’ for the Ragnar Relay is a bright orange slap bracelet (yes, an old-school slap bracelet!). They announced that our runner was coming, so I made my way to the exchange point and waited for the hand off. I got the bracelet and was on my way. I found my stride and was feeling pretty good. Near the end of the leg, the road became a gravel road. This slowed me down a little because I was worried about my footing since the gravel was a little loose. Definitely not a fan of running on gravel, and the fact that there was a mean hill didn’t make it a lot better.

Overall, I felt good about this first leg. I ran the 4.5 miles in 46:30. A lot of teams keep track of how many runners they pass while doing their legs and they’re called ‘road kill.’ We called our road kill ‘stumps’ to keep with our lumberjack theme. I had 4 stumps on this first leg and was pretty pumped!

About 9 p.m. our van rolled into Ellsworth, WI where we had some downtime before our second legs. We took to the opportunity to try and get some sleep. We were at a school and had the option to go inside and sleep in the gym, but it was such a nice night that we decided to grab our sleeping bags and sprawl out on the football field. It was pretty cool to be lying under the stars. I had been sleeping for about an hour when a volunteer came up to the field and told us the school didn’t want people on the field, so we had to move. Totally could’ve used another half hour of shut eye, but I did feel energize for the next round of running.

Leg 2 – 4.9 miles

Our second legs were during the overnight hours, so we had to wear safety gear: a reflective vest, a tail light, and a head lamp.

Ready to run the night leg!
Ready to run the night leg!

I got geared up and was ready to start my second leg at exchange 22 in Hudson, WI around 4:20 a.m. I was kind of excited to run at night, but a little nervous too. I took off and after a few steps my tail light fell off. I grabbed it and reattached it to my vest. After a few more steps, it fell off again. I picked it up and tried to turn the light back on but it was not working. You have to wear all the safety gear on the night legs, so I had to text my team and ask them to bring me our other tail light. They caught up with me after a few minutes, I put on the other light, and was finally off.

The whole light debacle kind of rattled me. I was so paranoid that the light was going to fall off again that I never really felt like I hit a comfortable stride. This leg was actually kind of tough for me. Remember the road kill (stumps) I talked about? Well, if getting passed actually made you road kill I would’ve been that gross, unrecognizable animal on the highway after this leg. I was getting passed a lot. I had to keep reminding myself that I needed to run at my own pace and not worry about what other runners were doing. Along with that my legs were already tired and this route was almost all uphill. It was truly a mental game to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I was relieved to get to the next exchange, pass off the bracelet, and put that leg behind me. Because of the setbacks at the start of this leg my RunKeeper was a little off, so I’m not exactly sure what my final time was.

After our van’s last runner was done with her second leg, we had some more downtime and attempted to get some sleep. We were at another school and went into the gym. The floor was hard, so it was tough to get comfortable, but I managed to get a couple hours of sleep.

Leg 3 – 6.7 miles

Yes, my last leg was also my longest. One good thing about this leg is it actually followed part of my regular running route in St. Paul, so I knew the terrain. This leg started about 2:15 p.m. and the temp had reached the mid-80s with lots of sun and a light breeze. After a less-than-stellar second leg and the warm weather, I was fairly nervous waiting at the exchange. I took off planning to start out a little slow so I could get warmed up. I was happy when RunKeeper said my average pace was 10:30 after a half mile. I was feeling good so I picked up my pace a little and was averaging about a 10:05/mile pace the rest of the route. This was faster than I was expecting! I even had 5 stumps on this leg!

I carried a small water bottle with me, but because of the heat I also had my team meet me halfway through the leg to give me more water if I needed it. I was glad I did this. I drank the small bottle on the first half and it was great to have more water for the second half.  I felt strong along the second half of the leg and was excited to spot the “One mile left” sign. I reached the exchange and was so relieved to be done! I ran the 6.7 miles in 1:08:56.

Our last runner took off and the rest of us hopped into the van to head to the finish line. Van 1 met up with us at the finish. As our last runner approached, our whole team joined her to run across the finish line. So nice to finish the relay as a team!

At the after party we collected our medals, grabbed our free pizza and beer and sat down to enjoy our victory. I think we were all pretty tired, so we didn’t hang out too long. The rest of my night included a shower (the best shower ever!), laundry, and I treated myself to some (more) pizza. Felt so good to sleep in my own bed that night too! 🙂

Finish line!
Finish line!
So happy to be done!
So happy to be done!

It was a long and crazy couple of days, but so much fun. I’m so glad I did it, but I’m also glad it’s over so I can focus on my half marathon training. Will take it easy for a couple days to recover from the weekend, but then training will be in full swing again!

Have you ever done a race like Ragnar Relay? Would you ever? 😉