Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Motivation Monkey

We love, love Curious George at our house these days. I tivo the episodes every day on PBS and Sophie and I usually watch them together at 4:30 in the morning when she gets up for her midnight snack (growth spurt anyone?). This morning's episode was Curious George Personal Trainer. George helps a professor at the museum go from workaholic to runner so she can race in a footrace to earn money for the museum.

George makes up these cute little training notecards after watching a video called "Run for Life." He has the professor stretch, run at a consistent pace, and drink water. But the professor still hates running and thinks it is boring. So George, being a smart little monkey, has her start running towards fun things - a ferris wheel, a big fountain, a carnival. The professor loves running and finishes the race. She then rewards her monkey trainer with her race medal.

Lessons from Curious George Personal Trainer?
1) I watch too much Curious George. I know more about what happened during this show than what went on during last week's Grey's Anatomy.

2) Know the basics. Stretching? Good. Consistent pace? Excellent. Water? Necessary.

3) Make it fun. I'm off to hunt for the closest ferris wheel and/or giant fountain. I may have to settle for the mud puddle at the end of my driveway.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Oh Monday

The Pollyanna buried deep inside of me has decided to post a list list of things I am thankful for this Monday:

1) Winter hat weather. I love how I no longer have to worry about my hair being in my face and driving me crazy while I'm running.

2) Kettlebells class. I get so snapped up on endorphins during this class, it's funny. I started singing during class a little bit a couple of weeks ago and was promptly rewarded with a heavier kettlebell. Apparently if you are singing, you're not working hard enough. Who knew?

3) A great weekend of races coming up. Saturday: the Anoka Halloween Gray Ghost 5K. Little Red Riding Hood is going to run her sassy self all over the place. And on Sunday: Freedom 10 mile. Just because I can.

4) A great weekend of relaxing with my mom and Sophie this past weekend. Pumpkin patch. Pumpkin carving. Pumpkin cupcakes. Book trivia with my mom (I can't convince anyone else to play with me). All so fun.

I am a happy, happy girl. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Minnesota Girl's Guide to Surviving Winter Running

As promised, I'm finally getting around to post my tips on running through the winter. All of you lucky ducks who live in Florida, Hawaii and Texas need not read any further. I've been running outside through the winter for the last five years, and have run on a treadmill maybe three times total during that five years. Reasons? Well, I don't have a treadmill. Also, I hate it.

First (and probably most obvious) thing you have to figure out with winter running: apparel. The key here is layers. For the coldest weather (20 degrees and below, in my book), I start with a base layer of Under Armour cold gear. Their warmest tights and a turtleneck. On top, I add a middle layer - another Under Armour zip up shirt. The next layer: wind resistance. I found a pair of Nike pants at Run n' Fun in St. Paul a couple of years ago and they are the greatest. They are fitted, and made of this great wind resistant fabric that manages to keep me warm but not trap in my sweat. On top, I have a very light weight wind jacket. Of course, you can't forget the hat, gloves, and (if it is very cold) a face mask. A note about face masks: they do help, but when you breath onto them, they tend to get wet and then cause chafing. I only use my face mask when it is below zero.

Second: accessories. Because winter running usually also means running in the dark, I tend to get a lot of use out of my headlamp and orange construction worker vest. The vest also comes in handy during hunting season, when I like to make it clear that I am not a deer. If you're going to run outside in the winter, you'll also need to invest in some Yak Trax. Runner's World had an article last year on how to screw your own shoes, so you could try that too. Either way, in order to avoid falling on your ass, you gotta have something on the shoes.

The third thing to consider with winter running is your route and fueling. Even if you are feeling hot and sweaty, your water in your fuel belt can freeze and your sport beans or clif blocks or what have you can turn into little ice pebbles. I did a lot of my long runs for marathon training in January and February last year, and for the most part made them loops so I would pass by my house at least once during the run. That way, if I was too hot and needed to ditch a jacket or my water was frozen and I needed new bottles, I could easily stop and take care of it.

Even though I do my fair share about complaining about winter weather and the cold, I actually sort of enjoyed marathon training through the winter months last year. It gave me a reason to get out the door and something to focus on other than the constant cold, dark weather. It also made me realize that it is often easier to run in the super cold than in the hot humidity of summer. All that being said, I'm perfectly fine if we have 60 degree weather until January.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Race Report - Run for the Apples 5 Miler

After what feels like months of crappy weather (okay, it's only been a couple of weeks), this morning I was shocked to see some light creeping in through my bedroom window. Two possibilities: alien spaceship landing in my front yard or the sun. Even though I thought the alien spaceship was more likely, the sun was actually shining. A crisp, sunny, perfect fall morning.

Sophie and I picked up Jim and we headed to White Bear Lake and the Pine Tree Apple Orchard. This race starts a couple of months of my must run races and I have been looking forward to it all summer. As we were standing around waiting for the start, I got to meet Melissa. It was a great surprise to meet a fellow running mommy blogger.

Once the race started, it was a s-l-o-w first mile with lots of walkers and runners just mish mashed everwhere. When you have hundreds of people running through the paths of an apple orchard, it really takes a while to spread out. The first mile marker is right back near the start, so I was happy to be able to ditch my jacket with my mom and Sophie. The sun was warming me right on up!

The second mile starts with a really tough hill. The word "hill" doesn't really do it justice. I just kept reminding myself that this was the worse it gets. And kept putting one foot in front of the other. I slowed up a couple of times to wait for Jim because I really wanted to run this race for fun, together. About a half mile from the finish, I could hear the crowd and the announcer and felt the excitement of being so close to being done. Kick time. The final downhill was slick and I really had to concentrate on not falling on my face. Success. Crossed the finish line in 44:51. Garmin says 44:17, but I wasn't sure exactly where the start line was, so who knows. Either way, another year at a fun race.

After we had a chance to catch our breath (and preview the awesome finish line picture my mom snapped - hopefully I'll be able to edit this post tomorrow and add the pic), we headed into the apple store to load up on apple treats. Yum.

For post-race recovery, I've been channeling my inner domestic godess. My grandparents, mom, and in-laws are all coming over tomorrow, so I cleaned, scrubbed, organized. Oh, AND I made some delicious cornbread from scratch and my first ever cheesecake (pumpkin). Hopefully it tastes as good as it smells! Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Confession Time

Running the risk of embarassing myself even more so than I did by posting my reenactment picture, I think it's time to tell you all the truth. I cannot do a true, for reals, push up. Well, I can sort of do one or two. But several in a row? Like is required during Kettlebells class? Um, no. Big fat fail.

I can do a bazillion push ups on my knees. No problem. But make me go on my toes and I shake like a leaf and collapse onto my belly. It is really humiliating. I need to figure out how to toughen up and do a real push up.

So I will make you all a deal. YOU teach me how to do push ups. Give me whatever advice you have. In exchange, I will impart really the only piece of wisdom I have: how to survive winter running. I may not be able to give any advice on any other area of running, but I have run through cold Minnesota winters for several years and I know my snow and ice. But first, I need to figure out how to do push ups. Because I have a total girl crush on my kettlebells teacher and I want to impress her with my superhuman strength.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Snowy Run

I don't have any way to prove this, but I'm pretty sure I wore my running hat and coat the earliest ever last night on my five-miler. I don't think I've ever pulled out the winter gear in October before. Granted, it wasn't full on winter gear (the Under Armour extra warm tights and double layer turtle necks are still in the closet), but still. Winter, you and I didn't get along very well last year. And you're really pushing it already this year. Watch it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Running + Sunshine = Happiness

A couple of weeks ago, I took off from the office door for a run and cursed the sun. It was too hot, humid and ugh for my liking. All I wanted was a little rain cloud to block the sun and cool me off a little.

Last night, I took off from the office door for a run and did a little happy dance because the sun was shining. I commented on how great and warm the sun felt on my face. What a difference a couple of weeks (and a forty degree temperature difference) can make!

The sun is trying to peek out from the clouds now, so it looks like my post-work track workout could be another sunny one. After what feels like nonstop rain for at least a week, I'll take it.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend! I'm so jealous of all of you headed to Chicago, I can almost taste it. Can't wait to read the race reports!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nuun Love

A while back, I got lucky and won some Nuun from the lovely Marlene. Last weekend, I was very happy to get my super cute little box of Nuun in my mailbox. An eight miler last Wednesday night was the perfect time for a test run. I dropped a tablet into my water bottle and let the fizzy wonder begin. By the time I set out for my run, I had a tasty bottle of Nuun waiting for me.

The first taste of Nuun surprised me. It tastes almost carbonated (maybe it is carbonated? who knows?), and is very light. I liked it a lot. Regular Gatorade tends to get overly sweet and heavy for my tastes. So the verdict on the Nuun? Loved it. Now I'm hoarding the rest of my supply until marathon training starts again. And adding a handheld water bottle to my Christmas list!

Other things I'm loving tonight:
  • putting on a pair of jeans I haven't worn since before I got preggers with Sophie and finding that they fit just right
  • Twins WIN!!!

Not so much loving all the rain we are getting though. Blech. Kinda ruining my annual steamy love affair with fall running. Oh, and someone told me it's supposed to snow on Saturday. Spare me.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Marathon Envy & September Recap

Oh, fall marathons are everywhere! All of our local news stations were giving the "Twin Cities Marathon forecast" last night. All you bloggy people are running fun marathons. And I am jealous. Not of all that long run training during the hot summer months, but I want to be running a marathon. All that marathon envy has me looking forward, trying to pick my spring marathon.

Here's the tentative plan: run either Madison or Fargo in May. Still trying to decide between the two. Madison? Loved the half there in August, lots of family close by, and I think the course would be awesome. Fargo? My sister ran there last year and I spectated - seemed like a fun environment. Also, they're doing a deal this year where you get a special medal if you run the 5K Friday night and the marathon Saturday. Like North Dakota's version of the Goofy Challenge. Sort of tempting for a medal whore like myself. Anyhow . . . I'm also going to put in for the lottery for Grandma's half, but sign up for the full if I don't get in. And possibly run a marathon in May AND June. Nothing for some of you pros, but a big deal for a once-a-year kinda gal like me. So yeah, I've been spending a lot of time on marathon websites. Dreaming and drooling.

Looking back: September was the first month of my 350 minute per week (of exercise) challenge. It was very successful. Highlights - tons of cross training (everything from biking to Jilliam to kettlebells). Managed to lose 5 pounds without changing my diet. Lows? The running mileage. Lowest mileage month so far. So my October goal is to keep up the 350 minutes per week but get those running miles back up there.

Tomorrow my baby turns 2! I've scrubbed the house, bought the makings for lasagna, and wrapped all the presents, so I'm ready. Also looking forward to reading all the race reports from this weekend. Feed the marathon envy. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Finally, Dorkiness Confirmed

Luckily for me, this picture is quite blurry. I think you can probably still pick up on my clenched fists, knock-knees, and staring into outer space. Just remember, this was a reenactment -- this is NOT how I actually run. Well, at least I think it's not.