Welcome to 2017!

Yet again, it’s been a while.  I’ve got a lot to do in 2017, so I’m going to write about it.  I want to be able to look back and see all the progress I’ve made this year.

I am participating in a Declutter 365 project, where I am following a calendar with 15 minute tasks each day that should result in some positive changes in our home.

Today’s exercise was to set up a decluttering bin in the house somewhere. We have had a bin on our front porch for Goodwill items for a while, but it hasn’t been actually taken to Goodwill in a couple of years. This morning, I went out and gathered all the donation items and loaded them into my car.

The back of my Rogue is full of items to be donated to Goodwill!

The back of my Rogue is full of items to be donated to Goodwill!








When the bin comes back empty, it has a place to rest while it collects the next round of items to be donated when the bin is full. The shoes in the back corner are likely moving, but for right now, they’re going to hang out there until some stuff on the porch is able to be moved.

Our front porch collects all sorts of things. This is what part of it looks like after removing all the donation items.

Our front porch collects all sorts of things. This is what part of it looks like after removing all the donation items.









As a part of getting ready for 2017, I have set up quarterly focus areas.  Q1 is focused around healthier eating and daily movement and establishing those things as routine, so I’ll be posting about those things as they happen.

Also, as a part of each day, I’m working in personal development readings and listenings.  I’ll be posting about what I am reading and listening to, as things resonate with me.  My first area of focus for the next 9 weeks is working through my Dreambook Planner by Briana and  Dr. Peter Borten related to their new book The Well Life.

The Dreambook Planner is structured to take you through an assessment/check-in on what’s going well in your life and where you see challenges, and asks you to define meaningful values to you, and to define a purpose that you have. The theory is that if you want to set goals, which is the true purpose of this planner, you have to first establish where you are, before you can plan where you want to be.

It occurs to me that I picked a good blog name way back when – it worked when I was setting running and multisport goals and training for and finishing those races, and it works now when I want to work on self-improvement.   It’s all a part of dreaming, striving, and succeeding.

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October 29, 2012.  That was the last time I wrote anything here.  The wheels kind of fell off, honestly.  Work got crazy, and after running my only race in October 2013, I have been in and out and back in physical therapy again for my hip issues, and work got crazy again and again, and will again soon.  The good news is that we have made great progress in PT, and I may yet run again next year.

When I started this blog, I was heavily into running and duathlons, etc.  Now, thanks to injury, I am not, and I am essentially learning to walk all over again, before I can run. But something happened the other night that had an effect on me, and the last line of my notes from that experience said “Resurrect the blog?”

So here I am.  Hello, World, 2.0.  (And, because this is me, I can’t not talk about my dog…)

This is Jetta with the very rare Alligator Moose. (For years, Kong Cozies Moose toys have been her security blanket and favorite toy. She just destroyed #3, and I couldn't find one at Chuck & Don's, so she got the Alligator. Thus, the Alligator Moose. And she loves this one just as much as Regular Moose.)

This is Jetta with the very rare Alligator Moose. (For years, Kong Cozies Moose toys have been her security blanket and favorite toy. She just destroyed #3, and I couldn’t find one at Chuck & Don’s, so she got the Alligator. Thus, the Alligator Moose. And she loves this one just as much as Regular Moose.)











Last month, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 2014 Women in Public Service Conference at Hamline University. Being in the same room with such amazing women really inspired me to think about where I’ve been and where I might be going in my career.

As it happens, the 2 sessions I attended at the conference were heavily focused on concepts from Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In book.  I haven’t read the book.  On purpose.  I dismissed it out of hand when it came out.  I figured it was really geared to women who were trying to balance families and work and their lives.  I don’t have kids, so I figured it wouldn’t mean much to me. (Side note: I plan to read the book while on vacation in December… I feel like if I read it, and don’t agree with it, that’s one thing. Dismissing it without reading it seems unfair.  That’s my stance on voting, too.  I can’t complain about my elected officials if I didn’t vote.)

The people talking at the conference talked a lot about the concept of  “What would you do if you weren’t afraid,”  and that leaning in meant daring to dream (big or small) and take the baby steps to achieve those dreams.  I learned that there were local Lean In circles all over the country, including here in the Twin Cities, that had popped up in the wake of the book, a way for people to gather locally and explore personal and professional growth and leadership.   The group meets as a larger group on the even months, and meets as smaller groups on the odd months.

Wednesday evening, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and went to my first large group meeting.  I have a tinge of social anxiety. I am an ambivert, capable of being extroverted, but I also need my introverted recharge time.  If I am attending a gathering of people I don’t know, it is very hard for me to actually get out the door to attend the event.  It’s sometimes even hard when it is people I do know, but it’s most crushing and difficult when it is people I don’t know.

Fortunately, someone in my area had asked to carpool, and a 3rd person also wanted to carpool, so I offered to drive, and met some great people in my neighborhood as a result.  It had the added advantage that I wouldn’t be walking into the gathering all by myself.  I would already know Molly and Jenn, a little bit.

The large group experience was great.  There was the “What would you do if you weren’t afraid” icebreaker, and it was amazing how comfortable I felt sharing in front of a group I didn’t know.  (Maybe that made it easier…)  Then we broke into our smaller groups for conversation & connection, and when we re-convened, we heard a wonderful speaker.

Carol took the time to give us an overview of the books and research of Brene Brown, a prominent scholar and author around the subjects of shame, vulnerability, and wholeheartedness.  Carol’s speech was filled with obvious passion for her subject, and really took the time to connect with us as she spoke.

I bought Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection a few months ago.  I read a couple of chapters, which seemed engaging and interesting, then put the book down and haven’t picked it back up since.  I went home from the meeting, ordered Brown’s other 2 books, and plan to spend some time reading and reflecting on them in the next couple of months.

I asked a good friend, who I thought might be familiar with Brown’s work, if she’d be interested in being a local sounding board as I read these books, as it seems that a key tenet of Brown’s work is having people in your life that you can trust as you examine what you want in your life and how you want to get there.

I think that’s the turn this blog will likely take.  As I read, and as I process through things, I’d like to post some of them here.  A bit of navel-gazing, to be sure, but I hope that some of what I post resonates with the 1.5 of you who will see this blog entry.

For those of you who read this blog because of running and physical activity, this blog probably won’t focus on that for a while, so check back in sometime next year if you’re not interested in reading and thinking more about how to really throw yourself into living your life instead of just existing through the days and hours (which, if you’re not, I won’t be offended….).

I’m 40 now, and it feels like time to examine where I am now (which is a great place, don’t get me wrong.  I am not unhappy with my life, but there is always room for improvement!) and what the future might hold, if only I don’t stand in my own way.

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Race Recap – Team Ortho Monster Dash 10 Mile 10/27/12 (705 days to go till TCM 2014!)

[I haven’t posted much lately because I’ve been so busy!  With Sean on the road for most of the last couple of weeks, it’s been all I can do to handle a busy work schedule and getting Jetta picked up from daycare and walked and make myself a simple dinner before I fall into bed.  I have been doing my workouts, and it’s going pretty well, all things considered.]

Because I picked up my packet for Monster Dash at the expo for Women Rock in September, I didn’t need to worry about packet pickup for the race on Friday after work.  I wish I’d gone, as I heard there was a gigantic wall with the names of all of the racers in the 3 events (13.1, 10 mile, and 5k) on it.  It would have been fun to see my name on the wall of around 15,000 runners.  

I spent the time I would have spent at packet pickup trying on my outfit for the next day.  I had gone to REI and purchased a windproof fleece jacket and pants.  I walk the dog a lot, and I hate when the wind whips right through all the layers I am wearing and I freeze.  I opted for the fleece jacket for Saturday (It’s October – might as well support breast cancer awareness in pink!), with my C9 tops underneath.  I wore my trusty Nike Combat Pro tights with my Piper Aviation shorts over the tights.   I decided on my lobster hat for this race, as my “costume.” It seemed like it would be relatively stable on my head, so I figured it would do double duty.  Yes, it seemed like this ensemble would work.  I’m generally a train wreck as far as running fashion goes. I dress to be comfortable, and it doesn’t always look good.  Let’s face it.  It rarely does.  But this one wasn’t bad, as outfits go.

I figured that if I got up at 4:45 am, I would have enough time to eat and do the rest of my race-morning ritual, before leaving at a little before 7 am.  The race started at 8 am, I thought, so if we left a little before 7, Sean was dropping me off, so I didn’t have to worry about parking.  I got to the Cathedral at 7:30, right on schedule.  This was the view as I walked up the hill.

It’s easy to find your starting point when you’re a back of the pack runner.  12+minutes per mile, baby!  This is my last photo for a while.  :)

At 8 am, when I thought the race was supposed to start, I found out that the race start was at 8:30.  I could have sworn it was at 8, and though I checked the race course online, I never thought to check the start time.  I was freezing after 30 minutes in the 29F weather, and did not relish another 30 minutes.  I did survive, and it was time to sound the starting gun.

We inched forward.  Finally, 11 minutes and 57 seconds after the start of the race, I crossed the start line.  I was so cold, and I probably ran the first mile faster than my plan of 13:20-13:30 because I was cold. It felt good to start warming up, and the sun was getting higher and warming things up a little. 

Mile 1 was done in 12:48.   I knew that this was too fast, so I slowed down, and just about hit the mark in mile 2 with a 13:29 pace.  I know I was feeling good through miles 3, 4, and 5, clearing those in 13:23, 13:09, and 13:15.  I told myself to slow down through mile 6, and I did, dropping off the pace to 13:41. 

Around mile 6.5, I knew I was hurting.  My hips were aching pretty badly, and I didn’t want to sacrifice all the work I’d done thus far.  I’d been running 4 minutes and walking one minute, which might have been too big an interval for me at this point, so I reset my watch to 2 minutes running and 1 minute walking.  I limped through mile 7 in 14:02 and mile 8 in 14:00.  I hated seeing those 14’s on my watch, and I knew there were only a couple of miles to go, so I stepped it up.  I quickly stopped to take this photo in mile 8ish, for Sean.  We watch a lot of Family Guy, and one of my favorites is the salesman who does periodic advertisements in the show for his extra inventory of “Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tube-Man.”  This is the Get Lucky version, and I saw the Women Rock one later.

Mile 9 was faster than mile 8 at 13:50.  I took this photo for Sean, when he texted me to ask how I was doing.  I was hurting, but I knew I’d finish. It was nice to know there was only one more mile. I thought about how many times in training for races, I’d be in the last mile, thinking “ONE. MORE. MILE.” 

Mile 10 was faster than miles 7, 8, or 9, done in 13:41.  It had the benefit of having most of the last half-mile downhill.  Thanks go out to the woman in the blue jacket who passed me in the last few feet…. thanks to her, I had someone to keep up with while I sprinted, and she crossed the line just ahead of me.

I grabbed my medal, and smiled when I saw the food bags.  I’d helped pack them at Team Ortho HQ on Thursday night.  I was ravenous in the middle of the race, but wasn’t ready to eat it yet, at the finish line.  I stopped at the potty, since there were no lines.    I took this photo in the biffy, yes, why do you ask? 

The long line was for shuttles, but I didn’t need one of those.  I needed to find my way home.  I pulled up the Metro Transit schedules and found that if I walked 1/2 mile northeast, I’d find a bus stop at W 7th & Albion, w/ a transfer at  St. Paul Ave that would get me onto the 46 bus for a trip to 50th & Xerxes.  I walked up the hill from Elway and Shepard and took this photo while waiting for the 1st bus:

While I was making my way home, Sean, Mel, and Jetta were walking the Monster Dash 5k near our house.  Sean was wearing a lobster hat for his race, too.  They had fun walking the lake, and Jetta was a Very Good Dog.  I have a photo of the 3 of them, but Mel would probably kill me for using it.  I think it’s cute, though.

I got off at 50th & Vincent, so I had another nice 1/2 mile walk to get to our house.  I was very tired, and very, very cold.  I took a long, hot shower, and snuggled up on the sofa.  Mel, Sean, and Jetta came home shortly thereafter, and I tore into some leftover Thai food from Friday night. 

Eventually, it was time to take Sean to the airport, as he headed off for 2 solid weeks in India.  Mel and I watched tv and tried to amuse the dog, and then Amanda came over after her yoga class.  We headed off to Curry’n Noodles, my favorite Indian restaurant.  I ordered all the food, and the lobster hats were able to share in the post-race vittles.

In obligatory Jetta photos news, Jetta is very cute.  Witness this, her supermodel pose:

And this: her “Mama, I have a bone. *chew chew chew*” pose.

We spent yesterday doing a whole lot of sleeping in, and doing a lot of nothing, once we were awake, though we did get in a 5.65 mile walk in about the same amount of time it took me to run my race the day before.  There are a lot of things to sniff at in the fall, if you’re a dog, and Jetta sniffed them all.

I am really thrilled that this is how my 2012 season ends.  I’m going into winter training with a little confidence that if I keep pushing the pace, little by little, I’ll be able to break 3 hours in the half-marathon next year, hopefully by enough that breaking 6 hours in the marathon in 2014 isn’t such a lofty goal.  It’s going to be a lot of work, but I am looking forward to it.  And, really, that’s what counts.  I’m excited about running again! (remind me I said that in the middle of my next long race, wouldja? :P)

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718 days to go… Continuous running!

If it’s Tuesday, it must be a gym morning! 

The puppy woke me up at 5 am when she snuggled up next to me because she was cold.  I dozed till 5:45, then got up and got ready to head to the Y.  I knew Kat was on her way, so it helped get me out of the house at a reasonable time.  I knew she wasn’t going to be treadmilling, but knowing she’d be at the gym at some point in my workout really did help motivate me to get moving! I got there just before 6:30 am and started in on W1D3 of the Galloway 5k app.

As it turns out, I can’t use my snazzy new Pear Sports training program because the Faster 5k program is GPS-based, with no treadmill setting.  It’s okay – they’re working on new plans that are treadmill based, and, if nothing else, I can use the Pear app in the spring when I’m running outdoors more regularly.  Until then, the Galloway app works great.

I had a d’oh moment this morning.  I was trying to figure out why the app kept suggesting that I run at a 10:00/mi pace in my workout.  Duh.  I thought I was supposed to tell the app what 5k pace I wanted to run at. So I told it between 11-12 min/mi.  Nope.  It wanted my current 5k pace so that it could set a faster pace.  So it was suggesting 10 min/mi pace as the faster pace.  I have now set it to 13 min/mi, hoping it suggests 11-12 min/mi pace. :)

I had a great workout this morning! 3 min warmup walk, run 3 miles, 3 min cooldown walk.  I ran 3 continuous miles this morning, at <12:00/mi pace!  Of course I was on the treadmill and had no incline, but still, 3 continuous miles is something I haven’t done in a very long time.

I think from here on out, I’ll either add in hills myself or use the hill setting on the treadmill, so that I train with hills to still hit my paces for when I’m back outside.

I’ve gone for nice walks later in the afternoon/early evening with Jetta for the last couple of evenings and taken some nice sunset photos.  One good thing about trying to get Jetta and myself to exercise more is the great photo opps!  After listening to the baseball game as I walked the dog on Sunday, it occurred to me that I could listen to other things through the speakers on my phone while I walk the dog.  I don’t know why this hadn’t occurred to me before.  I downloaded the podcasts app yesterday and thorougly enjoyed Alec Baldwin’s interview with Fred Armisen from a few weeks ago on Baldwin’s podcast Here’s the Thing, where he does fantastic interviews with everyone under the sun. 

Lake of the Isles, Sunday evening:


Near 50th & France yesterday evening:



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720 days to go…

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for new technology.  So, when I saw something on Facebook the other day for Pear Sports and their new training device/app, I had to go take a look.  It looks like there has been quite a bit of development on the device, and now they’re working on the mobile version.  You can either purchase the device kit (device, headphones, heart rate monitor) or the mobile kit (headphones and heart rate monitor, and the app is free).  I purchased the mobile kit.

(Note: PEARSports has not compensated me in any way for this.  I purchased the mobile kit at full price, less discount from a coupon code that I got from 13.1 Sports that I saw on Facebook, and all opinions are mine.)

I ordered it a few days ago and it came yesterday.  I got the heart rate monitor set up with the app yesterday. You wear the PEAR heart rate monitor and it transmits data to either the device or your iphone.  The calibration workout is 20 minutes.  It takes you all the way from Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)level 1 (very very easy) to level 6 (somewhat hard, where you’re breathing deeply but comfortably, and if you went any faster, you’d be straining).  You do the calibration workout to set the levels for the program, and you re-test every 4-8 weeks as your conditioning improves.

I walked the 0.36mi to Lake Harriet this morning, and then it was time to do my @PEARSports calibration workout.   My levels were the following:

RPE Level 1:  relatively slow walk (5 min)
RPE Level 2:  slightly faster walk (2 min)
RPE Level 3: fastest walk I can do (2 min)
RPE Level 4: racewalk (2 min)
RPE Level 5: 12:30/13:00/mi pace (2 min)
RPE Level 6: 10:15-10:30/mi pace (3 min)
Cooldown walk at RPE Level 1/2 (4 min)

The app calculates my lactate threshold heart rate based on the test at 171.  And it sets my heart rate zone training levels:
Zone 1: 128-136 bpm
Zone 2: 137-163 bpm
Zone 3: 164-173 bpm
Zone 4: 174-179 bpm
Zone 5: 180-230 bpm

So, they have a training plan called “Faster 5k.”  It’s 4 workouts a week for 10 weeks.  I’m replacing the Galloway 5k app with this, and we’ll see how it goes.  The mobile app is new, so they only have beginner 5k and faster 5k plans.  The app says the 10K, 13.1, and 26.2 plans are coming.  They do have quite a few other mobile plans for one-time workouts for running, cycling, strength training, etc.

A note for those trying to decide whether to buy the device or the mobile version:  It looks like they have a lot more plans developed for the device, so if you’re looking for a lot of training plans or workouts being available right away, I’d recommend buying the device.  But if you have relatively simple needs or can wait for the 10k/13.1/26.2 plans, like I can, the mobile app seems to work great!  I’ll report in on each workout and tell you what I think of the app and the training technology, as well as tracking my improvements along the way.

After I finished the calibration workout, I walked the 0.36 mi back to the house and grabbed Jetta to finish out 3 miles.  We walked 3 blocks up to 44th and York, across to Zenith, and then we jogged up the hill to 45th and Zenith.  We walked the next block to 46th and Zenith, and then we ran as fast as we could down the hill to 47th and Zenith (7:39/mi pace for one block… hey, have to start somewhere!).  We walked across to York, jogged up the block and back to the house to get to 3.04 miles for the day in 47 minutes.

It occurred to me today that really, this is about the journey I take to my second marathon in October 2014.  With that in mind, I’m going to countdown to the first Sunday in October, 2014.  October 4, 2014 is the day after my 40th birthday.  We’ll see if I can finish my 2nd marathon that day.  If not, it’s going to be a good ride to try to get there.


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721 days to go…

I wrote this yesterday, but forgot to post it last night…

The alarm goes off.  It’s 4:45 am.  I sit upright in bed, blinking the sleep out of my eyes and petting the nice, warm dog curled up against me.  The image of the finish line of Twin Cities flashes into my mind, and I get out of bed.  Sean wakes up.

“What time is it?”

“It’s 4:45.”

“Oh, then you can come back to bed…”

“Nope, I’m getting up early for swimming.  See you in a little while.”

I pad downstairs, grab my swimsuit and clothes, put them on, and pin up my hair.  I brush my teeth and splash some water on my face, still trying to rub the sleep from my eyes.  Jacket, gloves, sneakers, grab my swim bag, and I’m out the door.

It’s cold, in the twenties, and I turn up the heat in the car and shiver.  About 8 minutes of driving gets me to Southdale, and I’m in the building and into the pool almost before I wake up.

Long, slow laps and parts of laps.  Trying to remember to relax, to breathe, how to do that side stroke kick, struggling with the breaststroke (which everyone says is the easiest stroke, but somehow, my body won’t recognize it).  50-yd laps without much of a rest at the far end of the pool.  Trying to learn right-side breathing (I innately breathe on my left side every other stroke) and 3 and 4 stroke breathing.  That darned whip kick again.  Remember that you will float, even on the deep end, so relax, and breathe.   550 yards later, one half-hour of my day, filled with the sound of blown bubbles under the water and the sharp intake of breath above it.  My body awkwardly slicing through the water, propelling me down and back.

I can’t do continuous swimming yet, not for more than one lap at a time, and most of the time, not even one full lap.  Somehow, I have to get to 18 of them, without stopping… because there’s no bottom to touch or wall to hold onto in a triathlon.

But I’ll get there, one lap at a time, over the next 8.5-10 months.  Now that I think about it, I’m sure I felt like running a mile was as daunting as swimming 1/4 mile now seems, almost 3 years ago when I started sort-of-running.  And now I can go and do a 10k without a lot of notice.

That’s how I know the comfort will come, if I just stick with it.  And that’s quite possibly one of my favorite lessons out of all of these athletic endeavors:  perseverance.

I took another bad cell phone photo after I got home from the Y.  I really need to invest in a full-length mirror placed somewhere in the house where I won’t get such a bad photo. :)









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722 days to go….

Well, per the schedule I put forth yesterday, I needed to get in my second workout of the week on Thursday.  Because I procrastinated on Tuesday, I didn’t do that workout till Wednesday.  I think it was probably good for me to run 2 days in a row, to show that I can do it. :)

Besides, I promised Kat that I’d meet her at the Y this morning (planning for Tuesdays and Thursdays going forward).  Because she goes to the gym later than I normally would, I got to sleep till my normal time, then got up, pulled on my workout gear, and headed out to the Y.

This is a different Y than my home gym, so it was fun to see a new gym.  They have a nicely renovated space, and it was time to do the workout of the day.

Today’s workout was:

3 min warmup walk (14:00/mi pace)

5 min warmup run (12:30-13:00/mi pace)

4x400m intervals (10:30/mi pace) w/ 3 walk intervals in between (14:00/mi pace)

3 min cooldown walk (14:00/mi pace)

Total: 2.07 miles in 27:37, average 13:20/mi pace (thanks to all the walking!)

Week-to-date mileage total: 4.43

Week-to-date time total: 93.75 min (including swim class Tuesday nights)

I definitely love the early morning workouts for feeling like I’m getting my day started on the right foot.    And I know that if I stick with this, I will get stronger and faster.  It’s all about teaching my lungs that they can breathe well enough to run 11:30/mi pace for miles and miles…. but I have to work up to that.

And, hey, tomorrow’s Friday!  Looking forward to an early morning swim before work. I forgot to take a post-workout photo this morning… this will have to do (yes, a restroom-at-work shot):

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723 days to go…

A plan is forming.  I think it’s a reasonable plan.  I think I can manage it with work and other commitments (Oh, Beer University, how I love you), and it should keep me moving through a long, cold Minnesota winter.

I had another swim lesson last night.  I have a long way to go to get to 1/4 mile of swimming in a sprint triathlon, but it’s great exercise and fibro-friendly.  I got to try out the vortex pool at Southdale, which is going to get a bit of use from me this winter as I use it for running if my hips are bothering me and for swimming against the current to start to get used to what open water might feel like.  My swim instructor is also a certified massage therapist, and she’s said she’d be more than happy to do sessions once every week or two if it’d help.  I think I’m going to work those sessions in regularly.

I got up this morning at 5 am.  It’s tough to crawl out of a nice warm bed with a puppy curled up next to you and wander through a chilly house gathering workout gear.  But with the image of the finish line of the Twin Cities Marathon in my mind, I got out of bed and got dressed.

I went downstairs and got on the treadmill.  I downloaded Jeff Galloway’s 5k app about a week ago, thinking a return to the basics was in order.  I told the app that I wanted to run at least a 12 min/mi average, and that I was looking to improve my 5k time.  The app has a feature where you can load up to 50 songs into the app at any one time, and the app will change the speed of the song to match the pace you are running or walking.   I decided to try a 2 min run/1 min walk interval, to start.  You can change the ratio on the fly, which is nice.  If having a great day, you can just run.  If struggling, you can do a 30 sec run/30 sec walk ratio.

The app worked well.  Today’s workout was warmup walk for 3 minutes (forgot to start my Garmin), run/walk for 20 minutes, 3 min cooldown walk.  I did 2 minutes of running at around 10:15/mi pace, and racewalked the 1 minute walk segments at about a 14:00/mi pace.

Time: 26:18

Distance: 2.32mi

Pace: 11:20/mi pace

I felt pretty good this morning.  Going back to the basics and working on a faster 5k feels like the right thing to do, and having a big goal in mind is going to keep me consistently working out, which is something I struggle with. If I can just get out of bed and get the workout clothes on, I always feel better when I’ve completed a workout! This morning’s workout should have been done on Tuesday, so I’ll be doing that starting next week.

Here’s the current idea for the schedule:

Monday: rest day

Tuesday: run am (at Y), swim pm (at Y)

Wednesday: bike am or other x-training (at home)

Thursday: run am (at Y)

Friday: swim am (at Y)

Saturday: long run (at home) – can be done on Sunday if needed

Sunday: Bike or long recovery walk with Jetta (at home)

Here’s a very bad cell phone photo of me after my workout.  I’m hoping that over time, I can see physical improvement in these photographs… I used to do this all the time when I was first starting to run, and it is nice to see the improvement over time.

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The Magic of the Leaves

This year was a fortunate year.  For the first time since I started running, I was not in Maine doing the half-marathon the same weekend as the Twin Cities Marathon.  Boy, am I glad that’s the case.

I knew several people running the 26.2 on Sunday, so I decided to walk over to Lake Harriet to be a spectator.  Spectators have used their voices and their enthusiasm to help me get through races, even for people in the back of the pack like me.  With that in mind, I put on my bright orange Maine Half-Marathon jacket, grabbed 2 cowbells, made 2 thermoses of hot coffee, and set off, all bundled up, to Lake Harriet.

I had runner tracking turned on for 3 runners, all of whom serve as such huge inspirations to me:  Jen, Erin, and Kat.  Jen and I were training for our respective first marathons at the same time, but her performance was what I wished I’d been able to do in my first marathon.  Erin has such a strength and determination, and she adds a fun spark to everything she does.  And Kat’s path to Twin Cities this year has been nothing but amazing, and she is my reference for how to persevere through the dark times that plague us all.

What a beautiful morning.  A part of me ached, wanting to be running in this race.  Such beautiful foliage, the crispness in the air, the crunch of the leaves under my feet… and then I could start to hear the cheering.  I walked more and more quickly toward the sound, wanting to become a part of the wall of sound.

I found a place to stand just before the runners turned to head down toward Minnehaha Parkway.  Cowbells out, and there I stood, for the next 1.5 hours.  I rang my cowbell, called out encouragement, smiled, cheered, and looked for my friends.  I never did see Kat, but I saw Erin (she was almost past me before it registered), who was in the Zone, and then, a bit later, I saw Jen, running toward me with a huge smile.  She gave me a huge hug, and continued on. 

I stayed there, cheering till the last runner had gone by, as one of a handful of spectators still at Lake Harriet.  As a 6:46 marathoner in a 7-hour event, I knew that the 6-hour runners in this race needed the encouragement just as much, if not more, than the faster runners.

Once the bus had traveled by, I walked back home.  I had originally planned to head out to mile 23, but standing in the cold had angered the fibro gods, so I went home and helped Sean clean the house. 

We had the house under control, and I put on KARE11’s livestream of the finish line.  I sat there for almost 2 hours, watching people cross the finish line.  What an inspiring scene.  I saw Erin, Kat, and Jen cross the finish line, and I cheered so loudly for each one that the dog came running up to me to see what was wrong.

All I could think, while watching that, was how badly I wanted to cross that finish line one day.  I’m not fast enough now to do it.  Yes, I am a marathoner, and no, no one can ever take that away from me.  But it’s not enough for me.  I did it, but not in a manner that I think is “good enough.” And I think I will always regret it if I don’t learn to run quickly enough to finish a marathon in 6 hours or less.   What better marathon to test that mettle than the big hometown marathon in the fall?  Next year, I have another date with the Maine Half-Marathon (I really just want to break 3 hours there, where I grew up – 2:58 would suffice).  But after that, it’s figuring out how to keep that speed going over 26.2 miles, hopefully in 2014. 

All of that has been percolating in my head since Sunday.  Then, I read Julia‘s post just now, over lunch.  And it really hit home that I will always regret it if I don’t try to train for completing a 6-hour marathon.  It feels more legitimate, somehow, to say that I completed a marathon closer to 6 hours than 7.  I can’t explain it, but I think I will always feel “less than” as a marathoner if I don’t try to tackle a course with a 6-hour limit.  Her post captures all the joy of running, and I want to experience running through the twin cities that have seen the birth of me as a runner, slow though I might be.

Some of you are undoubtedly thinking that I need a little more confidence.  That I completed a marathon and other distances and I need to give myself some credit.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am a marathoner.  I completed 26.2 miles that day in June just like all the other finishers.  But it hasn’t felt like enough.  I have a marathon under my belt.  That achievement is unlocked.  What’s left but to do it faster?  There’s nothing wrong with that goal, in my book.

Interestingly, Jeff Galloway has a race pace predictor that falls in line for me.  He says that someone who takes 38 minutes to complete a 5k (I commonly do it in 38:30)) would do 13.1 in 3:03 (which I have, twice now).  That would be a 6:40 marathon.  I was only 6 minutes slower than that estimate at Grandma’s in June. 

So, my goal for next September is to do a half-marathon in 2:58.  I would need to do a 5k reliably in 36:45.  Shouldn’t be too hard to do that.  And to get to a 6:01 marathon time, I need a 34:48 5k (which would be a 2:48 half). 

I’m going to go back to the basics.  Last year, I said that 2012 was about distance (just wanted to finish them, and I have), and 2013 would be about trying to get faster.   I’m going to work through Jeff Galloway’s 5k program again, trying for a 36:30 consistent 5k time.  That’s cutting about 2 minutes off of my 5k time.  Then I can work on faster 10K times, with the ultimate goal of doing 2:58 or better at the 2013 Maine Half-Marathon. 

If successful there, then I can work on more speed for the 2014 Twin Cities Marathon.  And if the speed isn’t there for 2014, there’s always 2015!

I may not make the goals I set, but if I don’t set them, I have nothing to work toward.  This is the first part of my personal mantra: to dream.  For the second part, to strive means that it is time for me to buckle down, over a cold Minnesota fall and winter, and try to teach myself what 3.1 consecutive 12 minute miles feels like, over and over and over again.  And, with any luck, around 4 months from now, I’ll succeed with a few 5ks of 36:30 or better.  Then I can focus on solid 75 or 76 minute 10Ks (my best is 77 min, my average is 80 min) 4 months after that, and then the 2:58 or better 13.1 in late September/early October.  Those will be my successes for 2013.


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Race Recap: 2012 Maine Half Marathon, 9/30/12

This was supposed to be the redemption race.  After missing last year’s turnaround in this race, I knew that if I turned around at the turnaround, I’d already beaten last year’s performance.  But past that, I had set another goal: 2:58:30; just under 5 minutes ahead of my personal best 13.1 time, 3:03:39 at Minneapolis 2011.

I used the same website for this race that I used for Grandma’s 2012:  tazrunning.com.  For all the races that they have in their inventory, they have elevation built into the pacing, and you can tweak all sorts of things.  This was supposed to be my race (including the fact that I am slower going up hills and steady coming down hills):

Maine Half-Marathon
M Split Total
1 13:35 13:35
2 13:46 27:22
3 13:15 40:36
4 13:59 54:36
5 13:48 1:08:23
6 14:16 1:22:39
7 13:13 1:35:53
8 13:49 1:49:42
9 13:08 2:02:50
10 13:20 2:16:10
11 13:52 2:30:02
12 13:22 2:43:24
13 13:36 2:57:00
F 1:30 2:58:30

Looks more than reasonable, right?  I needed an average of about 13:34/mile to make my goal.  And this pace chart factored in the hills in the middle of the course.  Perfect!

Race day dawned cloudy, with rain on the way, for a 2nd year in a row.  We stayed at a great Airbnb lodging, and it felt like getting ready at home before the race.  I was able to walk 1.2 miles to the race start, and ditched my fleece, since it was much warmer than anticipated.

I knew I needed to wait for the potty, so the starting gun went off before I was out of line.  I wasn’t worried…. My time would start when I crossed the line with my chip.   I made it through the line and took a deep breath as I crossed the finish line.  All I could see in my head was 2:58:30 on the clock when I came back across this line. Below is the race, as it unfolded (My Garmin was picking up mile splits slightly before I reached the mile markers on the course, usually 0.1 mile or less).

1 00:12:49 00:12:49
2 00:13:03 00:25:52
3 00:13:24 00:39:16
4 00:13:38 00:52:54
5 00:14:04 01:06:58
6 00:13:31 01:20:30
7 00:13:23 01:33:53
8 00:14:31 01:48:24
9 00:13:23 02:01:47
10 00:14:18 02:16:04
11 00:14:30 02:30:34
12 00:14:44 02:45:19
13 00:14:29 02:59:47
0.31 00:03:45 03:03:32

I paid for my 2 minute lead over the pace chart after mile 7, when I just didn’t have any oomph left.  I also managed not to Gu as much as I had planned.  I didn’t have my first Gu till mile 5, so I didn’t have another one till mile 10.  There should have been one more in there.  For future half marathons, even races like this that have wonderful and frequent water support, I need to carry a bottle with me so that I can just Gu every 45-50 min and have water to do it, regardless of where the water is on course.

Clearing mile 6 in 1:20:30 is not far off of my 10K race pace, where I can pretty reliably do 6.22 miles in 1:20 or so.  The problem with doing the 1st 10k of this race at 10K pace?  Of course, anyone can see that I still had another 10K plus to go.  The rain was really coming down in the middle section of the race, and I was having a ball… my exuberance on the hills got me into trouble.

I really struggled in mile 12, and walked more than I ran, sadly.   Mile 13 was a slog, but it was good to see Sean (who is running with me in the photo above, as I approached the finish), Rose, Will, Athena, and David.  I tried to sprint to the end, but didn’t have much in the tank.  I came across in 3:03:32, per my Garmin, and I crossed in 3:03:30 per the race results.  I’m taking the race results, and calling it my new personal best for the 13.1, by 9 seconds over my race results for Minneapolis 2011, my 1st half marathon. And, to be fair to myself, I did this 13.1 the week after doing a duathlon, so I’m pretty happy with how both races turned out, back to back like they were.

I decided this weekend that I am absolutely going back to do this race next year – I’m going to do this race until it’s sunny and/or I break 3 hours for a 13.1 mile race.

I need to work on pacing in my training.  This year, I focused on distances, and didn’t really regulate pace that much, figuring finishing was the thing.  Now I want to work on getting faster, and if I can’t do that, I at least want to be more predictable/steady/etc.

That will be my focus over the winter – building a good base in 3 to 6 mile distances, and focusing more on 5K and 10K races in 2013.  I’ll pencil in Iron Girl again and the Maine 13.1, and hopefully they’ll be 2 weekends apart.  I’m going to work on training to the pace I hope to achieve, since I didn’t do that for this race, and I saw how that turned out.

After a well-deserved shower, I met up with Rose, Will, & Athena, David, Joanna & Trevor, and Kate, Kevin, & Isaac for lunch and watched the first part of the Patriots game.  What a great way to celebrate another half-marathon finish — with great friends.  They may not understand why anyone would run 13.1 miles, but they are supportive of me doing it, especially since they know they’ll definitely see me once a year as a result. :)

It was a great race and I’m glad I did it for a 2nd year in a row.  Hoping the 3rd time’s a charm next year.

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