What a wonderful long weekend! It is hard to say goodbye to summer. It seems as if the weekend brought darker mornings in which to walk the dog and get ready for work and chillier morning temperatures. I love fall, but knowing that winter is coming leaves me with a small feeling of dread. I am looking forward to a more active winter this year, however.
After the duathlon last weekend, I gave my bike to my friend Mel. It’s a great commuter/utility bike, and she’ll use it well as a winter bike. So if I’m without a bike, how did I go on a bike ride on Saturday morning? Nice Ride MN’s on-demand bicycles!
We headed east on the Greenway, one of my favorite places to ride. I’d never been on the Greenway before a few short weeks ago, when I started training for the Duathlon. You can ride the Greenway east, getting to Midtown Global Market before you know it, or you can ride west, getting to St. Louis Park and Hopkins in a jiffy. It’s a remarkable transitway, and one of the many reasons I love living where I do!
It was sprinkling as we gathered outside the Nice Ride station, and the process of renting a bike and getting on our way was quite easy. (Go read Jen’s Star Tribune blog entry for more detailed info!).
The rain moved past us, and it was gorgeous on the Greenway. A perfect day for taking photos, as Sean would say.
We rode past Midtown Global Market and across the Minnehaha Ave bridge. I have wanted to get a shot of the skyline from this vantage point for 10+ weeks, but never wanted to take the time in the midst of a duathlon practice to take it (looking west toward downtown Mpls).
We rode to the intersection of the Midtown Greenway and W. River Parkway, and turned around. My legs were shot from doing 2 duathlon distances in a row over the previous 2 weekends, so I really was out for an easy ride. It was great fun, and I am so glad that the Nice Ride bikes are getting people out and about to see the cities.
Once got back and racked our bikes, a very nice woman outside of Lund’s agreed to take our photo!
That’s Jen (in the blue jacket on the right), Jen (in the yellow shirt on the left), Ann (in the lime green shirt in the middle, Mel (in the dark blue shirt above my head), and I’m obviously in the pink. It was a lovely ride, and I can’t wait to ride more with these most excellent riding companions!
Saturday afternoon was fairly domestic, as we measured our windows in the downstairs of the house and went to JCPenney for custom-made blinds. I started out by wanting blinds for the front living room windows to help reduce Jetta’s barking at people she sees outside. We have curtains on the windows, but they’re sheer, and she can see out nearly as clearly as the windows themselves. But the more we thought about it, we wanted new blinds in Sean’s office, and blinds for the guest bedroom, and we figured we should put blinds on the dining room windows since the neighbors to the south can see in from their kitchen window, and then we figured we should just put blinds on all of the living room windows so they matched.
Growing up, my mom always purchased blinds and curtains from Penney’s, so naturally, that’s where I decided to start. And that’s where we stopped. There was a 65% Labor Day sale (plus 10% off the remaining value, so that’s like a 68% discount) on blinds, including custom-made! We splurged on the day/night shades that have sheers to let light in without seeing movement outside in the daytime and have blackout shades for night-time. They’ll be here in 2-4 weeks and then we’ll have them installed! I am looking forward to how it ties the rooms together. We got boring white (so that it would match any paint colors we chose in the future) but the white will look nice against the wood trim of the living room/dining room and will blend in with the painted-white trim of the bedroom and the office.
Sunday, Sean went to help his parents in Eau Claire (which meant he logged some airplane time to get there and back) and I spent the day trying to clean the house. I inherited none of my mother’s neat-and-tidy genes. The house needed a good vacuuming. I spent an hour vacuuming downstairs and upstairs. Jetta was so traumatized by the vacuuming session, she asked me to lie down with her upstairs while she calmed down. She fell asleep very quickly, and then so did I. I had an unplanned 2 hour nap, but I clearly needed it as much as she did. I got some more cleaning done in the house and got it to a level where I wouldn’t be embarrassed to have a houseguest.
Once Sean was home on Sunday evening, we went and helped friends of ours move some boxes into the new house they’re renting in Roseville. The sunset was gorgeous. These clouds looked like cotton candy!
Finally, the big events of the weekend were here, with Monday morning’s appearance. I headed off to the MDRA Victory 10K race. This was my 2nd 10K race, and I wanted to do that race in at least 80 minutes or better.
I got there early, and met up with Amanda, whom I’d met at the Do Life 5k back in July. Amanda is one of those people who just resonated with me immediately. I can’t tell you why specifically (at least not yet), but I feel like we met for a reason. Sunday, when I was cleaning, I found a dragonfly necklace I got in Hawaii. I knew from reading her blog that Amanda loves dragonflies, so I brought the necklace to her. We talked for a bit, each of us recognizing all of the amazing things that have happened in each of our lives for either of us even being able to contemplate running, let alone a relatively spur-of-the-moment 10K race. Amanda just feels like someone I’ve known for a long time. It’s a nice thing to find.
It was a gorgeous morning, and once Amanda headed back up to her car, Jen and Jen found me, along with Tanya and her mom. We talked for a bit, and then it was time to line up. Amanda came way to the back of the starting line to give me a hug and wish me well. I have to admit, I teared up a little. This was my first longer race distance without Sean there to cheer me on and take photos. But I had supporters there, and it really helped.
I headed out at the back of the pack, and stayed there. No surprise, really. I always say that my goal is to (a) finish the race and (b) make others feel good about their pace. I was feeling pretty good through the first 5k. I was feeling strong, and thought I was keeping up pretty well with my usual 12:30/mi 5k pace through the first 5k. Between miles 2 and 3, I saw Jen, looking fine on her return leg, then Jen, who was looking as fresh as a daisy, then Amanda, who was all legs and determination when I saw her. Seeing them on the course helped me to keep my speed up. I was going 9:1 run/walk intervals in the first 5k and hit the turnaround at 38:15. Not my best 5k time, but solid. So on the way back, I pushed myself.
“This course is the fastest 10K in Minnesota,” I told myself. “You signed up for this race on a whim a few weeks ago. You’re out here doing a freaking 10K race without training. You can just sign up for, and -run- 5Ks and 10Ks. It’s amazing, and you owe it to yourself and the wonderful women who lifted your spirits before the race to finish as fast and as strong as you can.” That’s what propelled me through a blazing fast (for me) mile 4. I felt as strong as I’ve ever felt in a race on mile 4. I’m sure it was the downhill nature of the return, but I maintain that my pep talk helped me.
Mile 5 was a slog. By the time I turned around, I was doing 8:2 run/walk intervals because my hip was starting to project alarm at the unusual pace I was keeping for a 10K race. Finally, blessed mile 6. A little before mile 6, or maybe just at mile 6, Amanda came out to run in with me. I couldn’t say much, but even if I could have, I still don’t have the words to express how much having her there helped me. Amanda, just know that it means more than I can tell you.
I usually sprint at the end of the race. That’s usually the last tenth of a mile, maybe less. I started sprinting when Amanda joined me, which was at least 2 tenths of a mile out, possibly more. I hit my usual sprinting stride for the end of the race… and the finish line was still somewhere up there ahead of me. By then, I had seen the clock and saw it hit 1:17:13. I knew I’d beaten 80 minutes at this point. I could have walked in and beaten 80 minutes.
A quick calculation in my head told me that if I came in at 1:18, I would have beaten my last 10K by 6 minutes. A minute per mile faster. So I kept running faster. And faster. 1:17:30. I looked to my left and there was a group of people, cheering for me! Still running faster. 1:17:40. Still finding speed at the bottom of the well. 1:17:46 and I was across the finish line! I had beat my last 10K time by at least 6 minutes! I had sustained my 5K pace for 10K! Amanda came up and gave me a hug and I was quickly surrounded by the group that had been cheering me in. What an amazing race! Thanks to Jen, Jen, Ann, Tanya, Esme, Amanda, and everyone else who might have been there that I didn’t know. It was wonderful! Ann even took a photo of me coming in! (That’s Amanda in the bright blue, peeling off as I brought it home!)
I had just been reading a Runner’s World article where the author suggested that for an impending half-marathon, I should go out and run a 10K race 4-5 weeks out from the HM and run it faster than my HM pace. I sure did that yesterday, on Minnesota’s fastest 10K course!
After the race, Jen invited us back to her house for breakfast.
We had wonderful scrambled eggs with sauteed veggies, bacon, toast, and watermelon. It was wonderful to sit and talk about life, the universe, and everything. I am thankful for finding a healthier lifestyle here in Minnesota for many reasons, and now I can add meeting some wonderful people who Get It to my list of reasons!
Finally, it was time to head home. We were hosting a cookout for family, so I went home and changed. Sean made his wonderful BBQ ribs on the grill (they’re the only ribs I have ever liked – they fall off the bone!) and we had ribs, brats, baked potatoes, and veggies for lunch.
I indulged in a beer with lunch. It tasted so good! Surly, of course! I don’t drink that much anymore, so I truly savor it when I do!
We snacked some through the afternoon, and had a second round of burgers and other things later on in the day. We just sat outside & inside and talked and told stories. Dad worked on measurements and plans for a cabinet that will hold our plastic Tupperware and other storage containers and will match our built-in sideboard in the dining room. Mom worked on her iPad (she teaches nursing at UW-Eau Claire). Ann put her college schedule into her calendar (she starts college classes today!). Sean cooked all the foods on the grill. Mel kept the doggie occupied. And I just relaxed.
Jetta commandeered more than her fair share of people food. She was a very good doggie yesterday. She sometime struggles with houseguests, as protective as she can be over her home and her people, but she’s learned that my stepdaughter is also one of her people, and she knows her Auntie Mel is one of her people, and she’s learning to be more comfortable around my MIL & FIL. Who couldn’t love this face?
I brought some of the BBQ over to our friends who were still moving into their house in Roseville, and then it was time for me to tackle my homework, which was due last night. I finished it faster than I had anticipated, and had an hour or two to just relax and catch up on the internet and sigh contentedly over what a wonderful weekend I’d had.
Thanks to my new friends and my wonderful family for a wonderful holiday weekend. I am truly fortunate!
It’s just under 4 weeks till my half-marathon in Portland, ME! I am planning to get in a couple of 30-45 min runs this week, do my PT exercises for my hip/core, and do 9-10 miles this weekend as a long run at my HM pace. Next week, same workouts during the week and a 12-13.1 mile long run. The week after that is the same schedule during the week and I’ll run 4-5 miles as my long run the weekend before the race. Then it’s taper week and traveling back home! I can’t wait to spend the last day of being 36 running my second half-marathon and celebrating my 37th birthday with some of my closest friends back home!