Thursday, September 11, 2014

Take the stairs


You know those articles that talk about making healthy living a habit, part of everyday, and one of the tips for doing this is taking the stairs? Well taking the stairs sucks. I'm currently participating in a stair climbing competition at work, and it is wiping me out!

The whole point of the stair challenge is to encourage healthy choices but has turned into a full blown competition with people (myself included) running up to the 15th floor just to get some extra points. I'm glad the weather is finally cooling off or folks would be getting unprofessionally sweaty.

My legs have definitely been feeling all the extra stairs! At first I was kind of embarrassed by this- I mean, I generally think of myself as "fit" so why are some stairs getting me sore and winded? So I read up on the benefits of taking the stairs, especially for runners:
  • Stairs are steeper than hills- typically about 65% incline (!!). To compare, Ramsey Hill in St. Paul is 18% incline at its steepest. This is why your heart rate increases so quickly walking up stairs, and in turn, your VO2 max can improve!
  • When you walk up stairs, you are balancing on one leg (briefly) which makes you use stabilizing muscles that aren't as frequently fired during a regular run. 
  • Walking up stairs usually includes higher knee lift, which stretches out hamstrings and may help extend stride length.    
Sources: http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/why-stair-climbing-is-good-for-runners, http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/114.shtml


So far we are finishing up week 2 of the challenge, with two remaining. I think my team will step up to the challenge (hahahaha) but there is plenty of competition. In any case, I hope my running benefits!

(but if I don't post for another few months, please someone come check one of the stairwells as I may have collapsed there...)




Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Not dead

In case you are wondering, I am not dead. I haven't been a good runner, or running blogger, but I also haven't passed on. I believe my last post was sometime in February, for a race I ran in January, so what was already a belated start to the year turned into a seven month lag! Here are some highlights from my life (running and otherwise) in that timeframe:

Travel! Mr. B. and I went to Ottawa, Canada. He went for work, I went for poutine.

Mr. B running across the bridge!
Air Canada loves fitness!


Also, travel to Salt Lake City! Mr. B for work, me for fun.
Driving into Park City, if I recall correctly. 


More travel! Summer trips to Ely:
And tons of weddings, bachelorette parties, and other fun stuff.
I walked down the aisle with the stud on the left.

From a WI Bachelorette. Those are real animals. 

Anyway. I entered a pretty aggressive running slump in about February. Was it the polar vortex, a burnout from running pretty consistently for almost 15 years (and now I am old), or something else? I'm not really sure, and I can't quite put my finger on what happened. I had spurts of running days in a row followed by many days off. Even throughout the spring and summer I was having a lot of problems getting myself motivated.

I did have several races as running goals, and to date none of them have happened! I'm partially disappointed, but two races (The TC 1 mile, and the Minneapolis Half Marathon) were both cancelled the day of the race due to weather. The Gary Bjorkland half marathon ended up being the same day as a wedding I was in so I wasn't able to sign up for that. Then, since I wasn't in great shape, I held off from signing up for any races.

This has started to change, however! Mr. B wrote up a training plan for me, which I have honestly not been following as faithfully as I should be. But I am signed up for the TC 10k and look forward to that race! The course is a bit tricky as it is an out and back and incorporates a pretty big hill about a half mile in. On the bright side, that means there is a downhill a half mile to the finish!

So, I'm optimistic. I still really enjoy running but the motivation and drive to become better needs to get back! Stay tuned.



Sunday, February 9, 2014

Securian Winter Run Recap/Review - better late than never!

On January 25, I ran the Securian Winter Run 5k. I signed up the week before, and the weather forecast had race day's high at 20 degrees. Totally doable! Unfortunately, the high temperature was reached at about 1 am Saturday and by race start (9:10 am) the temp had plummeted to about 4 above with a chilly wind from the west. Oh Minnesota, you never cease to amaze.

Let me start out by going over the things I did wrong for this race.

1. I did not wear a neck/face warmer.
2. I did not warm up (okay, I jogged maybe one minute from my car to the warming building, and jogged in place at the start for about two minutes).
3. I did not really review the course at all before the race.
4. I left the house later than intended so I was rushed at the start.
5. I went straight to the front of the race and had no one to draft off. 

Things I did right:

1. I did a good treadmill workout on Tuesday prior to the race: 10 min WU, 2 min hard (6:22-6:18) 3 min moderate (7:00) x 5
2. I wore a warm jacket, giant mittens, and windproof pants.
3. I ran negative splits. 

I lined up right at the front of the crowd to start so I could get off to a good start and just the race over with. The guy at the start yelled "go" and off we went. Within about a quarter mile I was in a little pack of guys running what felt to be a comfortably hard pace. After about a half mile I was in second place and after three quarters a mile the lead guy seemed to be slowing so I took the lead. I hit mile 1 in 6:20, and that felt just fine. I could still hear the guy behind me so I just focused on maintaining a strong but comfortable pace. I hit mile 2 at 6:17 and still felt good. My feet were just starting to thaw out and didn't feel like tingly bricks attached to my legs, so that was nice. I tried to push the pace a little on the last mile and ended up with a 6:14 mile three. So only .1 until the end, right?

Wrong.

I was following the lead biker and when I heard my watch beep at mile 3, I got excited because soon I'd be toasty and warm. But when I looked around, I did not see any sign of the finish. The biker kept going and I kept following but with each step I was getting more frustrated as there was still no finish in sight. I checked my watch and saw 3.2 miles...then 3.3....we finally took a right onto Jackson street and there was the finish. I crossed the line in 22:05 and noted the distance on my watch: 3.48 miles.

The second place runner came in shortly after and noted his watch also read long- 3.46 miles. We both were telling the race management team about this and the third place runner also confirmed a long reading.

Here is copy of the route according to my garmin:

Note the turnaround past the Wabasha bridge.

Here is the route from the race management site:
This turnaround is just halfway between the robert and wabasha bridges.

Let me point out that I'm not someone who frets over a course that is a little long based on watch GPS readings, and I'm the first to admit the the watch measurements are not as accurate as the measuring methods used by course officials. But an extra .38 miles is kind of a lot. I sent a message to the race team and got a response stating that the courses were marked and measured correctly for all distances after slight changes were made to the course to allow for construction interruptions; some personal measurement technology may be affected by the interruption tall buildings may cause. 

I also emailed the race director who basically said the same thing. I'm not super satisfied with the responses since it still seems like a lot for the distances to be mismatched. But whatever. I won a gift certificate to Run N Fun so I'm over it. 

Oh- I mentioned that you get a mug for running this race. The website says "Registered participants will receive a complimentary Securian Winter Run mug, a Saint Paul Winter Carnival commemorative button and coupon book." Well, either the person handling the registration was forgetting to give this stuff out or I completely missed where you are supposed to get the mug, because I did not get one :( . However, I did get some socks since I was one of the first 1000 entrants.

I guess the race was fine, and a good training run, but I am on the fence if I would do this again. I really want the mug though...so maybe I'll give it one more chance next year.

What would you do if you ran a race that measured significantly long/short? Has this ever happened to you?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Training for a one mile, plus a race recap

It seems like there are countless 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon, & marathon training programs out there, but my extensive Google search did not  yield many results for1 mile race training. This is not surprising as there aren't nearly as many 1 mile races. But! The 1 mile is a really fun race and if you haven't done one, you should!

Now I am not a coach, physician, exercise physiologist, or any sort of professional related to running/fitness. But, I have run a mile (and 1500) many times and have a pretty solid idea of what training should look like. So, here are my favorite workouts for preparing for a 1 mile!
  •  Hills. There is a very famous quote from Frank Shorter (I think) :"Hills are speedwork in disguise". Hills are great for any type of race but really get you ready to run the shorter, faster workouts needed to train for a mile.
  • Fartleks- like, 2 min on 1 min off or 1 on 1 off. The "on" portion should be a pretty solid effort, and the "off" portion should be more of a relaxed jog.
  •  Intervals. I love these. I looked back through my college logs to see what I did back then- it was a combination of repeats ranging from 200-1000 m, run between 4:55 and 5:30 pace (I was in shape to run a 5:15 mile). So adjust accordingly. These should be hard workouts! But also they have great payoff by getting used to running a fast effort.
  • Run consistently. Just because you are "only" training for a mile doesn't mean two miles every other day is going to cut it. I mean, yeah, you'll still probably finish if you only run two miles every other day...but running consistently is key for any race.
So onto my Meet of the Miles race recap! This is a very, very low key race held at the U of M fieldhouse and run by the Minnesota Distance Running Association. You show up, pay $5, and sign up according to your goal pace. Some people signed up for a couple of heats to get a workout in. No thanks! Meg & I signed up for the 5:30-5:45 pace group. Here we are before the race, all happy and bright:


Our friend Larissa was with us too but signed up for the 5:15-5:30 heat and was running while we were posing for photos. Before our race we went out for a 3.25 mile warm up jog around campus and over the stone arch bridge. It was a very scenic run! 

We got back to the field house just in time to see Mr. B finish his race. He was in the first heat, and had the lead up to the last 50 meters or so until being caught by a high school kid who ran 4:17 last spring. He finished second in 4:24! Not bad :)

I did a few short strides and these weird knee/hip loosening exercises and then it was time to go! The race was a true mile (1609 meters) and there were a lot of people in our heat! There was a little bit of crowding right away and I found myself running just on the inside of lane 2 for the first 400 meters or so. During this time my legs felt like lead. I was seriously worried that I was going to run 6:00 or something. I just could not get the turnover going! I finally loosened up at about 500 meters in and started to feel strong. 

It's blurry, but there we are.
 As I mentioned our heat was pretty crowded so I started to work my way around a couple people. I still felt pretty good and don't remember a lot from 500 m-1400 m. The laps are 200 m each and they just went by so quickly. I definitely was feeling tired with one to go, but at that point you just have to remind yourself its only 200 meters and just go for it. I finished in 5:38.4 and Meg was right behind me at 5:39.6. Not terrible, especially for an indoor race. Larissa ran really well in her heat and ran 5:18. 

So fast.
Overall I'm happy with how the race went. I'm not used to running that fast a pace so it was definitely a system shock.Also, running on an indoor track (especially in an old facility like the U of M) causes some major coughing and dryness in the chest. I was coughing so hard after the race I felt like I might throw up. Not cool. However, the race was really fun and I will definitely do it again next year!



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Race Planning

It is time to make a rough schedule of races for 2014! Here is what I am thinking so far:
  • Meet of Miles (1 Mile), January 13: This is an indoor meet held at the University of MN. It is only $5 to run! I've never done it before but my understanding is that you sign up in heats according to your estimated finish time. 
  • Securian Winter Run 5k, January 25: You get a mug! Perfect for filling with coffee and Bailey's after a cold run. 
  • Irish Run St. Paul 8k, March 24: I don't think I've run this one before- the 8k distance is kind of unique and this is in my neighborhood.
  • Get in Gear 10k, April 26: I've done it before, it is a fast race, and I love 10k races.
  • TC 1 Mile, May 8: Fun stuff.
  • Gary Bjorkland Half Marathon, June 21: Hopefully I get in. My sister wants to run it again and shoot for a 1:30 finish time
  • TC 10 Mile, October 5: Love this race.
Of course, this is preliminary. But I like having an idea of upcoming events to train for. 

Goals:

39:30 for 10k
5:25 or faster for 1 mile
1:30 or faster for half marathon
1:05 for 10 mile

Do you schedule races out far in advance or are they last minute decisions? Do you have a favorite race distance?

Monday, December 30, 2013

December Lull, Running gifts, and dogs, of course


I'm honestly a little embarrassed by my running so far in December...up until this last week, it has not been a good month! We've been hit with some really cold weather and snow. I know, weather should not be an excuse, especially since I still have a gym membership.

Beautiful morning run from early December.

The runs that I have done have all been just okay.  Besides the standard 4-6 mile runs, I have done a couple of workouts on the treadmill-two miles warm up and then .7 miles hard (about 6:22 pace) and .3 easy x 4, and a mile CD. Running a workout on the treadmill is so much easier than going for a distance run.  Those people that can do that (a long run on the treadmill) must have a special sense for ignoring the time/distance slowly ticking by, or have a really amazing playlist to listen to. Mr. B ran ten on the treadmill the other night like it was no big deal...at least he admitted to me later that he wasn't a fan. After that he has done his runs outside- even the long 17 milers in close to 0 degrees!
Hardcore.
That is why I got him a running jacket for Christmas- the Nike Element Shield full zip:

Nike Element Shield Full-Zip Men's Running Jacket
from Nike.com
I went to Run N Fun, of course, and they had so many options! It took me a long time to pick out a jacket for him. Running clothes can be tough to buy for others since there are so many options and everyone likes different features. But I knew I wanted to get him one with the cuffs that extend over the hand with thumb holes, wind and water resistance, reflective strips, and a longer back than front. This one met all those requirements, plus it wasn't as flashy as some of the others. So far I think he really likes it!

Mr. B provided me with some of my own running goodies for my birthday and Christmas! My birthday present was a Garmin Forerunner 10. I love it. It is the most simple option they have, and that is perfect for me. All I want is the time, pace, and distance, and that is exactly what I get. I think you can download the runs onto the Garmin site too so that you can see splits and other stats. I always used my watch and online mapping site to figure out my runs, and then I started using the map my run app when I got my new phone. But the Garmin is a lot less bulky than my phone so no more running with the phone!
 
He also gave me the Nike Element Shield pants:

Nike Element Shield Women's Running Pants
Photo from Nike.com- mine do not fit this snugly; I like my pants to have a little room.
And the Nike element half zip:

Nike Element Half-Zip Women's Running Top
pic also from nike.com. I can't get enough shirts with thumb holes!!
Plus, some Smartwool socks! Very nice and warm. I think there's a saying that goes something like "there's no bad weather, just bad clothing" (or did I make that up? Did my college coach make it up to trick the team into running outside?). In any case, the new gear definitely makes outdoor running more tolerable when it's frigid and windy. 

Rodgy did not get any running stuff for Christmas; he got a new rope toy and he loves it. 


Here are some more pictures of dogs, since one dog picture is clearly not enough:


I found this black dog wandering the streets of St. Paul on my way to run some errands. He had a collar on so he clearly belonged to someone but there were no tags or anything. He was a sweetie, and jumped right into my car when I called him. I took him to the Animal Humane Society where they scanned him for a microchip, and luckily the information was current, so dog and owner were reunited.

Ari, my old running buddy. His mileage these days is even lower than mine so he's put on a few pounds. Still a lover though!!!

Thumb holes in running tops: Yay or Nay?
Did you get any running gear for a holiday gift? What kind?



Friday, November 29, 2013

Turkey Trot 10k recap

Like so many others, I ran a 10k yesterday to celebrate Thanksgiving. Just kidding, I didn't do it to celebrate Thanksgiving, I did it because the race was cheap and in my area. There are a couple of big local races- one is a 5k in downtown Minneapolis sponsored by Lifetime Fitness, another is a 10k around Lake Harriet, and the one I ran was an inaugural 5k/10k in St. Paul. I will never do the Lifetime Fitness one- it is pricey, crowded, and they don't keep results. Sorry, but what the heck is the point of racing if there are no results? No thanks. I've done the Lake Harriet one before and actually really liked that race but since another one was offered in St. Paul and is closer to home, of course I'm going to pick that one!

Anyway. I ran the Turkey Trot Saint Paul. As I mentioned, the race was really reasonably priced ($35 since I signed up a couple months ago). So that was a plus.  However, packet pick up was the night before at the Crown Plaza in St. Paul- terrible idea. First of all, downtown St. Paul has a lot of one way streets and limited parking. I probably drove around for 15 minutes before finding a place to park. There wasn't much to pick up- just the bib and t-shirt, and socks, for the first 2000 registrants. You were supposed to look up your number ahead of time but they did have all the numbers printed off in case you forgot or didn't do that.

So race day was clear and cold. It started at 7:30 am and I think it was about 24 degrees. I didn't do much of a warm up for the race- I misjudged how long it would take me to get moving and get to the start, so I only had about 15 minutes to spare. One major positive about the race was the number of porta-potties. There were a lot. No complaints there!

The race was held on Shepard Road, from the Science Museum to a spot 3.1 miles down the road, and back. Not necessarily the most exciting or scenic course, despite the river being right there. Shepard road is two lanes each way so it was kind of like running on a highway. There are also some long, gradual hills, which weren't too terrible. There were pacers for this race, including a pacer for 40:00. I started close to the front of the race and figured I'd take it easy for the first couple miles and try to push the last two.

At about mile 1 I found myself in a good rhythm and running with some guy (we'll call him B because I think I heard someone cheer for him and I think the name they yelled started with "B"). B and I ended up running pretty much the entire race together, which was really nice! I love finding running buddies during races. It is way easier to run with someone.  At about mile 2 we got caught by another girl and guy but stayed with them as a nice little four-some until about mile 4. There was a pretty good hill at that point and the two that had been with me and B dropped off. After one more little hill at mile 4.75 the race was pretty flat or slightly downhill, which worked well for my plan of pushing a bit. B out kicked me at the end but I still ran 40:29, which I think is a PR. 

Splits:

Mile 1 6:36
Mile 2 6:32
Mile 3 6:30
Mile 4 6:31
Mile 5 6:31
Mile 6 6:22
Mile .2 1:26

No photos of this race but here are some other cool pictures:

Tailgating before the Gopher Game- Bloody Marys. We had to stay warm somehow!

Luther fans at the DIII Central Region Cross Country Championships.  Please note it was about 30 degrees out.

I believe these are St. Olaf fans, giving Luther a run for their money in regards to "crazy accessories".

 
A pack of men.
The men's winner. Now that is a finishing sprint. 

I have found that some people do not like Bloody Marys. Do you? What fixings do you add? For our tailgating we had beef sticks, pepper jack cheese, pickles, celery, lemon wedges, and worchestershire sauce. I have to admit, they were phenomenal.