A list-note to myself, the day after Easter

Ugh.  Easter was yesterday, and even though I was really good about staying away from that devil called gluten, I made up for it by going after the ham, potatoes and all things made of chocolate.   Chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs, chocolate coins, rubber tires dipped in chocolate…

Well, things didn’t get that bad.  But damned close.

No more chocolate, for the love of god!

I have to get off the white stuff, starting today.  Okay, well, I did have a bowl of chocolate Chex with sweetened almond milk for breakfast…but as SOON as my blood sugar comes back down, I’m done.  Really.

I did it once before, so I know it’s not impossible.  Actually, the only time I lost weight without being obsessive about staying at exactly 1200 calories was when I cut out wheat, sugar, meat and caffeine.  So I guess I’m back on the plan.

Alright.  I can do this.  I’m just in a bit of a sugar brain fog, so I think it’s time to make a list. In full on third-person mode.

Alright, self.  This is what we’re doing today.

1.  Get out the juicer.  Go to the store and get cucumbers, apples, celery, ginger, spinach, and carrots for juicing concoctions.

Come on. Even though this chick is super annoying, it would be nice to feel this way, right?

2.  Drink a shit-ton of water.

Sorry, self.  That was unnecessarily gross.

3.   Go put a bra on – you can do this, it’s just a soft sports bra – and do a decent amount of yoga before lunch.

4.   Have some green tea with caffeine around 3 pm today.  I’m guessing that will be about the time that our head will want to explode, wondering where it’s sugar fix has gone.  Make an effort not to bite anyone’s head off for asking normal questions, like How are you? or What’re you up to today?

Stop asking me where the remote is!

5.  It’s cold and windy out today, so I think we should have a pass to stay inside for the workout today.  Yoga was NOT your workout.  Get up and go crosstrain.  How about we go do that strength cardio DVD?  The plies and squats in that one will work that booty out!

6.  Eat some decent food.  I know there is quinoa in the cupboard, there’s salmon in the freezer, there’s apples in the fruit bowl.  Go cook some brown rice to add to stuff for the next few days.  Get the kitchen in order so we don’t freak out and eat the leftover Peeps and half-eaten chocolate bunnies like a ravenous animal.

6.  For the love of god, don’t stay up late watching Lost on Netflix.  Now is not the time to find out what all the fuss was about.  Go to bed early, dummy.

7.  Get up tomorrow, and do it all again.  And be sure to get some miles of running in there, we were already off yesterday and today, so don’t skip it.   You’re going to feel better in 3 days.  Just get through it and things will seem so much brighter!  Come on self, let’s do something nice for us.

Six Month Progress Report :)

It’s been about six months since I pulled myself off of the couch and decided to get my shit together, so let’s have a little re-cap!

I decided to start running in October 2011 to finish my first 5k, and then I signed up for a 10 month series of races to keep myself motivated through the winter and spring.  The miles have been adding up ever since!  More on that stuff later, but first, here’s what’s been happening in the last month:

I use the website dailymile.com to track my workouts and to connect with people off of facebook who actually want to hear about the leg cramp I had at the top of the hill on mile 5. They have a lot of colorful graphs and charts that break down your training by week or month, and it was pretty cool to see the difference between where I was in February compared to March.  I run with my Android phone (that sounds so awesome!  Why isn’t it more awesome in real life?), and I switched from using Cardiotrainer to Runtastic as my GPS app sometime in the beginning of March.  I like Runtastic so far, but the website hasn’t been super helpful in showing me how to email or download my training graphs…so we’re going old school today folks.   I sure wish I could show you, but that Fred Pryor Excel class I took is not paying off.  I still can’t figure out how to import a graph.  Whatever.

Here is a lovely bit of information I was able to copy over from Daily mile, but keep in mind that this is a cumulative total starting from November 2011:

284.21 Total Miles

62.09 Total Time

16 Lbs Burned

82 Total Workouts

0.01 Around World

54.68 TVs Powered

14.96 Gas Saved

307.93 Donuts Burned

Did you notice number 3, there?  16 pounds burned?  Yeah, I’m not living in that reality.  Although it could have something to do with the fact that I’m hitting some Dove chocolates right now and I put away some potato chips while standing at the kitchen counter last night…

But this is the coolest thing I found on all my graphs and collected data:

In February I ran a total of 31 miles, with my longest run being 4.64 miles on 2/24.

In March I ran a total of 83 miles, with my longest run being 8.89 miles on 3/24!  Holy shit!

That’s a big deal to me.  I know that there are tons of people out there who can run faster and longer, who are leaner and more muscled, but I’m pretty happy to see that in one month I increased my total miles by 52 and I more than doubled my long run of the week!  Suck it, old non-believing, non-running self!

So looking at that 9 mile long run, here are the per mile stats.  I was really happy to see that even though we have some killer hills out here, I managed to keep my average pace under 12 minutes  (aside from my first warm-up mile)  and even got under the 11 min mark for a lot of those miles.  That’s big news, people!  I am generally slow, and on normal days I am lucky to keep my average pace somewhere around 12 min/mile.  So to see some 10:30’s in there, especially at mile 7, made me feel really proud of myself!  And also super proud of the person who invented gels.  Thanks, gel-inventor!  Taking your product at mile 5 made a big-ass difference in my run!

Distance Pace Speed Avg. Duration Elevation gain Elevation loss
1 mi 12:36 min/mi 4.76 mph 13:03 242 ft 177 ft
2 mi 11:46 min/mi 5.09 mph 24:35 137 ft 170 ft
3 mi 11:27 min/mi 5.23 mph 36:18 144 ft 108 ft
4 mi 12:36 min/mi 4.76 mph 48:54 141 ft 177 ft
5 mi 10:42 min/mi 5.61 mph 59:40 177 ft 223 ft
6 mi 11:14 min/mi 5.34 mph 1:10:34 180 ft 183 ft
7 mi 10:36 min/mi 5.65 mph 1:21:08 206 ft 183 ft
8 mi 11:10 min/mi 5.37 mph 1:32:56 150 ft 157 ft
8.82 mi 10:46 min/mi 5.57 mph 1:41:02 154 ft 150 ft

I remember last October, when I was signed up to run my very first race, a Twin Cities 5k.  I was super nervous – like no ability to sleep, worried about looking like a ding-dong in front of crowds of people nervous.  I finished the race, and I was exhausted.  I went home and crashed like I had just finished some serious GI Jane type shit, full on couch-nap style.

Shortly after that race, I remember seeing on facebook that my sister-in-law had just finished a 7 mile run.  I was totally amazed!  How do people do that? I wondered.  There was no way in hell I would ever be able to go that far and then actually have the energy to type about it.  I remember listing in my head all the reason that she could do it and I couldn’t:

              She’s smaller than me

             She has more time and no kids

and the biggest excuse of all…

             some people are just made to run and some are not.  I’m not.

It seemed like something that wouldn’t happen in years and years, and I would have to lose all my extra weight and become a vegan to do it.  Well, it turns out it took about 6 months, I haven’t nearly lost all my extra weight (still lugging around about 30 extra pounds), and the disappearing turkey lunch meat and cottage cheese speaks to my vegan status.  After all that self-doubt, it turns out that:

SOME SHIT JUST TAKES TIME

and:

I NEED TO GIVE MYSELF SOME SPACE, FOR F’S SAKE

Okay!  So we’ve figured out I had to learn to cut myself some slack and become the biggest supporter of my own things.  Check.

So let’s get to the “real” stuff, the physical changes. :)

Let me start by saying this:  I have a picture here from a year and a half ago in December.  I am at a cookie baking party.  That should tell you everything you need to know about where I was at during that December.

Hoo Boy. I just don't have the words.

Yikes.

This one is a little less…intense, but still, I’m all thighs and jowls.  This one is about a year later, and I’m a little smaller, but still.  Work to be done.

Aren’t kids taking pictures great?  The best part is that they are shorter than you, so every bit of chub you are trying to hide gets full viewing.

Okay, so at this point I think I comfortably in the 200’s.  Thank god I saw one of my cousins post on facebook that she was going to be signing up for a race series (more on that here) and I gave myself a serious intervention (Thanks, Diana!).

I’ve lost somewhere between 25-30 pounds, but I really try not to weight myself because it sends me on a mind trip that I just can’t deal with.  The real feel good stuff is that my clothes are loose, my fat clothes have been banished to Goodwill, and the “skinny” clothes I was saving in the closet have begun to show themselves in my wardrobe circulation.

Ooh!  Let’s do favorite body changes!

1.  The annoying back roll-thingy that was hanging above my waist is gone!  I can actually wear a tighter shirt without worrying about the activities of the fat behind me.  Good times.

2.  When I sit on a chair, my pelvic bones are making actual contact with a firm surface.  Like, hard chairs can be uncomfortable now.  Good and bad!

3.  I’ve stopped hating my thighs and booty so much.  They are still the biggest parts of me, but now I’m more concerned with the arms I need to tone up.  I look at my booty at Serena-In-Training.  Hey, it spells SIT!  I’m funny.

4.  I’m not super intense about people taking pictures of me anymore.  I actually had a hard time finding those two up there, I had deleted all horrible shots or stayed hidden behind the camera before now.

5.  General body image improvement!  I love that I’m getting strong legs, I love that I don’t feel so self-conscious anymore, I love that I can rely on my brain and body to let me get through 9 miles with only a little complaining.  Love it all!

Somehow I don’t really have any recent full body pictures of myself, I guess I need to work on that.  But these are the ones I have, and I’m not surprised to see that they are all from races or during a run :)…

Me at the Polar dash in January of 2012. My first 10k! Starting to get in better shape...

The Fast Before the Feast run on Thanksgiving this year with my boys. Getting less Jowly!

Me out on a run sometime in March 2012

The most recent pic, me having a celebratory beer after the March Get Lucky race

So, things are looking up.  I have my long run of the week tomorrow, and I’m going to try to get further into mile 9.  I’m not as worried about the half I have in June, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be okay for it!

I’m feeling good, and as long as I stay injury-free, I’m looking forward to all the things to come this summer!  More running, adding in some bike training for a Duathlon in August (run, bike, run) and then more running.  I’m pretty stoked about this six month check in, I hoping the next one will show even more progress!

I’m not a Control Freak! Just call me a Preparation Enthusiast.

Okay, yes, I may be splitting hairs on that one.   But it is a significant shift in attitude, no?

After all, I’m pretty sure that exactly nobody wants to be thought of as a freak (especially a female controlling one).  On the other hand, enthusiasts sound great to hang out with!  Fun!  Energetic!  Yep, that’s me.   As long as you meet me at the time we agreed on in our emails and don’t show up with three additional people I didn’t know were coming.  I’m enthusiastic about sticking to my plans!  Yay!

I was thinking this morning about how I became this person who needs to be organized and ready for anything, who feels that a list and a stock of supplies can help any problem seem easier to get through.  And then I realized:  it was the mise en place.

I went through culinary school when I was in my twenties, and aside from teaching me that there is a proper way to cut an onion, make a clear stock, and whisk a smooth hollandaise, it taught me how to greatly decrease potential screw-ups by using Mise En Place.   

Mise en place (pronounced [miz on plas], literally “putting in place”) is a French phrase defined by the Culinary Institute of America as “everything in place”, as in set up. It is used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients (e.g., cuts of meat, relishes, sauces, par-cooked items, spices, freshly chopped vegetables, and other components) that a cook will require for the menu items that he or she expects to prepare during his/her shift.[1]

  – The never ending source of knowledge: Wikipedia

I realize that I'm probably alone on this one, but this looks exciting to me. Ready for battle!

At first, I thought it was all just nit-picky fussbudget stuff, another  way for people to make things more complicated than they needed to be.  Just make your food!  Don’t get so wound up about it!  I thought.  And I did.  Then I worked my first night on the main line of a restaurant I was training in, and I found out what a cluster-you-know-what it is when you aren’t ready for the uphill climb ahead of you. When you have hungry customers waiting on you to push through the busy dinner hour and give them the food they ordered, they really don’t give a shit that you didn’t prep enough grated parmesan for the fifty extra people who weren’t expected to come in that night.   All the customers can see is that you are holding up their dinner; all you can see is that this stress and friction is happening because you ignored the power of the mise en place.  I learned that by making sure I was prepared for anything, it decreased my anxiety about the hard work ahead by preparing for all worst-case scenarios: what if I drop my knife on the dirty floor?  Have a back up knife nearby.  I only have a handful of thyme, what if I run out?  Prep what you have and then prep some parsley as a backup.  What if I don’t have enough time to take my break?  You won’t.  It’s going to be so busy you’re going to have sweat running into your eyes and you won’t remember the last time you sat down.  Have a huge bottle of water stashed nearby, and two towels – one for the food, one for your sweat.  Don’t mix up the two.

This kind of order makes me really happy :) Disturbing? Maybe.

It was freeing, actually.  I had everything in front of me that I would possibly need for my upcoming battle, and all that was left was to use my own strength to push forward and get it done.  Nothing felt so good as to emerge from a tough night of working on the line, sweaty and tired, but satisfied that I had worked without any major screw-ups that could have been prevented by using the principles of mise en place.  It has seriously changed the way I prepare for and handle almost all the things in my life that have the potential for becoming stressful.   Camping, taking the kids to the zoo, multiple family holiday run-arounds, it all falls into the I better get my mise together category.

And now, of course, running has been pulled into the realm of things that preparation makes better!  For those short runs, 4 miles or less, I can usually keep the need to compulsively prepare in check.  My equipment needs are pretty minimal for those days  (water and music would be nice but not super necessary), so my OCD about having things ready and in place can be dialed back a bit.  On long run days or race days, however, don’t mess with my Mise.

I'm pretty sure this shirt was made for people like me.

My route needs to be mapped out the night before, with a mileage check done on a couple of different map sites.  I do a supply check and set everything out on the table so there are no early morning run-around-in-a-crazed-panic moments.  Hydration belt (find the water bottle!), gel, MP3 player (charged) and headphones, phone (charged), ID bracelet, running clothes, socks that I trust to keep me blister-free (and that match each other), hair binder, headband.  And that’s just the long run day list.  Race day prep adds so much more…

I know it sounds like I’m adding pressure to myself, that I’m making things more intense than they need to be on a day that’s already going to be kind of taxing.  But really, once everything is laid out, thought over, and prepared, I can go to bed and sleep well.  I know that in the morning, I am free to wake up and do what it is I really want to do – run.  I can rest easy in the knowledge that my prep will support me through the whole thing, and I can make it back home happy that I gave it my strongest effort.  My pace will reflect my actual work extended, not the slow-down that comes from the mistake of forgetting to bring enough water, or not having enough time in the morning to pick out the right clothes that I feel the best in, or misplacing the gels I thought I had in the pantry and going on without them.

For me, the mental work of running is totally equal to the physical work of running.  If I can bolster myself up by setting up my running mise en place, then I’m all over it.  It only takes a little doubt, or self-criticism, or jolt to my expectations to set my run off at an uneven place.  So I happily embrace my need to organize, and if it’s going to help me reach my goals in a happier state, then it’s always welcome on my runs.

Sometimes you’ve got to pay someone…

The knots surrounding my shoulder blades have been getting big enough now for me to think about giving them names, and so I decided it was probably time to cash in a Groupon I’ve been hanging on to forever and get them taken care of.  Or rather, taken out.   Pulp Fiction-style, thumb and forefinger in the gun position, taken out.

Take them out?

 

No. Take them out.

It’s always a crap shoot using one of those Groupons, I tend to feel like I’m making a deal that will end in something horrible happening.  Like, why is the massage parlour willing to sell them for so cheap?  Are they that terrible?  Have they driven away so many customers that now they’re shilling on Groupon?  Or are they just opening and filled with newly licensed therapists who haven’t quite gotten their shit together yet?

I’m not really in a position to be a super-discerning massage recipient (young children will do that to your income), so I usually end up taking the bait.  My husband, for being a sturdy guy, somehow manages to lose strength in his hands after two minutes of shoulder rubbing, and the massage that started nicely enough turns into a strange mashing of fist shapes into my spine with noises coming from him that tell me he’s giving it all he’s got.  So yes, I will buy that Groupon for a massage at a place I’ve never heard of or been to for $25!

After months of increasing my distance and pace during my runs, having my two boys use me as their wrestling partner, and all the other things going on that make up a woman’s life, I was ready for this.  It was like I was going on my first date in ten years – legs were shaved (even the backs!), toenails were painted, everything put in its place or taken out of its place, depending on what it was.  And then when using google to figure out how to get to my randomly picked massage, I read a couple of reviews that past customers had left.  And it was a major buzzkill.  Some of the complaints included unprofessional employees, a not-so-soothing environment, and iffy usage of the massage time (starting late and ending early).  But at least now I was prepared for the sub-par massage that was to come!  By god, I was going to ignore everything this place was going to throw at me and get my kinks worked out if it killed me.

Well, the reviews were pretty accurate.  My masseur, although she was semi-friendly, chewed gum for most of the massage, and the fan in the corner was making a noise that sounded like a death rattle, and I could hear people in the next room when they peed and then flushed.

So it was not so much this:

This place looks nice. I wish I could have gone there, too.

And more of this:

Okay, so it wasn't this painful. But it was this ugly.

But I still think it was worth it.

I know that she loosened my incredibly tight calf muscles and we discovered that when she pushed on a certain point in my upper back, my bones crackled like someone was crushing styrofoam (perhaps a trip to the chiropractor is next?).  Somehow I managed to have knots and extreme tightness on the top of my forearms – how the hell does that happen?  I left feeling – if not relaxed or rejuvenated – worked on.  And sometimes when that’s all you can get, you take it and are happy you had it.

I don’t know if what they say about lactic acid release after a massage is true, but I do know that I was so exhausted after my working-over that I went to bed at 9:30 and slept hard until 7.  This morning I woke up and was convinced that I had been  involved in some sort of sleepwalking street fight during the wee hours.  A fight that I had obviously lost.   But despite  sounding like I’m complaining about the experience, I’m actually really glad for it all.  Maybe it means I worked some of the toxins out of my muscles that have been gathering for six months.  Maybe my discomfort today is because I don’t get massages often enough, which means I need to schedule them on a monthly basis (at a less spirit dampening establishment).  Maybe having whats-her-name find my back clickies will lead me to hire a chiropractor, who will align me properly and I won’t suffer from shooting lower back pain anymore.  Maybe it was all pre-destined to be a sub-par experience!

Now I need to see if I can find a chiropractor on Groupon.

5 Things Making my Training Easier Right Now

Let me start this by making two important points:

I am a newbie.  I’ve only been working on my running skills – make that skillz – for about 6 months, and I know that there are a dozen things I haven’t learned yet.  Maybe even 13.

I am serious about adding cool accessories to my hobbies.  I can’t always spend tons of dough, but I get a serious thrill over finding a great deal on something that I’ve researched and I know will add either fun or ease to my running.

Wait, there’s a third thing!

No add-on in the world beats the simple act of putting on a pair of shoes and taking the time to get out there.  And incidentally, no add-on is going to do a damn bit of good if it just sits by your shoes in the entryway while you watch American Idol.  Basically, the best thing to do is to get out there and move it!  But since shopping is fun too, and I like to share ideas of things that have worked for me, I thought this list might be handy.

That being said, there are some things that I’m really glad I bought and have done me some good as an outdoor runner:

1. Proper Shoes

For most of us, this is a no-brainer.  A couple of years ago, I had decided that I wanted to start walking for more than the two minutes it took me to get from my front door to my car.  I went to a Twin Cities running store, a pretty well-known one, and from the moment I walked in the door I knew things were going to be challenging.  It was a not-so-great vibe, you know?  A sort of Sigh, another pudgy woman who thinks she’s going to be a runner type vibe coming from the tall, zero body fat 20 year old working the counter.  Needless to say, this did not inspire tons of happiness in making a major purchase.  They were perplexed when my foot was too wide for one of the trendiest women’s shoe, so they fit me in a men’s Saucony shoe.  I found out later that this was not a great solution, and consequently I went through a crap-ton of shin and leg pain before I finally put those shoes aside and went out to get a proper pair.

My cousin is also a runner, and she recommended a running store near her.  After the first 5 minutes, I knew that this place was a better fit for me than the first, in more ways than one.  Shoe after shoe came out for me to try on and run in on the store treadmill (I found out that I have a neutral foot after the store clerk watched me run and looked at my old shoes) until one was found that we were both convinced would get me through the next few months of putting in 22+ miles a week.

I swear, the fact that it was bright pink had nothing to do with me buying it.

Seriously.

I’m not that girl who had to be adorned in pink dresses as a child and I spent a lot of time in my teens trying to blend.  But these shoes fit me so well!  I’m learning to embrace the whole Hey!  Here I am! thing they have going on.

The Karhu Flow Fulcrum Ride

They are the Karhu (try it, it’s fun to say!  Car-huuuuu!) Flow Fulcrum Ride in Russian Pink.  There is this great feel to it, the raised heel kind of leans you forward and the mesh upper makes it super cool and comfortable.  I had to go up a half size (like the shoes aren’t noticeable enough, I had to get them bigger??), but now the fit is perfect and my shoes are one less thing I have to worry about when I’m getting ready for my long run of the week.

Take the time to go to a Running Retailer, I swear to you it will be worth it.  Shoes are one of the few things that we have to spend money on, so just suck it up, save up, and do it.

2. Hydration Belt

Okay, I know that a lot of runner hate to carry extra things on them when they run.  One guy said to me “I only bring water if I’m running more than 12 miles.  Even then, sometimes I just have my friends meet me with water.”.  Well, that is fantastic that he has friends that are standing by, waiting to help him reach his running goals – and that he is apparently a camel with no need for water.  I need a drink break every once in a while.  I run when other people are working or asleep.  I carry my phone and I hate armbands.  I needed a hydration belt.

I only wear it for runs longer than 6 miles, and I bought one with only 1 water container.  I know that someday I will need to add another container or buy another belt, but there was a helluva sale at TJ Maxx and this is what came home with me. (By the way, in case you didn’t know this, TJ Maxx and Marshalls have some great deals on running gear!)

Based on what my friends had told me they liked and after looking at all the online reviews, I knew I wanted to get a Nathan belt.  Luckily, that was what I found!  Any yes, mine is purple.  Apparently I’m the girl who runs with rainbows.

Nathan Hydration Swift Belt

So far, I have really loved it.  It holds my phone and a gel or energy chews in the zipper pocket, and so far the 10 oz container has been enough for me.  The little tabs on the front have bib holders for race day, and I haven’t had any problems with it moving around or riding up when I run.  You get used to the extra motion by your booty after a few paces (I mean it’s not bouncing all over the place, but you can feel that it’s there), and having things with you that you need makes it all worth it.  Love it.

3. Keep-the-girls-in-line Sports Bra

One day I was running down the street and I kept noticing that when I ran by men, there was a lot more checking out going on than I was used to.  Hey!  I thought, I must really be getting in shape!  Yeah, it could have been that…or the fact that the girls were getting a little too rambunctious in a sports bra that wasn’t up to par.  That is when I figured out that you can’t just go into a store and buy whatever sports bra looks cute and is on sale.  I mean, you CAN, but then you get the creepy ogling of the men, and the stretching of the boobs, and all kinds of bad things that you don’t want.  You are going to need a high impact sports bra, don’t kid yourself.

This one is the best and most comfy one I’ve found (that isn’t ridiculously expensive):

Moving Comfort Fiona Sports Bra

It’s the Moving Comfort Fiona bra, and it rules the school.  It has adjustable straps, comes in more colors than just black or white, has a back closure (no more sweaty contortions to get it off after a run!) and holds the girls down without making a horrible uni-boob.  I got 2, and as I said with making a good shoe purchase, it’s just one less thing to worry about.

4. Energy gels and chews for when the miles are starting to suck

Actually, for the mile before the miles start to suck, as it takes about 12 minutes to feel better after you use one.  This section is still a work in progress for me, I’m trying out different flavors and types that I like.  Anyone have any recommendations?

I didn’t start using them until I was running more than 7 miles, and I know that lots of people don’t bother with them until they get past 10 miles.  For me, I felt like I was going to punk-out and collapse on the street after mile 6 one day, and it seemed like a good time to give them a try.  Maybe once I get more used to running longer distances, I won’t use them as soon.

Anyway, I’ve tried the Honey Stinger Energy Chews in Limeade and a couple of the Power Bar gels so far, and I have a stash of others that I’m going to try out in the next few weeks.  They both did what they were supposed to, and for a 7.5 miler and a 9 miler, I can say that my last mile was the fastest one after using either kind.  Bonus!  On the negative side, the Power Bar gels had a serious Holy crap, that is a weird taste! thing going on, but the aftertaste was a little more tolerable (I tried chocolate and berry.  Not at the same time :)).  I’ve heard of some people mixing the gels with water, perhaps that’s why the taste was so…intense.  The energy chews were way more pleasing to eat, but there was kind of a storage issue with using them – once the bag is opened you either need to down all 10 of them at once or have a place to carry them where things won’t get sticky.  I used the pocket of the belt and just kept reaching back for a couple here and there after mile 6.

5. ___________ or maybe ____________

Okay, I don’t really have a solid fifth thing.  It’s just that a list of five is so much more satisfying than a list of four, and there were a couple of things  I was debating over, but they weren’t so easy to define.  Would it help if I gave you some of the contenders?

Like music.  For me, I really rely on music when I need to go farther than 3 miles.  On Sunday mornings when the sun isn’t quite up, I get a kick out of running while listening to American Roots on our local station 89.3.  Kind of a rootsy/bluesy/Americana twang thing.  And I’m always tweaking the playlist on my MP3 player – I’ve discovered that music I normally would make fun of can make great running music!  Right now my favs are Katy Perry, Lady Sovereign, La Roux, the faster P!nk stuff, anything by Foo Fighters, Flo Rida, and this great Gigamesh song made about that guy who was blissing out over rainbows.  Have you heard it?  It’s amazing.  If you are ever in my town and you see a woman running in pink shoes with a shit-eating grin on her face, it’s me and this song is playing.

The other thing I was mulling over was safety items: an ID bracelet with your name and contact info, a phone (I actually have needed it a couple of times), and unless you run to the same spot and back each time, some sort of GPS unit.  These things are super important to me, but it’s not such a fun list item.  Maybe fun is relative…like is it fun to have great shoes but no way to get help when you screw up your ankle by looking up at birds and missing the big stupid hole?

I bought one of those Road ID bracelets the other day, and I know it makes my husband feel better – especially when I go out when it’s dark and when he knows that sometimes I run on the road.  I picked the slim version, and bought a few different colored bands so I wouldn’t get bored with the same old thing.  This is why I don’t get a tattoo.

I chose to put my name, a couple of contact phone numbers, my blood type, and an allergy I have.  There was this option where you could add an extra line and include an inspirational saying that motivated you, but all I could think of was the EMT who was going to be reading my bracelet as I lay all messed up and gory on the road, and thinking about the irony of me wearing an inspirational slogan like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” or “I am a survivor”.  Couldn’t do it.

So I hope this list helped you a little if you are looking for things to spend money on and were wondering what other people have been buying.  If not, then hopefully it was a tiny bit entertaining and made you smile a little.  If not, then I don’t know what else to tell you.  Maybe just go for a run?

The Get Lucky 7k Race Results

Okay, the Get Lucky has come and gone, and now I’m moving my sights on to the next goal: finishing a half marathon in an upright position.

But first – a Get Lucky 7k recap!

I have a picture of me with a green beer, and by god, I’m going to use it.  I even managed to change out of my less-than-clean running shirt and into this clean one in the bar bathroom.  See?  Always thinking ahead.  Clean dry shirts are amazing after a sweaty run, in case you were wondering.

Really, the whole point of this 7k was to make it to the bar and get in line for my beer. Package delivered.

Do you know what my group and I found out?  When you offer free beer to 8700 people after a warm morning run, chances are you are in for a long-ass wait at the bar.  So we ditched the free coupon and went to the closest non-lined bar.  Don’t get me wrong, it was still ridiculously packed with smelly people in the same green race tee, but at least we could stand in a smooshed group with beers (as opposed to those standing in a smooshed group without beers.  Suckers.)

A lot of racers found this little bar to enjoy a green beer. It was smelly but triumphant.

Anyway, we had our beer and made the trek back to the van.  Remember the stuff I said about the wonderment of a  useful van?  It lived up to it’s full potential that morning, let me tell you!   After that, brunch was had by all, and I enjoyed the hell out of some fish tacos and coffee.  Good times.  While we were eating, Team Ortho sent out emails to everyone letting them know their race results.  Now, I have accepted that I have to get over the dream I have where I show up to race day and somehow break every record, surpass all expectations, and end up amazing myself with a running speed I didn’t know I was capable of.  It’s not going to happen.  But I have to say that I felt really fast when I was running!  I felt good and thought I was putting out some serious effort!  So I’m going to admit it, part of me thought that a little of that dream was going to happen.  Just a small part of it, not the record-setting thing.  Well, surprise, surprise, that didn’t happen.  Not only did that not happen, it  turns out that this particular race was one of my slower pace times.

Here’s what they sent me:
back arrow 2012 Team Ortho Get Lucky – 7K
Hope        Age: 36

Time

fivefourcolonzeroeight
Average Pace 12:27 per mile (view kilometer pace)
Age Graded Percentage 39 percent (view time)
Overall Place 7224 out of 8786
Sex Place 5031 out of 6352 Females
Division Place 1122 out of 1372 Females in the F3539 Age Group
(See complete F3539 results)

detailed results

Location Race Time Time of Day Overall Place Division Place Sex Place
Time 54:08 10:17:45 7224/8786 1122/1372 5031/6352
GunStart 00:00 9:00:08
ChipStart 23:30 9:23:37 8529/8786 1330/1372 6150/6352

graphic results

You placed 7224 out of 8786 runners overall
runner image
graphic results background
You passed 649 runners in the overall category
You were passed by 108 runners in the overall category

I have some things to say about this.

First, could the blue image girl look any more chubby and slow there at the back of the pack?  I mean, I get it, I’m not a 8 minute miler, okay?  The graphic was sort of an overstatement, Team Ortho. :)  I wonder, if I get faster and my blue lady gets closer to the front, does she get skinnier?

Second,  I really enjoyed reading that last part about how many people I passed – and that the number of people who passed me was a hell of a lot smaller.  In reality I know that I was chillin’ at the back of the pack, and a good number of those people were probably walkers, but for now let’s just put a little pin in that part and focus on the fact that I passed 649 people.

Third, it was a fantastically gorgeous day and I had a great time running.  So what if I was a little slower than I wanted?  Would going 10:00 min a mile have changed how fun it was to see the Irish dancers or hear the bagpipes?  Nope.  I may have been able to push myself really hard to get to a faster time, but I’m pretty sure I would have been a cranky mess by the time I wound up at the finish line.  Since running isn’t paying any of my bills, I think I deserve the right to give myself a pat on the back for just showing up, running, and having a nice memory of the day.  And a really cool green finisher’s medal!

Note to self: wearing a hat makes it hard to take a decent picture.

So now I’m focusing on adding more miles to my weekly long run, I’m trying to get to 12 miles two weeks before the half marathon so I can taper off and let my body get ready for the big event.
Tomorrow is my long run day, I’m going to try to get in 8 miles here in the ‘burbs.  Planning out a 8 mile running path that doesn’t have ridiculous hills or non-existant sidewalks is no small achievement!  I think I figured out a decent plan, and tomorrow at the crack of dawn I’m going to roll out of bed, strap on my hydration belt, and get going.

Get Lucky!

Or as I like to call it:  finish a race without having to use the port-a-potty.

Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day, and here in the Twin Cities there is no shortage of places to go that manage to incorporate beer into whatever activity is happening.  And race day is no different!  Saturday at 9am, I will be lining up at 2nd St and Portland Ave in Minneapolis to start the 7k Get Lucky race, my second one in the Monster Series I signed up for with Team Ortho.   As I am still working on increasing my mileage for the half in June, I thought it would be a better choice to run the manageable 7k as opposed to the Triple 7, and the course should be pretty great tomorrow: the temp is supposed to be 62 degrees at 9am!  It’s going to be kind of amazing to run in a t-shirt and capris as opposed to the base layer, cotton layer, and fleece I was wearing for the polar Dash.  I may even celebrate by wearing a festive silly hat, but we’ll see about that one :)

You can't go wrong with a course that includes not one, but TWO stations for Irish dancers.

Remember my excitement over the medals?  Well, tomorrow around 9:50 a cute little shamrock number will be coming home with me – my son will be so happy, it’s been driving him nuts that there is only one in the case and it’s all lopsided and sitting funny because it doesn’t have anything to lean on.  Lopsided no longer!

A non-lopsided view of them all together. The Polar Dash one I have will be happy to have a friend to lean on!

A non-lopsided view of them all together. The Polar Dash one I have will be happy to have a friend to lean on!

Along with my new green accessory, I will get the real prize of the day: a free beer pass at Kieran’s Irish Pub.  Yes, it will be 10 am.  Yes, I will be sweaty and in need of a shower.  But there will be beer, by god, there will be beer!

Race day is always kind of wonky for me (I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, but since I don’t have a symbiotic brain meld with any other runners, my race day is all I know about).  My husband works nights, which leaves me a little puzzle to figure out each time a race morning comes around: what am I supposed to do with these kids?  My kids, I mean, not the kids of the world (although that is a good question, too.  Maybe a bit too much to be solved today, but I’ll let you know what I come up with).  Luckily, my parents have been really helpful the last few races by letting the boys stay over the night before to avoid an ungodly early morning race day free-for-all.  As they are 7 and 4, they are vastly more interested in watching an episode of Spongebob than standing in a crowd of people waiting for their mom to come panting down the road towards the finish line.  I have a feeling that when they first heard that they would get to see me cross a finish line, there were certain expectations of what that would mean formed in their imaginations.  Probably confetti, a close race where I magically finish #1 – possibly ending in a very large trophy coming home with us, and, most of all, an actual finish line that someone would break through.  Okay, I may be projecting my own dreams of race day onto them a little bit.  But I can tell you that the reality of race day for a kid is not nearly as fun as it sounds, and for that reason they are happy to know that this time they get to have an easy, late breakfast with grandma and grandpa and they aren’t required to make an appearance.

All of this is to say I will be kid-free for the Get Lucky, and this ensures that I will be enjoying my complimentary beer.  At 10 am.

Juggling momhood and running can be a bit tricky, but it has paid off in one unexpected way: my minivan is hella helpful when 7 people need to be hauled to a race with limited parking options.  This may be the only time since my uneasy purchase of the van – my self-image took a bit of a beating that day – that I’ve been proud to offer it up.  Hey!  We can all meet and ride together!  I have a VAN.  Tomorrow the van will be parked across the street from the pub, waiting to take us all home after the race has been run, the medals have been received, and the beer has been drunk.

It may kill sex appeal, but by god, it carries a lot of people.

I may do everyone a favor and bring a change of clothes for the post-race (got to love those bag check areas!).  Tonight I will be home alone with my pre-race thoughts, no kids, no husband.  I may go out for a couple mile walk just to escape the thought-swirl. 

Do I have my bib?  Should I wear my hydration belt? No, not for 4.5 miles.  But it has bib hooks!  And a place for my phone!  Maybe I could somehow take off the water canister so I don’t look like an over-prepared nutjob and then I could still use the belt.  I can’t forget to bring my ID or there will be no free beer for me.  I’m going to need that pocket for my ID!  I should probably shave my legs tonight.  Do I have my bib?…

Yeah, I think a walk would be a good plan.  Tomorrow I’ll just get up at the crack of dawn, have a little brekkie, and deal with any nitpicky stuff that pops up.  My plan for the race is to enjoy the weather, enjoy the people, and not let the pace of others freak me out.  If I finish under my normal pace, that’s great, and if I don’t…well, I get the beer either way.  My pace at my very first 5k was 13:30 a mile.  My average now is around 10:50 a mile.  So it really doesn’t matter what tomorrow brings, pace-wise.  I know that I’m improving, so I’m ready for a fun day tomorrow in beautiful Minneapolis!

 

 

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