"Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don't have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Running, Running, Holidays!

It has been awhile since I posted last. A lot has happened in my training regiment. I have gone from mostly indoor running (indoor track), to getting outside more often. We got a HUGE snow storm a few weeks ago. It took them a long time to plow the sidewalks. Dumptrucks are still carrying snow out of the city. Snowbanks are taller thank most cars still. We have come to a point where Minnesotans will whine about every inch we get going forward, because there's so much, it's never going to melt. It just keeps piling up! So after the snowfall, most of my running was inside, while they cleaned up the sidewalks and streets. However, once they got them managed, it has warmed up enough that I have ventured outside more often than inside the past few weeks.

My mileage has started to climb with being outside. It's more manageable outside, compared to the dreadful dreadmill, I mean, treadmill. I've been getting more 6 mile runs outside. They are slower, because of the slippery places, yet still challenging because it's outside. I have been running along the river parkway more often. It is very hilly, and reminds me that I have room to improve. One Thursday morning, I went to St. Paul for our normal 12 mile loop; however, the trail wasn't plowed, so we ended up doing hill repeats, and the a short run to cap the morning off at 6 miles.

The St. Paul crew I've been running with completed our first 18 miler a couple weeks ago! That was a toughy! Between the snow-matted paths, icy patches, and just a long time running, my hips were very sore the next day. I attribute that to my feet hitting uneven terrain with all the snow on the sidewalks. Even with the sidewalks plowed, there are still patches of snow. We ran from the St. Paul Lifetime, to the River Parkway, to the greenway, to Lake Calhoun, to Lake Harriet, to Minnehaha Parkway, and back to the club. It wasn't fast by any means. But we it is worth celebrating that we finished, and felt great about the work we did! We are ahead of schedule in training for Boston. And I know the work I'm putting in is helping me get stronger. I have been intentional about hill training, and now I need to be intentional about speed work--but that requires a treadmill.

Speaking of hills. Jeremy and I went to State College, PA for Christmas to see family! We had such a great time! Our trip was jam-packed with Christmas festivities, a trip to Pittsburgh, girl time, seeing family friends, seeing youth group friends, a little bit of running, but mostly just enjoying family time. This is where my running went a bit off track. I did not run on Christmas Eve because it was too snowy! It had snowed about 2 1/2 inches Thursday night, so when I woke up to try and run it was still snowy and icy. After I got off work, it had continued snowing and we were up to about 4 inches. It was Christmas Eve, and needless to say, the sidewalks probably weren't on the top of the list. On Christmas morning, if I wanted to run, I had to get up at 3:45AM to squeeze it in before we hopped on our plane. My alarm went off at 3:45, and I just couldn't do it, after a late night celebrating Christmas with my family. So I stayed in bed until 4:40AM and skipped the run. Jason and I ran Sunday morning before heading to Pittsburgh. We ran a nice 5ish mile loop, and I ran around the neighborhood to top it off at 6 miles. The nice thing about State College, is anywhere you go, you'll run into rolling hills. Our loop had some rolling hills, and a nice size hill towards the end. I may regret that prior sentence as I go into this next part. Monday, I took the day off as I wasn't feeling the greatest. My throat was pretty sore, so I decided not to try and fight the 25 mph winds that day. But Tuesday, Tuesday was a different day. I got up, still with a sore throat, but Jason and I decided to brace the 22 mph winds, and go for a 5 mile run. I will say this run was the most difficult 5 mile run I can remember doing. Our course was hilly, the whole time. Constantly up and down. At one point, I remember climbing a hill thinking, "What goes up, must....keep going up!" Here's a glimpse of the largest hill I've ever run....

Unfortunately, the picture doesn't truly do the hill justice. This hill was long and steep. It didn't even feel like I was running up it. It was at the beginning of the run. The rest of the run consisted of climbing more hills. I think Jason took me running around the hilliest part of State College. He definitely made me work!!!

Now I'm back in Minnesota. And my running should get back on track.

Sidenote, my athlete profile has been added to the Fitsok page! Take a peaky: http://www.fitsok.com/index.php/site/athlete-profile/ It is an honor to be a part of a team and support a company like Fitsok!

See earlier blogs about Fitsok, and their amazing sock options! Friends, if you are looking for running sock options, let me know!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Santa Sok & Hill Repeat, Repeat, Times Three

I have been waiting and waiting for the arrival of my Fitsok package, and yesterday, it finally came in all its glory. As if I haven't been given enough already, with a singlet, multiple pairs of socks, Gu chomps, and a fitted Fitsok shirt. Yesterday added to my Fitsok love. The package came, including more winter running socks, two sweatbands, and my favorite item, Fitsok arm warmers!

There are so many reasons I love Fitsok. As a distance runner, socks matter, a great deal. People often use the phrase, "A happy wife is a happy life." I would venture to say "Happy feet is a happy runner". Truly, finding the right running sock can be quite the task. If the socks are too thin, your foot slides around in your shoe, and it can mess with your knee as your foot hits the pavement. But if your socks are too thick, your shoes can become too tight, as your feet swell from running. There is a fine line between too thin and too think. I have tried a few different brands of socks. I am a "Life-er" with Fitsok. My favorite race sock is the Fitsok F4. It has unique anatomical left/right foot fitting that provides an exact fit. They are breathable and moisture-wicking. And don't worry, they are labeled with an L/R so you know which sock goes on which foot. The F4 is my race sock of choice. However, when it comes to running outside in the winter tundra of Minnesota I go for the ISW. The ISW is made of Isolwool which provides a unique blend of temperature regulation and moisture control. Prior to wearing Fitsok, I would wear two pairs of socks, and they would end up rubbing, and causing blisters. With the ISW, it's all I need and it's perfect. A week ago, on an 11.5 mile run, I stepped in the middle of a giant puddle halfway through the run. I was concerned about blisters forming as I ran with wet socks the rest of the way. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I had no blisters from the run!

So yes, the socks are awesome, and comfortable, and everything a runner needs. But there are other cool things about Fitsok as well! They are headquartered in Minnesota! Being a Small Business Specialist, I am a big fan of supporting local companies. And although their products are spreading throughout the country, they are still based in Minnesota, and I value local companies. Also, they are one of the few sock companies to actually manufacture their socks in the United States. You don't have to worry about unfair labor laws, or people in third-world countries working in sweatshops. Their sock mill is in the US! People get paid to make the socks. So if I can't get you excited about socks, get excited about a local company, and their fair labor practices!

Okay, momentarily stepping off my sock box, I had a great run this morning. I have been running with a crew in St. Paul on Thursday mornings for the past few weeks. Typically we run a loop that ends up being 11.5 miles when all is said and done. However, after the snow-dump from this weekend, the trails were not plowed yet. There must not be many runners on the board for the City of St. Paul....(we should change that), because plowing the running trails doesn't seem to be a priority in relation to the roads, ha. So we ended up running hills this morning. The hill we tackled was about .40 miles up and .40 miles down. It was a steep hill. I am not one to be faithful with regular hill workouts, but I love to do them if I have someone else doing the work alongside me. So this morning we ran to the hill and went up and down the hill 6 times. Then we ventured to Minnehaha Falls to check out the beautiful scenery, ran a bit more, and then made our way back to the club. It was a nice 6.25 mile run, with about 3 miles of hills thrown in there. And obviously I was wearing Fitsok :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mr. Winter is Cramping My Style

I wish I could say that I love this snow...but truly, it is messing with my schedule. Not only did it affect multiple plans this weekend, but it is compromising my training schedule. Snow happens, I get that. But 18+ inches?! The plan was to do a 14-16 mile group run on Saturday with the folks in St. Paul. Friday night it was decided that nobody was going to be running outside. Some people decided to sleep in, some decided to run on the treadmill, while others decided to take group fitness classes for cross training. I fell among the group who decided to sleep in (and by sleep in, I mean 6:30AM). I got up, took a look outside and was disappointed to discover that I would not be running outside. But not only that, I would not be driving to St. Paul either. Needless to say, I did not do much of anything on Saturday. Could I have done the stairs in my building? Yes. Could I have done my TRX band? Yes. Could I have done P90X? Yes. Could I have done weight training with dumbbells? Yes. But, instead I decided to do nothing. Yes, nothing. I thought about all the things I could be doing, and still did nothing. My exercise for the day ended up being in trek through the knee-deep snowdrifts of Elliot Park to get to a friend's apartment to play Rook :) I think this was God's way of forcing me to slow down and take some mandatory rest. I don't know if I would have done so on my own accord.

Sunday I got to celebrate Christmas early with my brother. Since we won't be with my family on Christmas day, I got him his present early. We went to Run n Fun (my favorite store), and he got fitted for running shoes! He left with Brooks 'The Beast' shoe. So the obvious next step was to head over to the Lakeville Lifetime, and test them out! I ran a fast 3 miles, and then we went on to lift. We did a few of my exercises, and a few of Chad's. Needless to say, I am more than a little sore! I think I made up for my lack of movement on Saturday :)

Along with all this snow came the collapse of the metrodome. I am sad for the Vikings, but I am more sad that the MDRA will no longer be hosting running inside the dome on Tuesdays and Thursdays, until it's fixed. That is a bummer!

This morning, in an effort to beat the winter blues, I huffed it to the lightrail to get to Lifetime this morning. I ran a little over 5 miles, and then rocked Bootcamp. Bootcamp was all legs today...I know I'm going to be loving that one tomorrow. I'm sure my legs with thank me for the work I've put them through, come Boston!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

One Dollar Dome Days and St. Paul Fanatics

"When you have the enthusiasm and passion, you end up figuring how to excel." Deena Kastor

On Tuesday evening I experienced my first one dollar dome day, and no, I'm not talking about hot dogs of any kind! On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, the dome is open for indoor running from 5-8pm, sponsored by the MDRA. It was so much better than running on a treadmill, or even an indoor track. 2 1/2 laps equals a mile. So after work I walked to the dome and pumped out 45 minutes. I was impressed with the people there. The people who show up are there to run, and I love it. There is focus, there is determination, there is sweat, there is passion, and I loved being a part of it. I can definitely see how having the dome as a running option as I train for Boston this winter will be a nice option! It'll be great for speed work, and it breaks up the indoor track and treadmill torture sessions.

This morning I had a great opportunity to go for an 11.5 mile run with a group of crazies in St. Paul. Every other Thursday I have to go to St. Paul for a business meeting. On those Thursdays I end up working out at the Lifetime in St. Paul, showering, and going to my meeting from there. That way I bypass the morning traffic. One week, after a treadmill run, I was stretching and heard a couple guys talking about Boston Qualifications, and decided to jump in on the convo. They introduced themselves, and invited me to run with their group. They run multiple times a day, but on Thursday's they run a loop from St. Paul, to the UofM and back, just under 12 miles. This was the first morning I joined them, AND WHAT A BLAST!!! We met at 5:00AM at Lifetime. It was a great morning! The windchill was about 0, but there was very little wind. I bundled with a few layers, and was ready to go. There were five other runners that I got to meet. All of them have run Boston, and have qualified to run next year as well. So they are my caliber runners, and couldn't be more happy to have expanded my running network. The time passed quickly, and I was surprised by how easy the run felt. We hit three large hills, which is great training for me, in preparation for Boston. I think this is a run I'm going to jump in on every Thursday morning!!! Great run, great people, great accomplishment. 11.5 miles and 5 new friends, all before 7:00AM! :)