Alright, I know you're here to read about the Ragnar, but can we detour for a second and talk about the fact that it's August 15th already? You guys, WHERE did the summer go?? I've been excited about this race for months, and all of a sudden it's over. And that's for the best, really, because that means I survived. But I just don't know where the time goes.
So, the Ragnar. Quick summary to get everybody on the same page here--the Ragnar Great River is a relay race where teams of 12 (or 6, if you're out of your freaking mind) run 200ish miles between Winona and Minneapolis, non-stop, which took our team about 29 hours. That means we started at 11am on Friday and finished just before 4pm on Saturday, and someone from our team was running consistently (yes, through the night) during that time. Your team splits up into 2 vans, with one van's runners actively running at any given time (and the van leap-frogs the runner to get to the exchange points where runners switch off). The van that's not actively running finds somewhere to stop and eat/sleep, change clothes, and maybe take a shower. The first big twist came when Ragnar sent out a notice on Thursday that part of the race course had to be closed due to flooding, so some of our runners' first legs were canceled. I wasn't one of those runners, so I ran all three legs, and instead of canceling my miles Ragnar tacked on an extra half mile to my last leg to run around some flooded areas. Thanks a bunch.
I was runner 4, and with the extra distance on my third leg my total mileage came out to almost exactly 16 miles. My first leg was 6.6, second leg was 3.4, and last leg was 5.9. With our start time, I ended up running at about 1 on Friday afternoon, midnight between Friday and Saturday, and 9:30ish on Saturday morning. Luckily, our van was led by two wonderful Ragnar experts, who had run the Great River several years in a row and completely ran the show (pun intended). They got us to the exchanges on time, knew where to stop for food and rest time, and told us what to pack. Plus, they did all the driving, like superstars, while the newbies sat in the back wondering whether we should eat or sleep or try to stretch something.
This race really is unlike any other I've ever run in basically every way. To give you a sense of what I mean, here are some of the oddities about Ragnar-ing.
1. You're almost alone on the course. At any other race, everyone starts at the same time and you're running near at least a few other runners at any given time. With Ragnar, they stagger the starts throughout the day on Friday so that everyone's vans aren't all trying to park at the exchanges at the same time (with about 500 teams that would be impossible) but for me this meant I was running alone for a lot of the race. On my first leg, I didn't see anyone until the last half mile of the leg.
2. You're running three times in less than 24 hours. I had a really hard time figuring out how to train for this race...my longest leg was 6.6 miles, which isn't a big deal, but my total mileage was 16 miles in 24 hours, which is a bigger deal (to me, anyway). I ended up focusing on doing training runs on consecutive days, and the week before the race I did three runs between Saturday and Sunday, just to get a feel for it, but I didn't do any training runs longer than 5.5 miles. That ended up working out fine, but I wasn't nearly as confident about my training plan for this type of race.
3. Your eating, sleeping, and all other normal habits are completely disrupted. When you're not running, you're in the van (or having some downtime somewhere else, but mostly in the van). According to my FitBit, I slept for a total of 2 hours and 42 minutes between Friday and Saturday (and they were glorious minutes, every one of them) so we weren't exactly well-rested. We stopped for food at a few restaurants when Van 2 was running, but mostly we ate things that could be kept in a cooler or not cold, and I ate a lot of peanut butter, crackers, bananas, and rice cakes. Plus, you have nervous race stomach the whole time, but you need to keep your energy up because the race lasts more than a day. Not super ideal.
4. I wasn't that worried about my time, which was great. First of all, our team was not caught up in being super competitive (thank goodness). But also, in the course of a 29-hour race I just felt like a few minutes here or there didn't really matter. This really came in handy when my last leg turned out to be all hills and I had zero energy left, because I didn't hesitate to switch to power walking when I needed to. And I did need to....a lot.
5. The course is beautiful, and changes a lot between the legs. My first leg was partly along a highway and partly along the river, and was mostly really pretty. Although, a semi did drive by and blow my running hat off at one point, and I had to run back and climb into the ditch to retrieve it. That was not awesome. My night run was on a gravel road through corn fields, and it was really still and beautiful and there were one bazillion stars shining. There was also an insane manure stench at one point, but just keep running, you know? ALSO, it occurred to me in the middle of that run that I could easily be grabbed by a serial killer and pulled into the cornfield before anyone could notice. It didn't happen, but it could have happened. I don't know, maybe I shouldn't have watched The Lovely Bones before the race.
My last leg started in Afton, Minnesota along the roads there and turned off into a state park, where we ran along the hiking trails for the last three miles. There were lots of hikers in the park with hiking boots and poles, looking at us like we were insane (because what are you guys even doing here??) That's a fair reaction. I can admit that. This leg also included a hill that spanned an entire mile. From mile 1 to mile 2 was straight hill. I mean, come on.
6. There aren't mile markers. This was alright for me because I use Map My Run, but if you don't use GPS not having mile markers can be really disorienting. The only markers along the route are these "one mile to go" markers that make you want to do a celebration dance, because they mean you only have one mile left on your leg. My last leg didn't have a one mile to go sign, but again, thanks to Map My Run, I knew I was almost done. My teammates who didn't use GPS lamented seeing signs giving directions (i.e. "Ragnar Relay turns right here") that they mistakenly thought were the One Mile To Go signs, only to realize as they got closer that there was...more than one mile to go.
7. The weather is bizarre. In past years, the race has been unbearably hot (apparently the heat index last year was close to 110) and even though the days were not outrageously hot for us, it was still about 85 degrees with considerable humidity. It didn't feel awful when you were standing still, but as soon as you started running it was HOT. And then, once the sun went down, the weather was pleasant for running but freezing for standing still. I was wearing sweatpants, a sweater, and wrapped in a blanket shivering in the van while my teammates ran their night legs.
All in all, the Ragnar was exactly what you'd expect it to be: a fun and insane experience that I'm proud to say I finished, and I'm happy to not do every weekend. Or maybe ever again. We'll see.
I hope everyone's weeks are off to a great start. I think it's going to take me several more days to catch up on the rest I missed this weekend, so mine is dragging a little. Wish me luck.
Happy Fourth of July weekend, readers! I love this weekend. It's really the sweet spot of the summer--you've acclimated to summer living, but there's still so much out in front of you to enjoy. I know this FUF is technically coming on a Saturday--it's a Fueled Up Friday that's just a little tardy for the party. But, that happens, because I was busy livin' the life on Friday (i.e. doing all the things we're about to discuss--boating, eating fresh figs, and Ragnar training).
Last night, we went out on the St. Croix river with Dan's cousin and his wife, and it was AWESOME. We talk a lot about wanting a cabin when we're grownups, because getting away from the city for a weekend does amazing things for our sanity--we relax so much more deeply in the woods, and always feel refreshed after a day or two. Boating does the same thing--there's something about getting out on the water that just rejuvenates you. The St. Croix is beautiful, and wasn't too crowded (because everyone leaves the cities for their cabins the weekend of the 4th! It's sort of magical to stay, really.) It was a gorgeous night and I'm still smiling about it.
II. Fresh Figs
Are you guys eating these?! I'd never eaten fresh figs before last year, but I'll never miss out on them again. They're delicious--slightly sweet with a really mild flavor, soft, delicious with prosciutto or on their own. They're only available for a month or two mid-late summer, so you need to seize the day and stock up on these. If you shop at Trader Joe's, they always have flats of them for really cheap later in the summer. I slice them in half and layer a slice of prosciutto on top, or just eat them plain. They're not super nutritionally-dense but there's great fiber in there along with some potassium, and their subtle sweetness is just perfect for a summer day. Plus, they're the prettiest food there is.
III. Ragnar Training
I think it's safe to say at this point that I just do not run if I'm not training for a race. Basically at all. I need the motivation of a deadline to get my butt out there and do it. Luckily for me, the Ragnar is coming up mid-August and it's getting me out to log those miles. I had a truly terrible run yesterday (five miles of side aches and concrete legs) but it actually didn't bother me at all--I know hard runs are part of the deal, and I know that pushing through them gets me to the easy, fun, "how'd I breeze through that?" runs. So I soldiered through, took some walking breaks, and told myself I'd do another 5 on Sunday and beat my Friday time. Which should be easy to do, knock on all of the wood. Setting the bar low, ya know? It's not a bad idea.
One thing I'm doing a little differently for this race is doing a lot more cross training, and maybe a little less running. Typically when I'm race training I pretty much exclusively run, but lately I've gotten really into some workout classes at my company gym and I don't want to give those up (spin class, and a boot camp class that is BRUTAL) plus I'm still doing this Beachbody challenge and trying out Beachbody workouts at home. I think running twice a week plus doing other exercise another 3ish days will keep me in good fighting shape for the Ragnar, and for the trail half marathon I'm doing in September. Fun things ahead, guys.
Have an incredible holiday weekend! Seize the summer. Seriously--go buy some figs.
You guys--last night, Glennon came to town and it was just as good as I hoped it would be. If you haven't heard me rave about Glennon Doyle Melton (and her blog Momastery, and her book Carry On Warrior) you can acquaint yourself with my fangirl-ness in this post. But, more importantly, you should just acquaint yourself with Glennon, because she is the freaking best. So, last night I drove myself to East Ridge High School in Woodbury along with a thousand other women to geek out over this wise and insightful soul packaged in a pixie-sized body, wearing cowboy boots. I mean, come on.
I am sometimes disappointed to hear my favorite authors speak, because their voice or tone doesn't match what I heard in my mind when I read their work. But G is a truly talented speaker, and hearing her tell her story in person wasn't disappointing in any way. There were several stories and ideas she shared that really struck me, but the one I want to share happened right at the end of the night. At the very end, the floor was open for people to walk up to microphones near the stage and ask questions. And the last question was something like this: "Glennon, I know that you have a very strong Christian faith, and I'm wondering how you maintain that faith while still having a very liberal outlook and being accepting of people who are living in opposition to Christian views." And Glennon laughed and threw her head back and slid into her chair and said, "That question is so telling. I love that question. 'How are you a Christian and you still love people?'" And everyone laughed, and she went on to say that she loves Jesus ("I mean, I worship the guy") and that one of the many things she loves about Jesus is that he spent his time on earth finding the people who power has forgotten and religion is leaving out, and he "took all of those people and said, 'let's have dinner. You are my favorites.'" And in Jesus' time, those people were lepers and prostitutes and tax collectors, but these days you might find they're refugees, and the LGBT community, and addicts. And Glennon explained that she wants to have dinner with those people, and she wants them to cook. And more than anything, she explained, the trick is that you need to get close to the people that you think of as "other" because the point of true Christianity is that there is no other. (I'll pause here to say that I don't really consider myself a Christian, but I am wholeheartedly on board with this brand of Christianity and I endorse this idea completely.) And in order to realize that there is no other, there is only us, and we, one needs to get close to the people that one fears. Because if you actually get close to someone that you fear and you don't understand, it becomes much easier to love them. And to see them as similar to yourself. As part of the us, instead of part of the them. And for Glennon, the people that she fears the most are conservative Christians and she's noticed that God keeps pushing more of those people toward her so she can try to fear them less. (Amen, sister. Amen, amen, amen.) I may have blown her some kisses at that point, I really can't say for sure.
So, I love Glennon. Easily, and without reservation. And I'll work on loving the woman who felt the need to ask her that question. What's life without a little challenge?
I'm wishing all of you a wonderful start to your weeks--I have grand aspirations of posting a delicious barbecue meatball recipe in the near future. I made them for friends on Friday night and I've been savoring the leftovers ever since, but I made the mistake of not taking any photos of the recipe. So I'll just have to make them again...what a tragedy.
Love you all.
It's the WEEKEND!!! This week's version of FUF is coming a little later in the day then normal, but it's going to be action-packed. You guys, I am just the happiest camper these days. The last few years I've really realized how much the seasons affect my mood--by the end of winter the lack of sunlight and endless supply of cold, dreary days just wears me down. And then, the spring and summer come and it feels like a damned miracle. Minneapolis is SO beautiful in the summer, and we are falling more in love with our new neighborhood every day. The cotton candy sunsets on the lake, the peonies blooming in all of our neighbors' yards, everyone biking and walking and running and smiling big ear-to-ear smiles. I am fueled up by all of the things. Ready to hear about them? Great. I knew I liked you.
I. Not Being in High School
This week marks ten years since I graduated from high school! I actually ended up back at my old high school this week to talk to a class about healthcare careers. And you know what that reminded me? How GREAT it is to not be in high school! Don't get me wrong--my high school is great, and I had a fun time there, but being an adult wins. In every way. Hearing the students yelling questions about where they're supposed to sit in class, and what projects need to be done when, and why did I get points off on my worksheet, and why can't I wear my headphones during the guest speaker's presentation, and...it's just good to be an adult.
II. Primal Fuel Protein Powder
I'm not a big fan of protein powder--generally I think it doesn't taste great, and it upsets my stomach sometimes. But THIS stuff. This stuff is like a milkshake. Except that it's dairy free and barely has any sugar (I have no idea how they make it taste so good, but there's lots of coconut fat in there). I'm adding a few servings a week to supplement some protein while I work on building more muscle. It's my new favorite dessert, and I LOVE dessert.
III. Cheering at Track Meets
Kell is running track these days and he's great at it. But even better than that, he loves it SO much. The smile on his face after his races is just solid gold. And you know what else? Track is the best sport to watch--you get to sit outside on nice sunny days, the events go pretty quickly, and you don't have to know any rules to follow along. Track gets two solid thumbs up from me. Kelly's mom ran track in high school and college so she's coaching his team and she's obviously passed some talent down through the gene pool.
IV. All. The. Smoothies.
In the summer, I actually want to eat smoothies for every single meal. I still just have them for breakfast (with eggs) but I want to have them for everything always. There's lots more fresh, ripe fruit around to throw in and switch things up, and a big delicious smoothie just pairs perfectly with a sunshine-y morning and birds chirping outside.
V. Minneapolis, My Pretty Pretty City.
Just look at this beauty.
There are so many more ways to enjoy Minneapolis when the weather is nice. We're biking around the lakes, we're kayaking across them, we're climbing hills and sitting on our patio and discovering all of these gorgeous little corners of the city that we didn't even know existed. We walked through the rose gardens at Lake Harriet last night and found a little peace garden that's either new, or improved, or we just somehow hadn't seen it the dozens of time we'd been there before. It has a little waterfall and some pebbled walking paths and it's gorgeous. It's so easy to be active because everything we want to do is outside--I'm sore from working in the garden (embarrassing but true) and we walk three or four miles on a nice night, or bike the chain of lakes. It's the happiest sort of exercise.
Enjoy your weekends, kids! I've also been reading some great books, but I'll save that for a post next week. Maybe I'll even get wild and cook something interesting. You never can tell.
I've conducted a very non-scientific survey of my close friends and determined that everyone agrees it takes about two years to really settle into a new house. So I'm working on my patience (not my best virtue, kids) in realizing that we're not going to get all the house things done right away. Right now I'm focusing on the instant-gratification projects where you put in an afternoon's worth of work and come out with an appreciably improved space. Enter, gardens! I planted a bunch this weekend and everything is still in that newly-planted, weed-free, great-looking phase. This phase typically lasts about two weeks for me, so it's important to savor it.
For being a city with such short summers, Minneapolis residents are serious about their gardens. When spring came this year we realized that we're living in between two expert gardeners, and our sad little weed patch stuck out like a sore thumb. I was pulling nettles and prairie grass out of the front garden to clear it out the other weekend, and one of the upstairs tenants (who has lived here for years) was so confused, because he "thought we had some nice flowers in there" (when what we really had were very dense weeds, punctuated by the occasional large spider). Hello, bachelor pad. Nice to meet you. I am NOT a master gardener, but I know a thistle when I see one. So I've got that going for me.
After I got the front pots and garden planted, one of the neighbors came over to compliment our work and say how excited he was about what we've been doing at the house--AND he gave me some great tips on how to take care of our new azaleas. And then he left and I did a little happy dance for Minnesota Nice neighbors. We're only one for two on that front though, the other set of neighbors was none thrilled about our fence. No gardening tips or compliments coming from that direction. But that's ok! Because I don't really like talking to neighbors anyway, and now I know how to take care of the azaleas! And look how pretty they are!!
I've also got some pretty annuals on the front steps (supertunias and gerbera daisies in the pots) and some herbs and veggies in the back garden (tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, mint, parsley, rosemary, and basil) surrounded by some marigolds because Pinterest tells me rabbits don't like those (although I just googled it and there seems to be some disagreement on that point--I think the smart money's on the rabbits eating all my plants no matter what I've got in there, but we'll see).
Best of luck, little plant-lings. You do not have a very skilled caregiver watching over you, but we're all pulling for ya.
One striking thing about living as an adult in the city where you grew up is that certain landmarks hold memories from so many different phases of your life. Tonight Dan and I went for a run around Lake Calhoun, and we literally ran through my young adulthood in that 3.1 miles. We saw pre-teens rollerblading together, just like I did with my best friends before we could drive. We saw groups of teenage boys and girls walking in awkward clumps, playfully pushing each other and kicking at the grass. We ran past a couple of girls in their early twenties rehashing their latest dating mishaps. We saw a young couple eating ice cream from Ben and Jerry's and sheepishly smiling at each other. (It occurs to me now that some of these kids are definitely still in high school and inexplicably out having far too much fun on a Monday night, which actually isn't all that similar to my teenage years. But still. I digress.)
I have done all of those things at this lake. There was a time when my best friend and I would drive to Lake Calhoun and sit on the dock by the little restaurant and watch the sunset, just passing the time until the night's activities got underway. That dock is now about half a mile from my house, where I have somehow mysteriously turned into an adult...with a job and a husband and a stepson and a polar bear dog. We plan to live in this house for many years to come, which means I'll probably be walking and running and biking around that same lake in phases of life that I can't even imagine right now. It is a strange and beautiful thing, to have so many memories and emotions tied to the same stretches of pavement. And what a breathtakingly gorgeous stretch of pavement it is.
You guys, I was so set to write a cheery Monday post about how I finally took a whole day just to lay on the couch with Chewy and I was so rested and rejuvenated, but then today happened and maybe I’m just not really meant to be a zen person, you know? So, I travel a lot, and I have no excuse for not having my shit together in the travel department. I totally know how to do this. And yet…sometimes not so great at it, turns out. Today I forgot my wallet at home when I left for the airport, which is fairly crucial for traveling (can’t get on the plane without my ID…can’t….do….anything without my credit cards). Dan was already going to win husband of the week because he drove me to the airport even though he didn’t have to, but he really really wins it because two minutes after he dropped me off he got a panicked “OH SHIT I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING THAT I NEED” call and had to rush home and right back to the airport with my wallet. In rush hour. (I’m the worst.) And he made it! And I made my flight. And now I’m sitting on the plane and listening to Adele and all is well. But, you know, maybe I could do a little better. Try harder.
But ok, before that happened I was going to write about The Big Short, and I’m still going to do that. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, add it to your list. Seriously, get out a pen or your phone or wherever you keep your reminders and write down “The Big Short.” I’ll wait. If you live in Minneapolis, it’s showing at the $3 Hopkins theater right now, so you can take your significant other AND buy an icee the size of your head and still pay less than the price of one normal movie ticket. The movie is about the mortgage crisis that caused the global financial crisis of 2008, but that description makes it sound sort of stuffy and intellectual and instead it’s hilarious and so well done. It will teach you about the mortgage crisis, but it will also make you laugh a LOT, and it will make you think critically about the things people do for money and how money can make things go so terribly, terribly wrong.
On the way home from the theater Dan and I got to talking about how crazy the film was (and by film I mean the shocking, absurd, completely factual story of what caused the crash of 2008). And that conversation evolved to how wild it is that there are SO many different ways to make money in our country—and the different ways that we value work. For example, you can take two people who work the same number of hours and put forth the same level of effort, and you can even choose two people who have identical levels of education, and those people can make drastically different amounts of money. And if you dig into that, the factors that I think really influence earning potential the most aren’t things that people ever talk about in education. Like people skills—personally, I see this as one of the biggest factors in whether a person will be successful in any given industry. Yes, you need to be smart and competent at your work—those are table stakes for success in most jobs. But, I think deciding factor is really how well other people like you. At the law firm we used to talk about the “Scranton test” because we were trial lawyers, and the test of whether you really want someone on your team comes down to whether you could be stuck in some podunk town with them for six weeks in trial. Would having drinks and dinner this person make that experience tolerable, or would they be the final straw that makes you stab yourself in the eye with a ballpoint pen just to go home a few days early?
To some extent interpersonal skills are inherent—some people come much more naturally to human interaction than others. But these are also skills that can be learned, and we don’t really teach them. (Not in school, anyway—I guess learning how to interact with humans is a skill that parents try to teach their children pretty often, but why aren’t people skills talked about more in the educational programs that are meant to prepare us for career success? Are people doing this and I just don’t know about it?)
There’s so much more to take away from this film and from the crisis than the fact that people skills are important—that actually has nothing to do with the message at all, it’s just a train of thought that I wanted to talk about. The important message has to do with how we let money, and the power that comes with it, distract us from what is right and good. The characters struggle with the real consequences that the corruption of power inflicts on normal people. And the movie points out the fact that the architects of this disaster weren’t taken to task at all for their crimes. In a country where we imprison people for life for possessing illegal drugs, we didn’t prosecute any high-level corporate officers for tanking the global economy through fraud. Read that sentence another time if it didn’t sink in the first go-round. And then go see The Big Short. You really will like it. Just be careful when you’re drinking your icee, because a lot of the funny lines are unexpected and you might snort and spit it onto your lap a little bit.
P.S. Hello from Music City! I tried to post this last night when I got to my hotel, but the WiFi at the Holiday Inn is a joke and a half. Looks like someone's bloggin' from the lobby the next few days.
Huzzah! Everyone made it through the Hot Dash. As I write this, I'm sitting on my couch taking inventory of my aches and pains...my back is pretty sore, my legs are achey (though better than they would have been, because I used a foam roller on them yesterday) and I have a blister on my left big toe that's pretty whiney. But I am filled with pride and happiness, because I can report that I beat Dan handily at the Hot Dash, finishing with a total per-mile time of just under nine minutes per mile. My splits ranged from 8:45-8:59, which is very strong for me and also very consistent (consistency is not always my strong point) so I am quite happy. This was also the first race I've finished where I didn't walk at all, so that was a cool accomplishment.
As I ran, I was thinking about some of the strategies and tricks I've developed to get through long runs. In case some of those ideas could be useful to you, lovely readers, today I'm sharing the recap from the Hot Dash along with some of the running strategies that work for me. Let us begin.
I woke up pretty nervous about this race--I usually get some butterflies before a race starts, but Dan upped the ante on this one by talking all of his "I'm not going to let you beat me" trash. I like to eat some carbs for breakfast on race day, so I had a small bowl of oatmeal with a banana and a spoonful of cashew butter mixed in, and two hard-boiled eggs. There were a few inches of snow on the ground and it was thirty degrees the morning of the race (after being in the fifties for several weeks). Dan hopefully asked if the race was canceled. It was not.
We headed over to Northeast for the race (which runs along the river, crosses over between miles 7 and 8, and then crosses back over the Stone Arch bridge and finishes along the cobblestone river walk). Dan asked how fast I was planning to run, and I told him I was hoping to keep it about 9:30 per mile, so we lined up behind that pacing sign. I started my "run run run" playlist, we took a selfie, and the race started.
The beginning of a race is always tough because it's so crowded, and it's hard to find a spot to run and the right pace with all those people and all that excitement. We settled in and finished the first mile at 8:59, which is a quick-ish pace for me but not a bad place to start. Plus, I really wanted to show Dan what I'm made of, so I decided to hold on to a strong pace as long as I could.
The second mile was also pretty uneventful--we passed the 9:30 pacer and kept up an 8:59 pace. Between miles 2 and 4 I started to panic a little bit--I've learned that my running struggle is much more mental than physical. My mind starts to worry before my body does, so I have to find ways to calm myself. In this case, it was still very early in a fairly long run, and my thoughts started reeling ("this is too fast," "this race is too long," "what if I can't finish," "what if I have to walk and tons of people pass me," "I'm getting tired, it's too early to be tired"). Trick #1: When my mind is freaking out about my body's ability to continue running, I give myself permission to run as slowly as I need to. I tell myself that it's alright, I can run a twelve-minute mile if I need to do that, but that I'll continue running at whatever pace I can sustain. I've noticed that when I do this, even if I think that I slow down after making that decision, I usually keep running at exactly the same pace (because my body was fine to begin with, it was my mind that thought I couldn't do it). By giving myself permission to slow down, I take away the panic.
Trick #2: I'm pretty sure every runner on the planet does this, but I always break my long runs up into chunks mentally, so I'm not thinking about the whole ten miles at a time (this is like that old saying about how you eat an elephant...one bite at a time. Don't eat elephants though, ok?) How I think of the segments of the race varies during the race--at the beginning of the Hot Dash I thought, "Ok, you're going to run three 5ks and then you'll just have a mile to go." I told myself that at least the first 5k would be fast, and that I could reevaluate my pace at the three-mile mark if I needed to. As I kept running, I started thinking about four-mile chunks instead. On my nine-mile training run I met up with my friend Jenny after about four miles, so I told myself that I would get to four miles running quickly and then I'd see how it went. At four miles, I told myself to just do one more and then I would be halfway. At five miles, I told myself to just get to six and then I would only have four left (four is a common training run distance for me, two out and two back, so once I got to six I started thinking of the last four like a training run--just run to eight and then that's like the turnaround in your weekday run, and you only have two left). At five I also told myself to keep the pace strong until 6, so at least I'd have a great 10k time even if I couldn't maintain that speed all the way through ten miles. It's all mind games.
Speaking of mind games, I really realized on this run that I use walking as a mental reward, but that I don't actually need to do it physically. I walk at least a little bit on almost every run that I do--I tell myself that if I run to five miles I can walk, or four miles, or six miles, and then I walk for a minute or two before I continue running. I have nothing against walking during runs, and my theory about exercise is that if you're moving forward in any way, you're doing your job. But I've realized that these little chunks of walking are more for my mind than they are for my body (unless I'm walking to work out a side cramp*. That's crucial, and physically necessary). Yesterday I ran an entire 9 miles at more than 30 seconds per mile under my training pace, with no walking breaks, and I was fine. It was hard, and I was tired, and I'm sore today, but it was fine. I could do it with no problems. That's pretty cool, and it tells me my body is capable of more than I thought it was.
*Trick #3: you can get rid of a side cramp, or stop one from getting worse, by making sure you're exhaling really deeply (blow out forcefully on your exhale before you start to breath in again). In swimming, the coaches would tell us to make sure to "blow out all your bubbles" on your exhale before you took another breath, and that's still the image I use when I'm running today. If you start to feel a pain developing, take deep inhales and blow out, hard, for a few rounds of breath.
Also, it's important to note, I am pretty motivated by competition. A huge reason I performed well yesterday is because Dan lit a fire under my ass, so thanks to him for doing that (even though it was annoying). This is another lesson I need to take forward--fighting for PRs and goal times will keep me running faster. And, while Dan did take an L, he also deserves some kudos because he stayed with me for almost six miles, at a pace that was much faster than his training runs (and six miles was the longest he ran prior to race day). Even after stepping off the course to take some phone calls and answer a few emails, he popped back on and finished with an overall pace around 10:00 per mile, which is great. Waaaaay faster than he ran it last year.
At the finish line, I met a friend of mine who also ran (but she is a gazelle who runs under eight-minute miles, so she had been finished for a while) and wondered where Dan was...he tapped me on the shoulder to let me know he was "out" just before six miles and I saw him walk off the course, so I thought he had decided not to finish and I expected to see him at the finish line when I got there. He wasn't there, and wasn't answering his phone, so I was starting to get a little nervous until I heard his name called as he crossed the finish line (ah! Bravo, my dear. Way to get back on that horse.) We grabbed our bananas and Old Dutch potato chips (never, in the history of ever, has a potato chip tasted so good) and headed back to our car, freezing our tails off. The weather was not terrible for the run itself, but after we stopped running (and were sweaty) it was SO. COLD. Cold enough that I got home and took a hot shower and my lips were still purple when I was toweling off. Oh, Minnesota. You silly goose.
Now I'm on to thinking about the half marathon we're running in four weeks (yes, Dan is also signed up for the half. See previous post re: his incredible willingness to sign up for stuff.) One of my resolutions for 2016 is to finish a half marathon in under two hours--I didn't think that would happen on this run, and was thinking I'd make that a goal for a later-season half. But, after yesterday, I feel like I need to put the pressure on for these last weeks of training and swing for the fences on this one. Stay tuned.
Hi, friends! It’s time for this week’s Fueled Up Friday. I loved hearing everyone’s reactions to last week’s post, and I think this series is a keeper. Up this week: springtime in Minneapolis, burpees, and Jeffrey Toobin's book about the OJ Simpson trial.
1. Springtime in Minneapolis
The warm weather is upon us! This week was in the sixties and felt amazing, so that in itself filled me with happiness. But what's really fun about spring in the frozen tundra is the euphoria that overtakes the entire Twin Cities. Seriously--last Sunday it was sunny and beautiful, and driving past Lake Calhoun and through Uptown to get to our house I a) almost hit like fifteen pedestrians because the place was swarming with people, and everyone was just walkin into the street willy nilly, and b) noticed that literally every single person I saw was smiling or laughing. You would have thought you had accidentally wandered into a very popular street festival, but you would have been wrong. That's just the kind of joy that overtakes this city when the warm weather comes. It's the best people watching of the year--every shape, size, color, and style of person you can imagine is just out in the world letting their light shine. Can't be grumpy on a day like that.
The warmer weather also means new outfits have become available! I do NOT like to be cold (great choice to live in Minnesota, I KNOW) so in the winter I really bundle up. All the layers, all of the exposed skin must be covered. So when outfits like this become an option again, I am a happy girl.
Also, can I just say that I like sharing outfit pictures because I like outfits, but I hate taking photos because I can’t figure out what to do with my face, and I’m considering just making this expression in every picture from here on out?
Would you still love me if I did that with my face? Maybe we'll find out.
Burpees are a move that the fitness world loves to hate. Almost every fitness expert cites the burpee as one of the best full-body moves you can do, and simultaneously all the fitness junkies are like "oh NO, burpees, save me! Spare me! Puh-lease!" So, I'll be the first to admit that I've never really done these until recently. Mostly because they involve a push up in the middle, and I find those to be hard enough on their own, let alone sandwiched between some squatting and jumping business. For those of you who are like "WTF is a burpee Hanna, you've lost me already" watch this YouTube video.
So, recently I've been pinning some quick home strength workouts to try to switch it up, and one of my favorites involves this circuit: 5 burpees, 10 squats, 5 burpees, 10 lunges (each side), 5 burpees, 15 sit ups. You repeat that as many times as you can in 20 minutes (or, if you are me, you do it two or three times and then collapse, without looking at how long it took you). I've noticed a few things: 1) burpees are really hard. That reputation is well-earned. 2) I like them. First because they really wear me out and I feel the work in my whole body in a really short amount of time, which is so efficient, and second because I've noticed myself getting better at them really quickly, and that's the most gratifying part of working out. 3) I think they're really helping tone my arms! Hooray for that! I've been trying to integrate more burpees and more planks because they are both simple, fast, whole-body toning moves and I'm starting to notice the benefits.
3. The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin
Word on the street is that this book has been turned into a TV series on FX, and I bet that series is awesome but I wouldn't know because we can't keep a television alive longer than a few months in our house. No joke, after having a dead TV in our living room for close to a year, we finally bought a new one on black Friday and broke it a few weeks ago when it jumped off its TV stand, to its death. So I'm reading this book instead of watching the series, and I think that's probably for the best.
I love a good crime story, and the OJ trial is obviously a legendary story. But, having been in the first grade when the trial happened, all I remember about the trial is that the day the verdict came back my first grade teacher made all the kids sit quietly on the carpet square in the corner while she and the teacher's aid listened to the radio across the room to hear the jury's decision. So, I'm learning about it for the first time and I can't put this book down. If I'm being honest, this book was the opposite of fuel for me this week, because it caused me to stay up too late several nights because I couldn't stop reading. But those are the best kinds of books, so it goes on the list.
Happy Friday, friends! We made it! I hope you all had lovely weeks, and I'll be back next week with some recipes--there was a recipe shortage this week because I had SO MANY other things I wanted to talk about! And also because I kept accidentally eating cheese and crackers for dinner.
Dan and I have a lot of common interests. Museums...not so much common (my interest, not his). Ice fishing..not so much common (his interest, not mine). So, when he left for the weekend to go ice fishing, I decided to seize the opportunity to take Kell to the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. And he loved it--he said "this was so much fun" three times between the final exhibit and the car. If you live in the Twin Cities, you've got to give MIA a visit--it's free to visit, first of all. We did the audio tour because Kelly has liked that at museums we've visited before, and they have audio tour prompts for a huge portion of their permanent collection. The audio tour is $5 for adults, and free for students, so this awesome afternoon activity set us back a whopping five bucks.
We started in the early Asian exhibits and loved the huge scrolls, bronze sculptures, and their huge collection of jade pendants and carvings. Later we went up to the impressionist and modern arts areas--Kell was a big fan of the modern art. We picked out things we would like to take home with us along the way, and I had tons of fun asking Kelly what his favorite pieces were in each collection. The pottery spread across the second floor made me want to take a pottery class--which means it's especially inspiring, because I'm not usually struck with that inclination.
Kelly's convinced we can get his dad to come back with us if we tell him we're going to look more at sculptures and less at paintings :) Stay tuned for that experiment...and get yourself over to the MIA for an awesome free activity.