Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Training For Tuesday: HOPE Springs 5k Recap

I'm linking up with Tracy over at Change of Pace (formerly Tracy Tris) and Alyssa from Alyssagoesbang. We chat about our training on the last Tuesday of every month. So, I figured this post would be great for my 5k recap.

If you haven't been following me at all, I recently signed up for a training service at Runners Connect. I've posted weekly recaps of my training, which includes lots and lots and lots of really slow miles.

These slow miles had me worried. I know the science behind why we run slow (builds aerobic strength), but I was really questioning whether it would work for me.

Then I did a threshold interval workout that was basically a 5K with the target pace at 8:00-8:10, and I knocked it out of the park. So...I was feeling pretty confident coming into this race.

I woke up super early, despite this race being local. I think I was just excited, and I just needed to get out of bed. I went through my normal pre-race morning routine, and we lounged around watching Sesame Street for awhile until it was finally time to go.

I decided to jog to the race, since it's only about 5 blocks away. I made it an even mile by running some of my normal route. Travis and Emily drove there and we met up. They had all sorts of fun raffles, and we had a little time to check those out before the race began. Although I try every year, we won nothing despite spending $20 on tickets. Oh well, it's for a good cause!

Finally, it was time to race!

This year they had signs with projected finish times to line up by. I feel like our little "hometown" race is getting pretty serious! I lined up right behind the 25 min sign, hoping for good things. Then the gun went off, and we were flying!

Despite my best intentions, I started off way to fast. Everyone around me was excited, and the first 10th of a mile is downhill. We were all cruising! I think the most consistent thing I heard from other racers was "I started off to fast!" Thankfully, I was really paying attention to my pace and was able to slow down. There's no way I could continue with a 7:15 pace!

Once I got into a rhythm, I felt good. I realized in the beginning of my second mile that I had slowed a little too much, so I picked it up a bit. I passed by a friend who just ran Boston, so I said hi briefly and asked how she was feeling. Then we hit the third mile and I was able to kick it up another notch. I passed another friend who was struggling a bit. He, too, said he started off too fast. I just said "less than a mile to go, you can do it!" Then continued on.

Some of the last mile was directly into the wind, but I kept it up and passed a few more runners. The end of this race has a long hill that every runner complains about. I dug in deep and charged up the hill. It helped that some of my running group buddies were at the top and bottom of the hill cheering everyone on.

Finally, I rounded the last corner and raced across the finish line to a finish time of:


Yea buddy! That's an average of 8:05 min/mi. My paces broke down as:
1 - 8:06
2 - 8:10
3 - 7:59
.10- 6:51 (what!?)

I hate that I'm looking down here, but I look determined!

Originally, I thought this wasn't a PR for me. For some reason, I had it in my head that my 5k PR was 25:01. But after looking back at my last 5k's, my actual PR was 25:17. I shaved 11 seconds off that sucker! That may not seem like much, but in such a short race, I think that's great!

I think the best thing is that this pace was comfortably uncomfortable - not something I could keep up for a whole marathon, but doable for a 5k. To me, that speaks volumes for my overall fitness. I'm getting there!

Our running group won for largest team, and fastest team! I'm behind the guy in the blue jacket, to the left. Mr. Blue Jacket won the race with a time of 16:55, and is the whole reason I started running with Runners Connect. Go Range Runners!

How's your training going? Have you ever run with a running group?

Link up with us and join in on the conversation!

A Change of Pace

Monday, April 27, 2015

Weekend Recap

Happy Monday!

I have a very exciting weekend coming up, so I'm hoping this week speeds by. Oh Monday, treat me well!

This weekend was chock-full of activities for my little family.

On Friday night, we went up the street to the new private school for dinner. They were hosting a "Rigatoni Feed" as a fundraiser and pre-race dinner for the HOPE Springs 5k Run/Walk that was to be held on Saturday. It's not my typical pre-race fare, but it's for a good cause. Also not my typical pre-race fare:

The free wine I got for volunteering. Yea baby!

But you only live once. I figured since it was only a 5k, I was probably pretty safe imbibing a little.

I'll do a full race report in another post, but it went well. Emily ran her first "race": a 50m dash. She was pretty excited after seeing all the other runners and getting to cheer for mom.

Uhm, how cute is my kid!?

However, after toeing the start line with the rest of the kids and getting off to a pretty good start, things fell apart for her about 25m in. I think because she couldn't see me or Dad anymore, she got scared. She stopped and started crying, so mom swooped in, picked her up, and crossed the finish line with her. The tears stopped after she got her finisher's ribbon and a cookie. Cookies solve everything. Didn't I promise you that there would be cookies?

We celebrated our runs by a victory dinner at a local place called the Sawmill Saloon. They are supposed to have really good walleye tacos. Well, they're pretty good, but I'm ok with sticking to our usual haunts.

Sunday, we were treated to glorious weather. Glorious! Sunny, a high above 60...it was amazing. Emily basically played outside all day.

Ok, so it was still chilly enough for a light jacket. But look at that blue sky! Not a cloud in sight!

We ended the evening by cooking up some black bean burgers and sweet potato wedges. Travis is on a super low-carb kick right now (uhm yes, you read that right), so I attempted to do lettuce wraps instead of buns.

It was kind of messy, but good! Although Emily told me that she didn't want any "salad". Ok, whatever kid.

So that was our weekend!

How was your weekend? Have you tried bun-less burgers before? 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fitness Friday

Happy Friday!

Last night I attended my United Way's Flavor of the North event. Last year, Trav and I got to go with company tickets. This year my company didn't get tickets. Sad face. At $50 a pop, it was a little out of my budgeted spending for the month. So, I opted to volunteer instead. Best decision ever!

I got to help out with the wine & beer tasting table. There was also a rep from the liquor store hosting the table. He had me try the wines first - hey, all in a day's work, right? I think he was pleased that I was slightly knowledgeable of the wine world to begin with. We had a great time chatting about different wines & wineries.

I also got to taste all the food. Because, hello, that's really why I was there. I felt bad that I kept leaving my table partner, but he didn't want to eat and was totally cool with me jetting off a time or two. I'm still in a food coma from all the good food. Walleye cakes, garlic & coconut shrimp, cranberry meatloaf, artisan breads, desserts as far as the eye can see...

Let's just say that it was a good thing I ran 6 miles yesterday morning.

With that said, here's my latest training recap:

Saturday - simple circuit training workout with 1.5 mile slow jog. I like this workout because it keeps the heart rate up, burns some calories, and gets me moving.

Sunday - we desperately need rain, so I couldn't complain all that much when my long run was rained out. Thankfully, it was a cutback week for me - meaning I only needed to do 8 miles. I'm comfortable doing this on the treadmill, so that's exactly what I did.

Monday - skipped yoga for an extra hour of sleep. Hey, sometimes you just need to sleep! Did hip and lower leg strength exercises after work though.

Tuesday - The workout on my schedule was a fartlek run - 1 mi warm up, 10 x 1 min @ 7:50 pace with 1 min rest in between, 1 mi cool down. I work up to 13 mph winds & snow...not exactly prime conditions for speed work, and the winds were just supposed to get worse throughout the day. So I did this on the treadmill instead. Warm up & cool down miles at 5.5mph, with my fartlek intervals at 7.5mph/4.0mph. My treadmill is kind of wonky, so I have no clue if the paces were too fast, too slow, or right on. But I felt like I was flying at 7.5mph! Overall, I call this a success.

Wednesday - I bumped up to Christine Felstad's Yoga for Runners intermediate version. Although I was able to do all the poses, it definitely was more challenging than the beginner's version I've been doing. But I'm proud that it didn't kill me, and I definitely can tell that my fitness is improving. But my shoulders, upper back, and hamstrings were definitely unhappy with me by that evening...

Thursday - Easy 6 miles. Given my hamstring soreness from yoga, I was very thankful for an easy run. Average pace was 9:38 min/mi.

Friday - another easy run, this time only 3 miles. Slightly difficult to get out of bed after my fun evening at Flavor of the North, but I got it done. Average pace was 9:46.

Tomorrow is my first race of the year, the HOPE Springs 5k. It's local to me - like I can jog to the start line because it's only about 5 blocks from my house. It's a fun event, with tons of awards and raffle drawings. I'm really looking forward to it!

Are you racing this weekend? How's your training going? 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Weekend Recap

Happy Monday! (?)

It's Patriot Day out in Boston, just in case you were living under a rock. That means it's Boston Marathon Day! Very exciting if you know someone running (I do!), not so much if running isn't your thing.


We were blessed with some really great weather this weekend, and some not-so-great weather.

Friday night we enjoyed the warm temps by hanging out in the backyard. You can see it's still chilly enough to need a sweatshirt, but we'll take it!

We also rented the movie "Fury" with Brad Pitt. Pretty good, and had a star-studded cast.

On Saturday, Emily played outside for what felt like the entire day. It was warm and sunny again, although windy. I didn't get any pictures since I was inside doing boring things like cleaning, laundry, etc. But all that fresh air ensured a good, long nap for little Miss Em!

Sunday morning was when the weather turned on us. It started raining in the wee hours of the morning and kept up pretty much all day. But we desperately need the rain. There have been several fires in our area because it's been so dry.

Also, I'm ok with the rain because we joined a CSA this year. That stands for "Community Supported Agriculture". Basically, you buy a "share" of a farm. The more shares the farm gets, the more they can plant. Then come harvest time, you get a share of the produce. So, rain now hopefully means a better harvest soon!

We will start getting boxes of produce from our farm the last week of May, all the way through October. Plus, we got to choose from either a turkey or a goose for Thanksgiving. Travis made me pick the goose, since we usually get a turkey through work. I'm super excited to have fresh produce all summer long! We've bought from this farmer before, and have even visited their farm a few years ago. I've also seen the boxes of shares they give when we ran into them at our local farmer's market. It's typically a lot. I think I will have to learn how to can and preserve the extras!

Since we needed the rain, I didn't really mind running on the treadmill for my long run. Also, it was a cutback week for me in training, so I only had to do 8 miles. That made it easier, too.

After my run, Emily and I braved the rain for a girl's shopping day. I needed some things at the mall, and I think Travis needed some time to himself. So off we went!

She's a pro at selfies already, at the ripe old age of 3!

Afterward, we came home for some napping and movies on the couch. Hey - what else are you going to do on a rainy day? 

Apparently our cat, Zak, has determined that Emily is his new favorite. He totally loves her and puts up with her occasional over-affection. You know - squeezing, hugging, picking him up by the stomach. She's learning.

We also rented "The Imitation Game", another WWII flick. Apparently I'm in a rut with that genre. Broken comes out today, and I really want to see it!

I rounded out the evening with a glass (or 2) of wine and a little ice cream. Surprisingly, I did not really love Chubby Hubby. The pretzel chunks are too big, in my opinion. But I foresee some other flavors in my future...

Did you have a good weekend? What's your favorite Ben & Jerry's flavor?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fitness Fridays

Hello and Happy Friday!

This has been an exhausting week for me professionally, but running and exercise-wise it's been great.

Sunday - 11 miles at easy pace. I did end up skipping circuit training on Saturday to give my legs a rest. Great decision! I averaged 9:52 min/mi, right in the middle of my target "easy pace" zone of 9:35-10:20. Legs felt good the whole time. I felt like I could even go longer, except that it was so windy! The wind really picked up by the end of my run, so I was glad to be done and get inside at that point.

Monday - Rest day. I did my Yoga for Runners DVD in the morning before work, and them some hip & lower leg strength exercises after work. I love doing yoga the day after my long run, it just feels good.

Tuesday - Threshold Intervals (1 mi warm-up, 3 x 1 mile at 8:00-8:10 w/60 sec rest in between, 1 mile cool down). I ran this workout at the track with my running group. Some were doing another crazy workout that was much longer, some just come and do whatever. I was a little worried about hitting that pace for a consistent mile, but I did it! Paces were: 9:53, 8:07, 8:09, 8:04, 9:20. Bangerang!

Wednesday - Rest day. Yoga again in the AM, followed by core strength in the evening.

Thursday - 5 miles at easy pace - averaged 9:40 min/mi. My legs felt a little stiff today, but I actually think it's because of the running tights I was wearing. I haven't worn them in forever, and I forgot that they actually pinch around my knees. Weird, but I'm blaming them. Did some core and general strength exercises after work, along with some foam rolling on my hips, quads, hamstrings, and calves. Hurts so good - let me tell ya!

Friday - 5 miles at easy pace - averaged 9:38 min/mi. This run was pure torture. Not because of how I was feeling; I felt great the whole run. It was torture because the grocery store bakery was making donuts or something, and I could smell it the entire run. Oh man, donuts!!

I'm pleased with this week and how I'm feeling. Less tired than last week, but I think that's partly to do with being back into our normal routine since Mom & Dad left. I'm looking forward to next week, except that we have snow in the forecast. Ugh!

How's your week going? Do you want donuts now, too?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Alright Teamwork!

Short post today, but I just wanted to document this somewhere and share it because I thought it was funny.

Emily and I were doing a little shopping in Walmart the other day. We shop by a list, typically, and she likes to help me find the next thing on the list. Usually just by saying "what's next mama?"

This time, we had crossed everything off the list, and even grabbed a few extra things (Frozen themed undies - high light of the trip, no doubt). Emily's response made me laugh out loud:

Me: "Ok, we got everything on the list! Let's pay and go home."
Emily: "Alright teamwork! High five?" *proceeds to hold hand up for said high five*

I just had to stop for a second and giggle. Of course, I gave her a high five. too.

Where do they come up with these things? I use the teamwork idea in cleaning up her toys sometimes, so maybe just from me. We do high fives quite a bit. too.

Basically, my kid is the cutest thing ever. I know you're jealous.

Not so cute? When she told me that she didn't eat her leftover broccoli mac 'n' cheese for lunch because it was "bland".

Alright, food snob, I'll give you something different tomorrow...

What is something that has made you laugh lately? 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sunday Runday Burgers

Usually I schedule my long runs for Sundays. It's the best day to fit it in because I normally do not have other commitments or errands to run that day, and I can plan on resting for the remainder of the day.

I also really love to have a burger for dinner on my long run days. Any kind of burger, it doesn't matter. Beef, chicken, turkey, vegetarian, etc. To me, that's the epitome of a "bad" food that's higher in calorie and something I would not normally eat on a regular day. Hey, if I'm going to burn 900+ calories in one run, I figure I deserve some of those back!

But...I still want be somewhat healthy, too. So usually it's not a beef burger -too much fat. Those are saved for really special occasions, like after a half marathon. Or if ground beef is on super sale at the grocery store.

Enter: Cheddar Ranch Chicken Burgers.

My plan was to add BBQ sauce and a slice of Granny Smith apple to this, a la the Granny Burger from My Sister's Place in Grand Marais, MN. Lo and behold, the very original recipe for these burgers included BBQ sauce too, so I felt like I was on the right track here!

These were relatively easy to make. I didn't have both varieties of breadcrumbs, so I just used all plain Panko. I also made my own french fries using this recipe, but subbing yukon golds for the russets since that's what I had on hand. They came out really well, but probably could have baked a little longer. Still, very tasty.

Paired with some green beans, and we had a winner winner chicken dinner!

Look at all that yummy, cheesy goodness!

Emily ate her entire burger (slightly smaller in size but still pretty big), her fries, and her green beans. I swear, that girl has a hollow leg. 

Did you have some good eats this weekend? What's your favorite "bad" food?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Fitness Friday

Happy Friday!

I was greeted by the makings of a pretty sunrise at the end of my run this morning:

The street lights are still on, but the sun was starting to peek up. Pretty soon I won't need my headlamp on my early morning runs!

With my parents here for a week, getting my workouts in was a little challenging. The diet train went completely off the rails and I'm still paying for it. But let's see how things stacked up.

Sun March 29th - as predicted, the weather was crappy so I ran on the treadmill. Boring.

Tues, March 31st - Hills. 1 mile warm up, then 4 laps of this repeat: 30 sec uphill at 1 mile pace (6:50), 30 sec rest downhill, 75 sec uphill at 5K pace (7:50-8:00), walk down rest. 1 mile cool down. I messed this up right from the get-go with jogging down the hill for what was supposed to be the walking rest. Oh well. My 1 mile pace is closer to 7:10, so that 6:50 was shooting high. I managed some 7:15-7:20 paces, but mostly hit this around 7:50. I was ok with that though.

Thurs, April 2nd - easy 5 on the treadmill. This was supposed to be a 6 mile cutdown run, but with my parents arriving so late, then Emily getting sick that morning...the cutdown wasn't happening. I was lucky to get this in!

Friday, April 3rd - 6 mile cutdown: 1 mile warm up, followed by 1 mile each at 8:55, 8:45, 8:35, 8:25, no rest. 1 mile cool down. I really enjoyed this run! It was challenging, but comfortable. It was also nice to stretch my legs a bit. My paces were 8:53, 8:46, 8:34, 8:25. I feel like I knocked this one out of the ballpark!

Sun, April 5th - easy 10 miles. I slowed this down even though I was in a hurry to get the day started for Easter. But it was a nice run, and I still felt like I had gas in the tank.

Tues, April 7th - Tempo Intervals: 1 mile warm up, 4 x 800m at 8:00 with 45 sec rest, 1 mile cool down. This was surprisingly easy too. My first 2 intervals were too fast at 7:40 and 7:51, but then I was able to slow down a bit at 8:01 and 8:00. A friend of mine joined me at the track for this workout, which was really nice both in getting to see here and having someone to run with. I followed this up with a prescribed leg circuit workout.

Thurs, April 9 & Fri, April 10th - easy 5 miles, both days. Nothing really to report here, except my legs are pretty tired from the leg circuit I did on Tuesday. It had some lateral lunges and sideways lunge shuffles that really worked my glutes and inner thighs. Surprisingly, those areas are still sore!

I have 11 miles on tap for Sunday, and circuit training tomorrow. I may skip the circuit training to give my legs a true rest. Except I have to do laundry, go grocery shopping, and clean. So "rest" is a little deceiving here.

Despite my tired legs today, I feel like training is going well so far! I do feel like I'm getting stronger, and I'm really starting to enjoy the easy runs. Did I really just say that? Enjoy going slow?

How's your training going? 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Vacation Recap - Mansions and Bunnies

Is Hugh Heffner in the house? 

Oh, not that mansion. Not those bunnies.

Sadly, I said goodbye to my parents this morning and shipped them back to Florida. We had a whirlwind week of visiting. It's always so great to have them here, I wish we didn't live so far apart! Emily loves having them here, and was especially excited that they got to "spend the night" with us. 

Their trip started off a little bumpy with a delayed flight that was eventually cancelled at 10:30 that night in Minneapolis. They were supposed to arrive in our town at 9:00pm, so we were all up very late wondering what was going to happen with the flight. Instead of spending the night in Minneapolis and flying in the next day, my parents decided to rent a car and drive the rest of the way. It's about a 3-4 hour drive, depending on how heavy your foot is. They made some new friends at the airport who apparently knew a bunch of my in-law's and lived up this way as well. So, they all hopped in a rental car together and drove from Minneapolis. Nothing like taking a road trip with strangers!

They finally arrived around 2 am. After some quick hugs, we all went to bed to get some much needed rest. Then I was back up at 5:30am with a sick kiddo. I started to feel like maybe I should invest in a coffee IV. 

Thankfully Emily rebounded pretty quickly, and we were able to take it easy on Thursday just resting and relaxing. A little shopping thrown in, too. 

On Friday, we headed down to Duluth to tour the Glensheen Mansion, and drop off their rental car. The mansion was amazing! Our tour guide said that it cost about $1 million to build back in 1905. To adjust for inflation, that would be about $27 million now. The house is also 27,000 square feet - so basically $1 million per square foot. Talk about lavish!

The front entry way

Visiting couches. There were 2 like this and 2 matching chairs in the hallway.

Their intercom system. It would ring in the kitchen to let the servants know they were needed.

Interestingly, this marble fireplace is one solid piece of marble. Unfortunately for you and I, this marble is now so rare that if you wanted to buy some, you would be lucky to find a dime size piece and you would pay a fortune for it. I think it's Nubian, but don't quote me on that.

Marble fireplace in the living room.

Hand sewn cloth "wallpaper".

One of the daughter's bedrooms. Creepy doll!

For the most part, the mansion was very pretty, but a bit too opulent for my taste. I don't think I'd like gold leaf ceilings - regular drywall and paint will do just fine for me, thankyouverymuch!

On Saturday, we prepped for Easter by baking cakes and cleaning. Emily "helped" make the Easter bunny cake. I think we did a great job! Mostly she helped sprinkle the coconut on, and place the jelly beans.

Sunday morning I was up bright and early to fit in my 10 mile long run before church. It was definitely earlier than I would have liked, but I got to watch a beautiful sunrise for most of the run. I think there is no better reminder of God's love than seeing the sun come up and knowing that I am blessed with another day to live and enjoy His blessings!

I made it back just in time to get all spiffied up for church. Emily found her Easter basket in record time, and we made it to church early! 

Monday and Tuesday were mostly spent relaxing and doing a little shopping at some of the local places around our town. There's not much happening here, so there's only four or five places to visit, really. But we managed to hit them all and spend a little cash. Naturally. 

Tuesday was also my Dad's 72nd birthday, so we took him to our favorite Caribbean restaurant for dinner. I know he was a little nervous about it, but both he and my mom really enjoyed their dinners. Success! He also got a free piece of birthday cake out of the deal, so I'd call that a win. 

All in all, it was a great visit. It's always difficult to say goodbye to them, but luckily I get to see them in a month. I can't share too much about that yet, because it involves some secret travel plans, but I'm very excited!

How was your Easter? Have you had a "staycation" in your own town? What do you do there?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Parents are Coming, the Parents are Coming!

I am so excited! As you are reading this, my parents are officially at my house for a week. They came all the way from Florida to spend a chilly Easter with us here in the Northland.

I'm sure they were getting sick of that balmy, breezy, warm Florida weather anyway. Who doesn't yearn for 40 degree temps come April, after spending a winter hovering around 60?

Anyway, we have a few days filled with fun things to do. We'll be visiting the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth.

It's one of the oldest homes in Duluth, built by the Congdon family between 1905-1908. The Congdon's were influential in expanding iron ore mining up here, which is still our biggest industry to date. The home was given to the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1979 and turned into a museum.

We'll also be hosting Easter dinner at my house this year. Large family dinners at our house always turn into a bit of a circus, just because it wasn't really designed for entertaining. Small kitchen, choppy rooms - you get my drift. But it's always fun to have everyone over and share a meal! Also, there will likely be bunny cake.

Old school style!

The best part is, my Dad will be celebrating his birthday while they're here! We plan on taking him to The Whistling Bird for dinner. After hearing so much about how we love this restaurant, my Mom really wants to try it. So my Dad does too, probably. 

I probably won't be around for a few days due to being on vacation (holler!). So, Happy (early) Easter to all my blogger friends! 

Do you have special Easter plans? Has spring sprung in your neck of the woods?