Monday, August 31, 2015

Runners Connect retreat at Zap Fitness Camp

Hello! I swear that I did not drop off the face of the Earth, I've just been busy! I just got back last night from my running retreat in North Carolina. After a 4 hour layover, and a 40 minute delay, I finally got home safely at 10pm last night. After a weekend of running, and very little sleep, I'm pretty tuckered out.

So what's a running retreat, you ask? Well, it's like an adult summer camp filled with....running! But also, lots of great educational sessions on things like marathon nutrition, mental strength, stretching, and a form analysis. Plus plenty of time to veg out, get to know your fellow campers, and some really great food!

The camp I went to was at Zap Fitness Camp near Blowing Rock, North Carolina. This is actually a training facility for professional athletes who are aspiring to some pretty cool things. In the dining room, they had goal boards up for each athlete. A few of them had "2016 Olympics" on their boards. The cool thing is that those goals are not a stretch or overambitious. One of our RC coaches, Sarah Crouch, is a ZAP athlete and is currently training for the upcoming Olympic trials.

Here's Sarah doing one of her workouts at the park we ran at. 
 The camp itself is comprised of 2 buildings: the athlete house and the guest house. The athletes host these camps to help pay for their training and travel. So basically, I had a potential Olympian picking up my plates after meals. Kind of surreal.

Athlete house, including gym & dining room.

Guest house
 If you know me, you know I don't camp. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the accommodations were quite nice. I had a single room, and shared a bathroom with another double room. There were about 20 or so of us campers, plus 3 of our coaches.

Each day we would go into Blowing Rock to run at Moses Cone Park, named after Moses Cone who invented wearable denim. Or the process...I'm not sure. Because Zap is actually in kind of in a valley in the mountains, most of the roads are kind of twisty and steep, which is why we went to the park to run. The park is filled with carriage trails, and has a lovely lake at the base with a mile long trail around it. Most of the trails include some good climbs, but the lake trail is pretty flat.

Bass Lake
Most of us stuck to the lake trail to do our workouts. After running a steady state run on Friday around the lake, I thought I'd try my hand at going up to the Cone Manor House, and even farther to the Fire Tower at the top of one of the mountains in the park. I had to do 16 miles total, and the climb to the tower is 5 miles. So I thought it would be great to do the 5 miles up and back for a total of 10 miles, and then just have 6 loops around the lake to finish out my run.

Except I'm not a mountain climber. Reality check! The climb to the Manor House was not exactly hard per se...but it was a workout. About halfway there, I decided there was no way I was getting all the way up to the tower.

Manor House

View from the Manor House. Really, it's up there. 
By the time I got back to the lake, I had only done 5.5 miles and I was exhausted. The idea of still having to run 10.5 miles was really not appealing at all. Thankfully, there were a few other runners from our group still at the lake, as well as one of our coaches. They all helped to bolster my spirits, and I toughed it out for the rest of the run. I took a few walk breaks, but I got it done! One of the coaches said later that because GPS isn't exactly accurate in the mountains, I probably did closer to 18 miles. Whew!

Toughest run of my life.

Back at camp, there's a lovely little stream that flows along the property. Great for doing an impromptu ice bath.

Plus, the facility has a full gym with lots of foam rollers and other things to help with workouts and recovery. I didn't get into the hot tub, but that would have been pretty nice too!

Of course, after everyone's long runs on Saturday (most 14-16 miles, but 2 overachievers hit 19 & 20 miles!), we were ready to kick back and relax. The chef is amazing, and made us a delicious lasagna that night, plus a vegetarian ratatouille that was out of this world. There was also plenty of this stuff....

With a brewery and wine shop in Blowing Rock, there were plenty of opportunities to share a beverage with my new friends.

Overall, it was a really great trip. A little out of my comfort zone, but I'm so glad that I went. Talking with the other runners, and having a private chat with one of the coaches gave me a lot of confidence going forward with my running.

I know I've mentioned it before, but if you haven't checked out RunnersConnect yet, please do. It is such a great site not only for race training, but also includes a wealth of knowledge on all things running related. The community there and the support they offer is invaluable, as well. I'm so glad I signed up!

Would you go to a running retreat by yourself? Have you heard of Zap Fitness?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fitness Friday

Happy Friday! This Friday is especially exciting for me because as of 3 pm this afternoon, I am on vacation! I'll be doing the stay-cation thing with Emily for the first three days, then I'm off for my runner's retreat. Stay tuned for a recap of that!

Saturday - Rest day. Hanging out in 90 degree heat at the fair didn't really feel like rest, but I did get to sit in the shade for most of the day.

Sunday - 12 miles on the treadmill. This kind of sucked, but I felt awesome at the same time. I wanted to get the miles in, but I also wanted to give my body a break from the heat the day before. So three episodes of Gilmore Girls and 2 hours & 16 minutes later, I could check this off my list. Whew! My leg was pretty tight for the first half of the run, but loosened up by the end and felt pretty good all day. Of course, I stretched, foam rolled, and used compression socks afterward.

Monday - 7 miles on the bike in 31:19. My bike computer isn't working anymore (because it's cheap), so a lot of these rides are just by feel. And the day after running 12 miles, I feel like going slow. I'm barely convinced myself to get out of bed. But I need to work off all that dang fair food...

Tuesday - Hill to Tempo workout. 1 mile warm up, 4 x 90 sec hill repeats at 7:35 pace, 3 minutes rest, 3 miles at 8:40, 1 cool down mile. I was definitely hesitant about this workout, given that I'm pretty sure my injury is due, in part, to my last hill workout. But I figured I could try it and bail if things were tough. Again, my medial tibialis was tight in the beginning, but loosened up through the run. Never quite perfect, but not painful. I ran the hill repeats by feel rather than pace, but I was happy to see that I wasn't that far off the prescribed pace. My hill was a bit short though, so I was usually just under the 90 sections. The tempo miles were relatively easy (gasp!). 9:50, (hill repeats) 7:52, 7:30, 7:39, 7:42, (tempo miles) 8:38, 8:35, 8:37, 10:05.

Wednesday - The forecast was calling for rain this morning, and it was drizzling a bit when I woke up. We were out later than normal celebrating my father-in-law's birthday the night before, so I decided just to sleep in a little. Plus, my leg was really not happy with me after yesterday's workout. So a day of rest it is then.

Thursday - 3 miles easy. So...I'm getting really sick of this leg thing. It was uncomfortable again for the first 1.5 miles, then just on and off discomfort for the last 1.5 miles. It felt pretty ok for the rest of the day, but I'm back to using KT tape. Still lots of foam rolling and stretching, too.

Friday - Since the weather looks horrible for this weekend, I'm planning on doing my long run tomorrow. I didn't think that my leg would appreciate 3 days in a row of running, so I hopped on my bike for 8 miles this morning. Average speed of 13.7mph. Also, it was cold this morning! 40 degrees! I'm really looking forward to getting an indoor trainer. I'm not too excited about biking in the dark anymore, or in the cold. 

How's your training going? Are you getting a break from the summer heat yet?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Summer Highlights: a link-up

Today I'm linking up with Kiki over at In Its Time again, taking part of the Circle Link-Up.


This month we're talking about our Summer Highlights from 2015. 

First, can we take a moment to awe at the fact that summer is nearly over? Didn't it just start? I, for one, am not ready for snow, cold, and all that comes with the turn of the seasons. I do love me some fall, but not so much of that icy white stuff that follows....

So what did we do this summer?

Went to the lake a few times

Celebrated Father's Day

Joined a CSA

Played in the backyard quite a bit

Emily turned 4!

I ran. A lot.

Then, not so much, and my bike became my new friend.

Went to the Big City

And that about sums it up! There were some other things in there as well. A few more birthdays, some family time, lots of cooking, and only one bonfire (so far!). But the summer is not officially over yet! 

Emily and I are having a little staycation for a few days next week, and them I'm off to North Carolina for a runner's retreat at ZAP Fitness Camp

I am excited and kind of nervous! 

So how has your summer been? Link up and tell us all about it!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Weekend Review - The Bear River Fair!

Happy Monday! Hope you had a lovely weekend.

I spent a good chunk of mine at the 104th Bear River Fair. This fair is more of a community event versus the typical fair with rides and carnival games. For a more thorough look, see my post here, a review of my very first time at the Bear River Fair. This year, there was no bingo, but there were two different bands, a pig roast dinner, and no rain! But 90 degree heat. Dislike.

Although I am not from Bear River, nor do I live in Bear River, I am usually pretty involved with the fair. I don't really know how this happened, but so be it. FYI for new readers, this is where Travis grew up and where most of his family lives, so we know a good majority of the fair patrons. Also, it's way cheaper than your typical fair. Cotton candy for $1, popcorn for .75 cents. Train rides for $1, unlimited bouncy house turns if you know the right people (we do!).

This year, I was hosting a table for our book club in conjunction with the Imagination Library which is funded through my United Way chapter. The Imagination Library is a great program that gives free books to kids ages birth to 5. They get one free book a month - that's 60 books! There's no income limitations either, so any kid can be involved, so long as you live in a service area. Our babysitting plans fell through for Saturday and since Travis was playing in the softball tournament, I had Emily as my trusty sidekick.

Nose stuck in a book like the good little reader she is.

The temps reached 90 degrees by the afternoon, but we had our canopy and a lot of shade for most of the day. That's just plain hot! Thankfully, there was a nice breeze and we had plenty of water. And ice cream!'ve got a little something on your face...

Because this is a a true grass-roots, community type fair, they really celebrate the summer harvest and the local community. Anyone is welcome to bring exhibits ranging from produce and canned goods to crafts and photography. Emily submitted some of our carrots, and she won first place! There were no other carrots in the youth division, but we're ignoring that small detail.

Blue Ribbon Carrots!

After we had our fill of fair festivities on Saturday, we went home and literally crashed. I was in bed by 8pm. I think I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow! 

On Sunday, we went out a bit later as we had some things to take care of at home first. True to form for Minnesota weather, by the time we showed up at 2pm it was barely 70 degrees. Apparently Emily won a t-shirt and sweatshirt the night before, after we had left. The sweatshirt was ridiciously large for her, but just about fit me. I was happy because it was chilly!

Gotta represent good ol'Bear River

We hung around for a few hours, had some pie at the pie social, then packed up our stuff and took our leave. Emily had swindled her Grandpa into a turn at the bouncy house, ice cream, and pie in the space of 2 hours. That girl is good!

It was a great weekend, even if it was exhausting. So I'm going to go grab another cup of coffee...

How was your weekend? 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Fitness Friday

Happy Friday!

I hope your week went well, and you achieved what you set out to do on Monday. My week has been full of ups and downs.

Sunday - 10 miles, easy pace. To say that I was nervous about this run would be a huge understatement. But I was feeling good, thanks to my new KT tape, so I figured that I'd just go out and see how things went. Surprisingly, my leg felt pretty good the whole time. Occasional twinges of discomfort, but I'd say 90% of the run felt normal. It could have been due to how slow I was running though. Caution combined with 100% humidity and dense fog led to an average pace of 10:14 min/mi. Most of those first miles were more around 10:20. I don't think I've ever run that slow! I know slow is relative, but for me...that's definitely not fast. The rest of the day was spent lounging, foam rolling, icing, and basically resting. Legs still feel ok except one specific spot along my medial tibialis, right next to the bone. Maybe on the bone? I'm not sure. I wish I had an at-home x-ray machine!

I'm sexy and I know it. At least it's pink!

Monday - 7 miles on the bike. Average speed of 14.1 mph. My quads felt like jello after this ride. I guess that's good?

Tuesday - 6 mile cutdown run: 1 mile warm up, 4 miles (8:55, 8:45, 8:35, 8:25), 1 mile cool down. Can I tell you how scared I was for this run? I'm still getting that pinpointed discomfort on my medial tibialis. Not a pain, just a niggling little "hello, I don't feel good" kind of spot. So I figured I'd just start this run, see how I felt, and if things weren't so good then I'd slow down to easy pace and come home. Well, although my leg wasn't perfect the whole time, I never got pain telling me to stop. Just occasional discomfort again. The best thing? It's been mostly ok today post-run, too. Granted I've been taking it very easy, but I feel like I'm making progress! KT Tape, foam rolling, icing, stretching. This is my life. But my paces were great! 9:56, 8:53, 8:47, 8:37, 8:24, 10:10. I even saw a meteor!

Wednesday - 7 miles on the bike, average speed of 13 mph.. I had originally intended on this only being 6 miles. I had another deep tissue massage on Tuesday night, and my quads were unhappy. But, once I got out there, I just kind of meandered around town, lowered my gear so the effort was minimal, and fit a whole 7 miles in. My lower leg was pretty sore all day from the massage as well, but the therapist warned me about this.

Thursday - 3 miles, easy pace. This was rough. It was only 65 degrees, but 100% humidity. I also had a sinus headache that I hoped would clear as I ran, but no dice. Plus I was out late last night at book club, so I was just dragging this morning. Hey, book club ladies know how to party! Lower leg took about 1.5 miles to warm up and never felt quite comfortable, but some ice and stretching afterwards really helped. The pinpoint discomfort has gone away though, so now it's just kind of an overall discomfort in that medial tibialis. But less than the pinpoint? Ugh, so hard to explain. Paces were 10:20, 10:09, 9:45. How's that for negative splits?

Friday - Aww, skunked again. 3 easy miles, but my leg was pretty uncomfortable the entire time. I did lots of stretching and rolling when I got home, and did a little ice massage. I'm hoping this is just lingering soreness from the deep tissue massage, but it is pretty discouraging. Hopefully a day of rest will help things too. The plan is 12 miles on Sunday, and I'm already not looking forward to it. Bummer.

How's your training going? Have you used kinesiology tape? 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday Words: Initiative

I've been reading Wednesday Word posts from The Turkey Runner for a while now, and finally decided to join in on the link-up hosted by Deb Runs.

Deb Runs

This week's word is Initiative.

This is something I have never struggled with. Well, never is maybe a strong word, but I've always been a pretty driven person. If I say I'm going to do something, I do it. I get stuff done. In life and in running.

Yes, that means getting up at 4:45am to get my runs done. Yes, that means sticking to my training schedule. Because if I don't make myself do it, no one else is going to force me.

Lately, because of my ongoing shin/medial tibialis/soleus injury, this actually has been somewhat of a difficulty for me. Should I throw in the towel for the marathon this year? Should I alter my training plans? I certainly don't want to injure myself worse.

But after a lot of back and forth in my head (thankfully not out loud. I'm sure that would look interesting), I decided to keep at my training as best as I could, whether that meant lowering my mileage, running more easy miles, and maybe skipping some of the workouts in exchange for an easy run. I've also been doing quite a bit of research on different stretches, taping, deep tissue massage, etc.

I'm not going to give up, and I'm not going to take this lying down. The good news is that my massage therapist thinks that I'm going to be ok and I don't need to come back unless I feel I need it. Also, my leg is doing much better. Will it be perfect by race day? Who knows, but I'm doing all I can to get myself there.

Where are you taking initiative in your life? Link up with Deb and tell us about it! 

Monday, August 10, 2015


It's Monday.

I know what you're thinking: "Ick. Monday. Where's the coffee?"


Let's agree though, just for today, to ignore the Monday blues. Let's look at it as a new beginning. A chance to achieve this week what was missed last week.

Let's agree to set forth in this week with joy at a fresh start. The kind of joy that starts way down in your belly and erupts in a fit of giggles. Like the joy of a little girl and her new hopper ball.

Happy Monday!

What are you looking forward to this week?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fitness Friday

It's another Friday, which means another training recap. This week has definitely had some ups and downs, but that's training for you, right?

Saturday - Saturday morning I was in Minneapolis. I found a nice trail across the highway from our hotel, so I ran there instead of the hotel treadmill. It was such a nice run! An easy 6 miles, average pace of 9:43. My leg felt pretty good the whole time, just a little stiffness in the beginning as I warmed up. Progress!

Sunday - Rest. I made sure to wear my compression socks for the drive home. Until I had to use the restroom at a gas station. We were in a little podunk town where I know no one, but you never know who you might bump into!

Monday - Up early and on the bike. I'm getting a lamp for the front of my bike, which I desperately need! It's dark when I start out now, and my headlamp isn't quite powerful enough for the bike. I got 7 miles in, average speed of 14.5 mph. I met with an Orthopedic doctor today, and he seemed to think that I'm just fine. He said I probably strained my anterior tibialis and/or medial tibialis. He said to make sure to stretch them before and after I run, but that I could get back to training. Hooray!

I just found this website that addresses my exact injury and has some great techniques to hopefully get me back to 100%. Anterior Tibial Stress Syndrome.

From the Athletes Treating Athletes page

Tuesday - A slow and easy 4 miles, average pace at 9:50. Leg was feeling pretty good for the most part. On my lunch break, I got my first ever deep tissue massage. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but there were definitely parts that were...uncomfortable. Not painful exactly, but not enjoyable like a regular massage. She focused a lot on my quads, and some muscle on the back of my knee. That muscle hurt when she worked it. Uncle, uncle!

Wednesday -  7 miles on the bike again. It was cold this morning! About 40 degrees, which feels even colder when you're creating your own breeze. I had the hubster install my new bike lamp and computer thing. He said that we needed to know the size of my tires to be accurate, but it was only about 0.5 10ths of a mile off, which I can deal with. The only problem is that there's no light on it, so I either have to light up my watch and try to shine it on there, or wait until I go under a street lamp.

Thursday - 5 easy miles. I wore heels to work yesterday, and even though I sit down most of the day I still think that was probably an unwise decision. My shins were very tight in the evening. This morning the left one was a little sore to begin with, but eventually went away until about 4.5 miles in when I started to feel a very targeted soreness right over the middle of my shin. Kind of depressing, since I felt like I was making a lot of progress. I probably also pushed it a little bit too much on this run. Paces were 9:51, 9:53, 9:37, 9:48, 9:53. That middle mile was too fast! 

Friday - 3 miles easy, average pace of 10:05. This run went pretty well. No pain in my shins or tibial muscles. There was a knot right where my soleus comes into my calf on the inside. According to that website above, I can use a tennis ball for a trigger point massage. Looks like I'll be breaking out the foam roller as well. I feel like all I do lately is recovery, icing, rolling, and stretching! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Hard Knocks

You know those people that seem to walk through life on air? Every move they make is graceful and perfect? 

I am not one of those people. "Grace" is not in my body's vocabulary. Unfortunately, Emily seems to have inherited this trait.

My poor girl.

Yesterday we had a family photo session with our local photographer. I knew things were going to be interesting when I picked her up from daycare and had to sign an "incident report". Apparently she ran smack into the steel pole from the swing set in her excitement to swing. Thankfully she only had a small red bump on her eyebrow, barely even noticeable. 

We got dressed up and I snapped this photo before we left to show Grandma her outfit. I wanted to do outdoor pics with a relaxed theme. So Emily is dressed up in a jean skirt and cowgirl boots. The boots are new, and a size too big.

So this picture is about 2 seconds before she tumbled down the steps in our mudroom. 

Cue crying, hugging, checking for injuries. She was ok, just a little scared, so we left to meet up with the photographer.

The photo session went great! Emily is such a ham and really plays up to our photographer. We'd been out there for about 45 minutes when we came to some old stone steps that our photog wanted us to sit on. Not even thinking about her earlier tumble, we happily agreed. 

Until Emily skidded down the steps on her front, scraping up a shin, a knee, and both arms. 

Aaaaand we're done. 

Emily is alright, just a little banged up. We agreed that the boots should probably be put away for a little while longer, until her feet grow into them a bit. 

Sometimes, life is just hard. Especially when you're clutzy. 

Are you clutzy like me? Do you get professional photos done often?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Twin Cities Weekend

Hello and Happy Monday!

I'm feeling pretty good this Monday morning, after a really nice night's sleep in my own bed. Going away is fun, but coming home is always nice too.

Friday night we dropped the kidlette off at Grandma & Grandpa's house for her own weekend of fun (camping - not my style!), and Travis and I set off for the big city. We stopped for dinner at an Applebee's on the way down, where I had a really nice steak dinner with grains and spinach from their low-cal menu. Unfortunately, within 10 minutes of leaving, my stomach felt like someone lit it on fire. The rest of the ride down was pretty uncomfortable, and definitely not how I wanted to start the weekend off!

I went to bed pretty much as soon as we arrived at our hotel. I booked a room at the Ramada Plaza Minneapolis, using Hotwire. You don't know which hotel you get until you've booked & paid for it when you use Hotwire, but you can choose the location and star rating. The Ramada was a 3 star with good reviews, and I was pretty pleased! The only thing that would have made it better was if they had some kind of little store to buy things like bananas or bottled water. They only have a restaurant and room service available.

Anyway, I woke up feeling about 90%, so I decided to try to get a run in. Although this trip was originally planned around the Minnesota Half Marathon, I opted out of the race and decided on an easy 6 miles instead. There was a trail right across the highway from our hotel, so I decided to chance it. My leg was a little tight in the beginning, but quickly loosened up and I had a really nice run!

View of the city from my run.

Afterwards we headed to the mall to do a little shopping for some upcoming family photos, then we had lunch at a little place called Brasa, a really neat little place that looks like it's in an old mechanic's shop, with rolling overhead doors and everything. It's all open air, which was perfect on this beautiful day.

View of the patio from our table.

Patiently waiting for my veggie fritter and fried plantains. Yum!
Then we headed over to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. We timed things just right with their "First Free Saturday", so we also got into the Walker Art Museum for free. Score!

Iconic Cherry & Spoon Bridge

Travis - just taking it in.
After all that walking around, we headed back to the hotel for a nap before heading to dinner at Chino Latino. So fun! It's like a restaurant in a nightclub. The food is labeled as "street food from around the equator". I had chicken and barbacoa beef tacos. Travis ordered pork belly that came on steamed buns, and we shared "nachos" - black beans, cheese, tomato, sour cream, and jalapenos with plantain chips to scoop it all up. So good! 

We had some time to kill, so we took an Uber to Dangerous Man Brewing. Travis had met up with one of his old friends the night before (while I was sick), and they stopped over there. He really enjoyed the Chocolate Milk Stout, and he wanted me to see what it was like. Very low-key, hipster vibe. It's smack in the middle of a neighborhood, and seems like a really cool place to hang out. They have board games, and encourage you to relax and spend some time. I had the Peanut Butter Porter. When we were ordering our drinks, I asked the bartender what it was like and a woman next to me piped up: "It is AMAZING! I have dreams about the peanut butter porter, it is so good!". That sealed the deal for me! 

Honestly, it was that good! It smelled amazing, and had a very smooth taste. Not too peanut buttery; just nice.

We finally ended up at Aster Cafe, where we had spent an evening on our last trip to the Cities. They had a live band playing, Mike Mangione & the Union. They were really good, and we ended up staying for their whole set. "Orchestral Folk" says their website - kind of blues/jazz/folk mix . They had an electric guitar, acoustic, violin, and a cello. Interesting mix, but it worked!

Sunday morning we slept in a bit, then headed to the Mall of America. I've been a part of a great group of women who were all married in March of 2009. We originally all met on the message boards at the, and eventually our group has moved over to Facebook. Many of us started chatting as early as 2007, so we've "known" each other for quite some time! Since we're scattered all over the country, meeting face to face doesn't happen often.

One of the girls from Chicago just happened to be in Minneapolis the same weekend as us, and another had recently moved to southern MN so she agreed to drive up. It was so fun to finally meet in person!

Denise, me, and Trish!

We went to Dick's Last Resort. Apparently their whole schtick is to be sarcastic and make fun of you. While that was a little weird, the humor helped to break the ice a little. Plus they give you these really embarrassing hats to wear.

Winning at life.
Mine said "Moses wasn't the only one with a burning bush." Awesome. It was so fun to meet the girls and their families. I never thought it would happen since we moved to the end of the Earth!

So that's the end of our whirlwind weekend. Busy and fun, just the way I like it!

How was your weekend? Have you heard of Dick's Last Resort?