Archive for the ‘Goals’ Category

If you’re like me (and most runners I know), a couple of weeks before your big race, you start obsessively checking the weather, and mentally planning out what you are going to wear.  Because weather changes so quickly around here, most of my running friends end up changing their minds about their race day outfit at least a dozen times.  At the store last week (before Des Moines Marathon and Mankato Marathon), dozens of folks came in asking about jackets, hats, arm warmers, and warm tops.  We all know that you should never wear something new on race day, but that didn’t stop these folks!

Amusingly, I’m about to commit that faux paus as well.

I’ve been thinking carefully about how I am going to approach the Monster Dash.  My training hasn’t been as good as I would have liked (my max distance before Saturday will be 9 miles), I’m going to be starting the race with a friend, and the weather has gotten exponentially chillier over the past two weeks.  The Monster Dash is also a Halloween themed race, so costumes are encouraged.

I will not be wearing a costume, fyi.

Planning your race day is where all of your training and preparation pays off.  You’ve learned from your mistakes and can approach the race as prepared as possible.  For example, after my disastrous half marathon last August, I learned that I need to really think about my hydration and nutrition.  Since then, I’ve purchased a water belt and over the past several weeks I’ve been training with the water belt and with the nutrition (Jelly Belly Sports Beans) that I plan on using race day.  I definitely will not be over-hydrating this time!

After running in this cold weather the past two weeks, I’ve also figured out my best bet for a race day outfit.

Here’s what I’ll be wearing:

infiniti headband

Brooks Infiniti Headband

saucony guide

Saucony Guide



Nike Epic Run Tight


infinit anorak

Brooks Infiniti Anorak



Enell Sports Bra



Injinji NuWool Socks



Brooks Equilibrium Base LS


I may end up changing my mind about the base layer, depending on the weather at the start, but that Equilibrium top is such a great temperature regulator, I think I’ll be fine wearing it, even if it ends up being a little warmer.  That Infiniti Anorak will be a new jacket on race day, but with the base layer under it, I don’t think it will matter.  The Anorak jacket is great though, because it unzips almost down to the waist, and it’s very light while still being wind resistant and water resistant in case it’s raining or snowing.

Besides planning your race day outfit, you’ll also want to have a plan of attack for the race itself.  As I said, I’ll be running with a friend at the beginning.  She will be running her first half marathon, and wanted someone at the start with her, which is why I decided to do this race.  She is quite a bit slower than me, but that will be to my advantage at the beginning of the race since my training wasn’t great.  My plan is to run the first half of the race with her (at a 13:30 min/mi) and then take off for the last half (at closer to a 10:00 min/mi).  I’ve reviewed the route map, and apparently the course is downhill almost the entire way.  So I’m actually thinking I’ll have a good race, perhaps even beating my first half marathon time (calculating the time out, and assuming I actually end up running the pace I’ve planned on, I should finish in 2.5 hours, which is about what I finished my first half marathon in).

Next up is nutrition and hydration.  Because this is a race, hydration will be provided along the way, so I won’t be bringing my water belt (why have that additional weight if I don’t need it?).  But I will be bringing about 3 packets of Sports Beans.  While I anticipate only using two, I learned from my first half marathon that you always want to bring one extra, just in case.

I hope that my penchant for obsessively planning will pay off this time, with a good finish time, and at the very least, a good time!  I’ve come to realize over the years that your finish time doesn’t matter nearly as much as how much fun you had while running the race.  A great finish time will always be overshadowed by a terrible race (though the two don’t usually go hand-in-hand).  My goal this race: have fun — And because I will be driving myself home post-race, don’t injure myself!  If I can achieve these two goals, I will be happy.

Keep your eyes peeled for a post-race report!




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This post has two purposes.  One, to re-introduce myself to the blogging world (sorry about that super long hiatus!) and two, to let you know about my racing plans for the summer.

First off, a lot of things have changed since I last wrote.  I no longer work at The Running Room and instead am a full-time employee with TerraLoco, a new active-lifestyle store in Rochester.  TerraLoco is a great place to work.  Not only do they have incredible product (Newton, Hoka One One, Sanita, El Naturista, Merrell, Olukai, among many others), but they are locally owned and dedicated to being a part of the running community in Rochester.  They sponsor races, host packet pick-ups, weekend clinics, and more!  It really is an exciting opportunity for me, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for me there!

In August, I ran the Lady Speed Stick Half Marathon, which, honestly, was a complete disaster.  I started feeling groody at mile 11 and got sick at mile 12, making me walk most of the way to the finish.  My race time was significantly slower than the Disney Half I ran in January, so it was disappointing.  After the race, I took a few months to recover.  My body just didn’t feel up to running longer distances and I was struggling with frequent nausea and lethargy.  After a trip to the doctor discovered I had a pretty low iron count, I started taking a supplement, which has really improved my day-to-day energy levels.  Now, I’m looking to get back on wagon, and give myself a new challenge.

The challenge that I’ve decided to take on is the Treadman Duathlon that takes place the end of September in Pine Island, a small town not too far from here.  Let me first introduce you to the infamous hill that I will have to bike up:

Now that you’ve had a moment to let the length and grade of the hill sink in, consider this: Before I bike up this hill I will have run 3.3 miles.  And AFTER I bike up this hill I will have to run ANOTHER  3.3 miles.  The bike portion is 21.6 miles.

So, yes, this is a challenge.

It’s been almost 3 years since I gave myself that first challenge of racing the St. Croix Valley Sprint Triathlon.  That summer I spent nearly every day getting my run, swim, or bike in.  In the years following I’ve kept up my fitness level, but I haven’t progressed much further. So for the next three months I will be following a base-building plan that requires 6 days of training each week, building up to an 8 mile long distance run, and a 30 mile long distance bike ride, with tempo work on both the bike and the run, as well as bi-weekly hill training on the bike, because, yikes that hill looks brutal.

Following that will be another three month training cycle where I’ll work on improving my VO2 Max and lactate threshold.

While I’m doing all of this training, I’ll be documenting my trials and tribulations, probably reviewing some new products, and generally entertaining you all (while distracting myself from the pain I’ll probably be feeling).  It will be a fun ride!

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No runner wants to be faced with an injury.  But with proper care, stretching, strength training, and proper gear, you can prevent most injuries.

However…. I have unfortunately been the victim of one of the worst injuries to befall a runner – plantar fasciitis and a heel spur.  Fortunately, this injury – at least at the time being – doesn’t prevent me from running, and only causes pain after I’ve not been moving for a while.  I made a quick visit to Sports Med last week and the solution was a night splint to keep my foot flexed, stretching, icing, and insoles for my super flat arches.  Hopefully these treatments will help my foot heal quickly and won’t cause any additional problems.

Now on to the good news: this Saturday is my first big race of the season – the Cannon Falls Duathlon, where I will be participating as the running part of a team.  I’m looking forward to cheering on my teammate as she competes in her first race ever!

I’m hoping for a 21-22 minute finish in the 2 mile part of the run, and under 34 minute finish for the 3 mile part of the run.

A post-race report will be up a few days after that.  Hopefully I’ll have a few more posts up in the near future reviewing some products I have recently acquired.

Wish me luck!

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The Details:

Date                    3/26/11

Distance            5K

Official time     34:54

Passed                6

Passed by          3

Temperature   26* F


Early in the week before my very first 5K ever, I took a look at the forecast.  While the prior week it had been a sunny and comfortable 50* on Saturday, the Saturday of the race was predicted to be 30*.  The closer it got to the race day, the lower that temperature dropped.  Now, I am not a person particularly inclined to go running outdoors (though that is changing!), but I am definitely not a person inclined to go running outdoors in temperature below freezing.  Thus, my workout wardrobe was lacking any appropriate clothing.  I had no tights, no jacket, no hats or gloves, and no long-sleeved warm top to wear.  Thus, the first thing I did last week before the race was go shopping at – where else? – The Running Room.  Here’s what I bought:

Yes, this is a men’s top, and yes, I do realize how ridiculous this guy looks in this picture.  I couldn’t find one online without a goofy looking dude wearing it.  Sorry.  😦

I also borrowed light-weight gloves and an UnderArmor ear warmer from my mom.

Normally, I would suggest wearing any new items at least a few times before a race to make sure they fit properly and don’t cause you any unnecessary chafing or discomfort.  But this time I didn’t follow my own advice and wore everything for the first time on race day.  Fortunately, I didn’t have any troubles.  I did liberally lubricate any chafe-prone areas with BodyGlide first though, just to make sure.

The day started off sunny but very brisk and cold.  On my way to the site, the car thermometer read 27*.  There was a nice 6 mph wind from the east as well, so I was definitely glad I bought all the new gear.  I arrived at Soldiers Field around 8:15 am where there were probably 3 dozen people mingling, warming up, or just standing around.  I received my race number and dutifully pinned it to the front of my shirt, then observed my competition.

I use “competition” very lightly here.  I could definitely tell who was a serious runner and who wasn’t.  While there were plenty of people just standing around in sweats and two-year-old running shoes, there were probably half a dozen people in technical running gear and the latest shoes who were stretching, warming up, and talking about the races they had done or were going to be doing (yes, I was eavesdropping).

I decided I had better warm up, as I hadn’t done enough of that prior to my triathlon last fall.  I took the opportunity to spend the next 30 minutes running around the nearby track and stretching my poor calves.

Ten minutes prior to the start of the run, a volunteer led us across the bridge to the start of the race.  She indicated that the fastest runners should line-up near the front, the walkers in the back, and everyone else in between.  I choose a spot directly in front of the walkers, assuming that I would be one of the slowest people there.  As we were waiting for the race to start, a 40ish woman next to me commented to the women around us that she would just stay near the back because she always ended up running alone anyways.  Everyone laughed, but I secretly thought, “I think you’ll have some company this race!” and counted myself lucky to possibly have a running partner during the race.

When the gun went off and the race started, I was shocked at how quickly the runners in the front of the pack took off.  It didn’t take very long before they were all long gone, and myself and the woman who had made the comment were all alone on the trail.  I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was for a race like this.  Were you supposed to talk?  Were you supposed to leave everyone alone?  How much talking was appropriate?  How long should I run beside her before it was rude to have not said anything?  Should I comment on her nice running hat?

Eventually I decided on continuing the joke she had made earlier.

“I’ll just run back here with you,” I laughed.

She smiled and nodded.  I noticed she had a Garmin on her wrist and I wanted to know how long I should expect to be running next to her.

“What’s your pace?” I asked her.

“Usually 11 to 12 minute miles…. 13, 14, 15….,” she trailed off and laughed.  “How about you?”

“About the same; 11 to 12 minute miles.”

She told me she was running the 10K.  She said it was the first race for her this season.  I told her it was mine too and that this was actually my first 5K ever.  She congratulated me.  We talked for a little bit about other races we had done and then we fell into a nice side-by-side pace.  We passed a few people who had taken off ahead of us and had slowed to a walk.  As we came up to the 1 mile mark she explained that she took walking breaks and wished me luck.

I was on my own.

Luckily, I was feeling good at this point.  The pace was comfortable and I wanted to keep it that way.  I could tell I was running faster than I normally did on a training run, so I knew that if I just kept a good even pace I could easily finish in under 36 minutes, which was my goal.  I was getting warm so I tied my new jacket around my waist.  There were a few volunteers along the race path and they all cheered me on as I passed them.  Shortly after I passed the 1 mile mark I overtook a runner who looked to be about my age.  I felt very proud of myself considering I hadn’t passed a single person during my triathlon!  I passed another runner who had slowed to a crawl.  Two people passed!  Prior to the 2 mile mark I came up on another young woman who was going not too much slower than myself.  I decided I wanted to pass her and used that as a goal to keep going strong.  Soon I passed her.  Another woman was ahead of me quite a ways down the path.  She didn’t seem like she was going much faster than me and I knew that she had started ahead of me in the pack back at the race start.  I set passing her as a goal.  However, without a Garmin I didn’t know how far I had left in the race or what my current pace was.  I didn’t want to push myself too soon and not have enough energy left over to finish the race strong.  I imagined myself passing her only to have to slow down a half mile before the finish and get passed by her at the end.  So I picked up my pace a bit, but didn’t race to pass her.

Turns out that maybe I should have increased my pace a little more than I did.  When we approached the 3 mile mark I was still maybe 70 yards behind her.  I sprinted to the finish but I didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to pass her at that point.  When I crossed the finish line I congratulated her on her finish and told her that I had been trying to catch up to her for the past 3/4 mile but that she was too fast.  I figured I would want someone to tell me that I was fast if I were her.  I then checked on my official time, which was 34:54.  Even with the fact that my time wasn’t completely accurate (I had started near the back of the pack, and I was told 34:26 as I approached the finish line – and there is no way it took me 30 seconds to run 30 feet), my race pace was much closer to 11 minute miles than 12 minute miles, which was a huge accomplishment for me.

I stuck around for a half an hour longer to cheer on the rest of the runners.  A few minutes after I passed the finish the line, the first 10K runner finished.  I waited to see my 10K friend pass the half-way point, but I never saw her.  I hoped she ended up finishing, but I was getting cold and wanted to head home.

After I got home I still felt good, so amazingly, I went out for another run.  This time I put 2 miles on the legs, for a total of 5 miles that morning.  As I headed out the door I told my hubby that I was going for a “quick 2 mile run.”  A few yards down the road I laughed at my turn of phrase.  Was I really now one of those people who went for a “quick” 2 mile run instead of one of those people for whom a 2 mile run was more like a marathon?

I guess so.

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My Runner’s World magazine came last night.  I devoured every page looking for inspiration and suggestions.  But one article in particular caught my attention: Against the Wall.

You’re in the middle of a run when things start to fall apart. Your legs feel like concrete, your breathing grows labored, your strides turn into a shuffle. Negative thoughts flood your mind, and the urge to quit becomes overwhelming. Unfortunately, if you run long enough, you’re bound to experience this some day.

This is the way writer Nancy Averett describes what runner’s euphemistically call ‘the wall.’  The article goes on to offer fixes for various physical and mental blocks runners can find themselves facing.

I had my own wall to conquer.  Whenever I went out to do a “long” run (and by long, please remember that this is by my standards!), I crashed around mile 4.  I had yet to go beyond 4 miles.  It was almost as if at mile 4 my body said, “Okay, that’s good enough.  Now let’s get some ice cream!”  But I knew that if I was going to improve, both in distance and speed, I was going to have to push past that 4 mile wall.

The Falls Duathlon is coming up the end of April, where I’m expected to run 2 miles, followed by a break where my team-mate bikes 14 miles, and then run 3 miles.  If you’re following along and you’re good at math, you’ll notice that adds up to 5 miles.  Everything I’ve read so far has suggested training for a distance longer than the one you’ll run on race day so that you’re able to push yourself and maybe even PR.  So if I’m going to run 5 miles on April 30th, I’m going to have to train for at least 6 miles, if not more.  Again, if you’re good at math, you’ve probably noted by now that this is at least 2 miles further than I’ve ever been able to run before.

That wall needs to come down.

Today I decided I would push through my 4 mile wall and try for 5 miles.  My plan was pretty simple: I’d run 2 miles, then stop to stretch and do some core work, and then run for another 3 miles, mimicking the Fall Duathlon race day.

I quickly did my 2 miles, filled up my water bottle, stretched, and did some crunches.  When I returned to the treadmill I thought about going home.  “2 miles is pretty good,” I thought. “No one will know…”  And yet, someone would know.  I had posted on Facebook that I was going to try to run 5 miles today.  I had also texted my hubby to let him know of the plan.  Keeping people informed of my progress, though they could probably care less, has the added benefit of keeping me accountable.  So I dragged my carcass onto the machine.  The first mile was rough.  When I hit mile 3 I thought about going home again.  “3 miles is better than 2,” I thought.  But I had said I was going to shoot for 5 and there was really no excuse to quit now.  I had no hamstring or calf pain; my feet felt much better after that quick little break; and my breathing was still sound and even.  So I kept going.  I got to 4.  “Just another half mile,” I thought.  When I got to 4.5 I still felt good.  “I think I can really do this.”  When I got to mile 5 I still felt good.  My pace was even and steady, my breathing was still good, nothing was hurting too badly, and I thought, “If I can do 5, maybe I can do more.”  So I kept going.  I made it to 5.7 before I developed a pretty bad stitch in my side and had to slow to a walk.

5.7 miles!  That’s farther than I’ve ever run in my entire life!

I stared down that wall and I conquered it. I tore it down, brick by brick.  And now I have the desire to go even further, confident that I can face down any other wall I find and push through it.

The only problem is – now my long runs might actually have to be long!


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Last week was American Thanksgiving, and, like many Americans, I spent the week doing…… well, absolutely nothing.

In fact, I’m appalled to report that last week I didn’t go to the gym once.  That, plus the mounds of food I ate during the week, could only lead to one thing… weight gain.

HOWEVER – by some kind of miraculous metabolism feat, I gained only a half a pound. 

I try not to concentrate on my weight, however.  I focus more on how I feel, how out of breath I am when I walk up a flight of stairs, and how my clothes fit.  In fact, as I was looking at the number of the scale, I suddenly realized that I’ve actually lost 20 pounds since last winter.  I’m not exactly sure when that all happened, because I hardly ever step on the scale.  I just know that sometime around July, half of my clothes stopped fitting.  I’ve dropped at least one size in all of my clothing, which is great for sorting through my closet, but not so great for the wallet.  Unfortunately, loosing that much weight means your clothes no longer fit, which means you need to replace your clothes, which means you need to spend money on clothes that might not fit you next year.  At least, I hope they don’t fit me next year, as I hope to have lost another 20 pounds by then.  But, again, I’m not focusing on weight. 

In fact, not focusing on my weight loss has been a huge boon to this endeavor.  Instead of getting frustrated over the lack of weight loss registering on the scale, I focused on the increased distance I could run, my increased flexibility, and how fast I could complete a run or bike.  For the first several weeks of my training schedule this summer, I didn’t even step on a scale.  My goal was to complete the triathlon, and that was it.  If I lost weight in the process, that would be a bonus. 

My weight loss has actually petered off since the triathlon.  I’ve only lost an additional 4 pounds since the beginning of September.  But my goal, like always, is not the weight loss, but the completion of a task – in this case, the task being the Kansas City Groundhog 10K on January 29th.

Which leads  me to my last title point – I only have 60 more days until the event.  And those 60 days lie smack-dab in the middle of a busy holiday season and a vacation.  Which means I absolutely have to get my act together.  On Monday I ran 4 miles, but that felt really terrible.  And I have to be able to run an additional 2 miles before the end of the January.

At this point, that goal seems almost (I said almost) unattainable.  But I have to keep reminding myself that it only took me 4 months to complete an entire triathlon, so anything is possible.

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Total Miles

So last week… remember when I said I was getting back on track?  Remember that? Yeah, well, not so much.

I just hate how life gets in the way.  A few of the workouts I skipped this week were more like, “Gee, this thing makes a good excuse for not working out.  But if I were really dedicated, I’d make it work.  But since I’m not – this is a great excuse for not going to the gym!”  Ugh.  Sometimes, I disappoint myself a lot.

Last week I ran on Monday – 4.5 miles.  Tuesdays are always my day off.  Wednesday I ran 3 miles.  Thursday I was going to go run, but I had the day off from work and I was at home all day getting stuff done, and honestly, just didn’t feel like getting dressed and going into town.  Friday I was busy running around all day, and my back hurt from doing chores and cleaning around the house, and I scheduled a massage, so….  And then Saturday is usually my other day off, though some Saturdays I do go to the gym, usually for yoga or something similar – but this Saturday I stayed at home cleaning house with the hubby.  And then Sunday we finished cleaning the house and we picked up an old friend at the airport, followed by hanging out with said friend until late.  So, I didn’t get my long run in on Sunday either.

At this point, I need to be up to running about 5 miles at a time.  Which, theoretically, should add up to 15-20 miles a week.  Considering the fact that 1 mile a week used to be a big deal… 🙂

Unfortunately, I haven’t been keeping track of my actual workouts and times, other than occasionally posting things on Facebook.  But I think it’s about time.  I’ve been reading up on the races to come in the spring and next summer, and there’s a lot at stake.  Even though I’ve been kind of lazy lately, I’m still running much farther than I ever have before.  And I still have 12 weeks before the 10K.  I think because I’ve progressed so far, and I have so much time before the race, that I’ve slacked off.  Unlike before the triathlon, when I had a short 15 weeks to get ready to do 1/3 mile swim, a 10 mile bike, and a 4 mile run – this seems like an eternity.  However, it is very important for me to be able to safely, and quickly, I might add, do the 10K in January.  Once I’m done with that race, I’ll be following training plan for an Olympic distance triathlon.  And being able to already do the Olympic distance run will allow me to focus more time and energy on the bike portion.  So, getting to the 10K injury free and hopefully able to do a 10 minute mile will make my life so much easier come next April.

But that’s not what I was talking about…. I wanted to talk about keeping track of total miles.  When I used to hear people say that they ran 10 miles, or 20 miles, or 30 miles a week, I thought they were crazy.  “That’s not even possible!” I thought.  Now I’m to the point where I could practically run across town if I wanted (not that I do), and putting in 15 miles a week seems reasonable.  I wish I had been keeping track of my mileage from the beginning.  It certainly would be interesting to see how many miles I swam, biked, and ran over the past six months.  However, from now on, I’ll try to post weekly re-caps of my training.  Hopefully, this will keep me on track a little better as well.

Wish me luck!

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