Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Making a Move

This past week, Running My Own Race turned one year old. I started blogging last year as I started training for the Fargo Marathon and have had no shortage of things to write about since. It's been a lot of fun to connect with so many people from near and far. Blogspot makes it so easy to decide to write a blog one minute and start publishing the next.

I've decided to move my blog to my own web page, The main reason I'm moving it is my own curiosity about setting up a domain and how to design a web page. I would also like a little more flexibility with some of the structure of my page, but it really isn't a knock against blogspot.

If you head over to my new site, you'll see that it looks a lot like this one. All of the old posts and comments are over there. You'll also notice that there are some tabs at the top of the page. One of them says "Contest Entry." I know some of you may have to make a change to a bookmark, a link, or something in your reader to make the switch with me. I have a little contest as a thank you for making the switch. If you go to the Contest Entry tab, leave a comment and I'll enter you in a drawing. You'll have to go and check it out to see what the prize is. Leave a comment by noon on February 14th and you will be entered.

When I first started this blog, I didn't want to tell anyone about it. I was self conscious and didn't know if anyone would really care about what I thought about running. The most rewarding thing about this process has been reading about what everyone else is up to, where they are on their journey, and what they think about running and all kinds of other things. Thanks for visiting me here and all of your encouragement. I hope you'll stay with me so that the only thing that really changes is the address in your browser.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Not Frozen, Just a Little Soggy Half Marathon

Mike and I have been planning all winter to do the Securian Frozen Half Marathon. Only a wicked wind and below zero temps would dissuade me, so I was surprised when it was over 30 degrees and it looked like we might decide against going. The forecast was for sleet and 25 mph winds, so when we went to bed we decided we would make the decision about going in the morning.

We peeked out the window and it didn't look too bad. We got dressed and decided to give it a try. I stepped out on the driveway to see what it felt like outside. It had iced over night, and the pavement was so slippery that I couldn't make it back into the garage. My feet kept slipping and Mike had to pull me back in. When we backed the car out, it just slid down the hill sideways and got stuck in the snow. When Mike stepped out of the car to assess the situation, he literally slid standing up all of the way down the driveway to the street, about 100 ft. He put on some cleats, and after digging us out twice we finally made it to the street and were on our way. The major roads were fine and we made it safely in plenty of time.

We saw lots of friendly faces right away. We saw Jenny, Guy and Diane. Then I saw Julie and went over to say hello. It was great to see her and she is just as adorable in person as you would think she is from reading her blog. She was ready for her first half marathon. Here we are:

She said she was looking for Steve, who was now over chatting with Jenny and our other friends. After introducing Julie to the whole group, we took a photo:

This is a great race because you get to park in the parking garage that is connected to the Securian office building. All of the registration and packet pickup is inside, and the start line is 25 feet out the door. I waited inside until they said that we had 30 seconds until the start of the race, I stepped out the door and lined up right behind the 2:15 pace group. It was in the low 30's and sleeting a bit.

Surprisingly, the pack moved pretty well in the back and we were able to hit our pace right from the start. Since we were moving right away, I was toasty warm and didn't mind the sleet. Wearing a baseball cap kept my face dry which made me more comfortable. It stopped sleeting after a couple of miles, and I had enough layers on to keep the moisture out for the rest of the race. The windy conditions had worried me before the race. It turns out that the wind was coming out of the south and we were reasonably protected by bluffs. There were only a few sections that I noticed the wind and it didn't effect me at all. What had looked like a nasty day turned out to be just fine.

The course is a out and back along the river, so around mile 4 I started to see the leaders heading back on the other side of the road. It was great to look for all of the friendly faces and cheer for them. I saw Steve first, then Mike, Guy, then another group of friends that included Helen, Bulent, and Kami. I saw Jenny and Julie running together and they looked awesome! I also saw Steve Quick out there giving moral support. Seeing everyone made the middle miles of the race pass quickly.

I ran pretty consistently, hitting the miles right around 10 minutes. The course had a few inclines and rolling hills, but the only challenging hill was right at the end. After the first few miles, I had left the 2:15 pace group and slowly caught up to the 2:10 pace group. I knew that they were running a little slow because I started after them and I knew I was on pace for 2:11. Sure enough, they picked it up during the last mile and left me behind. I came in at 2:10:55 which is right at a 10 minute pace. I felt great the whole race and felt like I ran the right pace to finish strong.

Honestly, being the slowest in a group stinks most of the time. The one time that it is the absolute best to be last is when all of your friends are waiting for you at the finish line. Thanks to everyone who waited out in the cold for me. I know they were freezing just standing around after running, but they were a welcome sight for me. It is also nice to have a speedy husband who is willing to run and get the camera and take everyone else's finishing picture. Here is Kami, Helen, Bulent and Guy. Guy PR'ed by 5 minutes!

Here are Jenny, Julie and Diane celebrating their speedy race. These ladies are fast! This was Diane's 10th consecutive Frozen Half.

Here I am, finally making it to the finish. Can you see that person behind me? Proof that I didn't come in last.

The Securian Frozen Half Marathon is a lot more fun when you do it in person with everyone else instead of on the treadmill by yourself. When you do the official race, you also get a super cool coffee mug. Since I don't drink coffee, I'll just have to try it out with some hot chocolate.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Race Planning

Apparently, I am not the only person trying to plan their race calendar for the 2010 season. I had confidently listed a triathlon in June on my race schedule, only to find out while I was out of town this weekend that it was already full. After a minor fit, I got myself together and decided I better get serious about what races were important to me and get myself registered. My credit card is a little tired.

The first order of business was to sign up for the Disney Half Marathon 2011. Mike wants to do the Goofy Challenge again and it fills up quickly. With my heart set on running the NYC Marathon 2010, doing the full marathon at Disney two months later is not feasible for me. Running the half marathon will give me some motivation through the holidays. After running half of the marathon in 2009 and not getting a medal, the Donald Duck Medal will be a welcome reward. I still have getting that Mickey Medal on my to-do list, but it's going to have to wait until 2012 or later.

Next, I did some homework and found a replacement for my now-full June Triathlon as well as a sprint tri for July. For June, I signed up for the Lake Waconia Triathlon on June 27th. With a .5 mile swim, 20 mile bike, and 4 mile run it is longer than a typical sprint race. It will be good incentive to get the tri training in early in the season. I've been in the pool a little bit, but I haven't had any time on the bike. I better load it up on the trainer and get going.

The other races on my list are either not open for registration yet or I've already signed up. I can't believe it's only mid-January and I've already had to figure out what races I'm committed to. I'm sure I'll add some smaller road races along the way. I had wanted to try another Olympic distance triathlon this summer, but with training for a fall marathon I'm going to hold off. If everything is going well and I can sneak one in, then I will. For right now, though, I want to leave my schedule light enough to concentrate on getting the miles in for the marathon.

Besides freaking out about my race schedule during the weekend, Mike and I did get in some lovely skiing as well as a beautiful snowshoe hike. Here I am with our friend Cyndi on our last day of skiing. Cyndi just ran the Disney Half Marathon which was her first half marathon. Yeah, Cyndi! I'm hoping that I sufficiently nagged her into doing it again next year.

This is Mike and I at the start of our snowshoe hike:

I took a little pit stop with Marie and Buddy. Buddy is in the middle in case you couldn't figure it out.

It was a wonderful weekend in the mountains with a great group. Now that the holidays and our ski trip are over, it's time to settle down and get to work to get ready for the season. The Frozen Half Marathon is still on my schedule for this weekend. The temperatures look promising but the forecast is calling for freezing rain. I don't mind running in the cold or in snow, but I may have to draw the line at freezing rain. I've decided to wait until race day and make the call as to whether I'm going to go over for the race.

The Races on My Schedule List looks long over on the right side. I can't wait to start checking them off of my list. I'm hoping to meet up with a lot of friends along the way and have a lot of laughs and smiles. I'm sure there will be some aches and pains as well as some disappointment as well, but running has taken me on a great ride so far. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Frozen Training

Brrrr! I know I live in Minnesota and all, but come on! It has been crazy cold here. Morning temps have been well below zero without even factoring in the wind chill. So far, I've been able to avoid the dreaded treadmill. When it's below zero, I've headed to the local recreation dome. On Thursday, it was a balmy zero with no wind, so friend and I headed down to the lakes. We ran 7 miles and every ten minutes observed that it really wasn't so bad out. Sad when zero seems like a break in the weather.

There is no wimping out because of the weather as I only have two more weeks to get ready for the Securian Frozen Half Marathon. The tag line for this race is, "The few, the proud, the frozen." I've never done this race before, but in a funny way it has special meaning for me. I had never raced further than a 5K when I decided to train for the Frozen Half in 2006. Being the over-planner that I am, I checked the website in August 2005, wrote the date on my calendar and mapped out a 16 week training plan. With about 6 weeks to go until race day, I went back to the web page to get the registration information. The race was now listed for a different date, the day before I had it on my calendar. The information I looked at originally was from the previous year. I had checked so early that they hadn't updated it for the next year yet.

I had comitted to volunteer for a school activity on the real race day and it was a big event. With weeks of planning and training already in the bank, I decided I would run my own virtual race the following day. When I got up the next morning, it was well below zero and it was windy. I didn't have any experience running in temperatures like that. What to do? I ran my race on my treadmill. Here I am at the finish:

Mike made me my own race number and you can see where he wrote my finish time on my bib. I had never run that far before. Going the distance was very difficult for me and I had a lot of knee pain the entire time. I had wanted to finish in 2:30 and I beat it by 56 seconds, so I was glad and relieved to have it over with. I was pretty proud of myself and I didn't want to turn the treadmill off and erase the display.

It took me over a year to run my first official half marathon. Now I've run more than 13 miles many times. Although 13 miles doesn't scare me like it did just 4 years ago, it isn't something that I take lightly. I'm going to have to be creative to get in some miles between now and the race. Mike and I are going to squeeze in a couple days of skiing next weekend. I'm planning on getting in a 10 mile run tomorrow and then hopefully at least two more runs before we leave. I never have any luck running at altitude, so skiing and snowshoeing will have to suffice until we get back. I'll keep my fingers crossed that the warm up promised by the weather service lasts until race day. I really don't need to be frozen to be proud.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dashing into 2010

It's the New Year and I had a race on January 1st, so it looks that I have three jobs to do in today's post: assess last year, set goals for this year, and recap the race. I thought blogs were supposed to be fun and that sounds like a lot of work. Let me see if I can get through the boring stuff and so I can talk about the race, which of course is the fun stuff.

Eight weeks ago, I set four goals to get me through the last eight weeks of the year. My conclusion? The last eight weeks of the year isn't the best time to be setting goals. We had our trip to IM Florida, travel for Thanksgiving, a trip to Vegas, Christmas, New Years... does that sound like a list of excuses? I knew you were smart. Here is what happened combined with the goals for 2010.

Strength Training The goal was to continue hitting the gym twice a week with the benchmark of doing three sets of 15 push ups. While I didn't make it to the gym twice each week, for some reason I can now do three sets of 15 push ups. Maybe I was fatigued before and that's why I had trouble cranking out the push ups. Whatever the reason, I somehow made my goal without doing the work. For 2010, I'll keep up with my twice a week lifting schedule and see if I can legitimately make some gains in strength that will help with with my racing and maybe keep me healthy.

Flexibility The goal was to make it to yoga six out of the eight weeks. How many times did I make it? One. My only accomplishment in this area was that I bought a yoga DVD. I haven't even taken the shrink wrap off of it, but it is in my house. I've decided that with running 4 days a week and lifting 2 days, making it to the gym for yoga one day a week is not going to happen. For 2010, my goal is to do a better job of stretching at home and to fit yoga in when I can.

Nutrition I was supposed to lose 5 pounds. What did I lose? One pound. Does that even count? I mean, I feel a little dehydrated, so I'll probably have a glass of water and be back to where I started. This is back on the list of things to accomplish for 2010. I hope to get the pounds lost before I have to wear spandex in front of a crowd again.

Running Finally, something that I said that I would do and I actually did. The goal was 160 miles and I hit 165. Yeah! Goal for 2010: run a fall marathon with no pain. Sounds like a simple goal, but there is so much that goes into making that happen. I have at least 10 months to drone on about every facet of this goal, so for now I will just leave it at that. Hopefully it will be the New York City Marathon, but if I don't get in I will find another one.

Whew! I didn't like all of that. Accountability... yuck!

Polar Dash Race Review

New Year's Day, the temperature was zero. Hey, let's go run a 10K race. That sounds fun! Well, it didn't sound fun, but Mike and I headed downtown with our friends Josh and Jennifer. We got there early enough to park close to the start line and then sat in the car waiting for it to get close to race time. For the hour that we sat there, I mostly irritated the group by fretting over my clothing selections. I had brought layers of various thicknesses, and arriving at the ultimate combination of layers is a science. I don't want to be cold waiting for the start, but I don't want to get hot during the race. What to wear in the cold is a big deal for me. Sorry, it's just the way I am.

With 10 minutes until start time, we jumped out of the car and snapped a couple pictures. I didn't post the one with Jennifer in it because all you can see is her eyeballs. Here we are with Josh before jogging to the start line.

Josh was running the 5K which wasn't chip timed and Mike planned to run fast, so they waded to the front. Jennifer and I found two other running friends, Lisa and Cindy, and we lined up at the 10:00 pace line. Within minutes we were off. There was no wind and the group kept us warm for the short time we were standing around.

The four of us girls ran and chatted and had a great time. All of us were just out there to have fun and to start the New Year off on the right foot. The streets were clear and the course was very nice with a few rolling hills. We stopped mid-race to snap a picture. The guy we gave the camera to was having a hard time figuring it out, and he was kind of joking around and being silly. I finally said, "Let's go, it is a race you know!" Not very nice of me, but I was getting cold and the clock was ticking. Here we are:

It's a cute picture and I should be more patient. Sorry I snapped at you, picture man.

I finished the race in 1:01:43 which is a 9:56 mile. That's not bad for taking it easy and stopping for a photo op. Here I am with Cindy heading for the finish:

Here are the girls showing off the very nifty medals. These medals are super cool and were worth braving the cold.

Both Mike and Josh PR'ed and I was very happy with my run, so it was a great day. The most important thing: my clothing choice was impeccable! I wasn't cold at the start and I was comfortable for the entire race. Of course, I noted what I was wearing and the conditions so that I can use this information for future clothing decisions.

The Polar Dash is part of a 4 race series that I am doing this year. I hope that this race is a good indicator of what is to come because it was a lot of fun and was well coordinated. Having friends to run with is hard to beat, too. I didn't get to see Julie or Amy out there. The sun was really bright and it was hard to spot the 5K'ers when they passed us on their way back. Hope to see both of them at a future race!

Welcome, 2010! So far it's off to a good start.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Goofy Memories

A couple of blogger friends, Brian Flash and Marlene, are getting ready to run the Goofy in a couple weeks. This consists of running the Disney Half Marathon on Saturday and the Disney Marathon on Sunday. I started this blog just two weeks after Disney 2009, so I haven't forced my Disney story on you yet.

The Goofy fills up quickly, so Mike and I registered for the 2009 events as soon as registration opened in 2008. Mike signed up for the Goofy and I signed up for the Marathon. I was in the early stages of training for my first Fargo Marathon and I had also already registered for the Twin Cities 2008 Marathon. Before running farther than 15 miles, I had committed to running three marathons in 9 months. You can see where this is going.

By the time Disney rolled around in early January, I was dealing with shin splints and decided that I would just run half of the marathon. The actual Half Marathon was full and they wouldn't let me transfer to that race, so on marathon day I crossed the timing mat at the half marathon mark and walked off the course. After a short walk, I boarded the monorail and rode it back to Epcot to the finish area to wait for Mike.

While I was waiting, I figured I would go to the medical tent at the finish and get some ice for my shins. The medical tent was huge with probably 100 cots and at least 2 medical people standing by each cot. As I walked in, every person in the tent looked up and started applauding. I was the first woman racer they had seen that day and I'm sure they thought I was one of the elite females if not the female winner. I had to yell to the whole tent that, no, I was injured and had taken the monorail. Of course, once they came to their senses and really looked at me, I'm sure they would have figured out on their own that something was up.

So that is my goofy Disney story. I didn't get a medal and I can't wear the t-shirt, but I did get a standing ovation from the medical tent. Not finishing that race was a tough decision to make, one that I made with my head and not my heart. In retrospect, I think it was a smart choice. I ran Fargo 2009 well and with no serious pain. I think I will have to revisit the Magic Kingdom at some point and get that medal, even if there is no applause.

Friday, December 18, 2009

XC Ski Lesson

In the fall of 2007, my son joined his school's cross country ski team. It looked like a lot of fun and the team was always in need of parents who could ski to help out at practices. Over the holiday break, the team went away to a cross country ski "resort" where they basically skied, ate and slept for three days. I saw the pictures, and I think "rustic" would be the kindest way to describe the accommodations. Since they are teenagers, they don't care much about the surroundings and had a blast skiing and hanging out. The team needs a few parents each year to come along and help, but the catch is that you have to know how to ski. Although I can downhill ski, I had never been on cross country skis. I asked for skate skis for Christmas and made it a goal to learn to ski well enough by the time he was a Senior to be able to go along to camp.

It's two years later and my son is now a Freshman on the team. That first year, I skied a few times and succeeded in aggravating my already nagging IT band problem. Since I was training for my first marathon during that time, I gave up the skiing for the season. Last winter, I tried again with limited success. I skied a half dozen times and didn't get past being petrified. I still hadn't made it to the point that I was having any fun.

Yesterday, my son's running coach emailed that he was going skiing today and would I like to meet him and get a few pointers. Yes, I would! I waxed my skis, changed the tips on my poles from roller skiing tips to snow tips and scrounged up my lobster mittens. Part of me was worried that he would laugh and say that I was doing it all wrong. The other part of me was hoping that he would laugh and say that I was doing it all wrong. Maybe if I was doing it wrong, that would mean that the right way was somehow easier than what I had been doing. It certainly couldn't be any harder because, geez, my way was just so hard!

The good news is that I was doing it right which is, of course, also the bad news. We went to a flat area and he showed me a couple drills to do without poles. Apparently, gliding requires standing on one ski at a time which requires being able to balance on one foot while moving. Balance is not one of my strong points. After getting warmed up, we did a short loop course which had some down hills and, unfortunately, some up hills. Going up hill is challenging to say the least. I think my triceps are going to hurt tomorrow.

After making it around, we did a couple more drills and I started to get the idea of gliding on one ski at a time. Notice that I said that I got the "idea", I don't think there was actually a lot of gliding going on. We took another lap around the course. Even though I was getting tired, I felt like I was getting the hang of it and forgot about being afraid. It was a beautiful day to ski. After a stretch of very cold weather, today was in the mid twenties, the sun was shining and the course through the trees was peaceful.

Ever since I set the goal of learning to ski, my heart just hasn't been in it. I've taken little steps toward that goal, but I'd never been able to actually picture myself doing it and enjoying it because it is so difficult. Getting some expert help and encouragement has made me excited about really dedicating myself to learning how to do it. Normally I'm rooting for a snow-less winter so that I don't have to fight the snow during my runs. Now I am torn! There is snow in the forecast for next week, and I find myself pretty excited about it. Maybe I will make it to ski camp after all. I'm sure my son will be thrilled. Ha!