Just for Fun! 

The past few months I’ve been running without a specific goal (other than my general thousand mile goal). It’s been surprisingly freeing. Equally surprising is that I’ve actually been running more without following a plan that’s building up to a race. Okay maybe not more miles total but more regularly. Like five to six days a week frequently.

And it’s been fun! Not being so end-goal focused has allowed me to rediscover a real love for running.

In the spirit of said fun, I ended up doing two 5k’s in the past two weeks. I know that’s not a real feat of any sort but, again, both races were super fun. It helped that one was a glow and the other beer themed.

Finishers beers all in a row; what a beautiful site.

On Friday a friend and I did the Hightail to Ale 5k in Detroit. It was cold. It was rainy. But it was also very fun.

The run was sponsored by Atwater brewery and the course was a flat out and back type loop near the Detroit riverfront. It was a pretty big run and the start was staggered in waves; standing in the dreary drizzle waiting to run wasn’t the best but once we were running the weather wasn’t a big deal. And after the race there was beer for everyone! Well, everyone over 21 I suppose. When registering for the race there was the option to purchase a meal ticket to use at your choice of the food trucks in the post race celebration area. We did not do this but the food smelled amazing! If it had been dry or warmer we would have perused the food truck offerings. Atwater had their tap room open and a band playing so instead we crowded in with the other wet runners to finish our beers and enjoy the music. 

Despite the chill and rain (it was around 40 degrees Fahrenheit) the atmosphere was light and festive. The race swag was pretty decent too. The shirts are soft & fitted with good quality and colors and there were pint glasses and medals.

Maybe next year it’ll be more like a typical May day on Cinco do Mayo. I’m certainly hoping so because I’d love to do this race again.

Last week’s fun 5k was a small, local glow run. Another family from my cross country team (the one I coach & a couple of my kids run on) were doing this so three of my boys and I joined them. Along with the perk of being local, this race was cheap and in the evening.  It was a win win win.

Excuse my tired face, I worked the nights before.

 

There was no kid’s race but my little guy wanted to run. I had signed him up for the 5k but was slightly concerned that he’d be scared or overwhelmed but he did great. He hung with me and a high schooler for the first mile and wasn’t far behind us for the second. The kid finished the race with a time of 33:33, just under a minute after his brother.

Doing races with my kids is The Best!

This time last year I was gearing up to run the Cleveland Half marathon with loose plans to do another half in the fall. And while I’m toying with the idea of signing up for the Detroit half again  (I’ll decide for sure before the price goes up again at the end of this month.), right now I’m just enjoying running for the sake and love of running.

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Running at 1 mph…

…hour of sleep that is. As in I ran one mile per hour of sleep that I had gotten the day I started thinking about this post. Which is surely at least three days ago now but probably a week considering my recent rate of writing and posting.

Yes, this is from late October but not much has changed with my sleep patterns. I just stopped tracking them as much.

As you can see my Garmin tells me that I  may not be getting enough sleep, that 100% of people in my demographic sleep more than I do. That’s all of them. All the people my age and gender sleep more than I do on average! That can’t possibly be true. I mean, I know I’m exceptional but they don’t know how all the people sleep.

Back around the first of the year I set some running goals. Well, one really: to log 1,000 miles in 2017. I’m sure there will be some races and at least one half marathon in there too but I’ve got nothing  (other than a fun beer run in early May) on the schedule yet for 2017. Mostly I’m just trying to keep up on life and get regular runs in where I can. So far I’ve gotten 120 miles in for 2017. A little more than 10% of my goal. It’s not great but the first couple months usually are lower mile months due to the cold and dark.


Even though this winter has been exceptionally mild with some weeks in the 50’s and even 60’s already we happened to get a little of the white stuff on one of the two days I managed to run last week. I still got 4 miles in…one for each of my 4 hours of sleep that day.

I’m now one of Those runners. 🙂

I got a Garmin Forerunner 230 back in January. It was a Christmas gift to myself  (and I still had a gift card from my cross country team to use). I’d been wanting some kind of run tracker for a while and decided it was time.


And I’ve got no regrets on this one. I’m probably not using this thing to its full potential but I rather like glancing down mid run and seeing my up to the moment stats. The Garmin app that it syncs with has a lot of features and information too (like the above estimated sleep tracking). I could see myself getting into some super nerdy running stuff later this year, things like cadence and heart rate monitor training.

In the meantime I’m plugging away at those miles as best I can. Some weeks I hit 20 miles and others it’s less than 10. My new rule is that I have to have at least one hour of sleep per mile of running for any given day. With my ever changing crazy work schedule that can be limiting but I really am trying to take care of myself…at least until the end of May when I retake the DAT. After that it’s running time!

By May this crazy Michigan weather should be a little more cooperative.

A Pair of Rainy Day Races

 

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Very wet & slightly muddy shoes, socks,and compression sleeves post rainy trail 10k

Lately it seems I only race when it rains. I know that’s not entirely true, there was that one race back in August when it didn’t, but I don’t actually do all that many races so when three of the last four are in the pouring rain it starts to feel like I only race when it rains. Mostly, I don’t mind a good rainy run. When it’s also a cold run, like it was for the Cleveland half, I start to mind a little more.

Two weeks ago I ran the U.S. Only Detroit half marathon  (as opposed to the international half matathon that crosses over into Canada) and this past weekend  I ran a small 10k put on by my kids’school’s athletic boosters. Other than the rain these two races could not have been more different.

The half was in Detroit and was big. A few thousand people ran. I’m not all the familiar with downtown Detroit so I left home early to find parking, check my gear, & get to the start line. The 10k was at a local metropolitan where a bunch of the midle and high school cross country meets are. In fact, the first meet I coached this season was at this same metropark. AND then three more after that.  Plus I’ve run the 5k course there once or twice. And, in contrast to the Detroit race, it was a small race. Maybe 20 people ran the 10k. I heard there were  more signed up but apparently the weather was a deterent.

One of the biggest difference’s between these two races was the atmosphere. I went to the half alone so even with the crowds it was just me and my run. There was a time that going to big race in an unfamiliar place would intimidate and overwhelm me but I really enjoyed the experience. Taking in the sights and sounds, interacting with fellow  runners, it was out of my comfort zone but actually fun. At the 10k I knew a lot of people there. Some of the middle school runners I coached were running a race, the high school runners were there running or working the event, parents, the other coach, the schools athletic director, and a couple of my kids were there watching and cheering me on. It could not have been more different than the Detroit experience…but you know what?   That was really fun too!

In Detroit I didn’t have my best race. The first 9 to 9.75 miles were great. I felt good and was running (relatively) fast. Four miles in I was right behind the 2 hour pacer. I was super excited. “Maybe, just maybe, I’ll PR” I thought as I chugged away the miles in the rain which was alternating between  a drizzle and steady pouring. We ran around Belle Isle, which was so cool, and I was still passing people. My pace was still close to the 9:30/mile goal I had set for myself. I was soaked to the bone but at least it wasn’t cold.

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Obviously I did not take this picture (it was raining, not snowing) but running around this giant statue on Belle Isle was one of my favorite parts of the race.

 

After recrossing the Belle Isle bridge, the course winds around by the river front. Somewhere in there right around mile ten I started to feel the fluid moving in my lungs, a subtle  but persistent phlegm rattling around as I was breathing in and out. It was driving me crazy. I stopped and walked to try and cough the crap up but it wasn’t going anywhere. It started to feel like I wasn’t either. After that picking my legs up and putting them back down again over and over got much more difficult to do. I tried to rally myself and stay with the 2:10 pacer but there was a small hill in the 11th mile and I just couldn’t .

I did finish the race running but just barely. It was my worst half marathon time yet at 2:12:17…five minutes slower than I ran in Cleveland. I wasn’t really disappointed though. Being sick a few weeks before the race took its toll. I got out of it what I put in. That’s how it works and I ed okay with that.

During the two weeks between the half and the 10k I only ran twice. I took the week after the race easy on purpose, the other week just ended up being busy enough that I couldn’t get regular runs in. I wasn’t too worried about it, I’m conditioned enough to run a 10k without putting in extra training effort and that’s pretty damn cool. The only thing that gave me hesitation  was knowing that people would be watching me. As in specifically paying attention to my running. My goal was to not embarrass myself .

I still don’t know what my time for the 10k was but I’m confident I successfully reached my goal. I ran the whole course, pushed myself, and even finished with a kick. I was the 3rd female finisher too which came with a medal And a gift card. My two kids who ran got overall and age group placings in their races too which made it extra fun.

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My oldest son clearly inherited the Bad Picture Face Gene

I’m not sure what my next race will be but I’m really hoping it’s not raining…especially since it’ll be in November or even December by then. Rainy race days are okay, cold and rainy a little less so.

P.S.-The results were finally posted and I did get a 10K PR with a time of 57:03. That’s over a minute faster than my last year’s best.

Running Shoe Review (One Year Later)

The past two winters in Michigan have been cold and snowy. Last year, in an attempt to maximize the amount of outdoor running possible throughout the winter months, I bought my first (and only so far) pair of trail running shoes. The New Balance Minimus…

Here they are again some other time this past year.

Here they are again some other time this past year.        

See the snow? That's how you know this picture was taken last year.

See the snow? That’s how you know this picture was taken last year.

When the sales guy at my local running shop first showed these to me I was a little hesitant. I’d only had one other pair of New Balances and I wasn’t especially impressed; they were comfortable enough but the material on the outside of them wore out pretty quickly. That pair was a lower price point shoe but it didn’t exactly give me confidence in the brand. Running Shoe Sales Guy assured me that he hadn’t had other complaints about the quality of materials on New Balance shoes. Then he showed me the cool (Vibram patented) sole of these shoes that allowed them to be light weight, minimalist running shoes while having grip and blocking things like rocks, sticks, or ice chunks from jabbing you in the bottom of the foot. Foot jabbing makes for an uncomfortable run. That I know first hand.  That and the water resistant foot materials were big selling points for me. Also…minimalist trail shoes. That’s just so cool! So on a snowy day in January of 2015 I took these New Balance Minimus shoes home with me for our first run together. I was pretty excited about it.

A year and four hundred or so miles later (Yes, the picture below from my running app makes it look like closer to three hundred but I switched apps mid year hence my probably more accurate estimate of around four hundred miles on these shoes.) I can honestly say that these are still one of my favorite pairs of running shoes. Ever. The only fault I’ve found was that the outer foot material did rip way sooner than I thought it should. I can’t remember exactly when but it started splitting at the rubber meshing that’s on the outside edges of the feet sometime in the spring.  I tried sewing them and taping them but to no avail. As it stands I just live with the holes. If it’s wet out I’ll wrap some duct tape around them but it never lasts more than one run.20160203_135815.jpg

Because of the giant gaping holes in them my trail shoes are no longer water resistant. That’s kind of a bummer. They’re also a little looser than I’d like on my narrow foot now but other than that the shoes have held up well. I’ve worn these in all kinds of weather over all different kinds of surfaces trails in the woods, gravel, pavement, snow, ice, mud, you get the idea). The soles aren’t extremely worn down, they still have good grip on pavement, dirt trails, and int he snow. They’re still comfortable and have all the benefits of a minimalist running shoe combined with most the benefits of a trail shoe. In fact I’m still wearing them a couple of runs a week even if our winter has had more of this

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No snow-shoeing this winter!

No snow-shoeing this winter!

I know I might be in the minority here but, seriously, I miss the snow!

Overall, I’d recommend the New Balance Minimus if you’re looking for a minimalist trail shoe or really any flatter, comfortable running shoe. The trail friendly features are just an added bonus. Having extra grip on the soles really did make a big difference in the comfort of my winter runs as well as trail runs throughout the year. Even though I would like to see New Balance change the design or use more durable fabric to prevent the ripping issues I had, I would buy these shoes again. Of course it’s been a little over a year since I did buy them so there’s probably a newer version out there. If they’re as comfortable as these ones I’d buy those ones too. One can never have too many pairs of running shoes. (Unless, of course, you don’t actually run and if that’s the case then you really should start.)

I switched running apps back at the beginning of June so the 272.10 mile son these shoes doesn't include all those cold, snowy winter miles.

Same shoes about a year and after purchase

Same shoes about a year and after purchase

Run On

Running is not just a hobby for me; it’s therapy. I need it, it helps me be a calm, sane, (usually) rational human being. I go out tense, on edge, and frustrated, spend half an hour to an hour alone physically exerting myself, and come back calm and happy. If it’s been more than a few days since my last run I get antsy.
It’s weird but running has helped me cope with my life over the past few years. They’ve been pretty tough years and I needed the reprieve, both mental and physical, that pounding the pavement offered.

That being said, running can be dangerous….well, for me it can.

Occasionally I fall when I’m running, maybe more than other people do. It goes in spurts; twice in the past two weeks I’ve fallen while running. Partially the weather and conditions of the sidewalks or trails are to blame. There’s leaves covering roots and rocks in the fall, snow and ice in the winter, mud in the spring, loose gravel in the summer, and cracks in the sidewalk all the time. But part of my tendency to fall is due to my lack of coordination, my inherent clumsiness which gets worse when I’m sleep deprived.
Don’t worry though, I’ve mastered the art of falling, jumping back up, and continuing my run.

One Saturday night in August about two years ago I went out for a run through the town I lived in. It was a warm, clear night after what had probably been a hot frustrating day. I don’t remember why, I just remember I really needed a run that day and had been trying to get out for a while. Finally I did. I ran about two miles and had turned around to head back. Something caught my attention so I turned my head and…BAM! I was hitting the pavement.
Knee, wrist, elbow, face.
I stood up as fast as I could. Of course someone still saw me. I nodded to them that I was okay and assessed the damage. There was blood running down both my legs and my left arm, I thought I might have broken my left pinky finger. Who breaks a finger running? Apparently I do. Go me!
In a futile attempt to clean myself up I wiped some of the blood on my shirt. It didn’t help. I still had to get back home…through town, at nine o’clock on a Saturday night, past the walk up window to the ice cream shop, past the bars and restaurants with their patios and out door dining areas. So I pulled myself together, turned up my iPod, and ran back dripping blood and all.

This was the first time I fell while out running and the worst. I don’t think my finger was actually broken but it was quite swollen for a few days. My knees and elbow still have pretty big scars from the  sidewalk abrasion. Luckily the road rash on my face didn’t leave and lasting marks. For a few days I definitely looked like I had got beat.

It wasn’t pretty. But life isn’t pretty. Running is a great metaphor for life.

I’m clumsy, I have bad judgment. Life knocks me down. It hurts but I pick myself up and run on.

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