Category Archives: Running

WOW Run 5K

You know you’re a little crazy when you describe “waking up to run a race” as one of the best feelings…

I actually forgot how invigorating morning races are. It wasn’t until today that I realized I haven’t run a morning race since the Lincoln Half-Marathon last May. Since then, I’ve done the evening Rock the Crossroads and Wyandotte County Trail Races as well as the United Way Trail Race, which kicked off at noon.

But, today, it was good to know that I had a whole 5K under my belt before 9 a.m thanks to the WOW Run 5K.

I was up at 7 for a breakfast of toast with peanut butter and a banana plus a few gulps sips of coffee. Dan was still sleeping, so I relied on the self-timer to prove I was actually planning on running.

Always so awkward.

My favorite part about the race was that the start was just on the other side of my neighborhood. I didn’t leave until 7:40 for an 8 o’clock start and I still made it there with time to spare. I even got to talk to Natalie for a while before the race!

Even though everything was set up to be a good race, I have to admit that I probably didn’t have the best mentality. I hoped for a PR, but I knew it was hilly and told myself I could use that as a cop-out. Lame, I know.

When the race kicked off, I got out to a good start. It also helped that I was pretty familiar with the course — it just wound through my neighborhood, so I knew what to expect around each corner. However, that also meant I knew when the big hills were and I psyched myself out a little bit. There weren’t any mile markers, either, so I wasn’t able to calculate my pace. All I know is that it fluctuated quite a bit.

When I was nearing the finish, I was able to kick it into high gear, but it still wasn’t enough to walk away with a PR.

Nonetheless, I was still pretty happy.

Best of all, it’s not even noon and I get to spend the rest of the day with this little girl.


Happy weekend!

Questions: How do you turn excuses around and get motivated? What’s your favorite time to race?

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Worth talking about Wednesday, 10/19

It’s my fault. I take all the blame. Send your complaints to me… I just wasn’t able to do a new edition of Worth Talking About Wednesday last week.

I’ll make up for it now!

New Running Shoes

Thanks to the ol’ blog, I was able to figure out that the last time I got a new pair of running shoes was November 16, 2010 — or two half-marathons and hundreds of miles ago.

Whoops.

My shoes were definitely showing some wear-and-tear. Fortunately, the whole process for finding a new pair was relatively painless. My former variety was in stock at JCPenney for only $49. Not to sound like a commercial or anything, but it’s a great deal, especially considering how good the shoes are.

Birthday Dinners

Last Tuesday was Dan’s birthday. This Tuesday was his mom’s birthday. That means there’s been a lot of good fun and great time with family.

We celebrated this week by surprising Dan’s mom with dinner at the Mad Greek. Not to say that Dan and I aren’t special, but it was an extra special surprise for Dan’s mom to have his sister come back from college for the evening.

Can’t wait until the next family birthday for more reason than one…

Halloween Costume Brainstorming

Not like Halloween is the best holiday of the year, but I do like getting into the spirit by dressing up. I’m feeling a little bit of pressure this year, but our costume last year will be hard to top. Remember the Chiquita banana girl + a banana?

Classic.

I found some inspiration for this year from a series on “What I Wore.” Love this rendition of Rosie the Riveter.

Here’s a reminder of WWII poster — just in case you can’t remember your history classes.

The Hamburgler was pretty fun, too.

Right now, I’m leaning toward Velma from Scooby Doo.

Dan could pull of Shaggy, right?

Halloween-Inspired Treats

I’m not into candies shaped like slimy eyeballs or a witch’s finger, but I am a sucker for seasonal treats. Plus, how cute are these mini-pies?

Or these candy corn parfaits?

I have to express my Halloween enthusiasm somehow, since we don’t get trick or treaters!

What do YOU think is worth talking about this week?


HIIT it!

I have absolutely no regrets about the half-marathons that I was able to do last year. The sense of accomplishment I felt after crossing those finish lines was incomparable and I eventually hope to do more half- or full-marathons.

However, right now, I am kind of “over” half-marathons. Instead, I am having so much fun pushing my speed with shorter distances and taking on new challenges with trail races. As a result, I have seriously shed minutes from my mile pace — mostly thanks to HIIT.

What is HIIT?

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and is aimed to improve overall workout performance through shorter workout lengths. Typical HIIT sessions are 9-20 minutes long, but can burn as many calories as a workout multiples times that length. This is all accomplished by alternating fast or intense bursts with more moderate levels of exertion.

What are the benefits?

2006 study for the Journal of Physiology showed that 2.5 hours of HIIT training “produced similar biochemical muscle changes” as 10.5 hours of endurance work. In other words, spend 10 minutes doing a HIIT workout is comparable to 40 minutes of a steady-state workout.

In addition, HIIT workouts have larger post-workout calories burns: The resting metabolic rate for the 24-hours following a HIIT workout is improved, meaning that a person burns more calories just sitting around after a HIIT workout than an endurance workout.

What is an example workout?

HIIT workouts can be done on a track or the road, but I find it easiest to monitor my speed on a treadmill. Here’s my favorite workout…

3-Mile HIIT

(Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats)

Notes:

  • I walked to and from the gym, so I didn’t add in a warm-up or cool-down. Add in three extra minutes of warm-up and three extra for cool-down, if necessary.
  • Adjust the speeds as need be. The idea is just to add in the “sprint” segments.
  • HIIT workouts aren’t just about running either! Elliptical machines or bikes are great for it, too.

Questions: Have you ever tried a HIIT workout? What do you do when you need to spice up your workout routine?


The iPod debate

Today, the sun was shining, the air was cool and my new Road ID was in the mailbox.

Of course, I ripped the bag open and tried my new bracelet on.

The cool box it came in was just icing on the cake — for a dork like me, at least.

Tracker had an idea something was going on, too. I am convinced she has a sixth sense for when I’m thinking about going on a run.

I just couldn’t let her down. We had to go on a run.

There was just one problem. It wasn’t until my shoes were laced and Tracker’s leash was on that I had a terrible realization: My iPod battery was dead.

That left me with a dilemma.

Should I run without music? Or should I break Tracker’s little heart?

I went on the run. And, guess what? It was not awesome. In fact, it was really pretty pathetic. Even with the great weather and the extra incentive of wearing my Road ID (Although I hope it never has to be used for identification purposes, I still think it’s pretty cool. I’m a dork.), I just wasn’t feeling it.

That got me thinking, though. Some people are adamant about running without music, while others need to bring an iPod along. So, what are the arguments on both sides?

Running with music

Pros

According to a 2009 study, people who listen to upbeat music while working out ultimately perform better. This is largely attributed to the fact that music helps take attention away from the struggle of exercise while simultaneously pumping up the heart and muscles.

Personally, I find this to be true as I definitely get a little more pep in my step when a good song comes on my iPod. Music is also very valuable to me during long training runs, when my mind can be an enemy.

The songs keep me distracted from mental barriers such as, “I still have six miles? I don’t think I can do this…” When those thoughts pop up, I just flip through my iPod to one of my favorite songs and push on.

Cons

According to the same 2009 study, people who listen to music while exercising do not find the work out to be any easier. In fact, “their sense of how hard they were working rose 2.4 percent.” Music also appears to only improve performance during moderate workouts — there is no positive effect on more intense runs.

Additionally, many competitive runners argue that music is a detrimental distraction. Take one of my best friends for example. She runs cross-country and track at the college level, which, in my book, makes her a pro. For training, she frequently logs double-digit training runs, but she refuses to run with an iPod. That’s because, to her, it’s all about the goal.

Among the competitive running (as in, “going for the gold”) community, she’s not alone in her iPod boycott. In fact, it seems that the more competitive the runner, the less likely they are to wear headphones. In a recent, popular 4.2 mile race, only three of the first 50 finishers listened to music during the run. In contrast, the majority of the later finishers did turn on tunes.

In my case, I’ll continue to listen to music — if it helps motivate me to get out the door and be active, that’s good enough.

I’ll leave the gold medal to someone else.

Questions: Do you run with music? Why or why not?

 


Back It Up 5K Trail Race

You know it’s a trail race when…

(Pathetically, that little patch of mud doesn’t compare to how mud-covered I was after slipping on my walk with Tracker this morning. I-do-not-want-to-talk-about-it.)

This morning, Dan and I were up and at ’em early to drive to Milford Lake in the Flint Hills for the United Way “Back It Up” trail race. We signed up for the 5K, but the prices were the same for all of the distances (5K, 10K, 15K, 20K), so we were still up in the air about what to run.

The scenery on the drive was beautiful, but the road still lulled me to sleep.

That just meant I was energized for the race!

It rained the whole night before, so we anticipated that the trails would be extra muddy. On the flip side, the air was really cool. After taking those factors into consideration, Dan and I decided to do the 10K — just at an easy, fun pace.

Before the race started at noon, there was a raffle for prizes ranging from t-shirts to a $150 voucher to a night at Acorns Resort, where the race was set…

Dan and I stood around, clapping while people picked up their prizes.

“I never win raffles,” Dan said.

Then, his number was called — for the grand prize!

That means we get to spend one night in an awesome cabin on the lake!

After that little boost, the race got started — and we flew onto the course. Within the first 100 meters, Dan was pretty far ahead of me and I realized our plans for a “nice, easy” race had changed. I went with it and picked up the pace.

By the turn-around, I was feeling pretty good. But, I also know my body and I realized that, at the pace I was going, I could either push it even harder and get a great 5K time or I could slow down and have a decent 10K.

I went for the 5K.

Hello, personal record! At a 8:40 pace, that’s a full 36 seconds faster than my last trail 5K.

I also managed to come in second out of the women, which scored me a medal.

Better yet, I had time to go back and cheer Dan on while he finished his 10K. (When he passed me after the first turn-around, I told him I was doing the 5K.)

Go, Dan, go!

For not having run that distance since April, Dan rocked the race and ended up getting first of all the men!

Power couple, right?

To top off the already awesome day, Dan and I were then able to swing through Manhattan to see his sister, Claire! Last time we were in town, there was a big rush to get her moved into her dorm. Fortunately, she was able to give us a tour of Kansas State’s campus this time.

We also got a (very late) lunch at Coco Bolo’s, a “New Mexican” restaurant. I went with two vegetarian tacos + rice, beans, cheese and lettuce.

Definitely hit the spot!

After visiting Claire, we hit the road back. Before going home, we stopped by Dan’s parents’ house, because they were awesome enough to watch Tracker all day.

Now, we are finally home, it’s 10:20 and I am wiped out! Homework will wait until tomorrow…

Questions: How was your weekend? Do you ever win raffles/prizes?


What runs through my mind on a run

I’ve been pretty good about running this summer, despite the sweltering heat and my disdain for waking up before 9 a.m.

That being said, my run’s have been primarily of the 2-4 mile variety and my endurance is suffering as a result. So, when the temperature finally dipped below 70, I was all over a crazy intense 5K. (It’s better than two miles, right?)

To commemorate the exciting occasion, I decided to keep track of how I was feeling all along the way.

My Running Steam of Consciousness

Start: Wow, it really is cool out here? What is this, 70 degrees? Sixty degrees? I don’t even remember what anything below 90 degrees feels like to run in…

1:00: Why did I decide to live in an apartment that is literally in a valley? There is no frickin’ way around this hill! So much for an easy warm-up…

2:50: Slow down a little and I’ll have an excuse to catch my breath at the light…

3:00: Whew, all right. Stop the watch. That was just three minutes? 

7:15: I like this rhythm. And, am I going fast or is Tracker just pulling me really hard? 

7:30: I really want to have some sled dogs. I could teach them how to pull me to class in the winter. People would probably think I’m kind of crazy for yelling “slush,” though.

8:00: Ok, rhythm gone. This sucks again — and when did my allergies flare up? Can I have, like, one good run?

8:30: Did I say “slush” earlier? It’s definitely “mush.” Right?

10:13: This must be a downhill, because I’m actually breathing again. Why do I always notice uphills, but never downhills? 

14:00: I wonder what it’s like to live in a place that’s flat. Lawrence is so hilly! Why do people always think Kansas is flat? Well, I guess western Kansas is flat, but…

15:58: I remembered this hill being steep, but not this long and steep.

16:45: I will make it up this hill, I will make it up this hill!

18:39: will make it up this hill, I will make it up this hill!

19:58: Done! Did it seriously take me three minutes to run that hill? 

20:30: Another stop light? Oh, darn… Guess I’ll take a break.

23:00: Home stretch, here we go! Pick up the pace.

26:25: That “pick up the pace” was a little preemptive. 

27:15: Yes! The benefit of living in a valley is that I get to finish with a downhill! 

28:48: Done! Whew!

Question: What runs through your mind on a run?


Homemade Mocha Frappuccino

After making it through the first week of school, Dan and I were ready to get away from all the hustle and bustle of Lawrence. To escape, we headed to the edge of town with the goal of finding a new trail to run.

We scanned a few trail maps and came up with a plan. Then, off we went!

We ran about 20 minutes out and 20 minutes back, which easily put us at more than four miles. Unfortunately, I forgot to start my watch until midway through, so I don’t have any exact information.

That was ok, though. We just enjoyed the scenery and some quality time with Tracker.

Compared with the streets, it felt really cool and breezy to run on the trails… At least at first. By the time we were done, Dan, Tracker and I were h-o-t.

Dan and I got some water, but Tracker had her own way to cool back down.

Trail runs might epitomize “fun” to everyone, but it was a great way to kick off the weekend for us. In fact, it was definitely my second favorite part of the day.

That’s right. There was something even more awesome.

Homemade Mocha Frappuccino

Ingredients:

  • 1 C chocolate soy milk (alternatively, skim chocolate milk or regular milk for a non-mocha frappuccino)
  • 4-5 iced coffee ice cubes
  • 1 C iced coffee

Directions:

  • Prepare 2 cups of iced coffee, which is brewed to double-strength and chilled in the refrigerator.
  • Once chilled, freeze 1 cup worth of iced coffee in an ice-cube tray.
  • In a blender, combine chocolate soy milk with coffee ice cubes. Blend until ice cubes are broken down. Add in iced coffee, blend to mix everything thoroughly.

Similar to the trail run, this felt like a major end-of-the-week treat. But, in reality, it is quite healthy with 30% of the daily recommended value of calcium.

Plus, there is less than one-third of the 65 grams of sugar in a nonfat, grande vanilla Frappuccino from Starbucks.

Now, that’s a treat that I’ll feel free to indulge in on any Friday… Or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday.

Questions: What are your favorite end-of-the-week indulgences? What’s your favorite coffee-house drink?