Monday, 7 October 2013

Last Days of Marathon Preparation

This was in my inbox this morning:

I really wasn't that nervous until I saw this - I guess it makes it a bit more real! My hubby said that he would like us packed by Wednesday night so that we can visit with my Dad and his wife who are coming to stay with the boys on Thursday while we are away for the weekend. That's good advice because I always think I can leave it to the last minute/night before.

Lots of things on my list to get prepared for the weekend, but right now I'm only in list mode. I have been baking again in preparation. What is it with me and thinking I need to bake before I leave the twins? The cool fall air and all the pumpkin recipes floating around hasn't helped either. Here are 3 recipes I have recently tried that I would like to share:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Sally's Baking Addiction

I currently have these cookies in the "chill" stage in the frig so I can't comment on how the finish product tastes, but the batter was great! I made these because one of the twins told me he didn't like these:

Sally's Baking Addiction

Patrick is in the rare minority with not liking this cookie. I brought them out this last Saturday as a post run treat to the running group and before I was back home I emails from two people asking for the recipe! They are super good, but maybe just too much for a little one with oatmeal & molasses - and I may have gone a little crazy with the pumpkin pie spice, but I love it so much!

Lastly, I made these Apple Crisp Muffins by Iowa Girl Eats a couple weeks ago and just froze them so that I could bring them out this week if I thought it would be easy to have something for my Dad & step mom to eat. We'll see if I need to after all the other baking I've done. I did try these before freezing them and they were FANTASTIC!

Iowa Girl Eats

The funny thing about all this baking is that I rarely eat any of it. I try tastes here and there when I give them to the boys or lick the bowl after baking them. I guess it's good I don't or I may not make it to the finish line of the marathon!

Have you tried any good fall baking recipes lately? Isn't it a great time of year to warm up your oven?

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Longest Training Run

35k - 21.75 miles to be exact (because I'm American, ha!) Done!

My longest training run of the Chicago Marathon training season has been looming on the calendar for today for 22 weeks.

Last Saturday for my 29k run it was the most perfect running weather! 50 degrees, clear skies, no wind - really perfect!

This morning, not-so-much. . . Rain for the entire run - it was 60 degrees, but I still got a bit chilled with being really wet the entire run. I struggled to know what to wear so again I went to the Runner's World "What to Wear" Tool

Here's a mental picture of the 35k's this morning:

Start - Ugh, it's raining and a bit chilly, what do I wear? I had shorts and a long sleeve shirt on when I arrived to meet my group and after seeing what others were wearing I changed into a t-shirt and a vest.

First 5 to 7k - Fine, I'm just going to be wet, but it's cool and makes for decent running temperature. This is going to be a long run though if we keep running around and over puddles.

7 to 14k - Ok, I'm in a rhythm with the run. I've decided to stop hopping over puddles and just go through them (at least the "little" ones). My partner Jim mentioned that we only have a half marathon left to run today - great! :-)

15 to 20k - Why on earth did I sign up for a marathon again? This is ridiculous! I'm soaking wet, I feel blisters forming on my toes and I'm cold every time I stop for water. I can't imagine going 15+ more kilometers for this training run and more for the actual race. Race day better be good weather because I've trained for this race in snow, extreme heat, & rain. 

20 to 30k - Alright, this isn't so bad. I'm doing pretty good. We are keeping our 6/6:15 per kilometer pace and we actually feel pretty good when we accidentally increase to 5:40/5:50 pace. I just want to keep moving to get this finished. I have decided that my reward for after the run should be a Bloody Mary and a big plate of Nachos!

30 to 32k - What? I have to pass by my car to finish this 35k? I'm sopping wet, I want dry clothes, there is a coffee shop right there with warm coffee. If I was by myself I would say - that's it, this is far enough. My legs are getting to the "please don't make us move any farther!" stage.

32.5k - 34.66k - Turn around for finally the last push to the end. I'm feeling better again - it's amazing what your mental status does to your body. I pick up the pace a bit because I'm feeling like I can and I just really, really want to finish.

34.66k - I'm done. High fiving one of my running partners Deanna. We did it! 

34.66k again - Jim comes up and say "I have that we need to go 200 more meters to get to 35k, let's keep going we can't stop now!" Ugh, ok! We run to the end of the block and turn around and pretty much run around the parking lot. 

34.93k - Close! Frickin'! Enough!

Woo! Hoo!

Chicago here I come!

Taper time is going to feel fantastic!

I didn't get my Bloody Mary and Nachos, but I'm writing this with a margarita in hand and the hubby grilling steaks for dinner!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

{ 9 Year Wedding Anniversary }

Today is our 9 Year Wedding Anniversary. Hubby planned a day and night in Toronto for us on Saturday. We have an overnight babysitter so we are going to relax and enjoy our evening in the city and sleep in the next morning (is it sad that's the part I'm most looking forward to?!?!)

I saw this idea for gifts on the hour as birthday or anniversary gifts from and thought I would do that for Josh.

I decided to put together 9 gifts - one for each year of our marriage and put a little recap note with each gift of that year of marriage. It was really fun - and actually challenging - to look back at the last 9 years. I thought I would easily remember everything that happened during each year, but I need to pull out scrapbooks and look through the date stamps on my iPhoto to get it all organized. If I can keep this up it would be a great way to look back on 15, 25, 30+ years of marriage together.

My Notes on what happened each year

Since today is a work day I centered most of my gifts around what he might be doing at that time of the day: breakfast, post workout food, coffee, afternoon snack, etc. But then I threw in a few things that were more of Anniversary type gifts: funky socks he's been asking for, wallet, movie tickets, Toronto Soccer tickets.

Here's a glimpse at the notes from our years of marriage and the gifts I sent with him.

Pre-workout Banana Muffin

Post workout smoothie & granola bar

I gave the funky socks with year three, but I forgot to take a picture

Just a nice note!

Movie Date Night!

Toronto Soccer Tickets!

New Wallet with picture already inside!

Afternoon Snack!

Afternoon Coffee Pick Up!

I packaged them all up and wrote the times of when (or approximately when) he should open them throughout the day. Before I went to bed I left them with a note in a bag by his workout stuff for him to see in the morning. 

This was the text I received this morning. I would say he was excited about the bag of gifts and I was glad I got him excited for every hour to see what the next "year" brought! Isn't that what marriage should be about? Being excited about al the years together?!?!

Happy 9th Anniversary Honey! 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Labor of Running

I hope you are enjoying your Labor Day weekend! I feel like I have been constantly running through mine and I mean that literally!

This weekend many of my running group members are in Virginia Beach for the Rock n' Roll Half Marathon. Here are a couple pictures I've received from their first couple days there - looks heavenly!

Cindy relaxing on the beach the day before the run!

View from Grace's Hotel Room

While many of the half marathoners in our group were in Virginia Beach this weekend the marathoners had a benchmark run scheduled. The gentleman I always run with was going to be in charge of creating and marking out the route for the group's run on Saturday morning. I told him I would run the route with him on Friday so he didn't have to alone. We had a concert to go to in Toronto Friday night so I was happy to get the 30k run done with prior to the concert so I could sleep in on Saturday morning. He wanted to run the route to mark it rather than bike it so that he was done as well and could stay at "home base" to support the other runners Saturday morning.

So many things were just not right with us doing 30k on Friday. First of all, it was hot! I'm probably going to say (and have said) that I don't want to train for a Fall marathon again! I don't like the heat! Ugh! It was 80 degrees with no breeze. Our only saving grace was that it was cloudy for most of our run. 

We started our run at 11:30 a.m. because the hubby needed to work in the morning and I didn't have anyone for the boys. It's just an odd time to start a long run like that. I'm used to running significant distances first thing in the morning, not mid day.

The final nail in the coffin for this run was that we were marking the route for the group to follow on Saturday morning. We stopped on average every 1/2 kilometer or so. It was nice to stop and take a quick drink of water in the heat, but it was horrible that we never got into a rhythm of running. It was too choppy. 

Marking the Route

We only made it 19 of the 30k we were planning on running. We just didn't have it in us any longer. I was feeling so good about my marathon training up to this point. This 30k run was going to really give me a feeling of running the long distance and prepare me for our longest training run of 35k in a few weeks. But we didn't want to push it. With the heat we both stopped sweating and our legs felt like lead! It wasn't worth making ourselves sick or worse - getting injured!

Really tough 19k

We decided that we would meet with the rest of the group on Saturday morning and run another 10k to make up for the the 10k that we didn't do on Friday. This heat is just killing me. At 8:00 in the morning it was already 80 degrees, the humidity was high, there was no breeze again and this time it was sunny! Luckily I only had 10k to push out and was able to do that. I definitely felt the fatigue in my legs from the 19k the day before so although all 29k wasn't ran together I feel like I got my long distance in this weekend. 

10k add on run

I guess I was bound to have a long run weekend like this along the way with my training. It reminds me of this quote from the movie A League of Their Own (which is a great movie I can watch over and over again!):

It's suppose to be hard. . .

It's the first day of a new month and less than 42 days until the start of the marathon. Plenty of time for me to make up for this weekend's terrible feeling runs. I'm training well everywhere else so I need to keep my head up and my feet moving one in front of the other. Chicago will be great!

Have a great rest of the last weekend of summer!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

A New Trend in Races

Saturday morning after our 20k run we headed out for breakfast – sometimes the thought of some runny eggs with toast & bacon is the only thing that gets me through those last miles! Our waitress asked us what group we were apart of and when we said a running group she got all excited to tell us that she was thinking of signing up for a mud run with one of her girlfriends. She asked if we did runs like that. No one at our table had ever done any of the Tough Mudder (which is what we assumed she was talking about) races.

After she left we got to talking about this new trend in races/competitions. There seems to be so many popping up such as, The Tough Mudder, Color Me Rad, Zombie Survivor, and Prison Break. A little about these races:

Tough Mudder - Montreal

Tough Mudder takes you through an obstacle course of mud, 10,000 volts of electricity, ice water, & fire. It’s a 10-12 mile course that you only “finish” when you have encouraged/helped your entire team over the finish line. On the Tough Mudder website it states that “marathon running is boring” – Hey I’ll take a “boring marathon” (which I HIGHLY disagree with) to getting electrocuted any day! I was happy to read that part of the fee for the race goes to support the Wounded Warrior Project which Tough Mudder races have raised over $5 million for. The project supports injured veterans.

Color Me Rad

Color Me Rad is a non timed 5k run that has become quite popular around the U.S. and Canada. You start out with a “shirt as pure and white as your granddaddy’s dentures” as the website puts it and the race blasts colored cornstarch at you along the way. The friends that I’ve seen participate in this seem to have a VERY fun time. It’s seems to be a great opportunity to get your girlfriends together and get dirty in a colorful, girly kind of way! This is a run that I MAY be able to get talked into one day. As of late I have not signed up for any 5k runs. Racing as gotten to be so expensive and I find 5k runs to be really crowded especially with new runners. If I’m going to pay an entrance fee for a 5k race I’d like some of the money to go to a cause like cancer research, the homeless, a food bank, or humane society – the Color Me Rad website mentions that this run will “brighten your day. . .and liven up your Facebook page”

Zombie Survivor

I’m not sure if the origin of this run comes from the AMC show The Walking Dead or not, but the thoughts of both the show and run creeps me out. Zombie Survivor run is held in Calgary, Canada and is a 5k run and obstacle course while being chased by – yep! Zombies! This is a timed 5k run, but the ultimate goal is to get to the finish line with at least one “life” (flag) left.  Not only will Zombies be chasing you, but you will also have to get through 10-12 obstacles along the way. This is not something that interests me at all! This is some straight out of one of my nightmares – I hate the idea of being chased by something as gruesome as a Zombie.

“You have been convicted of a crime you did not commit.” Prison Break is a 5k run held in 3 different areas around Ontario (Ottawa, Montreal, & Dumaine De Radar in Montreal). This run sounds similar to the Zombie run. You are given a belt with 3 flags, you run a 5k course with 15 obstacles and prison guards looking to take your flags along the way. If you cross the finish line with at least one of your flags left “you are free and a handsome man or beautiful women will being waiting for you with a cold beer.” If you have lost all your flags “you will be punished and sent to the mud hole.” The only part of this race that I can get my head wrapped around is getting a cold beer at the end from a handsome man – but I will have that at Chicago and that handsome man will be my hubby!
I get why some people might think running long distances is boring and not enough adventure for them. My answer to them is run with a group! I really don’t care to run by myself, but running with the group is fun. We share stories, laugh at ourselves and support each other through those last miles. At the end of most every half marathon and marathon I’ve ran there as been a beer garden and a drink ticket for the racers in our kit. Spectating marathons can be a bit tricky depending upon the course, but whether we have known someone running or not, my husband and I have always gone out to cheer on the runners of the Twin Cities Marathon that runs right through our neighborhood in Minneapolis. Hearing the cheers from anyone while you are running a race makes it fun and motivating.
So while these ultimate/adventure runs are just not for me, they are obviously popular and more and more are being created. Maybe I'll get talked into one some day! Never say never, right?!?!? 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Training while Traveling

Taking a 2 + week trip away from home right in the middle of marathon training can either be a much needed slow down/break/recovery or be a big set back. When people have asked me how our "vacation" was I say it was more of a visit than a "vacation". To me the word "vacation" means that I don't cook, plan activities for the twins, worry about babysitters, and run and workout on my own schedule. Traveling with two 3 year olds isn't really a "vacation". While I don't consider our visit back to Minnesota a vacation it was the perfect place to visit and still keep up with my training for Chicago Marathon for the most part.

One helpful piece is that my Mom is training for Chicago as well. She completely understood my need to get out and get miles in during our stay. She of course was more than happy to hang out with the boys while I did that - she love her Nana time with them.

Her husband is a great help as well when she and I wanted to do our runs together. She said she was getting tired of her same route by her house (in a suburb of Minneapolis) and wanted something different. I miss (in an aching kind of way) the lakes that are blocks from our Minneapolis house so headed into the city for our first long run together of our visit.

10 mile (16k) run around the Lakes

The suburb of Toronto that we currently live in has an amazing trail system. The problem I have with it however is that 1) I don't know it all that well so it take quite a bit of planning ahead of time to route a run in the 16k+ range. and 2) It's a bit choppy, to get a long route in you need to add city streets into the  mix, which is fine but it makes me miss my easy to navigate lake runs.

Minneapolis has an amazing "chain of lakes" path that I could spend all 22 weeks of Marathon training on. What's even more fantastic about this is that I can access this path system by running about 8 blocks from our home in Minneapolis - no getting in my car and driving to a place to then start a run. 

Our Mpls home to 2 nearby lakes great for running!

Each of the three nearest lakes to our home are about 3k around with short connecting path in between. It makes for a perfect 16k run. On the last day of my visit in Minnesota my Mom and I decided to run Lake Harriet and then the Minnehaha Parkway for something a little different and because the parkway is better shaded. The Parkway connects to Lake Nokomis (which incidentally was 4 blocks from our first home together when we got married - can you see a trend with us and loving to live by Mpls Lakes?!?) from Lake Harriet with a 5.8 mile path - perfect for getting the long 20+ mile distances needed for Marathon training!

Lake Harriet & Parkway 8 mile run

On our two runs around the lakes that my Mom and I did we ran past a few friends of ours - the same two girlfriends on both Saturday mornings without evening talking to them ahead of time about going out for a run! We are in sync for sure! 

There were a few runs I needed to get in during our visit that we were in the Minneapolis area to take advantage of these lake paths. 

The first was when Josh and I headed to Wisconsin for his 20 year class reunion. We didn't have the boys with us (they stay with my Dad and his wife for the weekend) so it made it easier to get out together. I had another 10 mile run (actually I think I was suppose to do more like 12, but hey I was on "vacation" right?!?) on the schedule. Josh was nice enough to keep me company and let me follow him around his home town so I didn't get lost. We did a combination run of Lake streets (no path around this lake) and trails. Just as it's fantastic to have a Mom who understands Marathon Training it's equally fantastic that my husband does as well. 

Pre 20 year Class Reunion Lake/Trail 10 mile run 

We spent the final days of our visit to Minnesota at my Mom's cabin on the Lake. I started and finished two 4.5 mile runs from this lovely beach. My Mom and I took the yoga mat out to the end of the dock to do stretches after our run and then I planted myself in a lounge chair to watch the boys play in the sand! Pure Bliss! 

Lakeside Cabin Run

Ok, I guess this part of our visit I would call "vacation"! 

Post Run Lounging!

Even though I got a fair amount of running in and two 10 mile long runs I still feel like I'm playing catch up on my return. My first long run on our return with the group was a 25k (15.5 mile) run. 5 days later and I'm still feeling a bit sluggish. Luckily I'm still 8 weeks away from the Marathon so I have time to get back into the groove!

How do you get your exercise and/or training in while on visits/vacations away from home? 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Wall Sit Torture

Yes it may look like an innocent red, plastic plate, but it can take your wall sits to a whole new level! 

Last night our strength trainer told us that he was lying in bed the night before thinking about how he could make the wall sit harder. Gee, thanks Omar! 

At the gym they have these flexible, plastic discs called gliders that we've used to make push ups more intense (do you sense a trend on the trainers wanting to make things harder?!?!) last night we used them to make our wall sits nearly unbearable! 

You could do it at home with a plastic or paper plate. Get into your wall sit - legs should be at a 90 degree angle, back & shoulders against the wall, looking straight ahead. 

Then step your heel onto the plate - only one heel as I assure you your feet will go right out from underneath you if you attempt both. Also only your heel should be on the plate - it does no good to have your entire foot or front of your foot on the plate. 

We did this exercise in a sequence of other squat exercises, holding this position for 1 min at a time. If doing alone, hold on one side for 1 minute, rest 30 secs - 1 minute, then switch sides. We did 4 minutes total - 2 minutes each leg! 

Feel the burn! I sure do today doing this again long enough to take these pictures!