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! 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Thank You Notes

I have started a new trend after visitors have left us or we have left someplace. I send picture Thank You Notes using Shutterfly.com's mailing service. It's really slick to drop pictures from the visit into a card, write/type a personal message on the inside, input the recipients address and click send! After our visit to Minnesota I had 4 Thank You Notes to send. During nap time today I uploaded the pictures from my phone, created the cards, and for less than $15 they will be created, stamped, and mailed for me! Each time I do this it gets easier and easier since I have most addresses saved now in my account so I'm not spending time looking up or inputting them.

I really like the way pictures from the visit personalize the card and I know the Grandparents love seeing pictures of the grandkids! My parents are good about keeping things like this and so I imagine us all looking back on them one day as a great archival piece!

Here are a few of the cards I sent for this trip.

This cute card is for my nieces! I don't get much girly time being the Mom of only boys and being an only sister to brothers so I took advantage of some mani/pedi time when we went to Wisconsin for the Hubby's 20 year Class Reunion!

Our time with Nana & Papa included so many fun things: wild blueberry picking, Sea Life @ the Mall of America, hanging out at the cottage on the Lake, USA Hockey Hall of Fame, and a visit to the World's Largest Hockey Stick!

When spending time with Grandma & Grandpa it's all about BOYS! My Dad built the boys an amazing tree house in his back yard! They were able to ride in a big Caterpillar truck at his work and hang out with a professional fisherman a/k/a Uncle Bill and his boat! What more could two little boys ask for?!?!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Traveling with Toddlers. . .ALONE!

I didn't take my first plane trip until I was 12 years old. I actually flew by myself to California to stay with my Uncle and do DisneyLand and SeaWorld! The twins on the other hand are just over 3 years old and veteran air travelers. If I'm counting right they have already done 8 round trip air trips. This trip was going to be different, they were traveling with just me - no Daddy, no Nana or Grandpa to help! Hubby was driving us to the Buffalo airport (WAY less expensive to fly out of than Toronto), but we had to leave the house by 6 a.m. to make our 9:00 flight. I have never in all the boys 40 months of life purposefully woke them up at 5:30 in the morning! They were so excited to go to Minnesota they popped right out of bed!

Since we've done this so many times before I have packing, passports, tickets, etc. all figured out. The other thing different about this trip is that the boys are potty trained. They do really good with letting me know when they have to pee, but they have only been out of diapers since January so they still don't give a lot of lead time before the pee just comes - and we all know how small the airplane bathrooms are!

Waiting to board the plane!

I packed the usual books, iPad, DVD player, blankies and snacks. This time I wanted to pack a couple of games that may be able to pass the time on take off and landing when the iPad and movies aren't allowed. Then there's the teacher in me that had to make them educational as well!

My good little travelers!

Pinterest is again a wonderful place for getting ideas for educational toddler games. I came across this idea of Busy Bags. I put together three different activities from Confessions of a Homeschooler and specifically from her free printables for preschoolers. Really fantastic stuff!

I made 3 of everything for the boys' friend down the block who just became a big brother. I thought his Mommy would appreciate something to grab to keep him busy when she's taking care of a newborn.

The first one I put together was a number matching wheel. I had a bit of fun with my new laminator! I printed out the wheels, cut them out and laminated them. I got the clothes pins from the dollar store so it was a pretty inexpensive project. This will be a good activity to grow with the boys. This time around they matched the colors. Since we were playing it on the plane during landing I didn't push it too much. It will be a good one to have around for future learning!

Clothes Pin Number Match by Confessions of a Homeschooler

The next one I did was a letter match up. We already had the magnet, plastic letters so all I had to do was print out and laminate. This one was a little trickier on the plane because I didn't have anything magnetic for the letters to stick to, but it was a good one to have on our trip to pull out when I needed the boys to be occupied with something.

Alphabet/Number Review Cards 

I did similar letter match up, but this one was meant to focus more on letter sounds.

A-Z Beginning Sounds

The last one was their favorite. Pictures of things they love (Superman, Batman, Hockey, Footballs, etc.) and a glue stick = lots of fun (and a bit of education as well)! 

My First Color Book

All of these activities came back home with us and I plan to pull them out again during this last month of summer vacation!