Sunday, December 31, 2017

2,017 miles in 2017

I set a personal goal for 2017 to run 35 miles in races. I could've started that goal in May when I turned 35, but I opted to just make it a goal for the calendar year. I actually ended up running 51.42 race miles which included many firsts for me. Though I did not start out the year planning to run a half-marathon, 2017 marked my first one. This year also marked my first mile long race, which I ran faster than I had ever imagined possible. 2017 earned me my first age group placing, too. Between training and racing, I ran a total of 288 miles. I walked about that many miles, too. I actually don't know how many miles I walked, because I was pretty terrible about logging them.  I hope to improve upon that in 2018.

I don't think that this year would've included so many firsts if it weren't for the inspiration I received from the folks participating in Run the Year 2017. I've mentioned Run the Year before, but I never actually wrote a post about it. I figured that now is as good a time as any, since the year is over.

I started running in 2016, and it all pretty much began with my first race. Although, it wasn't until my second race that I really fell in love with it. That year, I set a personal goal to run five 5ks. I trained semi-regularly, because I wanted to avoid injury and make running a regular part of my life.

That same year, one of my friends was posting pictures from races she had run. She had made a personal commitment to run 33 miles, since she celebrated her 33rd birthday that year. To the best of my knowledge, she didn't really train for the races, she just went out and ran them. At some point during the year, I commented on her goal and she mentioned to me that there were people in the world who actually "run the year." I hadn't heard of that concept before and the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I became.

At the end of 2016, I found myself on the Run the Year 2017 website. I knew that I'd never be able to run 2,017 miles in a year—having three kids and Minnesota's harsh winters would prevent me from meeting that goal. However, the website mentioned that one could count their daily steps. Run the Year had an online tracker that would sync automatically with Fitbit data. Suddenly, the idea of averaging roughly 5.5 miles a day didn't seem so impossible. I'm usually fairly active in the warmer months, but I did a lot of sitting in 2016, especially in the winter. Some days, I was lucky to hit 5,000 steps. It frustrated me because I was gaining weight. I decided to give myself some motivation to keep active, and I signed up for Run the Year on New Year's Eve.

The Run the Year challenge encouraged me to use Wii Fit to freestep while I was watching TV. The challenge helped motivate me to run a half-marathon. The Run the Year challenge helped me go 500 miles farther in 2017 than I did in 2016.

Some Run the Year participants only count dedicated exercise miles. Maybe I'll be able to do that someday. But, for me, counting my daily steps isn't cheating. Walking to my basement to get more paper towels might not be "exercise," but the Run the Year challenge helped encourage me to do things like that more often, instead of convincing my kids to do them for me. I worked for every mile of my 2,017 miles, whether I was completing a race, pacing around my kitchen, or even just putting laundry away. I am proud of my 2,017 miles.

I will be participating in Run the Year 2018. My goal is to complete the challenge before December 31. In fact, I'd love to get 2,100 miles. I'm hoping for a minimum of 300 running miles. Injuries prevented me from hitting 300 running miles this year. Thankfully, 2017 has taught me so much, and I'm looking forward to what 2018 has in store.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

I'm Lazy And I Know It

In addition to participating in the Run the Year Challenge, in which I am counting all my daily steps, I’m also participating in my city’s fitness challenge. For that challenge, only walking, running, biking, and swimming miles count. Swimming miles are worth four times as much and biking miles are 1/4 as much. Walking and running miles are 1:1. 

July, when I trained for and ran a half-marathon, was a high mileage month. I got 110 miles in. That allowed me to join the city’s 100 Mile club, in which you have to complete 100 miles in six months

My mileage has steadily declined since then: 55 in August (I was in PT for my knees and wasn’t running as much), 39 in September, and 27 in October. I really didn’t do much of anything in October after I ran the Unleash the SHE 10k. I was making Halloween costumes and being lazy. 

Now that I’ve reassessed where I am at in the RTY challenge, I know I need to hit 5.76 miles or more a day to reach 2,017 miles by year’s end. 

I’m still not running at this time, because I need to see the doctor about some pain I’ve been having in my hip. But, I’ve committed to walking every day, as that is the only way I will hit my goals. 

As far as the city fitness challenge, I have until the end of June 2018 to hit 500 miles and until the end of 2018 to hit 1,000 miles. I’m already half way to 500 miles, and with my renewed commitment to exercising, I know I’ll hit 500 by the end of this year. 

I’m a person who needs motivation to get off my butt. If I don’t have a reason to walk or run, I would probably spend all day sitting, either snuggling with my toddler, watching TV, surfing the web, or even sleeping. That is why I joined the RTY challenge. Having more than one challenge that I’m participating in really helps me to stay motivated and committed to exercise, even if there may be some fantastic months and some not-so-fantastic months. 

My biggest personal challenge right now is my lack of strength training. I need to find the motivation to work strength training into my routine. I know it will only bring positive changes, so I’m not sure what my hang-up is other than I’m lazy.

There will always be room for improvement. Every year I get better. I can’t wait to see what next year will bring. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Panther Foundation 5K 2017

Last year was the first year that I ran the Panther Foundation 5K. Who am I kidding? Last year was the first year that I ran any race. But since the Panther 5K is a fundraiser for my school district, after running it last year, I pretty much decided that I would run it every year in the future, as long as I was able. The whole event is fun for my kids, because they love the carnival and the inflatables. Last year, I managed to get a PR. I wasn't planning to get one this year because my training had slowed down considerably after my half-marathon and my subsequent knee pain. In any case, I still wanted to get out and run this 5K to the best of my ability.

The day before this year's Panther 5K was a Walk-a-thon for my daughter's school. I wasn't planning on running any of it (Hello? WALK-a-thon?), but I ended up running and walking almost four miles. I really hoped I wasn't going to regret it.

I woke up on Saturday morning feeling pretty good. The weather this year was perfect. There was a light breeze and plenty of sunshine and the temperature was right around 55º at race time. Before the race, I actually got to the point where I regretted my long pants and wished I had worn capris. Oh, well.

My neighbor/running buddy and I ran together. We started off pretty fast, and after we had ran about three-quarters of a mile, we decided we were going to do 3:00/00:45 run/walk intervals. We kept up a pretty great pace doing that—just under 10:00/mile. We seemed to be really far out in front of everyone or really far behind. We weren't entirely sure. We passed a cyclist riding in the opposite direction who said we were the first women she had seen. Now, we KNEW we weren't the first women, because we knew there were people in front of us. However, we were unsure of how many people were in front of us, so the comment from the cyclist was really exciting! 

It wasn't too long after we passed the cyclist that my buddy started having trouble breathing. It wasn't a lung issue, though. She must have had some sort of subluxation in her spine because it was causing her excruciating pain. I tried my best to motivate her and keep encouraging her to push hard, but she probably wanted to punch me in the face. 

We skipped a run interval and started walking a little as my buddy tried to breathe through her back pain. Then, at around 2.5 miles, we saw a couple of women in front of us. A couple of women that, as I recall, we had "leap-frogged" with a few times over the course of the race. I told her that I really wanted to beat those women. She said, "Go for it." 

It's hard to leave a running buddy behind, especially when they are hurting. I felt really selfish taking off without her. Then, at about 2.75 miles, I heard the announcer call out the first place female time as the runner crossed the finish line—27:00. I honestly couldn't even fathom that it was possible that the first female runner had just crossed the finish line. I quickly started trying to figure out how many women were between me and the finish. I knew there weren't many. 

I started getting pretty fatigued, and I wanted to slow down. I had taken off too fast with too much race left. Then, I reached the point in the course that came back onto the track at the high school. There were roughly 250 meters between me and the finish. I dug deep and found a little more speed. 

Holding my 3rd place medal in front of the finish line.

I don't remember for sure, but I think I saw at least one of my kids at track side holding out their hand for a high-five and saying, "Go, Mom!" I crossed the finish line at 30:33. That's only eighteen seconds slower than last year, so I was and am pretty happy with that. Perhaps the more astonishing thing was that right after I crossed the finish, a third place female medal was placed around my neck. My first age group placing!

I looked up the times from the race last year and I learned that NONE of the placing times this year would have placed last year. This year was apparently a much slower race. I have to wonder if it had something to do with the fact that the race was on TC Marathon weekend. Maybe all of the fast runners were participating in a bigger race the next day so they opted to not participate in the Panther 5K this year. Whatever the case, I'm grateful for the opportunity to finish with a medal.

In case you're wondering, my buddy finished fourth or fifth for females. There may have only been one runner who finished between us. That runner placed, too, I think, because she was in the senior age group. But I'm not positive about anything that happened after I finished the race. I was on cloud nine, and I was trying to locate my family.

Overall, I'm incredibly happy with how the race went. The Panther 5K served as a training run for my 10K that I was scheduled to race a couple of weeks later. While I don't expect to be able to place in my age group ever again, it was a very nice surprise. I'm already looking forward to next year. I hope that some year my kids will want to run the race with me, but I don't blame them for wanting to stay and play on the inflatables. I guess we shall see what next year brings.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Torchlight 2.0

In July 2016, I won an entry to run the Minneapolis Torchlight 5K. Everything about that race made me fall in love with running races. So, when I received an email about early bird pricing for the 2017 Torchlight, I jumped on the chance to run it again.

I'd been feeling good about my training, and I had been increasing my distance for the half-marathon at the end of the month. A 5K race should be a piece of cake, right?

Storms threatened this year's race, but the temperature was much more tolerable. At the Torchlight this year, I had more of a cheering section than I did last year. We drove the twenty-ish miles to Minneapolis with a full vehicle. My dad, step-mom, husband and all three kids came along. We met up with a friend of my husband once we got down to the city.  We had to walk about a mile from the parking ramp to the race start. My dad and step-mom stopped at a fast food joint with the plan of meeting up with everyone later. The rest of us continued on. Part of the pre-race activities included a family fun event at Loring Park, which was near the start area. After we stopped by the race check-in area to get my 21+ wristband, we made our way to the park.  My husband and his friend watched the kids play carnival type games and jump on inflatables while I did a super short warm-up run. Then the kids had pony rides. Eventually, the time came for me to head to the start line and for the rest of the group to meet back up with my dad and step-mom. 

After I made my way to a porta-potty and then the race start, I did some stretching. The layout/execution of everything was slightly different than last year. The line of porta-potties was in a different place — maybe it helped to ease some congestion. What surprised me more than the bathroom location was that the pace corrals seemed slightly more disorganized this year. Last year I seem to recall that many pace corrals had a couple volunteers with a rope in the front, so that the pace corrals wouldn't get mixed up. It's advertised that the pace groups are especially important with the Torchlight because the race coordinators time each corral's start times so that the runners don't have to stop for the light rail train which crosses the race course. It seemed as though there was less pre-race communication this year, also. While some general announcements were being made, it felt like some of the important things that were said last year were omitted this year. I guess I was thankful to be a Torchlight veteran, because I feel like I would've been uninformed otherwise. 

Once I got lined up with the rest of the folks in my pace corral, I just had to hang out and wait for the race to start. The national anthem was played. Then after some loud motivational upbeat music and a short countdown by the emcee, the first pace corral was sent off with pyrotechnic flames shooting out from either side of the start line banner. There was plenty of excitement in the air. 

Each pace corral had to wait for a few minutes, with the idea that trains could pass between the large groups. After the race I heard that many people ended up having to wait for the trains, which was no doubt frustrating, especially given that some of the people had to wait 45+ minutes just to cross the start line. 

Thankfully, I was able to cross the start line about 10 minutes after the official race start time. I kept to the left of the road, knowing that a couple of blocks up, my family was waiting to wave to me and cheer me on. My kids seemed pretty excited to be able to see me running by. My dad took a video. My daughter was not only holding up a sign that said "Go Mom!' but she also had her hand out for a high-five. I had to leave her hanging as I was holding on to my wedding ring. I had planned to take it off before the race but had forgotten. In the first few blocks after I started, the sweat on my hands was just causing my ring to annoy me, so I handed it off to my husband. Thankfully, he grabbed it from my hand and it didn't get dropped and lost.

The support of my family left me with a big smile. As I ran down Hennepin Avenue I tried to take in more sights than I did last year. Sometimes, it's easy to run a race and forget to actually ENJOY the race. 

We came up to the first turn and I was felling pretty good. I walked a bit, because with my half-marathon training I had been using run-walk intervals, and I knew that a walk break could benefit me. I was running a pretty good race and didn't feel like I should shame myself for wanting to walk for a bit.

Once I started running again, I quickly came to the point in the race course where the second turn is made. Much to my surprise, people weren't turning. My mind began racing. Why is the course different? They didn't change the course map online. It's still a certified course. What is happening right now?! Of course I followed the course that was laid out before me. I was now running a stretch that was not the same as last year and was not supposed to be part of the race, but I trusted the race coordinators. I followed what ended up being a little "out-and-back" that felt like it went on forever. In reality, it was less than a quarter mile. I hoped that this little stretch meant that maybe the finish line was moved up. 

I kept moving right along, taking in my surroundings and remembering the walk that my kids and I had been on a couple of weeks before the race. I had taken them down to that area to explore. It was fun to recognize the landmarks and buildings, because when were on our walk, I barely recognized any of it even though I'd ran last year's Torchlight.

As I approached the entrance to the Stone Arch Bridge, there was a water station. I don't recall it being there last year. It seemed like the location caused a bit of a bottle neck for runners, but I just worked my way passed them as I had no intention of getting a drink.

Some where on the bridge, I learned that I had hit the 5K distance. I got a little bit frustrated as I was really close to a PR. When I finished the race, my GPS said 3.24 miles. So much for this being a certified course. 

I met up with my runner buddy and neighbor, who just happened to show up near the finish line right about when I did. She wasn't running, but she wanted to come say hi. We wandered around the after party area, and I took advantage of free race swag. Eventually, we parted ways. She drove herself home, and I took a free shuttle back to the race start. Well, I thought it was supposed to go to the start but it didn't go quite that far. It actually dropped everyone off near the parking ramp where my family parked when we first arrived. I texted my husband to let him know I'd be heading his way. We met up, headed back to our vehicle, and made it home safely. The kids had enjoyed themselves at the parade that started immediately after the race. Fun was had by all.

It didn't take long for the Torchlight coordinators to respond to the race course discrepancy. They talked to many racers and learned that the course was definitely longer than a 5K. What happened was that the city told race officials they needed to move the finish line up to create an emergency evacuation lane. To make up for the lost distance, the little "out-and-back" portion was added. However, the portion was placed incorrectly and the result was a 3.3 mile course. In order to rectify the mistake, race coordinators had the official distance changed to 3.3 miles, so that race finish times and paces were reflected correctly.  As an added bonus, this year's racers (about 4,000 of them) were offered the opportunity to sign up for next year's race at a discount. 

My experience with the Torchlight this year was completely different than it was last year, but I still loved it. It was awesome to have my family with me. The extra distance was a disappointment, but the events team owned up to the mistake and handled it marvelously. Needless to say, I took advantage of the discounted registration, and I'm already signed up to run next year. Even with the extra distance this year, my time was still seven minutes faster than it was last year. I cannot wait to see what next year's race will bring.

Monday, August 7, 2017

My First Half-Marathon

I went to bed the night of July 28th feeling nervous and excited. I needed to wake up much earlier than usual in order to get to my half-marathon on time. I had all of my gear ready to go to make sure I wouldn't forget anything. I had also helped get everything ready for my husband, who had to get our oldest two kids to softball games while I was at my race.

My bedtime ended up being later than I had hoped or planned. By the time I took a bath, did yoga, and foam rolled it was after ten. Then when I finally laid down in bed, I was too wired to actually fall asleep.

My toddler, who room shares with my husband and me, made sure I didn't get a great nights sleep. He's been going through a bit of separation anxiety, and he seems to wake up in the middle of the night just to let me know that he's not close enough to me, despite his crib being right next to my bed. In addition to him not sleeping well, my poor husband was getting over a cold and he was experiencing a nagging cough that kept him and me awake.

Despite the lack of sleep, I woke up and was ready to start my day around 4:30 AM. I figured that would be enough time to do all of the things I needed to do before I had to leave. I arrived at my race feeling about as ready as I could be to run 13.1 miles. After a pep talk from a friend who was also running, I lined up toward the back of the pace groups. My goal was 2:45:00. The air horn blew and off we went.

Within the first two minutes, I had made my way passed several pacers; partially, because the start was congested, and I was trying to get away from the crowd. I was intending on using intervals of running for three minutes and walking for one minute. The freedom of not pushing the jogging stroller was wonderful. I felt great. I was slightly self-conscious when I started my first walk interval. Here we were, only three minutes in, and I was walking. People passed by me and I felt as though all of them were judging me. But, I was determined to use intervals, since that was how I trained and that was the only way I felt I could complete the distance.

The first three miles went by without much incident. My time was on track with my goal. In fact, I was actually ahead of my time. After the 5K mark, the race course had just under two miles of unpaved trail. Somewhere in that section, my interval timer stopped telling me when to walk and when to run. It took me another three miles to figure out that I should just restart my interval app. Once I did that, I had my verbal prompts again and I was ready to continue. I hit the 10K marker around 1:06:00—a new 10K PR for me. I wondered if it would it be possible for me to finish the race fifteen minutes faster than my goal. I thought it could be. I was almost half way done and was feeling strong. The walking intervals helped my body get enough rest so that I wasn't feeling overly fatigued.

Around the eight mile marker, I was transitioning from a walk to a run when disaster struck. My outer knees both sent shooting pains through my legs and almost gave out on me. I panicked. What was happening?! I continued my walking, now with a slight limp. Many runners asked if I was okay. I said my knees were fighting me, and they offered encouraging words.

I walked for a few minutes, and when I started to try to run again, my knees adamantly disagreed. It was at that point in the race that I knew I needed a new plan. I attempted to change my intervals to ninety seconds of walking and sixty seconds of running/jogging. However, before I was able to do those intervals, I knew I needed to walk for awhile.

I walked for almost two miles. I used the time to text my dad, who planned to meet me at the finish line, and to call my family to get some encouragement. I walked beside a race volunteer on a bike. She wanted to stay by me to push me. Little did she know that I had no intention of quitting. I didn't need to be pushed. I wasn't sure if I could say the same thing about my knees, though.

I walked much more of the last three miles of the race than I care to admit to myself. But along the way, I received such encouragement and kind words from other racers. Two women even stopped to walk with me just to chat. I guess it helped me forget about the pain for a little while. Someone (jokingly?) offered to carry me. I thanked them, but told them I planned on finishing the race on my own two feet.

At mile eleven, there were some small hills that caused me excruciating pain. I hoped there weren't many more hills. I did learn that my pain wasn't as bad if I continued to jog slowly instead of stopping to walk. So, I continued on (starting around mile twelve) jogging as much as I could, however slowly.

When I saw mile marker thirteen, tears welled up in my eyes. I knew I was going to make it. My friend was waiting for me just after the mile marker, and she jogged into the finish with me. My dad found me and told me how proud he was. I limped my way around the finish area, eventually making my way to the medical tent for some ice.

In the end, I still finished the race under my goal with a final time of 2:39:30. I should have been proud, but my first emotion was more anger than anything. I was angry that my body failed me. As much as I enjoyed not having the jogging stroller, I think that it may have contributed to my downfall. Running without it allowed me to start off fast, and perhaps, I pushed my body to give too much, too soon.

In the week since the race, my anger has turned into determination. Although I got injured during the race, I have every intention of running another half, and I plan to do it with more than four weeks of training time. I want to do it correctly. I am proud of how far I have come in the last year, and I'm amazed at the things I am doing—things I NEVER thought I'd be doing, things I never thought possible.

For now, I have to take some time off from running. I'll be seeing a physical therapist for my knee injuries, and I'll be getting in my daily miles with walks instead of runs. Despite everything, I would not change anything about it. I have no regrets about my training, or lack there of. In the end, I still completed a half-marathon. In the end, I still have a goal to beat next time. And most importantly, in the end, I know that I am capable of completing a half-marathon. This one was my first, but it will not be my last.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Thirteen Point Freaking One

It's amazing what happens when you tell people that you're going to run a half-marathon. (The what?) There is such a wide array of reactions that you receive. I guess that goes for anything in life. If you tell someone you're having a baby, you're bound to get many people who are happy for you, but for every one of those happy people, you'll probably get a person who rolls their eyes and says, "Why?" The negative reactions probably increase with the number of children you have.

I almost think the same holds true for the number of miles that are in a race you plan to run. While there will always be people who support you and are proud of you, there will likely be many people who make you question your decision.

Of course training for a longer distance race, especially in a short window, will put you at risk for injury. Training too fast, too hard is a lot of stress of the bones, the muscles and the body. Shin splits, stress fractures, torn ligaments...those may as well be curse words when you're a runner. Ideally, a runner would want a significant amount of time to train for a long race. However, that isn't always a possibility.

During the last week of June, I saw an advertisement on Facebook for a local half-marathon that was scheduled for the end of July. The price was reasonable and all of the profits are given to a local nature center. A half-marathon has not, I repeat, NOT been on my radar for this year. As I've mentioned a few times before, it's difficult to find weekend races that work with my schedule. My husband works 12-hour shifts on the weekends, and I don't like imposing on the same people over and over when I need childcare. My husband has already gone above and beyond when it comes to supporting my running. I don't expect nor want his vacation to be used up solely so I can race on the weekends. I try really hard to find weekday races and none of them are half-marathons.

With that being said, I noticed that this particular half-marathon was on a weekend that my husband had planned to take off of work for our kid's annual softball tournament. I asked him what he thought about the idea of me running a race Saturday morning, before the softball games started. My question wasn't greeted with enthusiasm, but it also wasn't greeted with, "No." Hmmm.

My next step was to search for four-week half-marathon training plans. Could it even be done? I found a training plan that was based on walk-run intervals. The plan was supposedly good for people who were currently fit enough to walk-run five miles. That described me. Hmmm.

After looking at the training plan, I contacted my doctor and asked if I could get her okay in running a half-marathon. After my appointment, she said there was no concerning issues and that I could go ahead with my training.

At this point, I hadn't actually registered for the race. I was waiting for the pieces to fall into place. After they did, I went ahead and registered for my first half-marathon. Honestly, my stomach turned after I clicked that "submit" button. What had I just done?

Now, here I am less than two weeks away from the race. My training is going pretty well. My long run last week was eight miles and was my longest personal run ever. I used 4:00 run/1:00 walk intervals based on information I found in an article: "Run-Walk-Run to Faster Times, Faster Recovery." by Jeff Galloway. If you haven't heard of Jeff Galloway, I suggest you do some research on him. I became aware of his name when I joined the Run The Year 2017 Challenge. Many people participating in that challenge use Galloway's methods to run races. They've seen quite a bit of success walk-running. And after my eight mile run I noticed that I wasn't as fatigued as I'd been in the past. Normally I'm ready for a nap after a long run. Not so, this time. 

Running, whether training for a specific distance or not, can lead to injury if one isn't careful. I know that the people who are worried about me are only warning me out of love. However, on any given day, my life is just as likely to cause me injury as running is. Last October, I stubbed my toe on my bed frame. I thought it was broken and I had a race coming up. I had to take a few days off, and run with my toe taped. A few months ago, I tripped going up the stairs and I landed on my knee on the wood floor while simultaneously hitting my head against the wall. I also fell out of bed a few months ago. I was at the edge of the bed, closer than I thought, and when I went to put my legs over the edge, the mattress compressed just enough to send me to the floor. My back hit my nightstand and my tailbone hit the hardwood floor. Ouch.

I've injured myself more times than I can count. As Pink sings, "I'm a Hazard to Myself." I could just as easily get hurt getting out of bed as I could while training to run a half-marathon. If I'm being honest, I think I feel more safe while I'm running, because I'm focusing on my surroundings more. In any case, I have every intention of completing my first half-marathon on July 29th. As long as I can maintain a 16:00/mile or faster pace, I should be okay. I need to be that fast in order to beat the course time limit of 3.5 hours. Based on how my runs have been going, I'm setting a goal of 2:45:00 for myself. I think it's realistic and completely achievable.

Over the next two weeks, I'll continue training. My next long run will be between ten and eleven miles. After that it's thirteen point freaking one. And even though I didn't have that in my sights two weeks ago, I'm determined to succeed.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Get Into Gear

When I started running, I was pretty bare bones. I had some custom NikeiD Free Run 5.0 shoes that I'd paid for with gift cards. They were several years old and hadn't been used for much running, though they had been used for working out. Other than that, I didn't have a lot of "running" gear. I had activewear, but much of it wasn't necessarily meant for running. My yoga pants, which had only been used for yoga a handful of times, did not stay up when I ran while wearing them. No one wants to constantly be yanking their pants up while they're running. I didn't have fancy sport headphones or a fancy GPS—just my Fitbit and my phone. But, I didn't have any place to put my phone while I ran. I didn't have any weather specific running gear, either. So, I was out of luck when it came to running in snow or rain. I did have a reflective belt from my military days, which I could use for running in low light.

When I started training, I would usually carry my phone in my hand. For my first race, the Fit2Fight, I wore a pair of longer shorts (I've never really been a short shorts kind of adult) and a wide strap sleeveless shirt. I used my phone for music and GPS tracking, but I kept it in my pocket, which is the reason I wore the shorts—they were my only active wear bottoms with a pocket.

The more I ran, the more I realized that I didn't like having my phone in my hand or my pocket. I learned that if I wanted to be able to increase my mileage, I might want to have a way to have water with me. I also learned that iPhone earbuds are not exactly running friendly. Basically, I learned that I needed to get some gear.

My first purchase was made from It was an inexpensive running waist pouch called a BAND-ITO. It claimed that it stayed put and it had three individual pockets for all of my necessities.

When I ran the Torchlight 5K, I was amazed at all of the different gear people had. Running skirts?! Running belts that you can attach your bib to so you don't have to use safety pins?! Sleeves that you wet with water to keep you cool?! Not to mention the GPS watches. And then there were the people who ran in costumes, which isn't necessarily qualified as gear, but is still pretty awesome to see.

I wore the BAND-ITO when I ran the Torchlight, but I ended up using safety pins to hold it down. It rode up more than I liked. It held my phone well enough, but the phone pocket was just a little too snug for my phone plus case so some of the stitching ripped. At least it was super inexpensive.

For my next race, the costumes were more extreme. The race was the Super Run, so the costumes were understandable but impressive all the same. It was pretty incredible to see the lengths that some people went to in order to look the part! I personally could not imagine running in some of the costumes I saw. For the Super Run, I was running with a jogging stroller, so I didn't bother wearing my waistband. I just kept my phone in the stroller.

After the Super Run I used my BAND-ITO for one more race, The Esprit de She. I was still irritated that I needed to use safety pins to keep it in place, but since I didn't have a lot of extra money to spend on a more high-tech belt, I was content with what I had.

I think it was around Labor Day that I saw a deal posted on Instagram. My friend, a fellow mother runner over at The Thrive Blog, was a SPIBelt ambassador and shared a special that SPIBelt was having. I researched SPIBelt and learned that I could use one of their H20 Companions if I wanted to run with water. I learned that they had bib toggles to hold race bibs. I liked the options, so I jumped on the deal. I've been using my SPIBelt for training runs and races ever since. For training, I rarely keep more than my phone in the SPIbelt. For races, I usually have my phone, lip balm, my ID, keys, and some cash. Once in awhile, I'll keep some running fuel in my SPIbelt, too. I don't generally put a lot in it because I don't need a lot. But as I train for longer distances, I know my SPIBelt will be there to keep my necessities close. I LOVE it.

I got some new shoes around that time, too. My NikeiD's were looking pretty worn. I ended up getting a pair of Nike Flex Runs. They were the best shoes I could afford and were pretty similar to the shoes I had, so I didn't have to worry about my gait being changed too much, which might result in injury.

It wasn't until earlier this year that I got new headphones. The iPhone earbuds hurt my ears and didn't stay put very well, but I lived with it because good running headphones are expensive, right? Wrong! Cue The Thrive Blog again. She posted a deal about her favorite headphones, Yurbuds. The price was so low, I was able to order a second pair as a gift for my neighbor. I loved how they stayed put while I ran, and I was super impressed with the sound.

I've used them for many training runs and a few races. I only recently upgraded to bluetooth headphones. My neighbor got a new pair of bluetooth headphones as a gift from her husband (apparently my gifts aren't good enough for her. Ha ha.) and she sent me a link for them. The deal was too hard to pass up. I'll still use my Yurbuds once in awhile, but for now I'm enjoying the cord free life entirely too much.

As far as running clothes go, I've gotten a handful of new running capris since I started running. My neighbor gave me a few pairs of hers that she no longer wore. I've lost enough weight that those no longer fit me. I enjoy running in capris but I'd like to try running skirts. I'm actually looking into making a sparkle-type skirt. Sparkle Skirts is a company that makes really fun running gear that is great for costumes. But, they are way out of my price range. I found a tutorial online, and since I'm handy with a sewing machine, I think I can make my own for much less money. I'm running a virtual race for Independence Day, and I would love to dress the part. There are prizes for posting on social media for the run and I figure a costume couldn't hurt my chances of winning something.

I'll need new shoes soon. Maybe I can ask Santa to bring me some. It's hard to believe that my shoes are only a year old, but you can only put so many miles on a pair of shoes before you start getting injuries due to worn out soles.

Running itself is a free sport. But, if you get serious about it and you want to have comfortable gear and avoid injury, it's going to cost you. In the near future, I'd like to apply to be an ambassador for a few different companies in the hopes that I'll get to try some new brands and maybe get some sweet swag. And, I'm always on the lookout for deals, whether on running gear or races. Someday, I'd love to run Ragnar or maybe even a marathon, and I'll probably have to set up a GoFundMe page to make that happen. I guess I've come a long way from the girl who thought people who paid to run were crazy.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Happy Run-iversary!

May 23rd, 2017 marked my one-year running anniversary or "run-iversary." Yes, that's a thing. Don't judge me. May 23rd, 2016 was the day I ran my first race, The Fit2Fight 5K. If you've been following my journey, you may recall that I didn't really intend on running after that. I'm not going to rewrite my entire journey here, because you could just read my previous posts. In fact, if you haven't read them yet, you SHOULD read them.

In any case, to mark my run-iversary, I participated in the same race. The 2017 Fit2Fight was held on May 22. I spent the day prepping my body to run that night. I took a hot epsom salt bath, I did yoga, I hydrated, and I foam rolled. I also did those same things before I ran the TC One Mile and I ran my fastest mile time, ever. I figured that using the same routine for the 5K wouldn't hurt anything.

This year, since I'm a "seasoned runner" and not a beginner, I decided I could go by myself. Last year, my family came with to support me, even though it meant that my kids were missing softball practice. This year my kids went to practice. They need it. My neighbors were at the race, because one of them is a volunteer for the fire department that holds the race, and his wife is my running buddy. So, regardless of my family not being there, I wasn't alone. And also, since I've done several races now, I'm okay with going it alone. I've got my big girl pants on.

The race map online was the same route that we were supposed to run last year. I say supposed to because last year there was an issue that caused us to get rerouted, and the race ended up being only three miles as opposed to a full 5K. This year being the second year of the race, I assumed that things would be more organized. That wasn't exactly the case. The disorganization this year started with registration. When I signed up for the race online, there was an issue with the payment software so I wasn't able to pay. I also didn't bring my checkbook or cash with me to the race, and they couldn't take a credit card. Being such a small event, and my neighbor being a firefighter, they trusted me to pay my entrance fee later. My neighbor was supposed to come after me if I didn't. I paid it the next day, in case you're wondering.

The next issue was that the online registration software apparently had some problems and any runners who had previously registered online had to register again once we arrived at the race venue. What a hassle.

When the time came, the runners were ushered to the start. The national anthem was played this year. I'm not sure that I remember that happening last year. A few race rules were explained, and we were off with the sound of an air horn.

Once we got to the point where we were supposed to turn (according to the map), we did not. There were traffic cones on the road to indicate the route and those cones indicated that runners were to continue going forward. I suppose that I could have turned, but I would have led the runners behind me astray. I thought it was important to follow the people in front of me, so I did.

Speaking of the people in front of me, I was very surprised to find that there were not actually THAT many people in front of me. I was flying! I wasn't quite sure of my pace, since I started my GPS app early, but I knew I was doing well. Perhaps what was more surprising was how well I felt. For the speed that I was going, I probably should've been gasping for air. I wasn't. My pace felt really natural and that was exhilarating.

Somewhere after the water station and between miles two and three, there was a bit of course confusion. Runners were following a paved path next to the road. The path split, going straight or left. I could see the runners in front of me had turned left. So, why the confusion? The confusion came from a lone traffic cone that was on the path that went straight. Were runners supposed to go to that cone and turn around? The runners in front of me had not done that. And with no volunteers to give runners instructions, I had to just go with what the runners in front of me did. Perhaps next year there will be either arrows or volunteers to direct runners. Or, better yet, there could be arrows AND volunteers and the route could actually match the map that was on the website!

When I flew into the finish, the clock said 27:42. WHAT?! Then I looked at my GPS and learned that the race wasn't a full 5K. Damn. In fact, I came up with slightly under three miles. Maybe runners WERE supposed to loop that lone traffic cone. Still, I did not expect to finish in under 30:00, so my time came as a bit of a shock.

There were medals for top three male and top three female finishers. I never expected to be in the top three, and I wasn't. But, as far as I could tell, I was possibly the fifth female finisher. I'm really quite proud of that. Last year, runners were emailed official results along with a few stats about how many runners there were etc. This year, even three weeks later, I still haven't seen such a list. I think that perhaps the way the finish line was set up this year prevented those in charge from knowing an official time for anyone. Bummer. At least I know my approximate finish time, and I know I ran better than I did last year.

My plan at this point is to run this race every year that they hold it. Perhaps one year they will add chip time. Next year will be the third year of the race, and I hope that third time is a charm given all of the issues they had this year. And maybe, just maybe, third time will be a charm for me, and I will place in the top three. Given how well I ran this year, I think that is a definite possibility.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

One Is The Most Anxious Number

In my last post, I mentioned that planning ahead is best for those who like to run races. So, when I saw an advertisement for the Medtronic TC One Mile happening in May, I decided to look into it.

I'm not going to discriminate against a race just because it's only one mile. Especially since the race was on a weekday, and weekday races are best for my schedule. I decided to register for the race, and I had a little over two months to work on my mile pace.

I've heard that improving your running time happens with hill work and speed work. Also, running longer distances helps. If I can get my body used to running a 5K, then I should, theoretically, be able to 'rock' a one mile.

Prior to the race, my best time for one mile was right around nine minutes. I didn't know if I would get much faster for the race. I honestly didn't even expect to. I just did my best to maintain a (mostly) regular running schedule. We have a treadmill, so I couldn't really use weather as an excuse for not running. Life got in the way of a couple of runs, but for the most part, I ran every other weekday for the two months leading up to the race.

The TC One Mile was on a Thursday evening. I don't generally like driving downtown, so I opted to take Metro Transit to the race venue. It just so happened that I could ride the bus for free with a special pass printed from the TC One Mile website. Score! When my family dropped me off at the bus station, I was already a bundle of nerves. I get super nervous before races anyway, but there were a couple of other things that were adding to my anxiety. I was nervous about the little "twinge" I kept feeling in my right quadricep. I was nervous about taking Metro Transit — it's not something I do often, and I rarely do it alone. I was nervous about whether or not my sister, who had agreed to pick me up after the race, would actually show up. Read my last post if you're curious as to why I question her reliability. So, when my bus was thirteen minutes late, I was pacing around the bus stop like a crazy person. I planned my trip so that I would get off of Metro Transit about an hour before the race. I had to walk about a quarter mile to get to the race start from where I got off the Light Rail. With my bus being late, I would miss my connection for the train.

Once I got on the bus, traffic, construction, and detours all added to my anxiety. I checked the time; 6:30. I was supposed to be there by 6:30. Instead, I was barely five minutes away from where I got on the bus. I got on my phone to search for the Light Rail schedule. What did people ever do without smartphones? Thankfully, a train ran every ten minutes. So, regardless of what time my bus got to the stop, I would be able to catch a train relatively quickly.

I made my connection (about thirty minutes after I planned to), and I got to my final destination without further incident. I still had thirty minutes to spare. I jogged to the 'sweats check' so that I could check my personal items. Then, I went down to the riverfront to take a few pictures. I ran into someone else from the Run the Year Facebook group, which was pretty neat considering there are 24,000+ people in the group.

There were several different start times for the race depending upon which wave you wanted to or qualified to run with. I opted to be in the competitive wave, because I was more serious about the race than those running the recreational wave. However, when I lined up for my start time, I started questioning whether or not I belonged in the competitive wave. Many of the racers looked very fit, very active, and much better at running than me. But, I chose to be there, not because I expected to win any prizes, but because I wanted to push myself. My goal was to finish in about nine minutes and to not get injured. Sometimes, the key to running faster—in addition to hill work, speed work, and higher mileage—is simply to run with people faster than you.

My favorite part about the route was that there were official time clocks every quarter mile. Every time I passed a clock, I tried to do the math in my head to figure out what my finish time would be. Even still, when I crossed the finish line at 8:23.6, I was shocked by my time. Regardless of seeing a clock every quarter mile, I still had no idea I was going that fast.

Shortly after finishing, I received a text from my sister. She was at the finish line. Sweet. Not only did the race go better than I could've hoped, but my ride didn't let me down. Her and I went to the race after-party for a bit. They had alcohol samples and other freebies that we took advantage of. We also shared a brownie from a food truck. Overall, it was a great experience. I would sign up again next year in a heart beat. Hopefully next year I won't be so anxious, since I've run the route and I know the drill. And hopefully by then, I'll be able to beat an 8:23 mile.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Forget the PR and Make Some Memories

Sometimes, you plan ahead. This is usually the case for people who run races, because many races require registering before the day of the race. While some races have walk-up registration, it is usually much cheaper to register well ahead of race day. Not to mention that race-day registration is not always guaranteed.

If you're someone like me, who has three kids, planning for a race becomes slightly more involved because a sitter is usually required.

I registered for the Anoka-Ramsey Community College Cambridge Campus 5K Family Fun Run on March 3, 2017, well ahead of the April 22 race day. There was no registration fee, but I wanted to commit to it early. I wanted to plan ahead.

Originally, the plan was that I would run the race alone, while my sister and her girlfriend walked with my three kids. I didn't expect my kids to want to run it, nor did I expect them to be excited about running it. But, I wanted to run it, and it was easier to bring them with. It's usually much easier to convince my family to watch my kids if I'm nearby, even if a 3.1 mile walk is involved.

I suppose that my sister and her girlfriend could've just played with the kids at the race site, rather than signing up to participate. I suppose that may have been less work for the kids. But, hindsight is 20/20.

A month before the race, my daughter found out that she would be participating in a school-related state competition on race day. Oh, well. As long as I could find her transportation, there was no reason why I couldn't still participate in the 5K with my two sons, still running on my own, while my sister and her girlfriend walked the route with them.

A couple of days before the race, my sister had to cancel. She had the opportunity to see an apartment that would hopefully become hers. So, now what was I supposed to do? I had no sitter. I guess it was time to make the decision, and admit to myself the reality that I would not be running this race for a PR. I would have to push my youngest son in the jogging stroller while my oldest son walked and ran beside me.

The idea of just walking 3.1 miles with my oldest son was pretty stressful. He's a particularly sensitive kid, and to be honest, I didn't know if he would make it. He's the kind of kid who whines about walking a few blocks to the park. So, in order to get him more excited about the race, I bought him an MP3 player, which I was going to let him carry in one of my SPIbelts. And, I had plenty of Sports Beans to bribe him with along the course.

Race day came and I dropped my daughter off at her friend's house so that she could be at her competition. Then, my sons and I headed to the college. The weather was picture perfect. We couldn't have paid for a more gorgeous day. We ended up ditching the idea of him using the MP3 player, because we just couldn't get the ear buds to stay in his ears. Not to mention that he's a skinny kid, and my SPIBelt wouldn't stay up on him. We lined up at the start, and when they blew the air horn to signal the start of the race, my son took off in a flash. I wasn't even ready to run yet, but I started trying to catch him. He ran for about 400 meters before I caught him and he said, "I'm tired." I knew that was going to happen with the way that he took off at the start. I gave him some water from the jogging stroller, and we continued on at a very slow pace. From then on, I continued running slowly, and he walked and then sprinted to catch me. Every so often, I would feed him a Sports Bean. Even if they didn't actually help him in any way, they definitely had a placebo effect.

I had to do a fair amount of walking to be with him. Once we got to the two mile mark, there were cones in the road. He came up with a strategy to help himself move forward, telling me that we would walk to a specific cone and then we would run. I basically tried to let him be in charge of the pace, but I also tried to push his limits a bit and encourage him to keep going. I would run ahead a little ways, and then I would walk until he caught up. We probably went through two packages of Sports Beans, because I would reward him with one every time he got to me.

He was exhausted by the time the finish line was in view, but he found enough energy to sprint the last fifty meters. In the end, he finished the race in 43:14. That time completely blew away any expectations I had of him. My time was 43:10 (chip time) and is my worst 5K time. But despite running my worst race, I'm not disappointed. The pride I felt after finishing with my son trumps any pride I may have had if I had run a PR. I think the memories that we created are far better than any PR, too.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Do the Hustle

The Hot Cider Hustle 5K was scheduled for October 22, 2016. I knew that a race at the end of October could be cold, because I've lived in Minnesota for most of my life. But, my neighbor wanted to sign up for it and asked me if I would run it with her. I actually signed up for the race on August 9, which was probably the most advanced notice I'd had for a race all summer.

Between the time I signed up and the date of the race, I ran three other races, two of them virtual. You can read about those races here.

Knowing I had the Hustle coming up at the end of October forced me to continue training. I was coming off of a personal best time with the Panther 5K, and I was really hoping to beat that at the Hustle. In the five weeks between the Panther 5K and the Hustle, I got outside to run a total of eight times. Could've been worse, I guess.

The morning of the race came and it was definitely chilly. It was colder than any temperature I'd run in since my first race in May. I did my best to wear appropriate gear, and my neighbor and I drove to the race location.

When the race started it was right around 40ºF. We were shivering while we waited for the race to start, but thankfully, we didn't have to wait around for too long since parking the car took a fair amount of time. I was hoping to run with my neighbor, but we got separated early on. The race course was largely comprised of a bike path around a lake, and the path was hilly and narrow, especially at the start. The corrals were not super organized, and there were people starting the race in front of us that were walking. One even had a walking boot (cast) on her foot! Clearly those participants didn't understand race etiquette. It's incredibly disrespectful to walk side-by-side on a narrow, uphill race start. I weaved between and around people, finding myself in the grass at times. The weaving was what caused me to lose my neighbor, but she was still nursing her injury from the Panther 5K, and I wasn't going to cause even more congestion by slowing down.

I think the congestion at the start of the race cost me a PR. I finished just twenty seconds shy of my personal record Panther 5K time. I was frustrated to say the least, because I'd felt like I really could have hit that coveted sub 30:00 mark.

The biggest perk to the Hot Cider Hustle is the finisher's mug and hot cider at the end. We also got a caramel apple. Yum! My neighbor and I sat near the finish line enjoying our goodies while we waited for my sister to finish. Yup, that's right. When my sister heard about the Hustle, she decided to participate, too. However, she signed up to walk it. She was in good company at least, because there were many people walking the race–no doubt they were just there for the cider and mug.

After the race, I pretty much expected that I would be mostly done with running until spring came around. It was getting cold and I lacked proper gear to run in the winter and snow. I also lacked enough money to really purchase any of the said gear, because cold weather running gear can be prohibitively expensive. I just figured I would spend my winter sitting on my butt, per my usual, or maybe playing Wii Fit or Dance Party once in awhile.

I did get out and run a few more times before the end of the year, mostly because we didn't get much snow. But, I still had no intention of seriously running again until the warm weather came around. I was envious of my friends who posted pictures of themselves running throughout the winter. I missed running on a regular basis. Not to mention that I had worked really hard to get my 5K time down, and it was disheartening to know in the back of my mind that it could take awhile to get back to that point once spring did arrive.

When my family and I were down in Illinois between Christmas and New Year's, I came across a challenge called Run The Year. I had heard of it before but I dismissed it because it sounded insane. For some reason though, this time I researched it and learned that I could participate in the challenge by counting all of my daily miles toward the goal of 2,017 miles by year's end. I knew I would never be able to run an average of 5.5 miles a day, especially given that I didn't have a treadmill. But, I also knew that even hitting 5.5 miles a day would be difficult, because I knew how I have previously been mostly sedentary in the winter months. I bit the bullet and signed up for the challenge on December 31, and I am already thinking of signing up for the challenge next year.

In future posts, I will blog about the challenge along with writing about races I've done in 2017. I have a few virtual races I've already run this year, so I guess you can learn about those next time.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Family Time and Failures

I've been pretty quiet this month. I was very busy with Girl Scout stuff and now that the cookie season is over, I'm working on an art project for a local competition.

My running schedule has suffered a little, and I'm not quite where I want/need to be for my Run the Year goals. I was hoping to hit 500 miles by the end of this month, since I should be at 497 if I've been getting 5.5 miles every day. I won't be hitting 500, or even 497. It's disappointing, but it's important for me to remember that missing one goal isn't the end of the world. With warmer and longer days coming, I will be getting out on more walks and just moving more in general.

The Run the Year challenge has still helped me to become a more active person, especially in the winter months. I'm happy that I discovered the challenge, and I'm glad to have a supportive network of like-minded individuals.

My running has slowed down considerably in the last couple of weeks, because I've been experiencing some pain in my SI joint. In the past, I've been able to relieve the pain by stretching my hips and glutes, but that hasn't fixed the problem this time. I have an appointment scheduled with my chiropractor next week.

I hope to get a running blog post written in the coming week. I have new races coming up and would like to be done writing about last year's races before starting this year's (live) races.

I'd like to thank all of my family, friends, and RTY supporters for being here. I'm really enjoying my new, more active lifestyle, but it's a good reminder to all of us that life ebbs and flows; Goals might pass without being reached. Instead of giving up when things "fall apart" or when there is a failure, it's a great time to set new goals and keep moving forward.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Virtual Races, Panthers and PR's

Sometime after the Esprit de She, my neighbor found a Best Friend's 5K virtual race through US Road Running. We liked that we could each get a medal for a pretty low price. So, we signed up for the 5K. The timing of when we received the medals and bibs coincided with our training for our school district's annual race, the Panther Foundation 5K. One evening, a few days before the Panther 5K, we went out and ran the virtual race. It was a PR for me: I actually cut over two minutes off of my official race time from the Esprit de She. Despite it being a virtual race, it was fun because I was running it with my neighbor and friend. 

The next thing to tackle was the Panther Foundation 5K. My husband took vacation from work that day in order to attend the event with me and keep an eye on the kids while I ran. The event consisted of a 5K run, a 2K walk, and a carnival. The carnival was a great way to keep the kids busy while I participated in the 5K.

We arrived at the high school track early in order for the kids to enjoy the carnival games before things got too busy. Between the walk from the parking lot to the track and walking around with my family, I got quite a few steps in while I waited for the race to start. My shoes were less than a month old, and I had only ever run in them. So, it was pretty painful to learn that the walking I did before the race was giving me blisters on my heels. NOOOOOOO! It was 10 minutes to race time, and I had a blister on each foot. I grabbed some large bandages that I keep in my youngest son's diaper bag, and I hoped for the best.

The race started and things felt pretty good. My neighbor and I were running faster than I thought we were. By the time my GPS told me my mile split, I was shocked. I thought for sure that I was going to fizzle out before the race ended.

We kept going at a pretty steady pace. She kept wanting to stop, but I told her we could do it without stopping. Honestly, I was afraid that if we stopped that I wouldn't be able to start again, so I just encouraged her to keep going and it helped me to keep moving, too. We ran our hearts out, and when the finish line came into view, we stepped it out a bit.

She ended up with an injury because of stepping it out at the end. I kind of blame myself, and I felt bad that I had pushed her through the finish. But, it really felt good to cross the finish line with her at 30:15. I (we) were so close to breaking that thirty minute mark! I was ridiculously proud of us both. I was in a bit of shock that I had just run a 5K at that pace. It was two minutes off of the pace we ran the Best Friend's 5K virtual race at. It was so empowering!

After the Panther 5K, I decided that I could try to strive for something a little more. I was ready to slowly start pushing myself and see what my limits were. I decided that my next step would be to sign up for the virtual Turtle Runner 5 Miler. I ran it a month after the Panther 5K on a warm October day, and I ran it in under an hour. Considering that I have never run that far in my life, I was pretty psyched about the results. I was doing things I had never thought I would be capable of doing. 

The outdoor running season was nearing its end, but my neighbor and I did find one more race to run before November. That story will wait until next time

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Esprit de She

Sometimes, when you joke about doing something, things work out in such a way that you have no excuse to not do the thing you joked about. 

When I finished my first race in May 2016, I joked with my husband that I should run five 5K's before my 35th birthday. Over the last few weeks, I've posted about my second and third races that were mostly coincidental. With my entry into those races, it was almost as though life was placing these neatly wrapped opportunities in front of me. The same can almost be said about my fourth race, too. My neighbor won an entry to a race through the same contest that I won my entry for the Torchlight 5K. The day after I ran the Super Run, she found out that she won her entry, and she basically asked me if I would run with her so she didn't have to go alone. At least that's how I remember it. In any case, I just happened to have a discount coupon from running the Torchlight 5K, so I took advantage of that and on July 25th, I signed up for the Esprit de She. 

I actually had the opportunity, and surprisingly the motivation, to run three times between the Super Run and the Esprit. I was at the point where I was actually excited to be running another race with my neighbor, though, I still didn't think I was at the point where I could keep up with her. 

The Esprit de She was on August 4th. My neighbor drove us to Maple Grove where we had to park and take a shuttle to the finish line and then walk the short distance to the starting line. While the race wasn't quite as large as the Torchlight, it was definitely an energetic atmosphere. We went to the pavilion area to get our wristbands (for the alcohol after the race), and we began our trek to the starting line. As we walked, we stopped to get an official pre-race photo. We stretched a bit, found our pace group (10:30 min/mile–an improvement from the Torchlight), and waited for the race to start. 

For almost the entire course, she was at least 100 meters in front of me, though, there were times that I lost track of her completely. I wasn't really concerned with where she was because I wanted to focus on me. I did my best to run the whole 3.1 miles, and if I recall correctly, I was successful. As I neared the finish line, I saw my neighbor. That got my adrenaline pumping! I had spent the entire race lagging behind her, and here I was less than 200 meters from the finish, and I was within distance of catching her! My legs sped up and I flew around the last two corners; she didn't even see me coming. 

I ended up crossing the finish line one second ahead of her, but because of when she started the race, we actually ended up with the same exact time of 34:36 (although my official race time is 34:37). I don't claim to be a math whiz, but when I started the race at 6:42:21 PM and finished the race at 7:16:57 PM, I'm pretty sure that I finished the race in 34:36. But, whatever. It was a personal record all the same. 

I had now run four races in slightly over two months. I was determined to run a fifth race before I turned 35, and since my birthday was still nine months away, I was pretty confident I could make it work. And since I'm writing about it, I bet you can deduce that I was successful. So, you can read about my fifth race next time.

If you want you can follow me on Facebook. You can see pictures of my races, and keep up on how my training is going.