Thursday, February 24, 2011

The ABCs of Me

Kim and Wells L recently posted a fun little quiz on their blogs to tell their readers more about themselves, so I thought I'd join in on the fun!

(A) Age: 26
(B) Bed Size: Full
(C) Chore You Hate: Dusting or vacuuming because it always makes my nose itch
(D) Dogs? None right now, but Mark and I plan to get a beagle after we get married and have a place of our own.  Growing up, I was a cat-lover.
(E) Essential Start Your Day Item: A good breakfast, preferably peanut butter and honey on cinnamon-raisin toast.  Yum!
(F) Favorite Color: Blue
(G) Gold or Silver? Silver, but I also like white gold and platinum 
(H) Height: 5' 6" 
(I) Instruments You Play: Flute, piccolo, organ, and I also love to sing
(J) Job Title: Administrative Assistant (for our company's chief operations officer, in case you were wondering)
(K) Kids: None, not planning on having any either
(L) Live: Minnesota
(M) Mom's Name: Lois
(N) Nicknames: R, R-Dawg, Moonbeam, and the Enabler (I used to be a bartender)
(O) Overnight Hospital Stays? None yet, knock on wood.  The day will come when I'll need one, I'm sure!
(P) Pet Peeve: Drivers who don't signal when turning or changing lanes, and people who leave the toilet seat up
(Q) Quote from a Movie: "Well, look on the bright side.  He's got more room in his jockey shorts." - While You Were Sleeping
(R) Right or Left Handed? Right
(S) Siblings: Two older brothers
(T) Time You Wake Up? 6:15-6:30 in the morning... I wish I weren't such a night owl!
(U) Underwear: Bikini briefs and a bra
(V) Vegetable You Dislike: Extremely hot peppers
(W) What Makes You Run Late: If I have to wait for other people who are running behind.  I don't like being late. 
(X) X-Rays You've Had Done: Right knee back in 2008, teeth x-rays during my annual dental checkups
(Y) Yummy Food You Make: Tilapia, sauteed zucchini and yellow squash, tomato-basil pasta salad
(Z) Zoo, Favorite Animal: Monkeys and big cats

OK... time to catch up on Off the Map!!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snow, Cake and a Giveaway Winner!

Old Man Winter likes to tease us.  Last week, the weather was sunny and highs were in the 40s.  Runners were out in shorts and t-shirts.  On Sunday, a good chunk of Minnesota received a little reminder that winter wasn't over yet.  Here in the Twin Cities metro area, snowfall totals ranged from 12 to 18 inches.  My roommate and I spent about two hours shoveling out our driveway Monday morning because the neighbor who usually snowblows our driveway had neglected to do so.  I was two hours late to work, and even though shoveling is great exercise, I have the muscle soreness in my arms and back to prove it!

This past weekend, I visited my parents.  I cut my trip a day short so I wouldn't have to drive in the snow on Sunday, but it was a productive visit.  A family friend makes wedding cakes, so Mom and I arranged to have Patty make Dad a birthday cake (his birthday was on Saturday) with the same ingredients she would use in a wedding cake.

Patty covered the cake in a bunch of the different designs and embellishments she can do for wedding cakes:

There were almost too many options!
She also showed several pictures of wedding cakes she had made in the past.

However, the true test came to the taste of the cake.  It was a plain white cake, as requested.  After I took my first bite, I took another... and another... and several more. :)  I found it hard to stop eating the cake because it tasted so good!  I brought some home for Mark and he had the same problem, ha ha!

My awesome Dad, holding his birthday/"wedding" cake
So, future hubs and I will get our wedding cake from Patty.  The design is yet to be determined, but the price is extremely reasonable at only $1.00 per serving and no delivery charge.


Thanks to all who entered my Minneapolis Marathon, Half-Marathon or 5K race entry giveaway!

Drumroll please...

[insert random drumming noises here!]

And the winner is... Sara @ Domestically Challenged!

Sara, please e-mail me at richelle(dot)maciej(at)gmail(dot)com letting me know that you saw you won and also what race distance you want to run.  I'm working out some of the finer details with the Team Ortho staff, but we'll get you registered in the next few days.

Please stay tuned for future giveaways.  John, the Team Ortho executive director, liked my giveaway, so there will plenty of other Team Ortho race entry giveaways in the future. :)  I also want to do giveaways of my handmade jewelry and running essentials.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Four for Friday

1. In honor of "Foto Friday" I thought I'd post this fun picture I took a couple days ago...

Paul (co-worker) is pimpin' his ride.  This is how we get down in Minnesota!
2. Shoe update:  The Newton Terra Momentus were bothering my left knee, and when I analyzed the shoes, I found that the left one pitched inward.  So, I returned them to Gear Running and got a pair of Newton Lady Isaac shoes.  These feel much better!  I also returned the Nike Air Pegasus trail shoes because there was a problem with the heel.  I'm lovin' the Nike Frees for strength training!

3. Physical therapy seems to be helping my knee.  Yay!

4. Here's a fun video to start out your weekend.  Future hubs and I photographed our friend Heather's wedding last September.  During the garter toss, she and her brother had a little fun at her husband's expense.  Go HERE for the video (you will need to have a Facebook account in order to view this video).

Have a great weekend, everybody!  I'm visiting my folks this weekend and tasting wedding cake. :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Race Report: Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon

I had never done a triathlon event before.  I had wanted to do the Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon for the past two years, but never got around to signing up for it.  Since most of my cardio workouts this winter have been on a spin bike and I've only been running 15-20 minutes at a shot, I thought this would be the perfect event to complete before focusing on my training for the walking marathon in May.

How the indoor tri works is this: you swim for 10 minutes in the lap pool, then have a 10-minute transition to change into dry clothes and get in the cycling studio.  Then, you bike for 30 minutes on one of the spin bikes, which is followed by a 5-minute transition to the fitness floor.  Finally, you run on a treadmill for 20 minutes.  Volunteers record the total distance you cover in each event; the farther you go, the higher your score.

Several indoor tris will be held at LTF locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area this spring, but I decided to do the very first one of 2011, which was held in Chanhassen on February 13.

I chose an early enough start time (7:20 a.m. - the 2nd heat) so future hubs could cheer me on before going to work.  We arrived at LTF around 6:30, and after checking in and collecting my slightly large for a small race shirt, I familiarized myself with the facility and changed into my swimsuit.

The swimming portion took place at the 25-meter indoor lap pool.  While waiting for the first wave of participants to finish their 10 minutes in the pool, I put on my swim cap (each participant received a swim cap for use during the race) and watched the action.

After the first heat left the pool, those of us in the 2nd heat entered the pool.  Fortunately, I did not have to share my lane with another participant.  A few minutes later, the whistle blew and we were cutting through the water.

I'm totally the next Michael Phelps!
I'm a decent swimmer (remind me to post about the unorthodox way I overcame my fear of going underwater), but I have a tendency to start out too fast, which is what I did.  I also haven't had the opportunity to swim much this winter, so I felt really slow in the pool.  I just tried to keep as steady of a pace as I could.  Once the whistle blew again to end the swim, I had covered 18 lengths of the pool: a distance of 450 meters.

10 minutes of transition may seem like a long time, but not when you're trying to towel off and change into dry clothes.  I changed as quickly as I could and made my way upstairs to the cycling studio and found a bike.  I had to find a pair of straps for the pedals because I don't own bike shoes, and then I had to adjust the seat to my specs.  Fortunately, I had enough time.

After a brief countdown by a race volunteer, my fellow 2nd heat participants and I started pedaling away.  Unfortunately, the counter on my bike wasn't recording my RPM or distance covered.  In fact, none of the counters were working for my heat, and we were all in the second row, so we were pedaling with a big fat zero staring up at us the whole time.  The bikes in the studio were new, so they apparently weren't calibrated correctly with the counters, which had been calibrated to the old bikes.  But for some odd reason, the first row of bikes worked fine.  The race volunteers should have tested the bikes beforehand.  Not cool!

I may be smiling, but I'm pissed off about my bike not working.
I'm glad Mark was around, not only for the support he gave me but also because he took pictures. :)

30 minutes later, my heat finished biking.  My counter may have said 0, but I figured I covered at least 13 miles.  I asked a race volunteer if they were going to record any distance for those of us whose bikes did not work, and they weren't sure.  The lady I talked to said they would look into it, that they might figure out an average distance covered and give that total to us. Frustrating...

We made our way to the fitness floor and chose treadmills for ourselves.  I did a little stretching and got my iPod ready to go for the run.  Once the transition time ended, we were running.  I wore my old Asics (Gel-Kayano 16) because I've run the most in those shoes and I hadn't done enough running in any of my newer pairs of shoes to break them in yet.  I paid attention to my stride, trying to keep a cadence of around 180 and striking mid-foot, but also tried keeping a fast pace.  Mark was able to shoot video of me running with my digital camera.

On the road to nowhere, ha ha!
After 20 minutes, I had covered a distance of 2.58 miles (average pace: 7:46/mile).  Not too shabby!  My right knee didn't bother me at all, either.

I cooled down by stretching out, and Mark showed me the video he took of me running.  The camera allowed him to show the video in slow motion, and I noticed two things.  First, even though I try to strike mid-foot, I still heel-strike.  Second, I have a more prominent heel-strike with my left foot.  Ironically, my left leg is the reliable one.  I'm glad Mark shot this video because now I have a few things to change with my running gait.

A marked woman: #2 was my heat, #20 was my bib/participant number.
I talked to the race director about the bike problem, and she said they would either figure out an average bike distance for those participants or would comp us a free entry to the next indoor tri at the Chanhassen location.  Results were posted yesterday, and 12 of us had zeros for the bike portion.

Here are my stats:
  • Swim: 18 lengths, 36 points
  • Bike: 0 miles, 0 points (I figured I biked at least 13 miles)
  • Run: 2.58 miles, 43 points
  • TOTAL (points): 79
Compared with the other participants, I finished somewhere in the middle.  I think I would have done better if the bike was working properly.

I contacted the race director again, this time via e-mail, and those of us who had faulty bikes will receive a free entry into the next indoor tri event at Chanhassen, which will take place on April 10.  I just hope the bikes will work properly the next time around.

The swag!  Too bad the shirt is too big for me.
So, I finished my first triathlon event ever!  Yay!  I had fun, but the bike problem cast a disappointing shadow over the whole event.  I just hope there are no problems on April 10.

I also really want to try a "real" triathlon later this year. There are a couple sprint tris that I'm eying. :)

Don't forget about my Minneapolis Marathon, Half-Marathon or 5K race entry giveaway!  The last day to enter is Monday, February 21.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pre V-Day

For the past few years, I've cooked an elaborate meal for Mark on (or around) Valentine's Day.  I knew I had to outdo last year's menu of cornmeal-crusted tilapia with cilantro pesto, caramelized onions and pears, and homemade chocolate truffles.  I figured I'd have a winner with this year's menu...

The local Star Tribune always has great recipes.  I found a couple winners, although I modified the arctic char recipe considerably because the four grocery stores I checked did not carry arctic char.

I also did not include the soba noodles, pine nuts or Meyer lemon.
I needed some type of grain, so I picked a risotto dish.  Sorry, it wasn't homemade!

I set the mood and chose a delicious bottle of wine from our favorite winery, Chateau St. Croix.

A little wine in honor of the Packers winning the Super Bowl, perhaps?
I was able to prep most of the avocado, grapefruit and orange salad on Saturday.

Once future hubs arrived at my place after work, it was time to eat!

The tilapia cooked in olive oil, lemon juice and cumin turned out better than I thought.
Everything was delicious.  Success!

For dessert, we ate the lid off of a new product created by the CEO of my company.

Coco Dolce - a chocolate gift box
Dark chocolate is good for you!
These gift boxes are used to present jewelry.  The ring inside is just a display.
The lid contained so much chocolate, but it was worth it! :)

We exchanged gifts after dinner.  Mark enjoyed the Pearls Before Swine book and the watchband for his new iPod nano that I gave him.

My gifts had a theme...

Not quite sure what the 354 means...
Mark knew I was eying the recent blogger giveaways of necklaces from Anne Franklin Designs, and because I'm so unlucky at winning random drawings, he purchased two of my very own.

This wine is my favorite from Glacial Ridge Winery in Spicer, MN (Mark's hometown)
My fiance is so incredibly thoughtful.  I am blessed to be marrying him. :)

The reason why we celebrated V-Day on the eve of the holiday instead of on the actual holiday itself is because we both have to work, with Mark working longer hours.  Even though we didn't celebrate the holiday on its exact day, it was still a perfect day.

The weather was fabulous, too: highs in the 40s.  I took a walk around Lake Calhoun mid-afternoon to enjoy the sunshine and the gobs of people out enjoying the beautiful day.  Made for great people-watching! :)

I also rang in Valentine's Eve by completing my very first triathlon event: the Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon.  Expect a race report in the next few days.  The indoor tri was an event I wanted to do this year, and I'm glad that I got 'er done.  Now, I will be focusing on my walking training for the Get Lucky 7K and the We Walk Marathon.

What are you doing for Valentine's Day?  Have you ever done an indoor event before?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Shifting Gears

My friend Rachel recently posted on her Facebook wall that she would be walking the Get Lucky 7K with her fiance and a mutual friend, and invited others to join her.  Rachel is walking a marathon in May and this will be a great training race for her, though the free beer, stained-glass finisher medal and awesome sweatshirt are major draws, too. :)

While I was reading her wall post I thought, Maybe I should walk this race instead of running it.

I'm already signed up for the Get Lucky, and want to improve my time this year after a poor showing last year.  However, future hubs and I are signed up for the We Walk Marathon as well, and I feel like we haven't done much training for it.  Walking this race would also give me the chance to hang out with Rachel, Matt and Laurie, and I think that would be more fun than running this race within a specific time frame.

This could also be a sign that I still need to give my knee more time off from running.  I'm frustrated that I'm not running much (up to 15 minutes at a shot).  My legs certainly aren't ready to run a 5K right now, let alone a 7K, and time is running out to train for the race.

I guess what this dilemma boils down to is figuring out my priorities.  Do I scrap running so I can focus more on walking, or should I continue incorporating both into my workouts?  Should I focus on a good 7K time, or rest from running until the end of May and then focus on my goal summer races?  Completing a marathon has been a bucket list item for me for the past few years, and I'd like this year to be the year I finally do it.

My knee is still a major concern for me, so last week I visited my regular doctor.  He suggested physical therapy, which I've responded to well in the past.  I went to my first PT appointment on Tuesday morning, and the doc completed a series of muscle tests and watched me walk barefoot.  She determined that my right gluteus medius is weak, so she prescribed me a series of exercises to strengthen that muscle.  I hope that the PT works because I miss being able to run like I used to.

Don't forget about my giveaway for a free race entry!  Presidents' Day is the last day you can enter.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

First Giveaway... Free Race Entry!

I've had this blog for a few months now, so it's time for my first giveaway!

As you know, I am a committed volunteer for Team Ortho Foundation and have been since 2009.  Team Ortho's mission is "to improve and enhance the lives of orthopaedic patients through our commitment to supporting research, education, and advancements in orthopaedic technology; and to promote good muscular, skeletal, and joint health by encouraging an active lifestyle including training for and participating in amateur athletic events."  And boy, do they put on some great events!  Last year's Minneapolis Duathlon was the world's largest.  The inaugural Get Lucky (2010) sold out in a week's time.  The very first Go Commando adventure race was a success in 2010, and resulted in two Go Commando races for 2011.

Team Ortho's races are known for their fantastic gear: hoodies for last year's Get Lucky, stained glass finisher medals for their 2010 races, and great performance shirts and fleeces for their other races.

Future hubs and I after running the 2010 Minneapolis Half-Marathon (Mark's first HM!) and 5K (me)
Team Ortho also sponsors training runs for its major races to ensure that participants are prepared for their races, no matter the distance.  Training runs for the Get Lucky Half-Marathon and the Minneapolis Marathon and Half-Marathon will start this Saturday.


I am giving away ONE FREE RACE ENTRY to the Minneapolis Marathon, Half-Marathon or 5K, which is on June 5, 2011.  All participants will receive a performance t-shirt (men's and women's cuts available) and finishers will receive a stained glass finisher medal.  Marathon finishers receive a 24-karat gold-plated finisher medal!

Here's what you need to do to enter my giveaway:

1 – Become a follower of my blog or post a comment if you already are (MANDATORY).

2 – Let me know what race (marathon, half-marathon or 5K) you would like to do (MANDATORY).

3 – Like Team Ortho Foundation on Facebook HERE (BONUS).

4 – Post about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook or Twitter account. LEAVE ME A COMMENT FOR EACH. (BONUS).

Enter now though President's Day (Monday, Feb. 21).
Winner will be announced on Tuesday, Feb. 22.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New kicks x3!

As mentioned in my last post, I dropped a bunch of money on new running shoes this past weekend.  For someone who's planning a wedding, buying three pairs of shoes was not a smart idea, but I'd grown very tired of my stiff Asics and needed a change.  Here we go!

Pair #1 - Nike Air Pegasus +27 Trail

Future hubs and I spent Saturday morning walking at the Mall of America to prep for the walking marathon we're doing in May.  Besides walking, my other to-do item on the list was to try on a bunch of running shoes at the Nike Store.

I swear I tried on almost every style of running shoe they had, save for racing flats and track spikes.  I enjoyed running around the store and making customers freak out as I weaved my way around them.  I'm sure the staff was happy when I left--one less hazard to worry about.

I narrowed down my choices to the Air Pegasus Trail and the Nike Free.  Ultimately, I decided on the Pegasus because they had the right amount of cushioning for my stride and I loved the bright colors.  I also thought it would be easier for me to find the Nike Free at other sporting goods stores.

These shoes are much brighter in person.

The extra grippers on the bottom add a bit more cushioning.
I wore these shoes tonight during my workout--40 minutes of spinning, 15 minutes walking, 15 minutes running.  I like these shoes, and the extra traction will be perfect for winter running.

Total cost of Pair #1 = $95.00

Pair #2 - Nike Free Run+

After we finished up at MOA, future hubs and I headed down to Burnsville.  We first ate lunch at Leeann Chin (yay for BOGO entree coupons!), then we headed over to Dick's Sporting Goods.  My aunt Mary (a.k.a. Old Auntie) had given me a $25 gift card to Dick's for Christmas, and it was burning a hole in my pocket.  I was impressed by how comfortable the Nike Free shoes were when I tried them on at the Nike Store, even when I was just walking.  I thought they would be a great shoe to wear while strength training, and if I really get into minimalist running, I can make the transition to running in these shoes.

My custom orthotics will replace these sweet sockliners.

Black and pink - the girliest pair of running shoes I've ever owned!

So comfy!
Total cost of Pair #2 (after giftcard) = $59.99

Pair #3 - Newton Terra Momentus

My recent interest in minimalist running is due to the fact that I'm injury-prone.  Since 2007, I've sustained at least one running injury a year.  My injuries are due to poor biomechanics; I pronate severely due to my almost flat feet.  But even after accommodating my shortcomings with custom orthotics and specific physical therapy exercises, I'm still frustrated by the fact that I keep getting injured.  This is why I've never run a full marathon; my body apparently can't handle the training, pounding and distance.

I discovered Newton Running through one of the best running stores in the Twin Cities: Gear Running Store.  The staff at Gear are awesome, displaying a vast wealth of knowledge coupled with Minnesota Nice.  They've also been bit by the minimalist running bug and stock several books and shoe brands related to it.  I mentioned to Mark that I wanted to try on a pair of Newtons, so we headed to Edina after finishing our errands in Burnsville.

Since we both do some running outside in the winter, Paul suggested we try on the Terra Momentus, an off-road trainer.

Yes, I found another pair of bright shoes!

Immediately when I put them on and started running around the store, I noticed that my stride was different.  The shoes forced me to run with a mid-foot strike!  The heel sits lower than in most running shoes, and the actuator lugs in the mid-foot area of the shoe actually store energy when you land, and then release the energy as you move through your landing and the beginning of your next stride to help propel you forward.

Do you see the four black actuator lugs in the mid-foot area?

Notice the lower heel profile
Mark already runs with a mid-foot strike, plus he wanted to use up his current pair of running shoes before purchasing another pair, so he passed on the Newtons.  Even though I had already purchased two pairs that day, I added the Newtons to my collection.  Luckily, I received a 20% discount on the shoes because I'm a Team Ortho volunteer.

I wore these shoes for my workout on Monday: 30 minutes of spinning and 14 minutes of running.  My legs, especially my calves, are still very sore because I use different muscles when running in the shoes.  They will take some getting used to.

Total cost of Pair #3 (after discount): $111.20

I have 30 days to test out these shoes, and if a pair doesn't work for me, I will return them.  I have high hopes that at least one of these pairs will suit me well.