Thursday, April 28, 2011

Three Times Two Things Thursday

1. My left ankle appears to be back to normal.  I had full range of motion on Tuesday and was able to withstand tough strength-training, yoga and interval workouts this week.  I've got another 5.79 miles to go for the Cool Kids Virtual Marathon, which ends on May 1.  If the weather is decent Saturday (it's been rainy here lately), I'll try to get 3-4 miles in, and then walk the rest on Sunday.

2. Prize raffle winners and photos were posted today for the Jelly Bean Virtual Race (click HERE if you want to check them out).  My costume won an Honorable Mention!  I was also a raffle winner.  Yay!  I will be the recipient of a pack of three pace bands from Races2RememberHas anyone ever used their pace bands before?

3. Speaking of prizes, I received my TYR Alliance Team Backpack in the mail on Tuesday, courtesy of a giveaway hosted by Steve from Steve in a Speedo?! Gross!

My bag is royal blue and gold... ironically, those are my wedding colors!
That swim/transition bag is a lot bigger than I thought it would be, and it has a lot of handy compartments that will work perfectly for me once I get into the tri scene.  Heck... it would work as a hiking backpack or carry-on!  Thanks to Steve for hosting the giveaway.  He's a local runner, so I hope to see him and his wife at future events.

4. Happy Administrative Professionals Day (which was yesterday) and Week!  My company is providing lunch for us admins tomorrow.  Kudos and a quick shout-out to Marlene, who is also an administrative assistant. :)  If I'm missing anyone else, let me know so I can give you a virtual pat on the back, too.  Keep up the great work!

5. The course has been revealed for the Rock 'N' Roll Savannah Marathon and Half-Marathon!

You can check it out HERE.  I'm so excited that a good chunk of the course will take place in Savannah's historic district.  Plus, the race finishes right in front of Forsyth Park. :)

6. Rachel, future hubs and I will not be doing the We Walk! Half-Marathon after all.  Rachel has an all-day choir rehearsal that day with One Voice Mixed Chorus, a choir very near and dear to her heart.  Mark and I talked about the race and decided we didn't want to do it either.  We haven't walked much together and our motivation to do the race was definitely lacking.  Instead, we're thinking about doing the Red, White and Boom! TC Half-Marathon on July 4.  Mark would use this race to PR, whereas I'm hoping to have a good time, although I may pace my fiance if he wants me to.  I'm already thinking of patriotic costume ideas! :)

Enjoy the rest of your week!  I'm so glad tomorrow is Friday, although it's month-end, which means lots of paperwork.  Ugh!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Jelly Bean Virtual Race

On Saturday, I completed the Jelly Bean Virtual Race.

I wanted to challenge myself for this virtual race, as well as log a few miles for the Cool Kids Virtual Marathon.  So, I signed up to do the 10K.  My plan was to run the first half of it in my Sauconys, then walk the second half in my Nike Frees.

I had so much fun wearing a costume for my first virtual race that I decided to wear one for the Jelly Bean.

I found these socks on sale!
I bribed asked my roommate to take a few pictures before I headed out for my run in the 'hood.

I found the bunny ears in Target's dollar bin...

I even added a cotton ball to my butt for good measure!

"Little bunny Frou Frou RUNNING through the forest... er, neighborhood"
Some bloggers doing this race may have taken off their costumes for the run, but I decided to wear mine.  I got so many honks, smiles, stares, and flat-out "WTF?" looks from drivers and other runners, walkers (and their dogs!) that I couldn't help but smile.  Two kids even followed me for a couple blocks on their bikes.  They probably thought I was handing out candy.  Too bad I didn't have my Easter basket with me!  I think I lost my cotton ball tail after the first mile, and my bunny ears needed adjusting throughout the run, but oh well.  I had so much fun running in costume!

This was my first run with my new Garmin, which I have named The Red Dragon.  I'm still learning all its bells and whistles, but so far, I really like it and think it will be an excellent training tool for me.

Now, on to the running part...

I had a decent pace going for my first two miles, hovering around a 7:30/mile pace, listening to music on my iPod.  About the 5K mark, I must have stepped on a crack in the road because I rolled my left ankle.  Sharp pain slowed me to a walk and I hobbled a few steps before stopping briefly.  C'mon, I thought to myself, I've already recovered from one injury this year and I don't need a second one!  I started walking again to try to work out the pain and prayed, asking God to take away the pain so I could continue with my run.  After a minute or two of walking and praying, my ankle suddenly felt better and I was able to continue running.  I took a few walk breaks during the second half of the virtual race, mostly in areas where there weren't a lot of people around.  I never did switch shoes... I just wanted to continue.

I had a decent finishing time, but I probably only walked about a mile total of the 6.2 miles.

57:37... average pace of 9:12/mile... not a bad 10K time at all! 

I felt a little tired after the run... here's a pic in honor of Amanda at 5 Miles Past Empty:

Amanda does her signature pose so much better than I do!
I iced my left ankle (and both knees for preventative measures) at home and ate lunch, then took it easy the rest of the day.

Thanks to Jess over at Run With Jess for hosting the Jelly Bean!  I enjoyed this virtual race (ankle twisting notwithstanding) because I had the opportunity to make people smile. :)  I can't wait to start wearing costumes at local races!

Easter Sunday, future hubs and I headed up to my hometown to visit my parents.  We met them at church, then we ate brunch back at home.  My mom is an awesome cook, but she certainly doesn't make a lot of low-calorie and low-fat food!  A nap followed, along with a short visit from my aunt, uncle and grandma.  Mom made supper before Mark and I headed back to the Cities.

Happy Easter (and Spring, finally) to you all!
Ankle update: I've been able to walk on my left ankle without much pain since the incident happened and I have no limp.  I doubt I broke anything; my ankle would be much worse off if I had.  There is still a little bit of swelling (there wasn't much to begin with), a dull ache from time to time, and the ankle's range of motion is slightly limited compared to my right ankle, but that's improving.  I took today off from any cardio activity (I did strength training with my personal trainer during my lunch break), but plan to run on Wednesday.  I've got another 9.6 miles left to complete for the virtual marathon through May 1.  I probably will be walking most of it, but that's fine.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday Reflections

My blog is called "Running Toward a Higher Calling" but I've noticed that I haven't been writing much about God.  Mostly, I write about running or wedding planning or my family.  I find it really difficult to talk about faith or God or religion, mainly because I tend to be very self-conscious when it comes to such personal, weighty and often-times divisive topics.

Lately, I've been feeling very convicted about inviting God to take part in the things that I enjoy the most, such as running.  A lady who prayed for me earlier this week encouraged me to pray to and praise God when I run.  I sometimes pray when I run, but my prayers are usually requests along the lines of "God, please give me the strength to endure this run to the end" or "God, please make this side cramp go away."

I usually listen to music when I run, but most songs are secular: lots of rock and roll with some hip-hop thrown in the mix.  So today, during my run for the Jelly Bean Virtual Race (race report to follow in the next day or two), I programmed my iPod to play my Christian/inspirational playlist.  This song filled my ears early on in my run, and I've had it in my head the rest of the day:

I felt like I enjoyed my run a lot more today than usual.  Part of it was from wearing a costume for the virtual race, but mostly I just enjoyed being outside, listening to songs that praised God and feeling my heart join in with the verses and refrains, putting one foot in front of the other and feeling God's presence with me every step of the way.

I also want you to know that I pray for you.  If you are injured, I ask God to heal you.  If you're mourning the loss of a loved one, I'm praying for God to provide comfort to you and your family.  I pray for good races and training runs, good weather, good friends and supportive family, and the strength to endure any battles, great or small, that you're facing.

I hope you all have a Happy Easter!  Future hubs and I are spending the day with my parents, as we spent Palm Sunday (last weekend) with his parents.
What are you doing for the holiday?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Virtual Kick-Off!

First of all, congrats to everyone who completed the Boston Marathon on Monday!  I was tracking four runners at work via the Boston Marathon website: Beth and Mel (bloggers) and Todd (an attorney that works for our company) and Bri (who went to high school with future hubs).  I called my brother Ryan, who lives in Boston, to ask if he watched the marathon at all.  He didn't this year due to the congestion on public transit, but he fondly remembered when we were spectators last year when I visited him.

There is nothing like the spectator crowd at Boston, as evidenced by this video I shot last year.  Just listen to the crowd after the guy that had a bad cramp started running again!

This week kicks off two virtual races that I am participating in:

The Jelly Bean Virtual Race

and the Cool Kids Virtual Marathon

I signed up to do a 10K for the Jelly Bean race, which I'm going to do on Saturday.  I'm planning to walk it, although I might run the first part, then switch shoes to walk the rest of it.  I also have a costume in the works for the Jelly Bean race.  I will post it early next week.  I am 10.4 miles underway (running and walking) with the virtual marathon so far.

Last week was a rough week at work for me, since I was doing the work of two people by subbing for our receptionist while she was in Cancun with her boyfriend.  I'm still desperately trying to catch up with my own work this week.  After work today, I had a very satisfying run: 4 x 0.25 miles with 2 minute recovery.  I logged a total of 3.8 miles on the treadmill today, as I gave myself a decent cool-down run after the intervals.  I'm hoping to get a few more interval training runs in before the Medtronic TC 1 Mile.  I really want to PR (sub 7:25) at this race.

I am SO EXCITED that my knee is feeling better and that I'm able to run again!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Race Report: Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon #2

I completed my first indoor tri in February in Chanhassen, but because there was a problem with the bikes during my heat, a few participants and I received a free entries into the indoor tri of our choice.  I chose the Sunday, April 10 event in Chanhassen, which the race director recommended, but I signed up for it late (i.e. two days beforehand), so I didn't find out until after work ended on Friday (the 8th) that I was registered.

Here's a refresher of how the indoor tri works: you swim for 10 minutes in the 25-meter 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 cardio studio.  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.

I was in the 8:00 a.m. wave this time around (the fourth wave), so future hubs and I arrived at the Chanhassen Lifetime Fitness around 7:00 a.m.  Because I had signed up so late, I questioned whether or not the race director had even registered me.  Sure enough, when I got to check-in, my name was not on the 8:00 a.m. list.  Fortunately, once I explained my story, they believed me and wrote me down in the last open spot in the 8:00 a.m. wave.  I was good to go!  I already had a race shirt from the last indoor tri, so I picked up an XL shirt for Mark to wear. :)

Since I had completed my first indoor tri at this same LTF location, I didn't need to find my way around the facility.  I took my time getting ready... and made several potty breaks.  Does anyone else have to pee a lot before race start?  I sure do!  I also went to the cycling studio to figure out my settings on the Schwinn spin bikes because I couldn't remember them from last time. 

I headed over to the 25-meter indoor lap pool about 5 minutes before the 3rd wave finished swimming.  I put on my swim cap and watched the action.  After that heat finished swimming, those of us in the 8:00 a.m. heat entered the pool.  At first, I shared my lane with another participant, but after he saw me swim a few strokes warmup, he said that because we had similar paces, we'd run into each other too much.  He left my lane and found a slower swimmer to share a lane with.  Personally, I was happy to have the lane to myself.  A few minutes later, the whistle blew and everyone in my wave started swimming.

At the last indoor tri, I started out too fast on my swim and struggled to keep pace at the end.  This time, I focused on keeping a steady pace for the entire 10-minute swim, which worked.  I felt like I had plenty of energy for the swim.  Once the whistle blew to end the swim portion, I had covered 18 lengths of the pool: a distance of 450 meters.  This was the same distance I covered at the last indoor tri, so at least I'm consistent.

Remembering how fast the 10 minutes of transition time went at the last indoor tri, I toweled off and dressed as quickly as I could.  I even had time for another quick bathroom break.  I made my way upstairs to the cycling studio and found a bike.  A race volunteer put a pair of straps on the pedals for me (I don't own bike shoes), while I adjusted the seat to my specs.  I had plenty of time.

Finally, my heat started biking.  Imagine how excited I was that my bike was actually recording my speed and distance covered!  Mark could see the joy on my face and smiled back at me often while he was chatting with a race volunteer he knew.  I set the resistance to a minimal level: my speed hovered around 40 mph.  At the front of the cycling studio, a video about the Ironman World Championships in Kona was playing on the big screen, which was a welcome and inspiring distraction to me.

By the end of the cycling portion, I could feel my legs beginning to fatigue from the fast pedaling, but figured the five minutes of transition time would be enough to stretch and get my legs ready for the run portion.  At the end of the 30-minute bike portion, I covered 20.1 miles.  Too bad I can't go that fast in real life, haha!

My wave headed over to the treadmill area of the fitness floor, and we chose treadmills for ourselves.  I stretched and got my iPod ready to go.  After a countdown, we were running.

Mark took this (blurry) photo of me running
I wore my Saucony Omni 9 shoes, which I've been breaking in.  They are a great fit for me.

I had set the speed on my treadmill to 7.5 mph, hoping that for the last 5-8 minutes I could bump up the speed to 8.0 mph.  However, 7.5 felt difficult to me.  My legs had definitely fatigued during the bike portion, and I had a hard time keeping my cadence to 180 bpm, even with the cadence-specific playlist that was filling my ears from my iPod.  I took a banana-flavored Hammer gel (yuck!), but that didn't help.  Mark mentioned later that I should have taken the gel during the bike portion because the fuel would have taken effect during my run.  I just could not go faster than 7.5.  I think I did the last minute at 7.6 or 7.7, but that was the fastest I could make myself go at that point.

Future hubs shot a few short videos of me while I was running.  I've posted one below.  Feel free to critique my form, if you wish.

After 20 minutes, I had covered a distance of 2.49 miles.  Not shabby at all, but I was hoping to go faster.

Mark showed me the videos he took while I cooled down and stretched.  I still have a bit of a heel strike, but I'm developing a more mid-foot strike.

My stats:

    * Swim: 18 lengths (450 meters), 33 points
    * Bike: 20.1 miles, 38 points
    * Run: 2.49 miles, 41 points
    * TOTAL (points): 112

I finished in a tie for 10th overall, and was in third place for women.  Unfortunately, there were no age group awards given out... just the bragging rights that come with a stellar finish.

The swag.  Future hubs gets the shirt.
I'm glad that this indoor tri went much better than the last one.  Lifetime Fitness redeemed itself in my eyes.

Showing off my wave and competitor numbers

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I meant to post this last weekend, but Liz over at Feet Dominating Pavement interviewed me and posted it on her blog.  You can read the interview HERE.

2. Even though Rachel, future hubs and I are registered for the We Walk Marathon on May 21, we will likely drop down to the half-marathon.  I haven't been able to train as much as I should, due to injury recovery earlier in the year, wedding planning, house hunting, and work stress.  I also don't want to be injured again before my running "season" starts.  Rachel has had some nagging foot pain, as well.  I'm disappointed that my second attempt to do a full marathon has failed, but hopefully the third time will be the charm.  I certainly won't be nearly as busy!  My plan is to train for the 2012 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

The We Walk Half Marathon will be Rachel's first half, so I'm excited to be there with her for it.

3. The good: My Garmin Forerunner 305 arrived today, I was filmed for a video that my church is showing on Easter Sunday, and Mark and I set up our Macy's wedding registry last night.  The bad: Doing the work of two people all week (our receptionist is on vacation), major muscle soreness from tough strength-training this week, and the feeling that I'm coming down with a cold.  Blah!  The ugly: Sugar can be toxic to your health.  Check out the New York Times article HERE.

Hope you all have a great weekend!  I will post the indoor tri race report either tomorrow or Saturday.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


My Indoor Tri Stats:
  • Swim: 18 lengths (450 meters), 33 points
  • Bike: 20.1 miles, 38 points
  • Run: 2.49 miles, 41 points
  • TOTAL (points): 112
My work today was good enough for 10th (tie) overall and 3rd in the Open Female division.  I even beat the first Masters Female.

Click HERE for full results.  A race report will be posted later this week.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Five for Friday

1. I had an awesome birthday on Tuesday.  I received lots of well-wishes from co-workers, family and friends, and future hubs made a delicious dinner for me.  I'm very thankful for my loved ones, and that Mark is such a great cook.

2. Continuing with my great birthday theme, my brother Kevin and his girlfriend took me out to eat on Wednesday night at the Olive Garden.  They also gave me a $100 giftcard to!  It burned a hole in my pocket: I already bought a Garmin Forerunner 305, as I'm looking for something to help me with interval training this summer.  I only had to pay about $29 out of my own pocket for it... score!

Questions for my readers: Do you have a Garmin (or another "fancy" watch)?  What do you like about it?  How has it helped your training?

3. Future hubs and I registered for the Rock 'N' Roll Savannah Half-Marathon a few days ago.  I'm very excited to return to Savannah and relive my memories of the city with Mark.  I'm also hoping to pace Mark to a new half-marathon PR, unless he decides to go after it at a different race this year.  I'm thinking of dressing as a Girl Scout for the race, as Savannah was the birthplace of Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low.  I just need to find an old uniform.  Kurt, do you have any ideas?

Question: What has been your favorite destination race? (Mine is definitely the 2009 Nike Women's Half-Marathon)

4. This Sunday marks my second Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon.  If you recall, I had a bike mishap (though no fault of my own) during my first indoor tri event in February.  I signed up for Sunday's event late, and already I'm concerned about it.  The lady I corresponded with via e-mail wanted me to register via site, meaning that I'd have to pay for it.  After I explained what happened at my first tri event, she said that she'd get me signed up for Sunday ("no worries"), but she didn't ask for any of my information.  I would think they'd have my info on record from the February event, but this still is disconcerting to me.  Oh well... I'll just go to Chanhassen on Sunday and see what happens.  I hope it goes well, but as in life, there are no guarantees.

5. I'm feeling stressed out lately.  I feel like my workload at my job has exponentially increased, plus with planning a wedding and looking for a house/townhouse, I feel overwhelmed.  Next week will be worse, as our receptionist will be on vacation and I have to do her job along with mine.  Tomorrow will be a low-key day so I can relax and recharge my batteries.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, April 4, 2011

I've Been Tagged!

Danny over at A Quest for Running Perfection recently honored me with a Stylish Blogger Award.

Thanks, Danny!  Be sure to check out his blog and become a follower if you haven't already!

Next step: Share 7 random things about yourself.

OK... here we go!

1. I hate elevators.  I feel very unsteady after getting off an elevator, as if I'm going to fall right through the floor.  I will ALWAYS choose the stairs or escalator over an elevator if they are available.

2. I do not have pierced ears.  I wanted to get them pierced for a few months when I was 13 years old, but then I outgrew that phase.  I may get them pierced soon so I can wear earrings for my wedding. :)

3. I have been to all 50 U.S. states.  Someday, I would like to go back to the two states I didn't spend much time in: Colorado and Utah.  I love traveling.

4. I lived in Canada (for four months).  I spent my last semester of college studying at Cape Breton University in Sydney, Nova Scotia through the National Student Exchange program.  Even though I missed my friends and family back home, I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.  Spending a semester in Canada taught me that I could relocate anywhere and not know a soul, and yet create a life for myself.  Plus, I developed a love of Tim Hortons, Alexander Keith's beer, Boston Pizza and Canadian candy like Smarties and Mr. Big. :)

5. I used to be afraid of going underwater.  I failed swimming lessons because I was too afraid to float face down, let alone submerge my entire head underwater.  But then, when I was about eight years old, I discovered Baywatch.

Every week, I watched the adventures of the tanned California lifeguards.  I wanted to grow up to be like them; I wanted to be a lifeguard.  With that goal in mind, I got over my fear of being underwater and passed several years of swimming lessons.  I never did become a lifeguard, but I'm still a good swimmer.

6. It's extremely difficult for me to swallow pills.  I have a strong gag reflex.  Pills that are about the size of a regular Advil are fine, but if they're larger, I have to bite them in half or smaller in order to swallow them.  I do this with the multivitamin and glucosamine/chondroitin tablets I take, but this poses a problem for the fish oil capsules.  I have to poke a hole in the side of the capsule and squeeze the fish oil into my mouth.  Gross... but it works.

7.  I used to have long hair.  It had a slight natural wave to it and reached down to the middle of my back.  My mom used to braid my hair when I was a kid.  I permed it in high school, as you can tell from my senior pictures.

My hair stayed long and curly until my freshman year of college.  Then, I chopped it off and my hairstyle has remained short ever since.


Now, it's your turn.  The following bloggers have been tagged:

I think I was supposed to tag 15 bloggers, but I thought I'd go with seven to match the number of questions. :)

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

High Caliber and High Calorie Weekend

Whew!  I'm exhausted after hosting my parents for the weekend.  It's nice to be able to relax... and get my own bed back.

We had a productive weekend:
  • Mom found a "mother of the bride" dress at Von Maur.  I think it's beautiful and flatters her figure.

  • I bought all the paper I should need for my wedding invitations at Anchor Paper.
  • We dropped off two La-Z-Boy chairs at a friend's house to store until I move to a new place.

  • We looked at six townhouses in the Burnsville area.  Future hubs and I plan to make an offer on the fifth one we looked at.
  • Mom, Dad and I celebrated my birthday, although it's technically on Tuesday.
Let the opening of gifts begin!

I received running books and cookbooks...

... sewing stuff...

... more sewing stuff...

... and a journal, mascara and chocolate (to be eaten after Lent ends)

As suggested in the title, this was also a weekend full of food.  My parents enjoy eating out, and my Dad has a soft spot for fast food.  We ate at Red Lobster on Friday night (I had a $50 gift-card I received from my boss for Christmas), a late lunch at Arby's and a late dinner with Mark at Applebee's on Saturday, brunch this morning at Buster's on 28th and an afternoon snack at Dairy Queen before my parents headed back home.  Needless to say, I think I need to spend some time working out this week!  I'm also looking forward to going back to my "normal" diet, filled with more fruits and veggies.

In other news, I received a little package in the mail on Friday:

I received the award for the Most Creative Green Outfit for the Shake Your Shamrock Virtual Race.
Linzi sent me a variety of fun goodies:

I can't wait to wear the socks at a race, and try out the Idaho Spud candy bars!
I like all the gifts.  Thank you! :)

It's bedtime for me... in my own bed, woo-hoo!  Have a great week everyone!