Thursday, March 31, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I have the best fiance in the whole world... :-D

Future hubs ALWAYS finds the prettiest flowers for me!
I think I've taken pictures of every single bouquet of flowers that Mark has ever given me.

2. Work has been extremely hectic for me this week, especially today because it's month-end.  With my parents visiting me this weekend, my free time has been spent cleaning.  I still have a few things left to do before they arrive tomorrow evening about 7:00.  I hope next week will be much more relaxing, especially on Tuesday because it's my birthday. :)

3. Anyone sign up for this virtual race?


I'm trying to cut down on race costs this year, so running free virtual races is a great way to save moola and get that race fix.

Mark and I did register recently for the Medtronic TC 1 Mile, which will take place Thursday, May 12.  I'm hoping for a PR (sub-7:25) this year, but if I can get under 8:00 I'll be happy.  I'm also eying the Rock 'N' Roll Savannah Half-Marathon in November.  My brother Ryan used to live in Savannah and my family and I always loved going to visit him.  I've been wanting to go back for years.

Questions for you:
1. Do you like jelly beans?  If so, any particular flavors?
--I'm partial to the citrus ones: green (lime), yellow (lemon) and orange.
2. What are your favorite flowers?
--I love roses and stargazer lilies.
3. Do you like to do virtual races?  Why or why not?
--I've done one so far and had a lot of fun with it.  I've signed up for two more.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sickness and Shtick-ness

Since I started taking multivitamins and eating mostly organic foods, the number of times I get sick per year has dropped considerably.  Usually, I only get sick twice a year: once during late winter/early spring and once during autumn.  For some odd reason, I didn't get sick this past fall, so I figured that I'd get sacked with a killer illness this winter.  That didn't happen... until Friday night.

My roommate has been sick this past week with a gastrointestinal bug and missed 1 1/2 days of work.  Friday night, I started feeling sick: strong bouts of nausea and frequent trips to the bathroom.  Thank goodness I didn't have anything planned this weekend.  On Saturday, I slept until 10:00, got up and ate a little bit because I was feeling slightly better, read for a while, then slept from noon until 5:00 in the afternoon, got up and ate a little bit again, then read some more (mostly blogs this time).  I'm feeling a lot better today.  I had the energy to go to church and go for a four-mile walk, plus do a little shopping at Target.  It seems like the bug didn't affect me as badly as it did Judy.

Being sick gives a person time to think about stuff.  Amongst wedding things and figuring out some logistics when my parents visit me next weekend, I thought a lot about running.  I thought about the goals I want to accomplish in my running life (I'll save that for another post), but also thought about what I want to do with my running this particular year.  I've given each year that I've been running a theme:
  • 2004 - The Year I Started to Run
  • 2005 - The Year of Firsts, Part 1 (I ran my first 3K, 5K and 4-miler)
  • 2006 - The Year of Maintenance (I did a handful of races, all 5Ks)
  • 2007 - The Year of Firsts, Part 2 (I ran my first 10K and half-marathon)
  • 2008 - The Wasted Year (I got injured in early July and lost a good chunk of my running season)
  • 2009 - The Year of the Comeback
  • 2010 - The Year of the PR (check my left sidebar... you'll see why!)
I thought about how much fun I had walking the Get Lucky 7K.  I enjoyed doing the race with my friends and wearing a costume.  Then, late Friday night, a thought came to mind:

Why don't you make every race like the Get Lucky?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 2011: The Year I Had Fun.

What I need to do is develop a shtick, which is a comic theme or gimmick, if you weren't familiar with the definition.  I need to be like this guy:

Rubber Ducky Man at the 2010 Boston Marathon
The guy behind the rubber duckies is Luke Eichten, and he's also a Minnesotan, like me.  You can check out his blog HERE and check out THIS profile of him courtesy of Twin Cities in Motion (his Q&A starts at the bottom of the second page).

The only problem is, I don't have any idea what I should dress up as.  I don't know if I should change my costume from race to race or stick with one thing.  For major holidays, I can certainly wear something related to the day.  But what about other races?

Any ideas or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.  I saw a dollar-bin full of bunny ears at Target, but I don't want to look like the Playboy bunny (although I'm sure future hubs wouldn't mind, wink wink!). :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Race Report: Get Lucky 7K

Future hubs and I met up with Rachel, her fiance Matt, and Laurie at the Dunn Brothers near the race start at 9:15 on Saturday, March 19.  Plenty of other runners decked out in green were inside the coffeeshop staying warm until it was time to line up for the race.  Seth, one of my very best friends from college (who also happens to be Laurie's boyfriend) was there for moral support; he cheered us on at the start and finish.

By 9:45, we were towards the back of the 5,600 runners gathered in the starting corral, waiting for the race to start.  Mark and I had dropped off some stuff at bag check right before that, and those of us in the group who needed to use the porta-potties did so.  In 15 minutes, the horn would blow, signaling the start of the race.

Laurie, Rachel, Matt, Mark and I waiting for the race to start
It took us about 5-10 minutes for us to finally make it to the start line after the race officially started.  We jogged for several hundred feet just to keep up with the flow of runners, then started walking.  We made sure to stay off to the side of the road so those participants who were running could pass us with ease.


We took turns running a little bit then walking during the first two kilometers, going past the Guthrie Theater and back onto West River Road before crossing the Mississippi River on the Stone Arch Bridge.  Laurie wanted to run across the entire Stone Arch Bridge, so I decided to do it with her.  She suffers from chronic back pain, but wanted to do this race to continue to be active, and also she wanted to prove to herself that she could run across the bridge.  Well, we made it!  High fives abounded. :)

We waited up for the rest of the crew along Main Street, then continued walking and chatting together.  Matt does not run (as he put it, he signed up to walk this race), so we did not run at all for the rest of the race.  The weather was cool, but the sun was shining and there was a hint of spring in the air.  We chatted with some of the other participants, too, and grabbed cups of water at the water stop around the 4-kilometer mark.  Rachel also came prepared with a couple granola bars, and she and Matt shared one.

We passed the 5K mark as we crossed the Plymouth Ave. bridge, then hit the home stretch along West River Road.  It was a perfect day and the conversation flowed.  The five of us spent a few minutes deciding how we would cross the finish line together.

We decided to skip. :)




We're off to see the Wizard... the wonderful Wizard of Beer!
Seth even shot video of us skipping across the finish line on his iPhone:

video

Team Ortho's director of communications was at the announcing booth, and she mentioned that Mark and I were volunteers for TO.  That was a cool shout-out!

The timing chips all had us finishing within seconds of each other (Rachel and Laurie in 1:10:22, Mark and Matt in 1:10:23, and I had 1:10:24).  We finished, and we had fun doing it!  The five of us received our awesome stained glass finisher medals, but then Laurie had to leave immediately for work. :(

Get Lucky finishers: Rachel, Matt, Mark and me
The rest of us decided to meet up at Kieran's, as our bibs contained a coupon for a free pint of Finnegan's at one of four Irish pubs in the Twin Cities metro area.  Kieran's was closest to the race finish.

While Rachel and Matt headed for their car and Seth headed for his, Mark and I got our picture snapped by one of the Marathon Foto photographers.


Mark and I picked up our post-race food at the food tent and our bags at bag check, then walked the several blocks to Kieran's Irish Pub.  The line was long and snaked outside the main entrance.  Matt's foot was hurting a lot, so he and Rachel decided to skip out on the free beer and head home.  Seth also decided to go home.  Mark and I waited in line, planning to redeem our coupon for the beer and get food at a different restaurant in downtown Minneapolis.  However, the beer tent we eventually found ourselves in had free cups of beef stew, so Mark and I each downed one, and then we each ate a delicious $5 burger too.  Great post-race meal!

The swag: a finisher medal and awesome hoodie
This pic shows the front of the full-zip hoodie
Team Ortho races definitely have some of the best goodies around.  I picked up some other items at packet pickup, and I didn't have to pay a cent for them!  For every hour I volunteer, I earn 1,000 bones.  These bones can be redeemed for merchandise and race entries.

Here's the other loot.  You can tell I volunteer a lot!

Get Lucky t-shirt, light-up armband, beer stein, and socks
Last year's Get Lucky had a great atmosphere surrounding the race, and I was a little concerned that this year's race might not measure up.  I had no need to worry; this year's race was just as awesome.  I actually don't remember the last time I had this much fun at a race.  Mark and I had a great time walking (and doing a little running) with Rachel, Matt and Laurie, and we hope to walk another race with them sometime. :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Shamrocks Were A-Shakin'

As mentioned in my previous post, I signed up for the Shake Your Shamrock Virtual Run, hosted by Linzi and Aneta.


Fortunately, I could use my time from the Get Lucky 7K to count towards the virtual race.

This bib was supposed to be green in color, but I don't have a color printer.  So, I added my own flair to it. :)
Holding my bib number
I love Irish-themed races.  I enjoy dressing up in all the green I can find.  Target had great deals on green beads and socks.

All decked out in green (except for the shoes... maybe my next pair of Nike Frees will be green)!
Finish Time for the 7K = 1:10:24

I had a great time walking the 7K with my friends and fiance.  A race report for the Get Lucky 7K will be posted in a few days... as soon as I get some of the pictures and video my friends took.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Five for Friday

1. As if sliding into the ditch wasn't enough for the week, a gas explosion occurred Thursday morning just six blocks from where I live!  Thankfully, I was in downtown Minneapolis, far enough away from it, volunteering for the Get Lucky packet pickup.  You can read all about the gas explosion HERE and check out video of the blast HERE and HERE.

2. I had so much fun volunteering the two days of Get Lucky packet pickup.  I met Shannon, and although we didn't get to chat much because I was so busy, we did talk about how hot we think ultramarathoner Tony Krupicka is, tee hee hee. ;-)  I am, however, not a big fan of his beard.  I like little to no facial hair on a guy.  Shannon is a sweetheart and I'm so glad I finally got to meet her.  Be sure to check out her blog!

3. I also met another Minnesota runner and blogger, Julie, on Thursday because she was stationed at the Team Ortho event series table with me.  Small world!  Julie was fun to work with and it was a pleasure to meet her.  Read her blog, too!

4. In just a few hours, the Get Lucky 7K and 21K will start.  I'm so excited to walk this 7K with future hubs and Rachel, Laurie and Matt, wear lots of green, and enjoy free beer post-race.

5. The Get Lucky 7K will also count as my entry for the Shake Your Shamrock virtual race.


Have a great weekend, everyone!  Stay tuned for a race report!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Three Good Samaritans

The temperature hit 50 degrees F here in the Twin Cities today.  Yesterday was mild, too, causing a lot of the snow we've accumulated this winter to melt.  The only problem with the melting snow is that it freezes overnight, causing black ice on the roadways.

I wasn't immune to the black ice today.  My car slid off the road on my way to work this morning.

I work in Burnsville, so I drive against the rush hour traffic that heads to Minneapolis every weekday morning.


As I exited I-35W southbound to get onto Cliff Road, I hit a slick patch of ice on the exit ramp and veered towards the right shoulder of the road.  I thought I'd hit one of the signs, but then my car swerved to the right of it and headed for the ditch.  My car left the road and continued traveling on the gravel shoulder and into the snow.  I thought my car would rollover, but the snow slowed it down enough where I eventually came to a stop before going all the way into the ditch.

The red X marks where I slid off the road.  The purple X marks where I work.
My car was stuck on the hill decline heading into the ditch.  With my hands, I tried to shovel out some of the snow around my tires and then head in reverse to get my car back onto the road, but my front tires kept spinning.  Gravity and the snow were working against me.

"God, please help me," I kept repeating over and over.  Several cars passed me on the exit ramp before a pickup truck pulled over.  The guy driving it got out and asked me if I was ok.  I told him I was stuck, so he headed over to the front of my car and started pushing while I put the car in reverse and hit the gas.  With me driving and him pushing, we still couldn't get my car out of the snow.  The guy then asked if I had AAA.  "My roommate does, but I don't," I answered.  He then said he was going to head to his office (which was nearby) and get a couple guys to come help him push my car out of the snow.

I waited for a few minutes and called one of my co-workers to let her know I was going to be late and the reason why.  More cars passed me and then finally the guy and his two co-workers were back, and the three of them were able to push my car back onto the road.  A state trooper finally showed up after I was back on the road safe and sound.  The officer pulled up to my window and asked if I was ok.  I let him know that I was.

I'm really grateful that I wasn't hurt.  My front bumper is cracked in a couple spots, but it's barely noticeable.  The damage could have been greater and I could have been injured.  This whole incident could have been so much worse.  I'm also very thankful that those three nice gentlemen helped me out.

Be thankful for every minute you have on this earth because your life can change in an instant.  I will also be sure to keep a shovel in my car during the winter months and sign up for AAA.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday's Tidbits

First off, Happy Birthday to my brother Ryan!

I visited Ryan in Boston last April.  This pic was taken after I ran the B.A.A. 5K.
Race week is here for the Get Lucky 7K and 21K!  Tonight, I attended a Team Ortho volunteer coordinator meeting.  I'm taking St. Patty's Day off from my regular job to work at packet pickup and am working a half-day at packet pickup on Friday as well.  I'm very excited to meet Shannon from Running Injury Free on Thursday. :)  If you're running the Get Lucky, please stop by to see me at packet pickup.  I will be at the Team Ortho event series table on Thursday and at the info booth on Friday.

It helps to have a doctor in the house!  My roommate is a chiropractor, and I asked her to do a series of muscle tests on me as I tried on the different pairs of running shoes I currently own.  Here's what she determined:
--My Asics hurt my right knee... doesn't matter if I have my current pair of orthotics or my old pair in them, or even just the shoes with its regular sock-liners.  I will be donating those shoes very soon!
--My Nike Frees are great.  So are the Saucony Progrid Guide 3... without orthotics.
--I picked up a pair of Saucony Omni 9 (I did return the Newtons, btw... I wasn't adjusting well to them) at Running Room on Sunday.  The best pair of running shoes I ever owned were the Saucony Omni 5.  My old orthotics were created while I was still wearing the Omni series (version 7 caused me to give up the Omni), and they work well with the Omni 9, according to my roomie.

I've been reading up on minimalist/barefoot running and am very intrigued by it, but I'm not sure if I can make the switch just yet.  Part of me is scared to take the leap, and the other part of me wants to do more research.  I will definitely be following misszippy's journey closely!

Future hubs and I started our wedding gift registry at Target on Sunday evening.  We've got lots of kitchen items on our list, as well as several bath items and other odds and ends.  I had the scan gun for awhile, but after Mark pouted asked nicely if he could scan for a while, I handed the gun over to him.  This has been one of our favorite wedding prep tasks so far.

Hmmm...
Do you ever get annoyed when people don't return items where they belong?  I do!

I'll take season two of the Nilla Wafers with season four of Fiber One
Have a great week!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Drawn to the Rhythm

A few of the bloggers I follow have posted about Lent, the 40-day period prior to Easter.  Christians use this time to spiritually prepare for the commemoration of Christ's death (Good Friday) and resurrection (Easter Sunday), through increased time in prayer, fasting, self-denial (i.e. giving up something for Lent), repentance, and increased charitable giving.  Growing up Catholic, Lent was a big deal in my family.  My parents, brothers and I usually gave up something we enjoyed, like a favorite snack or pastime, or focused on ridding of a bad habit, along with increased church attendance and donations to charity.  I usually gave up candy or chocolate, though one year I gave up chewing my fingernails.  Over the past few years, I've focused on doing something to deepen my relationship with God, such as praying more throughout the day or being more conscious of praying before meals.

This year, I'm focusing on eating better.  I have quite the sweet tooth, and my lower activity level due to runner's knee has resulted in a few extra pounds.  A co-worker told me about the Daniel Fast, a 21-day partial fast where one eats mostly fruits and veggies, drinks only water, and eats no meat, bread, artificial sweeteners or processed foods.  With those guidelines in mind, I've decided to do a modified version of the Daniel Fast.

Why am I not doing the full-blown Fast?  Here's why:
1. I have milk and juice in my fridge that will expire before Lent ends.  I don't believe in wasting food, so I am making exceptions for those food items that have a shorter shelf life.
2. I can give up most meat easily, but I find that seafood is good for my body, especially my joints.  Plus, future hubs grills a mean salmon.
3. Special occasions.  My birthday is in early April and I want to celebrate it with pasta, chocolate and wine, gosh darn it!  I also want to be able to eat out with my friends.  Rachel and I went out to eat at Hell's Kitchen on Wednesday night before the Sarah McLachlan concert, and I enjoyed my glass of Surly Furious and bowl of PEI mussels.  Gotta love happy hour!

So far, I've noticed that my body feels so much better.  Eating a more plant-based diet makes me feel much healthier.  This will also force me to experiment a little more in the kitchen.  I'm making a batch of vegetarian chili later today.

In other news:
--I got my taxes done this morning and Uncle Sam was good to me.  I'm sure I'll be using my federal and state refunds to pay for the MRI costs my insurance won't cover.
--My right knee was feeling sore this week, so I've been taking it easy.  I may go for a short walk in a few hours.
--Be sure to check out my fiance's blog: Wait... You Run?

What's on tap for you this weekend?  Do you observe Lent or go through periods of time when you give up or do something for spiritual or personal enrichment?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Experimentation

First off, I have some semi-great news.  I had an MRI done on my right knee recently because I wanted to know conclusively what was wrong with it.  I got my test results today, and the following note from my doctor:

Richelle,

Good news.  No meniscal tears on the MRI.  

There are signs of some softening and irritation of the articular cartilage (chondromalacia) of the patella, which we suspected.  You're doing the right stuff for that.  (PT is the best treatment).

I hope you're doing well.


Todd


So, I don't have a torn meniscus, which is good.  I was worried about that.  The cartilage under my kneecap is soft and irritated--classic runner's knee.  I also learned that have a small cyst underneath that kneecap cartilage (explaining why my knee hurt sometimes if I knelt on it), my patella (kneecap) has a slight lateral tilt, and my joint capsule on the medial (inner) side has some thickness and swelling.  I'm glad I'm on the right track with PT, and that I don't need surgery.

Going forward, I will continue with PT.  I've been doing a little bit of running (15 minutes here and there), but I may stop running completely for the next several weeks.  I hope I can do more swimming, and I'm glad walking hasn't been bothering me much.

----------------------

I've been experimenting with my running shoes and orthotics over the last week and have made the following discoveries:

1. Walking in my Nike Frees without my orthotics is easy on my legs.  My right knee doesn't hurt when I wear those shoes, and I find that my muscles are less sore after a long walk compared to how my muscles felt after walking a long time in my Asics.

2. I have a pair of Saucony Progrid Guide 3 shoes that I purchased last year and haven't worn much.  I've tested them out on the treadmill without my orthotics and liked them.  They have a great amount of cushioning, and I find it easy to strike midfoot while wearing them.

3. I may test out my Asics without orthotics to see how they feel, but they are certainly stiff when I'm wearing them with orthotics.  Perhaps I'll just donate the shoes to a shoe recycling program.

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My questions for you:

1. Do you have a recurring injury?

2. What are your favorite running shoes?

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Food + Wine = Yummy!

Future hubs and I attended the Minnesota Monthly Food & Wine Show this afternoon with my aunt Jan, cousin-in-law Rebecca, and cousin Kathy.  Kathy drove 6+ hours from International Falls for the weekend to attend the show with us.  This year, the venue changed from the Minneapolis Convention Center to Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins.  We thought we'd be sampling wine and food out in the cold because Target Field is an outdoor baseball stadium, but the event was held in the heated indoor concourses and a couple of the stadium's premier lounges.

And now... here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure!

Travis (my cousin and Rebecca's husband) rented a van to escort us to Target Field.  Riding in the van reminded me of Ragnar.
The venue
During the summer, Twins fans enjoy gorgeous views of downtown Minneapolis during home games

Delicious cheese spreads from Kowalski's Markets

Believe it or not, this is actually a cake!

Mark and I show off our free blinky plastic rings from vendor Wixon Jewelers

There was an entire room devoted to several of the excellent wineries from Washington State

My favorite wines from the show were from Washington State.  The sweet Chocolatier Red Decadence paired well with turkey chili, and the Poet's Leap Riesling from Long Shadows Vintners won Best Riesling this year.

Wine slushies!  They were delicious.


Kathy and Jan have quite the food and wine buzz going

Dude is the background is probably thinking "Haven't you ever seen a guy drink wine before?"

Jan, Rebecca, me, Mark

There were more food vendors this year than in previous years.  These donuts were amazing!

Banana creme pie :)

Caprese salad and chocolate mousse

Several breweries poured samples at the show.  I'm not a Sam Adams drinker myself.
I had the opportunity to sample two beers (West Side Belgian-Style IPA and Dark Abbey Belgian-Style Dubbel) from upstart Harriet Brewing in Minneapolis and they were fantastic.  I plan on purchasing a couple growlers when the weather is warmer and when I have more room in my fridge.

Mmmm... cheese!

Sartori makes several flavored Bellavitano cheeses (like Raspberry and Merlot), but I really liked their new Espresso Bellavitano

I may be a die-hard Minnesotan, but Wisconsin has the best cheese

Surly, my favorite local brewery, poured samples of their standards (Furious, Bender, and Cynic) as well as their 5th anniversary brew called Pentagram


Sushi!
The whole crew: Kathy, Rebecca, Jan, Mark and me
This was my favorite year out of the three shows I've attended.  I enjoyed the new location and thought the food, wine and beer selections were better this year than previous years.  Everyone had a great time, and we're definitely looking forward to next year.  Right now, I'm still incredibly stuffed!