Sunday, July 12, 2020

I'm back and slower than ever!

Back in January, I started talking to my mother about where we would go for our mother-daughter race-cation this year.  We had tentatively chosen a June race in Kansas City until I received an email about the Baltimore Running Festival celebrating their 20th anniversary .  My very first half marathon in 2009 was at the Baltimore Running Festival and I had wanted to run it again in 2019 to celebrate my ten years of running, but I couldn't make it happen due to my lack of training and my crazy schedule.  I thought going back to Baltimore to run a half marathon for their 20th anniversary, staying in the same hotel in the Inner Harbor, and eating amazing seafood sounded amazing!  Then COVID-19 hit and the world changed.  We canceled our Baltimore hotel back in March and luckily I had not registered for the half marathon yet. I started working from home and since my commute became non-existent, I was able to walk every morning before starting my work day.  Walking at least a 5k daily eventually led to the need for a new pair of Brooks Adrenalines, which made me want to run again. 

In 2019 I completely walked the two half marathons that I finished and I did not register for any races after June last year.  I had gotten so slow due to weight gain and I wasn't motivated to train for a race of any distance.  But something this spring re-energized me.  I was getting motivated by all the miles I was walking and I kept wanting to walk longer every day or even multiple times a day.  With most races being converted to a virtual format I started looking at virtual 5k's, but I knew that I needed to take the time to properly train this time.  I ended up downloading a Couch to 5k training app and LOVED it, but it stopped working about four weeks in.  I Googled similar plans and just chose one that I liked and would end the week of Independence Day. My goal was was the virtual America's Birthday 5k, which is normally held in downtown St. Louis on Independence Day before the parade.  

Training started off well and the weeks flew by.  When my Couch to 5k app stopped working I could have made that an excuse to quit too, but I had re-fallen in love with running by that point so I found a new plan to follow thanks to Google. We had an amazing Spring in Missouri this year, but the temperature and humidity jumped up in June and has only been going up since.  I HATE running in the summer heat and humidity.  I just wilt in the heat and if I don't start running before 7 a.m., I just won't run outdoors that day.  My body just won't let me do it.  I will still go for a walk, but my body just hates running in that environment.  But just as the temperature and humidity were going up, the gym in our complex finally re-opened by appointment only.  I suddenly found that I really enjoyed running on the treadmill and wished that I had my own so that I could run longer than a one-hour appointment allowed me.  So by the end of June, I was consistently running outdoors or indoors between three and five days per week!

As Independence Day weekend approached, we had a socially distanced department lunch at a co-workers house.  Her house was adjacent to a park in St. Ann, MO.  Before that lunch I had no idea where I was going to run my virtual 5k but as I left her house, I texted another co-worker to see if she would want to run a 5k with me at that park on Friday, July 3.  It had been a while since I had run with that co-worker (we had run the University City Memorial Day 10k in 2019 together but I didn't blog about it), but she immediately agreed to meet me at 7 a.m. to try to beat he heat.  

With the America's Birthday 5k going virtual, you had from July 1st - July 7th to complete your 5k.  Technically I completed two: one indoors on a treadmill and one with my co-worker, outdoors on July 3rd. I wanted to see what the time difference would be when you factored in real hills, heat, humidity, and socializing. To my surprise, there was not a major difference between the two.

I completely ran my indoor treadmill 5k at a fairly slow and comfortable pace, and I did add some rolling hills for a finish time of 42:49, which averages out to a 13:47 pace. 

Treadmill 5k

For my outdoor 5k, I alternated between jogging and walking with my co-worker.  The park had rolling hills and it was HOT and humid that morning.  Our finish time was 44:40 for an overall pace of 14:25.  I was surprised that there was not more of a difference since we walked quite a bit, but we must have been running at a faster pace than I usually run on the treadmill to make up for that time.   

After our 5k, we walked another mile to cool down and explore other areas of the park.  The park was really a hidden gem with several water features, beautiful landscaping, several paved paths, plenty of parking, and it was very quiet that morning and not packed with people.

I also brought my virtual bib and medal along to take a picture of in the park post-race:

The race director sent out several emails leading up to the race so that participants would stay motivated and know how to submit their results.  I'm really glad that I found this virtual 5k to complete my Couch to 5k training and I am so glad that I pulled in a co-worker to run with me at the last minute.  I am certain that my outdoor 5k time would have been even slower had she not been there with me!  Even though both my indoor and outdoor finish times were slow, I am now able to see where my current fitness level is and then hopefully improve and stay motivated going forward.

So I am slower than ever, but I am finally back running again!!!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

When you decide NOT to run a race, volunteer instead!

I haven't posted in a while because I was holding out for a training update post, but my half marathon training hasn't quite been going as planned.  As a result, I made the difficult decision to NOT run any half marathons this fall and volunteer at the races I had planned to run instead.  This fall and winter I plan to focus on increasing my strength and flexibility and hopefully get closer to the level of fitness I had in 2014 when I ran my last marathon and before I experienced several years of injuries.

So now the plan is to volunteer at the MO' Cowbell expo and on race day.  I think it will be hard being absent from the start line with the other MO' Bassadors and runners, but I am really looking forward to seeing race day from a totally different perspective.

I hope to see you on race day!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Be Well STL

I attended the most amazing event on Saturday, June 29 called Be Well STL.  Click here to watch a video about the event.  For $20 (or $22 after fees) you could attend up to six exercise classes offered by local gyms and studios, visit the booths of local health and wellness vendors, receive a goodie bag with a sweat towel (which you will need if you take any classes), and enjoy lunch from Fit Flavors.

Onsite registration is available but since I signed up a few weeks prior, I was automatically sent a link to pre-register for my exercise classes. My plan was to skip the 6:45 a.m. class and start with 8:00 a.m. WERQ then attend the 9:00 a.m. Shred415 class, 10:00 a.m. Zumba, 11:00 a.m. Pilates, and 12:00 p.m. Balance Barre.  Since this was my first time attending this event, I didn't realize that this plan wasn't well thought out.

The Class Schedule:

Vendor Information:

What actually happened was this:
8:00 a.m. WERQ  This class is basically like Zumba but with hip hop music and dance moves.  It was fun and I burned 470 calories in the 45 minute class BUT I quickly realized that I am just as bad at WERQ as I am Zumba.

9:00 a.m. Shred415  I have loved Shred415 ever since I took my first class at the Brentwood studio.  I could go to one of their two studios any time but when I saw that one of my favorite instructors was teaching a 9:00 a.m. class, I knew that I had to be there!  At this event, Shred415 didn't have their treadmills, decks, or weights but we still managed to fit in plenty of cardio and body weight/resistance band exercises.  I actually ended up burning 427 calories in the 45 minute class!

10:00 a.m.  Zumba.  I took the Zumba class because it was being taught by an instructor from my own gym and I hadn't been to a Zumba class in a while, a long while.  Again, I am horrible at Zumba but I burned 470 calories in the class.

11:00 a.m.  I had signed up for Pilates but I was completely drenched in sweat and hungry after three straight classes, so I decided to take a break and eat my lunch from Fit Flavors.  The classes were all around 45 minutes each to allow time in between classes to visit the vendors, take a break, and get to you next class but I knew that I wanted and needed more than a 15 minute break.  Lunch included half of a chicken wrap and a kale Caesar salad.  It was amazing and really hit the spot.

Fit Flavors = Yum!

I thought ahead and packed a 2nd outfit knowing that I could get extremely sweaty with back-to-back-to-back classes, so I also used my downtime to change clothes.  After the Zumba class, I thought about leaving the event after I ate lunch but the little break gave me my 2nd wind!  I also used the downtime to walk around the vendor booths and I ended up picking up several samples as well as a few complimentary gym passes and class passes.  It was time well spent!

Vendors throughout the lobby

After my break, I walked past the various classrooms trying to decide which class I should take at Noon.  I finally decided that I would take the D1 Training Boot Camp after watching the end of their 11:00 a.m. class. But at 12:05 p.m., I still didn't see anyone in the classroom so I took MIXXEDFIT instead.  MIXXEDFIT ended up being a hybrid of Zumba and WERQ, so it was a lot of fun just trying to make my body mimic the moves of the instructors.  After another 45 minute class, I had burned another 500 calories!

Around 1 p.m. I walked out of the event almost giddy and humming to myself.  I hadn't worked that hard in a long time and it just felt amazing to sweat!  I can't wait until the 2020 event but some advice I have for any first-timers would be:
  • Bring a 2nd outfit if you plan to take multiple classes.  Pack deodorant too!
  • Bring snacks and a water bottle.
  • Bring a yoga mat even if you don't intend to take yoga or Pilates classes.  We laid on the floor for some of the exercises during the Shred415 class and that was my 2nd class of the day, so I was already sweaty.  I didn't have a mat so I ended up leaving a big sweat puddle on the gym floor.  Meanwhile most of the other ladies had yoga mats to lay on, so they had nothing to worry about.  Next year I will remember to bring a mat!
  • Shake, jump, run, just relax and have fun!  
Next year I am going to try to wait until Noon to take a lunch break because the 11:00 a.m. classes all seemed to be pretty packed but then the event started to noticeably die down at 11:45.  I wish I would have taken the D1 class at 11:00 a.m. since it was packed and then taken a lunch break, but I did the exact opposite and the last classes of the day at Noon were noticeably smaller.  At least I know what the flow is like for next year and I will just grab little snacks or samples in between classes to keep me going until lunch. 

What is great about this event is that every year is different.  Different gyms and studios attend and offer classes and/or have booths in the marketplace.  Lunch is provided and plenty of vendors are offering food samples too!  The atmosphere is very positive and you'll have fun.  I can't wait until the 2020 event!!!!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon - The Rest

After last year's mother-daughter trip to Nashville for the Rock 'n' Roll race, we decided to extend this year's trip to four days instead of three so that we would have more time for sightseeing.  Since we arrived on Thursday and the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon was Saturday, we had ample time before and after the race to tour the city.


Coming into race weekend, we knew that we would at least visit the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory which was one block from our hotel.  This museum was our first stop Friday morning and we were able to get tickets for the 10:20 a.m. tour.  Tour tickets were $16 for adults, which was well-worth it because we learned so much more about baseball AND you get a mini bat at the end of the tour.  You aren't allowed to take pictures during the tour, but I did take the photos below before the tour began.

The most surprising tour of the weekend was the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, which was only a few blocks from the Louisville Slugger Museum.  We rarely drink so when I first read about this tour, I immediately thought that it wasn't for us.  But on Thursday evening, the woman working at a downtown Subway restaurant swore that this tour was still worth the time, even for non-drinkers.  

The one-hour Traditional Tour and Tasting is $14 per person BUT non-drinkers get a discount as long as they mention that they are non-drinkers at the time of purchase.  Since we were on a mid-day tour, we were the only two guests so we were able to ask a lot of questions.  The tour included a lot of information about the history of Louisville, which actually owes it's growth to the Falls of the Ohio nearby.  

Since we were non-drinkers, the guide gave us bourbon balls and water and still explained the difference between the four bourbons that we would have sampled.  The tour ends in the gift shop (of course) and to my surprise there were tons of bourbon sauces, seasonings, spreads, and desserts.  Even as non-drinkers, we both walked away with some delicious souvenirs. 

Bourbon in the making

As we walked around downtown Friday afternoon, we came across random street art.  The first piece was in front of the 21c Museum Hotel David Statue which was inspired by Michelangelo's 16th century marble statue of David.  This statue came to Louisville in 2012 from Istanbul, Turkey via New York City.

If you look at the roof of the 21c Museum Hotel, you will see random red penguins on the ledge.  Apparently the museum inside the hotel is free, but we didn't have time to check it out. We'll save this for our next visit. 

Also outside the hotel...

I have no idea who this statue represents, but I made mom pose with him anyway.

Murals, murals, and more murals:

Looking back, I think my mural obsession started at either Rock 'n' Roll DC or Nashville last year.  Months before our trip to Louisville, I was researching murals there and saving their locations to my Google map in order to see which murals would either be on the race course or a short drive from other places we planned to go.  Then at the race expo, I picked up the Louisville Official Visitor's Guide which included more than 10 additional murals that I had not come across in my initial search.  Even leaving town, I saw at least two more that I couldn't pull over to take photos of so I am sure that by the time I visit Louisville again, there will be even more!

Murals along the half marathon course:

Fund for the Arts Building
On Main Street, just past the overpass, near Caufield's Novelty Shop

Intersection of West Main and 12th

Intersection of West Main and 15th 

Intersection of Muhammad Ali Blvd. and South 16th Street
1800 Ali murals

More murals around Louisville:

Across from the Holiday Inn Express

1101 Central Avenue, near Churchill Downs

Nord's Bakery

Nord's Bakery

West Market, between 1st and 2nd Street

Red Tree Furniture

VIA Studio building
VIA Studio building

Royals Hot Chicken

Inside Hi-Five Doughnuts

Inside Hi-Five Doughnuts

Intersection of Buchanan and East Washington

Butchertown Market Building

Near the intersection of Story Avenue and Bickel Avenue

Story Avenue side

I couldn't see everything in one weekend, so I look forward to finding more reasons to visit Louisville in the future.