Sunday, January 25, 2015

I think I fell in love yesterday.....

One of my goals or resolutions for the year was to complete a half marathon closer to my Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio PR of 2:20:16.  That was in November of 2010.  It is now 2015. 

Back in 2010 I was still living in DC and my weekend long runs included running through parts of the National Mall and by the Lincoln Memorial before I crossed over the Potomac River into Virginia to continue my run on the Mt. Vernon Trail.  This trail took me right by Reagan airport, where I often took a short break to watch the planes taking off and landing.  Sometimes I would turn around and head back before I reached Alexandria and other times I would end in Alexandria just so I could walk up King Street to metro back home.  The scenery I came across during those long runs was beyond motivating. 
My runs during the week were primarily morning runs when the streets were quiet and I felt like I had the city to myself.  When I lived on Capitol Hill, I would run by the Capitol Police onto the Capitol grounds, down the hill to the National Mall and towards the Washington Monument.  Then I would turn around and go back up the hill (whew), back by the Capitol Police and then stretch in Stanton Park.  When I lived near U Street, I would run to the Dupont Circle area where the streets were absolutely quiet in the mornings.  I also ran with Pacers Running Store once per week.  Everyone in the Pacers group was much faster, so I fought to keep up.  All of this running plus my weight training at the gym helped me get that PR in 2010. 

In 2011 I moved back to Illinois to be closer to my family and because I was dating a guy from my hometown.  Now imagine my beautiful runs in DC where I prided myself in being able to run by monuments on my weekly long runs that other people would take vacation days to see, and then imagine flat Midwestern farm country with limited trails and scenery.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am the person I am today because I grew up in a small town, but it is difficult to re-adjust to small town, rural life after living in the hustle and bustle of our nation’s capital.  My running suffered because I completely lost my mojo and my motivation to get outside and run.  I couldn’t find that “click” anymore.  The only reason I continued to run was because I LOVED races and medals and races were my reason to escape the country for a weekend.  But my training leading up to each race was nowhere near where it was when I was living in DC, so my times suffered.  I was running under-trained and pretty unprepared.

Eventually I realized that I was no longer fit for small town life and that boyfriend and I parted ways.  In 2013 I found a great job in St. Louis and I moved back to an urban area.  STL is a great compromise; it is close to home so it does not require a flight and someone driving 1.5 hours to pick me up from the airport, but it is far enough away and urban enough for me to feel like "me" again. 

I picked an apartment in St. Charles because it was just across the Missouri River from St. Louis County and it was near the Katy Trail, which connects to numerous other local trails.  The Katy Trail also runs along the river, much like the Mt. Vernon Trail runs along the Potomac.  The Katy Trail is scenic in a “natural” way more so than a national monument way but on the weekends in the spring and summer, the Katy is just as busy as the Mt. Vernon Trail  was.

Even though I had access to numerous trails again since moving to the St. Louis area, something still just was not clicking.  I still lacked motivation to train properly, but I still continued to run races.  I actually signed up for a free half marathon training program through a local running store last spring, but I never went.  Not once.

It was when I went in to Fleet Feet to have my Caloric Expenditure test done that I met Coach Tim who is in charge of many of Fleet Feet’s training programs.  Even though Fleet Feet’s 12-week half marathon training program cost $140 vs. the free program I had previous signed up for, I knew this was a better fit for me.  I thought it was exactly what I needed to get back to the way running used to be for me, and paying for a program would hold me more accountable plus I would get the socialization back that I had been missing. 

Since I signed up for Fleet Feet’s training program, I received emails about training programs from the other local running stores:

I could try one of the other programs next time since they are cheaper, but I think I just fell in love with Fleet Feet’s program and may stick with it for fall training too.  I was immediately impressed with Fleet Feet and their attention to detail.  The head coach and I played phone tag last week as he tried to get me into the right pace group.  We finally settled on the group shooting for a 2:22:00-2:32:00 half marathon.  This group runs for 10 minutes and walks for one minute at a 12:00 per mile pace.  My other option was the 2:30:00-2:40:00 group which runs eight minutes with a one minute walk at a 12:00/mile pace.  I don’t quite understand the science behind training at a 12:00/mile pace and running a race day pace between 10:50 and an 11:36, but that is why I am paying them and following their training plan.  Plus their training plan is far more advanced than my recent training plan of “winging it.”

Coach Tim actually ended up explaining how this training method works in one of the emails leading up to the orientation/celebration yesterday.  Click here to read more.

Orientation and the celebration was at Ballpark Village, and there were more people signed up that I had imagined.  We received a folder with our training group listed as well as our individualized training plan.  I am on the 10:1 Intermediate plan.  

First week of my training plan
My goal paces - VERY lofty goals!
Bagels, energy bars, COFFEE, and water was also provided.  We also received a training t-shirt along with other goodies pictured below.  

Our first group run went well and I really like my group.  Several runners are veterans of the program, with several of us being new to the group but not new to running.  One runner was brand new to long distance running, so we have a wide range of experiences and abilities, which I love.  I am really looking forward to working with this group and am just going to sit back and trust the training rather than question it.

Have a great week!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Run in Illinois and Missouri in one weekend this October

Attention 50 State Runners, Half Fanatics, and runners who just love crazy running challenges, I have a challenge for you!

The MO' Cowbell race is set for Sunday, October 4 and it includes a marathon, half marathon, half marathon relay, and 5k.  Now I am biased.  I LOVE St. Charles, a quaint and historic river town that is close enough to downtown St. Louis to easily attend events and games, but far enough away to have its own identity.  I included several pictures from the historic district to entice you.  Keep in mind that the MO' Cowbell races take place in St. Charles, Missouri on Sunday.  Scroll down to see my proposal for your Saturday race.....

Missouri River from Frontier Park

The gazebo in the historic district

So the MO' Cowbell expo will take place on Friday and Saturday.  If you are coming to the St. Louis area for MO' Cowbell anyway, why not throw in another race while you are here?  Get the biggest bang for your gas money or airfare (FYI - St. Charles is a 15 minute drive from the airport in non-rush hour traffic :) and run a half marathon or 5K in Mascouta, Illinois on Saturday morning.   If you are trying to run a race in every state, you can take care of Missouri and Illinois by spending one weekend in the St. Louis area.  

I would like to introduce you to the Hero Run, benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.  They offer a 1 Mile Fun Run, 5K, and a half marathon.  The drive between St. Charles and Mascoutah is roughly an hour, with downtown St. Louis falling right in the middle of the two, so the combination is easily doable for those who love back-to-back races.  

Registration for MO' Cowbell opens Super Bowl Sunday, while registration for the Hero Run opens sometime this month.  Think about it: two races, two states, one weekend.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Winter hydration

At some point last summer I started noticing that typical sports drinks were upsetting my stomach during runs and workouts and they just tasted entirely too sugary.  I tried filling my bottles up with half sports drink and the rest water, but I grew bored so I started looking for an alternative.  Below is the Smurf blue sports drink that had been accompanying me on runs and workouts before I decided that I had had enough.

If you go to your local running or sporting goods stores you will likely see a lot of hydration options and you may find it overwhelming.  You will see the brands you grew up with and likely several newcomers.  I enjoy trying new things, but sometimes it is difficult to try something new when you have been using the same thing for years.  In this case, I had to try something new because the other sports drinks just didn't meet my needs anymore.  My tastes had evolved.  My needs had evolved and become more complex, so I tried something new.

The product I tried is called Nuun, and it seems to be gaining popularity.  On their website, they have an entire section called Hydration 101, which informs you about ways to determine your personal hydration needs.  Nuun has several different product lines and flavors to choose from, and you can click here to read more about each one.  I tried the Strawberry Lemonade from the Active Hydration line and the Blueberry Pomegranate from the All Day line.

In case you haven't tried Nuun before, the product comes in individual tabs that you drop into 16 ounces of water.  Once the entire tab has dissolved, give it a stir or a shake and Nuun is ready to drink.

I tried Nuun All Day at work first.  I am working on increasing my daily water intake, so this product was perfect for me.  The flavor is not overwhelming like the sports drinks were.  It was light and crisp, with no after taste and no sugary shock the first time it hit my mouth.

For my runs and workouts, I used the Strawberry Lemonade - Active Hydration tabs.  Because the tabs are dissolved into 16 ounces of water and my fuel belt bottles hold 20 ounces combined, I let the tab dissolve in a larger cup before I split the liquid between the bottles.  So far, I have just been using Nuun on my shorter runs (since I have had low mileage November - January) and at the gym.  When incorporating any new products into your routine, I highly recommend testing them during shorter runs or workouts first.  You don't want to start having stomach issues when you are on a trail miles from the next pit stop!

The taste of the Active Hydration line was also light and not overpowering at all.  Since it was so light, I assumed that it wouldn't provide as much energy as the other products, but I was wrong.  I felt great and again, no sugary shock to my system or after taste.  After I started trying Nuun products, I began to notice their presence at running stores and there are so many more flavors to choose from.  After enjoying the Strawberry Lemonade and the Blueberry Pomegranate flavors, I decided to purchase a few more so that I have a variety to choose from on any given day.

If you haven't tried Nuun and don't want to make the commitment of purchasing an entire tube, many running stores have individual packs that you can purchase as well.  There are so many flavors within the various product lines that you will likely find one that fits your needs and excites your taste buds.  Give Nuun a try and check out their website for more information.

Have a great week!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Starting 2015 with low mileage

After all of the craziness of 2014, I wanted to start 2015 with low, yet consistent mileage.  I had signed up for the Commitment Day 5K being held downtown St. Louis on New Year's Day but when New Year's Eve came along, I had no desire to get up early to drive downtown the next morning.  Instead I chose to run a couple miles New Year's Day, literally two miles, on the treadmill at the gym before my shift that afternoon.  I ran one mile before my workout yesterday, and today I ran one mile before my workout in my brand new Brooks Adrenalines!  Even though the colors are pretty neutral and a bit boring, I love them because I only had to pay $10 out of pocket since I had earned a $100 gift card to Big River Running through being a MO' Bassador last year.
Adrenaline 15 on the left, 14 on the right

A couple of resolutions I have for 2015 is to track my training and race mileage (since so many other runners gave a mileage total for 2014 and I had no idea) and to track how much I am spending on races (just because I am curious and a numbers nerd).  The 100 Missouri Miles Challenge will help me keep track of my mileage, especially since I want to beat Governor Nixon and the First Lady!

So far I am tied with the Governor
I know the mileage seems crazy low, but I also log mileage to get Walgreens rewards points.  Those four miles earned me 80 rewards points, so just imagine how many points I could earn in 2015!  If you have a Walgreens rewards card, I encourage you to track your mileage to earn points too. It is a FREE way to earn points.

So far, I have only signed up for half marathons in 2015 but I do anticipate running some 5k's and 10k's throughout the year.  The most expensive race per mile so far is the Nashville Rock 'n' Roll with the cheapest non-virtual race being the Geist half marathon.  Geist is actually cheaper per mile than one of the virtual half marathons I signed up for.  Interesting.  Like I said, I am a bit of a numbers nerd and I like to know what I am getting for that race entry fee.

I won't be running any Disney races in 2015.  I am very sad about this, but my bank account is very happy. The Dopey Challenge last year cost me $10.85 per mile while the Dumbo Double Dare cost me an absolutely insane $17.68 per mile!  I LOVE Disney and I highly recommend their races but when you look at the cost per mile of my other races last year, it makes me look crazy.  Only other runners and medal-lovers would understand the insanity.

I will continue to track my mileage and funds spent on races throughout the year, and I am anxious to see and post the totals in December.  Does anyone else track these things or anything else that they find useful or insightful?

At some point this week I will tell you the new "fuel" I have been taking with me on my runs since I can no longer stomach the typical sports drinks.  Until then, have a great week!