Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Let's Get Radical

Lately, I have been wondering....When it comes to running, am I (kind of) a Radical?

Well, there's no doubt, I have run in some very radical weather. There have been many, many training runs and races done in extreme cold and heat (I live in Iowa, don't forget. We don't do temperate temps).

For example...

January 2014 found me decked out in numerous layers, battling the single-digit temps with a near-ZERO wind chill (recap HERE). Ironically (?), I also ran one of my fastest 5K's ever that morning. Even though the course was shortened, it was a fast pace for me in that extreme weather.

Also, let's not forget the Red Flannel Run (February of this year, recap HERE). The temps were very cold, and the wind was crazy frigid...but I was actually dressed too warm, believe it or not! We didn't have as much of a wind-chill factor due to the layout of the course, so by the time I finished those five miles I was a sweaty mess. It wasn't until I stopped running that I could feel the wind. Indeed.

There have also been some extremely hot and sweaty runs that have left my clothing (almost) transparent and my hair so wet that my braids were dripping (not sure if it was sweat that had soaked its way down through the braids or if it was from the humid air).

No doubt, I do have a tendency to go with radical colors when I'm in the running shoes. One of my most-used hashtags is #gobrightorgohome. Seriously, matchy-matchy is pretty boring-boring.

And, then there have been a few radical events....

...like a 6-hour overnight ultra ( recap HERE). It started at midnight, and we ran (almost) non-stop around a 1-mile looped course. There was a bit of radical weather that night as well (lightning, thunder, rain for a couple hours, extreme heat and humidity...just to name a few).

...and, wouldn't you know it? Myself and some of the gals returned a year later and ran the same race a month ago...except this year, we started at 11:00PM and ran the 12-hour race instead (recap HERE ). Don't you hate it when that happens?

...and let's not forget about my little hobby on the side, stair climbing. I have done five Fight for Air Climbs (four in Des Moines and one Chicago). The Des Moines venues have varied with the total flights (utilizing different buildings on occasion), but the Chicago venue (recap HERE ) was majorly radical....we climbed the four Presidential Towers, for a total of 180 flights (in less than 37 minutes!)

Admittedly, I run at radical times of day. That's right, quite often, I'm outside moving and shaking without the benefit of daylight. I appreciate the calmness of the evening...it's very still and tranquil on a winter evening....

and there's nothing better than leaving my house in the dark and returning as the sun is rising.

Last of all, I should mention my radical monthly challenges. Even though I go through cycles of training (followed by rest/recovery periods), I usually have an ongoing monthly challenge of sorts happening as well. These have involved planking (my favorite!), squats, push-ups and stair-climbing. They may be based on monthly, weekly, or daily goals, and there's usually a little bit of friendly competition among some of my fellow online friends to keep it interesting.

So, what do you think? Would you consider me a radical runner? Fitness enthusiast? Or just a gal trying to enjoy the journey?

I'm linking up with Deb (from Deb Runs) for the Wednesday Word linkup ...and guess what? Today's word is Radical. (I bet you didn't see that coming) Head over and check out what everyone is saying about being radical today.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Doing things I haven't done in awhile....or at all

Another week is wrapped up...care to hear what went down? Well, there were lot of things happening that I had not done in awhile...and several things I had never tried before.

For starters, the temps on Monday morning were very chill...and that is not a play on words. It was 55-degrees when I laced up the shoes for my #nevermissaMonday routine. Even though the cooler temps felt great, let me be clear on this.....I am NOT ready for summer to end.

brrrr....my first long-sleeved outing of the season
Tuesday morning was a bit more realistic...temps were in the mid-60's at the break of dawn. I did my 4-mile route somewhat in the dark because it was overcast. But, alas, the overcast skies started to break apart as I was finishing my four miles

Seriously, how do people stay inside when this kind of beauty awaits you outside?
My plan for Wednesday was some cross-training, in the name of cycling. I have not been on the Mongoose for any substantial length of time since before my ultra. But Momma N had a different idea...as I was getting my bike ready to roll, rain started falling. Seriously??? Well, I also have not done any major stair-climbing workouts in recent months, either...so I spent a good 20+ minutes going up and down the staircase (80 flights) and called it good.

Rain outside? I'll gladly take my cross-training inside...on the steps
Thursday, I had some hill repeats on the roster (I have not done hill repeats in awhile either). I headed out to a nearby county road that sports a couple of good hills (and not too many residents to witness my antics as I ran up and down, back and forth). Over all, I ended with four miles in total distance (including the warm-up and cool-down) and a very sweaty (and exhausted) feeling of accomplishment.

Yes, that's a hill...and YES, it's a lot more daunting than it appears in the photo
Friday was a light day of active recovery. My glutes and hammies were feeling the after-effects of the prior day's hill work. I did some foam rolling, stretching, and my daily August challenge stuff (planks, push-ups, etc.).

Saturday was my first double-digit run since my ultra. The weather forecast showed rain and storms, but the rain ended around 6:00AM. I headed out just after 7:00 and got the first seven miles done, then I met up with Barb (who does a lot of my long runs with me).  She ran the final three miles with me, and I headed back home feeling sorta beast-like. It's crazy how a 10-miler, even though I had not run that far in the past six weeks, still didn't seem like much of an effort.

I have not done much chalk artwork in awhile, either....
Sunday. Nothing specific workout-wise on the agenda, but I still wanted to get in some activity. The temps were warm and the humidity was high, but the sun was bright and beautiful. I had not been on my bike for awhile (remember Wednesday's rain?), so I dusted it off and met up with Barb. We cranked out almost 90 minutes of non-stop pedaling.

Somehow, we almost always manage to show up in matching outfits...
I should mention, I'm entering a new phase with my upcoming marathon (Route 66, Nov. 20th). What's new? (Cue the drum roll...) I'm working with a coach this time. I will not be posting my specific, detailed workouts, but I will be chatting about them. How do I feel about this adventure? I'm a little anxious in giving up that control,but also kinda excited about it, too. I'm one of those people who typically will go through the motions and do as I'm told (though I may question things now and then). When I'm left in charge, though, I tend to (sometimes) slack off and pull excuses out of the air. So, stay tuned! I'm eager to see how this plays out!

In other news.....

Another thing I have not done in awhile is post a selfie plank, first thing in the morning. Usually, I'm kind of  a disheveled mess, sans eye liner (trust me, no  one wants to see that!), and the bed head looks atrocious.  But, I believe in keeping things real.....even if it means I may resemble Cousin It in all my glory.

I know, I know...hot stuff! The compression socks, slippers, and messy hair really have it going on.
Let's talk filters for a quick minute. Another new venture for me is the use of filters on my pics. I'm very much a self-processed art geek. My goal in photography is to capture the moment, and have that "moment" stand on its own. But....there's also a part of me that likes to take a bland (BORING) pic and glam it up a bit. Hypocrite? Maybe so.....but I'm trying to keep a more open mind on the use of .filters. And fair warning, I will probably be succumbing to the pressure and using them more frequently.

For example:

How about this? The bright colors and heavy shadows give it more dimension...

...and this one? It almost looks like a chalk drawing with the stark contrast of black and white...

...and, last of all, this one resembles a Van Gogh creation with the crazy colors and brush strokes

While on Sunday's bike ride, I came across this little guy. He's been there all summer (but I don't usually have my phone or Ipod with me). Poor guy, he's looking a little weathered....

How was your week? Any new adventures you're undertaking? Ever worked with a coach? Have the temps started to feel more autumn-like?

As usual, I'm linking with the lovely ladies Holly and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap. Do yourself a favor, and head over and check out their awesome blogs, as well as all the numerous others.  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Five Random Runfessions for Friday

I have not done a RaNdOm PoSt in awhile, and this seems like the perfect opportunity. After all, it's time for Runfessions, and it's also the Friday Five spotlight.

Ready? Here goes.....

1) First off, I must runfess that I actually LOVE this hydration vest.

Ready to run...
I never considered myself a "hydration vest person," and certainly really never had a need for one. After all, most of my long runs are broken into 5-6 mile segments (looping back to my house for water, potty stops, etc.). In races of long lengths, there's ample water stations (usually) along the course. And, quite honestly, the idea of a vest with a refillable bladder totally made me want to gag.

Then this little beauty from SLS3 entered the scene. It has a big pocket on the back, and two slim pockets on the front straps that hold the water bottles. And there's lots of extra storage for almost anything else you could want with you. I have a full review in the works, so stay tuned.

This hydration vest also works great for cycling!

2)  Next, I runfess that I wish the trench run (on August 14) would have had more obstacles and/or less running (on gravel). Hands-down, this course was a great challenge, and the organizers did a fabulous job in all of the details. It was my first Obstacle Course Race (OCR), so I had nothing to compare it to other than what I had heard from others who have done OCR's. The course wound up being just over seven miles, and most of the running was done on gravel (there were some segments on grass trails and a brief half-mile or so at the finish line on cement, though).Oh, my ankles were so achy upon finishing! The outer areas of the soles of my feet are still a little cranky. I'm just thankful I had the opportunity to be in condition to withstand the course and the obstacles, and I'm really glad the event fell in the lull of my down-time as I was recovering from my ultra and didn't have any other events on the roster for several weeks following.

hoisting the sand bag...
3) I have to runfess that I am dreading what's gonna happen in November.....and in the two months leading up to it with all the negative campaigning. I respect everyone's right to their own opinion, but PLEASE. I sincerely wished people realized their outbursts (usually which are negative about their desired candidate's opponent) are only making me roll my eyes instead of thoughtfully considering what they may be saying. Their viewpoint probably has merit, but all that negativity just makes them look (and act) like the "evil candidate" they're critisizing. That's all I have to say about that.

4) Moving along, I runfess that I am loving my early morning runs of late, even if it means rising at 4:58AM and stumbling to the bathroom (so far, no stubbed toes). Honestly, I don't know how I fell out of this pattern of early morning miles,but I'm glad to have found my way back!

Another run in the wee morning hours
5) Lastly, let me runfess that I have ZERO anxiety about my next marathon, Route 66, happening on November 20th. I'm not going into the training with my eye on a BQ. As much as I'd like to land a spot at the start line in Hopkinton someday, Route 66 will not be the qualifying race to get me there. Seriously, I know how this works. Most people pick "fast and flat" courses for that objective...not a hilly course (with a bonus .3 mile jaunt deemed The Center of the Universe Detour). Essentially, Route 66 will be another ultra since the total distance will be further than 26.2 miles. And, as I cross that finish line, I will "technically" have run an equal number of ultras and marathons when all is said and done (three of each). Yes, ME! The lanky and clumsy girl who was shunned by most of her gym teachers and coaches in her "past life."

ultra miles do NOT scare me
Oh, and just for kicks, here's a BONUS Runfession: I have been doing so much planking in recent months, that it's just a routine thing for me...like brushing my teeth and walking Max. My abs still are not washboard-quality, but everything is tighter and firmer. My skinny jeans are not skin-tight. My love handles have vacated the premises. Life is good...and I owe it all to planking (because crunches are worthless to me).

daily planking = results
So, there you have it. Some random runfessions, and I'm feeling better already. How about you, do you have any of these in common with me? Or, any runfessions you'd like to share?

Care to Runfess? Go ahead, I'm listening
I'm double-linking today...with Marcia for the Runfessions link-up...

...and also with the DC gals ( Mar , Cynthia , Courtney) for the Friday Five link-up.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dear Running, Thanks for the memories!

Dear Running,
I'd like to thank you for all the great memories and keepsakes you've brought into my life.
Most Sincerely,

Do you have memorabilia from races? What do you do with it?  Here's a sampling of my event stuff:

First of all, I now have more shirts and 1/4 zips than I could ever dream about (and a lot of these are from events). I have purged out most of the drab cotton t-shirts, as well as a few of the less-desirable tech shirts. But my closet still runneth over.

All the long-sleeved shirts are on the left, short-sleeved tops in the center, and tanks on the right
I have kept all of the race bibs (and most of the safety pins) from every race I've done. Currently, I have the bibs on a binder ring. I'm debating about making a shadow box, though. and fanning out the bibs (by year) within the frames. It just has not happened yet.

These are just my bibs from 2015....
How about hardware? Oh, how I love my hardware! Having not been blessed with much natural athletic talent, there were not too many awards or mementos of this sort in my former life. Some medals are prettier than others, and some are much bigger in size. But every medal tells a story.

All of my medals are displayed on an accordian-style coffee mug rack
I am not much of hat person (I much prefer a visor or a funky-colored/patterned headband). But I have to admit, the racing hats are growing on me. I do prefer a hat on a rainy day, or at the very least when I know there's a high chance of rain. Let's be honest, a hat will keep you looking (a little) less like a drowned rat than a visor.

A hat from my 12-hour Ultra (left) and another from Park to Park half marathon (right)
I do have a growing fondness for stocking hats, though. A favorite keepsake is the hat from the IMT Des Moines Marathon last year....all the participants of the Principal Financial 5K Road Race received stocking hats instead of (another) shirt. Score!

Isn't the hat adorable? Black, white and light blue striped...with a poofy multi-colored pom pom
I'm a very sentimental person, and probably have tendencies towards saving too much. I have some patches from races, and some miscellaneous event stickers. The patches are (hopefully) someday going to be sewn onto a jacket (keyword:someday). The stickers? I'm hesitant to put them on my car because I know I will not be driving my current car forever (or at the very least, before my running career ends). I have a hard time putting them on a permanent place that will not be a permanent fixture in my life. I have entertained the idea of affixing them onto a magnet, thus making them transferable to all future vehicles. That hasn't happened (yet) either.

I also have a collection of posters from various events. I keep thinking I should frame them, but then what? As much as I love running, I do not wish to decorate my house with that theme. I could hang them in my laundry room (we all know runners are constantly doing laundry).

Posters from Bix 2010 and 2014, Dam to Dam 2009 and 2016, Quad Cities Marathon 2015

Look closely, this poster is from the 2014 Quad Cities Times Bix7...and has the autographs of Billy Rogers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Meb!

How about you? Got some favorite keepsakes from running? Do you have it out and about, on display? Or do you keep it stashed away...out of sight?

I'm linking up with Marcia , Erika , and Patty  for the Tuesdays on the Run Link-Up. I invite you to head over and check out all the linked blogs!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Keeping It Real

I'll be keeping it real with this Weekly Wrap. We'll be talking achy ankles, oversleeping oopsies, and wet weather woes...just to name a few.

Let's start with my Trench Run from a week ago (recap HERE). It was a great event, and I had a lot of fun challenging myself with the obstacles as well as the "extended" 10K distance of the course (final results from the race director informed us the course actually was 7.33 miles). But there was a lot more running than obstacles...and most of it was on gravel. My ankles and outer soles of my feet have been aching since. Not a crisis, but a mere side-effect. No complaints, but the reality is that I spent most of the afternoon on the couch when we returned home from the race. I'm not much of a napper, but I was that day.

on the couch, in my compression sleeves and Oofoos
Monday arrived. As usual, I wanted to get my #nevermissaMonday run done early. I did just a mile, but it felt longer and I felt like I was going in slow-mo due the achy ankles. And I probably had a bit of a zombie walk for the rest of the day (Ankle DOMS, perhaps?)

Tuesday, I had every intention of rising and shining early and getting in a good run before my work day began. My alarm goes off at 4:58AM every morning, but most days I'm awake before that. Also, most days, I allow myself a few minutes of dozing before getting out of bed. Imagine my surprise when I glanced at the clock and it showed 6:24....oops.

accidental over-sleeping = accidental rest day (sort of...)

I did wind up dong a decent 20-minute power walk in the evening, though, I brought along my 8-pound hand weights and did non-stop arm maneuvers as well.

Wednesday isn't typically a running day for me, but I had a little bit of guilt from the fail on Tuesday's run. So, I tried to make it happen on Wednesday morning...except I awoke to the sounds of thunderbolts and lightning (very,very frightening). Seriously? Since I was not about to lace up and head out in that (nor was I going to fire up the treadmill), I made the command decision to do some stair-training instead. Up and down the staircase, 50 times, thank you very much.

taking it to the stairs

Later that afternoon, I also embarked on a couple hours of mall-walking with the two remaining kiddos at home (and there may have been a rather large cash pay-out for back-to-school necessities). There also was some evening planking, in between watching the Olympics on television.

The planking never stops in my household

Thursday, dawned kind of dark and dreary, but dry. I quickly laced up the shoes and headed out before any precipitation could appear. After two failed attempts, I was able to knockout a decent early morning run. Finally. Third time's a charm, you know.

Started in the dark, ended with daylight...and a #Boltpose
Not much on the agenda for Friday, but I have kept consistent with my August goals (see below). Also, I decided to fine-tune the hair. I'm in a constant battle as to what length I want my bangs to be. I'm also determined to not get in a rut and sport the same hairdo too long...so I trimmed up a section of the majorly out-grown bangs. It's only hair, right? I have learned how to do it the right way, so it's not obvious, but still gives my 'do a different look.

the new bangs...what do you think (pay no attention to the #RBF)?
Saturday, finally a day to get in a somewhat long run! The weather app said rain up until 6:00AM or so, then cloud cover thereafter. I left the house at 6:45 to meet up with my friend, Barb (we live about a mile from each other, so often times we meet up at the halfway point between our houses and go from there). Although there was no immediate precipitation in the air, it was very damp and wet from the overnight showers.

Wouldn't you know it? About 1.5 miles into our 8-miler, it started sprinkling. Thankfully,it was a very light sprinkling of rain, but it was rain none-the-less. And it lasted for several miles. Did I mention it was followed my mist, up until the final mile or so?

My poor (new) shoes had their first "wet run."

Poor babies! They spent the rest of the day with newspaper stuffed inside of them!
And my hair? A total ponytail fail.
This, right here, is why I seldom do ponytails...too much of a mess. I prefer braids or "messy" buns instead.

Sunday was a busy day....we loaded up all his gear and hauled our son back to college. Fortunately, we had unseasonably cool weather, and zero precipitation!

ready for his sophomore year of college!
Of course, the timing was not ideal, in terms of the men's marathon coverage at the Olympics. I was able to see a few highlights throughout the morning, though. I was especially impressed with how Meb handled himself after a tough race, and then that stumble and tumble at the finish line. Push-ups? Now that's style, grace, and a bit of finesse!

pic from NBC Olympics

So, that's my week. In other news:

I have been watching as much of the Olympics as possible. Max has been watching the coverage with me (most nights). It's hard to remember what I used to do most evenings before the Olympics began. (anyone?)

 I am in such awe and wonder of the talent these athletes possess. Quite honestly, I take for granted what they are capable of doing...until I see them in action. And, the sportsmanship? Two words: simply amazing.

Usain Bolt. Unstoppable!
The 4x100 relay team of Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner, and Tori Bowie....totally amazing! Having to do a separate time trial, then getting placed in the first lane...then winning gold. WOW! 

And lastly, my August goals are keeping me accountable and on target.

25 daily push-ups, 150 monthly planking minutes, 100 flights of stair work each week, and 20 minutes (minimum) of cardio daily....so far, so good! 

As usual, I'm linking up with Holly (from HoHo Runs) and Tricia (from MissSippiPiddlin) for the Weekly Wrap. Do head over and checkout their awesome blogs, as well as the many other blogs in the link-up.