Sharin’ O’ the Green 5K and St Patty’s Shenanigans

So I’m about a week behind, but I’m finally here for a recap of the race we ran last Saturday. This was our 4th Sharin’ O’ the Green, and it has become quite the St. Patty’s Day tradition. We lucked out yet again with the weather. It was around 34 degrees prior to the start (cold right?) but actually turned out to be perfect race weather. There was no wind, which is huge, and the sun was out. Two ingredients for success in the weather department around here. I think it was right around 40 degrees during the actual run. We were Reagan-free this time, which is a bummer because there were so many cute dogs, and I feel bad leaving her at home. But it was in her best interest, she had been limping last week so I didn’t want her to hurt herself. And she will never quit.

Anyway, I was hoping to improve on my time from the same race last year, and also to run a faster pace than I did at the Valentine’s race. My own time to beat from last year was 24:43, a 7:58/mi average pace. My pace at the Valentine’s run was 8:05 average. Jesse and I have been running a couple of speed workouts this month to… you guessed it, improve our speed. So I was super happy with my results, with a finish time of 23:35, and an average pace of 7:31/mile. We also successfully ran negative splits once again. I’m feeling pretty good about our progress. I’m also really proud of Jesse, (he’s much newer to running than I am) and a little bit nervous that he’s going to be beating me soon. We both pushed each other throughout last week’s race, but he hung on the entire time and we were neck and neck across the finish line. Although official results put me one second ahead of him, sorry Charlie! The course was mostly an out and back, with a little loop mid-way. It was fairly flat, with maybe one noticeable hill. Here are my Strava results.

This is always a fun run, and a great way to kick off our St. Patty’s day celebration. Makes the post-race beers taste that much better – and guilt free! We had a group of about 12 friends who also ran, and we visited a few breweries for some food and beverages before heading home where we had 3 crock pots cooking corned beef and cabbage. Jesse’s family made it out for the weekend, friends came over, the weather was great, and we had a blast! I can’t say we drank any green beer, but we did have a few Irish car bombs – which are always good slash terrible.

This morning we got out for a 7 mile long run – checking off one of my running goals for the month!

Now I feel like I need a nap. I’ll leave you with my new favorite pre-run fuel: the peanut butter banana bacon bagel! PBBBB! P Quadruple B? YUM.

March Running Goals + Why the 10% “Rule” is Toilet Paper

One of the things we’ve got lined up for this summer is the Sandhills Half Marathon. I have a 10 week Half Marathon training plan that I’ve modified for myself and used for all three of my previous halves, and it’s been perfect for getting into race shape. However, it’s nearly impossible for me to use the 10 week plan effectively if I don’t build up a decent running base well in advance of starting the 10 weeks. I tried basically starting from scratch the first time I signed up for a half, and probably only trained for 12 weeks total. While I did run a decent race and was happy with my finish, I literally had trouble walking for a couple of days after. So for the past couple of years, I have worked on getting into a training habit much earlier once I have a race in mind. (While it is always my intent to keep running after the big race, I have failed miserably every year and end up taking at least a few months off). So I’m usually starting over. Maybe THIS year will be my year?

Now that we’ve been running fairly consistently for two months, I think it’s time to set some goals. First, here’s a recap of my progress so far:

9 runs total
26.6 miles
Longest Distance: 4 miles
0 speed workouts
0 races
Average training pace range: 12:13 to 8:48/mi

9 runs total
37.9 miles (42% increase over last month)
Longest Distance: 4.9 miles
2 speed workouts
1 race – Sweetheart 4 Mile – 33:32, 8:05/mi avg pace
Average training pace range: 10:18 to 9:05/mi

And some goals for March:

  • Get 11 runs in – so far we’ve only made it to the gym twice a week. I’d like to get up to three visits a week, at least a couple of times next month.
  • Run a speed workout, once a week – For speed, I will typically do either a tempo run, or intervals of some sort. More on specific workouts later.
  • Log a 7 mile long run – Keeping my fingers crossed for a nice weather Saturday. Despite the 60 degree days we had in January, and a lucky Valentines day, it turns out it’s still winter. It’s been snowing. And windy. And terrible. Which doesn’t help me when it comes to running 7 miles. Long runs on a treadmill are no fun. Nope.
  • Beat my time from last year at the Sharin’ o’ the Green 5k. Last year I finished in 24:43, a 7:58/mi average pace.
  • Run 45 miles total

And real quick – you may be thinking that I’m breaking the 10% rule. You know, the “standard” runner’s rule that says you shouldn’t increase your mileage more than 10% a week. But let’s get a few things straight:

One, this rule doesn’t really specify a starting point. It’s hard to follow when you are starting from zero miles, and only running 2-3 times per week. Think about it: if I made it to the gym twice this week and ran 4 miles both times, the 10% rule would tell me that I can only run 8.8 miles total next week. Just because I’ve been too lazy to get my butt to the gym 3 times this week, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t physically run 3 days next week.

Two, I’ve been running (although not always consistently and year-round) for about 15 years. I’ve also been through 3 stress fractures, which put the kibosh on my Division 1 College running career. Running at the college level requires you to run 5 to 7 days a week, and 35 to 50 miles per week. That didn’t work for my body. Yes, I believe that too much mileage was definitely the cause of my injuries. Yes, I think that adding too much mileage too fast is a bad idea. But here’s the thing. I don’t think that there’s a universal rule for how much running your body can handle. I’ve learned my limits, and that is why I now only run 3 days a week at most. To look at it another way, my monthly total mileage right now is what some avid runners do in a week. So my percentages will easily jump 20 to 30% at times, but that can be the difference of a single run or a few miles.

and Three, because I’m not a scientist or a doctor of sports medicine, here‘s a good article that quotes some people who are.

Sweetheart Classic V-Day Race

Our first race of the year is officially in the books. Saturday, Valentine’s Day morning, we got our butts out of bed bright and early and headed down to Loveland, CO for the Sweetheart Classic 4 mile run. The race didn’t start until 9:00 a.m., which is actually fairly late for a typical fun run. The weather was just about perfect, about 43° F at the start (felt chilly, but nothing compared to last year when it was maybe low 20s). No wind, and no ice on the ground! Can’t ask for much better in February.

This is a pretty laid-back event, and it seemed like there was a bigger turnout than last year (results say 455 participants). It is put on by the Loveland Road Runners, and raises funds for the local High School cross country team. The course is nice, running through a couple of neighborhoods and around Lake Loveland. I think the size of the lake probably dictates the 4 mile distance, rather than it being a typical 5k.

Jesse and I were both aiming to run around an 8:30/mile pace. We’ve been running about twice a week on the treadmill, and we have yet to run more than about 4.3 miles or 40 minutes per run. We’re still working slowly into a consistent base after taking several months off after our wedding. My average pace at the gym has been around 9:20 to 10:00 miles, which feels surprisingly difficult some nights. Treadmill running is a completely different animal than running outside, and even though it should be easier, it somehow feels harder most of the time. I usually try to run at a 1% incline on the treadmill, as I’ve read that this is supposed to offset the lack of air resistance outside to make your workout fairly equivalent to an outdoor run. However, as I’ve looked into this a little bit deeper, I’ve seen a few articles claiming that the 1-2% treadmill standard is total junk if you’re running slower than 7:09/mile. Well I’ll be dipped in shit. I’m pretty sure I haven’t ever maintained that pace on the treadmill.

We both ended up doing better than expected overall. We probably would have started out far too fast if it weren’t for the crowd of people to get through and our overly excited dog, who tried weaving back and forth for about the first mile to try to get ahead. She was there to WIN, dammit! So, we managed to hold back for a bit, and we actually were able to talk to each other for most of the race. This may be a sign that we weren’t running hard enough, but we actually ended up running negative splits the entire race, which is exactly what you’re supposed to do. Here is what my race looked like, according to Strava:

Jesse and I ran together until about the last 3/4 mile. I was feeling good and picked up the pace slightly, but Jesse stayed pretty close on my heels. I was extra careful to watch my footing on the last downhill stretch back toward the high school, since I rolled my ankle last year. My official finish time was 33:32, and Jesse came in at 33:41. Our combined times earned us the #8 couples spot, out of 40 in our age group. Not bad!

Of course we celebrated with some tasty microbrews and friends afterward, and enjoyed a date night dinner out at one of our favorite places. Who doesn’t love a 24 oz. heart-shaped ribeye? Overall, an extremely productive and successful Valentine’s Day!

Dog Blog Wednesday – If your dog is bored, keep your kitchen extra clean

Hey, happy Wednesday. What is Reagan doing? EATING EVERYTHING SHE CAN GET HER PAWS ON! 

Including, but not limited to:

  • Bacon grease
  • Paper towels
  • Coffee grounds
  • Dog treats
  • Chocolate truffles
  • Endurolytes

Our super crafty border collie has taken up a new hobby, called getting into the trash and strewing it all over the kitchen. We got this lovely red trash can from Crate and Barrel as a wedding gift (that’s right, we registered for a trash can, we’re grown-ups).

Even though said trash can has a lid, Reagan has figured out a way to pull on even the smallest amount of slack in the plastic bag that wraps around the can liner, and possibly step on the foot pedal at the same time to get stuff out and chew on it while we’re at work. She even tried it in the middle of the night last week, but I caught her in the act.

This has been going on a couple of weeks now, and we’ve tried eliminating all slack in the plastic bag (Jesse’s now an expert at this), turning the trash can around so that the opening is towards the wall, setting up booby traps to deter her, etc. But all to no avail. We have finally had to resort to leaving the plastic bag down inside the can. Maybe we’ll have to get some sort of puppy lock?

We realize that Reag naturally has endless amounts of energy, and winter gets tough because she is cooped up in the house all day and doesn’t get to go on runs, because we’re stuck at the gym. We’re not as good about getting her out for walks as we should be, so we can’t really blame her for getting bored. Today, however, she must have been feeling extra neglected and/or hungry, because while we were gone she decided to go beyond the trash and climb up on the counter to see what she could find there.

We’ve figured out that she can somehow get all the way on top of the counter, like on all fours. She’s done this once before. At first we were stumped as to how she could get her front legs up and stretch over the sink to get to the window sill where we keep the dog treats out of reach, super impressive. Then, we found some paw prints on the stainless steel sink, placed just so to indicate that she was actually walking on the counter. (I would love to put a go-pro on her and just see how she ninjas around all day). Last time, she ate all of her dog treats from the bowl on the window sill, part of a chocolate bar, and some fortune cookies. The crazy part is, she actually leaves the wrappers on the counter. Amazing.

Today, we didn’t find any visible prints, but there was some dog hair left on the counter, immediately giving her away. She cleaned out the treat bowl, knocked a glass on the floor, and found our stash of chocolate truffles that we had in a box in the corner. In case you’ve ever freaked out over your dog eating chocolate, we’ve looked into it. WebMD tells us that one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight is potentially lethal for dogs. So for medium to large size dogs, they would really have to eat quite a bit to get to a dangerous level. For reference, a standard full-size chocolate bar is around 3.5 oz, and an entire box of Russell Stover chocolates is 11 oz. Needless to say, we did some googling the first time Reagan got into a candy bar, and we were relieved to learn that she shouldn’t be in any real danger.

SO, after scavenging the kitchen counters, she proceeded into the office where she found Jesse’s bike gear bag. He said it was left just slightly open because he had to grab something out of it this morning. She managed to get it opened up, pull a smaller bag out of it which she then took into the living room, and dug around until she found his bottle of endurolyte pills. Somehow popped that sucker open, and helped herself to a few. At least she won’t be getting any cramps after all of her hard work today.

Whatever happened to good ol’ fashioned, unplugged running?

Early in January, we reluctantly made the decision to purchase a gym membership. It’s not that we have not gotten the good out of the gym before, the problem is that our little local gym that was owned by the regional medical center (read: some physical therapy and lots of old people), sold last year to Gold’s Gym. So our two person membership that was costing us a total of $30 a month, included unlimited classes and was on a voluntary month-to-month basis is no longer an option. The outdated spaces but sufficient equipment and quiet, non-judgey atmosphere have been traded in for a brand new, high-tech renovation/expansion, sure to attract at least a few more protein pounding meatheads who won’t bat an eye at a two-year contract. It’s a necessary commitment to maintain the guns, brah.


Well, while the Gold’s branding and fancy expensive pricing has been in place for several months now, the renovations have been in the works and the new gym finally opened last weekend. So tonight, we had the opportunity to check out the new amenities, which we are now paying a total of $78 a month to utilize. Side note: we opted for the month-to-month option for now, which is more expensive monthly than signing a one or two year contract. We did this knowing that as soon as it warms up outside, we’d much rather be running or biking in the great outdoors, which also happens to be FREE! If we weren’t such wimps and/or the wind in Wyoming didn’t blow 400 days a year, we would maybe try to run outside through the winter as well. Actually, the real reason that winter running isn’t feasible for us is that it’s dark (in addition to cold and windy) outside by the time we get home from work.

So, for a few months, we’ve resigned ourselves to the treadmill and the comforts of the climate controlled gym. The other day, I’m mid-jog, trying not to stare at the time ticking down, and I realize that I have not one, not two, but three electronic devices on me in addition to the treadmill I am running on. I have a frickin’ checklist I have to go through before I can start my workout. Do I have my heart rate chest strap? Did I push start on my heart rate monitor/watch so I know if I’m in the correct cardio zone? Do I have my kindle with me so I can read to pass the time? And in case I get bored with my book, did I remember my headphones which I will plug into my phone so that I can stream Pandora? Bonus points if I remember to enter the gym’s wifi password so that I’m not eating up all the data on our cell phone plan. The second I push cool down on the machine, I’m opening my Strava app so that I can add my workout to my log to refer back to my progress later and also so my Strava friends can give me kudos. It’s ridiculous. I may as well take a duck-faced mirror selfie when I get home to show all my Facebook friends that I worked out (don’t worry, I wouldn’t dare go quite that far).

But seriously, I sometimes wish we could just go back to the days when all you did was change clothes, put on a watch, lace up your Nikes and head out the door. Does that mean I’m going to deprive myself of the technology I have available and run in mental silence at the gym? Probably not. Even if I went empty handed, I wouldn’t be bored for long with the new tech at Gold’s. (And I have to admit, that brand new cardio cinema room didn’t suck).

I realize I’m kind of all over the place here. The thing is, it’s hard not to follow the quick moving technological trends without feeling like you are missing out. And some of them actually ARE helpful and convenient as training aids. It’s really a love/hate relationship for me. So for now I say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. If I find myself with, say, five devices running at a time, maybe that’s where I’ll draw the line. And hopefully we all remember to make time in our lives somewhere to unplug for a few minutes, and just enjoy a simple workout, the outdoors, and the people around us in real life.