Race Recap: Lakefront Discovery 15K

First of all, I’m just going to say please go vote tomorrow. Take advantage of the awesome privilege we have by just living in this country. And then, at the end of the day, remember this that my yoga instructor said today during class … The sun will rise and set on Wednesday no matter what happens politically or who wins. We’ll still go on living, getting up, eating, running, being friends with those who have different opinions than us. And, on Wednesday we can look forward to mailboxes and tvs vacant of political ads!

OK, so I promised a race recap in my last post. Two weekends ago, October 27, I headed up to Milwaukee to spend the weekend with my friend Heather and run the Lakefront Discovery 15K. Being near Halloween, costumes were highly suggested. Heather and I are not ones to shy away from acting a fool. We dressed up as a barmaid and a fairy princess (I swore the wings would help me run faster).

Barmaids and fairy princesses know how to run.

We snapped this picture post-race at the Milwaukee Ale House after party. Free beer? OK!

Before we celebrated though, we actually had to run. Ridiculous, I know. So we parked, stretched, and peed. I was convinced I needed to pee again. I’m a nervous peer before races. Now you know all about me peeing habits. Lucky you! We found a few of our Ragnar Dairy Queen teammates before the race began. (Running is like a little community! It’s making my world feel smaller!) The route started at the Italian Community Center and ran along Lake Michigan. I actually took the below picture around mile two while I was running!

Lake Michigan as seem from the Lakefront Discovery 15K in Milwaukee.

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Race Recap: Wine at the Line 5 Mile

Fall is officially upon us here in Indianapolis. This is my favorite time of year. I never get tired of the crisp blue skies and the bright trees. Plus, fall makes for perfect running temperature. After what seems like months of summer, the relief of not sweating and feeling as though I may suffocate from heat and humidity is so welcome. This fall also marked the beginning of running for me again. I took the entire summer off due to a pretty badly sprained ankle, and set the beginning of August as my official start to run date.

I signed up for Wine at the Line, a 5 mile race just south of Indianapolis at Mallow Run Winery with four of my former co-workers. Michael and I did this race last year. It involves a scenic 5K or 5 mile run through some farms around the winery, and lots of free wine after the race. The whole afternoon is very relaxed, and the course really isn’t incredibly challenging.

So, now the question: how to get back into shape after taking three months off due to an injury? I didn’t want to rush back into running and just pound my poor ankle, but I wanted to be in good condition come October 6. Ashely who writes at (Neve)Homemaker, one of my favorite running/food blogs, had mentioned Hal Higdon’s training programs before, so that’s where I turned. I followed his intermediate 8K plan. Three days of the week I would run at a nice easy pace, one day I did a long run, and one day was a tempo run or interval training. Perfect to slowly bring me to racing shape.

When it comes down to it, coming back from an injury has really taught me to listen to my body. Taking a day off if my ankle hurts is OK, cutting back on mileage is OK, and so is pushing myself extra on a day I feel awesome.

So, Wine at the Line.

This is my friend Heather on the left. She is a beast. You don’t believe me, do you? It’s the crown, I know. Or the friendly smile.

This girl runs like a gazelle, and damn if she doesn’t make it look easy. We started the 5 miles together, and for a bit I ran ahead. Then Heather passed me, and then I lost sight of her crown. (We ran in our crowns.) But you know what? I crossed the finish line and she didn’t tell me her time. She didn’t ask my time. We congratulated each other and discussed running with crowns. We talked about work. I could take a lesson from Heather. I could be less competitive, not obsessively check my pace every half mile, and remember that I run because I love it, the rush of feeling like I’m cruising, the road passing under my feet.

By the way, the crowns, the cow get up? We’re two members of the Dairy Queens—only the best Chicago Ragnar team ever.

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Oh, and my results? 42.55, a new PR at this distance. Fourteenth in my age group. And I was right on my goal of 8:30 minute miles. I’m proud.

How I Survived My First Half Marathon

I almost bailed on my first half marathon.

In the last four months running has become a challenge. A pain, you may even say. Last fall, I signed up for the Indianapolis Mini Marathon, the biggest half marathon in the country. I even convinced Michael to do it with me. In January, we started our Mini training, which wasn’t really mini at all, but felt great. My first half marathon. I’m going to be a real, hardcore runner now.

In the meantime, the March time, we planned to go to Chicago for the 8K Shamrock Shuffle. I had plans to finish that race in 42 or 43 minutes, beating last year’s time of 43:59.

I’ve read around the internets that it’s a runner’s Murphy’s Law that as soon as you get into the groove of training for a big race, you injure yourself. One gorgeous Friday evening, we went out for a light jog. I took a wrong step and sprained my ankle. Guys, really. Do you know how torturous it is to watch your boyfriend take off for an 11 mile run and have to sit at home with your foot on ice? Guys, really. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d utter. “Do you know how torturous an 11 mile run sounds” would be more accurate. But no, once I started training, doing the longer distances, it felt right.

So, ankle barely heals for Shamrock Shuffle, which I finish in a respectable 45:53 without having run three weeks prior. Time to gear up for the Mini Marathon bitches!

I almost bailed on my first half marathon.

I couldn’t run for weeks on that damn sprained ankle after the Shuffle. I tried to swim, I biked a bit, even ran on the elliptical. What do you do to cross train? How do you stay in shape when you’re injured? I was at my wits end.

The week before the race Michael convinced me. Just do it, he said. Get your money’s worth, he said. Cross the finish line and get your medal, even if you have to do it walking, he said. Fine. I’m convinced. I’ll run 13.1 miles after not having run more than 7, and that only on an elliptical.

I am so glad I did. I don’t even care that I’m right back to limping around the office. This past Saturday I finished my first half marathon in 2:21:14. (Let’s not discuss my original goal finish time. It’s irrelevant.) I ran through the first hot and humid day of the year with 40,000 other runners and walkers, around the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and across the finish line. I earned my medal.

No run has ever been so hard. Nothing I have done physically in the last few years has pushed me as much. I honestly felt light-headed at a few points (at which I walked, because above all, you must listen to your body). This huge wall appeared out of nowhere at mile 10. It forced me to walk a lot right at the end. But nothing can compare to the feeling of running across that finish line, of having tucked 13.1 miles under my running shoes. A completely addicting high.

I want to do it again.

That’s what running is for me. It’s this really hard thing, this thing that I have to work at and that I push myself to improve on. But I love it. It feels so good. It hurts so good.

What is running for you? A stress reliever, the one thing that you can do easily and without thinking? Something you do for yourself, noncompetitively and at your own pace?

I finished my first half marathon. I’m so proud.

Next stop, the Chicago Ragnar! Go Team Dairy Queens!

Coconut Curry Noodle Soup

Last time I posted I think the season could still be considered summer. Now we are knee deep in autumn. This is totes my favorite season. Changing leaves, cool weather/perfect running weather, cozy food, and art contest prize delivery trips!

Michael and I ran in a 5K with a few of his friends earlier this month.

I have yet to run a race in my FiveFingers, a goal I set for myself in the spring to reach by the end of the summer, but this 5K was amazing. It was at Mallow Run Winery, a bit south of Indianapolis. Firstly, I’m super happy with my time of 24:25. Guys, that’s a 7:52 per mile average pace! That’s under 8 minutes! These are things I never thought I’d say about myself as a runner. Secondly, we got a free glass of wine after the race. Thirdly, we tasted various wines after our free glasses.

Fourthly, we bought two bottles of wine per couple and sat on the patio and enjoyed many glasses. Wine and running and friendly people are a good combo!

In the last month my magazine’s amazing art director and I have traveled to three cities to deliver prizes for our art contest. Do you have a kid? You should so enter! Multiple perks to these trips include: making the day of a kid and his or her family, giving money to art programs in schools, getting to visit awesome cities!

San Diego. We visited the San Diego Zoo. Oh mah Gawd, it was worth every dollar of the $40 we paid to get in! We ate cupcakes two nights in a row. We saw seals. We hiked on the beach And we saw Erica!

I went to high school with Erica. She moved to L.A. for college and is still there. I’m glad we’ve stayed friends despite miles and time. The kind of weird thing about this whole trip is that most of the time it was cloudy. I thought San Diego was sunny almost all the time.

Knoxville. We had a hotel…disaster…horror story…grossness…long story short, the hotel was terrible and we ran at 11:30 at night. Before we broke free from trucker hell, we wandered around downtown Knoxville. Jen had a contact emergency that took us to this little grocery.

They had growlers and eight beers on tap IN THE GROCERY. Like a little bar in the grocery with awesome beer! I died a little. Just one more reason the South is superior.

Kalamazoo. The Bell’s Brewery is located in Kalamazoo. Oktoberfest is in season. Have you had Oktoberfest on tap at the Brewery that it comes from? Holy amazing caramel-flavored beer awesomeness! We sat in the bier garden and enjoyed some pints. I left with a six pack of Oktoberfest and a variety six pack.

I just realized that I sound like a drunk. Wine. Beer. Beer. I am not a drunk. I am not a drunk …

So cozy autumn food. It goes well with Bell’s beer. It goes well with cool weather. Unfortunately we are having some sort of Indian summer during the days. 70s and 80s, what? I don’t care. I’ve been cooking roasted chicken, potatoes, and butternut squash (which, sidenote, is amazing, sweet, and creamy just diced, salted, peppered, and nutmeged, and roasted), vegetarian chili, and a new soup, coconut curry noodle soup.

This soup is coconuty, spicy, flavorful, and I love the slurpy noodles. I actually managed to eat most of the soup with chopsticks! As is, the recipe is vegetarian, but I’d say add in some chicken or shrimp if you so desire. One of my favorite soup perks is how it lasts for multiple meals. This one gave me two dinners and two lunches. Plus, it was insanely affordable. I got my ingredients at the farmers market and an incredible international grocery in town called Saraga. They have a whole aisle practically of curries. And all sorts of produce from around the world. And all of the exotic food that costs a fortune at the regular grocery cost half the price. I think overall, this meal, or four meals, cost me around $10. Seriously, guys.

The recipe calls for Singapore noodles, but you can sub any rice noodle. Laksa paste is a type of curry paste. I found a jar at Saraga, but if you can’t, just go for any curry paste available. As for vegetables, I used a carrot, a zucchini, and a red pepper.

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Muffins, Races, and BFFs galore!

I got an iPhone about a month ago. God it’s worlds better than the LG Ally I had. And universes better than the HTC Eris before that. I can confidently say that I am an Apple girl all the way! I’ve been snapping lots of pictures with my iPhone. It’s not the world’s greatest quality (like I won’t be taking tons of pictures with it when we go to SPAIN! More later.), but it’s so nice to take photos when I’m out and about.

So here is a brief tour of the last week in my life via photos.

Two weekends ago we went to Chicago for the Shamrock Shuffle, an 8K that starts and ends in Grant Park. This was my first race since I’ve gotten serious about running. Marnie and her boyfriend Jannson have done it the past two years I believe. The weather was perfect on race day. I ran the 5 miles in 44 minutes. So proud of myself!

The 717 totally tore it up!

Coffee always tastes better with two of your best friends. Especially after steak dinner at 11pm the night before! This was one of my favorite trips to Chicago yet.

One of my visiting people rules is Never Show Up to a Friend’s House Without a Baked Good in Hand. This weekend we were runners, so I picked a healthful baked good that would give us fuel.

These ginger-cranberry oatmeal muffins from Everybody Likes Sandwiches were perfect. Made with only whole-wheat flour, oats, and no butter or oil, I really felt OK about eating these muffins. And they were not heavy or dense. Nicely the opposite in fact. I think my favorite part was the chewy candied ginger bits and tangy cranberries. Click over to Jeanette’s blog for the recipe. The only thing I did different was replace the oil/melted butter with a mashed up and very ripe banana, per Jeanette’s suggestion.

This past weekend my bff Bette came up from Charlotte to visit. Bette and I have been friends for 16 years. I have been down to North Carolina to visit her (in a non-working-at-camp visit) about five times in the last three years. Oh and plenty of times before that too. Bette, on the other hand, had visited me in Indiana twice in the past 16 years. Granted, North Carolina is like 20 times cooler than Indiana. But I was ecstatic when she finally bought a plane ticket to see my city.

We ate crepes, drank local beer,  went to Luna Music for National Record Day (OMG The Head and the Heart album is to die for!), hung out in Zionsville, and ate cupcakes, despite less than ideal weather on Friday and Saturday.

We even found some sunshine time to take Mira to 100 Acres at the Indianapolis Art Museum.

I hope she comes back sooner than 11 years from now!! I do love the girl.

And in news that I cannot yet document in photographs, Michael and I are going to Spain for 10 days in May. In fact, we leave in 2 1/2 weeks!! We’ll be staying six days in Granada and two days in Madrid. Hopefully there will be some site seeing, beach going, hiking in the Sierra Nevadas, lots of delicious food and wine consuming, and merriment!

Have you been to Spain? I’d love to hear favorite places, recommendations, and general input.

How I Set My Feet Free

Back in January I decided that it was time to get new running shoes. From what I’ve heard, you should replace shoes every 6 to 8 months. What kind of shoes to get? I loved my Nikes. But Sam and I had been discussing barefoot running and FiveFingers shoes for awhile.

FiveFingers Bikalas

So I started doing some research. I read articles and I turned to one of my favorite running/cooking blogs, (Never home)maker. I remembered how, as a kid, I’d sprint around the house barefoot, loving the feeling of the grass and earth under my feet. And so I went for it. I decided to free my feet and get some minimalist running shoes.

Before I jump into my experience transitioning to minimalist shoes, here’s some brief background for you. I know barefoot and minimalist running are kind of a fad right now and I want you to know there are more reasons to considering this kind of running than just jumping on a bandwagon.

Running shoes, padded and all, encourage you to strike (where or how your foot lands on the ground) heel to toe. When running barefoot, you tend to strike with the middle or front of your foot. Striking with your heel first causes more impact, or stress, on your joints. Therefore, you need more padding in the heels of your shoes to relieve the impact. From what I’ve read, running heel to toe and in padded shoes isn’t necessarily wrong, but can be one of the causes of running injuries. So basically, running and striking on the front or middle of your foot relieves stress and impact on your joints.

Then there’s the whole history of how humans used to run factor. Our ancestors didn’t have shoes. They walked and ran everywhere barefoot. That’s how they’re feet and legs and bodies were built. So our feet are kind of built to run barefoot.

Lastly, barefoot or minimalist running strengthens your feet, especially the arches, and your calves. You’ll use muscles you didn’t use as much when running in regular shoes.

So there are the facts. Here’s how it went for me.

I first bought some Saucony Kinvaras. These look like regular running shoes, but they’ve got muuuch less padding and whatnot in the soles. I figured these would be a good transition shoe into minimalist running.

 

The guy at the running store advised me to wear them around for about a week before I started running to allow my feet and legs to get used to them. My first few runs in these shoes were…different. I could feel different parts of my legs working, specifically my hips. But after those first few runs, my times were faster, my stride became more efficient, and my body hurt less.

 

Enter Michael (that’s the chocolate chip cookie-obsessed boy of my last post). He wanted to buy some Vibram FiveFingers. We talked about them a lot. We tried them on a few times at an outdoor store in town. Finally I decided that with the success of the Kinvaras, I’d take the next step.

I bought these Vibram Bikala LS’s, the FiveFinger running-specific shoes. These have pretty much nothing between your feet and the ground but a thin layer of rubber and polyurethane. Plus the whole toe thing looks pretty rad! The first day I wore the Bikalas, I walked 5 miles in them. My feet ached a bit after, as is to be expected. They were working differently! After a week of wearing them around in my daily life, I went for a run. I started with the intention of stopping when things stopped feeling good. I’d read that if you push yourself when transitioning to Vibrams, you could injure yourself. I think I ended up running 3 miles that day. And it felt so good. Fast. Light. Natural. I won’t lie, my calves, they hurt like crazy for a good four days after. Tight balls of ouch. I stretched a lot. Just proof that I’m using new muscles!

Just a quick comparison for you. On the far left are my old Nikes. For regular running shoes, they don’t have a whole lot of padding in the heel. Next are the Kinvaras. The Bikalas are on the right.

 

 

Now I alternate between the Kinvaras and the Bikalas. The Kinvaras have been nothing short of wonderful. Me and my calves are getting more and more used to the Bikalas every run.

Have any of you tried minimalist running shoes? What has your experience been like?

Red Lentil & Vegetable Soup

Oh the weather outside is frightful…cold…frigid…very winter-like for early December. Perfect soup weather. And perfect running weather.

That’s right bitches. I ran outside in 20° weather yesterday and today. And today I ran my best 5K time – 25 minutes. And then, just for good measure, I ran another half a mile. Total mileage and timeage? 3.6 miles in just under 30 minutes.

Now I swear I’m not bragging. I’m just amazed by myself. In high school, when we were forced to run at crew practice, my friend and I were the last people to finish because we walked most of the way. So guys, if I can do it, so can you. I swear.

Now, once you finish running, or just standing outside for 2 seconds, you’ll need something to warm you up. And I’ve got that covered. You will need a bowlful of red lentil and vegetable soup. It’s like tomato soup with substance, a bright sunny kick from some lemon juice, and a nice, warm cumin flavor.

Cumin reminds me of my dad’s chili, which reminds me of being toasty in winter.

Toasty up your insides. Make this soup. Maybe add some green beans, because that’s kind of what I want to do next time I make it. And there will be a next time, and a time after that, and a time after that…….

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