Thursday, October 29, 2015

Golum vs. The Marathon

A funny thing happened the other night.  My two boys were introduced to Golum.
This picture isn't a particularly "scary" picture of Golum, but it really DID scare my three year old! 

A little back story:  Tuesday night, my husband was taking goofy pictures of the boys on his iphone in the living room while I was preparing dinner.  But, the last picture, instead of showing Henry a picture of himself, he said "look here's your picture" and flashed Golum up instead.  Much to my husband's surprise,  Henry was petrified, which then snowballed into a heart-breaking cry when it was time to turn out the lights for bed.  Between cries Henry would say, "Mommy.... can you lay with me all night?  Don't leave me."  I knew I was in for trouble. Thankfully, he only got up once at 4:30 am and we just let him crawl in bed with us.  And.... of course it happened to be a rest day from running for me. No extra sleep. Go figure.  Anything for our kids.. right???  But, this extra cuddle time consoling little Hank got me thinking....

The marathon is MY GOLUM!

I am scared to death to run a marathon.  Yet, it's ALL I think about.  I.AM.NOT.KIDDING!

I'm scared to fail.

I'm scared of injury.

I'm scared of the training.

I'm scared of not being perfect.

I'm scared of not meeting my goal time. 

I am a runner.  I don't doubt that.  I run 20-30 miles per week.  I keep progressing with stamina and speed.  Just like the picture above, I love racing and freezing in the cold for a medal and a beer!  I love the gear. I thrive on finish lines!  I post happy selfies of myself post-run.  Those selfies are true definitions of what I'm feeling at the time.  But in the back of my mind, I long to finish a marathon. 

2015 was supposed to be my year. 

June, July and August came and went.  I could have trained for the October Twin Cities Marathon, but I didn't.  I was comfortable in my 13 mile bubble.  Long runs consisted of 10 miles and great conversation and most days the runs were fun.  I blamed an injury in July that kept me from not running for three weeks, I used a girlfriends injury as an excuse not to train.  I used my kids as an excuse not to train.  Fear. Golum. Excuses.

The fact that I haven't completed a marathon doesn't define me. I know that. I know that in order to succeed I have to jump outside my comfort zone. 

Maybe my goal finish time is unrealistic: 4 hours.  Some may think I'm crazy.  I've finished a half marathon in under 2 hours... so I should be able to finish a marathon in double the time.....right??  Not exactly.  My friend, who is also a seasoned veteran when it comes to marathons,  said you need to reevaluate your goal to be "just to finish." 

"Just to Finish." Why does that sound like a negative?  I don't mean that she meant it negative.  She was trying to give me confidence no doubt, but in my head just to finish wasn't good enough.  Hence... Golum.  There he is again.  Fear. 

But why?

Some days I think about the marathon as a task to be completed.
Some days I think about the marathon as a pain in my ass.
Some days I think about the marathon as a life-changing event.
Some days I think about the marathon as something unreachable.
Some days I think about the marathon as a time-sucker because I spend so much time worrying about the damn thing. 
Some days I just THINK about the marathon.

I wasn't kidding when I said that I think about running a marathon.  EVERY.DAMN.DAY!!

2016 is my year. No excuses.  I will face Golum head on.  I will train.  I WILL.  (I sound like an under armour ad.  Lol!)
For now, until my very first marathon. I will continue to live vicariously through my wonderful friends I have met on social media.  You're marathons inspire me to complete mine.  I love hearing your stories and watching your success!

PS:  Henry is still afraid of Golum, but only got up once last night at 1:30AM for me to lay with him.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Got Protein? Got Omega-3's? Hemp Hearts to the RESCUE!

Feeling that afternoon slump?  Tired? Out of energy? Need a healthy, non-processed pick-me-up?  Hemp Hearts to the Rescue!!  

About one month ago, I was given the opportunity via my Sweat Pink Ambassadorship to taste and review Hemp Hearts from Manitoba Harvest.  I am always excited to try new products and was happy to do this review.  Disclaimer:  All opinions are my own - I was given this product for free in exchange for my review.

Manitoba Harvest is a natural food company that makes products using hemp.  Hemp is a natural super plant and the hemp seed is harvested from the top of this plant.  It has a nutty taste and is very high in protein and Omega 3's.  If you'd like more information you can visit the link above and it will go directly to the website!  

I took this image directly from the Manitoba Harvest website at Manitoba Harvest.  I liked the graphic because it shows the different options of products available. 

I was excited to try Hemp Hearts because I eat salads and yogurt often.   This product is an easy and fast way to increase your protein and omega 3's!  Just sprinkle this "on-the-go" and you're all set!   Below is a picture that I took of Hemp Hearts on top of my spinach salad that I had for lunch recently. I am bummed about how this photo turned out on the blog, it's blurry, but the hemp hearts are right on top and blend in nicely when eating. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the texture and taste.  They have a subtle nutty flavor with a soft texture, much like rice.  In my opinion, it tastes a little like a brown rice variety, without all the cooking. :)  Over the last few weeks, I have been sprinkling it on most salads and some yogurts that have fruit and granola.  I found that if I just put it on my yogurt I don't like the consistency quite as much, but when mixed in with other fruit and granola the flavors blend together very well. 
Hemp Hearts do come in an organic version and are vegan and vegetarian friendly.  They are packaged in an easy-to-use package that is resealable.  I know that sounds crazy, but when products take too much time, I won't use them.  I can literally just sprinkle right out of the bag and go.  

For me, one downside to the Hemp Hearts packaging is the Nutrition Facts information.  The 2 oz. bag, which is pictured below, is not broken down into smaller serving sizes.  I would love to know how much a tablespoon is for example.  This 2 oz. bag has lasted me a long time because I only use small amounts at one sitting.  Unfortunately, I can only estimate the nutrition facts because the bag does not list it per tablespoon/teaspoon option.  This " downside" however does not deter from the product and I would still purchase.  It's only a suggestion. 

The price is right for Hemp Hearts!  $2.99 for a 2 ounce bag and $8.99 for an 8 ounce bag.   You can order off the website or browse your local stores to see which products they carry.  I did search in my area on the website and they have several locations where I could find these without paying shipping costs. 

I do wish I would have been able to try the Hemp Heart Bites or Hemp Heart Bar.  I am a grab-and-go kind of girl; oftentimes eating my breakfast and snacks on the go!  The Hemp Hearts can be eaten right out of the bag, but it would be easier to throw a "bite" in your mouth!  I will definitely be trying more products!

Here is a great graphic for all of the benefits of Hemp Hearts!!  Go on!  Give them a try!  They are available at many of your favorite stores! 

 Thanks again to Manitoba Harvest and Sweat Pink! for allowing me to taste and to review this product!  I give it two thumbs up!!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Worth the Hurt - Half Marathon #3 Race Recap

Last weekend, on a whim, I decided to run my third half-marathon - The Belle Plaine Scenic Byway Half Marathon did NOT disappoint!  I love the medal and I love the race slogan!  "Worth the Hurt."
I was warned from multiple people that this race was difficult.  Beautiful, but extremely hilly.  I was immediately intrigued and actually looked forward to the challenge.  I just had to conquer the hilly beast.  

The race was located in a nearby town just 10 minutes from my house. The route ran along the Minnesota River Valley which is beautiful!  One would think, "Oh the river valley, it should be flat."  WRONG!!  This course was as described with beautiful fall color, corn fields, quaint farm houses,  river valley, hills, hills, hills, hills..... and more hills.....and, when you think you're done with hills, mile 12 comes along!!

Because this race was so close to home, my husband and kids came out to support me.  I'm excited for this race recap because he really documented the "hurt" I was feeling during the race!  

It was a very small race with only 112 people running the half marathon.  The start of the race was a little unorganized as we were not quite sure where to start.  I do think that it was great that there were pacers.  I had high hopes to stay close with the 1:50:00 pacer, but at mile 3 I lost him.  I giggled to myself as I crossed the starting line because one of the race volunteers just shouted 1,2,3 GO!!  But, again, there were so few runners it was easy to hear him and I started near the front of the pack anyway.

Before the race, my husband asked where the best place to spectate was.  I usually start to have my mental struggle about mile 8-9 and the course was not a closed course, so many people were driving to multiple stopping points along the route.  It was a quiet course in the way of spectators, but I enjoy the quite and the course was absolutely beautiful.  I have a hard time watching the scenery as I run, but I tried hard to enjoy my race and look around me to take in the natural beauty beside me.

Starting at about mile 2.5 the hills started and never stopped.  Most were gently rolling, but I would describe them as slow burn.  Once you think you're done, there's another in the distance!  My most favorite part of the course was the downhill from mile 7-8.  I had just come off a very long hill from mile 6.3 to about mile 7.  At that time, I had a few fellow runners come up alongside me.  We quickly made friends and chit-chatted about the usual running stuff - pace, how many races, etc.  

The downhill from 7-8 was great!  There were hay bales with song lyrics. My new buddy Mike and I were competing to see who could figure out the song and sing the lyrics first!  These hay bales were about every 200 ft for almost 1 mile!  A welcome relief and super fun!  Thanks to the race coordinators for a great idea.  At the bottom of this hill was the first time I saw my husband and boys!  It was so great to see them. I was feeling great at this point in the race as well!  
So happy to see my family!  Mike, my singing partner, is in the red!  :)

At the bottom of the hill pictured above was a great water stop.  People in gorilla suits were dancing around and you could throw water balloons at them.  I learned after the race that the water stops were competing for prizes based on our votes as to who had the best water stop.  I loved the gorillas dancing and the high school boys WWE wrestling in the middle of the course at water stop 11.5. 

A few more progression photos will follow!  It was fantastic to see my boys and husband multiple times on the race.  They would often drive by and yell...  " GOOOOOOooooo Mommy!! "

By mile 10 I was still feeling pretty great.  My lungs felt amazing.  If it weren't for my legs I really could have kept running.  I guess that's what strength training is for??  I really hope to do that marathon someday.  Is 2016 my year???

Feeling great just at mile 9!

Mile 10 -  I bet you couldn't tell it was mile 10. :)  

At mile 11.5 I rounded a slight corner and there she was......  THE BEAST!  The hill of all hills.  An entire MILE of hill from about 11.8-12.8.   This hill is truly so big you can't see the round top. All you see if skyline above the top of the hill.  I can't tell you the mind games you play with yourself when you see this beast.   My mind was truly racing... how am I going to run UP this hill in the final hour?  How can I get a PR race with this hill in my way?  Is this for real? 

I looked at my watch and realized I had about 17 minutes to finish the race under my PR time and a wave of confidence came over me.... if only for a slight second.  I had 1.5 miles to run so I figured just don't walk this hill, just don't walk this hill!

My husband was at 12.5 - just about to the top. He ran a block with me and yelled " You got this babe!!  You can do it!! "  I pushed and pushed and surprisingly my paced slowed, but not terribly. I looked at my Garmin and this mile was 9:58!  Pretty solid time!
The BEAST!  Just keep going! 

I came to the top of the 12 mile hill with about .3 miles to go to the finish.  I gained some speed, took a final look at my Garmin to gage my time and crossed the finish line in 1:57:45!!  A PR by about 1:15!  I'll talke it!!!

Post race beer at the finish was new for me!  But it tasted pretty good really!!

This race definately is "Worth The Hurt!"  I may say this has been one of my favorites!  I definately would do run it again!!!  Can't beat a picture with my sweet boys at the finish line either!!
William - 5,  Henry - 3

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My Own Personal Running Survey

I recently saw a running survey and really enjoyed reading it, so I'm going to give it a try.  Here's to getting to know me a little bit more. 

How long ago did you start running?

I started running a few times per week about 4 year ago.  It really was just a hobby that I occasionally started doing, when I had the time.... which wasn't very often.  About two years ago, a few friends in my neighborhood got me hooked on morning running and now I MAKE time and find that if I try hard enough, I definately have enough time to get my run in.  It's now a passion and I couldn't imagine life without running.

What time of day do you find is the best to run?

With my full-time job and my two very busy little boys, early morning 5AM workouts are my "ME" time.  The house is quiet.  Most of the time, my boys are still sleeping, and I can run guilt-free.  I say guilt-free for all of you moms out there. How often do we get to do something for ourselves where we don't have to worry about a billion other things??  My alarm rings at 4:45 three to four days per week.  Sometimes, even earlier if I'm planning a long run. 

Where is your favorite place to run?

I enjoy road running.  The treadmill, or "dreadmill" as I call it, is only good for extremely cold days or icy conditions.  I was recently in Colorado however, and did some trail running!  It is awesome! There is something so exhilarating about dodging rocks and jumping down inclines.  But, I hurt in muscles I didn't know I had after running trails for sure!

Are there any road conditions you won't run in?

I train with some pretty bad-ass women.  We run in absolutely any weather.  Here in MN it's dark 9 months of the year at 5AMIt also gets extremely cold.  Last year my limit was 8 below zero -- and with the windchill it was a miserable 8 miles.  My nostrils froze and it took me hours to warm up after.  On the upside?  I'll always have the memories.  BUT, usually, fresh snow on the roads or ice keeps me inside.  It's silly for me to risk slipping or breaking a limb when I have a treadmill in my basement.  I also don't venture out when it's extremely cold with windchill.  Although I did run a 10K race in -27 below.  NEVER AGAIN.  My eyelashes had icicles and those icicles and icicles.  Catch my drift.  ha ha ha

What are your favorite running shoes?

No question.  Mizunos.  I run in the Wave Inspires and have been for 4 years.  They have treated me well, so there is no reason for me to change.  I have 3 pair in rotation at this moment. 

What is your favorite race distance? 

Currently, I like the 10 mile.  Not to short, but not too long and I'm not sprinting like I would in a 5K.  I have yet to run a marathon. Maybe one day, I can say my favorite distance is a marathon.  Bucket list for sure! 

Do you like to run solo or with someone else? 

Most days I really enjoy running with friends, and typically I'm doing just that. I have some amazing friends that I run with daily and love chatting.  We are always talking, but it helps to pass them miles.  Typically, I run my races solo though.  Races are my time to push myself. 

Does your family support your running? 

My husband is my biggest supporter.  With two boys sometimes it's hard to venture out of the house and he handles it like a trooper!  I love it when they come to my races and cheer me on!  My mom is hilarious because she always says... " I worry about you when you run those distances.  You're going to hurt yourself."  I also don't think she realizes how far a mile is. :)  But like any mom she's proud of me and I like to make her proud as well. 

What have you gained from running?

Where do I start?  Running has given me so much!  I have met amazing friends through my running.  I follow so many wonderful blogs and runners on social media.  I have learned how to take care of my body. I have gained strength. I have lost weight.  The list goes on.  

What is most rewarding about running? 

There is nothing quite like that finish line!  I LOVE crossing finish lines.  The work and dedication it takes to make it across is like no other. The emotions you feel when you are done with the race can only be described by runners.  I feel invisible, like I can do anything.  I visualize that finish line during my races and that gets me through tough runs as well.