Lake Wobegon Marathon Training {Weeks 1 & 2}

I have two official weeks of training under my fuel belt. It has been a long time since I trained for a marathon during the long, cold winter months. Training in the winter, especially here in Minnesota, presents it’s fair share of obstacles. Namely, the cold and ice/snow covered sidewalks and trails.

Here’s what I’m learning about getting outside:

  1. Layers, layers, layers. I was told long ago to dress for 20 degrees warmer than it actually is outside, whether or not that is what you should do, I don’t know. I always start with my fleece-lined running tights, sports bra, tank, and a long sleeve tech shirt. From there I add on depending on just how cold it is and whether or not there is a wind chill to factor in. Another tech shirt (preferably with a hood), a hat or ear warmers, gloves or my winter mittens (if it’s really cold) and a wind breaker usually do the trick. If I overheat, I can peel off a layer as needed.
  2. The right socks are essential. Wool socks are a must. My favorite winter running socks are SmartWool. My toes stay warm and they do enough wicking to prevent blisters.
  3. Trail shoes or Yaktrax prevent the slip. IF you’re going to run on snow you need a little extra grip. While I don’t own trail shoes, I do have Yaktrax. I’ve only used them a few times, but they really do help prevent slipped on the snow. Ice is another story, if it’s super icy, go inside.
  4. Water is still a must. I hate drinking cold water when I’m already cold. While I do still sweat when it’s cold, it’s not nearly as much which makes me feel like I don’t need water. Wrong. To keep my water from freezing while out and about, I wear my fuel belt under my outermost layer.
  5. Know when it’s just too cold. While I’ve enjoyed so beautiful, yet cold runs this winter, I’ve done my long run inside several times due to overwhelming cold. Others may have their own standards, but when the wind chill brings the temperature near zero or below it, I stay inside. If the high temperature is not to be above 10, I stay inside. No run is worth risking life or limb (hello frost bite).

On the flip side, when you are faced with unseasonably warm temperatures and a sunshiny day, you get out there and enjoy it, like I did on our weekend in Lincoln.

Here’s how the first two weeks went:

Week One:

Monday – Orangetheory Fitness
Tuesday – 6×800 @ 7:13 (6.25 miles @ 7:51 min/mile avg)
Wednesday – Walk
Thursday – 7 mile Tempo (8:09 min/mile avg)
Friday – Rest
Saturday – 14.5 Miles (8:43 min/mile avg)
Sunday – Rest (drive home from Lincoln)

Week Two:

Monday – 4 mile bike + weights
Tuesday – 3×1600 @ 7:19 (6 miles @ 7:59 min/mile avg)
Wednesday – Orangetheory Fitness
Thursday – 5 mile tempo (7:48 min/mile avg)
Friday – Rest
Saturday – 2400 yd swim
Sunday – 12 miles (8:27 min/mile avg)

Week three is underway and the scare of an arch injury, seemingly passed, I’m looking forward to another good week.


Training Time

It’s that time again. In four months I should be lining up to run my seventh marathon. Rather than go over the basics of my plans, let’s do a high level overview of the race itself and my goals, etc.

The Race {What, When, Where, and Why}

I choose a marathon that is the opposite of Chicago. The Lake Wobegon Marathon is on May 14th on a trail near St. Cloud, MN. The race is limited to 450 runners which is a bit of a change from the 45,000 runners I ran with in Chicago. I’ve never done a marathon this small. I think Fargo was probably the smallest field I’ve run in. It’s actually one of the aspects I’m looking forward to.

Although small, it has some great things to offer including pacers for just about every goal. With no huge crowd to contend with, it will be nice to actually have the opportunity to run WITH a pacer. Another huge plus, the course is flat. Like pancake flat with one turn. ONE. TURN. No need to worry about working tangents. Registration was a steal at only $55. The fee includes a tech shirt, finishers medal, post race pizza and treats, massage and the option to stop at a nearby health club for some time in a sauna or hot tub.


Once again I’m using the Less is More Plan. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The only thing I’m adding is Orangetheory. Now this does add an addition day of running. The longest I’ve run in one session is a little more than three miles. It will be more wear on my legs and shoes, but not a significant mileage increase. I just need to figure out the best way to really work it in. My session yesterday was rough after doing my long run, so it will take a bit of trial and error. I hope to be able to swim on Sundays after doing a long run. So far this hasn’t worked out for me as the pool is impossible to get a lane in during the weekend. Hopefully schedules will shift soon.


Wheat, red wine and wheat beers are all on my break-up list. I love them all but they do nothing for my stomach. Since I stop eating wheat bread, my stomach has not acted up during a run. Finally, what seems to be a solution. I’ve been choking down Udi’s Gluten Free bread with almond butter and jam before runs. It’s not awful but not nearly as tasty as my homemade wheat bread. It does provide me with the fuel I need to get through up to 14 miles without any other fuel. I’m also trying to be more conscientious of my sweets intake. Lucky for me, Lent, the only time I can hold myself to actually give up sweets, is just around the corner.

As far as fuel while running, I haven’t been using any since Chicago. Honey Stinger gels worked well for me. No stomach issues and a nice texture. I’m going to stick with those unless I start to feel a drag.


Do I need to state the obvious? Boston. I want to qualify. At this point I would be aiming to run faster than my qualifying time (3:35:00) by a wide enough margin to actually make it into the 2017 race. If it’s as tough as this year, I’ll need to run at 3:32:30 or better. Eek. That’s 10 minutes faster than I ran in Chicago. Is it feasible? I think so. If I look at my recent 10k times, it says I can run 3:35 or faster. But a 10k and a marathon are very different animals. Hopefully I’ve stayed in good enough shape that when I start hitting the intervals hard, I will nail them.

Let training commence!


Feeling Like Home

It’s hard to believe but we have been Minnesotans for over a year and a half. We’re in the middle of our second winter which has been mild save for two weekends in a row in frigid, sub-zero temperatures. It’s not my favorite time of year here, but a small price to pay for the beautiful spring, summer and fall.

When we packed up the last of our belongings, drove away from our house and said our final see you laters to our friends and family, I had a knot in my stomach. I was excited for us to move on and out of Colorado to see what it would be like, but also terrified. Would we find a new house, would our kids adjust well, would I find a job, how were we going to make new friends, am I cut out to possibly be a stay-at-home mom, will we make it through a Midwest winter? To list a few of my many concerns.

When we arrived to the lush green land of 10,000 lakes (apparently it’s more like 11-12k lakes) a lot of my fears were put at ease. We enjoyed a beautiful summer and found our house. I immediately found an amazing running group and Josh settled into his job. Our friends Peter and Rachel were amazing. We saw them multiple times every week during those first few months. They really helped with the transition for us, even babysitting for me so that I could work when I was still trying to figure out what our new routine would look like.

Instead of going back to work as originally intended, I’ve continued consulting which has allowed me to do all sorts of fun stuff with the kids. Minnesota has an amazing early childhood education program that we’ve taken advantage of and tons of community events and classes for all of us.

I have to say we’ve had a really positive experience with our move. We found a house, our kids have transitioned well and I can’t really lodge any complaints. I love our neighborhood and really Maple Grove in general. There are tons of activities all year round from outdoor music and movies to sledding, tubing and cross-country skiing. It’s no wonder it was the #2 best place to live in 2014.

As for the cons, we absolutely miss our friends and family. We’ve had several visitors to show around our new digs. It’s really nice that we have a finished basement with a guest room and bathroom as well as living space. We don’t all have to be on top of one another now. We are looking forward to more coming…hint hint.

Outside of Peter and Rachel, who are our closest friends here, it has taken a while to make friends. We’ve been working on finding friends for ourselves as well as couple friends with kids our kids’ ages. If you haven’t tried to make friends as an adult, it is totally like dating and we’re on the market. I’ve found that most of the people I meet here are from Minnesota. This means of course that they have family and friends nearby. Breaking into the friend circle can be difficult but not impossible.

Over the past six months, I feel like we’ve made huge strides in the friends department. I have friends I can text or call to go for a run (of course), lament about a frustrating day with the kids or ask to have a movie night, ring in the New Year or chat with during various kids activities. Josh has even gone for drinks and such with some of the husbands.

I never thought I’d say it, but Minnesota is starting to feel like home. There is something to starting over in a new place. It forced me to leave my comfort zone. I’ve been forced to put myself out there to meet people. It has been scary and exciting, nerve-racking and exhilarating. Overall, this has been a good move for us. Do I feel like doing it all over again anytime soon? I think I’ll pass.


A New ‘Theory

I want to share my latest fitness activity – Orangetheory Fitness.

I first heard about Orangetheory when I was pregnant with Anderson. One had just opened up near my parents’ house and I was offered a free class. I planned on taking them up on the offer after Anderson was born, but you know, I had a new baby. Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2014, where we visited an Orangetheory booth at the Bolt for the Heart 5k we were running. I was interested and my mom was sold immediately. Again, I kept putting it off.

Every few months I got a flyer in the mail offering three free classes. I filed it away as something I’ll do eventually but wasn’t convinced to do it considering we already belong to Lifetime Fitness. I finally decided to give it a go when we were in Indy for Thanksgiving.

My mom and I did a 3G class (three groups) at her location. It was unlike anything I’ve done. It took me a while to not mess with the heart rate monitor that was kind of annoying me. We started on rowing machines, moved to the floor, then treadmills. We completed this twice before the end of class. Throughout the class I was able to see what zone I was in. The goal is to be in the orange zone for 10-20 minutes/class. I was sweaty but felt good, until the next day when I was incredibly sore. A good kind, but really damn sore.

Once home, I started going to my local franchise once a week. Every class is different and I have no idea what to expect. Here’s the basics of how it works:

  1. Either call, use their app or website to reserve your spot in the class. There are classes offered almost hourly. You can also reserves classes months at a time. Not a bad idea if you have a limited schedule. Just be sure to cancel your booking 12 hours before the class if you’re unable to attend (there is a late cancellation fee).
  2. When you arrive you can either borrow one of their straps with the heart rate monitor or wear you’re OT Beats monitor. Your name and heart rate will show up on the monitors in the studio. A few minutes before class, you’ll be greeted by your trainer who give a brief overview of what you’ll be focusing on in class.
  3. Typically you start at one of three locations: treadmill, rowers or floor. I typically go straight to the treadmill as it’s my strength and my legs can be rather tried after floor work.
  1. From here the trainer guides you every step of the way. They give instruction as to incline and pace on the treadmills. The three paces are: base (you can maintain this for 20-30 minutes), push (at least 0.5-1 mph faster than base where you start to become uncomfortable, sprint (all-out, go as fast as you can for no more than one minute typically. This should be at least 1-2 mph faster than your base pace.). There is also an option for power walkers with higher inclines, an elliptical and stationary bike for anyone that may have limitations. Rowing is either done by distance or effort. The floor consists of free weights, kettle bells, TRX bands, Bosu, step and body weight exercises.
  2. Your heart rate is continuously monitored. On the screen you’ll see a percentage of total heart rate, your current heart rate, calories burned and splat points (minutes in the orange and red zones). It is also color coded so you know which zone you’re in. The orange zone starts when you hit 84% of your max heart rate.
  3. At the conclusion of the workout, you will see a chart of your zones throughout the workout. You also will get a post-workout email with your stats.

I have to say my favorite part of Orangetheory is the variety. I never quite know what to expect when I arrive. My body is pushed harder than it is if I were to try to duplicate a class. I’ve surprised myself by getting up to 10.5 mph during my sprints now. Having people seeing how hard I’m working, is also motivation not to give up even when I feel like I want to stop. I also really like the trainers at my location. It feels like they are almost there just for you. They are really good about pushing you a little further while making sure you’re maintaining proper form.

The drawbacks, it’s a bit pricey, there is no childcare and you can’t just drop in. At my location a membership for four visits per month is $59/month. The prices go up from there. I believe the unlimited visits membership is about $150/month. While it’s an awesome addition to my routine, it’s not going to be my only gym. I need the childcare at Lifetime, plus the ability to do long runs when the weather is crappy and swim.

I think all locations let you try at least one class free. It’s definitely worth it to see what you think.

Note: This post was not sponsored by Orangetheory Fitness.




Wah Wah

That is how I’ve been feeling lately. Sluggish, uninspired, just kind of blah. I could blame it on the weather, which has taken a nasty turn into arctic territory (-8 is the forecasted high for Sunday, yes I said high) or the post-holiday blues, but I think it’s just me.

I guess that is part of the reason I’ve been so quiet lately. I just haven’t felt like blogging only to complain about my current state of body confidence or share every thing my kids are doing these days. Plus, I’ve been looking for a few more jobs to work on in my spare time* and doing lots of kid activities. I’m really so lucky have the opportunity to spend my days with the kids, going to school with them, being there for ice skating, swimming and music classes. While there is hilarity in various aspects of our day, I have a feeling it’s funnier to me than it would be to anyone else.

As far as running and exercise goes, I’ve been running (up to 30 mpw) and even did an indoor triathlon with Josh a few weeks back. I’ve also been hitting Orangetheory once a week, which I love and will post about more later.  I’m currently about 8-10 lbs heavier than I was a year ago at this time. It’s a number I haven’t seen on the scale since I was trying to lost post-baby weight with Anderson. I’m not happy about it. Even with all that exercise my scale isn’t budging. That does not help with my current blahness. It will come off or it won’t. My body seems to be adjusting to not being pregnant or nursing for the first time in five years. I honestly think my metabolism is confused.

This week marked the first week of training for the Lake Wobegon Marathon in May. I’ve been working on finalizing my training plan and setting realistic goals for this very flat, fast course. I’m excited, though this nasty weather has me running inside this weekend. Now I will have a plan to follow, rather than aimlessly running. Maybe those crazy intervals I’ll be running once a week with kick my body into gear.

I used the New Year as a catalyst to jump start my attitude and hopefully get rid of those extra pounds. Eating more whole foods, trying not to snack with the kids do, and eat a single Kiss or Rolo when my sugar craving hits, forcing myself to wear pant with zippers and buttons , you know the little things. I guess you don’t notice the extra pounds when you’re in workout clothes all the time.

So here’s to starting over in 2016. Better wife, better mother, better friend, better daughter, better sister and better blogger.

*Side note, if anyone has part-time or one-off marketing or writing related projects, I’m interested.