The struggle is real, and that’s okay!

Like most of the world, I’ve felt unsettled lately. I struggle with feeling restless, yet unmotivated to do even the things I usually enjoy. I find that the things I want to do most are those things that we aren’t allowed to do right now – meeting at a coffee shop or running with my friends, going out to dinner with my husband, or wandering through a store. It all feels surreal. I bounce between so many thoughts and emotions – being grateful, feeling grief, being frustrated, wanting to break down in tears, and wanting to immerse myself in a funny show. It’s a lot to keep up with.

At first glance, my life hasn’t changed much. I’ve been working remotely since August, and I’m just as busy, if not busier than usual. As a recruiter, I’m helping essential businesses staff for increased business and increased absences. I’m used to being home a lot and not commuting anywhere. My husband is self-employed, so it isn’t unusual for him to be working from home occasionally. Our son is home, but he’s holed up in his room, doing his homework. As a teenager, he’s perfectly content hiding with his devices as long as we’ll let him.

It’s the weekends, however, that show me how real this all is. Again, those things that I look forward to that can’t happen – group runs, races, coffee dates and attending church. This was supposed to be big travel and race year for me. I was registered for a half marathon in Oregon, which would have been my first trip involving an airplane in YEARS. Canceled. Another was Ragnar Trail Michigan, which would have been my first Ragnar outside of Minnesota and Wisconsin, and my husband’s first event with distances longer than a 5k. Canceled. Every race that I was registered for has been canceled and turned into a virtual race, or deferred until next year. Saying that I’m disappointed is an understatement. It seems like 2021 will be the 2020 mulligan.

So why have I emerged here again? My entire life, I’ve been compelled to write when I was feeling anything strongly. I’ve kept a journal most of my life and while I don’t write daily, I do write whenever I have something on my mind that needs to escape. I’ve written poetry, journal entries, and even stories. They’re my way of venting, celebrating, or contemplating, yet not holding anyone as a captive listener. When it comes to the written word, those receiving it are choosing whether they’re going to give it the time and attention. Whether anyone chooses to read it or not, it makes me feel better.

Ultimately, though, I wanted to lend yet another voice that lets others know they’re not alone. We’re all adjusting and trying to learn ways to cope with this “new normal.” While there are people who seem, at least on the surface, to be doing well, I think every single person is struggling with something right now. I’m here to say that it’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to be unmotivated, sad, angry, and emotional. It’s okay to not feel okay. The important thing is to know that you’re not alone in these feelings. All I ask is that if you need help, reach out to someone. I promise you, whether you believe it or not, there IS someone out there who is willing to be there for you in whatever way they can. I believe we have to be our own advocates to find those people, as they won’t always appear from thin air, but it’s worth it to find them.

Until next time, stay safe ❤

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A Year Flies By

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year since I’ve written anything here. While I’ve occasionally thought about it, I felt like I didn’t have much to write about. When I popped in earlier today, I saw that my last post was about the Chocoholic Frolic, which I ran again a week ago with friends.

This year has been lacking in the fitness and running department, but it’s been big in other aspects. In June, I started a new job, returning to recruiting. With that quickly came the opportunity to work from home, which has been amazing. However, a big change in schedules and/or work location can also upset other areas of life. For me, that meant it doesn’t make sense for me to run with my usual Moms on the Run group. I took most of the summer off, then joined a group closer to home – the group that I originally started with back in 2015. I miss my amazing friends, but I’ve enjoyed getting to meet and/or reunite with friends from the past.

I’ll step back a bit further in the year and mention that my running training was pretty abysmal. I felt burned out and uninterested in running. I ran a few races in the spring – Shake Your Shamrock, Hot Dash, Hot Chocolate – but went into all of them in a less than desirable head space, and under-trained. I knew I had Grandma’s Half in June, but I just couldn’t muster the interest or energy to give it the training cycle it deserved; added to that was a hamstring that was bothering me.  I seriously considered letting someone buy my bib, but completely missed the deadline for that.

When Grandma’s weekend rolled around, I decided I would go ahead and run the half marathon. Knowing it wouldn’t be pretty, my entire goal for the day was to experience everything on the course that I skipped the last two years, chasing my first marathon finish in 2017 and a half marathon PR in 2018. This year year, I drank the beer, ate the pickles and bacon, gave high-fives, and just had fun. I took it all in, had one of my worst finishing times in a half, and had a BLAST. It was so much fun! Having had three amazing experiences on the Grandma’s course, I feel I can step away from that and try something new.

After that weekend, I ran just a few times over the summer. I think I needed that time and space to let the burnout subside, and to miss running. That itch to start running again started in September, just in time for me to go into Ragnar Trail Wisconsin, still under-trained but in the right place mentally. My loop times were slower than usual, but I had a good time and was happy to be there; it remains one of my favorite running events.

In October, I ran the Fall 50 as a 4-person relay, in Door County, Wisconsin. Last year had crazy weather, but this year was cool, but predictable. My runs were about what I expected from them – slow, but enjoyable. It was another fun race.

Since then, I’ve been running twice weekly with my Moms on the Run group. However, classes ended last week. Other than the Saturday morning Polar Club, there won’t be classes at the location nearest me, until January. The past few days, I’ve been doing some thinking about what my fitness plan and running training needs to look like for the upcoming year.

This week, I’m starting a 10k training plan, which will bring me up to when I need to start training for my half marathon in May. Then, I’ll need to jump right into training for Ragnar Trail Michigan. I have a lot of races tentatively on the calendar for 2020, so I expect it to be a big year. I finally feel like I’m in a place where I WANT to be running again; the difference is that I’m not going to be chasing a pace this year – at least for the first several months. I want to be consistent, trained for the races I’m registered for, and having fun. More grace when it comes to pace. I’m going to be adding in strength training in the form of Beachbody workouts – I already have a Beachbody On Demand subscription and all of the equipment I need at home. Plus, without having to commute most days for work, it should be easy to find the time to commit to a home workout during my day!

I’m still working on my non-fitness goals, and I’ll share more about my past year in a separate post as we get closer to the end of the year.

Until next time, friends!

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Chocoholic Frolic 10k

The Chocoholic Frolic 5k/10k was held at Harriet Island in St. Paul on Saturday, November 3rd. This race is popular because of the chocolate treats given both at the water stop, and at the finish. Plus, they offer a finisher medal and 1/4 zip shirt for all race finishers.

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Finisher 1/4 zip shirt. Image borrowed from the Chocoholic Frolic website.

I had not run a timed 10k road race since 2016, which feels unbelievable, considering all of the races and miles I’ve run in the past few years. Even though I’m not someone who loves chocolate, I decided to sign up because it had been a while since I’ve run an official 10k, and because several friends were registered and I have a fear of missing out.

Prior to the race, packet pickup was offered on two consecutive Fridays; the first in Minneapolis and the second in St. Paul. Both days only offered hours of 10am-5pm, which is impossible for many to get to, if they work full time day hours. Add in the fact that many do not work directly in Minneapolis or St. Paul, and I felt the times weren’t convenient for very many. Thankfully, Nate was able to stop by the St. Paul location the night before the race, so my friends and I didn’t have to be at the race site quite so early!

Packet pickup was also offered race morning, but would have been inconvenient, considering there was not a bag drop for this bag. This means that runners would have had to park blocks away, get their packets, walk back to their cars, then walk back to the race start. Also, considering this is a mid-sized November race in Minnesota, I feel a bag drop should have been offered. We have the potential for SO many layers this time of year!

Next, the bathroom situation was less than adequate for the number of runners. The pavilion at Harriet Island was open, and has indoor restrooms; however, considering most of the runners were female, lines were long until the 5k started. Other than the eight or so stalls indoors, there were only TWO porta-potties outside the pavilion, which also had a very long line. There were not any porta-potties on the race course.

The course was an out-and-back for the 10k. There were some views of the river, and trees lined the course. For runners who don’t spend much time in this area, it was a nice course. I heard a few runners comment how pretty it was. I have run the course before for other races, so it wasn’t anything new, but I don’t have any complaints about it.

At the finish line, finishers were given a chocolate bar, and a medal. There were also volunteers on hand to take unofficial pictures, in addition to those taken by the race photographers. Post-race, runners had the option to purchase the professional pictures, or share them to social media without purchasing them.

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The medal

Inside the pavilion, there were plates assembled, which held pretzels, Oreo cookies, animal crackers, a banana, and a cup of chocolate (fairly certain it was Hershey’s syrup). There were also some Nut Thins available. I wasn’t necessarily impressed with the chocolate offering, but I can’t complain about the other goodies on the plate.

Overall, I don’t feel the need to do this race again. The price (I paid $25) was excellent, swag was good, and course was nice. However, the limited packet pickup hours, lack of bag drop, and inadequate restrooms make this race less appealing.

My finishing time was 1:13:20, which is a 10k PR by 39 seconds.

Official finisher photo

 

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At the Sock hop – Anoka Gray Ghost 5k

Halloween is almost upon us, and that means that the weekend was full of Halloween-themed races. I chose to run one of my favorites, the Anoka Gray Ghost 5k, in the Halloween Capital of the World.

For the second year in a row, I ran this with some of my Moms on the Run friends. Last year’s theme was 80’s fitness.
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This year, we chose Sock hop. Six of us ran together, in a variety of sock hop outfits. We even had 50’s music coming from a speaker on my friend’s back. There were high-fives to the kids along the parade route, spontaneous stops for dancing, and lots of fun.

Sock Hop

Post race, we hit one of the local restaurants for lunch. Then, it was off to see Dave Ramsey speak at church! It was a fun day.

Did you run a Halloween-themed race? 

Tell me about your Halloween costume for this year!

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2018 Goals Update

It’s been a crazy, busy summer and time just slipped away!

In checking in with my 2018 goals, here’s where they stand as of today:

  1. Run 350 miles – I’m at 218 miles, so this is still in reach, just need to get to it!
  2. PR the Half Marathon Distance, preferably at the Gary Bjorklund Half (aka Grandma’s Half) – Completed. I hit a PR by 11 minutes!! Woot woot!

GmasPR

  1. PR the 10k Distance – I ran a few trail 10k races, but no road 10k races this summer. I have a 10k next week, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to hit my goal. Stay tuned!
  2. Run a few trail races – Completed. I ran 5 trail races this year. This will be a goal for 2019 again.
  3. Run a minimum of 13 races this year – Completed. So far, I’ve run 21 this year, with another five on the schedule!
  4. Read and/or listen to 100 books – I’m currently at 76, so this is still within reach. 
  5. Increase savings & pay down student loan debt – I have NOT done well in this area this year.
  6. Do more hiking, biking, and snowshoeing – This has also not happened, but will continue to be a goal for this year and next.

Other noteworthy items:

I completed my first Triathlon! The FreedomFest Tri is a small, beginner-friendly, un-timed Tri in Pine City, MN. The entire thing went better than expected and I fully intend to do this one again next year.

This year’s Ragnar Trail Northwoods was the coldest yet, with high winds for half of it. We went from tornado warnings on Thursday night, blustery winds on Friday, frost on Friday night, and mild, sunny weather on Saturday. Sleeping in a tent in 33* weather and not nearly enough warm layers was brutal, and I have never been so cold in my life! But, we survived and the running was great.

Another new experience this year was the Door County Fall 5o, but I’ll share more about that soon.

The next race on the agenda is the Anoka Gray Ghost 5k tomorrow. It’s one of my favorites!

80sfitnessHere’s a throwback to last year’s 80’s fitness costume.

Are you running any Halloween-themed races this year? If so, will you be in costume?

 

 

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Growing Green Trail Races

On Saturday, I ran the Growing Green Half-of-a-Half Marathon at Treasured Haven Farm in Rush City, MN. They also offered a half marathon option on Saturday. On Sunday, they offered 3, 6, and 12 hour challenges.

Friends of mine ran the race last year and said they enjoyed it, so I decided to give it a try. Plus, it was nice and close to home. Logistics couldn’t have been easier for this race. I pulled into the driveway at Treasured Haven, drove up near the start line, and parked on the grass. Packet pickup, which was just a race bib, was just a few feet from where I parked. There were two porta-potties available, but since there were only 43 participants between the two distances, there was never much of a line and it moved quickly.

Just a few minutes before race time, runners were gathered for announcements about the course, and then we were on our way. Most of the course was on mowed grass that made up the perimeter of the crop fields. A very small portion of the course was hard-pack dirt in wooded areas on the farm property. I absolutely loved the portions in the woods; between the more technical footing, elevation changes, and cooler shade, I was happy there. I very much dislike running on grass; I find it to be very difficult and boring. There were three water stops on the course, each consisting of a large cooler of cold water and a stack of paper cups. It was easy to refill a handheld water bottle at these stops.

Because of the amount of miles on mowed grass, and the heat and humidity, I had a very slow time for this race. I let myself get discouraged somewhere between miles 4 and 5, and walked most of the course after that point. I finished at the back of the pack. While I wish I’d had it in me to do better, it just wasn’t there on Saturday morning, and that’s okay. For the past year, I’ve been hitting PRs in both distance and race times, so it’s okay to have a “bad” race once in a while.

I enjoyed being on the farm, and the fact that it was a very small race. I didn’t even mind being mostly alone on the course after the first few miles. The farm family, who organized the race themselves, were friendly and welcoming to all.

Post-race snacks included trail mix, granola bars, cold water, and frozen fruit. The frozen fruit was by far my favorite choice of the day, and I’m ranking it right behind the lemon gelato and chocolate milk I’ve had at other races.

Finishers also received a wooden medallion and a vegetable or herb plant of our choice. I chose a bell pepper plant because I was told they’re hard to kill, which is exactly what I need in a plant.

Woodal

This race was small, well-organized, and everyone was friendly. I loved the atmosphere at this race and while I wouldn’t do it again in the heat, I would sign up for their fall races.

My finishing time was 1:34:07.

GrowingGreen

As with my last race, I fueled with Generation UCAN Drink Mix (lemonade flavor this time, which I did not care for) and Generation UCAN Hydrate in Berry. So far, I’m liking the UCAN Drink Mix, but prefer Nuun over the UCAN Hydrate for electrolytes.

After the race, I enjoyed Leinie’s Summer Shandy and a burger, on a patio overlooking a lake, with friends and family. It was a lovely kick-off to the Memorial Day weekend.

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We Will Remember

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Today, we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

This morning, I joined my husband and friends at a Wear Blue: Run to Remember event. We ran 3.1 miles in honor of Minnesota’s fallen soldiers. Upon arrival, each participant chose a soldier to honor with their run. I chose Army Spc. Carlos E. Wilcox IV, from Cottage Grove, MN. He made the ultimate sacrifice on July 16, 2009 while serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

If you ever have an opportunity to participate in a Wear Blue: Run to Remember event, I encourage you to do so. It’s easy to forget what Memorial Day is really about, as trips to the lake, grilling, and relaxing with friends and family tends to take the forefront.

However, for the families of our fallen soldiers, it is a reminder of those they can no longer hold close. Please take a few moments today to remember those who gave all to protect us, and their families, who lost so much.

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