Run Like a Mother 5k

On Saturday, I ran the Run Like a Mother 5k at Phalen Regional Park. This race is considered the season kick-off race for Moms on the Run, though it is open to anyone to participate.

For this race, there was no early packet pickup, so I arrived early to make sure I could find parking and get my packet back to my car well before the race. I ended up arriving much earlier than needed; packet pickup only took a few seconds and parking wasn’t a problem at all. This race had just under 300 participants, so there weren’t any logistical problems. I had more than enough time to chat with friends, use the restroom, participate in the group photos, etc.

The race was scheduled to start at 9:00, and started just a few minutes late. The large group photo took a little longer than expected, so the kid’s race started a few minutes late, followed by the 5k. It was a gorgeous morning, though, so it didn’t seem like anyone minded.

The course consisted of a single loop around Lake Phalen. I grew up going to this park with my grandparents, but can’t recall going there as an adult, so I had forgotten that the area is hilly. There were two larger hills on the course, with several other small rollers. The view of the lake was gorgeous, which definitely didn’t hurt!

I wasn’t pushing for time, so I just enjoyed the views and the weather. It really was an uneventful race in that it felt like it went by quickly, I never felt like I was pushing very hard, and I got to see so many of my running friends from Moms on the Run.

My finishing time was 33:53. At the finish line, medals and carnations were given out. Post-race water, chips, and salted nut rolls were available in the picnic pavilion.

I would consider doing this race again, but only if I wasn’t intending to try for a PR because the course was a bit crowded for the first 1/3 of the race. I heard a few runners were disappointed that bananas weren’t offered post-race, but I personally did not hear any other complaints.

Thanks to Moms on the Run and Anderson Race Management for a beautiful race!


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Shoes, Fuel, and Gear

The marathon training process is all about experimentation, preparation, and planning. From choosing a training plan, planning running routes, and experimenting with fueling, it can be difficult to keep track of everything. For myself, I found it important to keep track of what I’ve tried and how it worked for me.

Shoes are one of the most important pieces of the marathon equation. I wanted to make sure I had a pair of shoes that would be comfortable throughout training and race day, but weren’t worn out from too many miles. In February, I purchased a new pair of shoes, intending for them to be my marathon pair. To make sure I was wearing the right pair, I got refitted at a running store, even though my last three pairs had been Brooks Glycerin. Again, it was determined that Glycerin was the right shoe for me, but in a half-size bigger to accommodate foot swelling during distance running. I’ve been very happy with this choice and will be wearing these for my 23 mile training run next weekend and the race itself. I have found, however, that the bigger shoes cannot be worn for speed work because my foot slides around too much and creates a blister in the arch. So, the larger shoes are distance only and my smaller shoes are for speed.


My marathon shoe, the Brooks Glycerin 14. 

Next, it was important that I figure out my fueling. There are a ton of options on the market, so it really is about personal preference and what works for each individual. The amount of fuel intake while running is also very different per person, so it’s vitally important to experiment with this during training runs.

I knew from my previous use of SportBeans that I’m not a big fan of chewing food while running, so I wasn’t going to be trying Shot Bloks or dates. I decided to start trying different energy gels. I tried many different flavors and brands – Gu, Powergel, Hammer, Honey Stinger, and Gu Roctane – but settled on Accel Gel. I found that I prefer a thinner consistency that I could drink, rather than chew or have to rely on availability of water to get down. Of everything I’ve tried, Accel Gels have the thinnest consistency with flavors I enjoy. I ordered a case of Strawberry Kiwi and a case of Citrus Orange to finish out my training cycle and the marathon.

In order to keep track of all of my fueling trials, I used a Google docs spreadsheet to track the brand, flavor, thoughts about the gel, and whether I’d use it again. As I narrowed down my favorites, I ranked the top few so that there wasn’t any guesswork as I got closer to marathon day. Nerdy, perhaps, but crucial in remembering what worked best for me.

For hydration, I carry a Nathan QuickDraw handheld water bottle. I like the zippered pouch that I can carry gels in, or store empty gels in until I reach the next trash can. I can generally get by with just the water in this bottle for approximately 12 miles before needing to refill and since we’ve been doing loops that return to our cars and/or a water fountain during training, it’s worked great. During the race, I plan on carrying my bottle with me for use between water stations so that I will never be out of water.


The Nathan QuickDraw water bottle.

For carrying my gels, phone, and keys, I use a Fitletic  Ultimate II running belt. This belt has a large zippered pouch, five elastic loops for carrying gels, a small velcro pouch, elastic bib loops and a key clip. It also has the option to purchase add-on water bottles, should I ever feel the need to. I appreciate that this belt offers options to use the same belt with or without hydration bottles.

For training runs, I typically put a gel in each elastic loop, my phone and keys in the zippered pouch, Chapstick and sticks of gum in the velcro pouch, and clip my iPod and/or Gymboss interval timer to the thin part of the belt. Everything is easily accessible, yet stays put. As long as I sit the pouch just beneath my hip bones, everything stays in place. I bought this belt at the Twin Cities Marathon Expo and absolutely love it.


Fitletic Ultimate II Running belt

The other two pieces of gear I wear for all of my runs are my Fitbit Charge HR and my Soleus Fit 1.0 GPS watch. While I’d like one device that counts steps, has a wrist-based heart rate monitor, uses GPS, and counts calorie burn, I haven’t upgraded yet. I wear one device on each wrist.

For clothing, I’ve decided will wear Danskin capris from Walmart, and a Moms on the Run t-shirt or tank top. Final clothing decisions will be weather-based, but I have an idea of what I’ll wear for all potential weather conditions.

Lastly, I’ll also be using my EventClips to attach my race bib to the front of my shirt. I’m a big fan of these because they don’t create holes and runs in race gear. After removal, they leave a small bump in the cloth that disappears when the garment is washed. Note that these come from the UK, so they generally take a week to arrive after ordering.


Here’s just one example of fun EventClip options.

I think that sums up what I’m planning to wear for my marathon. If you have questions, feel free to comment below!

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20 Miles and a Few Coronas

Bonus points if you sang the title to the tune of “18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses.”

On Saturday, I met up with one of my running partners for the big 20 mile training run. Neither of us had ever run this far before, so it was a tad intimidating. Mentally, I had a lot of importance on this run.

We met at 7:30 at our usual training spot and started off the morning with our four mile loop. We stopped once to help a fellow runner with directions through the park; he was also training for Grandma’s and was already nine miles into his run. Then, we stopped again at a restroom because I needed a pit stop. Sometimes it takes a few miles to get into the rhythm of the run.

Once we returned to the parking lot, we headed out for a long out-and-back of approximately seven miles each way. This stretch was even less eventful.

When we made it back to the parking lot, we were definitely slowing down. It’s difficult mentally to get back to your starting point, only to head out yet again. We used the restrooms, refilled our water bottles, and headed out for a two-mile out-and-back.

Our last segment was definitely the slowest, with additional walk breaks and some little rolling hills that we didn’t have on the first two segments. Our muscles were tired and we were looking forward to stretching and having a snack.

The total mileage for the day was somewhere between 20 and 20.6 miles, since our GPS devices were reading a little differently; so, we kept going until both devices showed a distance of 20 miles or more. We finished up with a walk around the parking lot.

Upon returning to our cars, the first order of business was to get our running shoes off and our sandals on. Then, we headed over to a grassy area with our snacks and electrolytes, to stretch out. We also managed to get someone to take our picture to commemorate surviving our first 20 mile run, complete with smiles.

Surprisingly, it was a good run. Neither one of us had any pain, just general muscle soreness and fatigue. There weren’t any tears. Mentally, we’re both in a really good place regarding the marathon and are confident that we WILL finish this race.

I know I use the word “surprisingly” a lot when talking about this marathon journey, but I honestly went into it expecting misery. Training with my Moms on the Run ladies has been awesome and I wouldn’t be able to do this without them and my other running friends. When I use #LoveMyTeam in my tweets, I’m not kidding. I absolutely love this team of ladies!

The rest of my day was pretty normal for a Saturday. I was able to go to church and shopping with my husband, and relax with a few Coronas while watching Parks & Rec. No nap needed! Well, unless you count my long nap on Sunday afternoon.



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Fit3D Scan

Earlier this week, I had my first Fit3D Scan done at Twin Cities Metabolism. According to Twin Cities Metabolism’s website:

The Fit3D ProScanner is the most comprehensive, non-invasive assessment technology available for tracking body composition and weight loss. With the use of infrared light, a camera scans and measures over 400 points on the body which is then converted into precise body measurements. The Fit3D ProScanner eliminates the human error variable that can occur with traditional tape measurements and ensures accurate and consistent results. Once the scan is complete users will be able to track their data online on our secure web platform.

I first heard about the Fit3D from a gym whose newsletter I receive via email. They were offering the scans as part of their fitness and weight loss challenge. I immediately looked into Fit3D and was intrigued. Previously, I’d wanted to do a DEXA scan, but the cost is much higher. The Fit3D costs $25-$35 per scan, whereas the DEXA is $100 per scan.

Last week, I decided now is a great time to get my initial scan done, since it’s the start of the Moms on the Run season. In 18 weeks, when the summer program ends, I’ll get another to compare results.

My personal results were not surprising. I knew approximately what my measurements and body fat percentage were. However, they also look at body composition based on comparisons such as hip to waist ratio, trunk to leg volume ratio, etc. I learned that those numbers look very good for me, even though my body fat percentage is 10% higher than it should be. At least I have a better way, and affordable, to track progress over using the scale exclusively.

I also learned that my Fitbit Aria scale says my body fat percentage is 3.5% higher than the Fit3D. The Fit3D is typically within 1% of the DEXA, which is considered the most accurate measurement for body composition.

When arriving for a Fit3D scan, I was taken into the private room that housed the scanner and was given instructions on setting up an account on, which can only be done at a scanning center. I was told once my account was set up, the screen would tell me when to step on to be weighed and scanned. For the scan, it is recommended to wear form-fitting clothing, or no clothing at all. I chose to have mine taken wearing only undergarments. I also had to put my hair up so that none of it was hanging down onto my neck.

When the screen prompted me that it was ready to weigh me, I stepped into the foot outlines on the platform. Once weight was taken, it prompted me to grab the handles on the side, adjust them to the height needed, and press both buttons simultaneously. Then, I had to stand still, keeping my head straight ahead and continuing to press the two buttons, as the platform rotated and the scanner took measurements. The platform rotates very slowly, and is done in approximately 30-40 seconds. Once finished, the screen  prompted me to let go of the handles and step off the platform; then, the platform returned to starting position. At that point, I was able to get dressed again and head back out to the reception area.

At the reception desk, an employee confirmed within a few minutes that my scan was taken properly. She also handed me a sheet that better described some of the terms I’d see on my Fit3D scan dashboard when I logged into the website. I was informed at that point that my first scan was free, though I don’t know if this is always the case.

By the time I went down four floors in the elevator and walked to the parking lot, I received an email stating that my Fit3D scan was available to view. Since I had a 40 minute drive home, I waited until I was home to log in and take a look.

When logging into the Fit3D website, there was a 3D image of my body that I was able to rotate to see all views. I honestly think this was the coolest part of the whole thing! Also on the dashboard are the measurements from the scan: weight, waist, hips, thigh, bicep, forearm, neck, bust, etc. It also gives the body fat percentage, and the body composition scores I mentioned earlier.


This is a sample Fit3D dashboard. No, it is not mine.

The entire process for the scan and being able to view results was less than ten minutes, and that included the clothing change! Overall, I’m glad I decided to have a scan done and am looking forward to comparing results in August.

Of course, Twin Cities Metabolism offers an array of other services, such as thyroid testing and nutrition counseling, but they did not try to sell me on those services. I appreciate the professionalism and lack of salesmanship; because of this I would recommend them if you’re in need of such services.

Have you ever done a Fit3D scan or a DEXA scan? If so, what are your thoughts?


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4-H Clover Dash 2017

As I mentioned earlier this week, my family ran the 4-H Clover Dash 5k on Saturday morning. This race raises money for the Anoka County, MN 4-H program. We signed up because we enjoyed this race last year. It’s a fairly small race with approximately 350 participants between the 5k and the 2 mile walk. The course winds through Bunker Hills Park.

I picked up our packets on Friday morning since I had the day off to attend the Minnesota Horse Expo. Packet pickup was quick and the packet consisted of our race bibs and safety pins, along with a cotton Gildan t-shirt, pens, chapstick, hair ties, and coupons from sponsors.

The morning of the race, we got there early enough to park in the Activity Center parking lot, where the race started. Prior to the race, they had photo ops with the Chick-Fil-A cows, Caribou coffee, and silent auction bidding. There are indoor restrooms and a conference room to hang out in prior to the race.


Me and the Chick-fil-A cow before the race.

Approximately ten minutes before race time, they gathered participants outside for brief announcements, then the 5k runners walk across the parking lot to their starting line. After the runners started, then the walkers lined up for their walk. The 5k started promptly at 9:00 am. The race is clock timed, not chip timed.

As I mentioned above, the race winds through Bunker Hills Park, which lives up to its name by being hilly. However, none of the hills on the course are very steep, just quick rollers. For some reason, I have always run well in this park and this race was no exception.

I went into the race hoping for a PR, but wasn’t sure it was realistic with legs tired from the speed work at my MOTR classes on Tuesday and Thursday. During the race, I admit that I didn’t notice much. I was pretty focused on running and listening to my music. I just wanted to run my best race.

I’ll admit I went out faster than I typically do, and was sure I wouldn’t be able to keep the pace the entire time, so I told myself I could take a walk break at the halfway point. I was able to make it to that point and had started running again right before I rounded a curve and saw the water stop. I briefly thought about taking a water break, but told myself that I wanted the faster time more. I then thought about taking another walk break around 2.5 miles, but again decided I wanted the faster time more. I was so very close that I tried to push to hit that PR.

My finishing time was 32:15, which was 12 seconds shy of my PR. But, I gave it all I had for this race and am proud that I hit my second fastest 5k time. I really didn’t expect to see a 5k time like that until after the marathon. This race confirmed to me, though, that I should see a 5k PR by the end of the summer! I’m sure the V02 max training at MOTR will be very helpful toward reaching that goal; maybe I’ll even see a sub-30 5k.

As with last year, we had a fun time at this race and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. A small local race, with funds going to a program we believe in, is always a winner.

What was your last race? What’s next on your race calendar?


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2017 Ambassador!

This week has been an exciting one in my running journey.

First, I ran 18 miles last Sunday, with one of my training friends. We started with an out and back totaling 12 miles, so we could stop for a restroom break and refill our water. Then, we ran a few loops around the park to get the remaining six miles. Our pace was 13:12 overall, but was faster for first 15 miles. In the last few miles, my friend had some stomach issues, so we slowed down the pace so we could get through them all. We got through it and I recovered quicker than I expected.

Next, the 2017 Moms on the Run (MOTR) season started up. I attend class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This year, MOTR is focusing on V02 max training, or speed work. On Tuesday, I pushed pretty hard and had every intention of slowing it down Thursday so as not to burn out my legs for my weekend run.

On Thursday, I thought I was slowing down, but in reality I ran even faster than I had on Tuesday. Amazingly, it didn’t FEEL harder and it’s the very first time I saw a pace in the 7 minute range. Yes, it was only for 30 seconds at a time, but it’s still my fastest pace for any burst of time. I impressed myself!

After class on Thursday, I headed out to meet with another friend for a quick three mile run. My total running total for the day was 7.38 miles, which covered my long run for the weekend since my family had a 5k on the books for Saturday.

While at the Minnesota Horse Expo on Friday, I checked my emails at one point and found out I was chosen as a 2017 Moms on the Run Ambassador! As an Ambassador, I will be representing Moms on the Run at races, chatting with people about the program, and posting on social media. Basically, everything I already do, with the benefit of some gear from MOTR sponsor 361 Degrees. Check out their gear!


Lastly, my family ran the 4-H Clover Dash 5k on Saturday morning, along with a few friends. I went into the race hoping for a PR. Did I make it? More on that later.

Overall, it was a very successful week in terms of my running and I’m super excited about the rest of my season and my role as a MOTR Ambassador!

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Running is My Life

Lately, it does feel like running is my life. Even though I only run three days per week, it feels like more because I’m constantly thinking about running. Marathon planning consumes my brain more days than not and it feels like the only time I can shut it off for more than a few minutes at a time is when I’m reading a book or listening to an audio book. Heck, I even talk about it at work because a co-worker is training for the same race and two others have previously run it!

In preparation for the marathon, the nerd in me has researched fueling, hydration, and gear. I’ve read countless blogs about other’s marathon experiences. I’ve read and re-read the Grandma’s Marathon website so much, I almost have it memorized. I know where the water stops, bathrooms, and fuel will be. My poor husband knows more about running and training than he’s ever wanted to know.

In a conversation the other night, I mentioned that it will be nice to have more free time when the marathon is over. I’m particularly looking forward to sleeping more on weekends. Nate then told me that he could see me signing up for another one, or something just as crazy. I can’t deny that what he said sounds like me. I’m hoping that one marathon is enough and I can be a “one and done” kind of person, but I also know that I’m the type to keep pushing myself toward new accomplishments when it comes to running.

To be completely honest, the nerves are now starting to visit periodically. With only three longer runs left (18, 20 and 23 miles) of my training plan, it’s feeling more real. In less than 60 days, assuming all goes well (it will), I’ll be a marathoner. Hopefully, this means I’ll also be less obsessed with running.

What? You don’t believe me? Yeah, I’m not sure I do, either…

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