Things I’m Loving Lately #10

I love sharing some of my favorites with you, so here are some things I’m loving these days.

Summer Weather

This week it has been cloudy and rainy, but up until this week the weather has been quite nice! I know I complain about the weather up here a lot. But, you guys, we are actually having a real summer!! Now, technically, this picture was taken in our greenhouse, but I assure you the temperature has been that temperature at least a few times. I think I am the only person in Alaska who likes the weather this warm!!

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Spindrift Seltzer

I am a sucker for naturally-flavored sparkling waters like LaCroix. I was in Target browsing the beverage aisle, and I saw these Spindrift seltzers. I immediately knew they were new, and I noticed there were only a few boxes left (a good indicator they are delicious!). Plus they were on sale, I picked up a box. I think the fresh-squeezed juices takes them over the top and makes them better than LaCroix. I still like LaCroix, but I do like these better.

Brooks Distance Hoodie

These Brooks Distance Hoodies were branded with the Her Tern Half Marathon logo, and I am loving this sweatshirt so much. Lately I’ve been liking zip-ups more than pull-over sweatshirts, and this one is incredibly soft and cozy. The body and arm length is perfect for my 5’7″ frame, and I am refusing to wash it until absolutely necessary because I know it will lose its softness.

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Running On Om Podcast

I don’t listen to many podcasts, but I have listed to a few episodes from the Running On Om series, and I love them–especially the ones with Lauren Fleshman, who I just found out officially retired from running. The podcasts are really well done, and the information is insightful and thought-provoking.

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Clarisonic

I had a different Clarisonic for several years (maybe 5??) until it finally wouldn’t take a charge anymore. I held off buying a new one because I didn’t think I needed one that bad. It is one of those things where you-don’t-know-what-you’ve-got-til-it’s-gone because within a few days the skin on my face wasn’t very smooth anymore, and I didn’t feel like I could get my face very clean. When I realized how much I loved having a Clarisonic, I quickly bought a new one, and I love using it every night. Now I just need to find a new cleanser to buy.

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Black Cup Coffee

I have been wanting to go to Black Cup coffee shop here in Anchorage, but in the meantime I picked up a pound of their whole bean coffee at the grocery store. I am not one to drink coffee black, but this is actually pretty legit on its own without any cream. I love the bold flavor, and the fact it is local.

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Hamilton Beach Food Processor

My previous food processor had been broke for, oh probably at least 2 or 3 years. It still worked, but the cover had broken in a couple different places and it was often too small for the things I made. I finally searched Amazon for a new one and found several that were around $100 that had good reviews. However, then I came across this Hamilton Beach Food Processor with Bowl Scraper for $35 with 1500 reviews and 4.5 stars. I was sold.

So far I love it! I can’t believe how quiet it is (relatively speaking) as my previous one was seriously deafening. And now with a 10-cup capacity, I have no problems fitting everything in it.

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Dave’s Killer Bread – White Done Right

I usually buy the whole grain/wheat variety of breads, but this one caught my eye as Dave’s Killer Bread is known for being hearty, healthy, and great tasting. This ‘white done right’ version did not disappoint. It contains wheat flour and an ancient grains flour blend, yet it still has that soft texture of your traditional white bread. I will be buying this again in the future.

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Hourglass Primer

I am not much of a make-up guru, but when I discovered this primer, I knew it was a winner. I first got a sample of the Hourglass primer at Sephora and after trying it a couple of times, I was sold. It is not cheap, not cheap at all but a little goes a long ways.

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This evening I’m coaching the first practice for the summer/fall session of Raven Run Club. If you are interesting in joining a running group in Anchorage, check out the link. I promise it is a lot of fun and conducive to all abilities.

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Questions

What new thing are you loving lately?

Any podcast recommendations?

What is your favorite facial cleanser?

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Balsamic Quinoa and Roasted Pine Nut Salad

Happy Monday!

I hope your weekend was a good one. I worked at the store all weekend, which was fun, but I also miss out on family time.

I don’t have a lot of my own recipes on the blog because frankly I am not creative enough to come up with new ones; I am much better at following a recipe. But every once in a great while I find a little creativity and come up with something quite delicious!

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Last week, I needed to make a side dish to go with our dinner. I decided I was going to use quinoa as the base because I always have a huge bag of it from Costco. I also knew I wanted to use the fresh basil from our garden, as well as some pine nuts we had at home. (When I am looking for a recipe to make, most of the time I consider what I already have on-hand and what needs to be used up.)

I then Googled: quinoa + basil + pine nuts to see what came up. Most of the recipes I found I didn’t have all of the ingredients, and I’m not one to drive to the store for just a couple items. I will often sub ingredients out for others, but it drives Craig crazy! If he follows a recipe, he has to have every single item otherwise he won’t make it. (Maybe that’s why he rarely follows a recipe to begin with.)

So instead of following a recipe, I decided I would make something else up myself, and I came up with this quinoa dish with a balsamic vinegar dressing with fresh tomatoes, savory goat cheese, and a nice helping of fresh basil.

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Balsamic Quinoa and Roasted Pine Nut Salad

Serves: 4 as a side

Ingredients

3/4 cup quinoa

1-1/2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 tomato, diced

1/4 cup red onion, diced

1/4 cup feta

1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade cut

Directions

  1. Combine water, quinoa, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
  2. Meanwhile, in a jar with a lid, add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper and shake to combine.
  3. Roast pine nuts in a small saucepan on medium-low heat. Stir frequently and cook until lightly browned.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, combine cooked quinoa, pine nuts, tomato, onion, feta, and fresh basil. Pour olive oil dressing over everything and fold together.

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I hope you enjoy this summery salad! I was hoping to check out a new park with Cullen this morning, but it is raining again today. We might still take Sadie for a walk in the rain because neither of them will care. Afterwards maybe we’ll go to the coffee shop or the library to warm up.

Her Tern Half Marathon 2016 – Race Recap

This was my third time running the Her Tern Half & Quarter Marathon, and it continues to be a favorite of mine. The first year I ran the half marathon, the second year I ran the quarter marathon while I was pregnant, and this year I did the half again.

And if you missed it, you might want to read my first post: why I chose to run this race even though I wasn’t supposed to, per the PT and my coach.

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Going into the race I didn’t know what to expect since I didn’t know how my hip flexor would hold up. I didn’t want it to flare up before the race, so I didn’t do much of a warm-up. I didn’t do any jogging, but I did do a few stretches, a couple drills, 3 very short striders before the race started, and then put my game face on.

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The weather was warm, so I made a mental note to grab water at all of the aid stations since I barely get more than a couple sips of water anyhow when I try to drink from the cup. I knew it was going to be hot for a lot of people, which I thought might be to my advantage because I like the warmer weather. (I don’t love it for racing, but I can tolerate it better than most Alaskans.)

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When the race started, I reminded myself not to go out too fast because I hadn’t warmed up and I knew my legs weren’t very fresh. My friend Hallidie took the lead and went out at about a 6 minute pace, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to hang onto that pace for very long, so I hung back a bit. Even though it didn’t feel that fast, I knew I had to run my own race. I’m pretty much a slave to my watch the first mile because everything seems so easy with the adrenaline pumping and fresh legs starting out.

But of course I still go out too fast:

Mile 1 – 6:24

Mile 2  – 6:30

Mile 3 – 6:44

The first couple of miles ticked by, but I knew early on things weren’t,,,,,,    going to come easy. My hip didn’t bother me at all during the first few miles of the race, but I could tell my legs were still recovering from the marathon a month ago. I focused on sticking to a somewhat comfortable pace (comfortable for racing but not too uncomfortable in that I might die before mile 13).

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I can’t remember where I caught up to Hallidie–maybe around mile 3.5, and we continued to run together for a few miles when I got a surge of energy and took the lead. During this time I could also start to feel my hip flexor get a little twingy. The pain definitely wasn’t debilitating, so I kept running.

Mile 4 – 6:46

Mile 5 – 6:59

Mile 6 – 7:08

Mile 7 – 6:56

The turn-around is at mile 7, so once I got there, I knew I was over half-way done and there were some slight downhill portions coming up. I, by no means, was feeling very good or very strong. I had to fight off the pain and discomfort I was feeling. I focused on staying mentally tough and kept pushing. I was still doing okay with the warm weather. I wasn’t necessarily feeling hot, but I do remember thinking it would be a little nicer if it was cooler.

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Mile 8 – 7:05

Mile 9 – 7:06

Mile 10 – 7:05

Mile 11 – 7:03

Mile 12 – 7:13

Mile 13 – ?? (I’m not sure.)

I kept chugging along and trying to hold onto my pace, which was slipping and dropping down to around 7 minutes by this time. I had no idea if anyone was close to catching me–and of course I didn’t want them to, so I used that as my motivation to keep pushing the pace. Miles 8 and 9 are always a hard time for me because I still have 4 or 5 miles to go, and by this time I am usually starting to feel the effects of racing.

Since it is an out-and-back course, I was running against hundreds of other women by this time, so I used them as my distraction: looking for people I knew and listening to their cheers, which I appreciated so much! I wish I could have said something back, but I was too tired, and I knew I needed to conserve my energy–especially for the nasty hill at the end.

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The last few miles were tough, but I kept telling myself, “It will be over before you know it.” And “You’ve worked so hard for this.”

There is a long gradual hill at the end that turns into a short, very steep hill for the last block. Everyone hates it and dreads it. (It was seriously giving me anxiety during the race.) But thankfully I had my coworker, Neil, who ran up it with me and cheered me on. (Side note: Neil ran over 12 miles running women up that hill throughout the morning!)

How do you like those negative splits?

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When I crossed the finish line, I was spent. I found Craig and collapsed into his arms. I was so happy to finish first and knew I had given it my all.

The after party is a lot of fun with awesome treats, a DJ, a big blow-up slide for the kids,

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mimosas, massages, giveaways,

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free Kaladi coffee, a food truck, and the overall atmosphere is very positive with a bunch of women celebrating their accomplishments.

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The finisher’s bracelet.

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My #1 fan and assistant coach.

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The that was my 20th half marathon, which is why I picked the number 20 for my race bib.

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Overall, I was very happy with how things went, but then I realized I would have to run faster than that pace to break 3 hours in the marathon. I’ve got my work cutout for me!

The Time I Disobeyed my Coach and PT and Raced a Half Marathon While Injured

Call me an addict. Call me crazy, but I couldn’t fight off the withdrawals anymore from not being able to run for the past 4 weeks. Yesterday (Sunday) I ran the Her Tern Half Marathon against the wishes of my coach and physical therapist because my love for running is too strong.  I do feel kind of bad, but at the same time it SO worth it.

Let’s back up so you can get the whole picture. After running Grandma’s Marathon on June 18, I took an entire week off of running. I did no exercise: no cross-training, no fitness classes, nothing. I enjoyed my last week in Minnesota and let the soreness wear off.

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The following week, I ran on Monday and did 5 miles with some drills and striders. I think my hip flexor did bother me a little during that run, but I didn’t think much of it then. I figured the kinks were working themselves out after the marathon. I didn’t run Tuesday but ran Wednesday and Thursday. I remember my hip flexor did start to bother me on Wednesday, but Thursday is when it got really bad after doing some sprints with my coach while she was in town. It was a pretty intense pain isolated where the circles are in the below picture and has only been my right hip flexor area.

This is where my pain is on my right hip.

I took Friday – Sunday off from running and cross-trained, iced, stretched, and tried to remedy it at home. This was over the 4th of July weekend, so come Monday I tried running again, but the pain was still there. I made a massage appointment but couldn’t get in until Friday and also made a physical therapy appointment for the following Wednesday. (All of the good people are hard to get into!) In the meantime I didn’t run and cross-trained and remedied at home.

That Friday (July 8th) I had my massage. She said everything was really tight on my left hip, which was the cause of the injury on my right side. I tried running again the next morning. The pain took a little longer to set in, but it got progressively worse, so I stopped at 3 miles. Then it was more cross-training until I saw the physical therapist the following Wednesday.

I was hoping I would go into the physical therapist, have him do some dry needling on the injured area, and be 75-80% better as dry needling as really helped in the past. Call it overly optimistic or call it trying to stay positive, but he said I had injured my tendon and dry needling wouldn’t help it. (From what I understood, dry needling is more for muscle injuries.) Anyway, I left with one exercise to do three times each day and no running for a week. I mentioned that I was supposed to run the Her Tern Half Marathon (HTH) on Sunday, but he said ‘no way.’

But you see, I’ve been working with about 200 women who are involved with our HTH training group since April. They have been working so hard to prepare their body for the half-marathon or quarter-marathon, and I just couldn’t get past the idea that I wouldn’t be able to participate in the race with them.

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Plus this is my favorite race all summer long, so I consulted my assistant coach, Craig. Surprisingly he said to go for it! I really thought he was going to say I shouldn’t do it, so this pretty much finalized my decision. I continued to hem and haw about it for the next couple of days. (I think I even dreamed about it.) And then the day before the race I had pretty much decided I was going to race. I figured I could at least start the race and see how I felt. If the pain got too bad I would drop out. I briefly considered running it for fun but quickly decided against it as I knew I wouldn’t have fun doing that. I am too competitive with my running!

Prior to the race, I did consider what it would mean for future races this summer. I still plan on running the Moose’s Tooth Marathon in August. I knew I would jeopardize some of my training for it, but I also wanted to seize the day–to a certain extent–in the fact who knows what could happen between now and then. Maybe I’ll develop another injury or some other unforeseen circumstance might prevent me from running that marathon, so I decided it was worth the cons to run the half marathon on Sunday.

So with that, I ran the Her Tern Half Marathon on Sunday and have no regrets about it. I ran the entire race (with only a little bit of discomfort) and am so happy to say I won!

Tomorrow: a recap of the actual race, so stay tuned!!

My Current Running Shoe Rotation

I’ll admit it: I’ve gotten to be quite a running shoe snob.

I used to only run in one pair of shoes and then when those wore out, I’d replace them with a different pair. It wasn’t until only a couple of years ago that I started rotating my shoes and owning at least two working shoes at the same time. (It obviously helps that I work at a running shoe store now.)

Almost all of my shoes are neutral shoes and do not have additional structure or support for pronation control (your foot rolls inward and the arch collapses as you bear weight on your foot when striking the foot). Oddly enough I do actually pronate, but I haven’t had issues with neutral shoes, so I’ve continued to stick with them. I did use custom orthotics from a podiatrist for a while, but I haven’t had issues anymore so I’ve stopped wearing them. I will still wear inserts in my shoes about every other day.

I’ve accumulated quite the shoe collection with everything from a light-weight racing flat to ultra-cushiony shoes. Here’s a run-down of what I’ve been wearing lately, which ones are my favorite, and what I like/dislike about each one.

Adidas Ultra Boost

For my long runs and easy days, I really like Adidas Ultra Boost. It is extremely cushiony, responsive, and it honestly feels like you are running on clouds. These neutral shoes have 100% Boost material, which is the white styrofoam-looking material. This foam lasts a lot longer than your traditional foam, and I’ve gotten well over 600 miles out of some of my other Adidas Boost shoes.

The upper materials are very soft and flexible which is great for protecting the toes from damage and preventing them from turning black. I haven’t worn these enough on long runs to see if they would actually prevent my toenails from turning black (which seems inevitable these days), but I think it would really help.

I rarely use these on speed or tempo days because I like a shoe that has a firmer ride and isn’t so “bouncy” on my fast days.

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Adidas Energy Boost

These are very similar to the Ultra Boost. The Ultra Boost has 100% Boost foam while the Energy Boost has 80% Boost foam. The upper materials are still very flexible but the uppers of this shoe are more structured than the Ultra Boost shoes. As with the Ultra Boosts, I prefer these for long runs and easy run days. I did wear these shoes for the Moose’s Tooth Marathon last summer. I think they did a good job protecting my legs from some wear and tear that occurs during the marathon. (That’s not to say my legs didn’t take a beating.)

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Adidas Adios

These are my go-to racing shoe for anything from the 5K to the marathon. It took me a while to decide which racing flat I wanted to buy, but when several of my coworkers and other elite runners in the community were wearing them, I knew there had to be a reason. And I have to say I love them as well–absolute love them! They are light-weight but still sturdy enough to support my foot for a marathon. They also have a great glove-like fit that doesn’t slip off my heel on uphill sections. They also have the Boost foam in them, so it is still quite cushiony, which is why I can wear it for the marathon. The Continental tread on the bottom also means the bottom won’t wear down as quickly. I can’t think of a single thing I don’t like about these shoes, but this is also my first racing flat.

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Brooks Launch 3

Since the Launch is a relatively new shoe, I didn’t know too much about it and hadn’t heard too much feedback on it. However, then I was able get a free pair of Brooks shoes through the store, so I thought I’d give them a try. I am happy I did because they are my go-to universal shoe for long runs, tempo workouts, and anything and everything in between. I like a middle-of-the-road cushion shoe (not too minimal, not too bulky) for my tempo workouts and speed workouts, and the Launch has turned out to be perfect for that.

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I also own a pair of the second version of the Launch, which are very similar. They newest version does have different upper materials and a different style of shoe laces, but the biggest different I noticed in the fit was a little more room in the toebox, which I appreciated.

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Brooks Glycerin

The Brooks Glycerin is a neutral cushion shoe. I sell a ton of these at the store. People love them because they hug the foot really well, and they feel like clouds on your feet. I don’t personally love these because it is more shoe than what I prefer (although they are similar to the Adidas Ultra Boost.) I will wear them on easy day. They hug my heel really well and have enough room in the toe box for my wider (not true wide but wider) foot.

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Mizuno Wave Rider

I have been wearing the Mizuno Wave Rider for several years now. While I still like it, I don’t love it as much as I previously did. I do like the firmer ride during tempo and speed workouts. They toebox has enough room for my feet and the overall fit of the shoe is decent. But now that I’ve had the opportunity to try other shoes, these still get worn–just not quite as much.

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Brooks Cadence

These are definitely my least favorite shoes. They have a 4mm drop (the difference in height from the heel to the toes), which I don’t love. Most of my shoes are around 10mm, which I definitely prefer. But that’s not to say they aren’t a great shoe! The Cadence is the most structured shoe in the Pure series, which also contains the Pure Flow and the Pure Connect. They still have a good amount of cushion for a lighter-weight shoe and the overall fit is comfortable. I might pull these out a couple times a month but otherwise these don’t get used too often.

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So there you have it, my closet full of running shoes. (Sadly there are actually a couple more pairs of shoes that I didn’t even list: my Icebugs (winter running shoes) and a second pair of Adidas Energy Boost.) If you are on the market for a new pair of shoes, I highly recommend you seek out your local running store to be fitted for a pair of shoes. Just because I like something doesn’t mean it is the right shoe for you. Be sure to try on several different shoes and several different brands.

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Question

What is your favorite running shoe(s)?

Adventuring in Alaska

We’ve been busy doing touristy things this past week. Sadly some of the only times we actually go on adventures are when people come to visit us. We had friends from Australia in town visiting this past week, and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law are also here for a few weeks this summer.

On Tuesday we took a float trip down the Kenai River out of Cooper Landing. We did a nice, low-key 2 hour float down the river. It was raining at the beginning but stopped part-way through, so it was a little cloudy but still very pretty.

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We were a little apprehensive to take Cullen on the float trip, but the company said it was appropriate for people of all ages. We knew the rapids weren’t big, so we thought it would be okay. He didn’t get a nap before the trip, so he was a little fussy at first, but he actually did quite well overall. He loves the water, and we distracted him with the birds, singing songs, and being goofy.

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On Wednesday we went to Whittier for a hike and had lunch at Swiftwater Cafe–> don’t even try to go somewhere else; they have the best food in town.

It was a overcast, rainy hike, but it was pretty cool hiking up in the clouds. It made for some really pretty scenery. I felt like I was in a different country.

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We hiked the Portage Glacier trail to an overlook where we could see the glacier off in a distance.

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Cullen had fun for about 30 minutes in the backpack, but then he was ready to get out.

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On this hike you can also see a really nice view of Whittier and the beginning of Prince William Sound.

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Thursday morning I rode my bike for some cross-training. My right hip flexor has been bothering me for a couple of weeks, so I had to opt for a different form of exercise. I had a massage on Friday, so I’m hoping that loosened everything up.

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Thursday afternoon Craig had surgery. Here is his before and after picture.

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Haha! Just kidding.. . . he had a small belly button hernia fixed. I don’t think he realized how much pain he would be in. They made 5 small incisions in his abdomen, and while it didn’t seem like it would be that big of a deal, any time he has to engage his core muscles to do anything (which is pretty much everything!), he can feel the incisions. Now we both can relate to each other since my c-section was in the same area and made doing anything (getting out of bed, lifting things, coughing, laughing, etc.) difficult.

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I’m working at the store (Skinny Raven Sports) all weekend, so I’ll be back with some more posts next week. I’ve got one blog post about my current running shoe rotation, so stay tuned!

Guest Post – Sleep: Performance, Recovery, and How to Get More

I’ve got a guest post from a good friend of mine for you guys today about sleep! Nate and I worked at a summer camp in Minnesota, and I remember we would often be up early training before a long day of counseling the kids at the camp. This probably meant we weren’t getting enough sleep though, huh? But we were young college kids back then, so it didn’t matter as much, right?

Anyway, Nate wrote an awesome guest post on the importance of sleep and how to improve your sleep–something I am still struggling with. While Cullen is now sleeping through the night (hallelujah!), the round-the-clock daylight here in Alaska makes it difficult to wind-down at night and sleep enough when it is light nearly all night.

I hope you enjoy the guest post, and I am going to be back in a few days with a post about all of the adventures we’ve been up to these past few days.

IMG_3328While in Minnesota, Cullen and I had a chance to visit Nate and his son, Calvin.

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Hello esteemed readers of “The Runner’s Plate.” Michelle has graciously allowed me to write a guest post on her blog, and has traded the favor over at Twin Cities Runner – Coaching. I’m honored to be posting on a blog about two of my favorite things-sleeping and running.

While a wholesome diet is key to running your best and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, sleep is often overlooked.

Sleep is an integral part of performance in any athletic endeavor-especially during phases of tough training. Sam Olson, Doctorate of Physical Therapy, who, among other things, specializes in running injuries and athletic medicine, says,

Sleep is very important, in many ways… sleep is the time where the body’s repair processes work hard to “clean up” damaged tissues… It is also the time when growth hormones are released, which are necessary for rebuilding strong and healthy tissues… Getting inadequate sleep can lead to decreased energy levels and increased effort for the same output, as well as elevated heart rate, and mental fatigue.”

Former Olympian Carrie Tollefson echoes these sentiments. “Sleep is key!” she says. “[While competing], I usually slept from 10:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and tried to have a nap in the afternoon. I always noticed if I didn’t get to rest after a really hard session.”

What happens when you have sleep difficulties? How do you get back into a routine. Both Tollefson and Olson agree that maintaining a regular bedtime and wake time, though external factors can sometimes interfere. “When I was racing and not a mom, I would just reorganize my life to make sleep happen,” says Tollefson, “but with kids, we are sort of at their mercy.”

Also, it’s important to avoid things that can disturb sleep. Blue light emitted from electronic devices such as phones, laptops, and tablets, can disrupt the sleep cycle. “Eliminating all forms of technology,” says Olson, “at least an hour before desired sleep time can help your body wind down, and prepare for sleep.” Olson also recommends eliminating caffeine later in the day.

If you are a heavy electronics user, I recommend the program “f.lux.” It’s compatible with many smartphones, tablets, and operating systems. It reduces blue light emitted from screens, likely leading to better sleep.

Every year, I go through phases of poor sleep. Seasonal daylight changes (though nothing compared to Alaska’s), schedule changes, and stress, all play a roles in disrupting my sleep patterns. In summer months, I sometimes use a sleeping mask, and I always use blackout curtains which can be effective when bedtimes take place before sunset.

In winter, I recommend trying to get outside during daylight-something that can be difficult in northern latitudes. Full spectrum lights, used in the morning, can also be effective both in improving sleep quality and treating the “winter blues.”

I use a dawn simulator with a reading lamp. The reading lamp has a sleep function which slowly dims the light, simulating a sunset, and an alarm that slowly brightens the light, simulating the sunrise.

Stress and nerves can also play a factor in length and quality of sleep, and the night before an important event, like a race, can cause sleep to suffer. “I always tried to sleep really well two nights out,” says Tollefson. “The night before I usually had more tossing and turning, but the rest is the main thing, so I would just focus on being relaxed.”

A study performed by Dutch researchers confirmed that sleep deprivation the night before a race will not have an overly negative impact on performance. Read about it in “Why You Shouldn’t Freak Out about a Bad Pre-race Sleep,” from Runner’s World.

If you’re really having difficulties sleeping, don’t give up. Many of us are bombarded with stress throughout the day, and our brains can be filled with noise. Take some time during the day to be mindful. Focus on external sensations-sounds, sights, textures-be mindful of what you’re doing without thinking about it.

On a walk or run, focus on the feeling of your feet hitting the ground, the sights and sounds around you, the sensation of movement. To explore meditative running, check out, “Zen and The Art of Running,” by Larry Shapiro.

Taking time during the day to meditate and relax can also help when it’s time to go to sleep at night. There are a plethora of YouTube videos that can guide you through passive, progressive, or active muscle relaxation techniques, as well as videos on meditative prayers. At night, you can try a meditation to help you go to sleep. When I’m really having a hard time sleeping, I set up a meditation for sleep next to my bed, and listen to it as I fall asleep.

Run well and sleep well.

Recovering from a Marathon

It has been two weeks since I finished Grandma’s Marathon, and life post race is definitely different now.

The nine months leading up to the marathon were very intense–long runs of 16+ miles every week, tempo or speed workouts at least once a week, and high mileage working up to 95 miles one week. I usually had a day off every 10 days, but other than that there wasn’t much down-time.

I always take at least one full week off from running after a marathon. After my marathon last August I took two full weeks off. This time I didn’t do any form of exercise the week following Grandma’s Marathon: no workout classes, no bike rides. . . .I just laid low and let my body heal. I was very, very sore after the marathon for four days before the soreness finally wore off.

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Me, my coach (Nichole), and her husband (Nate) were in town visiting, and we had dinner together!

This week I have only run on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday–4 to 6 miles each time. My coach had a plan for me this week, but she said to take days off or rearrange the schedule depending upon how I am feeling that day. My right hip flexor actually started to bother me mid-week, so I opted for some additional days off.

Even though part of me wants to ‘get after it’ again right away, I know I need to spend this time resting and letting my body heal and recover from the marathon. It is better I opt for a little bit of extra time off now because it will benefit me more in the long run.

The marathon is such a B E A S T, and it literally takes me nearly a month to feel back to my normal running self. I once read that it takes a day for your body to recover for every mile raced. For example, if you race a 5K (3.1 miles), then you should expect your body to need three days to feel recovered. For the marathon (26.2 miles), this means it takes 26 days to recover from racing a marathon, and I definitely think this is the case.

So instead of running, we’ve spent a lot of time outdoors because summers in Alaska mean spending every waking moment outside. Cullen, Sadie, and I have taken advantage of the trail behind our house for regular afternoon walks.

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Last week we also hiked Gold Cord in Hatcher’s Pass. It was an overcast day, but it made for some beautiful, foggy scenic pictures.

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I completely forgot the backpack to carry Cullen, so I had to carry him 85% of the way. Luckily it wasn’t too long of a hike–or too steep! He walked for a while and Craig carried him too, but he mostly just wanted his mama.

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I was a bad Mom and forgot cold weather gear for him. (I didn’t think it was going to be that cold!) Luckily Craig, who is a former boy scout, follows his motto of ‘always being prepared’ and had a hat and gloves for Cullen to borrow.

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It was a really pretty hike back to a small lake coming off a glacier.

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Cullen learned the fun of throwing rocks into bodies of water while in Duluth along Lake Superior, so he and Craig had fun throwing rocks into the lake. Kristy, my sister, taught him to say ‘splash’ every time someone throws a rock in, and it is just too cute.

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Next week I am hoping to get back to more running, and I also need to get a massage! The recovery from this marathon is very important as I am hoping to run another marathon in August. Yes, I’m crazy!