Finding a Balance

Learning to live a healthy, balanced life.


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Chicago: days 2 and 3

So the reason for my trip was to take a pragmatic marketing training on effective product marketing. While these kinds of things can sometimes be a waste of time, fortunately, this was not. The two full days went by really quickly and I found myself actually excited to implement some of the things I learned.

Monday night my friend Meghan, who works in Chicago, met me at The Purple Pig. Surprisingly, we got a table right away! I had pretty high expectations because I had heard from my colleague I was traveling with, my friend’s sister and brother-in-law and the concierge at the hotel, that this was THE place to eat while in Chicago. Oh, and Bon Appetit listed it as one of the best new restaurants in America a few years back. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Each dish knocked it out of the ballpark. And the wine list was super impressive.

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Although I was uncomfortably full, after dinner I got a nice 20 minute walk on the treadmill and a mini-strength session in at the hotel fitness center. Pretty impressed with the equipment!

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weights

Tuesday morning, I packed my bags and met my colleague for breakfast before class started. We were treated to ANOTHER fantastic meal at Wildberry’s. I had the signature Berry Bliss crepes. Yum.

crepes

The rest of the day Tuesday was a bit stressful as we were watching the weather outside turn from rain to sleet to a mix to snow. And a lot of it. We ducked out of the class a bit early to head back to the hotel to get our bags and a cab to the airport. Traffic was getting bad and we had a few close calls in the cab, but we ended up making it to the airport three hours ahead of our scheduled flight.

I get a free checked bag since I’m a Gold Delta Skymiles AmEx cardholder so I usually check a bag just so I have less to carry around with me (especially being at the airport three hours early). Right after I checked my bag, my colleague and I had the thought to check if we could get on an earlier flight to Minneapolis. There was room, but it was too late for me to have time to get my bag back and board in time. So I headed to find some wine and dinner and wait for my flight.

Miraculously, no delays and I made it back to MSP around 9 p.m. Already planning my next trip back to Chicago!


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Weekly Wednesday Ragnar post: Meet Katie!

This is from Ragnar 2009-- getting ready for a sunset run w/ reflective vest and headlamp!

This is from Ragnar 2009– getting ready for a sunset run w/ reflective vest and headlamp!

Name: Katie M.

Location/hometown: I grew up in Lakeville, MN (a southern suburb of Minneapolis) and now I live in South Minneapolis.
How long have you been running? I started running in 2008 as a way to cope with the stress of graduate school that fit a graduate student budget (free) and ran my first 5K in the fall of 2008 with a group of women in my class. And then I was hooked and constantly looking for more challenges– faster 5Ks, mud runs, triathlons, Ragnar, and eventually a marathon.
Why did you decide to run Ragnar? In 2009, it was equal parts “let’s have an adventure!” and peer pressure that got me on the team. I had a group of friends who were genuinely excited about it, and that made me excited too. It also seemed like such a unique experience– it certainly isn’t every day you hear someone talk about running a 200 mile relay over the weekend.
This time, my reason is pretty much all “let’s have an adventure!” based on my 2009 Ragnar experience. It is easily one of the most fun running events I have ever done, it is challenging but not grueling, and it makes me shake up my training routine. Ragnar is my ideal running event because it has the team aspect– hello, six stinky friends in a van! and six more in another van!– but I can do the running part by myself. I am not a group runner, team runner, or running buddy. In fact, I loathe running alongside other people. This is the best of both worlds.
How many Ragnar Relays have you run? I have done one previously (on Hyedi’s team in 2009– “Made in the 80s!”), so 2013 will be my 2nd Ragnar.
If you’ve run Ragnar before, what’s your favorite Ragnar memory? In 2009, my second leg was 5 miles. The leg started in a small Wisconsin town, just before the sun came up. I ran through town, crossed a bridge that spanned a small pond where 2 geese were lazily enjoying an early morning swim as fog lifted off the open water. After leaving town, I had 4 uphill miles through farm fields or alongside really small neighborhoods. The sun rose to my right, illuminating the sky from hazy purple to vivid pink to bright orange, as row of corn after row of corn flipped by on my left. There was no traffic on the road, except for the occasional van full of crazy runners who each gave a hearty “toot toot!” of their horn as they passed, whether they knew me or not. It was one of the most peaceful runs I have ever had, right in the midst of a big, silly adventure.
What are you most looking forward to about Ragnar 2013? I am looking forward to running as a more experienced runner, having more knowledge about fuel and recovery, even with such a short time between runs. I am looking forward to cheering on teammates, some of whom I have not yet met, and seeing a different part of the course.
Give me one fun random fact about yourself.
basil
I am hoping to spend some time training this guy (see pic) to run with me this summer! He is a 2 year old greyhound, so maybe he can give me some speed training tips.


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Chicago: Day 1

I’m obsessed with my hotel.

Everything is just SO cute!

Everything is just SO cute!

My view.

My view.

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I might sleep in this window seat.

I might sleep in this window seat.

Sunday night I got to see my friend Laura, who I grew up with in Lake Geneva. Her sister and brother-in-law live in the City and it was her brother-in-law’s 30th birthday! Laura invited me along to dinner, and I’m so glad she did — it was great to see her and now I know that BYOB Mexican restaurants are awesome.

When I got back, I had a little friend waiting for me that the hotel brought to my room to keep me company!

I named him James.

I named him James.

Then, I decided it was time to raid the mini bar (for free)…

minibar

…relax and watch the Oscars.

Twitter and the Oscars. Nice combination.

Twitter and the Oscars. Nice combination.

Yesterday was another great day. I’m really finding the class I’m taking here very interesting and useful. Also, there are no words to describe how fantastic dinner was last night. More on that later — but all of my photos from dinner are over on Instagram 🙂

Today is day two of the class and then I fly back tonight!


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Weekend workouts

Quick post because I’m about to go to bed. Chicago has been a whirlwind and I’m exhausted! I’ll have a full Chicago recap soon 🙂

So I have to start out by saying that I’m really proud of myself for getting in all of my half marathon training workouts this past week.  Saturday night turned into a much later night than I had anticipated (but so much fun and totally worth it).

Saturday morning started out with three miles on the treadmill at half marathon pace (8:54) and a lovely swim with Andrea. Saturday afternoon started with meeting my cousin Lena, who was visiting from out of town, and her friends at the Blue Door Pub for a drink. $4 total for a pint of Indeed Day Tripper and a basket of fries? OK!!!

Then we had reservations for dinner at Masu, one of my favorite restaurants. I (of course) ordered the pork belly ramen and we all split some sushi and edamame. Sake may have been consumed also.

My brother, who was just promoted to sous chef at a local restaurant, wanted to see our cousin while she was in town. So after dinner we stopped by Heidi’s for dessert and cocktails. Then, we dropped Lena off at her friend’s house out in the suburbs. Needless to say, I did not feel like getting up when the alarm went off. But I dragged my butt out of bed, got ready and headed to the gym. I wasn’t in the clear yet though. Once I got on the treadmill, I didn’t feel like running. I kept having this internal battle telling myself that it wouldn’t hurt to cut my run short and proceeded to make excuses for why this was so. Then, I would tell myself to suck it up, blah blah. Well, this went on for awhile and before I knew it, I got all six miles in!

Run stats:

6 miles in 59:12 (9:52 pace)

After the gym, I had to rush home, shower and get to the airport to make my flight to Chicago. They have a really nice fitness center in my hotel so tonight after was nice and full from dinner, I lifted some weights, walked on the treadmill and got some quality stretching time in.

On another note, I’m having foot issues again (last time was about one year ago) and since I’m racing this weekend, I might take tomorrow off from running….we’ll see. Sorry for this incredibly random, rambling post. I hope you’ll all forgive me.


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A good excuse.

I’ve decided that with half marathon training kicking off, it’s a good excuse to start taking better care of myself. I know that sounds weird, but sometimes it takes something special to really motivate me. These are the things that I really want to focus on:

  • Get better sleep (hopefully the SleepCycle app will help with this!)
  • Eat foods that make me feel good (less gluten and dairy)
  • Honor rest days but make sure I’m getting in quality workouts (as Jillian Michaels would say — “don’t phone it in”) on the other days

I did my first tempo run yesterday! Or at least I think I did. I don’t know why I get so confused by any and all speed work. Maybe one of you lovely readers can help me.

According to McMillan, my tempo run pace should be between 8:46 – 9:03. I also read about adding 30-40 seconds to your current 5K pace (~8:22).

The training schedule called for a 30 minute tempo run, so this is what I did:

-10 minutes @ 8:57

-15 minutes gradually increasing pace until I peaked at 8:00 and held that pace for about two minutes

-5 minutes easing back down to 8:57 again

Does that seem right?

This morning I met Anna at the gym for an early morning strength session. I finally feel like I’m back in the weight lifting groove.

What’s left for the rest of the week:

Friday – REST

Saturday – Swim with Andrea / 3 mile (pace)

Sunday – 6 miles

I head to Chicago for work on Sunday afternoon but you can bet I’m bringing my running shoes along! I’m seriously so excited for the hotel though. They have a really great loyalty program which includes having a yoga mat in my room waiting for me!

I’m attending a two-day seminar but I am also planning to enjoy Chicago as much as possible while I’m there. I used to spend a ton of time in Chicago but haven’t been there in awhile! So I have dinner plans with a friend when I get in on Sunday and then with another friend I haven’t seen in FOREVER on Monday! Let’s hope the weather cooperates — looks like the Midwest is going to get some more snow!

Give me tempo run advice! Who’s running spring half marathons?


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Weekly Wednesday Ragnar post: first team meeting!

Lumberjack Heroes had our first team meeting Monday night! We held the meeting at my house and Skyped in Angela (from Houston) and FaceTimed my sister and brother-in-law (from Esko, MN). We’re so technological!

Ragnar has a super detailed and helpful “Race Bible” that we walked through and went over answers to questions some of the first-timers had. We also are pretty sure we’re going with the team name I mentioned earlier — the Lumberjack Heroes! Andrea has already come up with some pretty awesome ways to incorporate the lumberjack theme 🙂

Here’s what I’ve been doing on the workout front lately:

Friday: walked on the treadmill and strength training.

Saturday: warmed up in my Brooks PureFlows by walking one mile and then ran 2.12 miles (all I could make it) in my Mizunos. (9:35 pace)

Sunday: nice and easy five mile run on the treadmill at Lifetime. This might have been my most effortless run ever. (9:58 pace)

Monday: I had “strength and stretching” on my half marathon training schedule today, so after the team meeting ended I popped in the classic Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred DVD and did Level 1 because I was scared. I cooled down with some Athletes’ Guide to Yoga. 212 calories burned — not bad!

I can always count on Jillian to kick my butt.

I can always count on Jillian to kick my butt.

Tuesday: ran 3 miles indoors (windchills were wayyy below zero) at the Metrodome.

Have you guys ever heard of the Sleep Cycle app? I downloaded it a few days ago and tried it for the first time on Monday night. I’ve had sleep issues for years now and only noticed real improvements in my sleep when I did the Whole 30. So now I’m really trying to improve my sleep quality.

It takes a few times using the app to get good data, but here is my graph from my first night:

Image-1

Very cool. In addition to the data/graphs, the app keeps track of things like if you drank coffee that day or were stressed out, etc. It’s alarm feature uses I think this will be really helpful the rest of the week for when I have morning workouts planned. I’m also going to try and keep a regular sleep schedule, even on the mornings when I could sleep in.

Does anyone else have sleep issues? How much sleep do you usually get per night?


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No longer a cruise virgin.

After a long day of traveling last Friday, J and I arrived in Tampa around 4:30 in the afternoon and grabbed a shuttle to our hotel. We got dinner in the hotel restaurant and went to bed pretty early. J’s parents drove to Tampa from Minnesota and arrived sometime around 4 a.m. so they crashed in our room once they arrived.

The next morning after dropping off my in-laws’ car, we headed to the docks. The check-in process was surprisingly smooth and before we knew it we had joined our friends who were lounging in deck chairs near the pool!

I was worried about having bad motion sickness (especially once we started sailing) but throughout the trip, I really didn’t have any problems. I took Dramamine twice — once during our snorkeling trip and once before bed.

Here are some of the highlights of the trip:

Days at sea

1. The food: Lobster tails, the out-of-this-world chocolate melting cake, tiramisu — I could go on and on.

2. The sun: when you live in Minnesota, nothing beats laying out in the sun all day.

3. The entertainment: I’ve never been a big fan of comedy shows. Or maybe I just never think of going to them. In fact, I think the only stand-up comedy shows I’ve been to are Bob Saget and Seth Meyers. But the comedians on the ship were actually pretty hilarious.

Also, they had a big trivia game show the first day on the ship and J got chosen to be a contestant! He started out strong but ended up in second place. 😦 Bummer — still pretty cool though! Photos to come.

4. Spa and fitness center: it took awhile to get used to running on a treadmill while on a moving ship. But once I did, it was worth it because the treadmills are located right at the front of the ship so you have a great view of the open water.

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Then, on our last day we treated ourselves to spa treatments — I got a facial and a massage. Getting facials is dangerous for me though. I got quite addicted to them after getting a few leading up to our wedding.

5. Casino: I’m not a big gambler, but I like people watching in casinos and playing some slots. J also had some good luck at the Blackjack table one night!

Grand Cayman

So beautiful.

So beautiful.

We were only in Grand Cayman for about six hours so when we got there, J and I hopped on the public bus and headed to the beach. The weather was perfect and the water was warm. We alternated between laying out in the hot sun and cooling off in the water. Then out of nowhere it started raining and it was time to reapply sunscreen so we headed back downtown and got drinks (pina colada for me) and some food at Margaritaville. (I also think I kind of fell in love with our bartender.)

Then, we enjoyed some $1 beers and Appleton rum before heading back to the ship.

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Where did the rum go?

Cozumel

Sunset over Cozumel.

Sunset over Cozumel.

Our friends had researched excursions ahead of time and found this amazing little place that does snorkeling tours. The water in Cozumel is just gorgeous and we had perfect weather for a boat ride and then snorkeling. Our crew was fantastic, making sure we always had enough cervezas, fruit and cookies.

Enjoying our cervezas

Enjoying our cervezas

We did a two reef tour. Unlike the last time I went snorkeling in Jamaica, I didn’t swallow any salt water and actually saw quite a few fish (lots of barracudas) and a lobster! But eventually I started feeling a bit nauseous and cold so I decided to swim back to the boat. On the way, I got stung by a jellyfish (lame) so I decided to sit the second reef tour out. I’m still regretting this decision since the second reef was in more shallow waters and there were even more fish and sea creatures to be seen. I’ll post some photos later that my friend took with her underwater camera!

After snorkeling, we were starving so we rushed back to downtown Cozumel before they started shutting down the streets for their big Mardi Gras parade (it was Fat Tuesday). We decided on Margaritaville again where I enjoyed the best burger ever and a delicious strawberry margarita.

Mmm margaritas.

Mmm margaritas.

Then we met up with the rest of our group, did some shopping and found some 99 cent beers before heading back to the boat.

We got back to Tampa on Valentine’s Day morning and our friends flew back to Wisconsin, my in-laws started their long drive back to Minnesota and J and I got picked up at the dock by a family friend of ours who showed up around nearby Plant City, treated us to lunch, took us out to one of the barrier islands and then dropped us off at the airport. By the time we got home it was after Midnight (but felt like 1 a.m.) and we were exhausted! I’m definitely glad I took Friday off of work.

We spent the weekend adjusting to reality — getting in workouts and making home cooked meals. Reality will really set in tomorrow when we head back to work! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!