Why I Run Wednesday #15

My bike, hanging out at Theodore Wirth Park

The ‘Why I Run Wednesday’ posts are a weekly feature exploring a past, present, or future reason why I run.

Bringing back the running gratitude posts a.k.a. Why I Run Wednesday! One, because while my writing schedule may be lacking, there are an endless number of reasons to love running. Second, unexpectedly awful things happen in this world which is reason enough to appreciate the awesome and good that also exists.

Late last week I crafted my plan for Sunday: wake up early, bike to Theodore Wirth Park, run, bike home. Simple enough and I was pumped. There was one little detail to figure out though: How do I get to the park via bike? I should note that I have a terrible sense of direction. I managed to get places prior to smartphones by printing Google Map directions, and prior to that I was too young to drive. So, I could’ve gone the millennial-old-school method and written out the Google directions on a piece of paper and taped them to my handlebars. But, I suddenly felt inspired (shortly prior to the unscheduled departure ‘time’) and thought, ‘hey, I could make my own iPhone bike mount.’ Conveniently, I already had a cheap waterproof bag and a messenger bag comfort strap I received as a giveaway at a bike event a couple years ago. Armed with those two items, electrical tape, rubber bands and a pair of scissors, I was 30 minutes away from a low budget Pinterest-esque smartphone mount!

Homemade iPhone Bike Mount

Back to the Run

The mount worked like a charm (the shoulder strap provided a nice buffer for my phone during the mixed-terrain ride) and I made it to Theodore Wirth without issue. I biked up and down the parkway in search of a secure spot to lock my bike and eventually settled on a street sign set far enough from the road (the park could use some bike racks).

The Route

Quick stop on the run, Theodore Wirth Park

Well, no route was pre-planned. I just ran this way and that, pounded up and down hills, enjoying the view of trees and the feeling of trails underfoot. Around three miles in I decided it was time to head back. Remember that little detail about my less than stellar directional skills? Let’s just say I had the privilege of running another not-so-direct mile and a half back to my bike…

More biking, more fun

Sun still shining, water still in my waist pack, I opted to bike right past my route home and continued toward the Theodore Wirth golf course. Motivated by the “You are here” icon on a park map and a well-marked Grand Rounds bike path, I kept riding through new-to-me territory onto Victory Memorial Parkway. What a beautiful area! Back yards, front yards, bike path AND a long stretch of field in the middle of the road (eh, boulevard).

North Mississippi Regional Park

Onward to the North Mississippi Regional Park and although I could see downtown Minneapolis off in the distance I wasn’t 100 percent sure how to get back… luckily that homemade iPhone mount was holding strong. A couple of awkward street crossings and sidewalk bike walking, I cruised down 2nd Street through the North Loop into downtown.

Not quite ready for the Sunday adventure to end (and a rumbling belly), I stopped at Whole Foods to grab a green juice and an EPIC mountain medley. Feeling set with the day’s four-hour ride and run, I headed home for more food and a short nap.

So why do I run? Because there are bike paths to explore! And running trails to pull over and enjoy.

Why I Run Wednesday #14

The ‘Why I Run Wednesday’ posts are a weekly feature exploring a past, present, or future reason why I run.

Luck, WI – 27 degrees feels warm after a few sub-zero windchill days

I’m in first-unofficial-ultra-first-official-ultra limbo. Or, a little bout of laziness. Taking a break (one swim and a bunch of walks for a week) after the 30 mile birthday run seemed responsible, but in the past two weeks my longest run since has been a mere nine miles. So let’s say that I am well rested and recovered.

Fortunately tonight’s run left me feeling back in the swing of training-plan-time and reminded me of a reason why running is great, which is rather specific to Minnesota (and other sub-zero temp winter states). That reason being an appreciation for 30 degrees i.e. cold days that aren’t FREEZING days.

Tonight’s cruise down the Greenway and around Isles felt comfortable in tights, a light wool layer and wind-resistant quarter zip, at a balmy 28 degrees fahrenheit.

So why do I run? Something to do on cold days.

Why I Run Wednesday #13

The ‘Why I Run Wednesday’ posts are a weekly feature exploring a past, present, or future reason why I run.

“This blog is supposed to be about running AND pizza, but all you talk about is running…” There are pizza places aplenty to indulge at in the Twin Cities. I’ve recently ranked my favorites, but to not keep you in suspense I’ll let you know which one is my favorite

The perfect gift from my sister, complete with a unique sketch.

In the last month, I’ve received THREE Pizzeria Lola gift cards so I suppose you could say it’s not the best kept secret that Lola is #1 in our household. Tonight, Jen and I completely branched out and skipped over our usual order of The Iowan (prosciutto! arugula!) and The Forager (mushrooms galore) for the Korean BBQ (beef short ribs, mozzarella, scallions, arugula, sesame and soy-chili vinaigrette) and The Boise (potato, gruyere, cream, cartelized onion, olive oil and rosemary). As always, AMAZING. The crust itself is worthy of complete meal status; add on high quality, perfectly paired ingredients, toss it all in a HOT wood-fired oven and BAM! Pure magic.

Another favorite, Hello Pizza, shares the same owner, but a modern diner style all of its own. The relaxed, pizza by the slice dining made for the perfect early dinner post-LONG run this past Saturday with a big group of family and friendly. Keep your eyes on that pizza prize! 

So why do I run? The pizza. All the pizza.

Why I Run Wednesday #12

The ‘Why I Run Wednesday’ posts are a weekly feature exploring a past, present, or future reason why I run.

Running can be a selfish endeavor. Individuals propelling themselves forward… slowly… quickly… purely in chase of satisfaction. The satisfaction of clearing your head, of accomplishment, taking a break, improving mental and physical health, solitude, or even camaraderie at the cost of time away from non-running family and friends.

Running can be a means of generosity. Volunteers leading groups of new runners who don’t believe they can call themselves runners just yet (have you run before? do you run now? are you walking in hopes of building up to a jog, then just maybe to a faster running cadence? you ARE a runner). Plenty of runners, myself included, simply feel better about themselves for having laced up our shoes and raced out the door for a trek through the neighborhood or through a beautifully tree-lined trail bordered by a massive body of water. And feeling good about yourself almost assuredly means you’re in a better place to be a nice person. Another somewhat inadvertent form of giving through running is by way of races. Proceeds from any given distance (5K’s or shorter through marathons and beyond) are often donated to charitable causes, fundraisers, and non-profit organizations.

I’ll be honest, it’s rare that I’ve registered for a race based on the cause it benefits, if any. Signing up for one that benefits something I vehemently do not believe in? No way. But I have to admit any proceeds of my registration dollars are really just a passive contribution.

Here’s at least one time where that’s changing. In recognition of having been privileged to lead a comfortable life, to a loving family, and to a partnership greater than I could ever have imagined…

Scrolling through my Facebook feed a couple days ago, a reflection posted by an acquaintance reignited the intense emotion I feel at any mention of an issue that stirs me at my core. That issue is violence against women. This week the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Woman (MCBW) released their annual Femicide Report. Not only does the report share the shocking stat that at least 34 Minnesotans were murdered in 2015 as a direct result of domestic violence, it also shares the names, faces, and stories in remembrance of those killed by a current or former intimate partner or may have been in the midst of intervening. Admittedly, I cannot wrap my head around this fully.

But here’s what I can do–in memory of all those people killed because of domestic violence last year in Minnesota alone, I’ve donated $31 to the MCBW. Growing up, my mom always placed one extra candle on our birthday cakes for “one to grow on”. Instead of candles, I gave thirty dollars to match my age and miles I plan to run in celebration of my 30th birthday, plus one to grow on… a metaphor in moving forward as a community that removes horrific violence as an option in conflict.

So why do I run? Because it reminds me of my good fortune in life and provides a means–loosely or directly–to pay it forward.

Why I Run Wednesday #11

The ‘Why I Run Wednesday’ posts are a weekly feature exploring a past, present, or future reason why I run.

Why I Run Wednesday, week 11 and already feeling uninspired with a topic. A partial truth. The real issue is feeling anxious–incredibly anxious–about the upcoming birthday run.

Only 10 days away from running 30 miles, a distance I have never run nor one I have come close to in over a year. It’s not that I haven’t been training, it’s that I don’t know if I’ve trained enough… or if I’ve based my training a little too heavily on completing my last marathon on a “long run” of six miles (due to nursing an overuse injury that thwarted training but didn’t stop my stubbornness from completing a race I had registered for months in advance).

I mentioned in WIRW #10 that Jen and I are reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly in tandem. As an average dedicated runner, I know it’s tough to console us. Whatever happens happens is reasonable in theory, but it takes until after the big event to truly become believable. This morning though, Jen reminded me, “hey, you’re daring greatly you know.” My internal gut reaction went something like this, “should’ve prepared more… should figure out the details more fully… should have just gone with a 30K (18.64 miles) to celebrate turning 30…” In sum, a lot of ‘shoulds’ that are taking up too much space.

So here I am, jotting down what I find completely overwhelming about turning 30, which has nothing to do with the years, but everything to do with the miles and a fear of failing miserably at a somewhat arbitrary goal I’ve set for myself.

3.0 Kilometers

Let’s clear out that negative space with only a 3K (a mere 1.86 miles) worth of shame…

1K: Unconventional training (only 20-35 miles of running per week)
2K: Nagging injury (this thing with my leg, it continues to be a bother even after chiro/PT/soft-tissue/rest/etc. that is more irritated with speed work, and more manageable with longer/slower efforts)
3K: Just plain feeling overwhelmed with Ultra Birthday

30 Miles

On to the good stuff. Here’s to vulnerability with 30 miles worth of gratitude and being present practice…

Miles 1-9: These first nine reasons are for each of tonight’s unexpectedly great miles. First of all, the temps were ABOVE zero and secondly, I didn’t plan to run nine miles but they sure added up nicely and averaged at sub-Ultra Birthday goal pace.
Mile 10: I had approximately five minutes to get ready after tonight’s run before heading to Five Watt, a coffee shop in South Minneapolis. I opted for a shower over throwing together dinner, so the delicious, flaky, just enough butter spinach and cheese croissant, washed down with a well-made chai made for the perfect post-run refill.
Mile 11: Speaking of food, I day dream about pizza and smoothies will I run. Lots of pizza and smoothies.
Mile 12: Finding a little bit of humor in startling pedestrians as I burst by through the snow, as they take up the full width of the sidewalk and ignore my warning that I plan to pass them.
Mile 13: New shoes. I picked up a pair of the Altra Lone Peak 2.0 with NeoShell technology (waterproof!) and a rugged outsole ideal for wintry road conditions.
Mile 14: New pants. Windproof and snug pants from Sporthill, with a pocket that holds an iPhone in place.
Mile 15: New top. Just this past weekend I decided on the top layer for the birthday run; the Brooks Drift 1/2 Zip. A windproof layer that pairs nicely with a wool base layer.
Mile 16: Okay, enough about running apparel. I realized Ultra Birthday is my goal, and I am reminding myself that working toward the goal is something to be proud of.
Mile 17: 30 for 30 on 30, in the winter. I Googled “running 30 miles for 30th birthday” and many of these 30 year olds either have summer birthdays or live in warmer climates. The midwest in the winter just adds another element of awesome (and unpredictability) to the fun run.
Mile 18: Clear paths ahead. I am super grateful that the bike paths are typically cleared not long after it snows. Hence, my chosen route around Harriet, Calhoun, and Isles in ten days.
Mile 19: Hey, I love running.
Mile 20: 10 miles away from completing my first ultra!
Mile 21: I find a lot of joy in planning my pre-race breakfasts and January 30 will be no different. Since I get to choose my run start time (at the late hour of 10am), I’ll have plenty of time to consume a filling pre-“race” meal.
Mile 22: Water. Sooo refreshing as the miles pile on.
Mile 23: Turmeric. I am grateful for the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric.
Mile 24: Foam roller. Possibly the #1 recovery tool.
Miles 25-30: Friends and family at the start. Friends and family at the finish.

So why do I run? For the ultra birthday celebration!

Why I Run Wednesday #10

The ‘Why I Run Wednesday’ posts are a weekly feature exploring a past, present, or future reason why I run.

Several books about running and nutrition on a shelf
My running-centric bookshelf

Not only has running led me to writing, it has renewed my interest in reading for leisure. I’ll pick up nearly any book about running, more often than not non-fiction, ranging from biography to nutrition to training plans.

During a 24-hour community bike ride (Powderhorn 24 in Minneapolis) we were asked to name our favorite recent book. I answered “Hanson’s Marathon Method!” and the volunteer responded, slightly perplexed, “Well I haven’t heard that one yet tonight…” To this day that remains my go-to response since I actually applied what I learned in that book. Specifically, I ran my fastest ever marathon following the book’s instructions (fun fact: longest suggest run is only 16 miles. An intense, difficult, grueling 16 miles not far off goal marathon pace).

Right now I happen to have a stack of running books to devour, a mix of Christmas gifts and library finds. Since Jen and I decided to start reading Daring Greatly at the same time so we could have our own ‘book club,’ I am mixing in these running reads on a somewhat random basis:

  • Running Your First Ultra by Krissy Moehl (recommended on a trail running podcast)
  • The Ultra Mindset by Travis Macy (selected on a whim while browsing Barnes & Noble to use a gift card)
  • Slow Burn: Burn Fat Faster By Exercising Slower by Stu Mittleman (suggested by my chiropractor, so I reserved a copy at the library)

I most recently read:

  • To Be a Runner: How Racing Up Mountains, Running with the Bulls, or Just Taking On a 5-K Makes You a Better Person (and the World a Better Place) by Martin Dugard (I struggled with this one; the read was easy but I am not sure if I’d really get along well with the author and the entire book is about what running means to him… Which is also awkward to think that since I could see my entire blog taking the form of a similar-style book…)
  • Running on Air by Bud Coates (yes, you really can learn to breath better)

So why do I run? For the good reads.

Why I Run Wednesday #9

The ‘Why I Run Wednesday’ posts are a weekly feature exploring a past, present, or future reason why I run.

First, a shout-out to my parents because it is *both* their birthdays today (yes same day, different years).

Trail running shoes in the snow
Running through the snow

The idea for #9 came after jumping out of bed Tuesday morning following a night of awful dreams. Possibly sparked by feeling anxious about the logistics of getting in a run after work and before the evening’s dinner plans. So I decided at the last minute, “I’m gonna run, now!” In the summer, that’s not a huge deal since it takes a couple minutes to throw on a simple layer of clothes and it’s daylight or real close.

The winter is another story. Multi-layer so as to be not too cold nor too hot, and then we add in the non-daylight (headed out around 5:30 a.m.) factor, and it’s intimidating–safety-wise and otherwise. But I threw on my new Sporthill Callaghan tights (proving to be the perfect winter running investment), a light wool long-sleeve and a lime green reflective Brooks jacket, and off I went through downtown Minneapolis.

It’s a little crazy to hop out of bed, bundle up, run around outside in the cold, freezing temps, “only” to come home and scurry around to get ready for work. Another example of tempting the extremes came tonight when I opted to literally run to a staff meeting for my extra part-time job (conveniently at a run specialty shop so at least two others were also decked out in running gear). I left myself just enough time to make it there in an hour. Fortunately the traffic lights, not-too-slippery sidewalks, and my body were all in cooperation for the jaunt through the falling snow.

Speaking of a little crazy, I have *officially* announced my 30th birthday plan, which is to run 30 miles (on my golden birthday at that). Leaving behind my 20s? No problem when I have 30 miles of running to focus on!

Sure there are FAR more extreme athletes, humans, animals, and events out there, but running in my life provides just enough of an extreme outlet. After all, this is how I run.

So why do I run? Because running provides the rewarding, awesome, difficult, and amazing extremes.