My {Running} Life in the Midwest

My Running Life

I’ve pretty much stuck to recipes and food on this blog (I am a dietitian, after all, and food is near and dear to my heart), but surprisingly enough, I have other interests as well. Not only do I love to cook, bake, and everything related to food, I love to run. No really, I’m not kidding (and my husband and friends can attest to this). I really do love to run. Call me crazy (I do myself), but that’s just how I roll.

So, because running is my other passion and because being physically active in some shape or form is number 5 on my guidelines, I thought I’d share with you a little bit more about what brought me to where I am today…in terms of my running habits, that is.

I actually think it’s quite funny that I somehow turned into such an avid runner during my late teens/early 20’s. If you would have said that to my 15-year-old self, I wouldn’t have been too convinced. And if you told myself then that I’d be doing a marathon in 10 years…No way would I believe that. Heck, I wouldn’t have believed myself just three years ago.

Anyway, back to my non-running high school days. I dreaded the one mile we had to run every fall and spring in PE. I wasn’t that girl that ran a lap and walked the remaining laps…I could hold my own. But my times definitely weren’t anything to brag about and were certainly no where close to breaking 7 minute miles. Even when I decided to join cross country my senior year (peer-pressure at its finest), running 2.5 miles at a meet was far enough. Six miles in a practice and I thought I had accomplished the biggest feat. But running 26 miles voluntarily? I wouldn’t have ever dreamed it was possible.

I guess after cross country (even with all the dreaded early morning and cold practices), I must’ve gotten the running bug and it stuck with me for the long haul. I found it to be a good stress reliever for me during my college days and an excuse to put away the books for an hour. After running, it felt like all my projects and papers that needed to be done were just a little bit more manageable. Even now, Philip knows when I just need to get out for a run. :) It clears my head and gives me a long time to just think, ponder, and let my mind wander away from the daily tasks I need to do. It’s probably where the idea of this blog initially came to be, actually. It makes sense why people feel so much better after getting some activity in—it’s those endorphins, I tell ya! They’re your body’s natural feel-good neurotransmitters and they do a great job at it.

On the flip side, I’m a pretty competitive gal, but not so good with hand-eye coordination. Running fit the bill! Like everybody for their first race, I was so nervous for my first ever 5k. My goal: To finish. Well, I soon realized that I could do that, no problem. As I started to realize I actually wasn’t half bad at running (could I actually call myself a runner?), I started looking for longer races and went from 5k’s to 10k’s, slowly improving my times with each race. Once those weren’t quite cutting it for me, I was finally convinced to sign up for my first half marathon in 2011 and even joined a running club to help me train. During training, I was running up with the guys at the front of the pack and that’s when I realized to myself—Okay, I guess I can call myself a runner.

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And that’s why I’ve been so excited about the long runs I’ve been able to do the past few weeks! Here’s what I’ve been training for:

Madison Half Marathon: May 24 & 25

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I’ve done two half marathons and a 25K (15 mile run) now, so I thought I’d add on an additional challenge by doing a 10K the night before the half marathon and participate in the “Conquer the Capital 19.3 Challenge.” I’m excited for this race since I haven’t done a major race in Madison, yet and this one seemed perfect since it starts and ends in our Capital Square.

Wisconsin Triterium Triathlon: June 28

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I’ve always thought about doing a triathlon, just to cross it off my bucket list, but I never thought I’d jump right in and do an Olympic-sized one! To be honest, I’m a little scared for the mile swim, 26 mile bike ride, and 10k run. A few other friends in my small group signed up for it, so the only logical thing for me to do was to sign up right along with them, right? I can’t let them have all the fun without me…riiight, Kara. I’m by no means an avid swimmer or biker, but I can do them and enjoy doing those things, too. For this one, just finishing it (like I say about all races I’m new at, right?) is my goal. I don’t think this one will give me the bug to keep doing more triathlons (just think of all the extra equipment and supplies that would entail), but who knows!

Chicago Marathon: October 12

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Yep, I’m doing my first marathon in October! Once I realized half marathons weren’t quite the challenge they used to be, I decided I wanted to finally cross a marathon off my list, too. This year is the first year that the Chicago Marathon had a lottery registration, meaning you didn’t know if you would get chosen to run or not until mid-April. Since I hadn’t run a timed-marathon before, I had to go into the lottery…and I got picked! When I got the email, I was excited, but also thought, “oh no, I have no excuse now.” :) For this one, my goal is not “just to finish” and I’m excited to get training.

I think that’ll keep me busy for awhile. :) I’ll keep you all posted on how my races go—the successes and the challenges.

So far, things have been great and I’ve been injury free. Praising God for that as I’ve had some minor injuries before in the past. I’ve never really eaten any goo, jellybeans, or any other quick-energy source during my runs in the past, but thought that I probably will if I’m going to make it through these longer races.

So far, I’ve tried BeetElite and Clif Shot Bloks.

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At work, we sell BeetElite, which is a special formula of concentrated beet juice. I’ve talked about my love for beets and about the benefits of beet juice on here before and I know it’s a natural way of providing more oxygen to your muscles. I thought I’d give it a try to see if I could actually tell a difference. It’s nice that it’s concentrated (I only need a half cup instead of a liter of beet juice…the less of it the better since you definitely won’t find me sipping on it) and I don’t have to take it hours before I want to run—just a half hour.  It could just be a placebo effect, but I think it does help me run longer before I start feeling fatigued, plus I’ve noticed that I have a lot more energy throughout the whole day. In the past, after running for two hours straight, I pretty much just wanted to sleep the whole afternoon, but I haven’t felt the need to do that. I have a few samples left, so I’ll keep using them for now.

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The Shot Bloks I grabbed for no other reason than I wanted a chew rather than goo and the flavor looked good. And the flavor is good! It’s pretty much just a large fruit snack, which makes sense since it’s pretty much just sugar. But it’s just what I need at mile 12 to give me an extra boost. I’m not trying to sell either one of these products, but these are just what I’ve been using and have liked. If you have any other recommendations, I’d gladly take them! 

All this to say, as a dietitian, I sometimes have to catch myself from always educating people on the benefits of eating healthy, because staying active (even if it’s not running!) is just as important in being healthy. So if you think you’re too busy (or stressed because of how busy you are), take some time for your body and let your endorphins be released—I guarantee you’ll feel a lot better afterwards.

 

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