Melissa's Blog


Hello! I am Melissa, wife to Mike and mother to Hailey and Macy. I have struggled with my weight my entire life, yo-yoing between 113 and 185 pounds. I found running about six years ago, and it has completely changed my life - physically and mentally. I like competing against myself and challenging myself with every workout I do and every race I run. I've gone from not even being able to run for even two minutes... to running a 6:52 mile at my best - which was the 2009 Minnesota Mile. I hope to continue reaching goals and pushing myself to perform better each day.

September 13, 2009: Minnesota Mile

Hey everyone! It's me, your sporadic blog-friend. Sorry I am not more consistent. It seems I do well for a while and then fall out of the habit. Guess I have been spending more time on Facebook than anything!  I have also become friends with some of you fine folks from Northland Runner on FB. Anyone else who feels like it, please look me up.


Anyway, back to the reason for my entry.  This morning was mine and Mike's 3rd annual running of the Minnesota Mile. We ran in 2007 the first year they did it - I came in at 7:27 and Mike did 6:14. We both won third place in our age divisions that year, which was very exciting.


Last year, I had not trained much.  Mike, true to form, beat his previous year's time by coming in at 6:10.  I did my mile in 7:41, which was not bad considering I hadn't trained a lot.  I was okay with it. No awards.


But this year, we had high hopes for our times.  I have been practicing my "fast mile" 2-3 times per week for the last year. I run 6 days per week, but on Monday, Wednesday and sometimes Friday - I would run the first mile as fast as I could.  I've steadily improved over the last year...for a while I had a goal of hitting 7:13, which was as fast as my treadmill would go.  Then I went outside last week and did a 6:57.


This year for the MN Mile, my goal was to come in under 7 minutes.  Even though I'd been able to hit 6:57 on a practice run, it still didn't seem real. No one had ever seen it or documented it.  It wasn't "official."  I didn't know if I would be able to duplicate it.


I was so nervous heading downtown for the race this morning.  Does anyone else get sickly nervous like that??? I hate it!  I wish I could calm down, but I can't.  It doesn't matter if the race is one mile or 26 miles. It really seems to affect my performance.  I spend the first few minutes of the race doing self-talk and trying to get my heart to slow down.


I was wearing my heart rate monitor, and in the car, driving downtown, my HR was 90 already. Ugh. Once I got to the starting line, it climbed to 150 as I stood, not moving, at the starting line!  Is that NORMAL??? "Calm down, relax, breathe deeply," Mike kept telling me.


Once I was "in it," I knew I would be okay.  The horn blew at 9:20 and we were off - and it was just me and the thoughts in my head.  "Take it easy.  Breathe.  You can do this.  You're in it.  This is what you do.  What you've worked for.  It will all be over in 7 minutes and then you can revel in the glory.  Make it count!!!"


Before I knew it, I hit Lake Avenue and saw the 1/2 mile clock.  It said 3:15. I figured it must be a mistake.  I actually said "HOLY!" Loudly, when I saw it. 


Up ahead was the finish arch already!  Now my self-talk changed a bit - "Don't slow down now.  You can't afford to slow down. It's almost over. Seconds count.  It's not that bad. You're going to nail it."


I crossed the finish line in 6:52. I could not believe my eyes!!!  I had worked so hard for this moment.  Is this such a big deal to other people, too?  Maybe it was because I have always been unathletic and never known to be good at sports. I have only been running 6 years.


Best of all, I won FIRST place in my division!!!  I couldn't believe that, either.  The last time I won first place in ANYTHING was in 1983 when I won the fourth grade spelling bee. No joke!


My husband did awesome as well - coming in at 5:59. His goal was to get under 6 and he did it!


Now, I want to ask all of you pros... how do I get better?  Where do I go from here? I cannot wait for the next race!

May 30, 2009: Where I've Been

Hey everyone! I haven't been here in a long time.  Been running a lot, though! Where to begin... well, let's see.  I took about six months off from racing after the Gobble Gallop... not consciously, really, it just happened.  ( I was still running my usual 4-5 miles per day, and started G'Mas training in Feb - but for some reason I had a freakish aversion to doing actual was like I was afraid of it!)


 I came back out of the woodwork for the Mother's Day 5K race which was around the middle of May (can't remember the date).  I was terribly nervous before the race started, which no one understands, but I was. It was cool, drizzly and chilly...but a good run.  In my head I was thinking about how awesome it would be if I could finish in under 24 minutes.  On the treadmill, I was actually able to do a 23:20.  I imagined in my head, as I often do, that all the adrenaline would just propel me into a personal best. (which it did...I guess...just not the one I had hoped for:) Well, I pushed it to my limit...and in the end finished in 24:59.  I was 21st overall and thought that was pretty cool.  Also, I shaved about a minute forty off my Gobble Gallop time!

Onto other news...Grandma's marathon training. We've been hard at it since mid-February, very diligent, not skipping runs, working like little gerbils on running wheels. My husband and I have done two full Grandma's together, in addition to that I did one more prior to us getting together. Our best time so far has been 4:55. We do not enjoy doing full marathons, yet we keep telling ourselves that IF ONLY we could get better conditions, we could improve. So, this year our goal was 4 hours or less. We got up to 18 miles without many problems, and were pretty much around our goal time during the training runs. Then came the 20 miler, which was disastrous and we ended up walking the last mile. UGH! It seems like I get to a certain point and it's just over.  I can do great for up to 15 miles or so...and then I just deteriorate. It doesn't seem to matter how much I train, how great my diet is, how hydrated I am, if the weather is perfect or whatever.  It seems I am just not doing much improving when it comes to the full marathon. If we did it this year, we'd be on track to finish in 5 hrs...our usual. Been there, done that.


I've also run two halfs... one in Rochester where we did a 2:09, then last year in Duluth I ran the half in 2:11. Well, during our training runs this year, Mike and I have been running 13 miles in around 1:55. So, we have decided we're doing the half instead. We were automatically registered because of doing the Minnesota Mile last year.


I feel somewhat relieved... a little disappointed... but excited too because I feel we can actually push it and get a decent time, instead of what we do in the full marathon which is to do pretty well for 15 miles, do ok for the next 5...then complete the remaining 6 in terrible pain, wishing for it to be over.  I keep telling myself I have conquered the full race and should not feel bad. Also, I have a time written on my vision board next to my bed which says 1:58:32 - that was what I WANTED to do last year in the half... and it didn't happen.


I think it will this year! Focusing on shorter races seems to be more realistic for me. Today we ran 13.1 miles in 1:59 and that included a few minute break at the halfway point.  It felt great and we were able to go about the rest of the day without limping around!


Hope everyone elses training is going well!

March 1, 2009: Made it Through Alive

Well, we survived our ten-mile run yesterday!


Earlier in the day, we drove down to Center City, MN to visit Hazelden and attend an open house for their graduate studies program.  All I need to do is come up with $24,000 and I'm all set. LOL  Actually, I can take out MORE student loans, and be paying them off until I'm 90 (instead of 85, at the rate I'm currently going) but that is a story for another day.


So we're driving back from Center City, with baby in tow - who slept and was quite amicable throughout the 200 mile round trip.  We stopped at Perkins for lunch. I was starving, having only had a handful of Kashi hours earlier. I ordered a side salad and a cheese quesadilla, ate 3/4 of the quesa. Mike got a "hungry man" breakfast...eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, pancakes...which he devoured with zeal.  Macy had stuff from our plates... along with her proverbial mashed potatoes.


After our "feast" I was awfully sleepy - although I didn't eat everything and was not STUFFED by any means. My usual habit is to let Mike drive and settle in for a little nap.  LOL.  I know it's not fair because he was drowsy, too, but I couldn't help it.  My head kept bobbing until I crashed for about 40 mins. Yes, I had drooled on myself.


When I woke up, we bantered back and forth, trying to iron out the details of our run.  Should we let Hailey

(our 14-yr old) watch the baby while we run? Should we run separately? Run tomorrow?  Decisions, decisions. 


We finally decided fourteen-year-old would be okay for 1.5 hours with the baby.  We gave her the rundown of rules, don't carry her up the stairs, no texting or computer, give her your FULL attention, next-door neighbor knows the situation if you have an emergency, don't leave her unattended for even ONE minute... etc, etc, etc. Call our cell if you have a problem.


We got all geared up and headed out the door at 4 p.m, heading east on Grand Avenue. We live in West Duluth and I often run down Grand, I know exactly where my mile markers are. Taco John's is one mile. The grease smelled pretty good there...LOL although my half-full stomach was alerting me to the fact that quesadillas do not equal a great pre-ten-mile-run meal.  Mike's stomach was WAY full... we both lamented our side aches for the first two miles, but once we reached Stadium Lanes, we had burned some of it off, or down to a manageable level, at least!


Got to 24th Ave. W, three miles down. I know for myself I do not feel well until about 4 miles into a long run.  We went down 24th (felt great running downhill!) to West Superior Street and continued on, trying to avoid all the potholes!  I could see lots of people up ahead crowded in front of the bars. I find the taverns in the Lincoln Park district both pernicious and fascinating. Patrons were out in full force at 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday.  I ran through a cloud of smoke in front of Mitch's, close on Mike's heels in case any questionable characters jumped into my path.  A circle of people were huddled in front of Curly's. I braced myself for the inevitable heckling.  "Excuse me, ma'am?" one of them quieried.  I kept my focus, eyes straight ahead.  My admirer's tone turned mocking.  "Work it, girl! Work that body!"  My cheeks flared with embarrassment, but I was not worried because I knew I could outrun them.


Things were uneventful after that...trudged up the hill by the Duluth Gospel Tabernacle...then the sidewalk ran out.  Around by M&H, things got harrowing.  There was no sidewalk, (what sidewalk there was was covered in snow, footprints three inches deep and wet slush. We tried running on the side, and each snow hole was so far apart it was like running in tires.  We jumped back into the street, trying to beat the traffic coming down Mesaba and exiting onto West Superior at a high rate of speed.  I found it kind of exciting letting an approaching DTA get perilously close to me before jumping to safety on the shoulder. What fun!


We made it off this obstacle course and continued 2 more blocks to the Radisson, slightly over 5 miles.  We stopped briefly, (just enough to cool down and get VERY cold due to all that sweat) and head back home. It took us just under 44 minutes.


Sun was going down on the way back, cooler, I spent more time in my head, watching the backs of Mike's heels and praying he would not slip (he does not have Yak Trax!).  We ran quietly not talking, and covered 3 miles in 25 minutes.  At that point, I would've gladly thrown in the towel and declared, "eight miles is good enough!" If I had been on a treadmill, I may have jumped off! But we had to get home, right? My feet were wet and the right one was developing a painful blister.  Just two more miles, I kept telling myself. On we trudged.  We reached Taco Johns. I was wishing Mike would turn around and say, "let's walk!" I would've gladly said YES! But he didn't, and on we ran.


Only half a mile left. I wanted to quit SO BAD! My feet hurt, my knee hurt. I was powerfully thirsty!  Just a half mile. I started my "in my head" pep-talks.


"This is what you do.  This is what MATTERS. You can't stop now. Too many people stop when it gets too hard. You are not one of them. It's just a half-mile! That's NOTHING. You're practically done! Soon you will be relaxing in a hot shower reflecting on your success.  This is it.  This is what separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls."


I pushed as hard as I could. Our last three blocks are uphill.  Mike turned to me and said, "C'mon Rums, let's push it."  And push it I did.  I gave it everything I had.  We reached our doorstep in one hour and 32 minutes.


It felt SO GOOD to be done! And we were so proud... considering we ran only FIVE last week and this week it jumped up to TEN!


Last year, we were not running ten miles until we were on week 7 of our training. This year we did it at week two!


I know it had a lot to do with P90X.  Also, (aside from a nasty blood blister on my right foot) I am not feeling too bad today!  I'm proud of myself and keep reflecting on yesterday's great run.


I'll be ready to do it all over again in 6 days!

February 26, 2009: I'm Still Here!

Hello everyone.  I must apologize for my poor blog writing habits.  I signed up with good intentions of my future writing and haven't followed I'm going to get back on track.


Recently a friend added me on Facebook, and said, "I also read your running blog."  And I thought, "WHY?"  Since I never update it... LOL  So that motivated me to get on the stick.


Let's see... I've been running a lot... I only take Sundays off and it's been that way for years.  I haven't done a race in a while.  My last race was the Gobble Gallop in November, and since my husband cut off my dark morning runs outside, I have been downstairs in my basement room on the treadmill every morning at 6 a.m. with old videos and an iPod docking station full of tunes.  I lug my fan downstairs, cursing it every morning. You see, I must sleep with the fan on, because I love the white noise... so each morning I haul it down to the basement. 


My self-created schedule has been like this: Monday, Wednesday and Friday I do the following: jump on the treadmill - turn it up as far as it will go.  This results in a 7:13 mile.  I CAN'T BELIEVE I CAN DO THIS NOW.  Really, my best prior to this, despite my most strident efforts, was 7:27.  The reason I am developing such tremendous cardio enndurance is because of a new program I am doing called P90X.  You may have seen the infomercial on late night TV, or on Direct TV Channel 220.  More on that in a minute.


After running my first intense mile, I let myself walk for about 2 minutes, then run 2 more miles at about 7.5 mph pace.  Then, on Tues, Thurs and Sat, I do a 5K as fast as I can. My best so far has been 23:10. 


On Fridays and Saturdays, I run outside if at all possible...since I don't have to be up as early and it's not dark.  My husband and I started our Grandma's training a couple of weeks ago - and last Saturday was our first "long" run. We are trying to do the intermediate program (always did novice in the past).  We set out on our five-miler running straight into a stiff east wind.  It was soo cold!  My feet felt like blocks of ice for the first mile.  Mike had not run in MONTHS, but true to form he was out ahead of me, setting the pace.  During the last half mile, I poured it on and caught up to him...he later told me he saw me out of the corner of his eye and had to dig deep down to bring it home (and ultimately beat me...haha)


I had not run five miles since doing the Park Point 5-Miler last July!  All my runs after that had been 3-4 miles.  I was proud of how well we did, especially against the wind.


The run was tough and challenging.  I wore my Yak Trax. We finished in 44 mins.  Hmmm.  Not bad. 


This Saturday, the long run jumps up to TEN miles already!  Whoa!


So, we've been doing the P90X program for 34 days now.  Have any of you heard of it? Basically, it's an in-home fitness program (set of DVDs), you get 12 DVDs and work different muscle groups each day.  There are some awesome workouts, plyometrics, core work, legs, abs, everything.  It's based on a concept called muscle confusion where the workout is always changing so your body never plateaus. The first phase of the program is 90 days...but basically you just keep doing it over.


I think this is really going to help me greatly, because in my past marathons I never focused on leg and core strength like I should have, and it really showed. I can tell this program is going to make all the difference in our performance.  It got me to a 7:13 mile!!! I think I could even do better than that, but my treadmill won't go any faster!


Check out my website if you're interested in learning more about P90X or Team Beachbody.


I will be back on Saturday to tell you how our run went...wish us luck on the ten-miler! 

December 13, 2008: Magically Delicious

I get hooked on things.  For a while, it was blueberries mixed with plain yogurt (reminded me of ice cream), then it became raisins by the case, (I liked the little sayings on the inside flap when you open up the box, things like "Study those you admire."  Then my food obsession shifted to steamed cauliflower mashed with Top the Tater.  Right now, it is Triscuits. 


Yes, Triscuits.  Made by Nabisco, come in a box. I try to avoid eating things in boxes... I know there is no such thing as a Triscuit Tree and they do not qualify as a "whole food."  But tell me how something can taste so heavenly, the sweetly weaved little biscuit of grain, lightly salted with some hint of oil, just enough to keep it from being dry.  When I was pregnant, I got a strange and terrible aversion to my beloved whole grain crackers... however I've been back on them and going strong for about five months now, with no end in sight.


My husband does the grocery shopping in our house (God Bless him) and he knows how many boxes of Triscuits I need each week so I will not run out.  (Same thing with Kashi...Cocoa Beach is my favorite). I haven't a clue how many boxes of these staples I need.  I sound spoiled, I know.  What I am sure of is that when I open the pantry they are always there, lined up in all their glory for me to survey. 


My husband had a business trip Thursday morning in the Twin Cities and would not be back until Friday evening.  

Thursday night, I noticed I was dangerously low on my favorite form of sustenance, (Triscuits) however I brushed this revelation aside knowing I could stop by the gas station and pick some up the next morning. (you will rarely find me strolling the aisles of the local Super One... I just hate grocery shopping...)   


Friday morning, I went to a training at work (sans Triscuits) and was too busy to stop by the store. It was a long day and the time after I got out of the training was filled with many errands before I had to pick the baby up from daycare. After I completed the necessities such as banking and a little Christmas shopping, I avoided the dreaded grocery store and opted instead for the more manageable Walgreen's (which Mike and I affectionately call "Walg"), knowing the popular drug store would have my fix.


However, I wasn't looking for drugs inside my hometown Walgreen's.  Instead, I was making a beeline for the dry goods aisle.  Minutes later, I was sitting in the blazer, tearing open a box of grainy goodness and digging in much like an addict who would go into extreme withdrawal if they don't get their rush, like NOW.  The euphoria rose to my head as I chomped a good pile of the quaint little biscuits before I got back on the road.  I felt instant bliss and calmness wash over me and serotonin presumably flooded my brain. Ahhhh...


You may be wondering, what all this Triscuit worshipping has to do with running.  Well, let me tell you.  I quit eating bread...(which was a lovely New England Brown Bread) and we all know runners need carbs  In fact, it has recently dawned on me that I eat hardly ANY carbs (aside from fruit of course) because it seems Triscuits are fulfilling all of my grain needs!  Shocking!  Maybe I need more variety.  Another habit I have is eating Lightly Cinnamon Wheat Thins before I do a long run.  I used to love these little treats... but of course they are loaded with enriched flour so I may as well eat doughnuts or Doritos if I am gonna eat those. Anyway, I do indulge in the deliciousness before a run of any substance, and wouldn't you know those little buggers speedily convert to glucose.  Who needs pasta?


However, Triscuits give me wonderful energy for my workouts.  They've helped me shave a minute off my 5K time this week.  At least, that's what I've been telling myself, pretending my favorite treat is some sort of magical talisman which will propel me through one more workout in the basement room.


Yeah, I haven't been outside in two weeks for a run.  Husband urged me to quit running outside at 6 a.m. which I had been doing for months... he somehow had this revelation that I may be in grave danger doing this, even though I naively embarked on these pitch-black runs with exhiliration, morning after morning.  He approached me a couple of weeks ago after I'd adorned all my winter gear and implored, "please honey, will you run in the basement?"


I guess he is right. It's kind of stupid to think nothing could happen to me.  I have to work out that early in the morning...(6 a.m.) there is no way I will do it if I wait til after work. I am a morning person and I have loads of energy right away that I must tap into.


Thus, hubby made me a crude yet functional workout room in the basement.  There's a partially finished room down there - complete with my treadmill, free weights, iPod and docking station which can be blasted as loud as I want, and TV/VCR/DVD for watching old videos from the 1980's.  So, it's not bad at all... it's just not OUTSIDE.


I DO get to run outdoors on Fridays and Saturdays... days I don't have to get up so early... but for now, (until the clocks jump forward again, I guess) I will be in my little basement room, running a 24 min 5K.  Not bad!


As for the Triscuits... awwww I hope no one is going to tell me they are super bad for me!  I'll probably get bored of them sooner or later anyway.