I represent all the mothers out there who, like me, have discovered a precious gift in running. I have also discovered that coming in last in a race is not the absolute worst thing in the world! I run for the sheer love of it, for the health benefits of it, and for the positive impact it has on my girls. Welcome to my blog!
April 5, 2008: Race draw prizes
March 30, 2008: Honduras
Hola~ Here are some pics from a few short runs and walks I went on while in Honduras. What a beautiful country it was! The temp was usually between 80-96 degrees, which I loved. We came home to a 110 degree temp change!
March 16, 2008: I'm back, baby!
Yes, Jen is back! For those of you who realized I had not written a blog in recent months (all 3 of you :o) ), I recently returned from a bit of a hiatus, in Central America. I spent much of January and February preparing for a medical mission trip to Honduras. Our group of 25 was in Honduras for 10 days, holding medical clinics for some very, very poor people there. I have one thing to say, we really have it good here in the US, and should be thankful for each and every blessing in our lives. It was a life-changing experience for me. I will eventually be putting some pictures on my blog of some runs I was able to do while there (thanks Kris for the help!). It is a beautiful country--very mountainous, and the people there are so grateful and sincere. They are very hard working, and friendships and family mean the world to them. I look forward to sharing my pictures and stories with whoever is interested!
First of all, I want to add a bit of info to my reply to Kris's glucosamine chondroitin entry. I took it for 11 days before I had the reaction to it. Then, boom, I end up with a very quick, and quite scary, total body reaction to it. My whole body swelled, and I had hives all over. Even with a combo of Benadryl and Claritin around the clock, it took exactly 11 days to reverse and for me to feel normal again (however, I likely slept through 5 or 6 of those days with all that Benadryl). I have no food allergies whatsoever, and love to eat seafood. However, my MD thought the high dose of shellfish crumbly stuff over the course of that many days just was more than I could take. Now I really am careful with eating seafood, because allergies can develop out of nowhere sometimes. Anyone else hear of issues like this? Quite possibly could be one of my hidden talents, developing strange allergies???
I thought the blog about the smells we encounter on our runs was so funny. I have run past many a carcass in my 2 1/2 yrs of running. Skunks, deer, unidentifiable furry somethings...Ironically, just tonight I was reading the, er, um, pause--pause...OK, I WAS READING THE MN CONSERVATION VOLUNTEER MAGAZINE, OK???!!! There is an article in there on just that, the smells we encounter while outside. I thought it was very interesting, so here is what it said, word for word, so as not to be sued. Hey, if I do get sued, Kris--you'd help me out with your 8 mill, right?
Question: Why does the air smell so refreshing on my early morning walks around the pond by my home?
Answer: University of MN climatologist Mark Seeley says if the air is quiet overnight, cooler air can become trapped beneath a layer of warmer air. Trapped along with it are the fragrances coming from the soil and vegetation. Your brain interprets the fragrance as freshness. As the sun heats the earth's surface and breezes pick up during daytime, the layers begin to mix and the concentrated scent dissipates. Seely notes that this also explains why hunting dogs often are able to track better early in the day.
(March--April 2008 issue)
I guess, according to this, it would make sense to think that certain smells, good or bad, may be stronger in the early morning? So, we should all run the routes that are more carcass-prone later on in the day, I guess. What a subject.
My cousin Mae and I did the Steve Chadwick Walk/Run From the Cold 5k on the Lakewalk Saturday. It was the second year I have done it. Again, it was a beautiful, sunny morning, and the lake was gorgeous. I live about 45 min from Duluth, so I jump at any chance I get to run/walk along the Lakewalk. It was a nice small race, and is done for a very good cause. I love the coffee mugs they give out. I drink a lot of Starbucks, so I enjoy using the mugs and remembering the races they go with. I am thinking of getting some coffee mugs printed up like that for the Ma & Pa Kettle Run/Walk in August. I want to do some different, fun giveaways like that. One funny thing about the race was during the walk, I ran into a friend I made while on the Honduras trip! She lives in Duluth, and I met her for the first time on the trip. So there I see her days later in Duluth. Funny how small this world is! I think I saw you too, wildknits (don't know your real name, sorry!!!). If it was you running past me, good job! Did you enjoy the run?
I will write more and put up some pics when I finally win the battle of "Jen vs. technology." Adios!
December 12, 2007: Jingle Bell Run, AquaJogger
Duluth's first annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk 5k was last Saturday, 12-08 at 9:30 am. Due to the organizers wanting to keep the course entirely on UMD campus grounds, it was actually about 1/2 mile short of a 5k, but no big deal. When I left home for the race, I had -23 below on my Explorer guage, without wind. My dad meant well when he warned me, "Don't freeze your lungs!" But I had to laugh to myself how it reminded me of the little boy on "A Christmas Story" being warned not to shoot his eye out! I dress very warm and probably over-plan and bring tons of extra stuff, and I've run in the winter a few years now, so my well-intentioned dad did not have to worry about me freezing my lungs. Anyhow, when I got up to Dululth, it had warmed up to about -10 below, which was good. There were only around 30 people I think in all, which was fine with me. I was happy to be part of a small, first time race like ours this last summer. It was for the Arthritis Foundation, so a good cause too. My grandma has terrible arthritis, so this cause has a lot of meaning to me. Many people had bells tied to their shoelaces, or wore them pinned elsewhere. That was really neat to hear as you ran along. The course was mostly on sidewalks around UMD, some slippery spots, had to be careful going down the one hill. I think some ran/walked inside too, but I'm not sure how many. Overall, I think they did a really good job with the race. They had a lot of good food at the end, even Christmas cookies! Because there were only 30 or so of us there, we all got medals, since they had "2007" on them. That made me happy, but I kind of felt like I didn't really deserve it because I am pretty positive I would not have placed in my age group. Well, I am thankful for it regardless! They gave out awesome draw prizes too, the best I have ever seen in a race! Bed and Breakfast stays, huge gift certificates to the Athlete's Foot, nice coffee mugs, and even a new car! Ok, that's not true, just checking if you're awake. But they did have great draw prizes, and really huge Christmas stockings filled with prizes too. I thought the long sleeve cotton shirts were also very nice. Overall I thought it was a very nice and fun race. My girls and the rest of our running group wanted to come, but it didn't work out for anyone else. I know they will all try again next year.
My right outer hip/buttock area was a bit sore, so I am thinking maybe a bursitis from compensating with the healing of the left hip over the past months....I don't know, or sciatic problems? Grrrrr. But I made a decision and went to Duluth Running Co. after the race and bought an AquaJogger, which I have been contemplating for some time now anyway. I do occasional water running workouts at the pool in town, and I have always just used a water noodle under my arms to keep me up in the deep end. Or else I have just used nothing and tried to do running that way, which is harder and less effective I think because you wobble all over. I really think if you do a water workout right, it is very beneficial and of course great for healing because it is impact free. I usually do 30 second bursts of running (in place) as fast as I can, with a 30 second rest, for a total of 30-45 minutes. My way of doing it is more a substitute for a tempo workout I suppose, but I have definitely seen good results and know it has worked to keep me in shape in the past. I went to the pool today to try this thing out. I loved it! I will never go back to the noodle! It worked well and I think I got a pretty good workout for my first time trying to use it. I did about 45 minutes total. You do really have to have it strapped on TIGHT like they say, so that was interesting...nothing like having a big black band strapped super tight across your belly while wearing a swimsuit. Good thing the pool I use is fairly non-populated at the times I go. The AquaJogger came with a CDrom type thing that I have not watched, and an instruction booklet. The booklet was very helpful and also described many other ways you can exercise in the pool with the AquaJogger. Does anyone out there use one of these? Anyone have the Aquafit Barbells or the AquaRunner foot things? I was thinking of getting the barbells for more arm resistance, but don't know how they would be. Well, I think I may be looking into a month pass at the pool to save money, and doing some more cross training for now.
November 29, 2007: Just Chillin'
I had a really enjoyable run today. I was able to run one of my favorite routes, about a 4.5 mile loop. I have to say, I am so happy to be back at running! I can't say enough how I have missed being able to run regularly. Just being out there running, was really, really fantastic. Brrrrr, cold here on the homefront. I had 11 degrees today as I hit the Munger Trail. Again, I surprised myself and did not overdress. I felt really good, plenty warm. My joints felt a little stiff though, which I can't imagine is a good thing, so that tells me that maybe I should have worn more? I did have two layers of running pants on and I did my normal warm up...As I was going to take a drink from my flask in the last 1/2 mile, I realized that my water had become ice crystals frozen to the sides of the plastic flask, and that the cover was completely frozen shut. Winter running in Minnesota, we sure have missed you!
I know some of you out there really do prefer running in this weather, and I can't say I totally blame you...since I started running in the winter for the first time two years ago, I have definitely developed an appreciation for the beauty out there on a cold, snowy day...a calm, cold day with snowflakes gently falling to the ground around you can be like running in a fantasy land. We are all so lucky to be runners here in MN, where we have four distinctly different seasons. Part of what has made running so enjoyable to me over the past 2 1/2 yrs is what I see out there on a run. I love running my same few routes over different seasons. For example, the river that I run over in the summer, gurgles and rushes under the bridge so loudly, I always smile to myself as if it's cheering me on as I cross it's path. Today, that same river is starting to crust up on top with ice sheets, and it seems to be getting less and less enthusiastic as I cross. I love that about running. In all seasons. Even when I run alone, I am not fully alone. I see my trails and paths and routes as "friends" in a weird sort of way. I think runners understand that. I recognize the little changes in a ditch or road or a missing tree by the trail since my last run there. I know the big old crack in the sidewalk that I always have to be mindful of or I will be sent sprawling... I know where the lavender grows in some person's garden along my route, and as I brush past it, I inhale it's calming scent the rest of the way on my run. Even today, as I ran past, I found myself smelling of lavendar as I continued on.
I love to run. I love so much about running! I am not fast. I don't have to be fast. I will never win a first place medal in a big race, and I will run very contentedly knowing that fact. I love so much about every run I go on...the effort that it takes to do it, the sweat, the weather around me, the sound of my feet hitting the ground and my breath coming in steady huffs...I love the "me time" I get when I run. I love the animals and critters I see on my runs. I love how I feel during a run (usually!) and after a run. I love keeping track in my journal how every run has gone, the route, the weather, how I felt...and I love looking back at all the pages upon pages of effort, nature, cross training, races, crazy weather runs, "woo hoo" runs, and even the not so good runs. They all make up my journey. And I am very thankful for my journey as a runner.