Tuesday, January 19, 2010

St. Paul

Sunday was a day of firsts! It was Deitra (right) and my first time visiting Mim (left) in Minnesota. I also went rock climbing for the first time (awesome!), and it was our first time running together as a group. Mim is a seasoned runner and has completed several marathons. I started running in August 2008, and Deitra started running last week! The three of us running together was like a dream come true!

Hopefully we'll be running marathons together in the future! Like, maybe the Chicago marathon next fall. Right, Deitra? :)


I was lucky enough to spend my birthday weekend with two very close friends: Mim and Deitra. We met several years ago while attending Bowling Green State University for our Master's degrees in sociology and have been inseparable ever since (despite the physical distance between us). Mim lives in St. Paul with her husband, and Deitra lives in downtown Chicago. Last, Friday morning I took the train to meet up with Deitra. Before flying to St. Paul together Saturday morning, I was able to squeeze in a 6-mile run along Chicago's Lake Shore Path. Deitra lives in an ideal location, nestled a block and a half from Navy Pier and a block and a half from Michigan Avenue. I started out the run with a loop around Navy Pier and then ran several miles north along the water into Lincoln Park before turning around and heading back to her apartment. Chicago's lake shore is probably my absolute favorite place to go running, and I never miss a chance when visiting Deitra. The view is spectacular.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The last few days have been great!

Sunday was a perfect day. I took the dog on a nice and slow 3 mile run around Lake Lansing. I was still a little tired from my 7.5 miles the day before, so I kept things at a relaxed pace. Although I don't normally listen to Dave Matthews Band, I discovered that Crash is the perfect album for slow, easy runs. After we got home, Seth and I went to the YMCA, and I swam laps for 40 minutes. I struggle with my breathing and still don't have much endurance in the pool, but swimming is slowly getting easier. I love it! After all of that hard work, we spent our afternoon relaxing and watching Inglorious Basterds. I couldn't ask for a better day.

I've decided that Mondays will be my official strength training day, so I hit the gym yesterday morning before work. A personal trainer showed me how to use all of the equipment correctly and set me up with a strength training regimen- including how many pounds, sets and reps for each machine. She was so helpful! I really don't enjoy lifting weights, but I realize it's a necessary evil if I want to run long distances injury-free.

Speaking of necessary evils, I signed up for a stretching class on Wednesday nights at the gym. I'm definitely a slacker when it comes to stretching, strength training, and eating before runs.

This morning Julie and I took our dogs up to the Lansing River Trail again for a 4 mile run. It was great! There were none of the expected puppy shenanigans--our dogs ran perfectly with us and were able to focus on running. Of course, every time we stopped, they were pouncing on top of one-another, ready to play. They were adorable.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I've officially lost my mind! I'm considering switching to the full marathon. I've wanted to ever since Julie and I started training for the half. I'm not going to make any decisions until next month, but I'm increasing my weekly mileage just in case.

This morning we had our group long run in Dewitt- 5 miles. Our coach, Bruce, ran with us the whole time, offering words of encouragement and support along the way. He's been such a wonderful supporter, and I am so thankful for this experience. It was great! We kept ourselves at a nice, easy pace. Before we knew it, we were done! It's amazing to see ourselves progress. A few short years ago, I'd get winded climbing the stairs. Now a 5 mile run is no big deal!

Afterward, we had breakfast pastries, bananas, Gatorade, water, and hot cocoa waiting for us inside the Dewitt Memorial Building. I'm not going to lie- I spent the last two miles of our run anticipating the awaiting hot cocoa (with whipped cream)! It's so nice to have a warm home-base where the team can chat, stretch, and snack. I'm so thankful to all of my teammates who so generously supply us all of us with snacks and goodies each week.

Since I'm psychotic and considering switching to the full marathon, when I got home I grabbed the dog and took her for a 2.5 mile run around Lake Lansing. It was tiring but felt good. I plan to continue to add a few extra miles each week until I decide whether to run the half or full marathon.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Race for the Cure!

On May 22, 2010 I will be participating in the 19th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in downtown Detroit in honor of my Aunt Donna, who is currently battling breast cancer. Her strength and courage continue to inspire me. Last year, the race raised over $2 million to support research grants as well as local breast cancer screening and treatment programs. I'm excited to take part in this amazing event!

Younkers Community Day: Support the LLS by Shopping!

On February 13th and 20th, Julie and I will be selling Younkers Community Day coupon booklets for $5 each at the Lansing Mall Younkers store. To purchase, you can also e-mail me at tia.stevens at gmail dot com.

Coupons are good either in stores or online on Saturday, February 27th and can be used at any Younkers, Berger's, Boston Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Elder-Beerman, or Herberger's. You can buy as many as you like, and all proceeds will go toward the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!

They're a great deal. For a $5 donation, you get:
  • A coupon for $10 off an item of $10 or more (you can use up to 5 coupons per transaction)
  • An early bird coupon for 30% off one regular or sale price item until 10am
  • Six coupons for 20% off a regular or sale price item
  • A coupon for 50% off a spring outerwear item
  • A coupon for $20 off a pair of Easy Spirit shoes
  • A coupon for $30 off a pair of Naturalizer shoes
  • A coupon for 55% off kids clothing sets from Nannette, BT Kids, and others
  • A coupon for a Kalorik floor steamer or Haan hand-held steamer for $49.99 (regular $120-150)
  • A coupon for a reversible Living Quarters down-alternative comforter for $21.99 (regular $120-160)

So sore!!

Yesterday I thought I'd spend my "rest" day at the pool. Big mistake! I only swam laps for half an hour, but I woke up sore this morning. My arms hurt. My shoulders hurt, and my hip muscles hurt. I hadn't been swimming since the fall, so it will probably be a few weeks until my muscles get used to it. I plan on spending my Wednesday and Friday rest days swimming laps.

Last night Julie and I went to the Team in Training nutrition clinic at Playmakers. It was amazingly helpful. We learned a lot about the importance of eating the proper foods before runs, staying hydrated during runs, and eating immediately after runs. The two most helpful things I learned were:

  1. On short runs, the body uses glycogen as fuel (carbohydrates stored in the muscles). Athletes build up their glycogen by carb loading. After this energy wears out, usually after about 90 minutes of running, you feel as though you've hit a wall and can't continue. At this point, the body starts depleting blood sugar. To avoid "hitting the wall," the nutritionist recommended that on runs longer than 90 minutes, we should keep a sports drink, some candies, or sports jelly beans handy.
  2. The enzyme, glycogen synthase, that turns carbohydrates from food into glycogen for storage in muscles is most active immediately after exercise. If you ingest carbohydrates soon after exercise, your muscles store two to three times as much glycogen than normal. In addition, ingesting protein along with the carbohydrates increases the body's insulin response, and as a result, your body can store even more glycogen. Researchers suggest that you ingest one gram of protein for every 4 grams of carbohydrates.
Last year, while training for the Bayshore marathon, I drank a Slim-Fast shake (or two) after each long run. They not only provided the carbohydrates and protein my muscles needed, but at 240 calories each, they also replaced some of the calories I had burned. The nutrition clinic reminded me of the importance of refueling after long runs (with more than just a hot cup of tea), and I will definitely start drinking them again!

This morning I took the dog for a 2 mile run at the trails. I usually spend my short runs working on speed, which didn't happen. My legs were tired, and I'm just happy I finished.

Fundraising is also going well! Thanks to my supporters, I have raised over $450, and I am one-quarter of the way to my $1,750 minimum fundraising requirement and one-tenth of the way to my personal goal of raising $5,000.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

This morning, Julie and I loaded up the dogs in the car and did our 3 mile run together along the scenic Lansing River Trail. The trail winds along the Red Cedar River for 13 miles, stretching from MSU to Old Town to Jolly Road. The weather was lovely- a calm and comfortable 25' and snowing, which was great. I'm excited to have "discovered" the trail. It will be great on my long solo runs, since running laps around Lake Lansing can get old and boring very fast.

Julie and I are spending the afternoon brainstorming fundraising ideas. Our next fundraisers will be selling green and silver beads at MSU home basketball games; selling candy, granola bars, and bottled water at work; and having a dog and people treat bake sale. Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Well, our 5 mile run yesterday afternoon was a success!! The trails were closed to hikers (and runners) for cross country skiing, so we ran around Lake Lansing and back. Running on flat dry asphalt was a nice break from our usual treacherous snowy trails runs. Akitla seemed to thrive in the sub-zero temperature, but my fingers ached from the cold for the first 2 miles.

Today we had a nice 2 mile recovery run around the lake. I use my shorter distance runs to work on speed, so it was a tough 2 miles. The temperature is still in the single-digits here, and the 27 mph gusts of wind did not help matters.

Seth and I also joined the YMCA today! Now that we have a gym membership, I can get back into spinning classes and lap swimming, which I haven't done since completing my first triathlon in the fall. Plus, I desperately need to start strength training. I'm convinced my hip injury last spring was because I increased my running mileage too fast and didn't do any other types of exercise.

Time to go unthaw, stretch, and have a nice, hot cup of tea!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!

The last few weeks have been insanely busy. Seth and I spent the holidays driving across Michigan spending time with each of our families. I wish I could report that I faithfully stuck to my running schedule.

When we headed to my mom's house for Christmas, I packed up all every running accessory and clothing item I owned in anticipation for my 4 mile long run on the 26th. My brother and I had planned on running the Bald Mountain Park trails together, and I was so excited to have a running partner. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my running shoes... Next, Seth and I drove to the west side of Michigan to find nearly 2 feet of snow. Luckily, they have a treadmill, so when not eating my body weight in snacks and cookies, I was able to run a couple of miles.

We arrived home in time for a 3 mile run last Wednesday. I was bound and determined to get my miles in- so much so that I strapped on a headlamp and hit the trails at dusk. (not one of the smarter things I've done). Keeping your footing on snowy, wooded trails is hard enough in daylight. Avoiding tripping over tree branches and roots, while trying not to get lost, is nearly impossible in the dark with a wimpy headlamp.

The next day Akitla and I made it out for an easy 2 miles on the trails (in daylight!). Afterward, I strapped on my new snowshoes, and we raced around the park. If there's anything harder than running in snow, it's running in snowshoes. It was insanely fun and insanely stupid at the same time! :)

Now we're headed out the door for our first long run since before the holidays- 5 miles. It's definitely not going to be easy. The windchill is -4'. I think I'd rather crawl back in bed.