5K in Every State – Minnesota!

Yep, another 5K in another state. That’s number eleven and the second this year…so far. Eleven! I’m well into the double digits. Ha! Before I give the deets on my Minnesota run though, and for the benefit of the folks just tuning in, I want to revisit why this lofty goal is even on my bucket list (lest anyone think I’m plain crazy).

11 states done, 39 to go!

In 2013 I was diagnosed with stage IIB invasive breast cancer, and understandably, I got way in my head about it. Even with the prognosis of a 93% 5-year and 83% 10-year survival rate, hearing the words “you have cancer” had me questioning everything. For the first time I seriously contemplated my own mortality, I mean seriously realized it could happen and definitely would happen some day. The good news is that it lit a fire in me to get busy living!

My treatment plan included lumpectomy, radiation, meds, healthy eating, and regular exercise. Physical fitness has never been my jam. Starting programs is my forte; sticking with them is not. But, I joined the YMCA LIVESTRONG program where a group of us survivors were instructed in workouts twice a week for three months. It’s a great program, and I thought after doing something for three months it would stick. No M’am. Within a few weeks of completing the course I was skipping the gym more than I was going.

Meanwhile, as I was avoiding the gym, I was working on my bucket list which included a vague reference to travel–something I used to do more often–and I was also racking my brain for an exercise routine that wouldn’t bore me to tears (no stationary exercise equipment please) and didn’t require me to go to a place (because when I get home from work, I’m in). Then it hit me: a 5K in every state would get me traveling again AND would force me to stay active because I’d have to train for each of the 50 races. And all I had to do was run out the door–no going to the gym. Genius! Except I wasn’t a runner. Aye-aye-aye.

Now you’re up to speed, and my most recent run in Minnesota was the 8th Annual Tanner’s Team Walk/Run which raises funds for the Tanner’s Team Foundation. TTF helps families with children fighting life-threatening illness or serious injury in 45 central Minnesota counties. Any time a charity involves children, it tugs at my heart, and seeing some of the kiddos at the race that have been helped by this group gave me all the feels. I was honored to run this one. Well, I sort of ran it. I was just a few weeks into the Couch to 5K program 11.0, so I did run/walk intervals (sounds familiar–same as the last race!) that got me 44:37. Safe to say this was not a personal best, but hey, I showed up and I finished.

The Tanner’s Team Foundation bear?
Finished! And not last!

The day prior, I flew into Minneapolis, rented a car, and marched myself straight to the Mary Tyler Moore statue. It’s Mary who reminds me that I’m “gonna make it after all,” so it wouldn’t have felt right visiting the city without paying homage to the Mary. If I had a hat with me…

I didn’t have long to poke around the city, but the tiny slice I saw was beautiful. At population 420,000, the city has two light rails, a commuter rail, and the Minneapolis Skyway System, which is seven miles of enclosed pedestrian bridges linking eighty city blocks. It’s ranked the 9th most walkable city in the nation. Not bad when you consider the average yearly high temp is 55.2 (that’s for the whole year–it gets into the 80s in July). There’s an artsy vibe downtown, and I stumbled upon some darn good food, too. Do you get the feeling I was absolutely enamored with this city? Me too.

The Mary. A true pioneer.
The Mercury Dining Room and Rail – awesome eats at the former Soo Line train station.

My final destination, however, was a family get-together about an hour and a half from Minneapolis, so off I went to see the brother and the sisters. And in-laws, and nephews, and nieces, oh my! One of my nephews I last saw at Dad’s funeral in 1999, and the last time the sibs were all together was at Mom’s funeral, so this light-hearted gathering with the perfect weather, the games, and more food than we could possibly eat was incredibly relaxing, needed, and good for the soul. My family really needs to do more socializing outside of funerals. These last two trips (I did New Hampshire in May) have made my heart smile.

The setting for our reunion could not have been more beautiful.
We each tie dyed a shirt as a family reunion keepsake, cuz we’re groovy like that!

My next race is to be determined, but I’ll keep you posted. I hope y’all have some fun stuff planned this year. It’s wonderful to get out and explore, and to quote the MTM show lyrics, it’s time you started living!


C25K – Can I Finish?

I ran the Mucus Mile last night – woot woot! Here’s how you sign up: get a nasty chest cold, don’t go to the doctor but rather be miserable and subject your friends and coworkers to incessant, unmannerly coughing for about a month, and then go for a run on a brisk evening. Voila!  You’ve got your own phlegm-filled, coughing, runny-nose Mucus Mile.

Seriously though, I’m in week 15 of a 9-week program. Makes perfect sense, right? It was October 6 when I started Couch to 5K…pretty much on a whim. The idea literally crossed my mind that morning and I ran out the door. Much like I’m a slow reader, I guess I’m a slow C25Ker too. Ideally, you do three runs a week, but sometimes I was doing two and then the third would fall into the next week, which eventually put me behind a week or two. Then I got the nasty chest cold and couldn’t run for a month.

Add to that my plan to repeat week 8 because it was so difficult (just before I got sick). I struggled through that week, and moving on to week 9 seemed like pure foolishness. So here I am, a month later, in week 15. AND, after not running for a month, I started at week 6 to ease back into it. So if I stick to it, I’ll have completed this 9-week running shuffling odyssey in just 18 weeks. See how I did that?

I sure hope this isn’t how the actual 5k plays out. The average female runner finishes in 29 minutes – that puts me at about an hour and a half. My first official race is February 9, and I’m just hoping to run the entire 3.1 miles. I don’t like stuff (like goals) to be half done – I prefer to keep my mental checklist in motion. As tumultuous and disconcerting as the past couple of years have been, I could really use this little accomplishment. To simply finish.

What have you accomplished that made you feel good or that you were happy to have finished? Your stories and inspiration are most welcome!


No More Running from Running – Working My Way to a 5k!

For those of you who find running easy or enjoyable, you may not get this post. If not, I hope you are at least amused. I have tried to be a runner a couple of times over the past decade and have failed both times. Yes, I have asthma, but it is well-controlled and, in my opinion, should not keep me from running a 5k. Yep, that’s my goal – a simple 5k. No long distances, no half-marathons, and certainly no marathons, just a little 5k.

The best I’ve done so far was about 10 years ago when I was able to run a mile. That was after “training” for a year. That’s no typo folks, I trained for a year and was able to squeak out only a mile. It was at least something, but then plantar fasciitis hit hard. I hope to never experience that pain again. It felt like I had a nail driven into the bottom of my heel, and just for fun there was an invisible troll who would send excruciating electrical shocks along the arch of my foot and into the heel. Not fun. It took years to heal. Physical therapy, ultrasound, electrical pulsations to the foot (oh, the irony), orthotics (real sexy), foot braces, sleeping braces (again with the sexiness), and finally a hard cast for several months. I think it was all a result of years of wearing high heels combined with not stretching. Lesson learned.

So with that healed and behind me (it took about 4 years), I tried again about a year ago when we adopted the Fabulous Miss Phoebe. What better motivation to get out and run than to do it with your pooch! Within a couple of weeks I considered myself again defeated. I was gasping for air, my lungs felt like ice chambers, and my knee hurt. Poo.

But here I am today, another year later, and this morning I started the Couch to 5k program – yippee! I’m so excited to see if sticking to a tried and true program can get me to a 5k. In the past, I just ran willy nilly and called it “training.” No more!  It’s all business this time. In eight weeks I should be able to run 5k or 30 minutes without stopping. I’ll keep you posted.

Since I don’t own a stopwatch, I used the feature on my phone. It was bulky and
tough to see in the sunlight. What’s your preference? Is a stopwatch worth having?
Another must-have before heading out is pepper spray. Sadly, that’s the world we live in.
But, safety first! If running solo, I recommend some kind of personal protection.

Today’s workout was to alternate between 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes. Sounds simple, right? I am embarrassed to say that it kicked my behind! Pitiful, but not surprising. The take-away is that I did it. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it! Although I’m taking the high road and not blaming asthma for how difficult this is, I will say it was quite humid today. Perhaps I should plan my future runs a bit earlier than 10am? It should be easier each time I run, and I’m thinking that since I’m starting at rock bottom, there is only room for improvement, right?

The welcome mat that doesn’t actually say welcome
was never so welcoming after my run!

I know there are runners out there who likely have been where I am now – at square one. Any tips? How did you get beyond the gasping for air? What distance are you running now? What’s your favorite time of day to run? I’m so happy to be doing this, not only to maybe build some muscle, but also to strengthen my lungs. There are so many benefits to working out – I hope this third time is truly a charm!