Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"We're not here, to start no trouble..."

Another good run after work. The local weather station said it was 11 degrees with a -3 wind chill, but it felt much nicer than that. The sun was shining brightly, and it was a crisp and pretty day. I did my 4 1/2 miles at an easy pace.

I decided I am going to dial it back for the weekend. I had 107 miles for the month of January, I did three long runs of 9, 9, and 11, so I figure I can take things a little easy over what is to be a bitter cold weekend. I will run Thursday and Saturday (I think), and will rest on Friday and “Super Bowl Sunday!”

Speaking of the Super Bowl, currently I have ESPN is on in the background, so I am getting bombarded with footage from media day. I am really torn with who to pick for the last round of my pick’em league. Indy has the great offense, the Bears have the great defense. Peyton has a history of lackluster performances, and Rex Grossman....well, he seems shaky at best! However, either one of them could get hot in a hurry, too. And, they are a couple of teams with some interesting history. Confusing!

At the very least, I hope it is a competitive game. And in case any of you need a refresher on the 1985 Bears’ “Super Bowl Shuffle” music video before the big game, here you go!

I'm just here to do the Super Bowl Shuffle,

Jean

Monday, January 29, 2007

Just like January

Ah, a nice relaxing Sunday after my long run on Saturday. I cooked up a little homemade Kung Pao chicken and watched Tiger Woods kick some butt at the Buick Invitational, so I had a great weekend in fantasy golf. Good times!

I had a good run following work this afternoon. We got a dusting of snow overnight, so some of the streets were still coated near the curb, which offered extra cushion and traction. I ran a pretty steady pace, pushing it harder towards the end. A solid workout today.

The temperature was 15, but wind was a little rough, keeping the wind chill at zero. At least it was sunny out, so that felt good. Spoken like a true Minnesotan; “Yeah, the wind chill was zero, but it wasn’t that bad outside!” :)

Actually, today might be one of the warmer days. Mother Nature is in the process of reminding us who is boss. The bottom is supposed to drop out by the weekend, so I will have to keep bundled up. This is what January is supposed to be like!

Staying warm,

Jean

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Big Chill

Brrrr, a chilly one today, folks! Yesterday’s mild day was met with a fierce NW wind and some much colder temperatures. I did my run early in the morning when it was 22, however the wind chill made it feel like 4. And guess what? That was to be the warmest part of the day! Temperatures have been continually dropping as the day progresses.

January has finally decided to make an appearance.

I ran 9 1/2 miles, perhaps against my better judgment. A freak snow shower also greeted my journey, so I was getting hit in the face with sharp, crystalline snowflakes, too. While the accumulation was minimal, it was just enough to screw up the roads and the bike path, making it kind of slippery (and believe it or not, 2 miles west of me got no snow...weird!).

The first half of the run wasn’t so bad, but the return trip had me going right into the teeth of the wind. There was a moment where I got hit with a gust so strong that it almost stopped me in my tracks! Unreal.

A miserable run. I don’t say that very often, but it sucked out there today. Never was I so glad to step into a warm shower when I got home. I am guessing the 5k and half marathon races at the St. Paul Winter Carnival this morning were no picnic.

With my run done, I went out and did my grocery shopping. I also took a drive to my former neighborhood in Minnetonka. One of the wine shops that I frequented was having their semi-annual “the day of the month = your % off” wine sales (meaning, today was 27% off on the 27th!), so I thought I would stock up on some vino. After that, since I was in the area, I had lunch at one of my old favorite places, The Lone Spur. I am happy to report the enchildas with beef brisket are still awesome. Life is good. :)

I think I am done going outside for the weekend. It’s just too darn cold! I foresee lots of TV sporting events in my future... :)

Thawing out nicely,

Jean

Friday, January 26, 2007

Catching up

It has been a busy week at the office, and I hadn't felt like posting anything the last few evenings when I got home. So it is time to get caught up!

A couple of dog notes from this week:

-The cocker spaniel just down the street from my apartment really doesn't like me. He barks at me every day.

-On the east side of the lake, there is a cute little golden lab puppy who really likes me. He kept following me, and I had to stop three different times on my run tonight so the little kid could try and corral the pooch.

Tonight was beautiful. A balmy 38 degrees made a for an incredibly comfortable day. It took me a while to get stretched out today. I had a lot of tightness in my legs, but that disappeared quickly. I ended up having a pretty spirited run, so it was a positive way to end the work week.

No real solid plans for the weekend, just a quiet and relaxing one, I hope. I will do a run tomorrow morning, then I need to do some grocery shopping so I can put together a meal or two.

I am kind of excited that the PGA Tour is back in full swing now, and CBS is broadcasting this week's tournament in HD, so that will be awesome. I have Tiger Woods as my pick in the fantasy golf league this week, so I will be watching intently!

Until next time,

Jean

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Art house fish house

Comfortable running today at 24 degrees and very light winds. Nice! And most of the streets were pretty well cleared off after Sunday's dusting of snow, so it made for easy running. I did the usual; a couple of laps around the lake.

With the snow, it is at least looking somewhat like winter around here. However, we have nowhere near the amounts that we normally do. Not enough for snowshoeing, at least in my neighborhood. It continues to be a strange winter.

But the relatively small amount of snow is of little concern to the ice fisherman! In an earlier post, I described the fish houses that are used for ice fishing here during Minnesota's winters. The local paper today featured an event on Medicine Lake in the Twin Cities suburb of Plymouth where artists are creating some pretty interesting fish houses as part of the Art Shanty Projects. They've actually managed to create a whole festival out of the tradition of ice fishing! Be sure to check out the "Images" link for a slide show of the creations.

Until next time,

Jean

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Snowy Sunday

Today was a much shorter run, and it was warmer outside. I was greeted to a balmy 21 degrees, so it was a most pleasant day to run. I did an easy 4 1/2 miles on the bike path. Very nice!

I returned to my apartment and took a shower. By the time I got dressed, I looked out the window to see the streets below me were suddenly covered with snow. I just missed it! Looks like we aren’t getting too much out of this system, though. There is only about an inch or so from the looks of it, and it is already starting to taper off.

My run was my only planned trip outside today, so it can snow all it wants. I will whip up something for dinner tonight, and I’m going to watch a couple of NFL playoff games, which should be some good matchups.

ESPN’s countless hours of “Can Peyton Manning get the monkey off his back?” and “Can the Saints play in the cold?” pregame hype have me thoroughly confused, so I have no idea who to pick. I’ve changed my picks a number of times in my online pick ‘em game, and I have simply settled on the home teams. Although, they did point out that one road team usually wins during the divisional championship weekend!

Who know? Let the games begin!

Until next time,

Jean

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Day Tripper

I was looking for something to do today, so I took a little road trip. It was a gorgeous, sunny (but chilly) day, so I drove across the border into Wisconsin to the town of Hudson. Hudson is an old river town along the St. Croix. It has some similarities to Stillwater, MN, in that it is very scenic and has a nicely preserved old downtown area.

My first stop was at an old fashioned meat shop called RJ’s Meats. There, I purchased a number of different sausage products to sample, as well as some fresh ground chuck to cook with tomorrow. I am drawn to stores like this, and it smelled wonderful inside. They were even busy firing up a grill outside in front of the store to do some cooking for the customers (did I mention it was 11 degrees outside at the time?). Anyhow, I am munching on a cajun beef stick as I type, and it is fantastic. :)

After that, I sought our a place for lunch in the old part of downtown, and I found a great one. I went to Barker’s Bar & Grill and had one of the best burgers of my life. They called it the “Tyson Burger,’ a clear boxing reference for the “black and blue” nature of the sandwich; blackened seasoning and Amish blue cheese (which is tucked under a slice of Monterey Jack), to be specific. It was absolutely awesome. And don’t get me started on the fries. These were real, hand-cut, homemade fries, not the frozen variety that a food service would provide. What an excellent lunch. I will go to Hudson again just to eat here.

The “Tyson Burger” at Barker’s Bar & Grill



Following lunch, I took a trek up and down the St. Croix River Valley. I drove up to Osceola, WI, and crossed back into Minnesota. There are may beautiful sights and towns along the way.

The village of Marine on St. Croix



I stopped for a photo in the town of Marine on St. Croix, MN. This little village was founded in 1839 on the site of the first commercial sawmill on the St. Croix River. The General Store, pictured on the left, was built in 1870 and is still in operation. And the Village Hall, pictured on the right, was built in 1888 and is reportedly the oldest village hall still serving a local government in the state of Minnesota. How cool! Anyhow, there is your Minnesota history lesson for the day!

It was so much fun going for a drive in the country. I grew up in the country, and I’m currently stuck in the cities. Oh, how I long to live in the country again. Someday!

So, that was my trip! Oh, I almost forgot to mention; this morning before all of this happened, I did a 9 mile run. It was a wee bit cold outside. 8 degrees, but with the wind chill, it felt like -4. Brrr! My face mask, eyelashes, and hat were completely frosted over when I returned home. However, it was a great run at a steady, easy pace.

It may sound strange, but I think I enjoy my weekend long runs better than my weekday short runs. During the week, I always feel rushed. Rush home from work, and rush out to run in order to beat the limited daylight in the winter. On the weekend, I can take my time and just run. I can go at a pace that feels comfortable. Of course, running a longer distance is satisfying as well, but in general I find the longer runs more relaxing.

Plus, a long run gave me a good excuse to throw down a “Tyson Burger” later in the day. ;-)

Until next time,

Jean

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Longer days

A little bit warmer today at 25 degrees, but the wind was harsh. It actually hit 27 degrees, but with the wind it felt like 16. I was bundled up for my run once again.

Running was challenging today. The side streets I run on don’t receive an awful lot of attention from the city snow plows after a storm, so the roads were slushy and slippery in many spots. It made for slower running because you slip a little bit with every step. I just slowed down, took shorter strides, and did my typical 4 1/2!

I’m looking out the window right now. It is 5:30 PM, and it is still pretty light outside. The days are getting longer! That makes me happy.

Until next time,

Jean

Monday, January 15, 2007

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

I love Minnesota. All seasons, not just the warmer ones.

Snow is just a way of life up here in the winter. While it’s pretty to watch from the window of your home, snow is not always nice when you have to get somewhere. It’s just something you have to deal with.

Last night we had a winter storm rumble through the region, dropping anywhere from 2 to 8 inches of snow depending upon where you lived in the Twin Cities metro and south of here. My neighborhood was towards the lower end of the spectrum with perhaps 3 inches. It was enough to really screw up the roads, creating a slow go of it during this morning’s commute.

But you know what this meant? I got to run in the snow!

Tonight I laced up my trail shoes because most of the side streets still had a dusting on the edges where the plows hadn’t been yet. I like running in the snow. You get a surprising amount of grip, a little extra cushion, and a better workout when you are in the deeper stuff. Slower running, for certain, but I feel like I get a lot out of it.

When I ventured off the road onto the trail, it was beautiful and peaceful. Running through 3 inches of powder, breaking your own trail, with chickadees singing in the trees above you; awesome! Who cares that the wind chill is near zero?

And hey, a few more inches of snow and I can go snowshoeing! :)

Other than that, I can barely contain my excitement for the 2nd half of the season premiere of ”24” tonight. Jack is back, baby!

Until next time,

Jean

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Little fish houses for you and me

12 degrees this morning for my run. I did a 7 mile out-and-back down the bike path. Despite the bitter temperature and the frozen eyelashes once again, it was a comfortable run. The legs felt very fresh, so I clipped right along! Nice way to start my Sunday.

The parody of some Mellencamp lyrics in the title of my post is in reference to my trip to Brainerd yesterday. I went up there for a car appointment in the morning, and made a leisurely trip back home through east central MN, the area where I grew up.

It was all of -9 degrees up there on Saturday (no, not the wind chill...that was the actual air temperature!), so it was rather brisk. Because it gets so cold, one of the more interesting sights you see in the winter in Minnesota are the ice fishing houses on the lakes. Ice fishing is extremely popular on Mille Lacs Lake, one of Minnesota’s finest walleye fishing lakes. I braved the cold to take this picture.

A vehicle on Mille Lacs Lake heading to the fish house



My friends in warmer climates have trouble grasping this concept, but ice fishing is so popular on Mille Lacs that people build custom fish houses that they drag out onto the ice to fish in. Some of these are better equipped with many features of an actual home, complete with beds, furniture, electric generators, and even TVs.

The local resorts will even plow roads on the ice so people can drive their vehicles to their fish house! Honestly, it looks like there are small towns out on the lake. Annually, Mille Lacs has around 5,000 fish houses on it during the winter fishing season. A rather unique sight.

I also stopped to take a picture of the world’s largest dala horse in the Swedish community of Mora, MN!

Move over, Budweiser clydesdales!



A lazy day in the kitchen is planned today, along with watching the NFL playoff games. I am currently making a batch of beef jerky in my food dehydrator, and tonight I am making spaghetti with red sauce. I love days like this!

Until next time,

Jean

Friday, January 12, 2007

Frozen eyelashes

If I may use an old expression, what a difference a day makes! Yesterday’s mid 30 degree temps gave way to some bitter cold arctic air, so it finally feels like January.

I went for my afternoon run with all my winter gear. It was all of 6 degrees, but with a stiff NW wind it brought the wind chill to -8. By the time I got home, my facemask was frosted over, and my eyelashes were frozen!

Strange as it may sound, I really don’t mind running in weather like this. It is kind of exhilarating, and as long as you keep moving, you stay pretty warm. Just make sure you keep moving! That being said, there seemed to be few others sharing my positive outlook on the chilly temps. Aside from some bundled-up kids walking home from school, there were very few signs of life.

Tomorrow is a day off from running, and I’m taking a little road trip! Nothing too outrageous, just a quick day trip to Brainerd for an appointment, and I’ll be back in time for the NFL playoffs in the afternoon. I will be bringing my camera so I can share a few sights along the way!

Until next time,

Jean

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Becoming classic rock

Like many people, I love music. Because I listen primarily to KQRS, a "classic rock" station, I have developed an affinity for music from the 60's through the early 80's. Bands and musicians like the Beatles, Bad Company, Queen, Boston, Pink Floyd, Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, etc.; music that I thought wasn't cool when I was younger that I now appreciate a great deal.

Something I have noticed recently is that my beloved classic rock station has gradually started to add songs that I remember from junior high school. Just today, they played a couple of 80's songs that I had not heard in ages, including "One Night In Bangkok" by Murray Head (who, incidentally, is the older brother of Anthony Stewart Head who played the character of Rupert Giles on one of the greatest series' of all time, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"...did you know this? I just found out!), as well as "Dance Hall Days" by Wang Chung. Good grief! It was like being at the winter "Snow Daze" dance in the high school gym all over again, only without my Member's Only jacket... :)

Anyhow, I think the lesson here is when the songs you remember from your childhood are now considered "classic rock," it is definitely a sign that you are getting older!

It was a nice run this afternoon, just the usual 4 1/2 miler around the lake. This is perhaps the last nice day for the foreseeable future in terms of weather. We've finally got some cold stuff heading in this weekend, and they are predicting highs in the teens to low 20's. I will have to dig out the facemack again!

Until next time,

Jean

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The return of winter

A cold one, for a change. 24 degrees, but there was a stiff wind that brought the windchill to a crisp 11 degrees. Brrr! That felt pretty chilly compared to what we have been experiencing as of late. Winter is going to get even with us. She always does in Minnesota!

I ran pretty easy today. I tweaked my left hamstring a little bit during yesterday's run, but I stretched really well this afternoon and everything felt fine. It was tough sledding near the end, as I was finishing my run directly into the bitter cold wind. But now I am in the warmth of my apartment, so all is well!

Not much on the agenda this evening. I ordered and received some pictures in the mail from my various trips over the fall and during the holidays, so I will probably spend some time organizing those and putting them away in albums. Always fun to get new pictures, and to look back at some old ones, too.

Until next time,

Jean

Monday, January 8, 2007

Collapsing in the playoffs

This fall and winter, I have been participating in an online NFL weekly pick 'em game (where you try and pick the weekly winners of each game) with 5400 of my closest friends, and I had been doing remarkably well. For most of the season, I have been near the top of the leaderboard in the 98th to 99th percentile. At one point I was actually 4th overall! Then, the playoffs started.

The four wild card games this past weekend were all assigned 4 points each (throughout the season, each game you correctly pick is worth a single point). I figured the only way to gain ground and make a run at the championship would be to pick some upsets and go against the majority, so I selected the Cowboys and the Giants to win their games, along with the favorites Indy and N.E. to win theirs.

Of course, the upsets never happened, and with all the home teams winning, I ended up with 2 correct picks a grand total of 8 points for the weekend. How costly were my incorrect picks? Well, I fell from the first page of the leaderboard to 1297th place overall in the 76th percentile. Good grief! I feel I have fallen from grace much like a certain Dallas QB, only I don't have a country/western starlet to console me… :)

Anyhow, I took yesterday off since I went for a long run on Saturday, so today I got to try out my new shoes for the first time. I like them. They have all the comfort of the previous model, but these seem to ride a little bit nicer. For some reason, I feel like I have a softer impact on the ground, which is a very good thing. I know I only have one 4 1/2 mile run in them, but thus far I am quite pleased, and my feet are very happy!

Until next time,

Jean

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Clif Shot hard candy, and discontinued shoes

A very nice morning in Minnesota; for January, anyhow! About 28 degrees, still unseasonably mild, but very comfortable for running.

I did a long one today (by my standards, anyhow). I went 11 miles, running much of that distance on the bike path, and then breaking off to do a single lap around the lake. It was a nice, relaxing, 1 hour, 45 minute run, and it felt great. This was my longest run since the half marathon last October, so I am pleased to be maintaining my endurance.

I’ve been trying to be better about bringing water and and carbohydrates on my longer runs this winter (sometimes I am neglectful of this). Today I had my water bottle with me, and I also a pack of Clif Shot Bloks in the outer pocket of my running jacket. I spoke about these last summer, but essentially they are a soft jellied cubes of concentrated carbohydrates and electrolytes, kind of like a "Gatorade gummi bear," if you will!

About 45 minutes into the run, I decided to pop one. I opened the package and threw a cube in my mouth. Hard as a brick! Of course, the below-freezing air solidified these little buggers to the point where I had to let it sit in my mouth for a minute or two to soften before I could chew. So, the equation in as follows; Clif Shot Bloks + cold air = Jolly Rancher hard candies. :)

After my run, I decided I needed new road running shoes. The training log confirmed it too, as I had been running on the same pair since September and had about 400 miles on them. I drove back to my old stomping grounds in Minnetonka to visit the folks at Start Line.

About a year ago when I realized I didn’t know what I was doing when it comes to shoes, I went to this specialty running store to get properly fitted for a pair of shoes that were right for me. It was there I learned I was a mild overpronator, and that I would be best in some stability shoes. After about 45 minutes of running on the store’s treadmill, I ended up in a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 6’s, and they have been great. I have now gone through three pairs.

Today I learned the the GTS 6 is being discontinued. They now make an upgraded version of the shoe called the GTS 7. The horror!

My initial fears seem to be unwarranted, though. I tried on the new model, and it felt just like my old shoes. I ran a little bit on the treadmill, and the fit was the same, it rolled off the toe the same, and they were stable, supportive, and downright comfy. Heck, the tread pattern was even the same. Nice! The guy in the store told me that they changed to a different foam in the midsole to offer more comfort and supposedly longer lasting cushioning. But, he added that Brooks wasn’t going to screw around too much with this shoe, since it is one of their best sellers.

So, I have been “upgraded” in the shoe department. Hopefully these will continue to serve me as well as the last pair did. Being a sucker for new running gear, I also bought an Asics long-sleeved running top that seemed pretty reasonable. Hard to resist the snazzy new clothes!

Right now, I am enjoying the fact that I am sitting down! It has been a busy morning and afternoon thus far. I plan to spend the rest of the day kicking back and watching the NFL playoff games, and I will probably whip up a homemade pizza for dinner. Not a bad Saturday in January!

Until next time,

Jean

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Easy running on the trail

The strange weather continues. It was nearly 40 again, but it felt a little more damp and clammy out, so no shorts today! I wore my normal winter gear and had a very comfortable run. I took it kind of easy today, just a nice and steady pace.

I ran in my trail shoes today and took a little bit more of the dirt trail. Since it is so warm, the snow on it has turned crunchy and slushy, offering some better grip. After the New Year’s storm, there were areas that were glare ice, so I had been avoiding this route.

It is good to use the trail again! I love being on it because it is almost like going into another world. For a brief stretch, I leave the residential neighborhood and venture into the forest where the chickadees are singing, and the downy woodpeckers are gently tapping their trees. It is a neat sanctuary.

Not much on the agenda this evening except for a little laundry, and I will be watching ”The Office” at 7:30 PM. I love that show, and it is a new episode, so all the better!

Until next time,

Jean

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Shorts in January, and the Great Pumpkin revisited

I’m in Minnesota, it is January 3rd, and today I ran...in shorts!

Crazy weather. It was 40 degrees when I got home, so I thought why not? I will run in shorts today just to say I did it in January. Granted, I wore my base layer winter running shirt, a long sleeved T, stocking cap, and gloves, but it wasn’t too bad out there. If it weren’t for the breeze, it would have been extremely comfortable, even.

I did my couple of laps around the lake, getting a few strange looks from walkers who were bundled up with parkas, mittens, and scarves. But I just smiled. It was fun!

Recalling the full-blown hissy fit I threw back in October when the 40th anniversary of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" was preempted by our ABC affiliate in order to bring us a local political debate, my folks gave me a book about the making of the show as a gift this Christmas!

In the book, the creators speak about how "The Great Pumpkin" evolved out of pressure from the network to produce another "blockbuster" on par with "A Charlie Brown Christmas." They explained how the ideas for the show were pieced together, there are interviews with the cast, musical scores, and stills from the final show. It is fantastic. A must for any Peanuts fan.

I have always liked Charlie Brown (I even played him in my high school musical back in the day!). However, I am beginning to develop more of an appreciation for the character of Linus, the blanket-toting brother of Lucy. Linus, who gave us the memorable speech about the meaning of Christmas in "A Charlie Brown Christmas," is an intellect, a voice of reason, and a seeker of truth.

Me in 9th grade as Charlie Brown...and the sweater still fits!



The author spoke of Charles M. Schulz's rationale for creating the Great Pumpkin. Schulz explained that it arose out of his personal ambivalence towards Santa Claus. He thought about all the poor children in the world who heard stories about Santa Claus showing up on Christmas to shower them with tons of gifts. In reality, there were many kids who would be lucky to receive a gift at all.

Linus had a fervent belief in the Great Pumpkin. He would write letters asking for toys and spend all night waiting for him in the pumpkin patch. When the Great Pumpkin never came, he was clearly crushed. Through all of it, however, Linus never stopped believing in the Great Pumpkin. Schulz's point was that maybe your hopes would be dashed, but that can still survive and still keep trying.

What does this have to do with running? Well, not much specifically, but the lesson could certainly be applied! It is a good message for anyone with a dream, and you have to admire Linus' determination and persistence.

I do hope that Linus became a runner later in life, though, because with his qualities I think he would have been a good one! :)

Until next time,

Jean

Monday, January 1, 2007

Slipping and sliding for resolutions

You know your priorities have changed when you are in bed by 10:30 PM on New Years Eve because you have a run scheduled the next morning! :)

I was actually glad to have a quiet evening in last night. The first significant snowstorm of the season hit the Twin Cities yesterday afternoon, turning the roads into skating rinks. My neighborhood got a couple inches or so, but some cities west of here got as much at 10!

The roads were still not great this morning, but I slowly made my way over to White Bear Lake, a beautiful community in the northeast part of the Twin Cities metro. Today I would be kicking off the New Year with a little 5k fun run.

A solitary ice fishing house on New Year’s Day in White Bear Lake



The Resolution Solution 5k is an annual event in its 5th year. It starts at the White Bear Lake marina and does a quick out and back along the west side of the lake.

I am terrible at estimating crowds, but I would say there were between 100-120 participants or so. There were a few hard-core runners there (including a couple local high-school track guys who ran shirtless with “Happy New Year” written on their chests...did I mention it was 20 degrees out?), but for a lot of folks this was a reason to get out and be active to start the New Year off on the right foot. Needless to say, the atmosphere was very relaxed.

I was mingling at the start and met a lady who was starting her own business as a “wellness consultant.” We got to chatting and she spoke about how so often people focus on food and nutrition, but wellness is also about so many other things (such as running, of course).

We both talked about how far each of us had come with our running (she started out running 2 minutes/walking 1 minute, and has since completed 2 marathons), and shared some of our personal thoughts and goals (she wanted to run Boston before she turned 40, and I would be doing my first 25k trail race in April). I told her I enjoyed the feeling of empowerment that running gives me, and she couldn’t have agreed more, saying that is one of the hardest things to try to explain to people.

Anyhow, the reason I tell this is because this is what I love about races; Runners can relate to each other. Complete strangers will have these deep conversations where they speak so openly about goals, ambitions, higher ideals, and making yourself better. Races create awesome and positive environments, and runners are inspiring people!

The race starts, and we are off like a herd of turtles. Truly! The picture below was taken near the starting line to illustrate the conditions of the streets.

The slippery starting line



As you can imagine, the layer of snow and ice, mixed with slush from where they had dropped the road salt, made for challenging running. Some spots were rigid and completely frozen. Others were sloppy and messy. And some areas were just downright slick!

I wore my old Nike trail running shoes that had some fairly sharp lugs on the soles, which helped a little bit. Even so, I was still slipping and sliding with every step. I did my best to try and run on parts of the street where the plows had missed, where there was still a layer of snow to offer some grip. It was slow going!

This race was not officially timed, as best as I could tell (this is just a fun run, after all!). According to my watch, I finished in 23:33, a time which I was not displeased with, given the conditions.

It was an adventurous morning run with some fellow Twin Cities runners, and now I am kicking up my feet a little bit, brewing a pot of chili on the stove, and watching a little college football. Not a bad way to start the New Year!

All the best in ‘07 and beyond!

Jean

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