Have yoga mat and running shoes, will travel*

img_0135

I was in Washington, D.C., earlier this week for AEJMC, a journalism educators’ conference. I found a way to squeeze in both a run and a visit to an Ashtanga yoga studio.

The run went well despite the 100-degree heat index! The 5K was loosely organized by a member of AEJMC. Whoever wanted to show up in the hotel lobby at 5 p.m. on Wednesday was welcome. We each paid $15, which went toward student scholarships. It wasn’t a big group, as you can see, but we stuck together and had a great time getting to know each other! I saw one of the women in the lobby later that night and she kindly invited me to hang out with her and some other people she knew, two of whom are living in Minnesota so I look forward to maintaining those connections.

img_0091

On Thursday evening, I took the Metro for a short ride up to Woodley Park. I went to the 7 p.m. led half primary series. Earlier in the day, I didn’t feel like going. I was completely exhausted from “conferencing” (those of you who have been to multi-day conferences know what I mean) as well as spending Thursday afternoon walking about 5 miles in between visiting the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the National Portrait Gallery.

I went back to the hotel room to change and it was so cool in there! The bed looked so comfortable! But even though I was exhausted, it was exhaustion that just felt gross. I knew that if I stayed in the room all evening and laid around, I would feel even worse and more gross.

Thankfully I’ve been practicing ashtanga long enough to know that the physical activity would give me a boost of energy. So I packed my travel yoga mat into my bag and walked (again!) a few blocks to the Metro.

I’m so glad I did! If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have experienced:

  • A part of DC I hadn’t been to before.
  • Seeing another beautiful ashtanga studio.
  • Mental clarity and a lift of my mood (which continued well into the next day).
  • Sharing my practice with welcoming, kind and gentle people.
  • A fabulous Lebanese restaurant down the street from the studio that nourished me after practice.
  • A gorgeous summer evening sitting outside in the city.

I’m still getting used to practicing yoga and running while traveling. The running thing has been working out well for about a year. Usually when I travel, I am busy and tired. In the past I have given myself a break while traveling. Traveling by itself is tiring with the flights and time changes and strange hotel rooms where you might not sleep well. But finally I have realized that squeezing in a quick run is the perfect antidote to that exhaustion. And honestly, after a day of sitting and taking in conference sessions, I want to move my body and not think anymore.

Yoga while traveling is really new to me. I found a yoga studio in Alnwick, England, when I was there in May, and now Woodley Park Yoga. I also did a morning practice in my hotel room on Wednesday, which I had never done before. So this is all part of my renewed commitment to Ashtanga.

Tell me about your workouts/yoga practice while traveling! Please share any tips you have. For example, I have a travel yoga mat and also some Yoga Paws gloves and socks. My travel mat is slippery so the gloves and socks work well, and you wouldn’t even need a mat with them because the grip is good.

* Title is in reference to this old TV show:

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.05.56 AM

A new marathon training plan

The dogs visited me at the end of my long run on July 4. Yes, that’s a hydration pack. The dew point was around 70, with temps in the upper 70s.

Between June 30 and July 4 I put in a couple of long runs, two in five days. I couldn’t avoid it from a scheduling perspective, but it actually worked out OK.

I’m using a new marathon training plan this time around. I’m using the Galloway run/walk method. I’ve known about it and known friends who have done it, but I’d never taken the time to investigate it further until this year.

I’m doing 3 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. The whole point behind this method is that over the course of a marathon (or even a half marathon), you are saving your legs and therefore feeling fresh (or relatively fresh) toward the end. My problem in previous marathons is that I’m pretty much tapped out by mile 20 and I have to mostly walk. If this method allows me to keep running in those last miles, that will be a vast improvement.

I am loving this method so far! It has allowed me to bump up the long-run mileage fairly quickly. By the time I started training in early June, I realized I was a few weeks behind in the training already (it’s six-month training program). So I did a quick build up each week to catch up — a couple of 8s, then a 10, 13 miles on June 30 and on July 4 a 15. This method is allowing me to save my legs. In previous trainings, no way could I have run 13 miles and then five days later run 15 miles. And I’ve completed the long runs feeling good for the rest of the day and the next day. I can move around and function and do yoga without almost any soreness.

The walk breaks also allow me some much-needed mental rest. In previous trainings, I would take a short walk break every two miles on long runs. But two miles is a long way, especially when you get further into the run and you want a break sooner than that. But with a 3-1 pattern, even when I’m tired toward the end of a run, I tell myself, it’s only three minutes. You can run for three minutes and then you get a break.

You might think it’s boring to run/walk that far. On July 4 I was out there for three hours, counting by 3-1 the whole time. But actually, it gives me something to think about and makes the time go by faster. I find myself focusing only on the next three minutes, then the next minute. I think it’s keeping me more in the moment — which is such a yoga thing to do!

The newness of this approach and the focus it gives me on runs is actually making me look forward to the long training runs. That has never been the case before!

But I can’t say that training for a marathon is easy for me. Though I’m feeling better on my runs and after, some challenges remain:

* I’m kind of always tired. Some days are better than others, but by evenings I’m usually wiped out.

* As always, I’m squeezed for time. There’s work, and there’s running, and if I can fit in some other things, that’s great, but it doesn’t always happen. Right now I’m also trying to focus on my writing and my yoga practice, so when I do that there’s really not a lot of time for anything else.

* Oh, and the heat! I love, love, love fall marathons. But that means you’re doing the bulk of your training in the summer. I used to be really resistant to the heat but I am learning to embrace it, so actually training this summer hasn’t been as bad as other summers.

Overall, knowing that I’m running for a cause this time around casts a whole new, exciting light on this adventure!

Running for a cause

Rachael_marathon_RR
Me during the inaugural year of Mankato Marathon, 2010. This was around Mile 20. My colleague Rick Robbins yelled at me and then snapped the photo. 

Marathons are hard for me. Training for marathons are hard and time-consuming. Some days (most days) I dreaded the long training runs.

I’ve done five marathons over the past 18 years. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment when the marathon is completed, but the time commitment and mental/physical energy it takes to train is always what prevented me from doing more marathons.

Honestly, doing one marathon (in 2000) was enough of a personal fulfillment for me. It was kind of a bucket list thing — all right, I did that, now I can move on to the next thing. I guess I did my second marathon (in 2005) just to see if I had it in me to do more than one. I did my third marathon (2008) with a friend. My fourth, in 2010, because it was the first year of the Mankato Marathon. My fifth, six years later, because I was newly inspired after watching friends complete a grueling, hot Grandma’s Marathon.

After that, I knew I was done doing marathons for personal reasons. I didn’t have anything to prove to myself. I told myself the only reason I would do another one is if it went beyond me. I could imaginemyself running for someone else or for a cause.

Now 2018 has presented that opportunity. A friend asked me to be a Champion Runner for the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota. This was a cause that would inspire me to train, to go beyond myself.

So the funny thing is, I don’t have kids. At the surface, maybe I don’t seem to be a natural champion of the Children’s Museum. But the entire community benefits when our kids are well-served. The well-being and education of children is a big part of what makes this community great. I work at a place (MSU-Mankato) that needs to recruit talent from across the country, and being a community that is supportive of families and children is one way to entice people to live and work here. Mankato is home to many employers who know the value of being in a family-oriented community.

I support the Children’s Museum because small people who learn to love learning grow into big people who love to love learning. I get the “big people” in my classrooms at MSU-Mankato. In an instant, I can pick out the young adults who were exposed to learning and curiosity at a young age. They are the students who are still curious, outgoing, and love to learn. The more of them, the better! I am happy to support the education of children at these very young ages, and Children’s Museum does a great job of that.

So when I go out for those long runs this summer, when the temperature and humidity make the outdoors feel like a greenhouse, I will be thinking of how the Children’s Museum supports the kids of our community and I’ll have a reason to run that goes beyond myself.

I humbly thank you for the consideration of a donation to my Champion Runner cause. If you’re not on Facebook but would like to donate, please leave a comment.

 

Scenes from a snowy woods

A lot of people in southern Minnesota were disappointed with the few inches of snow we received on Monday. By early March, most everyone is ready to be done with winter! They are itching for warmer temperatures and clear roads. I admit the icy sidewalks and slippery parking lots quickly become tiresome.

But there’s nothing like snow in the woods to make us realize how truly beautiful the winter landscape is. I spent 2.5 hours hiking today at 7-Mile Park and I’m not kidding, I felt like I was out there for only 20 minutes. Temperatures were perfect, in the mid-20s. The exercise helped me stay warm but it was cool enough to keep the snow from melting and getting slushy. The fresh air did wonders for my state of mind.

What helps you achieve mental clarity?

I LOVE winter in the Midwest!

IMG_9238

On Saturday morning, I woke up to a gorgeous winter scene of hoarfrost. Most of my workouts are indoors, but I like to get outside on a long run once a week. This scenery made my run totally worth it.

IMG_9227

A couple of weeks ago I was in Rockford, Illinois, and ended up running along the Rock River during a light, wet snow. The fresh coat of snow made for a beautiful landscape.

Here in southern Minnesota, we probably have a month left of winter, give or take a week. I’ll admit it will be nice to not have to put on layers of clothes plus hat, scarf, and mittens in order to go outside for a run. It will be nice to feel my fingers again, lol! But winter is so beautiful, and I will miss views like this. However, this is the land of four distinct seasons, so I won’t have to wait long for winter to come around again.

8 degrees! Let’s go for a run!

Temp

Balmy! Hey, it’s been below zero for a few days so a number above zero felt like a gift. I try to pick the best weather day of the week to head out to 7-Mile Park between Mankato and St. Peter.

Tuesday was windy but the park is fairly well-protected. At least in the summer — now without leaves on the trees, the wind does cut through the park. My face was a bit numb at the end.

But the peace and quiet and beauty are worth it. A deer and I locked gazes for a few paces. I did not get cold — I’ve run outside for many years and I can’t ever remember being cold. The right gear, combined with the heat generated by running, keeps me nice and toasty in any winter weather. I went out for short runs Sunday and Monday (Sunday was during a windchill warning) and I still stayed warm even then. I much prefer running in winter than running in the heat and humidity of summer.

SevenMile1-2-2018
The frozen 7-Mile Creek. Trail 8 involves a crossing. Thank goodness it’s shallow and narrow and quite frozen!