Do You Run When You Are Sick? Half-Marathon Update


IMG_2538.JPG

I checked at my calendar yesterday and the Midnight Sun Half Marathon in Tromsø is 25 weeks away. Seems like a long time but when you add everything else going on in life, holidays, etc. it is not.  I am actually pretty excited about finally tackling the half-marathon distance. Up until now, my races have been up to 10K but nothing above that.  I have hiked longer but never running.

This fall was really hard for me to train. My health was not good and I made the conscious decision to get healthy before I start.  If you are new to the blog, I had a stomach bacteria that was giving me many digestive issues.  After two brutal rounds of hardcore antibiotics and a fungicide (yeah, that happened because it was so resistant to antibiotics) the bacteria died.  However, the medications made me super sick and weakened my immunity. I started feeling better and the day I finally felt better, I went for a run.  And that nigh in bed it started—the sniffles.  I caught my youngest stepson’s cold and with a vengeance.  That was the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving. I spent that Tuesday and Wednesday in bed after being sent home from work (I work at Mayo Clinic and I did not want to get people sick).  By the Monday after Thanksgiving, I was losing my voice. I am still coughing but it is finally going away.  I seriously could not even think about running.  I did go for a few hikes and my lungs were on fire after the exercise.  It is just very frustrating.

Now, the temperatures have started dropping fast here in Minnesota and I joined a gym so I can use the treadmill on those days when the weather gets below 20°F, and especially in January when it can get to -18°F.  This is the life you get when you choose to live in Minnesota. The stuff one does for love.

I have been itching to get back to running, though!My first few weeks of training will be all about getting back into the thick of things.  I have been doing buti-yoga (have you tried this workouts? They’re pretty crazy but I don’t hate them), hiking and working on the elliptical trying to sweat out the cold.  But come the last week of December it is on. I am actually going with the Jeff Galloway training plan.  My main goal is to finish the marathon. I do not want to travel all the way to Tromsø and not finish my first race of this distance.  But I also want to enjoy it; I have been told that it is a visually stunning route.  So I think this method will work for me.

Do you ever train when you are sick? Have you tried ButiYoga? If so, do you like it?

Joining these awesome link-ups: Week In Review / Sunday Fitness & Food / Fit Fashionable Friday / Friday Five 2.0 / Tuesdays on the Run/ Wild Workout Wednesday /Meatless Monday

Weekend in Review - It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas

This weekend was pretty crazy at the casa. 

1. I’m finally getting over my nasty cold.  I’ve had this thing since Thanksgiving weekend and I am now finally getting over it although the cough persists.  Still, I am feeling better, as I should considering I have taken an entire pharmacy of OTC medications for it.

2. #GOARMYBEATNAVY!!  This weekend was the Army-Navy Game, that long standing tradition of football between the US Military Academy at West Point and the US Navy Academy in Annapolis. Every year both schools go all out with team spirit videos and its awesome.  After losing for decades, Army won last year and they won on Saturday!  As a retired Army officer, I cheered for my guys hard but so proud of both schools.  They are amazing young men on the field giving it their all for esprit de corps and tradition. 

IMG_7376.JPG
IMG_7375.JPG

3. Our decorations are finally up and done, and I am one happy woman!  We actually have two Christmas tree. Lol.  Here is the story.  I’ve been married for three years and my husband and his kids (who live with us full time) have their own.  My Christmas trees have always been very “Martha Stewart”, theirs is more like a tree with a collection of ornaments they have gathered over the years with odd colored Christmas lights.  Hey to each their own.  I find joy is my beautiful Christmas tree.  I also decorated the front porch and I’m very happy with how it turned out.

IMG_7142.JPG
IMG_6895.JPG

4. After much debate (literally) we settled for store-bought Christmas cards.  Personally, I do not do (nor like) Christmas cards with photos for me.  I understand people who do but not my thing.  Everyone in the house wanted family portraits for the cards. I did not.  I think part of it is that this is not a very big thing for us Puerto Ricans during the holidays.  Seriously, the first time I ever saw this was being done was in 2006 when I received one.  Anyhow, this year I am in love with the red truck image with the Christmas tree on the back and found some cards with that image. Problem solved.  

IMG_7404.JPG
IMG_7459.PNG

5. Coquito Time! We Puerto Ricans love Navidad(Christmas), especially the food.  This weekend I started our tradition making our Coquito.  This is a beverage we make during the holidays that is similar to eggnog, except it does not have eggs.  To me it is better.  I made mine the way my abuela (grandma) made it—heave handed on the rum and full of happiness!  Salud! 

6. Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas.  Christmas movies all day long—enough said. ♥ ♥ ♥ Anybody else watching?

Joining these awesome link-ups: Week In Review / Sunday Fitness & Food / Fit Fashionable Friday / Friday Five 2.0 / Tuesdays on the Run/ Wild Workout Wednesday /Meatless Monday

Last Minute Gifts for the Runner in Your Life


Picture1.png

Thanksgiving has passed and it is officially the holiday season!  Whether you call it Christmas or holiday, one thing is for sure—everyone is looking for the perfect gift for the special people in our lives.  And if you are like most people you 1) probably have a family member or friend who is a runner, which poses the million dollar question: what can I get them for Christmas?  and 2) probably have procrastinated.  Normally we think clothes, running shoes or gift cards to sports stores.  But maybe it’s time to think outside the box.  If you are stumped, no worries; we have perfect last minute gifts for the special runner in your life.  Whether it is accessories, running related movies, or clothes, we are providing you a few options.

  • Helix Elite Sunglasses (Nike, $196).  Talk about a smooth looking design. This performance ready sunglasses are lightweight and comfortable.  I love that it is a one-piece lens adding extra coverage and the use of Nike + Zeiss Optics provides extraordinary clarity and perception.  This design has cool features to enhance comfort like the ventilated and self-adjusting nose bridge, and rubber channels in the temple arms that prevent fogging and moisture accumulation.
  • Winged Foot Sterling Silver Matte Necklace (RunnersWorld.com). Let’s be honest—there is nothing more we runners love more than to tell the world about our passion for running.  And this beautiful necklace celebrates just that. Featuring the iconic track and field symbol, this beautiful charm (chain included) will surely make the perfect stocking stuffer.
IMG_7097.JPG
IMG_7096.JPG
  • UNBREAKABLE The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run (journeyfilm.com, various prices).  I love me some running movies.  And this one is no exception.  It is an oldie but oh so good especially if you love trail running. The Western States 100-mile endurance run, the oldest and most prestigious 100-mile foot race in the world.  And in 2010, four of the greatest undefeated mountain runners on earth toed the starting line with one goal in mind: win.  And it is epic! From the scenery to the ups and downs of their journey—this film is AWESOME in that way only a runner can understand.  I HIGHLY recommend it. 
  • Run Fast. Eat Slow. ($16). Runners think about food all the time (I know I do).  And peak performance is what we want to achieve as runners and nutrition is an integral part of that.  What better way to say “I support your journey” than this cookbook by 2017 New York City Marathon Champion, Shalane Flanagan. Here is a cookbook for runners that addresses all the building blocks of effective fueling. And from the publisher summary, I love this line “Packed with more than 100 recipes for every part of your day, mind-blowing nutritional wisdom, and inspiring stories from two fitness-crazed women that became fast friends over 15 years ago, Run Fast Eat Slow has all the bases covered”.  So, go for it.  This will make an awesome Christmas gift!

Want to make this a sweeter gift? Throw in the Runner’s Recovery Tea as featured in Run Fast Eat Slow.  Now you can easily brew up a batch of this mineral-rich herbal drink. Read all about the benefits of Shalane's favorite tea on page 36 in our cookbook.  This tea contains hibiscus, chamomile, lemongrass, alfalfa and horsetail which inflammation-fighting trace minerals and helps the body to store more calcium for bone strength.

 

IMG_7103.JPG
IMG_7102.JPG
  • TriggerPoint GRID VIBE Vibrating Foam Roller for Pain Relief, Relaxation, and Recovery (Amazon.com, $99.99) Oh, the dreaded yet necessary foam roller. I personally have a love-hate relationship with it but can’t live without it.  And this one is just too damn cool! It vibrates! This roller foam roller provides clinical therapy technology in a compact unit. And the GRID pattern mimics the sensation of a massage therapist hands and channels blood flow for muscle recovery.  I am thinking this is a must for any runner.
  • Kinda Wanna Run Sweatshirt (Sarah Marie Design, $66).  I love running but some days I’m just not feeling it.  And this super cute sweatshirt is perfect for those days when you kinda wanna go for a run but kinda wanna stay in bed. This piece is made of triblend which equals super soft and comfy.  I don’t know any runner who would not want this under the Christmas tree!
IMG_7104.PNG
IMG_7100.JPG

Running is as much about nurturing the spirit and the mind as it is about the body and these two books follow that thought.

  • The Runner's Devotional (Barnes & Noble, $10.49).  Publisher's Summary "Ever wondered if there’s a purpose to your running and what it has to do with your spiritual life? The Runner’s Devotional will inspire you in your faith while encouraging you to excel at the sport you love! This book is for runners of all levels—casual and avid, competitive and recreational—who want to improve their running skills, attain personal running goals, and grow closer to God. Fifty-two devotional readings will keep runners motivated, inspired, and running in the right direction, both on and off the road, through life’s many peaks and valleys. Each devotional includes an inspirational reading, a personal story from a runner, Scripture application, running tips, and questions to consider. Additional features include health and fitness tips, and weekly runner’s logs."
  • Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor (Release Date: April 2018. Pre-order Amazon.com, $18). Deena Kastor who does not know her? If you run-- you do.  And if you do not, you should.  In her new book Deena gives us a glimpse into the "mind of an elite athlete, a remarkable story of achievement, and a fascinating primer on how the small steps of cultivating positivity can lead to outsize gains in performance (via Penguin Publishing). I already pre-ordered mine.  Have you?
9781414348124_1.jpg
51L41Ckd-rL.jpg

And there you have it! Some last minute Christmas gifts for the runner’s in your life.

Joining these awesome link-ups: Week In Review / Sunday Fitness & Food / Fit Fashionable Friday / Friday Five 2.0 / Tuesdays on the Run/ Wild Workout Wednesday /Meatless Monday

hiking for the soul - great river bluff state park


IMG_6716.JPG
IMG_6897.JPG
IMG_6861.JPG

Every few years I get a cold from hell that just takes me down for the count.  This year, it happened and there is nothing worse than spending Thanksgiving high on Theraflu and Mucinex. It is just not fun.  By Sunday I was feeling better and I was suffering from cabin fever.  You see. I spent the Monday before Thanksgiving and until Wednesday in bed. No joke.  On Thanksgiving Day I was feeling a bit better in the morning but by afternoon I was tired and just wanting to crawl into bed again. It was not until Sunday that I felt a bit better.  By then the need to get out of the house and just breath some fresh air was bigger than me.

As an outdoors lover, I am pretty fortunate that Minnesota has an amazing number of state parks, county parks, trails, etc.  And that is what I did-- I headed to the Great River Bluffs State Park in Nodine, MN-- about 25 minutes from where I live.  The park has two natural areas: King's and Queen's Bluff.   The King's Bluff trail has a breathtaking view of the Mississippi River Valley and it is my favorite, probably because I have not been to Queen's Bluff since it is designated as an educational area and accessible only by permit. But the King's Bluff is truly amazing. 

IMG_6516.jpg
IMG_6718.JPG
312D8FB0-9C83-4625-BDF3-F56A4DA80E04.JPG
5FBB15A4-548F-46D6-9FB0-B000FBC4F46D.JPG
IMG_6715.JPG
IMG_6871.JPG

The loop I normally take is about 5 miles and the scenery is spectacular.  The Mississippi River dotted with islands is gorgeous.  As points you just have to stop and take it all in.  Hiking provides lots of introspection for me.  Personally, as a Christian is where I feel closer to God.  My prayers and thoughts are more focused. I’m more me in the trails.

 

Thankfully, that day the temperature was in the high 40F with a light breeze so it was not cold.  And as I always do during this season, I dressed in layers, which proved smart. My lungs with their congestion were not ready for running—I knew that. But all in all, it was a great little hike and just what I needed.

Do you like hiking? Are there any “dream” hiking spot you want to visit?

Running in Winter Wonderland – Five Tips for Extreme Cold Running


ON NOW(1).jpg

For a Puerto Rican girl, winter can seem like a daunting season full of “Do I really want to go out into the cold?” and “Maybe I should just skip a walk because that would require bundling up and I just do not feel like it” kind of moments.  Here in Minnesota, those thoughts can multiply… unless you love the snow.

Any Gilmore Girls fans?If you are you remember that famous phrase by Lorelei “I Smell Snow”.  No, not the illegal “snow” but rather that feeling and smell in the air, right before it snows.  The air changes and there is this barely noticeable “smell” of snow.  I am that kind of person, attune with the weather and snow makes me happy. How did that happened? Back in 2000, I was in a peace keeping operation in Bosnia, and one winter's day I went out for a run.  As I started my run, it started snowing.  I will never forget it.  There was nobody else walking around our base of operations.  I was the only crazy running.  The snow intensified and the biggest snowflakes I had ever seen started falling.  To this day, if I close my eyes, I can still hear the snowflakes falling.  I can also hear the muffled sound of my footsteps in the snow.  It was the most peacefully surreal moment I have ever had… in a good way. 

In that moment I fell in love with running in winter.  Yes, I am that crazy that will run in 12°F or when it is snowing. For the purposes of this post extreme weather = 30°F or below.  In my case, this temperature comes with winds and it is brutal.  All this being said, I am not immune to the elements and running in extreme weather requires preparation and making sure you are protected, and today I am sharing with you my top five tips for extreme cold weather running. 

Photo by Isaac Wendland on Unsplash

1. Layers Are Your Friend.  The key to successful extreme winter running is layering.  If you remember nothing else, remember this.  My initial impulse when dressing for running in the winter is to bundle up, only to sweat once I start running.  Layers allow you to shed what you do not need.  I really the tip from Runner’s World about dressing in layers: The rule of thumb is to dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer.  What does that looks like for me?

• Wicking base layer (sports, bra, long-sleeved shirt, underwear, socks).  For me, any piece of clothing in direct contact with skin is a base layer. The key is comfort and breathable.  Some people like merino wool while others go for polyester.  The choices are as endless as your budget is.

• Wind resistant softshells are awesome especially if you hate wind.  Makes all the difference.  I like to wear a form fitting one.

For socks, I like them warm but light (thank goodness for Smartwool) to cover my knees because of my arthritis. Look for blends that will keep your toes warm and cozy.

• Running Tights.  There are tons of amazing running for running in the cold but for me, the tights that work are skiing tights because they have a panel in the thigh area to protect from the wind.  And we have terrible wind in my area.  I have yet to find running tights that compare to skiing ones.

• Running gloves and hats are a must! They protect you!  But make sure your hat isn’t too heavy or you will be sweating like crazy.  Go lightweight here. Did you know that thebody loses the majority of its heat through any exposed skin? So cover up as much as possible.

• Sunglasses—DO NOT FORGET THEM! The first (and only time) I ran without sunglasses, I was miserable, as the sun reflected on the snow.  My eyes were crying the whole time, and I think at times I was running with my eyes closed for some relief.

• Running Shoes—the best for last, right?  Water-resistant but breathable is the key. Don’t follow this and your feet will be very uncomfortable.  Even for road training, if itssnowing, I like to use a trail shoe because they have traction. Wearing gaiters over your calves will keep your ankles and legs dry when the snow is deep.

Let’s talk icy conditions, because we get lots of that here in Minnesota.  The best item I found are Yaktrax straps.  You hook them to the front and back of your running shoes and it gives awesome traction when running in icy conditions, so you can avoiding slipping on hard snow or ice like on a scene from Home Alone.

o99hgje2cu8-jason-rosewell.jpg

2.Get Warm.  During winter running, but especially extreme cold, warm-ups are mandatory for me especially because I do have some arthritis in my right knee.  Seriously-- do not skip this part.  Warming up your muscles is key to avoiding injuries.  You can do a pre-warm up inside and then take about 15 minutes outside for a slow jog to get the muscles warm and loose.  Then feel free to bring it!

3.  Cover any Exposed Skin.  The most painful part of extreme weather running is the exposed skin, so I leave none.  When it insanely cold, I wear a face mask or balaclava.  I make sure my hat covers my ears and that my neck is also covered.  For any other areas of the face, if it is windy, I rub a bit of Vaseline to protect against the elements.

4. Safety:  We have a saying in the Army—Safety First—and this is no exception.  This is very important to me because I live out in the country and if something happened they probably would not know where to find me.  A few simple rules I follow—

• Map my route with a Plan B in case I need to cut the run short.  I use Map My Run and when I go on longer runs, I print the route and stick to the fridge so hubby knows where I am going.

• Bring your cell phone AND make sure you keep it in a pocket where it will stay warm.  When the phone gets cold it will drain the battery. So keep it somewhere it will stay warm.

• I always let someone know where I am going.  I even let my mom know when my husband is out of town.  Just let someone know in case of emergency.

• Run mid-day when the temperatures are warmer and there is plenty of light. It is my favorite time of the day to run.

5. Use Common Sense:  Yes, I love to run outside in the winter but sometimes it is too damn cold!  On those days I just know how my body will react, and so I stay indoors and run on the treadmill or elliptical at my work gym.  You just have to be flexible and change the plan.  No run is worth you getting injured. No run whatsoever. 

Happy Running! Stay safe! 

xoxo

 

Joining these awesome link-ups: Week In Review / Sunday Fitness & Food / Fit Fashionable Friday / Friday Five 2.0 / Tuesdays on the Run/ Wild Workout Wednesday /Meatless Monday

thankful tuesday {autumnal winter in minnesota}


IMG_5830.JPG
IMG_5829.JPG

It may be autumn in the calendar but it is definitely not weather speaking. Two weeks ago from 60F weather to snow, to freezing temperatures. Literally, the past week has been between 20s and 10s.  It is insane because we are just in the first part of November; not even December. I hope the Farmer's Almanac is wrong because it did predict a long and cold winter. 

Now, I have to clarify something.  I do not hate winter.  I actually love it.  It just feel it is too soon.  The seasons are about the joy of letting them wrap you in their individual uniqueness and everything that is special about them.  This fall I was only able to go on a fall walk through the woods only twice.  That is a shame because it is my favorite season of the year... followed by winter. 

People always ask me how can I, a girl from Puerto Rico, love winter so much.  The answer is simple: I just do.  I have ever since I was a little child celebrating Christmas in 80F weather.  I remember asking my parents for a pair of red mittens for Christmas when I was like seven.  And now that I live in Minnesota, while I complain about winter, I do secretly love it. 

IMG_5825.JPG
FullSizeRender.jpg

When winter arrives, I feel a kind of expectation akin to Lorelai Gilmore's "I smell snow" quote on Gilmore Girls.  Winter, symbolizes new beginnings and with it comes a human need for coziness and warmth.  This is when  the magic of hygge happens.   Because it has to happen on its own.  You cannot force it.   One may have a need for that hygge feeling, but when you force it feels fake, which totally defeats the purpose.

As I mentioned, I am an island girl from Puerto Rico who, after a career in the military, married the most amazing husband and moved to the middle of farm country in SE Minnesota.  My husband's family is originally from Norway and in researching more about this culture and his own family, I once came across a little term called 'hygge'.   The word has been made famous by the Danish but in truth, it originates from Norwegian to mean 'well-being'.  But in the current context is refers to 'that feeling of coziness and comfort'. 

The more I read about it, the more this term reminded me of the German concept of 'gemütlichkeit' which convey the idea of a feeling of warmth and good cheer. Of coziness, peace of mind, and well-being.  During the time I was stationed in Germany, I came to love winter and that amazing feeling this word conveys.  And now living in Minnesota where the winters are harsh and long, I have come to truly embrace these concepts.  I have tried to explain this to people who ask me for a specific definition and the best I can say is "You Don't Spell It, You Feel It". 

And so, as this autumnal winter starts wrapping the state of Minnesota let us prepare for the season ahead.  In a few weeks it will be Thanksgiving and then the season of Christmas will start.  I always make a point of reminding myself about what is truly important and let that be the warmth that feels my heart when the weather outside is frightful.  Remember, let it fill you and you will feel it.  May you be able to do the same. 

xoxo, Maria

gearing up for half marathon training

This last summer with the micro flower farm trial garden (click on Tales from the Flower Farm for more) running took a back seat. I was not as consistent as I wanted to be. Then dealing with major stomach issues also added to the stress. 

IMG_5741.JPG

i was diagnosed with a stomach bacteria call H. Pylori... and it’s a MOFO (excuse moi). Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). These germs can enter your body and live in your digestive tract. After many years, they can cause sores, called ulcers, in the lining of your stomach or the upper part of your small intestine. Infection with H. pylori is common. About two-thirds of the world’s population has it in their bodies. For most people, it doesn’t cause ulcers or any other symptoms. Here’s the kicker— while there are medicines the bacteria is resistant.

Last week I went through my second antibiotic treatment and this second one was AWFUL. So much that the enzymes that my creatine test, which shows muscle inflammation, were three times what they should be.  Worst joint pain EVER. Thankfully, it worked but it resulted in a mandatory test for another week and a half to give my muscles time to rest.  

IMG_5742.JPG
IMG_5743.JPG

Once the next two weeks are over, I am switching gears and ramping up my half-marathon training. Up until a few months ago I had a running blog and have neglected it bigly.  But back in July I felt that my running was sort of blah and I needed something to motivate me and give me a goal. And so I decided to dust off my old running bucket list on went ahead and signed up for my first half marathon... in Norway. Hubby and I talked it over, and he is totally supportive of the idea so we will make it the most epic racecation we can.

My friends think it is crazy for me to do my first half marathon overseas. What if I get a DNF? All those kinds of questions that make me want to say "Really guys? How about some support?". Thankfully it is not for another year (I gave myself plenty of time) plus I hired a running coach for training, which I am so excited for since I sometimes need someone to push me. So, yeap... we are doing this! And the training is about to get real.

Week In Review / Sunday Fitness & Food / Fit Fashionable Friday / Friday Five 2.0 / Tuesdays on the Run/ Wild Workout Wednesday /Meatless Monday