Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Running Tours

This weekend I am headed to San Francisco with some friends for a long weekend of full-fledged FUN. I happened to stumble upon this trip after a long day of drinking (read: do not surf travel sites while intoxicated), and found a great deal. Round trip airfare plus four nights at a boutique hotel for a total of $410. Not bad, eh? And, it happens to be Pride weekend in San Francisco. Although completely unplanned, we chose an excellent weekend to visit. Pride weekend in San Fran will be C-R-A-Z-Y.

While there are multiple trips planned to Citizen Cake, Beach Blanket Babylon, and Badlands, I am going to try my best to fit in a run or two. I think one of the best ways to see a city is by hitting the pavement and exploring the urban jungle. And guess what? There are running tours in the fair city of San Francisco! Thanks to a tip from another running tour company, City Running Tours (tours in New York, Chicago, Austin, Washington, DC, Charleston, and San Diego, I found American Running Guides ( I am now in the process of booking a four to five mile running tour. Although I considered running with the San Francisco Road Runners Club for a Saturday morning run (which is FREE), I hope to book an actual guided tour, as it will be relatively flat and fine-tuned for visitors from afar. I seriously do not think there is a better way to get in some exercise and tour a city. I will be multi-tasking on my vacation. How efficient.

Some people like to go on vacations to relax and escape from their reality. They like to pig out on cake, drink kegs of beer, and dance until the sun comes up. While I will most likely partake in all of these activities, I will also be running the streets of San Fran. So, dear readers, there may be a brief lull in my blogging activity in the coming days, but fear not. I will be back next week with a full report of my San Francisco excursion, including a synopsis of the running tour and memories of complete debauchery.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Run, Rock and Stroll 10k Race

Last weekend I participated in an annual benefit race called 'Run, Rock and Stroll' in Des Moines. I hadn't run a 10k in almost two years, in which I averaged a 10-minute mile. My goal for this race was to average eight-minute miles and keep a steady pace. Although I was able to maintain that pace and come in first in my age group (yes, this is a first, but I will admit that there were not a lot of people participating in the 10k), there were multiple times throughout the race when I questioned my sanity. I also contemplated running the 5k (which was running along the same route for a while) during the first fifteen minutes of the race.

You see, dear readers, I was in NO shape to run that little race. Why, you ask? This overpronator drank a little too much and was out late the night before. STUPID. I've never missed a race due to a hangover or anything else, and I was not about to miss this one. I was going to get through it, even if I had to crawl (while ralphing all over the place).

Luckily, the weather was perfect - light mist and 60 degrees. And I was fortunate enough to keep a steady pace, thanks to another runner ahead of me. Without her, I probably would've not averaged that pace, as she motivated me to keep up. I also slowed down for water stops this time, which is something I rarely do. I'm always afraid that it's going to hurt my time; it actually helped me get through the race, especially in the last two miles.

So, for future reference, I will *try* to abstain from excessive drinking before races. Not a good idea. I will slow down and partake in the consumption of water. And I will continue to work hard to improve my time.

P.S. I've been adding tons of hills to my runs. I think it's helping...I've come to look forward to running them, as they break up the monotony. Plus, as an added bonus, my legs are getting toned. Bring on the hills!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I *Heart* Planks

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I am "greeted" by the 5:55 AM alarm, reminding me of the semi-tortuous group training session about to take place. Actually, my circuit training sessions with my esteemed trainer are something I look forward to, as I could seriously live at the gym (I'm a freak like that). I'm especially excited when we are faced with the challenge of doing a variety of planks. Today was my day!

Every training session focuses on a group of muscles. Last Tuesday we worked our leg muscles, while my very fit mother complained about her knee and how she's the oldest person in our group (yes, my dear mother is in the training group, which motivates me to kick it into high gear, as I am NOT about to be outperformed by my mother!). Leg days are great (I *LOVE* the Smith machine - perhaps the subject of a future post), but I do prefer days that include planks. A seemingly simple exercise, the plank is one of my absolute favorites. It works practically everything. Here's the gist of the plank:

-Start by lying face down on the ground or use an exercise mat. Place your elbows and forearms underneath your chest.

-Prop yourself up to form a bridge using your toes and forearms .

-Maintain a flat back and do not allow your hips to sag towards the ground.

-Breath (I know it's obvious, but this is what really helps me hold the plank for a longer time period).

Simple, right? And, you can do them anywhere. And you can do variations (more to come on that subject). Okay, so it took me a long time to develop a love for planks, but the journey was well worth it. Six months ago, I probably couldn't hold it for more than thirty seconds (I had a weak core), while now I can do them for up to two minutes (goal is three minutes). I started doing them as a way to build core strength, as well as improve my running economy. Planks have helped me strengthen my core and running posture. As I started putting in the miles for my half-marathon training, I noticed that I was able to keep a good posture late into the run. I've also improved my speed.

When I first started running, I thought that I could do a couple of days of somewhat easy, unfocused strength training. I didn't think about how to incorporate strength training into my running. I just went from one weight machine to the next for a couple of hours every week. While some runners prefer just to run six days a week (with no strength or core training), I've learned that I NEED strength training to build my core and get me through some of those tough runs. And the plank is my main weapon!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Inaugural Post

Since this is my first post EVER, I'd like to begin by welcoming myself (since I'm probably the only one reading it) to my blog. I *intend* to utilize the blogosphere just as my title implies: to mindlessly muse about running (mainly) and life (in general). As you can see, I like to utilize parentheses and asterisks. These will be exploited, so be forewarned.

And yes, I am an overpronator. Well, it's actually a little more complicated than that. I tend to overpronate on my right foot, but my left foot is rather neutral. What does this mean, you ask? I'm probably in desperate need of a chiropractor, but I'm kind of lazy when it comes to such "boring" things. It seems like a task, although I'd probably benefit from a visit to the (snap, crackle, pop!) chiro.

Although a trip to the chiro should be a priority, I am about to go for yet another run instead. I have been running for about two years, but I didn't really get semi-serious about it until a few months ago. I have completed a half marathon (the inaugural Illinois Half Marathon in April 2009); it was part of one of those cheesy "bucket lists," as I wanted to complete a half before my 30th birthday. A couple of weeks ago, I ran the extremely well-organized Dam to Dam in Des Moines, Iowa (the largest 20k in the US, I believe). My next goal is to complete a marathon, preferably the Twin Cities Medtronic Marathon in October 2009. One of the reasons why I created this blog is to document my personal training, as well as the trials and tribulations of life that comes with marathon training.

Also be forewarned that I like food. A LOT. I love to make (semi-)healthy food, specifically. Garbanzo bean (or navy bean) chocolate chip cookies. Or the blogosphere's latest obsession: the Green Monster smoothie (a spinach and fruit smoothie). Stuff like that. Yums. So, dear reader, do not be alarmed if you are welcomed to my daily post with a large photo of a cup of green slime (Green Monster), or some other tempting food item that I have devoured earlier that day.'s that for a first post? In concluding the inaugural entry of "The Mindless Musings of an Overpronator," I hope my contribution to the world as a newly-minted blogger will entertain (and perhaps, on occasion, amuse, if not delight) all who read it. Here's to the beginning of a new blog (raise the champagne glass and *lightly* tap glasses)! Happy running, everyone!