I’m back from the unplanned hiatus :)

Hello blogging friends!

It’s been a challenging 2+ weeks for me and I needed time to rest and recharge. Actually, more accurately, I needed time to process and work through my feelings on Boston. Thank you to everyone out there for your posts related to the bombings and for feeling comfortable enough to be so vulnerable so publicly.

Winter has seemed unending this year, and like most Minnesotans, I’m suffering from a severe case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. We had a lovely weekend this past weekend (we hit 70!), but are expecting snow to return this week. I don’t think I can handle much more of this mentally, but, it doesn’t look like I’ll get much of a choice!

I’ve been busy with Body Pump (increased weights last night!!), went for a swim for the first time in years, and of course have been running. Moms On the Run has started back up officially, and I’m really looking forward to the structure of the runs and am hoping it will help me get faster. I’d really like to be able to run a 5k in under 30 minutes at some point in my life!

Choir has been hectic, too, as we had our first concert last Saturday. I’m happy to report it went splendidly and am looking forward to the two we have left this week. I feel so blessed to get the opportunity to sing with such wonderful people and make beautiful music. I am looking forward to the break this summer so I can focus more on running prior to my two upcoming half-marathons!

Additionally, I went up to Fargo last weekend for my friend’s son’s baptism (she finally had the baby!). I was (and still am) incredibly honored to be asked to be his sponsor, so it was a really special weekend that helped me remember the wonder of life and reflect on all I have thankful for. I really hope that I’m able to be a positive influence in his life and help him grow and learn. He’s already such a lucky guy to have such amazing parents!

I have so much to catch up on, but promise I’m back and will be blogging more regularly again! 🙂

How is the weather in your neck of the woods? Enjoy it twice as much for me, please, if you are experiencing legit spring weather!!

I’m Addicted to Races

Seriously – I had to cut myself off because I still find myself searching for more and more to sign up for. I need (see how I do that, start justifying this by using words like “need” instead of “want”?!) to sign up for a couple 10 milers this summer/fall to help get acclimated to running long distances prior to Disney, so I’ll have to lift the moratorium at some point. Smile

It’s going to be a really fun spring (if it ever arrives!!) and summer for sure – here’s what I am currently signed up for:

Run or Dye “Fun” Run 5k – May 4th

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Photo courtesy Run or Dye

I am VERY excited for this run, because the Nelson side of the family decided at Easter to make it a family event. I’m unsure how many of us ended up signing up, but it should be around 10 people. I am such a “family” girl, so the thought of sharing a race with my family is pretty incredible.

Rave Run “Fun” Run 5k – May 10th

This should be a fun run, too, because it’s a night race and I LOVE night races. The husband and I are running this one with a friend, so it should be a blast. Glow in the dark sticks, neon lights, and a promise of an after-party also have me psyched.

Grandma’s Half-Marathon – June 22nd

Image taken from Grandma’s Half website

I am SO excited to get to experience Grandma’s this year – we were luckily selected in the lottery (I’ve read the chances of being selected are roughly 50/50), so the ability to get to run this seems even more special. I’ve heard raves about Grandma’s for years (even before I cared about running), and am so excited to see what the hype is all about. I checked and there is a net-decrease in elevation, so I’m hoping a PR will be in store for me as well.

Warrior Dash 5k Mud Run – June 29th

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This will be my second year doing the Warrior Dash – it is held at one of Minnesota’s downhill skill areas (which apparently is laughable to those from mountainous states), so nearly the entire course is straight uphill. I’m hoping that the Body Pump and additional running will help with my endurance this year as I absolutely left room for improvement last year!

Color Run “Fun” Run – July 14th

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This will be my second year doing the Color Run. It was such a blast last year, I am excited for a repeat this year!

Twilight 5k – July 27th

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This will be my second year doing the Twilight 5k, but I’m looking forward to this race because it’s a night race (hence “twilight”), and I PR-ed here last year (before PR-ing again later in the season). I’m hoping for a repeat PR this year!

Disney Wine and Dine Half-Marathon – November 9th

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I am most excited about this race! Not only is it in my favorite place on Earth, but, this is what got me hooked on the blogging world! Dan and I had been planning to take a trip to Disney the week of November 9th, but soon discovered W&D Half was also that weekend, so we had to race it. We will be celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary, so it should be a pretty special trip in more ways than one!

As you can see, I’m looking a little empty from August through October, so I’ll need (there I go again with “need” Smile with tongue out) to find a race or two to fill them up.

Happy racing and running, everyone!

What are some of your upcoming races? Is there a race you’re really looking forward to? Why?

Race Recap: Chocoholic Frolic 10k

Well, this was a race to remember! Last year, this race was called the Running Opener, but the organizers tweaked the race to make it more appealing to a larger audience. I don’t remember how many participants there were last year, but the race didn’t sell out. This year, the race sold out well before race day due to promises of chocolate and awesome race swag (including a tech long-sleeved half-zip T as well as a drawstring bag). The race consisted of a 5k or 10k option, which was the same as last year. I really enjoyed last year’s race (it was my first 10k!) and was looking forward to this newer and hopefully better version!

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While I had a mostly good experience at the race, there were some items that annoyed me. First up – packet pick-up was from 12-6pm in St. Paul on the Friday before the race as well as 7:45 am before the race at 9:30. Not only were the hours not terribly accommodating for those of us that work business hours, BUT, they sent out an email on Thursday telling us to get there early to ensure we get a shirt that fits correctly. So, even though I selected my size when signing up for the race, and even though the race sold out WELL in advance of the race, they couldn’t guarantee the correct size? Annoying. Since I couldn’t get to packet pick-up on Friday, we got to packet pick-up FIRST thing Saturday morning and they were out of the size of shirt I ordered. So, we got there early thinking we could get the correct sizes; that didn’t happen, and then we had to wait in our car for an hour and a half! Why wait in the car? Because Minnesota is AWESOME and the weather was 35 degrees and rainy! Sad smile

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I was puffy in the morning and complaining that I looked ridiculous when I smiled – Dan said jokingly, “do the duck-face!” – it worked. Smile with tongue out

Overall, the course was nice – it was two loops for the 10k-ers, which isn’t my favorite, but it was quiet with few pedestrians in the way (it probably didn’t hurt that the weather was crappy). There is one nasty hill, but I like challenges. Smile

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Above photo taken from Final Stretch’s Instagram page

I was consciously trying to keep myself from going too hard too fast – I’ve been getting speedier, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t bonk halfway through the race. I ran at a steady 12:30 pace for the first 5 miles or so (with walk breaks here and there to give my legs a break) and then gave myself permission to kick it into gear at mile 5. I ran the sixth mile at a 10:50 pace (what?! I’ve never come CLOSE to that before) and the last .2 miles at a 9:30 pace (which was my best effort at a “sprint” that long into the race). I PR-ed by 30 seconds and am still on a high from how much faster I was able to run the last mile or so. I know now I could have pushed the pace earlier on, but I’m not unhappy with my strategy. I just know better now for upcoming races!

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After the race, we went quickly to find our chocolaty snacks! I was EXTREMELY disappointed with what was left over (I wasn’t that slow – there were probably a good 40 people behind me) for us “slow” people. The chocolate dipping sauce was gone, so I got two Oreos and chocolate milk. That’s it. Oh, and a banana. And they ran out of potato chips. I am very hopeful that Final Stretch learned a thing or two about the race this year to fix for next year. Being a slower runner, it gets really annoying when races run out of things prior to us finishing. We paid as much as the faster runners, and I feel that we deserve everything we paid for. Additionally, they started the drawing for prizes (chocolates and such) BEFORE everyone finished. I felt sorry for the last runner – if I felt forgotten, who knows how they were feeling.

We grabbed a quick picture with two of my running buddies, and then left to head home and get out of our cold clothes.

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Overall, it was okay – I definitely won’t rave about this, and I’ll think twice before participating again next year unless they assure us they will be better prepared.

What’s your biggest pet-peeve at races?

Weekly Recap – April 8th

MONDAY: Body Pump

TUESDAY: 5.6 miles outside

WEDNESDAY: Rest – I needed a night off to be an introvert 🙂

THURDSAY: Rest – choir rehearsal

FRIDAY: Rest – taught three voice lessons

SATURDAY: Chocoholic Frolic 10k – recap coming shortly!

SUNDAY: 2 mile walk to loosen up the legs

April Mileage: 13.8 miles

YTD Mileage: 107.1 miles

Notes: I had a very busy week with both running and music – it was wonderful! Plus, I PR-ed at the Chocoholic Frolic 10k (despite crappy weather and crappy hills). I’m planning to start integrating some swimming and other cross-training cardio options as I continue to ramp up mileage to give my legs and body time to recover.

Happy running, everyone!

How is April starting off for you? Has the weather cooperated for outdoor exercising in your neck of the woods?

My Love Affair With Choral Music

It’s been a while since a music post, so I thought I’d dedicate today’s blog post to one of my favorite genres of classical music: choral. I am very lucky to have been born and raised in a state that not only highly values classical music (well, at least we used to – I’ll avoid getting up on my soap box regarding the current MN Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra lockouts), but many different types. Specifically, Minnesota is a large participant in the Lutheran Choral Tradition (I capitalized it because I think it deserves it…even if grammatically incorrect :)) which was popularized by F. Melius Christiansen. We have some wonderful private Lutheran colleges with highly praised choral programs which have continued this tradition, including my alma mater, Concordia College. I was lucky enough to get to sing with the Concordia Choir under the direction of Dr. Rene Clausen for three years, and they were some of the most rewarding years of my life thus far (and most likely to come).

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Current Concordia Choir (image courtesy Concordia College)

I don’t talk religion often, because I views beliefs as highly personal, but something about the action of singing together with 70 other people is a very spiritual experience for me. I can’t articulate specifically what it feels like, but for you choral singers out there, you know the instant where everything just *clicks* and you lose yourself in the music? There’s nothing else like it. It’s simultaneously very personal and very public, because you are sharing this experience with peers you have worked so hard with to create the best music you can, while basking in the feelings you as an individual are feeling. I get goosebumps just thinking about it!

In my second year of the Concordia Choir, we performed Dr. Clausen’s piece, “In Pace” (Latin for “In Peace”). One of the best parts of choir was Dr. Clausen – not only an incredibly talented composer, arranger, conductor, musician, etc., Dr. Clausen is a wonderful human. He would always tell us the background behind the pieces we were singing in order to appreciate more when performing (and, as a music history buff, this was especially appreciated on my part). According to what he told us during rehearsal, Dr. Clausen wrote “In Pace” in response to his visit to a concentration camp in Germany during one of the Concordia Choir’s international tours. After hearing that, I don’t think I made it through a rehearsal or performance without tearing up. One of Dr. Clausen’s strengths as a composer is to use chords and voicing to create crescendos that build and build to a climax that is typically very emotional for the performer and audience member. There are two main climaxes in this song, the first occurring around the 4:55 minute mark and the second occurring around the 6:30 minute mark which can be heard in the version the Concordia Choir performed back in the 90s that’s made available through Spotify to listen to: Concordia Choir – In Pace.

The text translated to English reads:

In peace, I shall lay me down and take my rest. If I surrender my eyes and eyelids to slumber, I shall sleep and rest. Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Even to this day, I have trouble getting through listening to the song without becoming emotional. To me, this piece transcends singing notes on a page – it speaks to a part of my soul. I wish for everyone to have this experience – even if it’s not with music, that you find something that speaks to you on a level that could never be accurately articulated.

And with that, I wish you a wonderful Friday and a fantastic weekend!

Happy listening, singing, running, exploring, or doing whatever else gives you great joy!

 

Something’s Gotta Give

So…I blinked and it’s now April 3rd! This means, time for a new set of monthly goals. Last month I wasn’t terribly successful (I need to take more pictures!), so here’s a late-entry for a bonus point:

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I got a haircut!

As I consider what I want to focus on this month, I have Ella Fitzgerald’s version of “Something’s Gotta Give” running through my head.

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Often, songs pop into my head that perfectly describe how I’m feeling at the moment – it’s completely subconscious and usually neat (unless it’s an obnoxious song such as “Tubthumping”…I know, what kind of crazy subconscious mind do I have?!). At any rate, I’m feeling spread thin. I am part of a running club that starts running 2x/week shortly, choir that rehearses weekly, I teach lessons two nights per week, blogging, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and oh, my job that has picked up in workload recently. Also, I am an introvert, so I gain energy from alone time which I have been severely lacking in. I found this a few months back and boy does it resonate with me – check it out:

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I feel that I’m at the point where I’m on the edge of a breakdown, which typically consists of shutting down and doing nothing. I think part of the reason why I’ve been able to continue with such a busy schedule for so long is that I genuinely am enjoying everything I’m involved in. I love teaching – it brings more joy to me (and hopefully my students!) than I thought it would. I love singing and making music. I love being physically active. I love the fact that I’m getting to know a young person and hopefully be a positive adult role model. I love connecting with other runners and music lovers in this amazing blogging world. So what now?

After many days of pondering, “what now?”, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to get comfortable having a busy life. I need to get comfortable living outside of my comfort zone. So, that’s my goal for April – get comfortable with the new me.

And take more pictures…I still need to take more pictures. Smile

Are any of the rest of you busy people? How do you cope?

Weekly Recap–April 1st

What a week it has been – even though I was absent from the blogging world, I was physically active outside it! As I type this recap, I’m considering what goals I should make for April – check back for a post on those tomorrow.

MONDAY: Rest – sick day

TUESDAY: 5.6 miles outside – it was beautiful!

WEDNESDAY: Rest – Sick hubby

THURDSAY: Rest – Hung out with my friend before she headed back to TX

FRIDAY: 3.8 miles outside – I ran one of my miles at a less than 11 minute per mile pace!!

SATURDAY: Rest – Fun with the “Little Sis” from Big Brothers Big Sisters

SUNDAY – Happy Easter!: 3.8 miles outside solo – first solo run since the allergic reaction in December

March Mileage: 47.2 miles

YTD Mileage: 93.3 miles

Notes: I had some breakthroughs this week with speed – have I mentioned that I’m a “slower” runner? I typically average around a 12:00 mile, and on Friday I ran one of my miles at a 10:50 pace, and my run on Sunday, I averaged at a pace of 11:30. Perhaps the Body Pump and Yoga are already starting to help? Or, I’ve really started ramping up the mileage in anticipation for Grandma’s in June, and that has helped make me more efficient. Either way, I see my yearly goal of running a 5k in under 34:30 and lifetime goal of running a 5k at a 10:00/mile pace as very attainable!

Happy running, everyone!

How did your training go in March? What changes are you looking to make in April?