Saturday, April 28, 2012

House in the Woods

I am having a relaxing week hanging out at the Stanford runners’ house.  My teammates, Meghan Peyton and Matt Llano, and I usually wake up early in the morning and drive down to the Stanford campus to do a work-out or a recovery run.  For the rest of the day we read, sleep, and shop for groceries.  Meghan works on recruiting for Augsburg, Matt texts, and I try to learn techno dance footwork.  At night we usually play some hearts after dinner.

The three of us felt pretty uncomfortable the first day we showed up.  We didn’t know any of the runners well, and it was a Saturday evening when we met everyone, so they were having friends over.  I felt like I was intruding on their weekend fun, even though they were very welcoming.  Over the past week they have continued to be very friendly and accommodating hosts, and as we have gotten to know them a little bit better, we have had a lot of fun hanging out with them.  The runners, Jake Riley, Elliot Heath, Brenden Gregg, JT Sullivan, and triple jumper Whitney Lieher, have a beautiful house on a mountain side.  The house is tucked into a forest of redwood trees and wild flowers.  Thankfully, they have plenty of room, and were willing to take us in.

As for my race on Sunday, I’m in the second heat of the steeple.  I was a little disappointed at first.  I know I’m in good shape, and I believe I could be a competitor in the first heat.  After some reflection, I think the second heat will set me up well to run the Olympic Trials A standard.  There are a few other runners who are running at about 10:00 pace, so they will likely want to be on pace for the A standard.  Hopefully, we can be on pace without the huge pack of people that will likely be together in the first heat.  The first heat would be good practice for the trials, but I have to worry about running a time first.
   Good news!  I just found out my boyfriend, track miler Ben Blankenship, is going to come out for the race.  He has a little business to do while out here, but he will also be cheering for me.  My dad and Uncle will also be out here.  I’m excited to see everyone and for all the support.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Not Quite Mt. SAC, But Still a Good Effort

So, a couple weeks ago, I went to sign up for the Mt. SAC Relays and the Payton Jordan Invitational Meet at Stanford.  I find the Mt. SAC site, and BAM!  I realize they closed the entries the day before.  Despite much pleading and reminders of my race last year (I ran alone to win the second heat of the steeple) through e-mails and phone calls from me and my coach, I was not allowed in.  Last week, as the meet approached, and I still hadn’t heard back, I became more and more irritated.  I was mad at myself for being too slow and frustrated with the race directors of Mt. SAC for ignoring me while letting one of my teammates in.

Well, good thing they have the Bryan Clay Invitational at Azusa Pacific University for people like me.  I was able to register for the meet a couple days before flying out to California.  I was wary about running the meet because winning times from previous years were not what I wanted to run.  However, I was pleasantly surprised when the heat sheets came out – many women with fast times were entered. 

When the race went off, I tucked into second place.  The first 700 meters were a little too comfortable.  I took the lead with 800m to go and picked up the pace.  We went through 800m at 2:20, not nearly as fast as I had hoped, but I was able to run 4:21.  The race felt good, and I hope I’m able to run another 1500m soon.  If I start out a little quicker, I think I’ll be able to run in the 4:teens. 

Usually Mt. SAC and Payton Jordan are two weeks apart, but this year, they are only separated by a week.  So Meghan Peyton, Matt Llano, and I are staying in California for almost two weeks to run at the two races.  Now that the 1500m is done, we will fly to the San Francisco area to train for the week and run at Payton on Sunday.  In order to save the team money, we found a very lose connection for a place to stay in California.  Matt know Brandon Gregg, a recently graduated Stanford runner, through racing him, and we all know his sister, Kaitlin from RunPro camp in 2011.  He and his roommates are very generous and letting us stay with them for the week.  As usual, I am living as a nomad, but it will be a fun adventure.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's a Great Time to be a Running Store Employee!

Since my sophomore year of college at the University of Minnesota, I have worked part-time at a locally-owned, specialty running shoe store in St. Paul (and now Burnsville, too), Run n Fun.  I have always loved working at the store.  Perry and Kari, the owners, work most days at the store, and are able to help out the rest of the employees with the difficult questions (Which Asics shoe came in blue and silver 3 years ago?  How many ounces does the Adidas Boston Classic weigh?  What shoe has replaced this Nike shoe that I have never heard of, and looks like it was bought in the 80’s? ).  They are very generous to their employees, and thankfully for all the college student-athletes and professional runners on staff, they are very flexible with scheduling.  The customers who come in are generally very nice and share my excitement and love for running.

So what can make this awesome job even better?  Well, lately some shoe companies have decided that in order to help shoe employees be knowledgeable about their products, they would give us free shoes, clothing, and education about their products.  In the past, reps have come in with a couple samples of their shoes and have only had the chance to talk to the full-time employees.  But, during the past year, Nike has had a few educational events where all the employees of Run n Fun could attend.  To sweeten the deal, they give us food, new shoes, and clothing.  A couple weeks ago, James and Lauren, Nike reps, took us to Target Field in downtown Minneapolis.  We got a tour of the stadium, played some games in our new Nike outfits and Nike Free shoes, and ended up eating dinner.  So fun!

Then, on Friday night, all the women who worked at Run n Fun were invited to a ladies night at the St. Paul store, with Brooks rep, Clerc.  She dumped out a whole box of clothing and said we could try on and keep any of the clothes we wanted.   My roommate, Elizabeth, and I couldn’t believe our good fortune, and we keep jumping around in excitement when we got home. 

Motto of the story, if you’re looking for an awesome job, it’s a good time to get into the running customer service industry.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Last fall, Team USA Minnesota acquired an Ellitigo, an elliptical machine on wheels.  However, by the time it found a home in my garage last fall, it was too cold and icy to bring it out.  Now that spring has finally hit Minnesota, I broke out the Ellitigo to do some cross-training around the lakes this past Sunday. 

                The Elliptigo is awesome, because I can be outside while cross-training.  “Um, what about biking?” you may ask.  Biking is fine, but I always prefer using an elliptical machine over a bike when I cross-train, because it more closely mimics a running stride.  With an elliptical, I can maintain running fitness and form without the pounding.  And now, with the elliptigo, I can take my favorite cross-training activity outside.  My teammates and I get a lot of stares and questions, because the Elliptigos are a fairly new site around here, but it is worth the attention.

                If you’re like, “What’s this cross-training business?” let me back up a step.  I define cross-training as an activity that improves physical fitness, but without the pounding on the body.  My body can take a lot of pounding.  Over the years I’ve worked my way up to being able to run 75 miles a week.  However, each time I take a step, my legs absorb a whole lotta weight.  One way I try and prevent injury is to supplement my running with going on the elliptical, biking, cross-country skiing, rowing, and swimming at least once a week.  If I am feeling tight, tired, sore, or am in pain, I’ll start to replce some of my running miles with cross-training time.  For example, my hamstring has been bothering me a lot recently, so this week I probably ran 40 miles and cross-trained for 40 miles.  I learned the value of cross-training early from Ben Zhao, my high school coach, and it has greatly helped me avoid and recover from injuries.