So heavenly!

fall running

Today’s run was the best run I’ve had all year.  10 miles in 50 degrees enjoying the last of the Fall colors.  Best part was ending at Meg’s bakery – with her having a chocolate old fashioned donut waiting for me.  Heaven!


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Lessons for the Aging Runner from Minnesuing Acres Women’s Running Retreat

enjoy the journey

One of the big draws for me with the Minnesuing Acres Women’s Running Retreat (other than Kara Goucher!) was the focus that it promised on running as you age and on injury prevention.  Because for me, the 40’s are NOT fabulous in terms of my running.  I just turned 44 and I’ve been injured and NOT running for more of my 40’s than I’ve been healthy/running.

Before I get to what I learned at the retreat, however, I do want to make a pitch to aging women runners to consider getting tested for hypothyroidism (and Hashimoto’s Disease) if you are feeling any of the following symptoms, many of which can be written off as “normal aging” (I did – only to discover I had hypothyroidism – which is now controlled by a daily magic pill of thyroid hormone): gall bladder issues or pain, feeling tired and very low energy – all the time, brain fog/memory issues, problems concentrating, irregular periods, joint pain, weight gain, depression, constipation, dry scalp, extreme emotional swings, always being cold.  Seriously – if you are feeling these symptoms, get your TSH level tested (but make sure the testing lab is using to correct range – many labs still use the old guidelines).  The test is easy.  The fix is easy (for me; knocking on wood). And SO many people – especially middle age women -develop hypothyroidism.

As I think about what I learned in terms of aging advice and injury prevention advice, much of it is common sense and/or stuff that we have all heard.  But we all ignore it.  We tell ourselves we don’t have time for it.  Or we don’t need it, because we have been fine and fast up until now.  But the truth is that the things that were talked about are so important to being a healthy masters runner.  So, without further ado, here’s what I learned at the retreat (from speedsters Kara Goucher, Janis Klecker, Katie McGee and Dr. Ann Sudoh):

  • You have to get more creative on how you get fit as you get older.  You can’t run every day, or do doubles, like when you were young. You MUST have a non-running activity that you enjoy.  It’s important for injury prevention (you can’t run every day – you need to cross train with something to stay healthy and fit).  But it’s also important so you don’t have all your eggs in the running basket – so that when you get injured (because you probably will, as you age) you don’t let yourself fall apart mentally and physically. So pick whatever you like – skiing, yoga, cycling, elliptical (do people really like that thing??), swimming, walking, pilates.
  • You MUST strength train.  I am SO guilty of ignoring this one.  Mostly because I don’t have a clue what to do in terms of lifting weights or using weight machines.  I can’t remember the statistic Dr. Sudoh gave us, but it was some significant percentage of muscle mass that you lose each decade after your 30’s, just by virtue of aging.  So you NEED to do strength training to remain strong and healthy.  No more ignoring this – I know I’m going to FOR SURE find a strength program and figure out what I need to do to get stronger.  Someone check back in with me in a month and kick my butt if I haven’t started strength training!
  • Obey your stress/rest cycle.  You know – the old hard day/easy day/hard day thing.  Only as you age you need to change this for something that works for your aging body. Listen to your body.  Your new “older” stress/rest cycle might be:  hard/easy/easy/easy/hard
  • Consider doing 10 day training cycles instead of the “normal” 7 day training cycle.  This will give you more days to get the key workouts in and to recover/rest properly.
  • Consider doing longer rest intervals.  If you used to do 1000 meter intervals with a 60 second recovery, your aging body may now need 90 second recovery.  It’s more important to take the longer time to recover and hit your paces.
  • Post hard workout you NEED to be taking in recovery nutrition in the very short window that it matters, which is like 15 minutes after you run.  You need to replenish with carbs/protein with one of those recovery type drinks (I don’t know the exact carb/protein ration – but you all know what I’m talking about).  Kara Goucher’s post hard workout (long runs and fast efforts) is tart cherry juice (antioxidants) and a garden of life protein shake.  But whatever works for you – ensure, chocolate milk, whatever carb/protein drink you can tolerate – just get it in you within 15 minutes of running.  Kara described how much more difficult her runs are the next day or two after a hard effort if she skips her recovery nutrition.
  • Prehab.  You know, like how we rehab after an injury occurs.  Prehab, before an injury occurs.  Stretch. Foam roll.  Massage.  Baby those little “niggles” that pop up, before they become full fledged injuries.  Side note:  I found it so reassuring to hear that Kara and Katie (both younger than me) wake up in the morning and their bodies feel creaky and old. It happens to all of us – we just need to adjust our routines to work with the creakiness!
  • Rule of Too’s (via Katie McGee):  Don’t do anything Too Hard, Too Fast, or Too Often.
  • Masters racing is about getting to the STARTING line.  Love this.  So true.  As I’ve been in my 40’s I’ve had to back out of two marathons because I was too injured to even make it to the starting line.  Which sucks.
  • Better to be 4% under trained than 1% over trained.  Over training leads to injuries, blow ups and not meeting your goals.
  • Train your weakness in your off season.  Instead of marathoning all year round, take a break and do shorter distance in the off season.  Or focus on strength or whatever your weakness is.  Give your body a break and a boost.
  • Think about the choices you are making each day.  Ask yourself “is this choice I’m making allowing me to stay even, move forward or go backwards”?  (Side note:  I thought about this during the retreat as I helped myself to seconds on brownies and thirds on red wine – but I justified it with “I’m on a mini-vacation – I’ll start making good choices on Monday!”)
  • Still keep pushing yourself to reach new goals, explore new things.  Always be curious and ask what’s possible.

Good stuff.  I swear I’m not going to ignore this advice anymore – I want to be running when I’m a senior citizen!

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Janis Klecker’s Running, a Celebration of the Heart – at Minnesuing Acres Women’s Running Retreat

Janis and barneyOne of my absolute favorite parts of the weekend at Minnesuing Acres Women’s Running Retreat was getting to know Janis Klecker.  Going into the retreat, I didn’t know much about her.  I knew her name, that she was a running legend and that she had really fast kids who went to Hopkins (near where I live).

At the retreat she gave an amazing presentation with a power point that wove together her running life story with the life story of her relationship with her husband (running legend/olympian Barney Klecker), her children (all amazing runners and athletes) and her amazing running mom, Mae Horns.  She has won a bunch of marathons (Twin Cities, CIM, San Francisco – all multiple times), competed in the 1992 Olympic marathon and just run an incredible number of races for a long time. All while putting herself through dental school, being a dentist and then having 6 kids in like 7 years.  There was not a dry eye in the room when she spoke of her mom – who was her training partner and best friend and biggest fan – developing ALS and eventually dying from it.  I have such a special place in my heart – because of my work as a guardianship attorney for elderly and mentally ill – for people who suffer from devastaing and cruel diseases like ALS and Alzheimer’s (and an even more special place in my heart for their families, who suffer right along side their loved one).  It moved me so much to hear her speak with love about the special memories she and her mom created together through running.

Janis talked frequently of her bible studies, and quoted bible passages that meant a lot to her in life and running.  They were inspirational passages, that you can clearly see relate to running and the relationships formed from running.  I love them!



Other bits of wisdom that I learned from Janis:

  • You can’t plan for the race of your life.
  • Every one of us have a weak link.  We all train until we find it.
  • When we stumble, we get back up.
  • We encourage each other.
  • Find your greatness.
  • You have to get more creative in how you get fit as you get older.  As an aging runner you HAVE to find another type of fitness that you can tolerate.

My favorite part about Janis was running with her.  On Saturday morning we ran 6 miles together, with just the two of us chatting for a good 3 miles.  We talked about our kids running cross country (they are both running for local high schools now; her daughter just ran at Gale Woods, about 2 miles from where I live).  We talked about how kids choose the college they go to (and how parents/kids pay for it!), because my daughter is just applying to colleges now. We talked about our kids nordic skiing.  It was just a real and a casual conversation.

Janis and her love for her God, her husband, her children, her mother, her running and her health were SO inspirational.  This weekend Janis taught me not just about running, but about the type of human being that I want to be.

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A Weekend of Running and Inspiration: Minnesuing Acres Women’s Running Retreat


You know how when you were a kid and you went to summer camp and it was just THE BEST thing ever because you got to eat and play and have bonfires and meet new friends and stay up late and then do it all again the next day?

Well I just got to do a grown up version of summer camp at the first (annual?) Minnesuing Acres Women’s Running Retreat.  And it was THE BEST.  Seriously.

I originally signed up for the retreat in the spring when I was returning to running after my third tibial stress fracture in 18 months.  I knew I should be smart about returning to running, so shouldn’t sign up for a Fall marathon.  But I wanted something running related to look forward to.  So when I saw the Minnesuing retreat was going to be coached by Kara Goucher (and that my bestie Adam Goucher would also be there), I decided the retreat was exactly what I needed.

Boy was I right.  The retreat was fabulous.  From the second I walked in to the lodge on Friday until I left on Sunday afternoon, I has in heaven.  The weekend was filled with daily runs (a double on Saturday), presentations by elite runners (olympians Kara and Adam Goucher, olympians Janis and Barney Klecker and Katie McGee), TONS of fabulous food, unlimited drinks (note to self: next time you have a 7:30 a.m. run scheduled, don’t drink red wine until after midnight), meeting and hanging with awesome new running friends, fun non-running activities (a bonfire with s’mores and an awesome acoustic singer, skeet-shooting) and tons of selfies and pictures with the coaches and other women.

The presentations by Kara Goucher, Janis Klecker and Katie McGee were all so inspirational.  I got teary eyed during all of them.  Each of them is amazing in their own right in terms of their running careers – olympics, world records, crazy fast race times and accomplishments.  But what really struck me during their presentations was that Kara, Janis and Katie are just like me (ok – except for the crazy fast race times and rock solid abs). They have the same struggles all women runners have: juggling running with family, school and work; feeling guilty about taking time away from the kids in order to run; worrying about not living up to expectations – of others and of themselves; worrying about changes that happen to their bodies/running when they age.  Each of them offered tips, tricks, wisdom and insight on how they have dealt with these issues and on how women can deal with these issues.  And the learning that we did from the coaches wasn’t just in their presentations – it was during our group runs and at social events and meals.  The coaches actually hung out with us the entire weekend.  SO very cool. I learned so many things that will be helpful to me as I age and continue with my running and my desire to be physically and mentally healthy and fit. I took lots of notes and I’ll blog more about them in the coming weeks.

Although the interaction with and lessons from the coaches was great, the best part about the weekend was hanging out with the other women retreat attendees.  There were 60+ women from 20 different states (and South Korea and the UK!).  Everyone who I talked to had a unique story, a life experience or a tidbit about what has shaped them and their running.  I made some connections that will last a lifetime – all because of a shared love of running. So very cool.

I drove away from Minnesuing Acres today feeling inspired, motivated, relaxed, rejuvenated and SO thankful for running and all that it has given me.

The weekend, in pictures:

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Check out my new fun activity:  riding a Fat Bike!

It is seriously SO much fun!  This bike (not mine, I borrowed it) is a Beast.  It rolls right over sticks and rocks and ruts and through giant mud puddles.  Can’t wait til I can get one of my own!

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Twin Cities Marathon 2015: Volunteer Report

Volunteering for and spectating at a marathon is almost as much fun as running a marathon!

Scott and I lucked out and got to help at the very front of the Start Line Corral – directing people and keeping out the masses (and letting in the elites) right after the National Anthem.  It was so exciting to be RIGHT there!  After all 10,000+ runners had started, we went through and picked up all the drop clothes and threw them in two huge trucks, to be donated to a charity.  Whoa – there was LOTS of good clothes, blankets, jackets, etc. to pick up.  It was fun to get a different perspective on what it takes to make the marathon work smoothly.

As much as I enjoyed volunteering, I hope that I’m RUNNING Twin Cities next year!

Things are going really really well with my running.  I’m SLOW, but running 5 days a week, about 30 miles total.  And it feels awesome!  Wheeee!

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