Stuck on a treadmill

The most useful thing that I’m doing for my health these days is training for a ½ marathon (July 4th).  Since we’ve had mostly below zero temperatures and it is extremely icy outdoors, I’m stuck on a treadmill for now.  My fitness level always drops significantly this time of year (probably due as much to weight gain as inactivity).  Right now, I can’t even run 3 miles comfortably.  My strategy is to run a mile, let my heart rate recover, then run another mile.  Since I go to the gym with Aldo and he likes to stay for nearly 2 hours, I have run up to 8 miles using this strategy.  I’m seeing minor improvement in my rate of heart rate recovery.  I can now recover to just under 130 bpm in less than 5 minutes even after mile 7 and my recovery after mile one is excellent (takes less than 2 minutes to get my heart rate below 100).  Now I need to come up with a plan that will keep me running and get me to add some weight training and diet improvements.  I did some small hand weight exercises on my yoga ball while watching TV about a week ago, but I was sore for a week.  I’ll try to stay motivated to do this more than once a week.  I also read about a sort of clever idea which was to do something first thing in the morning to get your heart rate up; a few push-ups or sit-ups or something like that.  Maybe I’ll try that once or twice a week—I could definitely use the sit-ups.  I still can’t seem to get Aldo to buy veggies, so maybe I’ll have to add a trip to the grocery store once a week.

I’ve heard about this idea of the happiness treadmill more than a few times lately.  The theory is that we all have a set level of happiness and although we can improve our level of happiness for brief periods of time (win the lottery, get married, have a baby etc.) our happiness level returns to a baseline shortly thereafter.  Psychologists say that the good news is that even horrific or traumatic events also change our level of happiness only briefly.  Of course, I’m not sure that someone suffering the loss of a loved one would consider their reduced level of happiness brief.  Some might argue that it takes months to years to recover from some set-backs.  This type of thinking sort of puts a damper on my whole brilliant endeavor to become a happier person.  My first project was going to be to start listing small things that make me happy every day.  Unfortunately, today I found out that my favorite coworker died on New Year’s Eve.  I suppose I ought to start my list anyway.  I need to learn to be grateful for things that make me happy and it isn’t useful to dwell on sad news.



OK. I’ve been a bit lazy about writing since I’ve been using Aldo’s poetry for my posts. But I don’t have much to say lately (and Aldo has been prolific).

I finished the Twin Cities marathon last Sunday and it was beautiful -as advertised- and the first 10 or so miles was fun. The next 10 or so miles was entertaining (lots of fans, music, camaraderie), but tiring. The last 6.2 was just un-necessary. I need to find a 20 mile race, or maybe I’ll switch to 1/2 marathons, like I keep threatening. It actually occurred to me as I ran through the clever blow-up ‘wall’ at mile twenty “Wouldn’t it be great if they decided that the weather was too dangerous and just made us stop here”. I hear that’s what happened at the Chicago marathon. I’m sure plenty of people were upset and disappointed, but I would have been happy to collect my medal and my t-shirt and head home. I finished in under 5 hours (4:58) which is about my usual time, but I am happy with this time (for this particular marathon) since I didn’t feel quite as crampy and miserable as with previous marathons and I tolerated both heat and hills. I was sore for 2-3 days, but I’m fine today.

Good News Bad News

The good news is: I finished! (Grandma’s marathon in Duluth). The bad news is that it was my slowest marathon ever (5:10). But I really don’t care. It was a great trip and I wasn’t as miserable for the last half as I was in Milwaukee and I feel pretty good today (except that my left quad is still achey). Next, I train for the Twin Cities Marathon in Oct.

I got this picture from someone’s website, I’m not in it but it’s a photo of the finish.

You wouldn’t want to see a photo of me, I wasn’t a very happy runner (especially toward the end).untitled-1-copy.jpg

Price gouging in Duluth


We’re staying in Larsmont cottages on Lake Superior for the weekend of Grandma’s marathon. The regular price for a room (they call it a suite– but it’s not), is $160, but for this particular weekend they are charging $250 (with a 2-day minimum stay)! They will provide a bus to take me to the start, but they won’t even be serving breakfast that morning.

The condo’s are gorgeous and so is the view and I suppose I understand the price gouging –there just isn’t enough lodging in Duluth for a marathon of this size (people have standing reservations for this date in most of the hotels in Duluth). It still makes me mad–especially the breakfast thing! Would it kill them to open the restaurant a little early to feed us!! They could make some money on it.

By the way, the photo is the 2-BR condo–it’s gorgeous. I think they wanted $600/night for this over Grandma’s marathon weekend. Compared to the usual $300.

Haus Frau is coming to the Twin Cities!



I’m so excited! Haus Frau just registered for the Twin Cities Marathon. I registered Saturday. Hopefully Haus Frau, Kiwi (the hubby from New Zealand) and pumpkin-squash (the progeny) will stay with us a few extra days before and/or after the marathon. October (7th) is a perfect time of year to visit Minneapolis. Our patio/courtyard should be ready for happy hours and BBQs and we always like to take visitors to Nicollet Mall since we have such a cool downtown. Also, our little neighborhood ‘restaurants-shops-movie theater’ area is getting better and better all the time so we’ll take them to the local pub for cheese-curds and beer. I’m not sure if they’ll want to see the Mall of America, but that’s fun too (every now and then). The TC marathon is billed as “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America” and if you don’t believe it, check this out…

Almost makes you want to run 26.2 miles doesn’t it? Haus Frau is the person responsible for getting me to run my first marathon (Chicago). I was so flattered when she suggested the possibility that I couldn’t say no. Now I use marathons as my sole motivation for staying on a regular exercise program and …I’m gradually disliking exercise/running less and less every year. My latest training schedule only requires 30 minute runs most days with one really hard ‘wind-sprint’ day and one long or super-long run on the weekend. Overall, it’s a much easier schedule, but I think it’s working just as well as the 6 mile/day schedules that exhausted me and made me HATE running. I’m optimistic that I can still run Grandma’s in less than 5 hours and maybe the TC marathon too (although it’s not as flat).

The photo of River Road is from the link above. I just noticed that you can’t see the Lakes or the Mississippi in any of the photos, but you will see them while you’re running (unless it’s mile-18-plus and you’re staring at your feet because you’re too exhausted to lift your head).

I almost, sort-of like to run

It probably wouldn’t surprise a type A exercise addict-type (Haus Frau) to hear that after running regularly now for about 3 years and completing 3 marathons (Chicago, Grandmas and Milwaukee) and pretty much hating every minute of it (I do it for my health/weight control). I’ve finally decided that I almost, sort-of, kinda like running, some days. Here’s the change—WINDSPRINTS!! Yes, WINDSPRINTS! Who’da thunk it. Fartleks, speedplay, whatever you call it. Yes, Speed….Play—sounds like an oxymoron!! Who’da thought I’d enjoy torturing myself on a treadmill? I think this is what it took for me to finally get a brief taste of the ‘runner’s high’ that everyone talks about. Hubby, Don Aldo, says it’s just oxygen deprivation. If so, maybe I should just breathe into a paper bag.

Anyway, I don’t necessarily enjoy the actual running yet, but I feel great afterwards and sometimes, early in the day, I almost look forward to seeing what I can do on the next try. Usually though, this anticipation fades quickly by the end of the day when I actually have to decide whether to go to the gym or go home and eat. Then I just have to suck it up like I always have and force myself to go. I think the reason I prefer windsprint days to ‘easy jogging’ and ‘long run’ days is that the time goes by sooo much faster. I break the runs into 2.5 mile/2 minute ‘sprints’ interspersed with 2-2 ½ minute light jogs. Even when I did 12 of these– the time went by much faster than my usual 45-50 minute run. I’m not sure this will really get me to a 4 hour marathon (like the book I’m using suggests). But even if it doesn’t, I’ll be much happier training for my upcoming marathon. Wouldn’t it be cool if I eventually really started liking running. Can a confirmed couch potato really convert to an exercise enthusiast?

Fargo vs. Grandma’s

I’m thinking about another marathon. I definitely want to do the Twin Cities marathon this coming Fall, but I had wanted to run Grandma’s in Duluth as well (nice and flat and cool). We sort of tried to get a hotel room and gave up (there are waiting lists at the nice hotels) so I didn’t register. I just found out that the place we stayed in when Al visited has suites available for $250/night. Outrageously overpriced but they are very nice. Another thought would be the Fargo marathon in May. A little too soon (since I haven’t really started training) and the drive is longer (assuming we would drive), but a new running friend of mine is thinking of going, so maybe we could drive up together or even run together. What do you think Haus Frau? When is your next marathon?