the mile report

tales of a running grad student

July 18, 2015
by Karen

Taking a blogging break

Hi there!

I’ve been MIA around here for the past few weeks, so I thought I’d pop in to say that things in Cleveland are going well!  I’m three weeks into my externship year (four if you count orientation week), and I’m learning a TON.  It’s going to be a busy and crazy but amazing year.

As far as blogging goes, I’m going to take a break (or I guess continue with the break I already took, ha).  My main goal is to soak in as much knowledge as I can this year, and I need to cut some other things out to do that.  It was either cut running or cut blogging about running (sorry blog).  Running is definitely taking the back-burner this year, but I’ve been able to fit in a short run most days after work.  (Sidenote: My advice on transitioning from a morning to an evening runner= 1. Be consistent and 2. eat a large afternoon snack).

I’ve mapped out a few impossible-to-get-lost running routes around me, but most of my workouts have been at the fitness center lately because it’s easier run “on autopilot” after work instead of thinking about the route.  There is an awesome roof-top track with circuit stations that is perfect for running+strength workouts.

See the "tall" buildings in the back?

See the “tall” buildings in the back?

I have a half marathon tomorrow (!!!) that will be a good experiment on running a half marathon without a lot of training.  It’s in Erie, and it’s supposed to be 75 degrees with scattered thunderstorms at the start of the race (6:30am).  Yay..

At least it will be pretty!  My family + Ryan went to Erie last weekend for a wedding (check out the gorgeous  sunset background of the reception below)

Lake Erie at sunset

Lake Erie at sunset

The race goes along Presque Isle, a peninsula jutting into Lake Erie,  and there’s a party on the beach following the race.  Not sure how the actual running part will go, but the morning should be fun.  How I feel during the run may determine if I want to consider any other half marathons this year.  I’m considering Columbus and a few smaller races near Cleveland.

So anyway, I’m putting this blog on hold for a while…maybe a few weeks, maybe a few months, maybe the whole year.  I want to try to keep up with blog reading, so you may hear from me. 🙂

Have a great weekend!

July 5, 2015
by Karen

Towpath Ten Ten

Two weeks ago and one holiday ago (back when it was still June) my dad and I ran the Towpath Ten Ten!  The past two weeks have been crazy with getting settled in Cleveland, so sorry that this recap is a little late..

The Towpath Ten Ten is part of the Towpath Trilogy, a three-race series on a paved trail (“The Towpath”) that runs from Cleveland to Akron.  This event had both a 10-mile and 10k race, and my dad and I ran the 10-miler.  Since the race was on Father’s Day, there were extra special award categories for father + daughter/son/mother pairs, where they added both times together.  My dad and I pulled together our team from the Circular Logic Marathon Relay and registered as a duo.

I found this race while googling races happening the weekend I moved to Cleveland, which was a good idea in theory.  In reality, questionable decision. Ha, I was a new level of tired on race morning, but I just adjusted my goals (new goal= stay awake for the duration of the race), and it was all good.

The race started at 7am.  They asked all of the runners to park in the Quaker Steak and Lube parking lot and walk one mile to the race start.  It was a muggy morning, and I was already sweating by the time we made it to the start line.  Weather-wise, there was a chance of thunderstorms (I think? I’m trying to dig deep in my brain for details from two weeks ago), but we lucked out with just a few sprinkles and a whole lot of mugginess throughout the morning.

My dad and I were surprised by how many runners were there!  It wasn’t a big big race, but it definitely wasn’t a small race.  We wished each other good luck and took our respective spots near the start line (him) and further away from the start line (me), ha.  The race director went over the course in detail as we stood there ready to go, so I got a little nervous that it wouldn’t be marked and we’d have to forge our own way (aka my worst nightmare).  Fortunately the route was very straight forward (and flat, YAY!).

Off we went! (Wish I had some nice pictures to throw in here…just imagine a paved trail and people running.)

My rough time goal was to stick around or just under 8-minute miles, especially with how humid it was.  My first mile clocked in at 7:54 and felt comfortable.  I kept the pace for the second mile and ended up running side-by-side with another woman at the same pace.  She had headphones in, so I didn’t say anything to her, but after an entire mile of unison footfalls, we started chatting.  She was really nice and had the same time goal, so we stuck together for the next 7 miles!  It was so nice to have a running partner.

Our miles were super consistent (each between 7:50 and 8), and I was surprised with how good I felt running sub-8 miles in the humidity.  It helped that the race had a ton of water stops, and it helped that I had someone to run with.  I usually don’t talk during races aside from one-line responses when people say things to me, but I enjoyed the company.  She gave me suggestions on things to do in the Cleveland area and gave me her contact info after the race for future runs.

I started to feel tired at mile 8 and struggled a little to keep the pace for the last 2 miles, but pretty soon I saw the finish line!  I crossed in 1:19 (7:54 pace)

I found my dad at the finish line (he kicked butt, like always), and we walked back over to Quaker Steak & Lube for the post-race food and awards ceremony.  Quaker Steak & Lube opened its doors (and bathrooms!) to the runners after the race, and they provided us with a diverse buffet of food: fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, and cheese quesadillas, scrambled eggs, bagels and bananas.  There were tables set up outside in front of a stage, which alternated between a guy playing guitar and the race director announcing awards.  It was a nice little post-race celebration.

Speaking of the awards ceremony, my dad and I placed first in the Father’s Day team category!  Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  You’re first place father, and that means you’re the best. 😉

Towpath Ten Ten

We won a framed photograph of a building in Cleveland that I have yet to see, and a gift certificate to an extremely fancy restaurant.

I was happy we ran the race!  The other two races in the series are a full/half/10k in October and a half/3-mile in April, and I may check them out.

Has anyone raced recently or have anything coming up?  I’ve been MIA for a little while…

June 17, 2015
by Karen

Humidity, happy dog, and workouts

Hi there!  It’s pouring outside, so I’m using this time to blog instead of run (let’s be real, I’d get just as wet without the rain because it’s so humid out).  What I really should be using this time for is packing–I’m moving to Cleveland tomorrow and have some major piling and sorting and tetris-ing of my stuff to do.  Um, I’ll get to that soon.

Does anyone have good tips for running in the humidity?  I haven’t felt good on a run for the past 3 weeks or more (yesterday I had to stop twice during a slow 6-miler because I felt like I was breathing through a wet paper towel), so I’m feeling a little apprehensive for the 10-mile race on Sunday.  Unless the humidity lets up or race day magic does its thing, it might be an interesting morning.  Two rounds of the 5-mile race that Ryan and I ran 3 weeks ago sounds like torture and the worst thing ever.  …Except for maybe staining the deck in 90-degree cloudless and breezeless weather, which we did on Sunday (albeit no bee stings or sunburns!)  Ryan gladly offered to help (thanks, Ryan!), so he + my dad + me + my brother knocked out the deck in 5 hours.  I’m just banking on the 10-miler to be a few hours shorter than that.

Aside from staining the deck, we hosted a houseful of people over the weekend.  Ryan was here, and my dad had 4 friends over for their annual golf weekend (they’ve kept in touch since high school, which is really cool!).  Here are the only two pictures I took over the weekend…

Laura, Ryan, Greg, Greg’s girlfriend, and I walked over to a festival held by a local church.  They really do it up with rides, games, food, and music.  We didn’t ride, play, or eat anything, but it was nice to walk around the festive atmosphere.


Summer carnival at a local church

And here is the second pic.  Ryan and I were driving down my street and wondered “Why is that man walking down the street cuddling a dog? …[drive closer]… Why is my dad walking down the street cuddling a dog?” Apparently he found this dog at our house, so he carried it back to its own home.  Look how happy they both look.  Instant BFFs.

dad and dog

Dad and some random dog…loving life

And just to add a bit of athleticism to this running blog, here’s the past 2.5 weeks of workouts that I never got around to logging, whoops.

Mon (6/1): Garage circuit: 3 x (run 1 mile + strength circuit).  Strength= push ups, curls, tri dips, mountain climbers, rows, shoulder press, front raises, reverse lunges, squats, deadlifts.
Tues (6/2): 12 miles @ 8:17 avg pace.  I drove to a nearby paved trail because I wanted a flat route.  It was 3 miles long, so I ran it twice and drank water at mile 6.
Wed (6/3): Garage circuit: 3 x (run 1 mile + strength circuit). Strength= squat + press, squat jumps, up-down planks, knee-to-elbow push ups, reverse lunges, lunge jumps, mountain climbers, tri push ups, side lunges.
Thurs (6/4): 6 miles @ 8:50 avg pace.  I was super sore from Wednesday’s strength workout (I think it was the side lunges?)
Fri (6/5): 6 miles @ 8:30 avg pace. Still sore from Wednesday.
Sat (6/6): 6.5 miles with miles 3-5 @ 7:44 pace.  Still sore from Wednesday.  Tried to do a tempo run but my legs wouldn’t go any faster.
Sun (6/7): 7 miles @ 8:25 avg. Sprinted first quarter-mile of miles 3-7.

Mon (6/8): Rest
Tues (6/9): 7 miles @ 8:34 avg
Wed (6/10): 2 miles warm up , 3 x 1 mile (@6:59, 7:06, 7:22), 2 miles cool down.  Felt good for the first repeat, really slowed down for the next two.
Thurs (6/11): 6 miles @ 8:50 avg
Fri (6/12): 6.5 miles with 6 x hill sprints in the middle
Sat (6/13): 2 miles + strength (legs, arms, abs) @ YMCA
Sun (6/14): 3 miles @ 8:30 avg with Ryan

Mon (6/15): Rest
Tues (6/16): 6 miles @ 8:41 avg.  (stopped twice and stopped my watch)

Have you ever been stung by a bee?  Where?
Do you have a dog?

June 10, 2015
by Karen

speed work + quick Michigan trip

Hi there!

The countdown until I move to Cleveland is now in single digits.  8 days until the move, 12 days until I start my first clinic rotation (eek!), and 11 days until my first race in Cleveland!  My dad and I found a 10 mile race on Sunday (June 21) of the weekend I move in, so that will be a fun way to get to know the area.  And we are entering the father/daughter division option because the race is on Father’s Day!

We held our first team practice at the YMCA this morning.
Dad and Karen

Both of us had speed work on our schedules, so we met at the YMCA to run loops around a half-mile asphalt trail.

YMCA route

We warmed up together and then split off for our respective workouts.  I did: 2 miles warm-up, 3 x 1 mile (@ 6:59, 7:06, 7:22), 2 miles cool down.  I think I ran my first repeat too fast because my splits were all over the place.  The first one felt good, and the second and third felt absolutely terrible.  It was HOT out…glad we got the run done early!

My summer break is coming to a close, so last weekend I squeezed in a quick road trip to Michigan to spend time with college friends.  I’ve been trying to frontload my 2015 social life because I have a feeling that things will get crazy busy once I start in Cleveland.

I hit the road on Friday morning and drove (through so much construction, holy cow!) right to my first stop: Olivia’s for the afternoon.  Liv visited me 3 weeks ago, so I was stoked to see her twice in one month!  She took me to the peony garden at the Nichols Arboretum at University of Michigan, where there were hundreds of giant, gorgeous peonies!


They were BEAUTIFUL and as soft as little clouds (I imagine little clouds are soft?).  The garden was also filled with grandmotherly women moseying around the flower bushes with friends, and it made me smile.  One pair was especially adorable…A younger woman rubbed flower petals between her fingers and held them up to an elderly woman’s nose because the older woman couldn’t bend down to smell the flowers.

It was blazing hot out, so after we got our daily dose of pretty flowers and kindhearted acts of humanity, we made our way back to Liv’s air-conditioned car for a driving tour around U of M, and then I hit the road again.  It was a short but sweet (and fragrant) visit. 🙂

Liv and Karen peonies

Peony Garden

Next stop: Sarah’s for the weekend!  Sarah was my college roommate for three years, and I was pumped for our weekend of living together again.  She welcomed me with open arms, and I welcomed her with one open arm and a large tub of trail mix (true sign of friendship).


Just swingin…

Our food/meal tradition when we visit each other is to search Pinterest for one meal recipe and one dessert recipe…and then challenge ourselves to finish both dishes by the end of the weekend.

This time, we chose Honey-Lime, Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Corn Tacos and No Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake.  They were both delicious.  If you’re into recipe details, we omitted a few ingredients from the tacos (onion, several spices, & cheese, but we added chicken) and we subbed in vanilla pudding + cool whip for the “heavy cream mix” in the cake.

The tacos (also known as the best food pic I've ever taken)

The tacos (also known as the best food pic I’ve ever taken)

Icebox cake

Icebox cake

When we weren’t eating tacos and cake, we were out and about doing different things in town or watching movies.  We explored a few parks, including Belle Isle, an island park in the Detroit River.  We checked out the aquarium, nature zoo, and conservatory, and we ate a picnic lunch at the playground.

The garden of the conservatory in Belle Isle had several peony bushes, which I proudly recognized from my peony experience the day before.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t enjoy those peonies for long because a Red-winged Blackbird dive-bomb attacked us, and we cowered in fear and army-crawled away for our lives. #madeit

We balanced that terrifying experience with these calm and adorable seahorses in the Belle Isle Aquarium:

Itty bitty seahorse

Itty bitty seahorse


Big seahorse that looks like a statue

Sarah is a movie buff, and she has slowly worked her power on me.  In college, I had a difficult time sitting through anything longer than one hour, but I’ve slowly built up my endurace…enough so that we watched 4 movies over the weekend!  Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood, Bridesmaids, Now and Then, & Shawshank Redemption

I also went for a run on Saturday morning and Sunday morning from Sarah’s place.  To avoid getting lost, I mapped out a one-mile loop and ran it 6 times on Saturday and 7 times on Sunday, which actually worked out really well.  Since I didn’t change up the route, I changed up the pace–For Saturday’s run, I sped up for miles 3-5; for Sunday’s run, I sprinted the first 0.25 mile of the last 5 miles.

Spending the weekend at Sarah’s made me really miss college life and living with friends (including her, obviously)!  Before I headed back home, I had one more stop: coffee with Lauren.  Lauren is the one who convinced me to coach Girls on the Run and encouraged me to join CMU’s Club Running team, so I owe her for two of my greatest non-academic undergrad opportunities.  She’s such an inspiring person, and I was so happy to be able to catch up with her.  (Remember Lauren from her “Yogathon” guest post? <–check it out if you haven’t!)

Lauren and Karen

That weekend passed in a blink!  It was so nice to have a relaxing weekend with good friends!  Now onto packing and enjoying this last week at home.

What is your record for movies in a single day?  What’s the last movie you’ve seen?
Have you ever been attacked by a bird?

June 3, 2015
by Karen

Weekend Recap: Indy & Chicago

Happy National Running Day!  I plan to celebrate by lacing up for a garage circuit later this morning.

But let’s catch up on last weekend.  Beware…this post is long, but I have a lot to recap after the race on Saturday morning! Ryan and I hung around Indianapolis on Saturday and drove up to Chicago on Sunday.

In Indy, we explored the trails of 100 Acres (Did you think of Pooh Bear?), a park within the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  There are some sweet art projects nestled in the woods, and we snapped a few artsy pics.


Giant hoops in the sky

IMA signs

My favorite arrow said “sometimes a chipmunk”

Fun fact about the park: One of its exhibits, Funky Bones, was featured in the movie [and book] The Fault in Our Stars.  Remember when Augustus and Hazel sat on the giant skeleton sculpture?  Due to budgeting, they actually used a replica of the sculpture and filmed in Pittsburgh.

Back to our Indy fun, we ate froyo on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument…



…and went to an Indianapolis Indians game (minor league baseball).

Victory Field

Victory Field with Lucas Oil Stadium in the background (Colts stadium)

I checked the weather forecast before the game…it was supposed to rain, but we decided to go anyway.  And since we like to live on the edge, we chanced it with no umbrella.  I put my phone in a plastic bag though because I had to draw the line somewhere.

The sky looked okay until a mass of ominous-looking clouds rolled in during the 4th inning, and everyone around us whipped out their umbrellas.  The game announcer invited the “lawn people” into the concourse due to incoming weather (I cracked up at that announcement), and we stayed and gawked at the dark clouds, umbrella-less and hood-less.



Then BAM! It poured, and we got soaked on our sprint back to the car.

It was nice to leave the game a few innings early though because we had a big day ahead of us on Sunday: Chicago!  Both of us had been to Chicago several times but never together, so we decided to drive up for the day on Sunday.  Ryan was route master and mapped out a course through the main touristy things (we all know that I’d still be wandering the streets of Chicago if I tried to do that).

First Stop: Navy Pier!
Navy Pier

We parked near Navy Pier and started our giant walking loop.  The last time I had been to Chicago was probably 4(?) years ago, and Navy Pier looked totally different!  Renovation is going on now, and that plus the cold weather made it a ghost town on Sunday.

Next…Maggie Daley Park & Millennium Park (I’ll lump ’em together because they’re both parks and right next to each other)

Maggie Daley

Soo cool!


Obviously we had to get a picture at the Bean.

Millenium park

Classic Bean pic

Next up: FOOOOD.  I was so hungry that I probably would have settled for anything edible (I was eyeing up Chipotle), but luckily Ryan encouraged me to walk a little longer to Lou Malnati’s.


We started by inhaling a Chicken Caesar Salad.  The restaurant ended up covering the salad for us because the wait was long, which was so nice of them.

Lou Malnati's

We ranked the “free salad moment” very highly in our list of coolest parts of the day.  Right behind how amazing the pizza was.

Lou Malnati's


Fueled up, we walked the streets.  Power-walked, really, because it was freezing!  My hands were too cold to take out of my pockets, so enjoy this one picture.


I debated buying another layer as we passed all of the stores on the Magnificent Mile, but I resisted…and then changed my mind after we passed all of the nice stores and bought a $7.99 crewneck sweatshirt at CVS.  Haha.

We walked up to the Lincoln Park Zoo and made some animal friends.  Our official ranking of the coolest animals: 1. the monkey that swung from branch to branch, 2. the monkey with a teeny baby monkey on its back, 3. the other monkeys, 4. the kangaroos, 5. the beaver and all other animals.

Please look at the kangaroo just chilling in the back of the picture.  Fun fact: I collected stuffed kangaroos for a decade.


We finished up our loop by walking along Lake Michigan back to the car.

Lake Michigan

Ryan tracked our steps on his phone, and our grand total was…


Oof.  10.54 miles in boat shoes and no socks (big mistake on my part) and only one blister to show for it= mega success.

I was impressed with how much we managed to do in only a day.  And that wraps up the weekend (and my longest blog post ever)!

Are you celebrating National Running Day?
What is your favorite city?
What is the coolest animal at the zoo?