the mile report

tales of a running grad student

June 1, 2015
by Karen

Eskenazi Health Stride 5 mile race

Hi there!  I just got home from a crazy busy (but really fun! and very urban) weekend.  I drove up to Indianapolis on Thursday evening to visit Ryan, and we split our time between Indy and a spontaneous trip to Chicago.  But first…a race!

On Saturday morning, we ran the Eskenazi Health Stride 5 mile race in Indy.


You may remember (I’ll be really impressed if you do) that we were planning to run a trail 10k, but we decided on this road 5 miler instead because it was cheaper, closer, and benefitted a hospital.  The fact that the course was flat and 1.2 miles shorter just sweetened the deal.

The race started at 8:15am, so we arrived at 7:15 to register and get ready.  By that time, it was already pretty toasty out.  Ryan stretched while I jogged down the sidewalk once before deciding that it was too hot to run any more (bad sign).  I joined Ryan on the curb and chatted until we had to line up.  Since neither of us had ever run a 5 mile race before, we were both excited to PR no matter what.

We got cool shirts!

We got cool shirts!

The course started at the hospital, made a two-mile box toward downtown and over the canal (where we dropped off the 5kers) and then finished up with a little loop around the White River.  It was a small race but had a really nice course.

I started out at a 7:20-7:30 pace, which I thought I could keep for 5 miles.  At one mile in, I felt like I was working hard to hold it, and at two miles in, I was really struggling to hold it.  I couldn’t get into a groove and started feeling dehydrated and super sluggish.  I got water at both water stops (and dumped a cup on my head, which I had never done before…so that means business) and tried to focus on ice packs and not walking.

Eventually, the finish line came into view, and that was a very happy moment!

My splits don’t slow down as much as I felt like they did, but here they are:
Mile 1: 7:24
Mile 2: 7 :29
Mile 3: 7:44
Mile 4: 7:52
Mile 5: 7:43
Finish time: 37:52
Pace: 7:34

Ryan finished a few minutes before me, so he cheered me on at the finish.  He rocked his race and flew through those 5 miles!

Eskenazi 5 miler

There were tables, tunes, & snacks near the finish line, so we hung out for an hour until the awards ceremony.  We both ended up winning our age groups and got gift certificates to a local running store (which was having a big clearance sale that day, and I got three pairs of Nike shorts for $10 each!).

After the awards ceremony, we hustled [to the car and drove] to White River State Park.  There was a 5k that started at 10am at White River State Park (we actually ran past the start line during the 5-mile race), and the night before, we had the genius idea of trying to run both races.  Ryan was mastermind behind this plan.  We had 10 minutes to get from one parking garage to another, from the parking garage to the race start, and to register for the second race.

The thought of reliving the horror of my previous 5 miles was about the worst thing I could imagine, but I hustled along to the car and thought I’d cheer or maybe run a 3.1 mile cool down.  Unfortunately (I mean, I wasn’t sad about it), we were JUST too late, and the runners took off when we were this close.  (See the start/finish line down there?)

The start/finish line is down that path

Instead of running our second race, we checked out the Autism Awareness event that was happening at the park.  There were so many people!

We signed up to participate in the walk for Autism that was happening in a few minutes and joined hundreds of families in a one mile walk around the park and zoo.  The one mile ended up taking us 42 minutes though, so we’re a little curious about the accuracy of the distance 😉

But we got some great views of Indianapolis!
Are you more of a planner or a spontaneous outings person?

May 28, 2015
by Karen

Cheap tanks and four books

I have two words for anyone looking to buy good running tanks on a budget: TJ Maxx.

A few days ago, I bought these three Adidas tops at TJ Maxx for $15 each.  A steal!

running tanks

YAY new running clothes!

I’m pretty excited about the purchase.  I usually take forever to buy new running clothes because I’m picky and don’t want to spend a fortune.  Last year, I bought the grey one in two different colors (also at TJ Maxx FTW) and they were my favorite running tanks for a solid year.  Yay!

I wore the dark purple one today on a hot and humid run at 10:00am.  Since I’m on a mini summer break now and don’t have to get up early for classes or work, I haven’t been getting up early to run either.  Lately I’ve been heading out between 9am and 10am when it’s already high 70’s/low 80’s and humid…and then feeling terrible, so I may reevaluate my running schedule next week…

The other thing I’ve been doing with this new free time is reading.  Finally.  Waaaaaaaay back in January, my sister Laura and I made up a 2015 reading challenge, and it looked like this:

reading list 2015

Week one (first week of January) started off strong, but then the semester began and I got busy and felt guilty reading anything for fun.  So I didn’t.

But now, after a four-month break, I finally picked it back up.  I started taking advantage of the library’s ebook selection and borrowing books on my iPad, which is awesome.  They automatically take books back when they’re due, so you never get late fees! (Remember that time I racked up $11 of late fees for children’s Christmas DVDs that I borrowed for babysitting and then forgot about? Or maybe that was too embarrassing to make public)

Here’s what I’ve read in the past two weeks:

9: Nonfiction: The Other Wes Moore (by Wes Moore)

The Other Wes Moore
I couldn’t put this book down.  Two guys–with the same name, of the same age, from the same rough neighborhood–ended up with completely different adult paths.  One was a Rhodes scholar with a successful career (and authored the book), while the other ended up in prison for life.  The author interviewed the “other Wes” in prison to try to figure out where their childhoods diverged.  Both grew up in dangerous Baltimore housing units and had firsthand experience with drug trafficking and police run-ins.  Reading about their childhoods was eye-opening.  I definitely recommend this book!

17: From my past: The Secret of Platform 13 (by Eva Ibbotson)
The Secret of Platform 13
This was one of my favorite books growing up, and I just wanted to reread it.  It has a secret castle on a magical island, which just sounds wonderful.

24: Children’s chapter book: The Westing Game (by Ellen Raskin)
The Westing Game
I don’t think I had ever read this book back when I was in the appropriate age range, but it was a great kid mystery!

26: Food in the title: The Persian Pickle Club (by Sandra Dallas)

The Persian Pickle Club
My mom borrowed this from the library for her book club, and I started reading it because I was intrigued by the pickle in the title.  It’s about a group of ladies in Kansas (circa 1930) who bond over quilting.  Not my usual “Oh that sounds awesome!” type of book, but I really enjoyed it.  It had the same old-fashioned, southern-style humor as The Help (Kathryn Stockett) and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (Fannie Flagg), which are two books that I absolutely love.

Any good book recommendations?

I’m heading to Indy in a few hours to visit Ryan for the weekend (yay!).  We’re running a trail 10k race on Saturday morning, so that should be fun.  I’m hoping this race kicks on my running motivation…lately I’ve felt pretty “blah” about running and training, but I think part of that is because I’ve been choosing to run at a bad/hot/muggy time of day, and I swear my neighborhood is all hills.

Here’s the week in workouts:

Saturday (5/23): 7 miles, fartlek run.  Alternated between moderately hard and easy effort about every half mile.

Sunday (5/24): 10 miles, 8:30 avg pace.  Felt tired and dehydrated.

Monday (5/25): Garage circuit: 4 x (run 1 mile + strength circuit).  Strength circuit 1: reverse lunges, squats, bicep curls, abs, abs, glute bridges, supermans, squat jumps.  Strength circuit 2: lunge pulses, push ups, squat + press, abs, abs, mountain climbers.

Tuesday (5/26): 2 miles warm up, 6 x 0.5 mile @ 6:50-6:59 pace, 1 mile cool down.  I did this workout in my neighborhood, so it wasn’t flat, but I felt good.

Wednesday (5/27): Garage circuit: 3 x (run 1 mile + strength circuit).  Strength circuit: push ups, bicep curls,  tri dips, mountain climbers, shoulder press, front raise, reverse lunge + toe touch, squats, deadlift.

Thursday (5/28): 6 miles, 8:30 avg pace.  Hot and tired.

Friday (5/29): Will be a rest day

Enjoy the last weekend in May!

Any fun weekend plans?  Anyone else racing this weekend?
Where do you buy running clothes?
Book recommendations?

May 22, 2015
by Karen

Mini-tour of Cincinnati and my almost-career

Hello and happy Friday!  I’m heading out for a run later today, so I’ll share this run pic from yesterday.

Olivia & Karen post-run

Running buddies reunited!

Look who visited!  Olivia, one of my best friends from college!   She was in town for a conference and drove in a few days early to hang out.  We jam-packed as much as we could into a few short days, mini-toured Cincinnati, and chatted for three days straight.

I was really happy that Liv wanted to run while she was here (we ran together on the club team back in college…reliving the good times through this flashback pic…)

Olivia & Karen running CMU

I introduced her to the “garage circuit” on Wednesday.  We did four strength sets in the garage with about a mile of running between each set.  Set one (did it twice): lunges, squat + press, push ups, plank, abs; Set two (did it twice): squat kicks, single leg glute bridges, abs, tri dips.

On Thursday morning, we went on a HILLY 5 mile run through part of the course that I ran almost every day back when I lived at home.  My neighborhood is hill after hill…it’s crazy how hills seem like no big deal when you’re used to them, but they feel like absolute torture when you’re not!  Luckily, friends make hills go by faster. 🙂

And then we drove around, walked around, sight-saw, movie-watched, train-watched, butterfly called, duck-called, ate (um a lot), and talked.

We saw Pitch Perfect 2 on Wednesday morning and thought it was really well done.  The original Pitch Perfect was so good that I wasn’t sure if a sequel could match it, but it did.  Hilarious, entertaining, and emotional.  I/we may have cried a little bit at the end, but I suppose that is not very surprising. #overlyempathetic.  We actually saw the movie in Kentucky…Cincinnati and Kentucky are right across the river from each other, so we spread our time between both states.

Purple People Bridge

Purple People Bridge connecting Newport, KY & Cincinnati


Cincinnati from the KY side

We continued our mini-tour of Cincinnati with the International Butterfly Show at Krohn Conservatory, where you hang out in a greenhouse surrounded by hundreds of BUTTERFLIES!  We were very excited for the butterflies to land on us and were determined to stay until they did.


Come here, little butterfly!

The "golden snitch" of butterflies

The blue one was the “golden snitch” of butterflies


It was SO COOL!  The blue butterfly on Olivia’s shirt befriended her right away and stayed on her shirt for almost the whole time.  We decided that next time we come, we are going to wear florescent shirts because the butterflies seemed to be attracted more to the people wearing bright clothing.  One woman said that butterflies like salt and that one of the best ways to attract them is to get run/get sweaty and then let the sweat dry on you.  So basically it sounds like we shouldn’t have showered or changed out of our neon running shirts.  Next time, right?

Speaking of cute living things, we also saw baby ducks while we were walking through Eden Park!

baby ducks

Mama duck and her little babies

And ducks weren’t the only kind of bird that we saw.  Meet Belle, the “peagle” (pink eagle).

Florence freedom

Florence Freedom minor league baseball game

The Cincinnati Reds were away, so we made the random decision to drive down to Florence, KY, for a minor league game.  It was crazy laid-back, pretty empty, and oh so fun!  We picked our favorite players based on how close their birthdays were to ours, bought $1 ice cream sandwiches, and enjoyed the atmosphere.

Belle the Peagle cheering on Florence Freedom

Belle the Peagle cheering on Florence Freedom

About my almost-career…

So I am not sure if I’ve ever shared this, but remember the career aptitude test that you probably had to take back in high school?  My first match was a cartoonist or children’s book illustrator, and my next match was a…minor league baseball mascot!  For real.  If I had followed this career track, I could have been the next Belle the Peagle or the next “Wally the Water Tower” (Wally was Florence’s other mascot…literally a blow-up water tower that says “Florence Y’all”).  High school sure taught me to reach for the stars!  Instead, I chose to become an audiologist.

And this wouldn’t be a true Cincinnati post without mention of Skyline Chili…of course I introduced Liv to Cincinnati Chili.  We also ate at Hofbrauhaus Newport and Mt. Adams Bar & Grill, and we filled in all of the gaps with Harvest Cheddar Sunchips.  We rallied hard for Greater’s ice cream but we were way too full.  Such a fun visit!

Liv & Karen

So this whole “summer break without a looming stack of journal articles to read” is off to a pretty great start!

Quick workout recap from the week:

Saturday (5/16): 12.5 miles, easy pace.  I was really tired the whole run felt difficult.  I drank 4 9-oz bottles during the run and still felt dehydrated (it was really humid).
Sunday (5/17): 1 hour strength/run circuit: 3 x (run 1 mile + strength)
Monday (5/18): 6.5 miles, easy pace
Tuesday (5/19): 2 miles warm-up, 4 miles @ 7:30-7:35 pace, 1 mile (7 miles total)
Wednesday (5/20): 1 hour strength/run circuit ( 4 x run 1 mile + strength)
Thursday (5/21): 5 miles, easy pace
Friday (5/22): Not sure what I feel like doing yet.  Either an easy run or a strength circuit

If you could hold/pet/see any animal, what would it be?
Have you taken a career aptitude test?  What did it say?

May 14, 2015
by Karen

GOTR Spring 2015 Season + 5k

Our Girls on the Run season wrapped up last Saturday with a 5k celebration!

GOTR 5k coaches

Our fantastic coach team

In case you’re not familiar with Girls on the Run (GOTR), it’s a nonprofit after school program for 3rd to 5th grade girls that follows a curriculum of life lessons and running.  The lessons are grounded in three big topics: understanding ourselves (e.g. it’s okay to like different things than your friends), valuing relationships (e.g. choosing friends who build you up), and connecting with the world (e.g. community service).

The teams meet twice a week for 12 weeks, and each day revolves around a certain topic.  A typical practice looks like this: sit in a circle and discuss the topic (e.g. the impact of gossiping), break out into a few running activities that relate to the topic (e.g. relay race “telephone”), process/discuss the theme, run or walk laps for 15-20ish minutes, process/discuss the theme, CHEER!  Over the 12 weeks, the girls build up to the season finale: a 5k run!

It’s a pretty awesome program.  This was my 4th year coaching, and I’ve loved it each year.  It’s so rewarding to watch the girls grow as a team throughout the season and build each other up.

I got involved with GOTR in undergrad after my friend Lauren convinced me to join her (thanks Lauren!).  I had such an awesome experience coaching with her and later with Olivia (miss you ladies).


Me, Kelly, & Lauren after our GOTR season

Me and Olivia after our GOTR season

Me and Olivia after our GOTR season

Three of my favorite things ever are: kids, running, and helping people feel good, so I am a huge supporter of this program. I was thrilled when a brand new site opened up right next to me this year and signed up to coach as fast as I could.

Our team of coaches and girls was awesome, and we had a fantastic season together.  The girls were super sweet and so open to sharing their thoughts.  They were also pretty funny.

My favorite quotes from our last practice (a wrap-up):

Coach T: “So girls, what are some things you would have changed or done differently about the season?”
Girl: “Like maybe if we had a team kitty that we could pass around.  She could run with us!!!”
Other girls: “YEAH!!”

(After I told the girls that I was moving to Ohio).  Girl: “Coach Karen, when you get married, make sure that your husband does not work on the roads.  I heard that in Ohio, they do that at night.  He could get run over.”

So as I mentioned, our end-of-the-season 5k was last Saturday!

Our GOTR chapter actually held two 5k races (a morning and afternoon race) in different locations to accommodate all of us because the schools spanned a pretty far distance. My team’s 5k was at 4pm in a local park.  It was open to the public, but I don’t think any of the general public was there (it was over 80 degrees on a Saturday afternoon with thunderstorms on the radar, so I can’t say I blame them, ha!)

I arrived at 3pm, ready to have some fun.  The hour before the race was a giant party–hair painting, face painting, sock decorating, arm band decorating, snacks, loud music (one of my little team members and I did a quick science experiment and measured the sound level of the music), cheering….

I joined in on the fun, of course!

face paint

One little friend painted a heart and another little friend painted a star

One girl asked if I could paint a deer on her cheek (I thought she asked if I could paint an ear and got really excited for a second), but we settled on a rainbow.  It took intense focus.

GOTR face paint

Very focused on painting that rainbow

Pretty soon, it was time to run.  We pinned on their bib numbers (each girl had a #1 to emphasize that they’re all winners) and headed over to the start for a group warm-up led by a local zumba studio.  We zumba’d through three songs.  It was really fun!  And also really tiring.

GOTR zumba

Zumba warm-up before the GOTR race

And then we were off!  Each girl was paired with a “running buddy” (usually mom, dad, or a sib) for safety and encouragement, and the girls were asked to stick with their running buddy throughout the race.  I ran with one of my third graders whose mom was walking the 5k but she wanted to run/walk.

The girl and I caught up with another coach+girl pair, and the 4 of us ran/walked the whole 3 miles together.  We chatted, cheered each other on, and did a little dance at every mile marker.  I was so so proud of these girls…they pushed harder than they had at any of our practices, and they had great attitudes.

As soon as we saw the finish line, they took off sprinting!  Obviously I won’t post their finishes, but here’s me and coach Tiffany finishing a few seconds behind them.

GOTR finish


We gathered up all of our girls to pass out finishers certificates and take pictures.  I loved listening to their race recaps and seeing their happy little faces.  A few moms ran the GOTR race with their daughters as their first 5k EVER, and I loved hearing about their experiences too. They seemed even more proud than their daughters, and it was awesome! I teared up when one of the moms crossed the finish line at the very end.


GOTR coaches!

Ryan joined in the celebration by manning the water station (other volunteer options included face painting and hair painting, but he opted for the water station, haha).

GOTR finish line Ryan

Another successful GOTR season!  I am so proud of all of the girls…not only my team, but every GOTR participant!  You go girls!

Do you or have you been involved with any volunteer organizations?
Would you volunteer as a face painter/hair painter, biker out front, or water station manager?


May 11, 2015
by Karen

Life lately and what’s up next

Hello!  I took a few weeks away from blogging to focus on real life.  It’s been a good, busy few weeks.  My classmates and I finished our last semester of classes (…EVER?!), rocked our capstone project presentations, and said goodbye after 3 big years of learning together.

Purdue aud classmates

Last day of class ever

The doctor of audiology program is 3 years of graduate coursework & clinic work, and then 1 year of a clinical externship.  We finished the first 3 years, and now we just have the clinical externship year left before we graduate in May 2016 with our doctorates!  We’re all parting ways for our externships, so it’s crazy and sad to say goodbye to these ladies after all of the long classes, midnight labs, pre-exam panic attacks/pep talks, post exam celebrations, and strong friendships of the past 3 years.

Happy after our capstone presentations

Happy after our capstone presentations

So my next step…I’m moving to Cleveland!  I’ll be doing my externship year in Cleveland, Ohio, starting mid-June.  Until then, I’m spending a few weeks at home.  I’m all moved back, thanks to Ryan and my Dad who somehow fit my entire apartment into two vehicles.  I’m sad to leave the people I’ve met at Purdue, but I’m really excited to start this next chapter in Cleveland.

Since this is a running blog and all, I’ve still been running!  I have a half coming up in 10 weeks and a potential trail half in less than 2 weeks.  My half marathon goal is to break 1:40 this year, so the July race will give me a good idea of how much time I need to shave off by the fall.  I’m thinking either Cleveland or Columbus for an October half.

I’ll have to work hard to keep up with strength training without my favorite circuit workout partner.  Ryan and I will be 5+ hours long distance for the year, so I’m not looking forward to that.  If you have fun ideas for long-distance relationships, pass them along!  Two-person book club?  Skype yahtzee?

Last workout in the stinky little fitness room!

Last workout in the stinky little fitness room!

And lastly, my Girls on the Run girls completed their 5k on Saturday!  I’ll post a recap of the event soon, but they all did it, and I am so proud of them.

Girls on the Run!

Girls on the Run!

I’m playing in a trombone concert tonight, so I’m off to practice really quick.  If you’re wondering when the last time I’ve played trombone is, I’m wondering the same thing.  Uh wish me luck.

Do you play any instruments?  When is the last time you practiced?
What are some games you can play over Skype?