Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thankful Thursday ~ National Dog Day

August 26 (yesterday) was National Dog Day, so today I thought I'd write my Thankful Thursday post about the dogs in my life!

Living on a farm in the wide open spaces of North-Central Montana, Jeff and I really do live in a dog's paradise! There are three dogs in our lives that we see regularly: Abby, Iggy, and of course, Harvey.
Harvey on a pasture walk. Happy National Dog Day, everyone!
Abby is a pretty Golden Retriever, and is Tom and Carol's family dog. She's starting to get on in age and is around ten years old. Abby is very loyal and loves love more than any dog I have ever met. She just insists on being petted! She always has a smile on her face. Don't be fooled by her kind-hearted demeanor toward people, though. She's probably the most ferocious "guard dog" we have when raccoons or other farm-yard pesky animals are in the yard! She has been known to attack small mammals, even porcupines, with great gusto! Abby also loves to tote around small, soft objects, especially work gloves, and often brings them up to the deck with her when she's laying in the sun. Abby can often be seen snuggling with the cats- Quincy and Peanut. She's a gentle and loving sweetheart of a dog!
Abby!
Iggy is an old dog that came to us late last spring. He's a mixed-breed of some sort, but we're fairly sure he has some Saint Bernard in him.  Iggy still likes to go on walks with me and Harvey but he just goes at his own pace. He definitely has a strong nose as he's always right on the trail of birds and creatures, just like Harvey. Iggy is always the first to scent a coyote in the area and sound the alarm. Let me tell you, his bark will get your attention! Iggy doesn't need much, but he does like to be around people. If you're out working in the yard, he'll slowly amble over and lay down near where you are and keep an eye on you. He really loves his pets and especially loves hugs. If you scratch him behind the ears, he'll lean against your legs, which you have to kind of be prepared for so he doesn't make you lose your balance! He's a big old guy, but he's just a lover!
It can be a little tough to get pictures of Iggy because
whenever you get down on his level, he comes up and tries to lick your face. :)
Iggy likes to go for walks, but usually lopes along at his own pace. 
And then there's Harvey! Harvey is the youngest in the pack at five years old, a purebred Vizsla, but definitely has the most energy! Harvey really needs his daily walks and runs or he is just unsettled. Good thing we have lots of space for him to get his sprints in when we're out walking! I know I get more exercise by having Harvey than if I didn't have a dog. There are definitely days when I don't feel like going for an extended walk, but I know Harvey will need it, so of course we go anyway. Harvey is an excellent hunter and has a very good nose for birds. He also has greatly increased the number of mice, gophers, and rabbits he's killed this year, which sounds sort of gross, but on a farm, it's nice to get rid of pest animals like those. Yes, Harvey is a skilled and accomplished hunter, but he is also so very endearing. He loves to snuggle with you anywhere he can and is very sensitive. He really picks up on the emotions of his people and seems to know what you need, whether it's snuggles or space. Harvey always makes me feel better if I'm down or not feeling well!
Harvey on-scent for birds in the crop stubble.

Harvey stalking a cottontail rabbit.
Each of our dogs has different personalities and strengths, and we love them all! Dogs just love. It's what they're best at! I'm so thankful for our dogs and the joy they bring to us every day!

Do you have dogs? Did you celebrate National Dog Day? If so, how? If you didn't, it's probably not too late. Your dog won't know the difference anyway!  I love this list of 20 Ways to Celebrate National Dog Day, from www.NationalDogDay.com:
20 Ways to Celebrate  If you really can't think of any ways to celebrate, check that list out for some inspiration!

We celebrated by giving our dogs lots of love and scratches behind the ears, indulging a few incidents of rabbit-stalking, and going for walks! I'm so thankful for the dogs in my life!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Maroon and Gold Fun Run Race Review

Saturday morning I kicked off my Fall Racing Season with a strong showing at the Maroon and Gold Fun Run in Havre! I ran the 10K distance. This post is my official review/recap of race day.
The Maroon and Gold Fun Run was in its first year this year as a fundraising event supporting the new MSU-Northern Men's and Women's Cross Country teams. I am all about growing and promoting the sport of running, so as soon as I heard about this race and knew that I'd be free on August 22, I signed up. They offered 1-Mile, 5K, and 10K events. I trained for the 10K and I wanted a new PR, so that's what I decided to do!

The other extra-cool thing about this race is that a local girl who I know fairly well, a recent North Star graduate, Alissa, is running on the new Cross Country team. I was beyond thrilled, first of all, to hear that she was running for Northern, and extra excited to run the race, knowing I'd be supporting someone I know! :)

With an 8:00 a.m. start time in Havre for the race, and an approximate 60 minute drive time for me, it was an early morning on Saturday. I got up around 5:30 to make sure I'd have enough time to get dressed and have breakfast before making the drive to Havre. I had laid my outfit out the night before so I wouldn't wake Jeff and to expedite things. The weather was cool with temps in the 40s and windy with chances of rain, so I opted for long pants and a long-sleeve shirt with my Team Beef jersey.
It's a lot of bold colors and patterns... Pretty wild!
Race Day Outfit:
KC Tights from Oiselle-- first time wearing these for a run or race!
Purple Turtleneck from Columbia
Team Beef Jersey (My Oiselle singlet should arrive in September sometime)
I also wore an earband and a hat because my ears are SUPER sensitive to cold.

Race events were staged out of the MSUN gym. It was a perfect spot-- easy to find, great parking, plenty of space to warmup in the gym or run around campus, easy access to bathrooms. And, since it was cold and kind of crummy weather, it was nice to be inside some before the race started. I arrived at around 7:20 and picked up my t-shirt and race bib. I also received an Asics training journal for being an early sign-up for the race. Then I took a 10 minute jog around campus and did some form running and dynamic stretching. With the cool weather, I wanted to make sure I was extra warmed up.
First time I have been in the gym at Northern. Not bad!
People were still arriving and registering as 8:00 a.m. rolled around, so the race started just a little bit late. I didn't mind though. I was really excited for them that they had more people than expected! They had 130 participants in all three races in the end, and 50 volunteers. Pretty great turnout for a first-time race in a small town!

I lined up with some other women near the start line who I noticed were doing the 10K and made polite pre-race conversation. People in Montana are SO nice and friendly! When the race started, I went out with a little speed and left most of them behind. This actually really surprised me and even made me a bit nervous! Was I going too fast? No, I reassured myself that I was feeling strong and it was OK to go out a bit fast and feel a little uncomfortable. Most of the first mile was down hill and I got to the first mile marker and looked at my watch--7:22!! Probably my fastest first mile in a LONG time, maybe ever.
Race routes. 10K in yellow. 
Just after that, we turned a corner and faced a long, long, long uphill. I knew I'd have to back off the pace a bit, but I didn't let myself totally lose sight of my goal, and tried to keep it somewhat steady. I ended up passing two other girls on the uphill. Somewhere in mile 3, another woman about my age ran up ahead of me and passed me. After a little bit of back and forth, she ultimately stayed ahead of me, but I stayed with her for the rest of the race. There were many more hills to climb in this run and she ended up being stronger on the uphills than I was.
Maybe half-way through the longest uphill climb ever at this point. 
There's blue-shirt gal!
This part of the course was really exposed and it was WINDY!
The race course for the 10K was really nice, even despite all the hills and exposure. It included sections of gravel/trail, asphalt bike bath, and streets. I appreciated that it ran around the outskirts of town, rather than wholly on the city streets. I really enjoyed the views of the hills on the south side of town, even as the wind whipped in my face. Plus, now I know of some great trails I can use if I ever need to run, bike, or walk the dog in Havre! A few other big plusses were that the course was very well marked with orange spray-painted arrows and volunteers were stationed at every corner to make sure people were going the right way, and to cheer us all on. I tried to say thank you to each one that I passed. They also had each mile clearly marked with signs, which is handy for those of us without GPS watches. :)
Hey! It's blue-shirt gal again! :)
As I coasted downhill in mile five or so, looking at my watch I thought I would have a really great chance to get my PR, and really tried to stay strong. My best time in a 10K was actually during a virtual run I did at home, so I don't know if it counts, but it was 54:01. My best official 10K time came at Governor's Cup back in June: 54.54.24. My very first 10K ever was just about a year ago at Kickin' Asphault and was exactly 60 minutes. Either way, I was shooting for under 54, just to be sure I nailed a new PR.
Me and Blue-Shirt Gal, finally cruising down some downhill back into town.
The hardest part of the race was running back up a steep hill to the finish line on the quad of campus. It was the steepest hill of the whole course and came right in the last .2 miles. A real challenge! I was right with the same lady I'd been behind most of the race. She had a great kick at the end, too, and we finished very close-- me just behind her crossing the line. I gritted my teeth and thought of that PR dangling in front of me, ripe for the picking, and crossed the line with a finish of 52.97! Yay! I did it! I didn't just make a new PR-- I crushed it! A full minute off the Virtual Run time and about two minutes off Governor's Cup. No question about this one!

I found the lady I had ran with the whole race and we chatted a bit afterwards.  I congratulated her on a great race and complimented her for killing it on the hills. Maybe having her there in front of me kept me going strong to get that PR? :)
Race Bib from Maroon and Gold Fun Run.
Lucky number 13?
My Race Splits:
Mile 0-1 -- 7.22 Starting FAST and downhill!
Mile 1-2 -- 9:40 (I hit my split button a little late, so this one may be closer to 9:20 or so) BIG HILL!
Mile 2-3 -- 7.56 (Again, this one's probably actually more like 8:20) Slightly downhill.
Mile 3-4 -- 9.10 More hills, and WIND!
Mile 4-5 -- 8.12 Loooong downhill! yay!
Mile 5-6 -- 8.51 Flat, but with the killer steep hill right at the end.
Last .2 -- 1.44 Trying to finish strong...
Total: 52.59
Overall pace was 8.32 per mile. I'm happy with that!

I stuck around to watch the rest of the 5K and 10K finishers come in. Being a local race, I knew several people who were competing and it's always great to cheer on people you know. I think the best part of this race was the huge grin on Maria's (Alissa's Mom) face. Every time I looked at her she seemed so happy and proud. You could tell that she was just overjoyed about her daughter running cross country, for the support of the people who ran, and for the overall success of the day. She probably thanked me for coming five times or more, at least, as did Alissa. Pretty cool. This is what it means to "Grow the Sisterhood," people. :)
Photo credit: Melissa K.
L to R: Melissa, Alissa, Shayla, and me.
There were only 23 scored participants in the 10K and I was 11th. I have no idea where I finished among the women, but I *think* I was third. The Cross Country team itself was split into two groups- a Maroon Team and a Gold Team and they also had to run the 10K, competing as teams against each other, but they weren't included in the 23 scored participants. So, overall it was probably closer to 40 runners in the 10K. In case you're wondering, the Maroon Team won, with a lower average time of it's members. :) They did prizes for the first-place male and female finishers in each age group and each distance, I think. The prizes were vintage MSUN Track and Field apparel. I definitely coveted the throwback jerseys, but alas, it wasn't in the cards for me! I'm more than satisfied with a new PR though!
This was the race t-shirt everyone got. Not bad! 
If anyone's interested, I was really happy with how my Oiselle KC Tights performed in the race. I was exactly right temperature-wise and didn't even notice the pants as I ran. They were very, very comfortable. I was worried that with no drawstring, they might slide down a bit, but they didn't-- they stayed put. They are definitely a wacky, bold design and are a bit of a departure from my normal solid-color running apparel, but I got several compliments on them and one girl came up and asked me about where I got them. It was awesome to have the chance to brag up Oiselle!

Overall, the Maroon and Gold Fun Run was a challenging but fun event supporting a great cause. It was well-organized and well-run. I'll look forward to keeping this one on my calendar to do again in the future!
Alissa and me, post race. Big smiles! She's the sweetest. :)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Oiselle Flight Friday~ Build The Sisterhood

Oiselle Flight Fridays!
**Ok, so it's actually Saturday... but you'll forgive me, right? I started this yesterday but just didn't have time to finish it!**



First, the basics:

Who is Oiselle?
From their website:
Oiselle is a Seattle-based women's athletic apparel company that believes in the transformative power of sport and its ability to inspire strength, courage, and sisterhood. We live and breathe the sport of running, and we live and breathe the art of apparel design. In both, we seek quality and innovation. And to know that everything we do supports women who want to move, run, and fly.

I'm a recent joinee to the flock, running for the Oiselle Volee Team. This is a team made up of runners from all over the country, from your Average Jill like me all the way up to Olympians like Kara Goucher. Oiselle (pronounced Wa-Zell) is an athletic apparel company specializing in women's running gear that is designed by and for women. This stuff is the real deal and the company is not only committed to providing the best gear on the market: they are all about growing a culture of strong women. My kind of company! In my new series Oiselle Flight Fridays, I'll be bringing you one of the seven Principles of Flight from the Oiselle Volee Flight Manual each Friday. I'll also be reviewing a piece of Oiselle gear with each of the seven principles.
Oiselle Flight Manual. 
This week, I bring you the First Principle of Flight: Build the Sisterhood. And, I'm reviewing the Cable Knit Arm Warmers.
Cable Knit Arm Warmers from Oiselle.
First, here's the excerpt straight from the Flight Manual:

Build the Sisterhood
We are only as strong as the bonds we build. We work hard to raise the bar in terms of how women support other women, fostering strength and leadership--not just through healthy competition, but in daily actions big and small.

So what does that mean to me? What I think of first is simply having a positive attitude about running with everyone you meet. When you have enthusiasm for something, it catches. I talk about running all the time to just about everyone, mostly about how much I love it. When people see how excited you are about running, or anything, they want to be part of it, too.

Growing the sisterhood is also about encouraging others. Highlight others' accomplishments before you talk about your own. Get together for runs, even if others aren't the same pace as you, and have a good time. I've been on both ends of the stick as a running budy- I've been the pace-setter, and I've definitely been the "dead weight." But being "dead weight" was only in my own mind! Never, ever has anyone ever said, "Man, Katie, I wish you would have stayed home!" And that's because I try to keep a positive attitude, and DON'T APOLOGIZE for being the pace that I'm at!!! I am what I am. In the end, people remember the good times you have and the great conversation that happens before, during, and after the run more than the pace that you ran.

Here's some easy ways, in a nutshell, that I believe will help encourage anyone in their running:

  • Ask about the races they are training for and be genuine when you wish them good luck!
  • Tell anyone and everyone that if they need a running buddy, you're game! 
  • Highlight others' successes. HUGE!
  • Invite others to come along with you on runs or to races, or to cheer for other runners.
Even if you're not a runner, I think you could apply any of those to just about anything you are enthusiastic about!

This Principle of Flight is one of the things that I really love about Oiselle. Yeah, they have a good number of elite sponsored runners in their flock, but they also open it up to regular people. And what I've found from following this company for several years now is that even the elite runners are very normal and down to earth, and sometimes the "regular people" are the one who inspire us the most! I just love that they are all about supporting EVERYONE! That's what Growing the Sisterhood is really all about! 
Me with three other awesome lady runners after this morning's Maroon and Gold Fun Run events!
Now here's a group of strong sisters who run! (And one dude photobombing in the background.)
Photo by Melissa K (in pink)-- Thanks Melissa!
Speaking of enthusiasm, I am very enthusiastic about these Cable Knit Arm Warmers from Oiselle! But first, a secret confession: this product is no longer available! It was a past-season style I bought earlier this summer on clearance. Keep reading, though, and I'll tell you what they ARE offering for arm warmers/running sleeves right now!
Cable Knit Running Sleeves from Oiselle.
Have you ever tried arm warmers or running sleeves? When I first saw people wearing them, I was like, "Why wouldn't you just wear a long sleeve shirt?" I didn't see the point. Alas, my friends, my eyes have been opened! 

I bought these arm warmers at the Expo before Governor's Cup back in June. I wanted to wear my Team Beef jersey but found out that it would be in the low 50's at the start of the race. For me, that's too cold to be sleeveless. But, I didn't want to have to hassle with pulling off a longsleeve shirt during the race! Solution: Arm Warmers! 
Cable Knit Running Sleeves from Oiselle.
These things are great! They were perfect for the chilly morning warm-up and I did wear them all through the race, even as it got warmer and I began to sweat profusely. And you know what? The sweat-wicking properties are beyond legit! Even as the temperature rose, I stayed comfortable. And they dry super fast, too, so that sticky sweat doesn't stay in the fabric and make you feel cold and wet. These babies are toasty when you want it and dry when you need it!
Cable Knit Running Sleeves from Oiselle.
I also love that they have thumb holes. Something about the thumb hole makes them extra comfy! My only complaint about these is that because they have the thumb hole, I can't see my watch. Maybe they need a little slit so one could access their watch or GPS easier? 

I've used them several more times on chilly morning runs and I know I'll use them a lot in the fall. Now, as I said, the Cable Knit arm warmers are no longer available, but you CAN snag a pair of the Herringbone Arm Warmers by clicking HERE. I love the orange color! BONUS: They're on sale!! Currently selling at $28 on the Oiselle website. Can't beat that. 
Herringbone Running Sleeves from Oiselle.
Photo credit: www.oiselle.com
That's a wrap for the first week of Oiselle Flight Fridays! I hope you enjoyed learning about Growing the Sisterhood and Cable Knit Running Sleeves! Next Friday I'll be back with the next Principle of Flight and another product review! I'll try to get it done and posted on Friday next time, too! Until then, happy running!

Here's a few questions to hopefully inspire some comments...
What does Grow the Sisterhood mean to you? How do you do it?
Have you ever tried running sleeves? What is your opinion of them?

Disclaimer: While I do run for the Oiselle Volee running team, I am not compensated in any way. Nor am I required or even asked to post about their company or their product. I just do it because I love them--what they do and what they have to offer. All opinions are my own.