November Faves

November has come and gone so I have a new batch of favorites to share with you! I’ve been able to spend some more time relaxing this month so most of my favorites have to do with that. But I also have one running related favorite. No, it’s not the weather. No snow has stayed on the ground yet but it’s been chilly and windy so full-on winter is just around the corner.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

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I loved the original tv series of Sabrina the Teenage Witch (with Melissa Joan Hart) and watched every single episode multiple times. I’d never read the comic books but when I first heard about the Netflix series, I knew I had to watch it. And I loved it! It took me a couple of weeks to get through it since I don’t watch too much TV solo but it was such a good show to have on to relax and knit. I’m so excited for the mid-winter special!

Vacation time

I get the max amount of vacation time at work (because I’ve been there for over seven years) and it was this month that I realized that I needed to take six days off before Christmas break begins on December 21 or else they wouldn’t roll over. Cue me taking off off a bunch of days, including the entire week of Thanksgiving. And it’s been so nice to not feel as rushed, be able to sleep in and have a much more relaxed day. I’m still keeping a somewhat structured day between workouts and blocking off time to work on this blog.


Hercule Poirot novels

I’ve been slowly dipping my toes into the Hercule Poirot novels over the summer and now I’m determined to make it through all of them! I started out with the audiobook version of The Mysterious Affair at Styles, then read Murder on the Orient Express and now I’m reading The Murder on the Links. If my library had audiobook copies of all the books, I’d go through them much faster (the narrator is amazing) but for now, it looks like I’ll be working through on hard copies.


Running the University of Minnesota

Lately, my long runs have been taken me through the main University of Minnesota campus. It’s a great way to get in extra hills and there’s not as much car traffic either. It’s just quiet and gives me a challenge during my workout. The only downside is there’s a flock of turkeys that are still hanging out there but so far they are keeping to themselves.

What have been some of your favorite things in November? Share them in the comments!


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Training Tips Tuesday #35: Explore a New Route to Get Out of a Running Rut

Are you feeling like you’re in a running rut? Don’t let it drag you down by thinking about it as negative but turn it into a positive experience. Let it be a force to push you to try new things with your running.

I was feeling in a rut when I decided to add in speedwork earlier this summer and now I’ve been feeling like my running was starting to get in too much of a routine again (and not in a good way). One thing that I noticed is that I tend to run the same routes over and over again. It’s hard to mix-up my weekday routes because of time constraints but even on the weekends I was choosing the same routes.

Now, for the last two weeks, I’ve been trying to go to new places for my running. I’ve gone to two Minnesota State Parks and also made the choice to detour off my usual running route. And it’s making it fun again to explore new places. I don’t know exactly where the next hill is or when I’m going to hit my next mile marker. And it’s so much fun to not be thinking about my runs in that way and to explore new areas around the Twin Cities!

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Oatmeal Runner Runs Afton State Park

After three trails runs at Theodore Wirth Park, I decided I was ready to try a little bit of a challenging in trail. And since we bought a Minnesota State Park permit during our camping trip in June, why not try running at a state park. Seriously, I’m still regretting not bringing running gear to Cascade River State Park because that would have been an amazing run!

Prarie views at Afton State Park

Prarie views at Afton State Park

Luckily, we have several state parks within an hour drive from us so I had several to choose from. But I had read a blog post from Minneapolis Running of six trails less than an hour away from the Twin Cities and knew I really wanted to run Afton State Park. Gorgeous scenery and somewhat technical trails? Just what I was wanting!

Now, I’ve got to say, I have a ton more respect for people who regularly run technical trails (especially with tough hills) after running at Afton State Park. I ran 5.5 miles of the 20 hiking trails there and it was tough. I had almost 600 feet of elevation gain over my run and there were some spots where I had to hike up instead of running because of the steepness. But on the other hand, that meant I had some fun “bombing” downhill which is an experience I’ve never had.

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One really great thing about running at Afton State Park (and probably all state parks) is how well marked the trails are! I had no chance of getting lost, even with my sense of direction, with how many trail maps there are out there. It also really helped me plan which way to go as I was running because the distances between points are marked and I could go “Oh, let me get in a little bit mileage and take this route instead” and end up at the same place.

A view of the St. Croix River at Afton State Park

A view of the St. Croix River at Afton State Park

And the views are spectacular, you get a little bit of everything from the river, to forests, to restored prairies. I couldn’t help but stop and take tons of photos because it was just gorgeous, especially with the blooming flowers. I cannot wait to get back out to Afton during the fall and spring to see how it changes throughout the seasons. And even though I saw plenty of people (including lots of runners) on the trails, it was so quiet and serene.

Luckily, this was a downhill section for me (winding beyond view)

Luckily, this was a downhill section for me (winding beyond view)

Do you have a trail running recommendation for me? Let me know in the comments where I should be trying to get a run in (hopefully around the Twin Cities area)!

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Picture Tour of My Long Run Around the Lakes

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Today I’m doing something different and sharing some photos from my long run on Sunday, February 18. It was a windy (17-20 mph) and chilly run, plus a little bit tough. I ran a couple of the lakes in Minneapolis (Bde Maka Ska Lake, Lake of the Isles and Lake Harriet) and also a little bit of the Minnehaha Creek.

The view from right at the start of my run, looking out at Bde Maka Ska Lake. I haven’t run the lakes since the Twin Cities Marathon on October 1 and it’s so different looking in the winter!

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Lake of the Isles is always so deceptive in how long it takes to run around it. Probably because the isle makes it so you can’t see straight across the lake. Since the lake is frozen, there was plenty of people out on the lake itself. Ice fishing, skiing, walking and even biking!

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Back to the other side of Bde Maka Ska Lake. This view is almost looking across to where my car is parked. There was a good amount of traffic on the paths although nowhere as bad as it can get in the summer.

After I finished around Bde Maka Ska, I ran around most of Lake Harriet. I didn’t stop to take a photo because it was so windy and I was running right into it most of the time.

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But then I went onto a new to me path! I’ve ran along Minnehaha Parkway closer to the Mississippi River but I haven’t gone along this path from the lakes along Minnehaha Creek. It was just like being in a little wooded area and I found where all the ducks are hanging out. Just around the bend there was a ton more ducks (they were crowded in that little creek).

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Finished with the run, pretty exhausted and ready to go home! Running those miles into the wind really takes a toll on you (especially with the cold).

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