Where do I began? So much has happened since I last posted and it’s only been FIVE days! I’ve raced, I celebrated Valentine’s Day, I signed up for more races, I ate a really unusual meal, I’ve tasted some really cool beers AND, I not only signed up to become a certified running coach, but I also signed up to become a certified group fitness instructor!
So, me, a running coach? Does it surprise you? It kind of does me, but not really. I realize I am not the world’s best runner, nor fastest runner. But, my heart belongs to running. As I am sure you are all well aware, I love running. LOVE running. And if I can help someone become a better/faster runner than me and if I can actually help someone become a runner in general, I am all over it. Running is my passion. Helping people is my passion. The two just seem to go hand in hand. Signing up to become a certified running coach seemed like the next logical step in this journey of mine!
The Road Runner’s Club of America offers a coaching program that looked interesting to me, so that is the one I signed up for. And, it just so happens that the club’s annual convention is coming up, April 23-26, in Des Moines, Iowa. That’s a drivable distance. Yes, I could take the course separately, when it’s going to be held in Minnesota again, but I am not sure when that will happen. And what better place to get truly immersed in the world of running than at a running convention! So, I am signed up for the whole convention! I am beyond excited. I am beyond thrilled. AND, I am truly blessed to have a husband who supports me and all my crazy ideas. Thank you, Al, for letting me sign up for this and for all your support. I truly couldn’t do this without you!
Speaking of my hubby, yes, he is coming with me; but he’ll be spending his time exploring Des Moines on his own or hanging out in the hotel catching up on his reading!
And of course, while we are in Iowa, we will be running a race! We are all signed up for the 10K as part of the Hy-Vee Road Races. So excited! It should be a really fun and interesting four days!
***Group Fitness Instructor***
As long as I was signing up for stuff, I also decided to sign up to become a group fitness instructor. This. This scares me, not going to lie. But it also excites me. I think it is going to challenge me, which I’m okay with. It’s good to challenge ourselves! Doing anything related to fitness wouldn’t have been on my radar five years ago, but now, the world of fitness – of being healthy and fit – intrigues me. Group fitness classes is turning into another passion of mine. I love taking boot camp classes, Zumba, PiYo, Yoga, Spin, etc. If you like exercising and/or fitness at all, I highly suggest you check out a class or two. Seriously, it is so much fun!
Now that I work at a fitness center – Vital Fit Club – the next logical step for me is to become certified in group fitness instruction. I am not entirely sure yet what I want to teach, but I am sure I will figure that out along the way.
The one thing I didn’t realize when it comes to becoming certified is how many different programs are out there and how many different entities offer certifications. There’s NETA (National Exercise Trainers Association), NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), ACE (American Council on Exercise), AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) and so many more. In all honesty, it is truly overwhelming!
I decided on the NETA group exercise certification for now. I am sure I will add more certifications as I immerse myself even more. I will be taking the course March 28 in Shakopee. I can’t wait!
This past weekend was Valentine’s Day weekend. Saturday was Valentine’s Day and my honey and I ran the Valentine’s Day TC 5K presented by Twin Cities in Motion. The picture above shows our bib numbers and the tags we wore on our backs. Runners could choose from “Taken,” “Single,” or “It’s complicated!”
To say it was cold is an understatement. Although, temperature wise, it was colder when we ran the YMCA’s Turkey Day 5K on Thanksgiving. Not sure why, though, but Saturday’s race FELT much colder! The temperature was 0ºF with a real feel temp of -22ºF. The wind, which was blowing off of Lake Harriet was so bitter.
As usual, we dressed in layers. My layers on top included a tank top (base layer), a long-sleeve winter compression shirt (next layer) and a long-sleeve winter running shirt (top layer). For the bottom, I had a pair of winter running compression tights as the base layer and a pair of winter running leggings as the top layer. I wore my winter running socks, although they were the shorter socks instead of my usual long ones. Stupid move, there. Should have had the longer ones!
Al’s layers were pretty similar. We each also had gloves, hats, neck gaiters and face masks. We were prepared and dressed appropriately.
We wore our normal winter coats/parkas to the race with the intention of using the bag check feature and leaving our coats to put on after the race. However, as we approached the bag check area and started taking our coats off, we both realized it was too flipping cold and decided to wear them while running. Neither of us have ever run with our coat on. EVER! We did end up checking our bag, even though the only thing in it was my car keys! The bag check people laughed!
Here’s what we looked like! And yes, I ran with my hood up the entire time as well. Yes, I was sweating by the time we were done!
I wasn’t exactly sure how the race was going to go because of my asthma. I haven’t been running outside – or really running at all – since my last asthma attack. To be honest, I’ve been a little nervous. Scared, really. Not being able to breathe is kind of scary. So, when we started running the race Saturday morning, I was hesitant to push it for fear I wouldn’t be able to catch my breath and have an attack. Of course, I had my inhaler with me, but still, I was unsure. We started off kind of slow, but it felt good – yes, even despite the wind and bitter temperatures! It actually felt really good. My breathing was great and I wasn’t wheezing. I was also breathing in through my new face mask, which worked out pretty good. With each mile, I picked it up a bit more and ended up with negative splits – meaning each mile was faster than the last! I was pretty pumped. It wasn’t my best time, but considering I ran with my coat on and it was frigging freezing out, I was pretty dang happy with our official time. Here’s what my Garmin read:
After the race, we enjoyed a delicious sugar cookie and some water, although a hot toddy may have tasted better!
***Valentine’s Day Dinner***
For Valentine’s Day dinner, Al booked us a reservation at Al Vento, a great little Italian restaurant in South Minneapolis. We’ve had brunch there once before and were so impressed, we decided to try it for dinner.
The Valentine’s Day special was a romantic four-course dinner for two for only $70, which included a glass of champagne for both of us. We didn’t have to go with the special, we could have just ordered off the menu. But, we decided to do the special……yes, even though we didn’t know what half of the menu items were! Al actually had to Google some of it because we seriously had no idea what the items were. But, we are daring like that. We LOVE to try new, fun, unique foods and I will tell you, this menu was unique!
And technically, by the way, it was a five-course dinner because we started off with some really good bread dipped in olive oil. So, here are each of the courses and pictures to go with – most – of it. I forgot to take pictures of the first course…oops! Keep in mind that the portions – except for the main dish – were quite small. As they should be!
I should note that there were two choices for each course except dessert. Al and I decided that we would each chose a different one so essentially, we could taste everything that was on the special menu. It worked out awesomely well!
Okay, for our first course, Al had the gnocchi with blood orange, brown butter and fresh thyme sauce with ricotta salata on the side. I had the braised baby artichokes in parmesan brodo (broth) with candied pancetta. On the side was a homemade parmesan crisp topped with fresh crema.
The second course:
This is the panzanella with warm chèvre and mint yogurt sauce topped with a watermelon relish.
This is the red beet and purple fingerling potatoes topped with micro greens, almonds and a yogurt turnip sauce with fresh, house made ricotta and watermelon radishes.
The third course (main entree):
This is the spinach maltagliati with lamb bolognese sauce, root vegetables and Bulgarian feta fonduta. (Although I tried this dish, I wasn’t a real fan of the lamb. Thankfully, Al loved it so he ate most of this one!)
This was the pappardelle with braised wild boar ragu and pecorino romano cheese. This was DELICIOUS! The wild boar tasted like a very good, lean, tender pork roast, but so much better! This was the first time I have eaten wild boar and I would definitely eat it again.
The noodles for both dishes were homemade and cooked to perfection! The texture was amazing!
The fourth course (dessert):
This was a molten chocolate torte drizzled with a blood orange, pancetta syrup topped with hazelnuts with a chocolate gelato drizzled with a spiced chocolate sauce. Ummmmm, YES, it was as good as it looks. By far, this is definitely in my top five desserts of all time list! OMG! It was decadent, indulgent and worth every single solitary calorie, fat gram and Weight Watchers PointPlus value!
We had the hotel clerk take this when we got back from dinner! We do clean up pretty good sometimes!