Dirty Girl

Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza

I just had to laugh at this post by The T-Rex runner about how sick they are of seeing all the posts in social media about paleo, gluten-free, vegan, et al.

I’m right there with them.

I love a nice cold beer on a hot day. I savor an amazing slice of coal-fired pizza. (Especially if it’s from Black Sheep Pizza – also pictured above.) Gluten-free, unless you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, is just a fad.

It’s fitting that I ran across that post today. I recently joined up at Lifetime Fitness because I needed something to break up the life monotony of being in my house all the time. For that same reason, I got a 1 day/week membership at Coco Minneapolis to get me out of the house on a workday – and so I can go to the food trucks. The best part is that it’s an amazing space:

Co-working at CoCo Mpls

A photo posted by Carolyn Sonnek (@csonnek) on

Not a bad view while working.

A photo posted by Carolyn Sonnek (@csonnek) on

Back when I worked downtown, I was OK doing my cross training workouts at home. Now, I’m *always* home and it’s slowly making me crazy. That combined with the desire to bump up my fitness level, I joined the gym. It’s close and they have great free group fitness classes*. Plus, my friend A who works for Lifetime tipped me off to a “free signup” weekend over the holiday weekend. No signup or processing fees – saved myself ~$150!

I did my free fitness assessment yesterday. A tool, I’m sure, to scare gullible people into purchasing personal training. When the nutritional part of the assessment came around, the trainer said that I don’t eat enough vegetables or protein and too many carbs and cheese.

No shit. I love cheese!

Yes, I can fit in more vegetables. In fact, that is one of my current goals. And protein? I’m pretty sure I don’t need as much as the trainer thinks I do – because their next point was to go down to the gym cafe/store and stock up on protein powders.


I think I also crushed the trainers happiness by telling her my goal was to improve my fitness and run times. “Not weight loss?” was the first thing out of her mouth after I said that. I said “sure, that would be great, but if I do the other things, the weight loss will naturally follow.” She then asked me if I “journaled my food” – i.e. calorie counting.


I know I’m 40 and not skinny, but dieting/counting calories is the worst thing to do for someone who loves food. Because then I become obsessed with food and that’s all I can think about! Which makes me want to eat everything. EVERYTHING.

I’ll be more mindful of my portion sizes, because that is my downfall, but I’m not counting calories. Period.

Back to T-Rex’s post.

My favorite part of T-Rex’s post was this at the end:

So y’all, eat clean if you want. Be paleo. Don’t eat sugar by choice (GOD, WHY?). Go vegan. Only eat fish and things that are purple. I personally don’t care. But if you need me, I’ll be the girl with a craft beer in one hand and a cheeseburger in the other after every marathon, so don’t feel bad if you’re right there with me.

I know friends that have gone vegan and it was great for their health. I tried it, and couldn’t stick to it (cheese, y’all). For the most part, my goal is to eat vegetarian for breakfast and lunch, then dinner’s whatever I feel like making. If it’s a bacon cheeseburger or bratwurst, so be it.

So what I’m saying is: you eat what works for you and I’ll eat what works for me. Stop judging me! 😉

* – Did a kickboxing class on Monday. My arms FINALLY don’t hurt like a SOB. Goddamn. Now I’m taking an INSANITY class tonight…I think *I’M* insane! 😉

North Mankato Triathlon

Who ordered a ticket to the gun show?

Ten Things I Learned From Doing A Triathlon:

1. You can never train enough for the swim.
2. Training for the swim in a pool (when the swim is in a lake/pond) is ineffective. Also, see #1.
3. Don’t shift too fast into your big ring on the front lest you have the chain completely fall off your bike.
4. If the hill you’re biking up is too steep, just get off and walk it up. Nobody’s going to penalize you for it. Plus, your legs will thank you.
5. Hydrate hydrate hydrate.
6. Gu packs are your friend.
7. People are willing to shit themselves and keep going rather than stop and not shit themselves. (from observation, not practice – I’m not THAT hardcore!)
8. Planning your race pace ahead of time is useful in making sure you have enough “gas in the tank” once you get to the run.
9. Swimming sucks. It really, really does.
10. That I’ll never do another one ever again.

The sprint triathlon (0.25 mi swim/12 mi bike/3.1mi run) I did on Sunday was my first and will be my last. Why? I hate swimming.

As a kid, I loved to swim. But, in the 30-some years since then, I have fallen out of love with it – especially swimming in a lake. I can’t fathom how much fish poop is floating around in that water and when you’re swimming in a race, there’s a high probability that you’re going to get some in your mouth. ICK!

Anyway, back to the story. Since I don’t like swimming, I made sure that I would train to swim twice the distance non-stop (i.e. 0.5mi) in a lap pool. Aside from the turnarounds (where I didn’t hang on the edge or touch the bottom of the pool), I didn’t stop once. I had a good time split and I felt great. I’m a pretty experienced cyclist and I know what my pace times are for running, so I found a tri pace calculator online to plug in what my finish time would be.

Note: I’m slow. Really slow. I know this. But my goal was to finish and not kill myself.
Continue reading North Mankato Triathlon

Super Freak

No, not THAT kind of super freak!

I’m talking about how I’m starting to freak out a little bit about the triathlon. Mainly: the swimming.

Over the past few days I’ve had these thoughts:

I’m going to drown!

There’s no way you’ll be able to finish!

What if there’s fish?*

I won’t be able to SEE!**

I’m not going to be able to finish!

I’m going to drown!

As you can see…I’m being quite rational about this. By “rational” I mean “irrational as hell.”

Before I did the half-marathon in 2010, I had an epic meltdown on the drive down (just ask my husband) because of the seemingly insurmountable task ahead of me.

Thirteen point one miles?!?! I’ve only been able to run up to ten! (insert hysterical crying and freaking out here)

It wasn’t pretty. Thinking back, I’m usually the calm, level-headed one in times of crisis and I usually don’t freak out. Not like that.
Continue reading Super Freak

My Secret Weapon

2008 Breast Cancer Bike Ride

I’m having a bit of panic over the triathlon, which is in 19 DAYS!

The swimming. I’m not going to be able to swim in a lake (unless I swim the race course the day before) until the day of the event. So, in order to make myself feel better, I’m going to swim as much as possible before the race.

However, I realized this weekend I have a secret weapon in my arsenal: the bike.

After a whirlwind week – one where I had to take ocular antibiotics due to an eye infection (and meaning I couldn’t wear my contacts) – I finally got my new Terry saddle installed on the bike and took her out for a long ride on Saturday in the 90+ degree heat and humidity right around the noon hour.

The course was a nice winding course with rolling hills and a few challenging climbs and a delightful straight, flat stretch where I got the bike up to ~23mph. All in all, I did 11 miles with little to no effort and had 14mph average speed.

Not bad for the first time out this year, huh? 😉

Now that I have a fantastic bike saddle, those miles will fly by.

If only the swimming would go as smoothly…

Am I A Failure?

New running shoes

I swear the world is fighting against me to thwart my efforts in training for the triathlon on July 1st. I never had this much trouble training for a half-marathon!

I think I narrowed it down to these things:

1. New house/garden.
I’ve never had a vegetable garden before, and the prep work for that has been a lot of work. I also have established plants (asparagus & strawberry patch) that need maintenance and picking on a nearly daily basis. Also, putting the final touches on the house eats up time.

2. Social life.
I know, wah wah wah. I have an active social life. But, having SO many things going on – especially on nights and weekends (my prime workout time) – it puts a cramp in my training schedule.

3. Work stress.
My job – compared to what it was 2 years ago when I was training for the half – has exploded in terms of workload and responsibilities. I’m more mentally exhausted at the end of the day and as a result, it makes it damn hard to get motivated.

4. Eating healthier.
Since the move and due to the above factors, I seem to have less time to cook and plan meals. Which means we’re either eating out or getting takeout a lot more than we used to and I’m getting frustrated with that. Thus, more of my focus is shifting to cooking healthier dinners.

5. Training time.
I can train for running events in a relatively short amount of time on any given day because all I have to do is:

  1. put on workout clothes,
  2. put on running shoes, and
  3. GTFO.

With the bike, there’s:

  1. put on cycle clothing,
  2. put on cycle shoes,
  3. get water bottles filled up,
  4. get bike down from garage rafters and check the tire pressure and address any other mechanical issues,
  5. put on helmet and gloves,
  6. make sure I have my phone in case of mechanical issues, and
  7. GTFO, and
  8. upon return, put everything away.

And swimming?

  1. find swimsuit, goggles and swim cap; pack in gym bag,
  2. find two towels; pack in gym bag,
  3. make sure lock AND KEY for the locker room is in the bag,
  4. drive to the gym,
  5. change into swim clothes,
  6. shower and get hair wet before putting on swim cap (mama don’t need green hair, yo!),
  7. swim (a.k.a. GTFO)
  8. shower to rinse out chlorine,
  9. change into regular clothes,
  10. drive home, and
  11. shower for real.

I don’t count “showering” after running and biking because I usually shower later in the evening after I’ve stopped sweating. No sense showering if I’m still sweating! But with the pool, I can shower once I get home. Why at home? Well, it’s just less crap I have to pack and haul to the pool and frankly, showering (for real) at the gym sucks. But I do need to get the chlorine out of my hair, so I can’t skip it.

Yes, I know the packing stuff with the swimming can be done ahead of time, but it still takes time regardless of *when* I do it. It also doesn’t take that much time. It’s the driving and changing clothes two times that does it.

And I know what some of you are thinking: “Carolyn, why don’t you just work out in the morning?” For those of you who haven’t had the “joy” of seeing me in the morning, I have an alter-ego named GROG who acts a lot like Drunk Hulk over on Twitter and GROG hates getting up early.

Angry Uhu

(not me, but pretty damn close as to my morning attitude – except more grumpy)

Plus, the few times I tried it, I was so stressed out trying to get everything done before work and was tired/ravenous the rest of the day. Mornings + me = bad.

* * * * *

I saw my cousin who is three years my junior this weekend at my niece’s graduation party – the same cousin who signed up to do a half marathon, the Warrior Dash and now this tri and goaded me into doing the same – and she’s in worse shape than I am. I’m not sure when I got or why I have this sense of competition with her, but I do. Having her tell me that she’s “seriously going to die” doing the tri somehow made me feel better.

I’ve swam a quarter mile already. Albeit, not all at once, but I did that my first (and only) time in the pool! I’m pretty confident if I get to the pool at least 4 more times between now and July 1, I’ll be in good shape. Besides, I’m just shooting to finish, not be super-fast or anything.

Once I install my new saddle on the bike, I’ll be stoked to GTFO and put some miles on. Unless my body/fitness has changed dramatically over the past 3 years, I’ll be able to knock out a 13 miler with no trouble.

With the running, I’m up to 30 minutes nonstop running and I did 4 miles on Saturday. Granted, I had a pee break 1.5 miles in and the last mile was more of a 2min run, 30sec walk. So in the next month, I want to get up to 6 miles running (w/no breaks) and I should be OK doing the 5k after the swim/bike. Going to do some bricks of bike/run the week before the race too.

All in all, I should be in good shape.

My goal: to finish.

And beat my cousin. 😉

So am I a failure? Considering, I think I’m doing pretty well.

Dare To Tri

Hy-Vee Triathlon - Women's Elite 038

I’ve done a triathlon before.

Well, it was a team tri (my recap from my other blog), but a tri nonetheless. For the “tl/dr” version: I did the 18-mile bike leg with virtually no training and despite slogging up a very steep and very long hill during my leg, my team won the women’s team division! Mainly because of our college-level swimmer and marathon runner…but I helped!

Fast forward to today.

I signed up for the North Mankato Triathlon in July. Why am I doing a tri and a half marathon all in the same year?

Because I’m nuts.

Well, not really nuts in the “padded cell” kind of way…more like “what am I thinking?”

I’ve always wanted to do one, but never had a reason to do it. Then, when my 3-years younger cousin talked about doing this one, I knew I had to do it. Her goading got me to do my first half marathon back in 2010 and the Warrior Dash last year. As an added bonus, my sister’s house is mere blocks from the park where the race begins. Benefit: no worries about parking/travel!

I suppose I should ask her if I can stay at her house the night of June 30th! (Laura?) 😉

I was also greatly inspired by Meridith over at Swim Bike Mom (seriously, she’s my new hero) to tackle the tri. Just when I think I don’t have time to train for a mere sprint, she’s training for a goddamn Ironman all while juggling two kids and working full time as an attorney.

Working at a law firm myself, I can tell you how many hours the attorneys put in a week: A LOT.

So reading her story every day as she recovers from a broken foot gives me motivation and strength that I too can do this!

Anyway, it’s a sprint tri; this means it’s a .25 mile swim, a 13 mile bike and a 3 mile run. I could do the last two legs right now without training too much, but it’s the swim that’s going to be the biggest hurdle.

I tried lap swimming at the local community center pool in the late winter/early spring of last year after my glute injury and it was a mixed bag. I really enjoyed the swimming part of it and it didn’t take me long to be able to swim lap after lap without much trouble. What I didn’t like were the very limited hours for lap swimming and how goddamn crowded the lap swim got when it was open.

I’m more than happy to share a lane…just don’t be a dick and whack me every time we cross laps.

That got old and I haven’t been back since.

Instead I’m going to tour a local fitness center that has a pool and spin classes to see how crowded things get at the times I’d be wanting to use the pool and will probably begin training in earnest this week.

I’m giving the ankle another week or two before I start running on it again. I gave it a bit of the jog test this weekend (only went ~10 yards or so) and it felt good, but since I still get some twinges when I rotate the ankle, I’d rather err on the side of caution rather than fight through the pain and make things worse. (see last year and the pulled piriformis muscle that took 5 months to heal to 98% because I ran through the pain)

Workout Wednesday: Nike Training Club

You can buy this awesome sign at Etsy (click the image to buy).

I had a burst of inspiration yesterday regarding working out at home. It was in no small way inspired by this image: “we can do hard things.”

And you know what? I CAN do hard things! Thus, I needed an at-home solution to supplement my running and personal trainer workouts.

I keep hearing people talk about Bodyrock.tv, which is short burst interval training and the videos are free. I checked them out, and they give you the exercises but they don’t do them with you in real-time. Instead, they encourage you to buy an interval timer and other equipment necessary to do the exercises. (Like I need to buy MORE stuff!)

I find that with strength training, I either need someone doing the exercises with me, or telling me when to switch and what to do next. I don’t do so well with that out on my own.

Back to the Bodyrock site – and I swear I’m not a prude (far from it, in fact) – there are the images of the main trainer all over the site that are a bit, well, pr0n-y. I’m all about showing off a fit body – and she definitely has one – but I don’t need all the T&A to go with it!

However, I was going to try it until I was researching interval timer apps for my Nexus One and I realized I already had the perfect app for my exercise needs.

Nike Training Club.

[the link is a bit wonky – choose your country, then choose “NTC” from the left navigational menu]

It is for iOS devices – iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad – and it’s completely FREE. Who doesn’t love free? 😉

Here’s the trailer for the app.

Yes, they’re in the same skimpy workout wear, but they’re too busy kicking ass to worry about their cleavage. Strong is the new sexy, am I right?

The NTC app gives you options of what you want to “get”:

  • Lean = high interval cardio drills to slim down
  • Toned = light weights and intervals to add definition
  • Strong = increased weights and reps to build strength
  • Focused = 15-minute workouts to target specific areas

Now anyone who has worked out in their lives knows that you can’t spot reduce, but the Focused routines concentrate on a specific body area to supplement your regular cardio workout: arms, legs, abs, etc. They’re really not kidding when they say “focused” – the ab buster routine is a killer!

Within each section, you’re asked what your skill level is: beginner, intermediate or expert and the routines are tailored to you based on your answers. In addition, most of the exercises don’t need equipment and the ones that do you only need minimal equipment. Heck, I don’t have a medicine ball, so I either use a free weight (for Russian twists) or I don’t use anything, but still do the exercise.

There’s a great variety of the exercises in the app. They also have rewards based upon the minutes you’ve clocked in the app; hit a certain level and a new workout is unlocked. I noticed last night that they’re also releasing a new athlete workout every month. I can’t wait to try the Laura Enever (pro surfer) workout. Looks intense!

The other thing I love about the app is that if you’re not familiar with the exercise, they have a video for each exercise that you can play to see just how to do it!

Did I mention it’s FREE? 😉

My favorite routines are in the Strong category and last night I did the 30-minute “Drill Sergeant” intermediate routine and I tell ya’, it kicked my butt! At about minute 23, I was starting to fade and I had to tell myself “you can’t get strong by being weak!”

It worked! 🙂

Got my Thanksgiving Day “turkey trot” 5k tomorrow morning, then I’m not leaving the house (or my pajamas!) until Saturday!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my US readers!



Well, it’s finally November 11, 2011! Now, finally we can stop hearing about it!

Yes, I took a photo at 11:11…don’t judge! You can take your own tonight! 😛

I know of no less than three different friends of friends and coworkers getting married today and I can only imagine what the bars will be like tonight at 11:11pm! (11 shots for $11?)

"Rodney, I can't do this pose!"

Me? I’m going to stay home, do some Power Yoga with Rodney Yee, cook up some vegetarian Indian food (Aloo Matar and Chole Masala) and keep watching my three DVD set of the Pearl Jam Twenty documentary! I’ve been a huge Pearl Jam fan for 20 years, and the documentary – directed by Cameron Crowe – is AMAZING!

I might be a teensy-weensy bit biased… 😉

Back to the yoga…I have three different DVDs of Yoga: one to relax, one to kick my ass and one for runners (stretching/strengthening). Since I haven’t been able to squeeze in a workout in the past two days, I need to have my ass kicked! Who better to do that then Rodney Yee?

If I survive getting beat up by Mr. Yee, I’ll have to make sure to get out and enjoy the weather this weekend! It’s going to get close to 60 degrees on Saturday! It’ll be quite windy, but any temperature above freezing in November seems like a major victory in my book!

What plans do you have for the weekend?

Working Out In The Winter

That's a lot of drifting

In a few days it’ll be Halloween. After that, it’ll be November.

While this fall has been pretty nice, it’s only a matter of time before the view out my front door resembles the photo above (which is the view out my front door after a snowstorm in 2007). For someone who loves to run outside, winter creates a number of problems for me:

  • I won’t run in the dark. I’m not a morning person, so working out after a full day at my job works the best for me. Since it gets dark around 4:30pm in the winter – when I’m leaving work – it’s completely dark by the time I get home.
  • I won’t run in temps below freezing. I have year-round allergies and running in below-freezing weather causes me no end of respiratory problems. I can handle lower aerobic activities like snowshoeing, but running is a no-no.
  • I won’t run in the snow/ice. Too slippery and I’d rather not injure myself. Plus, combined with the darkness, it’s hard to see any items that would make you trip or fall.

Because of this, I’m relegated to running on the treadmill at my gym over the winter.

As a distance runner (I think anyone who can run more than a 5k on a regular basis is a distance runner), there’s nothing more painful than transitioning from running outside to running on the treadmill. I try so many different things to distract myself from the fact that I’m running nowhere and staring at a wall while I’m doing it. I try audio books, podcasts, and music and it helps somewhat, but I just can’t help but think “am I done yet?” when I’ve barely put two miles in on the treadmill!

To help this year (inspired by Angela’s goals), I’m going to try a number of new items. First, I’m going to try transitioning to running in a minimal shoe – like a Vibram Five Fingers or a Merrell Barefoot – which will allow me to initially run a shorter distance on the treadmill and give me a goal to build up my distance. I picked up a pair of the Barefoot Pace Gloves this summer just to wear out and about and they’re quite nice, so I already have all the equipment I need to start!

Secondly, I’m going to try fartlek workouts on the treadmill. Yes, I know I just said “fart” (heh), but fartlek is Sweedish for “speed play” and it’s training that will help improve your overall speed. That’s one thing I really need to work on over the winter as I’ve lost a good minute per mile since my injury.

Finally, I’m going to try and stick to this plan of exercise throughout the winter months:

I think combining those two plans and following my structure of working out to get me through each week, I think this winter will (hopefully) go by fast!

What’s your winter workout plan?

Weekend Recap

Finish Line

Health Kitten is now on Facebook! Please go “like” it and you’ll make me one happy kitten! 😀

As you know from my brief weekend post, I survived the 10k! In fact, I far exceeded my expectations on my time. It was a beautiful – but COLD – morning and there was a lot of awesome people lining the route cheering us on. At least that’s what it looked like while Lady Gaga was singing in my ears! 😉

I only had a few tiny twinges of pain in the problem area during the run – in which I immediately walked for 15-30 seconds then ran again – and after, my only sore spots have been my quads! So encouraging!!

I have a massage scheduled for tomorrow, but I think I’ll go for the “stress-reducing” kind instead of the “fix my injuries” kind. I think I earned it!

After a weekend of what I’m calling “Sausage Fest 2011,” there was little to no hope of a loss this week and in fact I was fearing a gain. Lucky for me, I’m sticking constant at 168.


To get off this constant, I’m going to need to make a change.

Phase one of my “Not-A-Diet” is going to revolve around upping my vegetable and fruit intake and reducing cheese. I’m going to try to get as many vegetarian meals in as I can and since apple season is still going strong, I’ll have no problem getting those fruits in!

I’m also going to restart the wine boycott as the week I tried cutting back turned out to be one of the most social, “let’s go out for cocktails” weeks in a long time! Now that this week is shaping up to be a quiet one, I’ll have better luck at sticking to it.

Here’s hoping it’s less stressful too!