First Half in the Books

… And I’m ready to run another one!

New Shoes

I have to say, a year ago watching the runners throughout the course and seeing them hobble around afterwards, I thought, “No thank you!” I never saw myself running more than 3-4 miles at a time. Even that was a struggle, not because I was out of shape (I was a little), but because I’m too dang lazy. I would much prefer sitting on my couch watching marathons of my favorite TV shows than training for a marathon. Who’s with me?

However, things changed when my incredible boyfriend ran his 3rd half marathon in 2013. That is the moment I decided to step up my game and train for what became this year’s race, aka my first half marathon. Before this epiphany, I had only ran a couple 5Ks since the days of high school soccer. #lackingexperience

Training

The training program didn’t get going full throttle until February of this year when we bit the bullet and signed on for a gym membership. It’s a little difficult to run in -20 degree weather, don’t you think?

I have to admit, I saw those brave soles out there running on snow, ice and in miserable conditions. Props to you guys, making me feel like a wimp!

The first month was the absolute worst part about training. It became much easier when the routine was a habit. Before we knew it, it was April. Three months into training and running on a treadmill… it was time to get outside!

We’re so lucky to live in America’s Best Outside City and have access to hundreds of trails and routes right outside our front door! I noticed that hills are bound to happen no matter where you are in Duluth, so I devised this theory to prep for Grandma’s 2014:

When you know the race course has little to no hills, train with hills. It’ll strengthen and prepare the legs for hills, making the course with no hills a breeze!

Overall, training went better than expected, but not good enough. We were scheduled to run 6 days each week and that turned into 3-4. They say you should do some yoga, biking, and other sports… that also did not happen.

However, if I were to guess how much I would have put into training a year ago, this was by far more than that. My first thought when my legs start to give is “okay, let’s walk.” Did I ever walk during my training runs? NOPE! And I’m proud of it! The pushing the limits, running til’ your numb, “get after it” momentum got me this beauty.

GB Half Marathon Medal

What was the best part about the race? 

How undeniably easy it was. I swear the first five miles felt like 15 minutes. They just flew by. Then we got into town with the crowds of people cheering us on and sometimes bringing entertainment to the course, like beer bongs. Plus, the weather was absolutely perfect. 45 degrees and cloudy with a very slight breeze to our backs. Oh, and the feeling I had once I crossed the finish line. That was exhilarating.

What was the worst part about the race?

After the race was over, when your sweat dries up and you can’t get warm enough. During the run, I may have pulled a muscle, but that doesn’t compare to being cold. In the end it was all worth it. And the free beer was pretty good, too.

Beer Here

Grandma’s Weekend

We also had some fun with the #GrandmasSelfie #Verizon contest during #Gmas14. I never had so much fun taking so many selfies. Here’s one of my favorites as we were cheering on my boyfriend’s parents and the other 5K runners.

Grandma's Selfie

A Fitbit is on the line. Still waiting for them to announce the winners this week. My fingers are crossed! I’ve been wanting a Fitbit for a long while now.

At the end of the day, I was ready to sign up for another one. However, I’ve been warned to wait a few weeks to make any big decisions. I guess this is what they call the runner’s high. It’s fun. You should try it.

Bib and Medal

Future Plans

I have three short runs in July that I’m stoked about. First one up is a Fire Cracker 5K to kick off the long holiday weekend. Next up is the MLB All-Star Color Run. (We’re collecting donations to charity, so feel free to support out team!) Lastly, in July we’re going to try out the Park Point 5-Miler in Duluth. All will be a blast and will help me stay focused and motivated on running.

Up next: Great Lakes Marathon Series

Cheers,

Amber

 

About That Running…

Since mid-February I’ve been a member of a gym, because we live in the tundra and I’m much too wimpy to run in the cold. I kicked the habit of being lazy and got moving with my better half, who mind you, has ran Grandma’s Garry Bjorkland Half Marathon the past three years.

Running has been going OKAY. I’ve noticed improvements in my running form and muscle is building throughout my body, making it easier to open a can of pickles. Here’s my progress so far, ramping up more miles each month.

February
February

March
March

April
April

Slowly, but surely I’ll get to 13.1 miles.

The biggest challenge of training so far: finding time to run. As you can see, some time was taken off during training and it was so difficult to get back in the swing of things. Lesson learned.

However, I have to admit, I’m extremely proud of myself for being where I am today. Before the training started up, I had a hard time motivating myself to get out and run. I guess all it took was an $85 registration fee, a boyfriend that runs like the wind and the desire to get in shape since that World Beer Tour was catching up to me. :)

Three months into training and just about a month until the big day this is where my training is at today:

Longest run – 7.02 miles / 1 hour, 20 min / 10’48” pace
Most (girl) push-ups in a row — 10
Crunches capacity — 30

Let’s see where these stand in a few weeks. Until then, get after it!

Knitting 101

So about a month ago a friend asked if I would join a knitting class with her and another gal. I was hesitant at first, but said “what the hell, it could be good for me.” I’ve been trying to finish a scarf for over a year now after being taught the basics from my boyfriend.

Yes, my boyfriend knows the basics of knitting. His grandmother owned a yarn shop so he learned a few things growing up.

Hat in Progress

I went into the class not knowing much, but when I left the class 4 weeks later, I learned SO MUCH including:

- Casting on
- Knit stitch
- Purl stitch
- Garter stitch
- Increasing & Decreasing
- Seaming

And voila! I had a wearable, comfortable, great-looking hat that I choose to wear now over my other “store-bought” hats. After my first completed project I’m being so obsessive about trying to make everything, which I know is extremely hard to do. I learned that the hard work that went into the hat made it so much more enjoyable to wear.

A Wearing Hat

When I fell in love with the hobby and before I finished the hat I decided to sign up to donate a scarf to the auction for a pre-school I work at. This auction is next Saturday. (Thinking to myself… what did I get myself into.) In the process of making this scarf I’ve taught myself how to knit in the round and also a new stitch, the slip stitch. I never knew there were so many different ways to knit!

Scarf in Progress

I’ve also learned that I can knit AND watch marathons of Dexter, Mad Men and House of Cards at the SAME TIME. Hopefully keeping the brain cells at an equilibrium, balancing out the complete laziness with the focus and concentration on my project. It works.

It’s safe to say I’ll be knitting for awhile. I’ve already begun mapping out Christmas gifts for family, friends and co-workers.

If this post sparked your interest in knitting, I’d recommend stopping by your local yarn shop to see if they offer any classes or friend an expert. YouTube videos definitely help, but I can’t say I would have enjoyed my first project without the help from the class and a teacher there with me every stitch of the way.

Also, a great tool I’ve been using to find new patterns is Ravelry. It’s like the Pinterest for knitters. They have millions of patterns that are free or paid ranging from beginner to expert.

It’s always great to have a new hobby, especially when you find yourself stuck indoors for half the year because it’s too darn cold out.

Stay tuned for more projects. I may even surprise myself and create my own patterns. Thanks for reading!

Gearing up for Grandma’s

My friend and I attended a seminar yesterday preparing runners for the upcoming Grandma’s Marathon and Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon. I had no idea what to expect in the two hour session, but man did I learn a lot!

They had a dietitian, a doctor, a shoe & apparel expert from Tortoise & Hare and Olympian runner, Carrie Tollefson. They know their stuff and it was great for all of them to share their knowledge on nutrition, gear and tips during the race.

Carrie Tollefson sharing her story and experience.

Carrie Tollefson sharing her story and experience.

The number one tip across the board was “don’t do anything during your race that you haven’t done during training.” This is great to know because it really prepares you and your body for liquids and foods that you’ll want to consume to keep you hydrated and energized during the race. No surprises allowed.

Besides an amazing coupon for shoes, we left with a list of useful resources on nutrition during training. (Copied straight from the handout I was given).

Hydration:

- Drink 2 cups water 2 hours before exercise
- Drink 2 cups water 30 minutes before exercise
- Drink 1/2 – 1 cup every 15 – 20 minutes during exercise
- Drink 2 – 3 cups for every pound of weight lost during exercise
(And you should never want to lose more than 2% of your body weight)

Carbohydrates:

On any training run or race longer than 60 minutes, aim to replenish 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour.

Recommended book:

Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 4th Edition, 2008.

The session was useful and I will plan to attend next year whether I’m in the race or not because it was truly motivating and got me wanting to get out and run, even in these subzero temperatures. (Thank goodness for indoor gyms!)

Thanks to Carrie, I have a new motto to add to my list: “Get after it.”

Thanks to Essentia Health for hosting and Grandma’s Marathon for putting this event together. As a novice runner, I think this event will help me fully prepare for my first half marathon and many more races to come!

On your mark. Get set. Run!

A couple weeks ago I decided to jump on the bandwagon of getting healthier and “in shape.” The first step was to commit to a gym membership because there is no way on earth you’ll find me slipping and sliding out on those icy streets.

Gym membership: Check.

The next step was to find some races to sign up for, starting with a 5K. It just so happened that I started with a half marathon, then a 10K, and finally a 5K. I’ve got one of each on my agenda this summer and I’m looking for more. It’s almost like a weird addiction. You pay $40 to run your legs to jell-o, but you get a “free” shirt out of the deal. #worthit

Sign up for races: Check.

Side note: As I was writing this post my friend suggested running a Ragnar. I’m not that committed to running quite yet. This is something to shoot for next year.

Until yesterday morning I wasn’t officially “in” Grandma’s Half Marathon, but once I received confirmation I was surprisingly excited. My boyfriend has had the honor of running it the past three years, and this year he’ll run by my side motivating me to finish the race. My first goal is to finish the race and my second goal, pending training, is to run it as close to 2 hours as possible.

Find motivator: Check.

I’ve chosen Nike Plus running app to track my training efforts and keep me on track, building muscle, endurance and most importantly the routine of exercising. Four years of college didn’t do my body any favors by skipping the exercise. I’m one of those people that need music in my ears while running, once I hear myself panting, it’s over. Music keeps me going. Other apps I’m sure are great, but I haven’t found a “free” one that connects music and training like Nike does. (Please comment if you’ve had success with any other apps, I’m always open to try new things!)

Download App for training: Check.

I’ve been running for about a week, maxed out at four miles, but it’s a good start. Looking forward to running more often and having a guilt-free excuse to enjoy cupcakes, beer and bread that I love oh so much!

Go run: Check.

This training will also be an excuse for me to start sharing more on my other blog: reasonstoruneveryday.wordpress.com.

Thanks for following along!

-A

January 2014 SMBTP Recap!

14 Conversion Secrets for 2014

Shared by Regis Hadiaris

Last Friday, Regis Hadiaris graced us with his presence at the January session of Social Media Breakfast Twin Ports . He shared 14 secrets he’s learned from working for Quicken Loans. I plan to take these secrets and use them to their full advantage. I hope you can do the same!

Secret #1: Connect with people about things they’re passionate about. 
*Note: it doesn’t say share what you’re passionate about, because really, no one cares.

Secret #2: Time content to maximize search and sharing.
Because the day of the week and even the time of day, are important to factor into each of your posts.

Secret #3: Ask your followers for help!
If you need some advice, there’s no one better to ask than your customers. If you ask, they will answer.

Secret #4: Facebook Custom Audiences unlocks opportunities.
This is a great way to specifically target each of your audiences, if you have more than one.
1) Collect email addresses & phone numbers
2) Segment them into meaningful groups:
- Client
- Dream Clients
- Don’t open emails
- Entered previous sweepstakes
3) Create custom audiences
4) Launch meaningful campaigns

Secret #5: Sweepstakes can radically improve sales.
Think of it as investing in your customers by rewarding them with a really nice prize, in turn build a larger audience and collect emails for future reference.

Secret #6: Use PPC ads to test campaign ideas/messages.
Allows you to try many different messages and track which ones get the most clicks.

Secret #7: Track TV web lift to get the full value.
Figure out where your website viewers are coming from, how they are learning about your company/business/product.

Secret #8: Rich media is worth the investment!
Such as calculators built right into the advertisements, keeping you on the same page, or those big, flashy pop-up ads that no one likes, but they work.

Secret #9: Syncing ads and landing pages improves conversion.
Seriously, if your ad and homepage are totally different colors, styles, and even fonts you could lead your visitors right off your website because they may feel it’s not where they should be.

Secret #10: Form fields impact conversion.
This is a great way to gather future clients’ contact information and opinions from people who are interested in your product. Keep in mind the order of questions, the colors, and if their are any big brand endorsements on the form itself.

Secret #11: Color matters!
Regis used the example of how they tested various colors for their landing page and they found that it varied by where it came from, for example Search vs. Display ads. This is something you’ll need to test with your audience and figure out what works best.

Secret #12: Images matter!
Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. Again, it depends on your business and your audience. What do they feel most comfortable with?

Secret #13: Buttons matter!
For example, are you more apt to click on an ad that says “Submit” or “Get Rates”? The idea is to use an action that relates to the form being submitted. Make yours unique!

Secret #14: Your users will help improve conversion, just ask.
Surveys have been proven to help, a lot. People want to be heard and it’s a great option if you don’t want to spend money on market research, just ask the people who are already using your product – the experts.

I really enjoyed this Social Media Breakfast because the information so relevant and important. Who doesn’t want to increase their conversion rates?

It was also a fun, yet challenging task “live tweeting” during this session. The secrets were easy to share, but if you weren’t there listening to Regis speak and give evidence to each one, it may not make as much sense.

If you would like to hear more from Regis find him on Twitter, @regishadiaris, or at his blog. We’re hoping he comes back to share more of his secrets with Social Media Breakfast Twin Ports.

Have a great weekend!

Pinterest Profile – Research Project

I’m sorry if that headline didn’t make any sense. What I meant to say was “Research Project as a Pinterest Profile.” Either way, it’s confusing.

To get to the point, the agency I work at has started a bootcamp, where the newbies in the biz get to learn all about the history of advertising and how to be better at what we do from the experts. You might call me a nerd, but I love learning. So I won’t turn down an offer to gain more knowledge about the advertising/marketing/social industry and my job.

We were given the task of researching and becoming an expert on one of the most influential people in advertising history. My assignment was Leo Burnett, the creative copywriter who loved automobiles and brought his philosophy of HumanKind to life at Leo Burnett Worldwide, still going strong to this day.

I see myself as an in-betweener when it comes to the creative vs. account, only because I’m a writer and you’d think I’d be more in the creative area. However, I’m really good at researching & analyzing data, SEO, and dealing with the media. I also am known as the Socialista in the office, because I’m training to be THE social expert of the Midwest. I realize I’m reaching for the stars, but as Burnett said, “When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.”

Leo Burnett Pinterest

To get to the point, I wanted to think outside of the box when putting together this research project. Per the image above, I went with the good ol’ Pinterest profile. Has anyone done this before? I would have never thought of doing something like this in college, but I felt it worked well with the visual approach to this advertising bootcamp project. Don’t you agree?

(Click the image above to access the profile I created)

I have to admit I didn’t put a lot of time in preparing for the actual presentation itself, because I assumed it would be easy talking about every pin. But when I was at my computer navigating throughout the profile, I realized it’s clunky and hard to follow during a presentation. So I did what I did, and sent everyone the link so they could look it over in their own time.

Following our presentations, we were given “Hey Whipple, Squeeze this” to read, in sort of a book club fashion. I finished the first chapter (assignment) right away and wanted to continue reading, being that I’m such an overachiever.

After learning all about Leo Burnett and his thinking, and working at Swim Creative – another agency dedicated to teaching and learning, I truly believe continuing your education far after you’ve graduated with your Masters is the best thing you can do. Not only for yourself, but for your peers and those who follow after you. We want to be experts, and the only way we can do that is to be taught and then to teach others.