Running Goals: 2017

Golden Valley 10k running 042917 Valerie | Kale and Ale

In the home stretch of the Golden Valley Run the Valley 10k.

After a low-key year for running in 2016, I plan to make up for it in 2017. One of my top running goals since moving to Minnesota has been to run around nearby Medicine Lake at almost 9 miles. I’ve never built up to that distance during the short summer running season, but since I’m finally acclimating to weather and have been going to the gym regularly, I’ve made it a goal this year.

When I found a 10k for the end of April in the next town over from where I live, I signed up. I know the best way to hold myself accountable with a running goal is to sign up for a race. Having spent the winter doing yoga, elliptical and weights, I was training from 0 miles. I found a 10k training plan and started one day at a time. From my first run, I quickly got stronger.

The day of the race I was concerned about my performance. I hadn’t done my legs any favors the week leading up to it. I was at a concert standing and dancing the night before, and had attended a Barre fitness class two days prior. While my goal was to finish, I crushed it with a 10k personal record of just under an hour, at 59:26. I attribute that to the much-dreaded treadmill runs where I pushed up my speed on shorter runs. This is something I’ve known for years that I need to incorporate into my training and had been reluctant to do, so I guess now I know the results.

Golden Valley 10k 042917 group | Kale and Ale

Gotta love a race where pastries are part of the post-run snack. Holly, Nyssa and I with our post-run carbo-load.

I’m now at a good base to run Medicine Lake in a month or so (my personal running goal is to build up to 7.5 to 8 miles by the end of May). And when one of my race buddies Nyssa mentioned doing a 15k in June or July (a distance I’ve only done once), I was on board and am interested in doing one to keep up this momentum and distance. Either way, I plan to run around Medicine Lake this summer and make running outside earlier and later in the year a new tradition.

What are your summer fitness goals? I would love to hear them in the comments so we can help motivate one another!

Leverage Social Media During Events

Note: This post is a bit different than normal for this blog and not the primary topic of the blog. Having said that, I know a lot of people who read this blog are fellow bloggers or people in the communications field.

I run social media accounts for my job and blog and find it really interesting when something becomes popular. I do find I get the most action on tweets when they are tied to an event, and I love Twitter for live events, so it made sense to live-tweet during the Super Bowl.

Sunday night the big game was about to start and Lady Gaga came on the field to sing the National Anthem. Known for her eclectic style, she didn’t disappoint in an outfit that looked like head-to-toe ruby red slippers that Dorothy wore in “The Wizard of Oz,” with eyeshadow to match. Beyond the sparkles, I noticed Gaga’s hairstyle. It instantly reminded me of Lindsay Bluth’s hairstyle during an episode of “Arrested Development.” This is hands-down my all-time favorite show, so the comparison came to me right away.

A Quick Tweet

I’ve always loved using Twitter, and this comparison while Gaga was still singing was the perfect opportunity to share my thoughts with others. I snapped a picture from my television of Gaga, found a photo on the Internet of the hairstyle I was talking about, popped the photos into my photo grid app and made a new photo. I quickly wrote a tweet, wanting to get it out there while the song was still being performed. To leverage it further, I mentioned the Super Bowl hashtag #SB50 and linked to two Arrested Development accounts: the show’s official account and the most popular fan account I know, @BluthQuotes.

How It Grew

A few friends made comments on it right away. I kept eating, watching commercials and reading Twitter. Suddenly my phone started blowing up with the tweet, so much so that I couldn’t figure out how or where the traction came from. With a little searching I realized Bluth Quotes retweeted it and it snowballed from there.

It was crazy watching the analytics shift in real time as people were discovering it. As of 26 hours later, the impressions are at 69,188 and the engagement is at 16,133, and still climbing. And the point was to make myself and a few others laugh, so to know I was on point that much with fans of my favorite show is great.

ValPass Twitter Gaga Bluth | Kale and Ale

By comparison, my second most engaging tweet was about a Living Social deal to a winery I’ve been to, so I tweeted that with the link to my writeup about the brewery on my blog. Living Social retweeted it, gaining me 9,714 impressions but only 21 engagements and 9 link clicks.

Lesson I Learned

I’m not the first one to take a moment-in-time event and capitalize on it. During another Super Bowl song Oreo had an incredible tweet.

Beyonce was rocking out the Superdome so much during halftime, the power went out. With some quick thinking and keeping in line with its marketing and message, Oreo took advantage of the situation, letting people know that “you can still dunk in the dark.”

Someone who retweeted my tweet mentioned @portiaderossi (the actress who plays Lindsay Bluth) and I realized I should have mentioned her and @LadyGaga or looked at what hashtags specific to her singing the National Anthem were trending at the time, but in my excitement, laughter and desire to share it, I read what I wrote, checking for errors, and pushed send. I really should have known better, as hashtags are a big part of what I do for my day job and personal blog and where the most traction seems to come in times like this, but excitement got the best of me. I should have taken another minute or two and really leveraged the moment, but I wanted to get it out there first, which was my error.

The tweet itself doesn’t have many words. The words aren’t important (except wishing I had including more timely hashtags), the side-by-side images of something timely next to something a certain audience can appreciate are what made this tweet so viral and engaging, which helped the metrics. This picture gave people something they had to expand to see the full image, raising engagement. It was of the moment and silly, so it was fun to share.

You’re Experience

As I mentioned, I run social media for work and this blog, so I’m always trying new things to get the most legs out of every post. And I know tweets I write perform best during live events when the official hashtag is used, where there are more eyeballs on Twitter or people are searching via the event hashtag.

Do you run social media for non-personal use? How do you get the most leverage and views out of a post? What have you learned that either worked or didn’t work, or what are your favorite examples of how people use social media in the moment?

St. Croix, USVI: Activities

This is part two of three focusing on my Caribbean vacation. Read about St. Croix food and my layover in Puerto Rico.

Cane Bay St. Croix | KaleAndAle

Cane Bay, the local beach where we snorkeled and hung out for the day.

St. Croix is made for outdoor activities. As is typical in the tropics, the one day it rained it was still sunny and would pass quickly, but with the tan burn I was sporting, I spent the day at the beach under a large palm frond, so it all worked out.

Aside from lots of time laying on the beach and reading (which was the main point of the vacation), Aaron and I took in some activities since I can’t sit still forever.

Hiking

St. Croix hike | KaleAndAle

The start of the unknown.

We stayed next to the start of the trail into the rainforest and hills to the Annaly Bay tide pools. The trail was much more dense and narrow than I anticipated, so I was thankful for my hiking shoes and time to walk carefully. The course offered some good views but we couldn’t fully explore the tide pools since the sea was angry that day. But it was worth it and a fun adventure since I didn’t know what to expect.

Annaly Bay St. Croix hike | KaleAndAle

View while on the trail in the thick of it all.

Snorkeling

This was my third time snorkeling and each time was unique. You enter the water from the beach, swim a little ways, and the sandy floor quickly becomes coral reefs full of life. The clear water makes it visible for a while, where you can see all kinds of fish and plants. It was so calm and beautiful. My favorite part was just floating, looking around and taking it all in.

We snorkeled at our resort, where we rented our gear for 24 hours, which they let us have for 27 (hashtag island time! Thanks Sweet Bottom Dive Shop!), so we took advantage by hitting up the neighboring beach, Cane Bay, the following morning.

Annaly Bay tide pools St. Croix | KaleAndAle

View from Annaly Bay tide pools, where we hiked.

While there we took in a local beach, but on the north side where we were located there isn’t a bad spot to be had!

We really lucked out in a beautiful, undeveloped island with great weather and wonderful activities. Have you been to St. Croix or another Caribbean island? What was your experience like—please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

2015 In Review: Fitness

2015 year in review: Fitness | Kale and Ale

This is the second in a series featuring highlights from 2015. Today I take a look at activities and trips I’ve enjoyed this year. Monday we discussed food and Friday looks at drinks I’ve had and made this year. Share your highlights of each topic in the comments below!

Biking

This spring I bought a used bike when my old bike (and I mean old–its the only bike I’ve had since middle school) was damaged beyond repair. This hybrid bike serves my needs and then some, taking me on nice summer bike rides and getting me to and from beer events nearby. I love living near bike paths and having another alternative to a car.

Hiking

This year I took up hiking, in preparation for my summer trip to the Grand Canyon and Zion national parks! I have wanted to visit Zion for a while and go somewhere new, so when Aaron and I were looking for a trip we could fly direct from the Twin Cities and do something different, we decided to go to Vegas and visit the parks, making a big loop.

But first, we had to break in our hiking shoes, so this summer we went to state parks around the Twin Cities, hiking in the morning and stopping at a brewery or winery after. I hope to do more of this in the spring/summer of 2016, as it’s a great day trip and way to explore Minnesota. See write-ups of various day trips.

Back to Zion and Grand Canyon: the trip was amazing. There are no words, so I’ll leave a slideshow right here.

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Running

I only ran one race this year-something I need to change in 2016. The race was fun and unique: a trail run using nature as its obstacle course. It coincided with Oktoberfest, so at the end runners were rewarded with, as you can guess, a beer! Read more about my adventure running the Timber Trek.

Timber Trek end | KaleAndAle.com

A muddy, wet and hay filled mess. It was fun.

As I said, I hope to partake in more races next year. I don’t have the group who runs events here like I do in South Florida, but I want to push myself at a fun event. I think I’m going to run a Spartan Race [note: affiliate link] in 2016, specifically probably the short event in Minnesota next June. Who’s with me!?!? Seriously! To prep, I plan to do some weight training this winter.

If you want to run with me in June or another race in 2016, Spartan Race is giving away a free event to one reader of Kale and Ale! And even if you don’t win the giveaway below, there are deals going on now.

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Giveaway: Now closed

Spartan Race is giving one reader of Kale and Ale entry to a 2016 Spartan Race in the continental U.S., valued between $75 and $225, depending on the style and length of the race. The giveaway is good for open heats only, which is a non-confirmed start time.

You must be 18 or older to enter. The contest starts at midnight Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, and runs until the end of Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, Central U.S. time. Winner will be picked at random via Rafflecopter. Learn more about Spartan Races [affiliate link] including styles, location and what to expect.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Daytrip: St. Croix Valley

Afton State Park bluffs | KaleAndAle.com

Bluffs at Afton State Park

This past weekend was gorgeous. Minnesota was feeling near-record temps. Knowing those days are numbered and I’ll soon be homebound, coupled with fall colors on display, I headed east for some hiking in Afton State Park, located on the St. Croix River at the boarder of Minnesota and Wisconsin, and take advantage of some Wisconsin beers while I was there.

State Park: Afton State Park

About a 35 minute drive from Minneapolis, it was easy to access yet away from everything. The trails are great: Its easy to follow, they clearly display the difficulty and trails intersect often in very short (.2 or .3 miles) so its a very “choose your own adventure” hike. I was at the tail end of a nasty spell of allergies and didn’t know how hiking would make me feel, so it was nice to decide if I would go a little further or not on a whim.

Afton State Park path | KaleAndAle.com

Not as much fall color as I hoped, but perfect temps and a natural tree canopy make for great hiking.

With 20 miles of trail at different difficulties, I was to go back when I’m feeling better and explore more. In my few miles of hiking I was able to see bluffs (which is the level the visitor center is), woods and prairie.

If hiking isn’t your thing, the gently rolling, wide trails are also used for horseback riding, snowshoeing and cross county skiing. With a wood-fire stove in the visitor center, its obvious this park is popular year-round.

Brewery: Pitchfork Brewing Company

Pitchfork Brewing Hudson | KaleAndAle.com

Pitchfork Brewing Company

Located four miles into the state, Pitchfork offers a lot of different kinds of beer, and has a tempting list of what will be on tap soon. While I was there they had a wet (local!) hop in a firkin, and a pumpkin and Oktoberfest beer. I tried a bit of each of those and the rye saison, which were all solid choices. They give samples and have a variety of glass sizes so it’s easy to try a little of everything. Pints are $5 (the firkin was $6, could have charged more, probably) and it’s a good atmosphere with a popcorn maker, some TVs, lots of light, a long bar, booths and tables.

Also in Hudson

American Sky Brewing Company

I didn’t stop here (maybe next time, remember I’m coming back!) due to time, but I’ve heard good things about it. They have a good variety of beers, and I did pick one up at the liquor store.

Hudson Liquor

Wisconsin beers | KaleAndAle.com

Variety of Wisconsin beers I don’t believe are available in Minnesota

Since I was (barely) in Wisconsin, I wanted to stop at the liquor store and get some beers not available in Minnesota. I stopped at Hudson Liquor because it was next to Caribou Coffee, but it was a good choice. It is clean and easy to navigate, with a walk-in cooler and lots of local beers and single bottles to build your own six pack. The Wisconsin beers I got are:

  • Oliphant Brewing Skullship Muerte
  • New Glarus Apple Ale
  • Ale Asylum Demento
  • O’so Hop Whooping
  • American Sky USA IPA
  • New Glarus Scream IIPA