Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An apology...

First, let me apologize for my absence as of late.  It seems like life always gets really busy around the holidays which makes it hard to have the time to get on here and write a blog post.  I have been attempting to stay up to date on everyone's blogs even if I don't always post a response.  Probably the most labor intensive thing I have done since my last post was making snacks for my daughter to take to preschool.  I couldn't decide on one treat, so I ended up making two different kinds for the kids.

I am definitely not Martha Stewart, but I think they came out okay and my daughter was super excited to take them to school!
Marshmallow Pilgrim Hats

Rice Krispies Turkey Pop Treats

And here they are all packaged up for her to take to school... I made 24 of each and they were way more time consuming than I could have imagined!  The biggest challenge for both of them was that it was so cold the chocolate kept wanting to set back up which made it hard to dip the marshmallows and the rice krispie treats.  The other problem I had was with the turkeys - the candy corn kept wanting to slide off so you basically had to hold it in place until the chocolate started setting up!  I also found the sticks fell off so I had to glue them in place with melted chocolate on the stick.  

We were supposed to have company for Thanksgiving - my husbands' family was planning to come down Wednesday evening and play cards and then we would celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday.  Unfortunately, Tuesday night I came down with the flu and they decided not to come.  Or, I guess I should say fortunately - because when we woke up Thursday morning to go to the Galloping Gobbler my hubby was suffering from the flu as well.  (More on the Galloping Gobbler in my next post).

So, I ran my 4 mile race and that was the extent of my holiday celebrations.  I decided to run some extra miles to celebrate my "runiversary."  I strapped on my fuel belt and headed out.  I ended up running just over 7 miles.  They weren't the speediest 7 miles nor were they the easiest, but it felt so good to know how much I have progressed in the last year.  Last Thanksgiving I did 4.5 miles at the Y - it wasn't even a race, just a chance to be active, I think they called it a "Turkey Trot."  Most of the 4.5 miles was walked, but I did my best to do some jogging, but I couldn't keep it up for more than a minute or so.  It was painful, but I remember being SO proud of myself for what I had done.  

I ended up going out black Friday shopping at 8 pm Thursday and spending way too much money.  I didn't get home until like 4:30 am on Friday and then we celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday evening.  Nothing too exciting, but the food was tasty and we enjoyed it.  See the lovely picture of my cheese queen daughter!  And, all my son wanted to do was dig his fork into the turkey!  Which, may I say is the ugliest turkey I have ever made - but it was TASTY.  It was still partially frozen so we cooked it breast side down to let the more frozen thigh area have more  heat and man was it the best turkey I have ever made!  And our Thanksgiving miracle was that my picky daughter actually ate everything we put on her plate and said she liked it!

We used Saturday as an opportunity to get the Christmas decorations put up outside - and not a moment too soon - its been raining or snowing pretty much non-stop since we got them up!   It's nearly Wednesday and I feel like I am still recovering from our long weekend!   I hope to put up another post tomorrow regarding my running plans for the rest of the year, the Galloping Gobbler, and my thoughts on "Holiday Cheer."

I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving with your families, and I promise to try not to abandon the blogosphere for so long in the future!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Adventures in the Kitchen

Not much going on around here since my half last weekend.  I am taking a rest week, well deserved according to my physical therapists.  I may run this weekend, but until then... lots of sitting on my butt!

Instead of running, I have been putting my energy into expanding my repertoire of healthy recipes.  I have had LOTS of recommendations to check out "Skinny Gina" but have always been overwhelmed by the vastness of her website.

This week so far I have tried THREE different recipes from the website (with tons more on the for the next few weeks).

My first attempt at a new recipe was baking, something I do very rarely unless I am baking store bought cookie dough.   That is, if I don't eat it all before getting it in the oven... cookie dough is a major weakness of mine.   Don't be surprised if I get sick from salmonella someday! hah   Anyway, bake to the recipe... low fat chocolate chip zucchini bread.  I've heard of alot of people making something like this, but I HATE zucchini and never been brave enough to try slipping it into other foods.  But, let me tell you, it was awesome! I suck at food photography, but it was AMAZING - I will be making this again for Thanksgiving next week.

My next cooking adventure involved the crockpot, I have heard about this recipe several times but never managed to make it.  Mostly because when I first started my dieting I was watching my sodium intake very closely and the recipe had a bit more sodium than I could have.  If any of my readers love Chipotle burritos, you should try this recipe... barbacoa beef.  This stuff is SPICY but so fantastic, I used 7 chipotle peppers for a double recipe, next time I will probably try 5 or 6 instead.  I made rice and black beans to go with but instead of a tortilla, I opted to serve it over romaine lettuce - so fantastic!   Can't wait to use the leftovers that are in the freezer! 

Last but not least, was dinner last night.  I made lighter chicken saltimbocca.  This was my first attempt at using prosciutto and I am happy to report I like it! This recipe was very tasty as well, however I am not a huge fan of sage - the only time I ever use sage is in stuffing   So, next time instead of putting a whole sage leaf I may put in dried or ground sage instead and see if I like that better.  Overall though, it was tasty and the sauce was VERY good.  I served it along side a  small salad and baked potato with butter and cheese. (They recommend serving over wilted greens, but thats not my thing.)

Have you tried any new recipes lately?  How was it?  What is your favorite place online to go to find new recipes? 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Today was EPIC!

At least, it felt that way.  I haven't talked about it a ton on my blog because I wanted it today to be low-key with no pressure to reach a certain goal.  I figured that if I didn't talk about or think about it, I could could keep my stress to a minimum.  And guess what, it worked!  Enough being cryptic - I ran my third half marathon today!  That makes 3 half marathons in just under two months, and it was fantastic!

I actually didn't sign up for this race until after St Louis... I wanted to see how I felt after that race.  I had figured if I felt good after St Louis I would sign up for the half, and if I felt terrible after I would run the 5k.  Anyway, the race I ran today was the Veterans Half Marathon in Columbia City.  Like I mentioned, they also offered a 5k plus a full marathon.  This was a small city race, and I knew that going in. I wasn't expecting a whole lot of the race and I think that made the day that much more awesome for me.  The "swag" was okay, not much in the bag mostly race handouts with a pen and a race cling sticker thing.  The big "swag" was a fleece vest, I would have much preferred the full coat they had last year but what can ya do?

Because it was a small race the lines for the port-a-johns were not too bad.  The race started promptly at 8:00 am.  I wore my sweat shirt until the race started and then took it off right before getting to where Tommy was to be standing.  Apparently he didn't see me running towards him until I threw the coat at him.  So, I have no pictures of my start, not even my butt running away from him - BOO!

As far as mile, by mile, I don't have a ton of detail.  The full and the half marathon were the same course for the first 13.1 miles, then they looped the other side of town.  I hear the second half was hillier than the first - my half marathon coach said it was the hardest marathon course he's ever run! Because the course was mostly run in the country there weren't a whole lot of landmarks that I can go back and calculate where I was.

I know I felt pretty good until mile 5 or so, other than some pain in my metatarsal bones that I am attributing to my shoes - not to self, go to the running store again, UGH. I decided that when I got to mile 6 I would look at my time and consider walking a bit.  At mile 6, I was ahead of a sub 2 time so I walked about a minute then started running again until I hit mile 7 and repeated that process until about the last 2-3 miles.  I was really starting to feel the speed I was running at wearing on my body.  I sort of fell apart those last 2-3 miles, I would love to someday be good enough to feel like I am running strong for a whole 13.1 miles - maybe that will be my goal for 2012?

I was so happy to see the finish line, I was exhausted but I gave it my all and pushed as hard as I could.... I knew I was going to PR, the question was whether I could manage my sub 2:00 that I missed in September.  Funny how when I wasn't focused on it I was able to achieve my goal, I crossed the finish line and Tommy got this awesome picture of me, and my official time!

Yep, I SMASHED my sub 2:00 goal, and beat my previous PR by 5:19... HOLY CRAP.  FIVE MINUTES? Wow, so proud of myself!  Okay I am done "tooting my own horn" now, but seriously.. so happy!  

The good: 
 - each mile was marked with awesome mile markers, I loved seeing this every mile! 

 - despite being a small race I found the crowd support to be awesome, I would say I didn't go more than half a mile without seeing a group of people out cheering (and this is out in the country) 
 - the spectators were MUCH more enthusiastic and cheering for everyone, I actually found their support to be better than the spectators at Fort 4 Fitness back in September
 - PR smashing, need I say more? 
 - awesome volunteers and course support
 - taking set walk breaks helped the last miles go faster and made me feel less guilty for taking them
 - NO BATHROOM STOPS (those of you who have been following me for a while know how big this is)

The bad: 
- started feeling fatigued at mile 6
- ran out of fluids by mile 10
- my hands were SO swollen I could hardly bend my fingers, I normally swell but this was excessive
- was slightly hot in direct sun
- no landmarks to remember for trying to do a better recap of how the race went for me
- falling apart in the last 2-3 miles
- 2 dead animals on the road during the race
- looking at the 5k results and realizing if I had run that I would have taken first in my age group for sure.  And the awards were awesome.

Overall - would I do it again/would I recommend it for others?  ABSOLUTELY.  I had a great time and I think it was a pretty course minus the few dead animals.  They had a great set up and the volunteers and crowd support were awesome especially for a small race.  I liked that it was more low key than the St Louis race (though I think there is a time for both types of races).  

Race Specific Details
78th overall out of 208 finishers (2 were DQ/DNF)

Just a few pictures, for now, working on figuring out how to embed an album with a different site...

My face is painful here!
Thumbs up for the camera!

Love to take these pics with my kiddos!

Eric, my half marathon "coach," finishing the marathon strong, he  missed 1st place by only 24 seconds! 

Obligatory Metal Picture

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Overdue WOOF recap

Last Saturday my family and I headed south to Bluffton for the W.O.O.F race (Wells Outrageous Ouabache Fifteen).  There were several options to run: a 5.3 mile loop, a 16 mile (3 loops), or a 16 mile relay (each runner does 1 lap).  It was a BEAUTIFUL fall day, albeit slightly cold first thing in the morning.  It was nearly perfect running weather for me.  Definitely would have been perfect if I had dressed differently, but I enjoyed the temperature for the most part - minus frozen hands!  I ended up using my calf sleeves as arm warmers during the run and they worked out pretty well.

I really wasn't sure what to expect out of myself for this race - it was only my second time doing a trail type run.  My last one was a 5k and I finished in 28:42, or about about 9:15 per mile.  Since then I have been focusing on half marathon training and building endurance and was hoping that I could improve on that time.

Of course, as you may know I have been fighting an issue with my ankle.  After 6 or so physical therapy sessions I am not finding a huge improvement.  They have switched my shoes and thus far I am not loving the new shoes.  The bones in my feet tend to ache in addition to the pain I have in my ankle.  Not very helpful when you are trying to keep yourself on a training plan.  I have been taking it easy while trying to get my runs in - if the pain is too bad I have been skipping runs.  So, I wasn't 100% confident of a good performance - I even contemplated walking.

Once I got out there and lined up at the start line I knew that my heart wouldn't let me give less than my best.   I lined up in the front 1/4 of the runners, near some people that I knew from my local YMCA.  I knew  they ran slightly faster than I do for long distances but I thought they would be a great group of girls to pace myself with for the shorter 5.3 mile length.

And we were off..... the first bit of the race was not trails, we had to navigate some of the park roads to head into the woods.  I don't remember a ton of the run, I remember that I just made sure that I kept my "Y girls" in my sights, we even leapfrogged a few times.  They were doing the 16 mile run so they stopped at the aid stations and I did not.  I also watched one of them fall down and several times someone in their group rolled an ankle or stepped wrong and hurt themselves.  As bad as it sounds it was good having them in front of me to see where the most dangerous spots were.  Of course, being right behind them meant I couldn't see too far in front of me - but take the good with the bad!

As far as the general condition of the trails, there was mud in several places that made it very slippery. In addition there were slippery wet leaves which covered the roots, stumps, and holes and such.  Potentially my least favorite "feature" of the trail was the big round drainage tubes that were mostly buried and covered with rocks.  After watching the guy running in front of me fall down I decided to slow down/walk across these the rest of the race.

It was exciting to finally get to the buffalo enclosure, I knew this meant I was getting sort of close.  It was also the location of the hay bales that we had to climb over.  I was lucky, as I headed up someone knocked a few bales down so I didn't have to go work quite as hard to climb over.  A couple downsides to the buffalo area - the mud was really rutted as they have been driving tractors or something of the like through for construction of a new enclosure, plus I was disappointed to only see one buffalo while running.  It was a BEAUTIFUL trail and I enjoyed it immensely, such a difference between road races!

I managed to cross the finish line between my two "Y girls" - I felt like I had run pretty strong and was hopeful that I might be able to garner an age group award.  Prior to the awards ceremony I went and found my half marathon glass girls so that I could cheer their relay teams on.  The 6 of them created two of the most awesome relay teams ever.  After watching Wells L and "S" hand off to "C" and Stacey, I headed up to the "lodge" to warm up and catch the awards ceremony while the rest of the girls drove around to cheer on their teammates.  As I walked up they were just announcing my age group - I was disappointed to hear that I didn't come in first or second.

After the ceremony one of my other half marathon classmates came up and said "you won something!"  I was ecstatic, and went and found out that I came in 2nd overall female, but while I was standing there someone else came up and told the race director that she should have placed and didn't.  Long story short, after some research they were able to identify the time she crossed the mat so she got 2nd overall, and I was bumped down to third.  I am still waiting for my plaque in the mail as they had already given it out before the mistake was discovered.

After the awards ceremony I headed down to the finish line to cheer on Stacey and "C" as they crossed the finish line and handed off to Kimberly and Patty.  After watching the switch, the family and I headed to the buffalo enclosure to cheer the girls on.  The kids enjoyed seeing the buffalo while we waited.  After watching the girls scale the hay I took off on the run towards the finish line so I could see them finish.  It was an exciting finish, Kimberly ran with amazing speed and overtook the other team in the last 100 or so yards.  "Victorious Secret" snagged first place in the relay - they were fantastic!  way to go girls!  Post race they  had a nice spread of food - bison burgers, vegetable soup, chips, beer cookies, beans, etc.  Most of you who know me know that I wasn't interested in most of the food, but Tommy and the kids enjoyed it!

My official time was 46:56.3 for 5.3 miles (though my garmin said closer to 5.48) which puts me at a 8:51 pace which is a HUGE improvement over my last trail run.   I came in 14th overall of 71, so needless to say I am happy with my performance.

I have NEVER in my life prior to running been good enough at anything to receive recognition (outside of academics).  I was a swimmer in high school but never really got anywhere, I received ONE medal the whole time I swam and it was just because there were only 3 of us so I took third.  It makes me SO proud to finally be "good" at something.  It's very refreshing to see my hard work paying off.

After the race we headed up to Ann Arbor to prepare for pictures with my hubby's family on Sunday.  Can't wait to see proofs, I am hopeful we got some good photos!

P.S.  Trying out something new for photos, to save the length of my posts, I am going to try to embed an album.

Hope it works, let me know....

Do you prefer the embedded album or for photos to be included in the post? 

Friday, November 4, 2011

The holidays are coming...

well, actually... they are here already. Halloween has come and gone and unfortunately the candy is still haunting me from the garage.  I can't wait until the kids finish up the candy - I am so tempted to just throw it out but they would be devastated!  I would venture to say I really don't like this holiday a whole lot now that I am an adult who is struggling to stay healthy, but then I have to remember the joy it brings my kids.  Here are a some pictures of my adorable kiddos... the princess costume was from last year, but we decided to reuse it for her preschool party.  

Besides Halloween, I have been busy with running and racing.  Of course, I had the RnR half Oct 23rd, Pumpkin Run 5k Oct 30, then this weekend I am running a 5.3 mile trail race called WOOF.  The WOOF is about an hour south of me.  After the WOOF we will be packing up and heading north to Ann Arbor to have family photos taken with my hubby's family on Sunday.  (Two hours NORTH of my home)  I have big plans for next weekend too!  Should be fun!

Thanksgiving should be good, I plan to do a race here in town and we will be hosting my in-laws.  Of course, there is always the FOOD.  Where there is food there is overeating!  I did VERY well last year, all I can do is hope that I can do as well as I did last year.  Of course, last year I was less than 2 months into my journey of healthy living and I was so much more motivated. 

Christmas is always hard for me... obviously I want to create our own traditions for our family.  This would mean staying home.  With family so far away though, the temptation is always to travel to be with family, because isn't that what the holidays are all about anyways?  It's further complicated by Tommy's employer requiring a week vacation around Christmas. You see, my family lives 10 hours away, so when we visit them we have to take a week or so to make it worth the drive.  So, it seems like a given that we should take that time to go visit with my family.  Of course though I feel like we can't always be with  my family - and thats ignoring the logistics of traveling in the winter.  I always worry we will get caught in a major winter storm.  And of course, whats a holiday without temptation of food... for Christmas its always cinnamon rolls.  It's our families tradition, cinnamon rolls Christmas morning before presents.  Last year I did monkey bread because I had a "lower cal" recipe and it was much easier than trying to do cinnamon rolls from scratch! 

Now that I have rambled endlessly about something that is totally off topic with what my blog is supposed to be about I suppose I should get back to what I am supposed to talk about... healthy living!  I have been doing pretty well since RnR St Louis with my running and work outs.  Despite having twice weekly physical therapy I am back to following a running schedule. 

I have been working REALLY hard to stay motivated on my eating, but with the cold weather upon us I find it to be extremely difficult.  When its cold all I want to do is eat comfort foods, and while I have adapted some of my favorites - its just not quite the same.   Also the dreary weather we had the last few weeks left me very unmotivated to get in the kitchen and cook a meal, so we were falling back on prepared foods which we all know are definitely NOT healthy.    Hopefully I can get back on track, but I could definitely use some help from my readers.....

Do you have any healthy recipes (comfort food recipes would be a bonus) that you can share? 
The easier the better!  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blogger slacking and Pumpkin Run Recap

there is NO excuse for the slacking I have been doing lately.  Not just in the blogging realm, but also in my dieting and "healthy living" as well.  Its frustrating to me to see that I am back-pedaling but I am working hard to get my head back in the game and get back on track.  That's part of the reason I haven't been blogging, I have been trying to move my body more outside of just working out - cleaning house, chasing my kids, etc.

I ran a race this last weekend, I suppose I should do a race recap/report.  The race I ran was called the Pumpkin Run and was put on by the Parkview Whitley Foundation and benefited the Parkview Whitley Hospice.  (While this is a great cause, its still a bit weird to me to have a funeral home as the top sponsor on the back of my race shirt! haha)  They offered a 5k, 10k, and a 1k kids fun run.   I signed Natalie up to run the kids fun run and myself to do the 5k.  I debated doing the 10k but decided the weekend after a half marathon I should do the lower mileage.

The race started at 2:00 on Sunday which would not typically be my first choice.  With my sensitive stomach I ate breakfast but was afraid to eat lunch.  This meant that I didn't really eat between breakfast and dinner - not fun!  


Anyway, Natalie's fun run started at 1:30.  She was really pumped and excited and I think I was even more excited than her.  This was going to be my first time running with her.   The kids race was just a quick loop around the hospital.  We lined up with the other kids and waited for the start - when they started the run Natalie stated off pretty enthusiastically.  Unfortunately, if you check out this picture to the right - you can tell that it didn't go as well as I would have liked!   She kept saying that she wanted to walk and was "too tired," I just kept encouraging her that she needed to run the whole time even if it was slow.  I want to teach her to never give up.  Despite her tears in this picture, I truly believe she had a good time and was happy to have completed it.  It was only 1k but she's not a super active 4 year old - she gets her personality and demeanor from her daddy!  And, I don't mean that in a bad way - she just would rather watch tv or play video games than run a kilometer.  Call me a bad parent if you have to, but I am determined to get her motivated to be healthy.  And, she was super proud of the ribbon she got for completing the run.  I think Natalie and I are going to start having "Mommy and Me" workout time!  And, just a few more pictures to prove I really am not the worst mother ever and she truly enjoyed herself...

It was kind of nice running Natalie's little fun run before my 5k because it gave me a chance to loosen up my muscles a bit.  It was SO cold that there was no way that I was warmed up after that run, but at least my muscles weren't totally cold!  If I could do any one thing differently it would be that I would have worn something warmer!  This event was chipped time but there was no start line to cross, everyone's chips started at the "whistle."  Because of this I tried to get to the front of the group but I wasn't able to so I settled for a spot about halfway back. The race started out going uphill - how cruel!  I started off way to fast, which is nothing out of the ordinary of course.  The route was pretty straight forward, it was an out and back from the hospital through Morsches park and back to the hospital. What I didn't anticipate was the large portion (roughly 1/3) of this race that would be run on grass.  For most runners the grass would be a good thing, but with my peroneal tendonitis, the uneven ground can really screw with my leg and cause pain. I tried to slowly pass runners, we were running with the 10k people for most of the race so I had no clue who was running what.  I just kept trying to put one foot in front of the other and running with all my energy.

I don't remember many details of the course, but I do remember they had a water stop at somewhere around 2 miles.  I took a bit of water and immediately regretted it because I poured half of it on myself - with cold and wind it felt like my arm was frozen to the bone.  At one point near mile 3, we were running up hill on a paved trail and I started to lose my balance, luckily there was a tree nearby so I put my hand out and caught myself before I totally wiped out.   Shortly after my near fall, we exited Morsches Park and the 10k runners turned right while the 5k runners turned left to head to the finish line.  I was so beat but I kept pushing myself telling myself that I wanted to finish strong and I really didn't want to walk during a 5k. I slowed down a couple times during the race to catch my breath but never stopped to walk.    The only thing more cruel than the uphill start was that there was an incline to the finish line.  I pushed across the finish line and saw my time was just shy of 27:00 minutes, normally this would disappoint me but I knew ahead of time that the course measured long.  They told us it measured close to 3.5 miles - my garmin put it at 3.39 miles.

While it wasn't my fastest showing, I was pleased with how well I did.  It had only been a week since my last half marathon and I hadn't put in many runs that week to prepare.  I ended up finishing as the 1st overall female in the 5k - talk about excited!  I need to run in Columbia City more often, thats where I got my other overall female award!    A few more statistics from the race, for my record...

Official Time: 26:52.06
  **FIRST OVERALL FEMALE!** woohoo (got a medal as well as an orange tech shirt as prize)
Finished 6 of 86 runners in the 5k

Mile 1: 7:33 min/mile
Mile 2: 7:53 min/mile
Mile 3: 8:10 min/mile
last .4 mile : 8:01 min/mile on avg

And some pictures for your viewing pleasure :)