I've started this blog to document my journey running while balancing motherhood, and eventually if I'm lucky enough, my next pregnancy.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Official...

I'm running the National Half Marathon on March 26th, 2011; I'm already registered! It will be my 33rd birthday-- and it just so happens that 33 is my lucky number. I will be running for the Back on My Feet charity, and I can't think of a more fitting charity for my birthday run. Back on My Feet strives to help homeless men and women feel the benefits of running-- benefits I have gained myself through running-- and also provides job training, educational opportunities, and housing assistance.

Running has given so much to me. Through running, I have recognized my strength. Through running, I recognized I have no limits. I've found confidence, health, and most importantly for me, inner peace. I used to have anxiety attacks on a regular basis, to the point that for almost an entire year, I couldn't keep food down. I would get so nervous and upset (and not know over what) that I would throw up. Medication solved this anxiety issue, but the attacks were always present as soon as I went off medication. Since I started running almost 3 years ago, I haven't needed medication and I've only had a small hand full of attacks. And truthfully, the attacks were prompted by situations that might send anyone into a panic. With running, I've learned that when I'm anxious, confused, or need to sort through a problem, a long run is my quiet spot to catch my breath, regroup, think, and come up with a plan. I've also found that the running community is one of the most embracing groups of people I've ever met. Even though I'm not a fast runner, I've always felt welcomed by all runners-- included the fastest. I love feeling like I'm part of something.

I like that Back on My Feet provides these same opportunities to people who need to recognize their confidence, strength, and inner peace the most. So for my birthday this year, in lieu of presents for me, I'm asking my family to make a donation on my behalf to Back on My Feet, which will certainly be a gift to someone who needs it more than me.

If you'd like to make a donation, please check out my Back on My Feet donation page HERE. And no pressure... I know it's the holiday season. And I have until March 26 to keep pestering you. :)

Now it's time to get serious again about training. Yippee!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Married (or at least engaged) to running

Today was my first run with my Garmin Forerunner 310XT. It was my Christmas present, but my husband gave it to me early, probably because I kept coming up with lists of reasons for why I should have it now rather than Christmas Day. After being with me for so long, my husband is almost immune to all my rhetorical strategies, but I am a firm believer in never giving up. So if my persuasive skills don't work, my perseverance will (although I have to admit that usually doesn't work either. My hubby has amazing willpower.)

My favorite attempt at persuading him (but I'm not sure this is what convinced him even though it was the last thing I said)... This Garmin is as special to me as my engagement ring. Not being able to use it is like getting engaged and not being able to tell anyone. And I'm sure he remembers me telling everyone the night he asked me to marry him. I told people walking past me on the street, our waiter, people sitting near us at a restaurant, I called and left messages with virtually all the people I knew. I might have even called people I didn't know... I couldn't stop talking about it.

So when hubby turned to me at 6:38 p.m. last night and said he wanted me to be able to use my Garmin, it was like him getting down on one knee all over again! And today, when I strapped my sweet 310XT to my wrist, I felt my heart begin to race. Too bad I didn't have the heart rate monitor on... I felt such excitement to start running.

And that's when I realized it. I have a whole new level of commitment to running now. After purchasing a 310XT, there's no turning back. This is the moment I have decided to spend my life with running (I mean when else would anyone spend this kind of money?). Running and I have been an item for 2 1/2 years. We certainly have made it through some tough times-- injuries, doubts, training setbacks. But those tough times are all made better by the truly good times-- crossing finish lines at races, setting a PR, making new friends, realizing my strengths. And through it all, we've stuck together. I know I can't live without running now; I'm a total crazed mess when I can't run.

On my first run today, I started to get completely overwhelmed. Oddly enough, just like when I got engaged to my husband, a moment of panic set in (it was a small moment with my hubby though). I was constantly looking at my pace, which was slower than I normally run. More panic (I wasn't taking the hills I was running or my little injuries that needed some time to warm up into consideration). But after a few miles (and a few deep breaths), I got into my groove and started to feel a bit more at ease.

After my first run, and the wealth of information about said run available to me know, I'm really looking forward to building a running life with my Garmin Forerunner 310XT.

I'm not totally set on her name yet (I definitely feel my 310XT is female. And besides, I think my hubby would feel less threatened with me spending my life with another woman (in addition to him, of course)). I was thinking along the lines of a pet name, something like Cupcake. Thoughts? Have you named your Garmin? If so, what's it's name and how'd you get it?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

So Excited!!!

So this is a short post, but I had to share this. My husband is the best... I know, I've said it before, but he just keeps doing things to totally blow my mind! My hubby gave me my gift early- a Garmin Forerunner 310XT. I get to use it for the rest of my races this year! Yippee!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sears Runner's Wish List Catalog

This is inspired by Baby Weight My Ass' post about the Sears Wish List Catalog. And I now firmly believe there should be a catalog for runners full of pages of toys, gadgets, and gear that will make me dream of sugar plums. And just like when I was little, I surely would peruse each page, careful not to miss any possible treasure.

And I would dog ear all the pages that contained the goods I felt I truly deserved for being a good girl all year.

And I would leave the catalog right where my hubby could find it (on his side of the bed? Or maybe on top of his laptop? Oh, I know! Inside his favorite magazine (a silly little allusion to my favorite holiday movie...)! Or I guess I could just post it on my blog which I know he reads...) so he'd know exactly what to get me.

And because my husband loves me so much, he'd understand my secret wish list code- stars next to the items I wanted and hearts surrounding those items I had always dreamed of having.

And so here's my Running Catalog Wish List.

Star- A new running skirt from RunningSkirts. Something girly and fun... maybe the cheetah print? But I'll trust your judgement, honey.

Star- A pony tail hat for running from Bondi Bands. My ears are super cold lately.

Star-I guess I could use some more Cliff Bloks in my stocking. I really like Black Cherry (with a shot of caffine. I need that extra boost).

Heart- Garmin 310XT. I. MUST. HAVE. THIS.

Heart- I really need a new pair of running tights. I love that these are slightly boot cut and look somewhat fashionable (at least compared with my skin tight tapered running tights-- not the most flattering fit for a curvy girl...) I like these No Chill pants from Moving Comfort. And along with the next item, I'd look so super cute!

Heart- This adorable half zip from Athleta. Gush!

Heart- The most amazing shoes ever. The Asics Gel Noosa Tri 6. I have no idea if this shoe would work for me, but I want it. Bad.
So happy Black Friday all. May all your running wish list dreams come true.

And I should be honest... my husband is sending me out to buy my X-mas present today-- a Garmin 310XT! See why I heart him so much!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Trot 5K Race Recap

Okay, so this will have to be a fast one... I have exactly 20 minutes before I need to get back into the kitchen to work on my appetizer for dinner. At least I'm not making the entire dinner this year!

So this morning was the Annual YMCA 5K Turkey Trot in Towson. My plan was to attempt to finish in 31 minutes or less so I could use this race to qualify for the National Half Marathon. My fastest ever 5K race was 32:56. That's a lot to shave off in 3 miles.

I woke up at 6 to hear rain pounding on our sky light. But I thought, "Hey, I've woke up to rain on a race day before. No need to worry. 1: it's just a 5K. And 2: Lots of times the rain stops before the start. And sure enough, once I got into my car, the rain stopped; well, for a little while, anyway. When I got to Towson, the rain started up again. I thought, "No big deal; I've run in rain before."

I spotted Katye of Long Legs on the Loose with her family. To make it to 31 minutes, I thought I'd keep up with Katye for as long as possible. I figured with her speed, if I could cut it with her for at least a mile, I'd get a lot closer to my goal (look, she's not called Long Legs on the Loose for nothing! This girl if FAST, especially for a penguin like me). She's such a sweet bubble of positive energy. She always makes me feel like an amazing runner. And I really LOVED starting with her and her family.

So long story short... Well, I didn't qualify today. In fact, I had one of my worst 5K times ever (with the exception of the race run in 100 degree temps). But I am totally and completely cool with this. In fact, I'm pretty happy with how I did today.

And the biggest reason why I am okay with what would normally be considered a begin to sob bad time: I kept up with Katye for a whole mile. And I kept her in my sight up until about 1.25 miles into the race. When I was finally brave enough to look at our pace, we were running a 8:30 mile. Just so you know how much of a big deal this is for me, the fastest I've ever been on race day is 10:30. After that 1.25 miles, I just couldn't cut it and ended up slowing down, eventually walking with a cramp in my side. But I started back up eventually, just no where near as fast as the start.

And the second reason I'm feeling pretty good about this race: Not only did it rain the entire run, it also sleeted. Yes, I ran with sleet slapping me in the face. I just had to laugh. This was a tough race; it was seriously hilly, blisteringly cold, and raining and sleeting the entire time. The rain did stop, however, just in time for me to get in my car and turn on the heat. Too funny!

So today, I ran a 37:00 minute 5K, but I'm cool with that. I get to eat that pecan pie I've been drooling about for two days, and even better, I realized I am capable of being fast. Even though I could only do it for 1.25 miles today, with a little extra training (and maybe slowing down just a tad), I can make it to the running time of my dreams, which will hopefully be a reality in time to qualify for the National Half Marathon!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

PS: I am so very thankful for my little family. My little guy joined my husband and I in bed this morning. What a lovely way to wake up, to absolute and unconditional love.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dante's Infernal Guide to Running

I'm a total dork and absolutely love Dante's Inferno. And I love teaching it even more-- call it torturing children if you may, but my kids always end up loving the Inferno. This year, I assigned them to create their own guide through whatever "hell" they choose and to use Gustave Dore's illustrations. I made a model for them called "Mrs. Jones's Infernal Guide to Distance Running". I'm including it for you viewing pleasure... (one of my favorites from my students- the Infernal Guide to Surviving Your English Teacher-- too funny!)

So here's the Infernal Guide to Distance Running. Enjoy!

Waking up early in the morning to get a run in before work can sometimes be Hell.

Running hills with a jogging stroller and a 35 pound toddler can seem particularly difficult, but all hills that go up, must eventually go down.

Running in inclement weather can sometimes be a struggle. Support from a running group can help you finish.

Never run from stray dogs. Unless you want a little adrenaline rush. A dog nipping at your heels is a sure way to PR.

Watch out for the wildlife when running on nature trails. It is not uncommon for deer, fox, or other such animals to jump out, or even worse, for a skunk to make its presence known. And for those running in grass, snakes may be underfoot.

Running in the sweltering heat of summer can be particularly dangerous and can seem to make your blood boil. Be sure to stay hydrated. (Just in case you don't get the joke (if it really is one, this is the river of boiling blood- my students LOVE this Canto in Inferno.)

For races with thousands of runners, it can sometimes take an eternity to cross the start. Be patient.

Watch out for those who might crash at the finish line of a long distance race. You don’t want to trip over them. No need to hurt your ankle.

Near the end of your race, it may seem as if your legs might fall off. No matter what happens, get to the finish line; crawl if you have to. You trained too hard to not finish for any reason.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Just what I needed...

with my BFF at a wedding this summer

I drove to just outside Philly this weekend to spend some time with my best friend, Marianne, who has known me since I was 13. I have had almost 20 years of friendship with her. No one knows me the way she does, and I am so thankful for this weekend with her.

Only Marianne would buy tickets for me to the Cleopatra exhibit at the Franklin Institute... and go with me (unlike my hubby, lol) because she knows I'm the only person in the world who would "dork out to Cleopatra" like her. And I absolutely adore her even more for not making total fun of me when I got a little too excited before we walked through the entrance to the exhibit. I was acting as if I was really going to meet Cleopatra. In my defense, it was a very dramatic entryway, and I am prone to being swept up in the moment. (If you're a history dork like me, go see this exhibit before it leaves in early January! If you're going to the race in Philly next weekend, it'd be a great activity.)

Only Marianne would encourage and inspire me to dance with total abandon in a bar where we were the only patrons. I guess the DJ felt like we should get the full experience and turned on the disco ball just for us...

And only Marianne would encourage me to invoke my inner rock star and sing Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" while attempting to dance like Tina at karaoke. And then when I didn't sound so rock star (or dance so Tina), only Marianne would convince me I danced and sang like a pro.

Spending time with my best girlfriend was better than any mood boosting medicine on the market... just what I needed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yes, my shirt works...

I'm back on track. I had a great run this evening. I got home a tad late so my run didn't start until a little after 5. By the time I got home, it was pitch black. I hadn't taken into account the time change and how it would affect my after work running. (Opps! Thank goodness for my see me from space orange reflective shirt!)

Anyhoo, I started out really slow. Why is that first mile SO hard? I took a little 20 second breather at the end of the 1st mile (which is at the top of a hill), but then didn't need to stop for the rest of my run. In fact, I could have finished all 5 miles without a single stop. That didn't exactly happen though (but I'm super happy I didn't have to stop on account of my body pleading for rest). I guess I was so excited to run I didn't think logically about my route and the impending darkness of tripping/falling doom. I decided to run the route with sidewalks that were pretending to be on the San Andres fault. I mean seriously, this is Maryland. It doesn't get any further away from earthquakes. What's up with the side walks here? The last mile I had to walk or full out stop a lot due to my inability to see. In most cases, it was because a vehicle decided to flash their high beams at me. I guess they wanted to test out my super reflective shirt. I can assure you, and the multiple drivers that blinded me (I actually stopped and had to laugh because I was so blinded. I might have well have been running with my eyes closed) that my shirt's reflective strips works-- well.

Once I got to a wider road and was able to run on pavement, I was grooving. I have no way of knowing how fast though because my Nike+ Sports band decided to erase my run before it was loaded. I'm going to be so happy when Christmas comes around. Oh, did I tell you? My hubby and mom have decided to split the cost of a Garmin 310XT. I will be so happy to throw this sports band on the ground and jump up and down on it (okay, it hasn't been that bad, but it isn't doing the job I wish it would and I can't wait for a watch that says "Yeah, I'm a runner" to everyone who sees it).

So was my time all that great tonight, no. But it would have been if I didn't have to contend with the pitch dark. And I'm elated about how I felt. I really felt my legs come back on this run. No more fighting all the way through. No more disappointment in myself that all the hard work I'd done to finish my last half was lost. That high was back and I really needed it (tonight my husband is actually happy to spend time with me. I haven't been the sweetest wife since I've been having running issues. Let's just say that I was one step away from Linda Blair Exorcist crazy).

So here's to the runner's high. May we all get a little tipsy to a great run. Cheers

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lace It Up and Run's Birthday Party Virtual Race Recap

Okay, so this has been a really rough two weeks for running. It's not that I don't have the desire to run, I do. It's just once I get out there, I don't have any energy to finish or to even keep running. It seems after all the hard work I did to get a PR for my half marathon 3 weeks ago, I can't seem to push myself. My body and legs just kind of fizzle out and I'm having a hard time finding my rhythm. And I seem to come up with a lot of excuses for why I can't run. I guess they're valid excuses (planning Pickle's 3rd birthday party, a sick Pickle, having to finish college recommendation letters for a number of students-- and College Park has a no late policy on rec letters, so it's always a mad finish), but before the half I just didn't let life get in the way. I forced life to work around my running schedule.

Last week, I skipped my long run and said I would do it on Monday, thinking I'd be finished with my grades early. My grades took forever and I wasn't finished before 3 p.m. and I hadn't had any lunch by that point. So I put off my run to the next day. On Tuesday I ran 4 miles; I should have run at least 6 to try to catch up, but I didn't have time before it got to dark. So on Thursday, I had 3.1 miles or more scheduled for Christina's birthday. I wanted to do them before my personal training session, but I only had time for 2.3 miles; I ran those at an 11 miles pace. So I had to finish up on Friday, and was a lot slower. All added together, I spent about 36 minutes running my 3.1, pretty slow, but I got it all in.

So last week and Christina's birthday run didn't go as planned, but hey, I'll get back in the groove. I'm a little bummed that I've lost the speed and distance I had under my belt before the race, but as my trainer, Becky, has told me a few times after I have a bad running week, if we didn't have bad weeks or bad runs every once in a while, we wouldn't work as hard to get better. And besides, a bad run (or a few over a couple of weeks) makes a great run all that much better.

I hope you had a very happy birthday, Christina.
Here's to many years of great runs ahead of you (and us all)! I'm eating the most delicious cupcake in your honor-- White Chocolate Cranberry. Yum! I meant to only eat half since I didn't get my full run in, but I couldn't stop myself.

If I can't convince you - - I'll at least confuse you.: "300" - Soul Coughing [+ giveaway]

I absolutely adore this blog. She is amazing; her posts are funny, insightful, a little zany, and I never know what to expect. She just hit her 300th post. Run on over and congratulate her (and she's giving away a few cool shirts...)

So in honor of Emz, I thought I'd make a list of why I love her blog so much (and why I want to be like her).

1. Her abs. Seriously. I've never seen anything like them. They put Jean Claude Van Damme's to shame.
2. Somehow her blog is always stylish and her posts are unique. I keep trying to figure out if there is a method to her madness in playing with font size. Is she choosing certain words on purpose (you know the English teacher is always looking for the hidden meaning). I don't know how she comes up with these things. (And she herself is pretty stylish.)
3. She recently ran (and finished) a 50 mile race, and probably faster than it would take me to finish a marathon.
4. She really loves her kid... you know I'm a sap and get teary eyed at that.
5. I always get ideas for music to add to my playlist.

I'm sure there's more, but she's so cool I'm just not doing her justice. Seriously. Go and read her blog. I can't get enough of it. If I only have time to read one blog each day, this is the one.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Positive steps to a healthy diet

I'm on the right track to achieve one of my new half marathon goals. I'm making an effort to eat better, to make sure every bite I take is nutritious for my body and provides the fuel I need. Basically, I want to eat to run and not run to eat as I have been in the past. So I've made three major changes that seem to be working (and I've discovered my healthy eating doesn't work when I don't follow this plan).

1. I make my breakfast and lunch the night before. I'm a zombie when I wake up. I commute almost an hour to the school where I teach and I have to be there-- and back to the land of the living-- by 7 a.m. I've been using Ellie Krieger's cookbook So Easy for a while. I got it as a present for Christmas last year. (It's a great book and is organized for busy people to cook healthy and delicious meals. Check it out HERE... I know. This is probably the 4th time I've mentioned it, but seriously, it's a great cookbook!) I'm posting my favorite breakfast recipe from her book below. It's so tasty and satisfying and takes no time to make. Before, I'd eat breakfast and be hungry in 2 hours. Now, I have at least 4 hours before I need to eat lunch (which helps me cut an extra 150-200 calories out of my day since I don't need a mid-morning snack).

2. My husband and I have been planning our dinners for the week when we grocery shop. We also talk about what we're going to have for dinner the following night. This way, we make sure the meat (or in most cases for us fish-- we've been eating a lot of salmon and tilapia) we need is defrosted. This has helped us cut back on our last minute meal planning which usually consists of fast food, delivery food, or processed box crap. While sometimes the calorie count is a little higher for our dinners-- 550-700 calories-- we're eating healthy foods and I feel good about that.

3. I've been trying to track my calorie count each day. I've done this in the past and found it to be very successful for losing weight. If I had an Iphone, I'd use the Lose It app, but alas, I do not have an Iphone. This time I'm using the Calorie Count (see it HERE) website to track my diet. It's wonderful! Not only does it have the best database for foods, and not only does it track my calories for the day, it tracks my calorie output which includes my activity for the day. And this site gives me nutrition information about my diet that no other site I've found does. It tells me if I've had too much, too little, or just the right amount of sodium, potassium, calcium, Vitamin C, protein, carbohydrates, fats... basically it tells me EVERYTHING (and give me a grade for my daily diet). It is incredibly thorough, but the most wonderful thing about it, it only takes a minute for me to enter each meal. Oh, and I forgot to mention... IT'S FREE!

So here's that promised recipe:
Cinnamon Raisin Toast with Honey-Walnut Spread

1/2 c. walnut pieces
1/2 c. plain Greek-style nonfat yogurt
2 tsp. honey
8 slices cinnamon raisin bread
1 peach, pear, or apple sliced

Toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat stirring frequently until fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Allow them to cool slightly and then chop them finely. (I have been just leaving them as is to save time.)
In a small bowl, add walnuts to the yogurt and honey and stir until well combined. This spread keeps in the fridge for 3 days. Just stir well before using.
When ready to serve, toast the bread and cut the fruit into small slices. Spread about 1 tbsp of spread onto each piece and top with fruit slices.

YUMMY and perfect for fall.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Reasons I Love My Son

Pickle, this is you 1 day after you were born resting in your Daddy's lap.

1. Pickle, you inspired me to write this post tonight by combing my hair and saying it was beautiful (or boo- tiful in your words). You also told me I was pretty and cute. It should be known that my hair looks like I just styled it for a Bride of Frankenstein remake and I haven't showered today. I don't think I look pretty, cute, or boo-tiful, but I do feel amazing, thanks to you.

2.You're letting me breathe a sigh of relief tonight by finally eating vegetables and a protein (at least for today). Tonight you ate half a cucumber, 2 carrots, and a bowl full of homemade baked beans. You refused to eat the ham in the beans, but hey, I'll take two out of three. I've been wondering if it was possible for a toddler to choose to be a vegetarian. Even so, if you are a vegetarian, we're going to have to work on your diet. Oatmeal, raisins , milk, and yogurt are not a well rounded diet. For those of you who aren't Pickle, check out the baked beans recipe HERE. It's a delish and healthy recipe by my fave cooking show host, Ellie Krieger.

3. I was really worried about how you were going to do last night trick-or-treating with your peanut and tree nut allergies and our neighbors giving out the good candy-- Snickers, Reese's cups, and other nutty yummies. Lately, Daddy and I have been talking with you about food that would hurt your belly and require you to get another shot (I know you didn't like that EpiPen shot; it was not pleasant for any of us, but especially you. The needle was insanely long!). I told you last night that you would have to ask permission to eat anything. I got a little nervous when your little friends were nibbling on their treats every few houses, but Pickle, you did exactly what you were supposed to. I am so proud of you.

4. After a long day, or even after a horrible day, cuddling with you, Pickle, just sets my mind right. I love holding and hugging you just before bed while listening to you breathe as you fall asleep-- there is no better peace in my day.

5. Giving birth to you taught me how strong I really was, which in turn gave me a new love, running. I would have never realized I was strong enough to run had I not made it through 12 hours of labor without drugs.

6. Watching you play with Daddy reaffirms all the reasons I love him. And no one makes you laugh like Daddy.

7. I was always annoyed when people said this before I became a mother, but here goes. Becoming a mother changed everything for me. A lot of things that used to upset me just aren't as important anymore. Instead of hanging on to anger like I used to, I vent and complain for a little to my girlfriends and I'm okay. That's thanks to you.

8. I feel like being your mom has taught me to be a little more patient (although I'm sure Daddy might disagree-- hehe) and has taught me to laugh a little bit more.

9. Being your mom makes me want to always be a better person. I want to do good deeds; I want to be fit; I want to eat better. All of this is to teach you how to become a good man.

10. Being your mom has made me realize the unfathomable and unlimited amount of love that exists for one's child (I get it now Mom and Dad).

I could go on forever with this kind of list making, but I'll stop since you're only three (well, almost. You'll be three in 5 days) and can't read yet. So Pickle, thank you for letting me be your mommy. It's the best job I've ever had, and it is a job I am happy to do for eternity.