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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back from the dead...

I took a really long break from the old blog for a lot of reasons. The first of which was I just didn't have time. Between teaching, grading papers, running, and being a mom and wife, I just couldn't balance it all; something had to give. So I dropped the blog.

And I've been missing writing about running. A lot. Often on my long runs, something funny will happen or I'll think of something blog worthy and want to post. But life gets in the way, I guess.

Today I ran an 8K race. It was blazing hot and humid and by the end of the run, I was dripping with sweat. It looked like someone dumped a bucket of water on me. During the run, I struck up a conversation with two lovely women. And we talked and ran the whole way in together. It reminded me how open and embracing the running community is. And it reminded me of the great friends I've made blogging about running, namely Katye and Erin. I met the two of them at a race, too.

So I knew I had to come back. Besides, my husband can only take so much talk about running.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Something to Think About...

So I'm still working on my race recap. Actually it's pretty much finished, but it turns out I'm extremely long winded. I need to go back and edit down. No one needs to know exactly what I ate, how long I took to eat, when I had to pee, etc. :)

Instead of finishing tonight (I am exhausted!), I came across this TED Talk (I love TEDTalks and use them all the time with my lessons) by Christopher McDougall (you know, the guy who wrote the hugely popular Born to Run). Give it a look see. It's long, but it's really interesting. Not only is it interesting, it also reminds me why:
1. Women are AWESOME at long distance running, particularly mothers.
2. Humans are meant to be compassionate and collaborative.
3. Running is FUN!
4. The running community is so supportive and nurturing of one another (while being competitive at the same time)


Saturday, March 26, 2011

National Half Results

So I made it; the National Half Marathon is over (thank God!)

I finished 13.1 miles in 2:29:58, a PR by 13 minutes, shaving over 30 minutes off my time since my first half last May. My official race time was 2:34:54, but the race was actually 13.5 miles. (I wasn't just my GPS, either. Everyone's Garmin said the same. And I wasn't weaving at all. I kept a pretty straight path down the middle of the road the entire race. We got there so late that we were in the back of the back from the beginning and it had thinned out.)

I'll give a full recap in the next few days... this was a drama filled race because it wasn't the best organized race (again).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Random Race Related Rant

(I'm in an alliterative mood I guess because this really isn't a rant. I'm in a pretty good mood.)

1. I have the National Half in 3 more days. In 3 days, I will run my 3rd half marathon on my 33rd birthday, and I have raised $333 for Back on My Feet. I'm thinking three's a charm and I'm looking to KILL my previous half time. My (realistic) goal is finish in 2:30 (if it's a really good day, I'm hoping 2:25) which will mean that since my first half marathon last May, I will have shaved off at least 37 minutes. I'll be pretty excited if that happens. Right now I'm visualizing and reviewing my game plan-- run 2 miles at an 11:00 min. pace and walk through the water stops. I just think it looks silly when people try to run while drinking water (and I could use the breather).

2. It's going to be cold race day morning. The high is going to be 44, so at race time, it's going to be about 38-40 degrees. Last year it was beautiful... this time, not so much (but I hear the cherry blossoms are blooming! That will be pretty!).

3. Because of the weather, I have NO idea what I'm going to wear. I was going to wear a cheetah running skirt, a pink top, and pink compression socks. I wanted to look adorably cute... it will be my birthday after all. I have a sub zero running skirt with tights, but I think that will be too warm. Maybe capris with my running skirt on top?? I just don't know. Ideas?

4. This will be my first real race with CC (or Cupcake, my beloved Garmin). I can't wait to show her our nations capital.

5. I'm surprised I'm relatively relaxed today. Usually I'm falling apart before a race. But I feel more confident. I've been through this before. I'm resting my legs (with the exception of a really slow little run tomorrow) and trying to get in (and stay in) a good place mentally.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Runner Kara Goucher balances motherhood, training for Olympics - Brian Cazeneuve - SI.com

Seriously, this woman is amazing. She just had a baby in September and now finished the NYC Half Marathon in 1:09:03 (age graded time: 1:08:53). This shows the power of having a baby... if you can make it through 9 months of pregnancy and then labor, you can do anything!

Runner Kara Goucher balances motherhood, training for Olympics - Brian Cazeneuve - SI.com

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Paper Joy

Sorry I've been an absent blogger. I should start this post by saying I love my job. Being an English teacher, I get to watch kids fall in love with books and ideas. And there is nothing better than that.

But this joy comes with a price: grading essays. The stack of papers to grade is never ending (until June, that is), and with almost every paper, I wonder if kids wear earplugs while I teach. It seems they never hear what I say, which is why I also put everything I say in a handout. And then I am forced to wonder if my students are unable to read handouts. I know they can read text messages and Facebook messages, but there must be something about the ink on a photocopy that prevents them from seeing the words on the page. Bless their little hearts (although I usually curse them while I'm grading their papers...)

So I've been buried under stacks of essays for about the past month, and sometimes the papers are so bad, I want to cry while I grade. But other times, the essays are so bad, all I can do is laugh. Laugh so hard I almost pee my pants. (Okay, there are a few good essays in the stack, but not nearly enough, EVER!) In fact, my colleagues and I have started a running list, a Wall of Fame/Shame, really, of all the things that make us laugh while we grade. I thought I'd share some of my favorite comments from student essays (I pulled some of these from the internet because I couldn't remember as many as I'd hoped).

1. Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100 foot clipper.

2. Queen Elizabeth was the "Virgin Queen." As a queen she was a success. When Elizabeth exposed herself before her troops, they all shouted, "hurrah." Then her navy went out and defeated the Spanish Armadillo.

3. My neighbor is death and dumb. (instead of deaf and dumb, or preferably, mute)

4. I said, "Whatever, my butt, start fighting again, and you see, it's going to be on like popcorn." (What does this even mean?)

5. Islamic people speak aerobic. (That's an example of spell check ruining a common sense point.)

6. And my all time favorite from one of our Honors students: I hate testes. I choke on testes. (I imagine this kid meant tests. I hope...)

Ahh... happy grading. Back to Hell I go.

Tomorrow I am guest blogging over at RunCourtneyRun. Come check it out!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tempo Issues and A Personal Fix

Yesterday, I went to the gym to do my tempo run. It would have been impossible to do this outdoors given we had a surprise snow storm of 5 inches this week (which really isn't that much, but it is a good amount when you aren't expecting it after several 70 degree days) so the sidewalks are, again, covered.

My plan was to run 3 miles at tempo, but 5 miles total. However, after just 1.5 miles, my legs felt like they weren't going to carry me. In fact, my form felt way off. It felt like I was tripping all over myself. I stopped running at 1.5 miles and began to walk, feeling completely disappointed in myself. And then I remembered something I read about visualization on MomOf3's blog. She said you have to practice visualizing yourself being successful in achieving your goals in order to cross the marathon finish line. I'm not running a marathon, just a half, but I figured I'd put her advice to good use.

So I imagined myself cranking up the speed on the treadmill and running without feeling any lead legs, without any aching body parts, without any doubt. While I was visualizing this, I imagined a determined look on my face. And I promised myself that as soon as I hit 2.0 miles, it was time to stop visualizing, start running, and finish the tempo run strong.

And so at 2.o miles, I did exactly what I pictured. I cranked up the speed, picked up my pace, and breathed my way through the last three miles of my tempo run. And wonder of wonders, I felt great! The lead legs were gone, and so was all the doubt. In fact, I probably could have kept going (I kind of wish I would have, but my husband was finished with his workout and I didn't want him to have to wait around for me. In hindsight, he would have been fine; he likes to stretch for a while).

So while my tempo run may not have been 100% successful, I feel a lot of happiness in the fact that I pulled myself out of my rut, got my mind right, and finished as strong as I visualized. I'm going to make visualization a part of my regular training schedule because it's important, as Momof3 said, for me to be as mentally strong as I am physically strong.

Tonight I'm off to TRX Suspension training. I'm a tad nervous... I'll report back how it goes.

And on another note, I got to meet Pulitzer Prize winning author Edward Jones this week. He came to my classroom (so it was just us and him) and answered my students questions about literature and writing. I hope to write more about this later this week because it was a very cool experience to share with my students.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Kicking Out Negative Thoughts

I went for a nice long run yesterday with Katye and Erin yesterday. I had 8 miles on my schedule, but we did 10. We took it easy, mostly because we haven't all run together in over 2 months. We ended up spending a lot of our "running" time walking instead so we could catch up. It worked out perfectly for me, though. My training schedule says that my long run miles should be between 12:57-14:29 (don't forget I'm a penguin. :)). Our run was just over an average pace of 14:29, so I don't feel guilty for walking so much. After our run, we got an Auntie Anne's pretzels. Seriously, there is nothing better in this world than a pretzel after a long run (ok... I lied. Cupcakes. Cupcakes are way better than a pretzel after a run. In fact, I promised the girls I'd bring some cupcakes from IcedGems on our next run date).

I realized over the past few days that I have less than a month before the National Half Marathon. And in typical me fashion, I'm a nervous wreck about this. It's not like I've never run a half before. This will be my third. This is the first time, however, that I have to finish in a certain time so I'm not swept up by the penguin-killing, slow runner race-ending wagon. At the Baltimore Half (my 2nd), I shaved over 20 minutes off my half time in less than 5 months, so I assumed I wouldn't have a problem taking 13 minutes off my half time to finish in the required 2 hours 30 minutes (although it seems the course will be open for 3 hours). The problem is I'm just not sure if I'm going to be able to run the entire race at an 11 min-11:30 min mile. I've been following my training schedule and keeping up with speed work and tempo work, but I worry whether or not it's enough. I did have to scale back for a week and a half a while ago due to runner's knee. I guess I'll just have to let go of this until the day of the race. Part of me says that I'll be fine; I'm doing everything I can to improve my race time. And I know I'll get out there on race day and do my best, and whatever that best time is, it is good enough. But there's another part of me that says this lingering hip/hamstring tightness is going to hurt my race time and that taking it easy on a long run is a bad idea (I fight with myself to keep at the recommended pace. I start to feel guilty that I'm not doing enough and need to go faster in order to really improve).

Like I said, I just need to let go off all the negative self talk and stay positive.

In that spirit, here's my training schedule for the week (and my plan is to rock it).

Today (Monday): stretching and strength training (I'm a day off my normal schedule because I did my long run Sunday instead of Saturday.) I was going to just jump back on my schedule, but I'm a little concerned about my right hamstring. It is SUPER tight and I feel it pulling my back out of whack. I'm just going to stretch it out and do a little strength training.
Tuesday: 4 miles pace
Wednesday: 45 min. tempo
Thursday: Should be a rest day, but I'm trying TRX at the gym for the first time and am super excited
Friday: 3 miles easy
Saturday: 9 miles
Sunday: strength training and stretching

Miles planned for the week: about 20

What do you do to stay positive and kick the negative thoughts out of your mind?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's the Simple Things

A list of the simple things I love to help me remember life is pretty nice even when I feel like it isn't.

Simple Thing #1- My husband's sweatshirts. I steal them from him after he's worn them, and I wear them to bed. I feel so cozy in them and the way they smell reminds me of him and how much I love him.

Simple Thing #2- Silly things my son says. He's always making me laugh. I have an example in mind, but I think for the sake of my son (and for my own devilish ways), I will keep it private (until I feel the need to embarrass him in front of his girlfriends in 10-15 years).

Simple Thing #3- This is kind of the same as #2, but... Pickle is potty training and when he's on the potty or in the bathroom taking care of business, he asks me to stop talking because he needs to think. Kind of cute.

Simple Thing #4- My dad has always been a great and sweet man, but since he's become a grandfather twice over, he's really softened. Lately he's even called me by my childhood nicknames several times, names I haven't heard since I was about 12. And it makes me smile.

Simple Thing #5- I love weddings. A lot. I've told my husband several times that I want to have another wedding (with him, of course) because it was so much fun. Well, my little bro is getting married in September. And I've been looking at pictures of wedding gowns and flowers and flower girls and ring bearers, and can't get enough of them.

Simple Thing #6- Cupcakes. Enough said.

Simple Thing #7- 50-70 degree weather in February (yes, 70! Friday is going to be 70*!), especially after a winter of record cold temperatures.

Simple Thing #8- Silly and accidental puns. So today in our 10th grade English teacher's meeting, a teacher told this joke (we were in a very odd and silly mood. I wonder if it's a full moon...). "A man was driving down a quiet country lane when out into the road strayed a rooster. Whack! The rooster disappeared under the car followed by a large cloud of feathers.Shaken, the man pulled over at the farmhouse, and rang the door bell. A farmer appeared.The man, somewhat nervously said, "I think I killed your rooster, please allow me to replace him"."Suit yourself," the farmer replied, "the hens are round the back."
To which I replied, "That is so foul." And I'm not witty. It was a total accident, but a really goofy pun. We dorky English teachers in the room laughed for a while, nonetheless.

Simple Things #9- Phone calls and texts from my mom wishing me a happy anything-- birthday, Valentines, Halloween, Easter...

Simple Things #10- The random spontaneous moment that sometimes happens and changes my mood when I'm having an off day.

What's your simple thing?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Seriously Bummed... Hug a Teacher, Please...

I spent an amazing weekend with my girlfriends in Philly laughing in our pajamas, eating, and watching Sex in the City II (a truly disappointing movie-- bad fashion and horrific writing). I was excited to come home to my guys, but was EXHAUSTED and just couldn't get my long run in. My plan was to do it today... until the day from hell hit.

On my way to work, I hit a deer (or a deer hit me). My car was undamaged; apparently I have an angel on my shoulder. But I can't say the deer made out so well. I'm sure the deer's legs were damaged, but making her situation even worse, while she was trying to run away from the road after we collided, she jumped off a bridge. I hope her passing was as quick and painless as possible. I was pretty shaken up and had to pull over to collect myself. I absolutely love deer and was so upset to hurt one. Once I got myself together, I was back on my way to work, but I was already a few minutes late.

After work today at our staff meeting, I got some bad news. Actually the whole school staff got some bad news. There are some serious financial issues in our county and it looks like our teaching contracts are not going to be honored (for the third year in a row). Except this time their talking about some damaging actions for our family. They have a few options on the table-- a 5% cut in pay, a 3% furlough, a 20% increase in our insurance contribution, and a certain reality, a 2% contribution increase to our pension (even though we're already rated as the 49th WORST state teacher's pension in the United States). If all of these options happen together, we're talking a 10% decrease in my salary which would be devastating to our family. I don't know how we'd make it, honestly.

And adding insult to injury was the comments from the county members and the media about our "cushy" jobs and pensions and the fact the fire and police union are lobbying against us. I always felt we were on the same team.

Anyway, I got home and started to get ready to run, but I just broke down and cried. I'm scared about my family's future, and I just feel completely unappreciated.

I didn't go to the gym to get my run in. Instead, I stayed here with my guys and they started to make me feel a little better. And then I opened an email from a parent. I won't give all the details, but she wrote to thank me for helping her daughter. It's rare that teachers get these letters of appreciation, and honestly, we could really use them right now. So if your kid has a favorite teacher or a teacher who has really helped your kid (or you), please let it be known. Most teachers I know do their job out of love, but it doesn't hurt to know others see and recognize our hard work.

Seriously, go hug a teacher!

(and tomorrow I'll get that run in!)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Looking for a hotel for National Marathon or Half?

For anyone who is coming to D.C. for the National Marathon or the National Half on March 26th, I just found a sweet hotel deal through Hotels.com. It's for the Hampton Inn at Reagan National Airport for $84! The cheapest I found in the city was in Dupont Circle at the Phoenix Inn for $129 (which I've stayed in and it is elegant and lovely) but parking costs $40. The Hampton Inn is walking distance to the metro and hotel garage parking is only $12 as opposed to $38-40/day for the hotels right in the heart of D.C. The metro ride to Stadium-Armory is only 18 minutes, which is pretty quick.

And my two favorite parts of this deal: 1.) the hotel room comes with a refrigerator (none of the others, including the Marathon's hotel partners, have this amenity) and 2.) there is a free continental breakfast. Apparently breakfast doesn't start until 7 a.m. on the weekends, but I just called the hotel and told them I would need to eat at about 4:30 or 5 a.m. and they were sure we could work something out given that it's the National Marathon. But even if they can't accommodate my insanely early breakfast, I'll have a refrigerator so I can take care of myself if necessary.

Spread the word to anyone you know who is coming to town. :)

I'm so excited! My next PR is getting so close!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Foodie Friday- Spaghetti with Fried Eggs

I'm always looking for something that's fast and easy to make, that of course, tastes good. I think I found the perfect dish, and what makes it even more perfect is that I think this is going to be one of my go-to carbo loading meals.

I saw this recipe on the Today show a few days ago and thought it might be interesting to have on a busy day. Despite the fact that I had a snow day and had absolutely nothing to do today, it seems time slipped away from me. By the time I got finished running at the gym, it was already 6:30, and I didn't have anything defrosted. What a perfect night for Spaghetti with Fried Eggs.

It might sound a little odd, but give it a chance. I've copied the recipe below from the New York Times. The author is the minimalist chef, Mark Bittman. This was ready to plate is less than 20 minutes. It has a soft delicate flavor, and has a perfect blend of carbs and protein. One thing I will stress is to not keep the heat up too high with the eggs. This will keep the eggs nice and soft. And I really think the cheese is a must. Enjoy (I know I did)!

Recipe of the Day: Spaghetti With Fried Eggs

There are pasta dishes of the desperate cook, the one who has been too busy to shop or too busy to think, or who must put dinner on the table in 20 minutes. I love those kinds of recipes. This is one of them, taught to me a decade ago or so by Arthur Schwartz, who knows as much about Italian food as any native New Yorker has a right to.


Spaghetti With Fried Eggs

Yield 2 or 3 servings

Time 20 minutes

Adapted from Arthur Schwartz.

In this dish, sometimes known as \'\'poor man\'s spaghetti,\'\' you fry a couple of eggs in the olive oil after removing the garlic, which is not browned but \'\'blonded\'\' (\'\'imbiondito\'\'), cooked lightly in good olive oil and then removed from it. Tossed with the pasta, the eggs and oil create a creamy, delicious sauce.

  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound thin spaghetti
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or lard
  • 2 large cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
  • 4 eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese, optional
  • 1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Start the sauce in the next step, and start cooking the pasta when the water boils.
  • 2. Combine garlic and 4 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic, pressing it into the oil occasionally to release its flavor; it should barely color on both sides. Remove the garlic, and add the remaining oil.
  • 3. Fry the eggs gently in the oil, until the whites are just about set and the yolks still quite runny. Drain the pasta, and toss with the eggs and oil, breaking up the whites as you do. (The eggs will finish cooking in the heat of the pasta.) Season to taste, and serve immediately, with cheese if you like.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

lessons from 1 week of calorie counting

Sorry I've been such a bad blogger. I've been so busy finishing my grades for my students and most importantly, counting every single calorie that enters my mouth. Last week, I promised myself that if I counted my calories for two weeks, I could treat myself to a massage at the spa. That was last Tuesday, and I'm very excited to say that I've been keeping track of everything. I've been using a great and FREE website to do this, CalorieCount.About.com. Using CalorieCount.About.com is super easy. Virtually everything I've eaten is in their searchable database, and when it's not, adding in calories or nutrition information is a snap. It takes me less that a few minutes to enter all my meals and snacks. And if I'm low on a nutrient, I just click that nutrient and get a whole list of foods I can eat that will bring me up to my daily value.

Here's what I learned:

1. Last week I decided to just count calories and noticed some scary habits. I was going over my calorie intake by 400-500 calories a day! I was shocked. I noticed that what was really doing it was mindless nibbling-- a few graham crackers here and there, a serving of goldfish, a little taste of the Lindt chocolate that sits on the English Department's conference table. All those extra calories negate the calories I burn running and add up to about a pound a week. Yikes! No wonder my pants are tighter.

2. With CalorieCount, I can see a daily and weekly breakdown of all the calories, nutrients, fats, carbs, basically everything, I eat. I LOVE this! I wasn't really using all this analysis in the first few days, but after a while, I started looking at trends. I can see exactly how many grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat I'm taking in each day and week. This is going to help me get better at making sure I have the proper amount of carbs and proteins to fuel my long run. When I went to the nutritionist, she suggested my limit for each to be 65 grams of protein per day, 238 grams of carbs per day, and 58 grams of fat per day. I don't have to eat the total amount; that's just my limit. But I'm still not sure how to balance my carbs and proteins best before a long run. Regardless, now I know what I'm actually taking in, and once I start doing research, I can modify as necessary.
3. I'm taking in WAY too much sodium. I was watching The Biggest Loser (yeah, I'm hooked) and saw Curtis Stone (sigh... drifting off into dreamland) cooking this fabulous meal without any salt. I want to find more recipes that highlight the natural taste of foods rather than mask them with salt and sugar.

4. I'm having difficulty getting my daily requirements of potassium and, on most days, iron. I'm thinking of taking a multivitamin to compensate for what I'm missing, but I absolutely hate horse pills. However, I think getting all the nutrients I need are going to make me a better runner by helping my body run more efficiently and heal faster (right?).

5. This week, I decided to make more of an effort to stay within my daily calorie allotment. I've nailed it for a day or two and come within 100 calories on the other days. What I've found to be most effective is planning as many of my meals in advance as possible. I can log them in either the night before or that morning, and I know in advance how many calories I have to work with for the rest of the day.

6. I need a dessert to be satisfied. My new favorite: a banana sprinkled with cinnamon and 1 tsp of chocolate syrup. It's under 200 calories, delicious, and completely satisfies my sweet tooth. It's also getting me closer to the potassium I need each day.

And one last thing related to calorie counting... I'm even more excited that last Sunday I woke up to a special email in my inbox. My husband bought me a gift certificate to the spa to make sure I treat myself. He's such a great catch, and he's all mine ladies! ;) I have an appointment all set up for Sunday at 1. I'm getting a special massage for athletes, the 90 minute Lemongrass Ginger Ache Away. I can barely keep myself contained. After a full week of running, sleeping on my neck the wrong way for the third night in a row, and three days of being snowed in with a very active (although totally cute) toddler, I really need it!

I've been running now for three years, but I've never taken my nutrition seriously. Now that I want to become a better runner, I need to treat my body with more care. I think this massage is going to be a celebration of a new journey for me as a conscientious eater, which I am sure will make me a better athlete.

Any good suggestions on books that will help teach me how to better fuel my body as a runner? There are so many of them...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Getting life under control

I guess I've been a tad on edge lately. I'm not sure why; I suppose I'm just a little run down or it could be I'm just feeling like crap for gaining weight over the holidays. My husband noticed-- it's hard not to notice when I'm in a bad mood, I suppose. I am the queen of dirty looks (it's been said by a number of former students of mine that I have the scariest look of all the teachers in our building). So D asked me if a day at the spa might help me unwind and get back to myself. HECK yeah!

But I was feeling some guilt about the idea of spending all kinds of money for a day at the spa, especially when I am due for a new pair of running shoes and am in need of a new sports bra. Add it up and I've got a price tag of $150 just around the corner. So I was talking to my mom about this, and she offered to cover my shoes as an early birthday present (and I swear I wasn't trying to work her)! Looks like I'm heading to the spa... but not so fast.

I want to earn my spa day, and I decided this is the perfect time to get my nutrition under control. Over the holidays I gained a some weight and my clothes are a little tight. I know what I'm supposed to eat, and for the most part, I eat healthy foods. My problem is that I eat too much. In order for me to lose weight, the only thing I've found to be effective is counting my calories. I saw a nutritionist a few months ago, and she suggested I stay at around 1900 calories a day to maintain my weight and 1700 calories to lose a 1 lb a week. She said I could cut as many as 500 calories a day either through eating less or working out, but she worried that I'd get too hungry and binge eat if I did it too often. I'm with her. Binge eating has in the past been a huge issue for me. (And she made it very clear that I would need to replace the massive calorie burn from long runs. I was so relieved to hear this as I have had a habit of feeling guilty for eating a bit more after a long run.)

So in order to earn my day of relaxation, I am making a pact with myself to write down everything I eat for the next 2 weeks. My hope is to stay in my calorie range. However, I think that what might be more important for me right now is to see just how many empty calories I'm consuming. I want these two weeks to be about awareness. I'm only going to be able to change my nutrition and make better choices if I know what I'm doing wrong.

At the end of two weeks (if I record my food every day), spa day.

I'll keep track of my foods and my calorie count on Calorie-Count.com and I'll report back here to let you know how it's going.

I'm just going to keep thinking... spa... spa!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Music Monday- I Need A Little Rocky

So yesterday was a tough run, but I did it. Only because I had some good support, both in Bloggyland and at home. Thanks for that. :)

I was ready to back out of my long run and just do it on the treadmill today after work, and then I learned that my friend Katye finished the Goofy Challenge (39.3 miles) and my friend Erin finished her first marathon. Surely I couldn't back out of a piddly little run when they were completing some serious miles. So I got dressed and got my butt out there (although it did take a really long time. To the point that my husband kept making jokes about me not leaving).

It was a slow run, but I was happy to do it. Okay. That's not true. I was miserable. The wind was absolutely ridiculous and somehow in my face during my entire run. How is that even possible in a looped run? As the wind blew on me at one point in my run, I let out an expletive. Apparently the mini van passing me could read my lips. Thankfully, they laughed. And I have never had such cold cheeks, on both ends. Seriously, I am not a winter warrior.

There's a killer hill in the first 2 miles of my run. And I mean killer hill. I hardly ever make it to the top running, and I always feel guilty for giving up. But yesterday I made a deal with myself. If I ran all the way to the hill, I was going to allow myself to walk 1/2 of the hill-- no guilt allowed, especially since I got out to do my run. And then, as if the running gods timed it themselves, as soon as I got to the hill, the ascent mocking me, growing before my eyes, the "Gonna Fly" Rocky Remix began to play. I just couldn't give up, not while Rocky was yelling at me.

So check the song out (if you haven't already... it's from 2006. My only defense is that I had a kid and am about 3-4 years behind in music that isn't Barney or Disney related). (sorry for the cheesy youtube...)

It's a great addition for any workout playlist. I especially love that Rocky begins his pep talk (just for me, of course). Just as I was about to give in, he told me, "It ain't about how hard you can hit. It's about how hard you can take it. That's how winning is done!"

I love running to this song and have been known to throw my arms in the air Rocky style at the end of the song. Feel free to do the same. People like to smile at me when I do this. I assume they know I've just accomplished something great, and that I'm not crazy, right?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Long Run Nerves...

I'm a tad nervous for today's long run. It's only 7 miles, and I've done way more than that before, so I'm not freaking about distance. I'm a little panicked that I didn't prepare yesterday for a long run the way I should and usually do.

Yesterday was an odd mix of chaos and a great time. I'll start with the great. Our good friends had a holiday party, and they just so happen to be two of the sweetest people around. My best friend (who now lives outside of Philly) was there, as were some of our other friends we rarely get to see. Nothing compares to being about to hang out with good friends. If I could fuel my run on laughs and giggles, I'd be golden. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to turn happiness into a blend of carbohydrates and proteins for sustained energy.

And now for what will create a challenge for me today.

Cheese. Cheese from the heavens. Brie, Roaring 40's Blue Cheese, a gouda, pepper jack cheese, cheese dip... It should be known that I cannot resist cheese. It's so good, but I know that no matter how good it is, it's just not good for me (at least in the amounts I consume). It calls to me like the lover I try to put out of my mind, but when I see it, all the feelings of longing and desire overcome me and I am helpless to resist. And that is what happened yesterday. I ate so much cheese I was drunk on cheese. And I knew it would be my undoing today (what I didn't think about was that the cheese would keep me awake ALL night with heartburn and a stomach ache). Damn the consequences; it was so good!

And then there is the lack of hydrating. I was chasing Pickle around for the first 3 hours we were there because the party hadn't started and my hubby was in band practice (yeah, that's right. My husband is a rock star). There just wasn't time to drink water because I was dealing with him kicking and screaming over not being able to play daddy's drums. By the end of the night I was exhausted and my legs felt like they'd been beat up. I'm not sure how they are going to carry me today, but hey...

I also didn't actually eat a real dinner. We were there at 1 and didn't get home until after 8. Come to think of it, I don't think I ate a real lunch either.

So today, I'll be running on a lack of sleep, lack of nutrition, and lack of hydration. Ouch. This run in going to hurt. But there is going to be a run. It may take me forever, but I will finish. Gotta stay on schedule.

And for just a little funny addition to chaotic yesterday. I took Pickle to the grocery store to get him out of the house during band practice (he seems to think he can actually play an instrument and desperately wants to join the band). While we were in the grocery store, I heard, "Will the owner of a Nissan Sentra..." Hmmm. There are lots of Nissan Sentras. It's not us.
"Champagne colored..." Oh no!
"License plate (our number... I have no idea what my plate number is, but I know it when I hear it. And I wouldn't write it here anyway, I suppose...) please report to Customer Service. (I could hear the woman trying to contain her giggle) Your car rolled out of it's parking spot and is sitting in the middle of the road."
As I was running back up the isle with Pickle yelling "WEEEE!", people were snickering. One woman said, "Who does that?"
I answered her just so she knew what the sad criminal looked like. "That would be me."
I have to say that the people at the grocery store were great. A checkout teller offered to watch Pickle for a few minutes while I took care of the situation. And miracle of miracles-- my car didn't hit a person or another car. Amazing!
I don't think I'll forget to pull the brake for a long time.

UPDATE: I almost skipped out on my run. But after seeing Kim in all her snow running gear, and seeing my running buddy Erin finished her first marathon this morning (GO ERIN!!), I knew I couldn't skip out. I got my butt out there and moved. Slowly, but I moved.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Music Monday and Pickle Jams Out

Just a short little post here. Kim at Book Worm Runs posted today about the tunes we jam out to while we run. She wanted some good ideas to add to her play list, so if you have something, pop on over and suggest it to her.

I thought I'd share my all time favorite running song. This is Clutch's "Electric Worry". Whenever I'm starting to lose steam in a run, I put this on and I'm good to go.

I would never have known about it if I didn't let my hubby (who likes a lot of punk and rock music I'd never heard before) suggest a few tunes.

Not only has this become one of my faves, but it's also Pickle's fave song. Our jogging stroller has speakers, and he sings along to this song during our runs while yelling for me to "Vamamos". He also frequently dances to it. He's quite the dancer. Check him out (this is about 8 months ago)...

He gets his moves from me.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Super Duper Sunday: Short and Sweet

Despite the fact this is the last day of my break and tomorrow I have to go back to work, this has been a fantastic Sunday. Why you ask? Just a few reasons.

1. Pickle is back home. He was with my parents all weekend and it was wonderful to have some time alone with my hubby, but we really missed him and his silliness. (Currently he's snapping the points off all his crayons and saying he's taking the cap off. I can't convince him that he's actually breaking his crayons...)

2. I had a productive 5 mile run today. I kept it nice and slow because it's supposed to be a long run, but the last mile I just wanted to get home and ran my fastest mile during the whole route. I've got 11 weeks left to train, and I think I'm in a good place to improve my time this upcoming half marathon.

3. AND THE BEST OF ALL, my sweet hubby is making me dinner. A dinner full of my favorite comfort foods, meatloaf and macaroni and cheese. From scratch. Yeah, he's pretty awesome. The smells coming from the kitchen are so intoxicating I can barely type. So please excuse any usage or spelling errors In case you're in the mood now, here's the recipe he's using for the mac and cheese. It's an Alton Brown recipe. We've always found him to have solid and yummy recipes.
The hubby just yelled that dinner is ready. Excuse me while I get drunk on comfort food.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Virtual 12K of Christmas Race Recap

BEFORE I START... LADIES: RUNNINGSKIRTS.COM IS HAVING A HUGE CLEARANCE SALE. All the clearance skirts are on sale for $20.11. I had to buy two: a black cheetah running skirt (with briefs) and the cheetah and haute pink athletic skirt. If you've never run in a running skirt before, this is your chance to grab one for a steal! They're so comfortable to run in and everyone I've ever seen wear one looks absolutely adorable. And I've seen people of all sizes in them.

And now on to the race recap:
Kayte at Long Legs on the Loose hosted a Virtual 12K of Christmas this week, and given that she is a wonderful running buddy (who I miss running and laughing with... I can't wait until all our schedules sync up again), I decided to join in the festive fun. I also needed this virtual race to rebuild my confidence after my after Christmas run. I had a HORRIBLE, wake-you-from-a-sound-sleep nightmare of a run.

The first issue was that it was super cold and windy, and it started to snow while I was running. But honestly, I didn't care too much about that. I was so happy to get out and get a run in. I had on my super cute red plaid running skirt over my tights and felt adorably festive. Well, as adorable as I looked, it didn't help me move my stinkin' feet. I couldn't go more than 1/2 a mile without stopping (and at several points, I had to stop about a minute into a run). I have never had my legs feel so heavy; I was so tired my bone marrow hurt. I was beginning to believe someone had to have put lead weights in my shoes as a joke. I cut my 7 mile run to just under 4, and when I got home, I was beyond bummed. I was beginning to freak out and had horrid hallucinations of the sweeper van pulling up along side me at the National Half, two race officials jumping out, throwing a hood over my head and tossing me into the sweeper wagon never to be seen again. I mean that's what happens when runners get swept up, right? No one goes willingly (at least that's what I imagine). In hindsight, it's no wonder my legs felt like lead and my bones hurt; I hadn't run in a week and in the days leading up to Christmas, I was on my feet all day and night, teaching and then baking. And Christmas day, well, let's just say I had a few Irish coffees. None of these things is conducive to a good run.

So, I needed the 12K to get back in the spirit of a positive mindset while running (and to shake the image of being kidnapped by race officials and forced at gun point to pledge to never register as a slow runner again). Originally, I wanted to do all the 12K in one shot, but this was a bit of a crazy week, so I had to split up the miles. I did 7.61 miles total , 4.5 on the treadmill and the rest outside outside. My runs making up the 12k were pretty successful. I had a goal going into each run (no walk break until a certain mileage, time goal, or pace goal) and met each one. I also listened to my body so I don't injure myself. I've had some tightness in my hip and lower back so I didn't want to push too hard. I wanted to have a confidence boosting few runs that allowed me to enter into the next 11 weeks training for my half in a healthy place, mentally for sure, but most importantly physically. My total time running time was 95 minutes which puts me at a 12:29 min/mile pace, which is right about where I was for my half marathon in October.

One of my favorite things about the Virtual 12K is that we had to give to charity. I couldn't make a financial donation because we're pretty strapped after Christmas and replacing the tires in both our cars (both cars had bald tires... yikes!). Instead, I decided to donate some of our clothes to a local single mother and children's shelter. I went through all of Pickle's baby clothes and kept my favorite 5-7 outfits for each size in case we have another boy some day. The rest I gathered for donation. After going through Pickle's room, I had 5 garbage bags full of baby clothes, mostly for winter and two very large bags of toys. We were so blessed to be given so many beautiful clothes for Pickle when he was a baby. I know some mother will get a lot of good use out of the them. I was further inspired to then clean out my closets and drawers and have 2 bags full of nice clothes that I just don't wear, and I'm not even finished cleaning/purging yet.
I can't imagine how difficult it must be as a mother to be homeless and to have difficulty providing for my children. Given this economy, it could be anyone in their position. I am blessed that it is not me; I wish I could be of even more help to these mothers and children.

I called the shelter to tell them I was brining donations tomorrow and they were really excited. I'm really looking forward to running that errand tomorrow.

New Year, New Goals

I'm not going to make wide sweeping statements like "2011 is going to be the start of a whole new me" or "In 2011, I'm going to limit my sugar intake to two small granules" or "In 2011, I'm going to learn to speak 2 languages fluently" (and thankfully none of the bloggers out there are making them either. But I do hear odd statements like this out in the real world. Okay, the sugar one is a slight exaggeration). I don't do well with resolutions. I tend to make them too large, too difficult to achieve. And then when I don't reach them, I get a little down on myself.
So I'm not going to make any resolutions. I have some goals, but I was planning to do these things whether it was a new year or not (and I think using the word goal makes the challenge a little less daunting. This is what I'm striving to achieve, not what I MUST achieve or else. So here they are.

1. Shave 13 minutes off my half marathon time to bring me to 2:30 (and hey, if I get better than that, I'm even happier).

2. Read more. I've spent the last 5 years getting my Master's Degree and 3 years being a mom. There just hasn't been a lot of extra time for reading since I took up running. But now that I've finally finished with my Master's (YIPPEE), I can actually read books I WANT to read. I can't wait!

3. Make it into the studio at least once every couple of months. I'm a metalsmith (bettcha didn't know that, huh), and last May I had a showing of my jewelry. The stress and work leading up to the show was so intense that once it was over, I was a little burned out on making jewelry or having anything to do with going into the studio. But now I've got the creative itch again. It's a wonderful release to work with a blow torch or a hammer to shape metal and create beauty. I really miss it.

my favorite piece from the collection- "Venus's Love"- a bezel set shell

my showcase
4. Be more present. I love my family, and I want to enjoy them even more.

5. Keep working on eating healthfully. This is always a work in progress, and before the holidays, the hubby and I were getting pretty good at this. If we just keep making little changes here and there like we were, we're going to be moving in the right direction.

Happy New Year, everyone!