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

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!