Thursday, January 30, 2014

Smoothies & selfies

First off, thank you all so much!  Lately, I've really felt the love coming from the people (whoever you are!) who read this blog.  I write this not really assuming that much of anyone is reading.  If I reach or influence one person it really makes me happy.  The past couple of weeks I've been really feeling energized by the responses I've gotten from my friends and family I see and talk to every day, and from people I haven't seen in years who have reached out.   I'm not sure why the big shift lately, but I really wanted to say that I do appreciate anyone who takes the time out of their day to come here and read this.

Today I feel like writing in bullet points just a few random things, in no particular order.  There isn't a heck of a lot to talk about today so I figured I'd just share a few random things that didn't really fit in anywhere else.

- The other day I was a few minutes late for work because I drove almost to the highway then had a feeling that I had left a candle burning in my apartment.  I had gotten up early that day to do some work from home in the AM and sometimes when I am sitting on my couch I light a candle on my coffee table.  I turned around and drove back home to come inside and blow out the candle and when I got here and came inside, I realized it was not burning because I had never even lit it that morning.  Awesome.

- I have gotten pretty good over the years of picking out flavors that go well together with my cooking.  I can often just toss some stuff together I think will taste good and not try it until the very end and be really happy with how something turns out.  However, sometimes you're just off.  And even now when I am looking back at this, I don't know what I was thinking with this combination but the other day I sauteed some onions, added some sweet potatoes I had roasted into the pan, some quinoa, lime juice, chicken broth, cooked it up, and then added cilantro.  I don't know, I thought the flavors would go well together for some reason but it just did NOT work whatsoever.  It was not good.

- I tried on my "goal pants" this morning and they still do not fit (duh...)

- I ordered my new glasses this week!!  I cannot wait to get them in so I can stop balancing my broken pair on my head like I am Mr. Peanut.

- Tonight I made my first protein smoothie!  I have seen people in internet world do this forever and have always wanted to join in on the fun.  Ice cream is pretty much my favorite thing in the world and smoothies & milkshakes are a close cousin to ice cream.  I'm not going to lie, when I see people having "Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Smoothies" and stuff like that, it just sounds so amazing but it has always scared me a little.  Tonight I decided to just go for it.  I put some vanilla protein powder, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, banana and frozen strawberries into the blender and voila.  It was delicious!

- I've seen a couple people post about this and it really hit home for me.  Every January people at the gym start complaining about all the "New Year's Resolution-ers" who show up new to the gym and take up the machines or space in classes, etc.  People complain and say they can't wait for the resolution-ers to give up and give them their gym back.  Although I am not a crazy gym person, I will admit, it can be annoying when a class you go to regularly is full or the cardio machines are all taken when you show up to the gym at the same time and day you always do.  However, you should never root against the New Years people but rather help encourage them.  They're trying, and just starting a workout routine can be scary.  Everyone started at some point, so rather than get exasperated, smile and be encouraging!  A few friends just joined the gym at work and another friend asked me about doing a half marathon in the fall.  I'm so excited about both!!

- I took a selfie when I got to the gym today before I took my coat off.  Heels are so flattering.  I wish I liked wearing them more.  Every morning when I get dressed in an outfit with heels I'm like, "Wow I look thin!  Why don't I wear heels anymore?!?" and then by the end of the day when my legs are tired just from walking back and forth to the bathroom a few times throughout the day, I remember why.

- I took another selfie after I changed into my gym clothes.  I would love to get rid of that belly pooch.

Anyways, that's about all for now.  Hope you have a great day tomorrow!  I might be sparse throughout the weekend, so if you don't hear from me, rest assured I will spending part of my weekend cheering my face off during what will surely be an awesome sports match up.  The Super Bowl?  Nope.  Syracuse vs. Duke on Saturday night!!  Syracuse is 20-0 and trying to keep the streak alive.  Let's go Orange!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Polar Vortex Running Survival Guide

Conversation that took place at 5:40 a.m. this morning before heading out on our run:

Jess: "I was getting nervous on my drive over here, parts of the way my thermometer said -10 degrees, but it warmed up a lot as I got closer."
Me: "To what? Zero?"
Jess: "Yes..."

Seven miles later, I looked like this:

It was zero degrees on, and snow literally froze to my body and formed on my clothing as I sweat through and it froze.  But you know what?  It was fine!  We ran 7 miles this morning on PAVEMENT, which was a miraculous feeling after the past two runs we had.  Despite the frigid temperatures out, there wasn't really wind and the run went pretty well.  According to a post I saw the other day on Facebook, 'There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing."

So what is it that I wear when I run outside in these temperatures?  Lots of layers!  I decided to write a short blog about some of the "gear" that has been helping me through my runs.  I know that everyone says running is so great because you only need sneakers and that's all! But, in reality, it helps to have some gear.  Below is a picture from a few weeks back when we ran about 6 miles in 1 degree temperatures.  It is a pretty typical outfit that shows all the elements I want to talk about so let's just go from here.

Typical outfit.
- Bottoms:  When the weather gets this cold, I personally need more than just running tights.  I found these great pants at Marshall's actually that are brand and they are thick and keep me really warm.  This is what I wore this past Saturday when we ran the half marathon.  Otherwise, I usually wear a pair of running tights, with a pair of sweatpants on over.  That is what I had on this morning as well as these other frigid days.

- Tops:  Layers, layers, layers.  First, I usually put on one of my summer weather running tops just because it makes me feel better to have something tight and extra on my core.  Then I put on a thin long sleeved top over that.  Make sure both of these layers are sweat wicking to pull any moisture off of your body.  Even though it's cold, I still sweat!  On top of that I like to wear a thicker, warmer layer.  Then on top of that something that breaks the wind & chill.  I've been using this formula and it's worked out pretty well for me!  Oh, and you GOTTA have thumb holes!

- Feet: I need at least 2 pairs of socks at this time of year.  Usually I put a thicker, longer pair on first -- wool is good.  I like a thicker pair that I can pull up underneath my running tights so that there is NO skin exposed anywhere.  Over that, I put on regular short running socks.  On the coldest days where I am running longer distances (such as today and on Saturday) I use foot warmers.  I had one set of foot warmers that you put on the soles of your feet, covering the whole foot which I loved and kept my feet feeling great. I can't find those anymore so I've been using ones that just cover your toes and you can put them above or below the foot.  I put them above the foot and in between the two layers of socks.  My feet usually get really, really cold so the foot warmers help with that a lot and keep me from going numb.

- Hands: I love running with mittens.  My fingers always get cold when I run with gloves, but mittens really help for me.  I have a pair of fleece lined wool mittens that keep my hands really warm.  Most days I usually end up taking off my mittens for portions of the run.  I HATE when my hands get cold, so on days I am worried about that I will bring hand warmers too, but that ALWAYS makes my hands get sweaty.  However, it's better to be prepared I think.  You can always take layers off while you're out there, but you can't add them!  You see me with my mittens in my hands up above.

- Head: I love running with headbands ear covering headbands but when the temperatures get really down, covering my whole head is necessary.  For Christmas I got 2 great neck warmer/hats that keep your neck warmer pulled up high.  I need to be sure that my neckwarmer is tucked into my top and that my hat is connected to the neckwarmer.  Like I said -- zero air exposure!

- Headlamp: This doesn't help at all with cold weather but it is totally necessary when you are running before the sun is up!  Or when the sun goes down for that matter.  Jess got this as a gift for me and I love it.  It is super strong and in addition to helping me to see, it helps others to see me as well.  Which brings me to my next point...

- Reflectors:  Make sure you are visible out there!  Be sure that your outermost layers have lots of reflective gear on them.  The top I have on in this photo has some reflection but I also have on two Nathan's Reflex Snap Bands.  One on my wrist and one on my ankle.  On the opposite foot I have on a heel protecting light also made by Nathan called LightSpurs that you can see bright red.  It wraps around your sneaker, stays totally snug, and can either be a solid red or a blinking red.  It is great for an additional level of visibility.

- Garmin Forerunner:  I love my Garmin!  I've had it for over a year now and it's still going strong.  My friends and I are conditioned to "run for the beep!" and it helps keep me going.  When iPhones zonk out in the cold or the heat or the rain, my Garmin stays with me.  Heck yes!

- Chap stick or face protector: For any exposed skin I have on my face, I rub Palmer's Cocoa Butter Swivel Stick all over it.  My nose runs and my face gets moist in this weather and the last thing I want is to get chapped, so i just smear this stuff all over.  It feels weird at first but you will be glad you did!

- Running Yak Trax: These are funky little rubber things that you wrap around your sneakers and they've got some spikes and some wire coils that help provide traction.  I've done a lot of running in the Yaks and they've really helped me feel more secure in my footing when running on packed snow and ice.  You don't notice them too but, but if you happen to be on flat ground, they are pretty annoying.  Definitely a necessity for snowy running though!

So, those are a bit of my running necessities for this polar vortex that we've been having nowadays.  It really helps me to feel like I am the most possibly prepared as I can be for running in the winter.  For those of you who have been following here for a while know that I was not always this prepared. My runs last late spring while training for the half marathon, I would get so cold and my body would just shut down.  I stocked up on this gear because staying warm is key for me.

And as Jess taught me during the Stokade-athon... if you are still cold... just run faster!!! :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ditching the scale

Hey guys, happy Monday!  So, I am happy to report that I sort of feel like I am getting my exercise groove back.  I don't want to speak too soon, but I feel positive about my runs this week -- perhaps it's the knowledge that I am going to go down mileage to only 10 miles for my long run next weekend.  Or that I will get to do my long run in a new city, exploring.  Perhaps getting to run outside for 3 whole runs in a row started to clear my mind a bit.  However, I am feeling *okay* right now.

I don't have a heck of a lot to report today besides that we did a 3 mile run outside today and we had to run again in our Yak Trax and on packed snow.  I said to Jess today that if I never had to run on packed snow again in my life, I would be okay with it.  It makes my legs feel so tired, it is almost as if I am learning how to run all over again and building up the strength in my legs.  However, I will keep at it and just pray for the days of no more snow!! It will make me all the better runner in normal weather and conditions, right?  Tonight I went back to the Nia class, which I am toooootally loving and tomorrow I am going to go to a spin class, which I love and miss in my life.  So that makes me feel pretty good as well.

I'm also happy to say that it is now over a week that I have been tracking my Weight Watchers points and doing well managing my diet.  I am really proud and I am also proud of myself that I've been doing this without the motivation of a number on a scale.  I really want to celebrate with non-scale victories and I am looking forward to trying on my goal pants in a week or so and seeing if I notice any progress.  I've been a slave to the scale for a few years now with Weight Watchers.  When I was in the thick of losing weight on the program, I could be having a really good week and feeling positive and get on the scale and feel crushed because I gained .8 lbs.  Or, sometimes have a crappy eating week and feel elated because I somehow cheated the system and the scale magically said I lost.  My emotions were all around what that number was.

Those celebrations felt great and those defeats felt devastating.  The two emotions kept me motivated and kept me moving forward and helped me make incredible progress of losing ~60 lbs.  I don't think I could have done it without that motivation of seeing the numbers change because it was tangible evidence and a goal to drive me forward.  However, a year or so ago I reached that "goal" and then the numbers started to not move so much and then slide a bit backwards.... and I was re-gaining and re-losing the same weight, the change in the numbers on the scale at some point stopped meaning so much to me.  Maybe it was because it felt cheap to celebrate losing weight that I technically already had lost and the numbers I was reaching was somewhere I had already been.  And passed, and then was back at again.  Either way, as much as I tried, I couldn't get the numbers on the scale to motivate me.  I kept trying and it wasn't working.

Well, since I've found running over the past year, I've felt a little less dependent on the scale.  It still sits in my bathroom and it has been collecting dust for a while.  I don't think I have weighed myself since before the Christmas holidays.  Recently, I decided that I would weigh myself once a month on the first of each month.  However, I'm not even convinced I want to do that.  I would love to try and celebrate non-scale victories in 2014 and use that as a motivating factor rather than some number on a scale!

Anyways, that's a little where my mind is at right now.  Today at work I was doing an interviewer training class and we talked a lot about "behavioral interview" questions.  I had one of those "you know you are a runner..." moments when pretty much every question I read and thought about what my own answer would be, a running story popped into my mind.  I had to remind myself that the questions should really supposed to be answered about work related things.  However, what do you guys think of when you hear the following questions?

  • Tell me about your proudest achievement?
  • Describe a time when you were disappointed in your performance.
  • Tell me about a situation that you were in that seemed overwhelming at first.
  • Was there ever a time that you doubted whether or not you could complete a project you started?
  • Walk me through a time when you encountered an obstacle in the middle of a project.
  • Tell me about a time when you took a risk
I don't know, I just kept thinking about running and can relate a running story to each one, which sort of cracked me up.  If I for some reason needed to interview for a job any time soon, that could be a problem if it is all I can think of!!  I guess it just goes to show you that running can really teach you skills that permeate through all areas of life.

And with that, I'm headed to bed!  Goodnight!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Birthday Blizzard Half Marathon Recap

So this Saturday, we pulled off a bit of a surprise for our friend Jess AND logged 13.1 miles in training!  I will get to the details of the run in a little bit, but first I want to explain a little bit about what I've been planning with some friends.

Saturday was my friend, running buddy, constant motivator, sometimes mom, and "Coach" Jess's birthday! On our training plan we had scheduled to run a half marathon this weekend.  Since we initially mapped out our marathon training plan, we've been joking about her "Birthday Half Marathon."  There were no local races so we just decided to run our own half marathon route, the two of us.  As a surprise, some other friends of ours and I invited a lot of people to join, brought Jess's husband and kids in on the surprise, created signs for the route, a lunch afterwards, cupcakes, and race shirts!!  Some of the details are below on the signs & shirts (oh, and as a side note, #TeamBABU that you might have seen on my Instagram is what our group calls ourselves, but it's not exclusive and anyone is welcome to join!  BABU is an acronym that stands for "Building A Better Us")  Although silly, #TeamBABU has become a bit of a slogan and doesn't just have to do with running, or weight loss, but anything to help build a better version of yourself!

Jess didn't know any of it was happening and the surprises started when we showed up for the run in our shirts, and then when more and more people started to show up to join!  It was great to celebrate a friend's birthday in such a fun way and pull off a great surprise.  However, let me fill in the details on the run itself.

So the snow started an hour or so before we planned to start running (10:30 a.m.) and the conditions and roads worsened as I drove North to Saratoga where we were doing the run.  I was really, really nervous about the run and the conditions.  I get really scared about slipping and the last thing I want to do is hurt myself.  I'd started to have shin pains from running on the ice and running funny because of snow a couple weeks ago, and I didn't want that to happen again and I did not want to slip and fall.  Plus, running on the snow is HARD.  I wrote about how I did one mile of beach running in San Diego, but running on snow is almost just as hard.

We decided to run in our Yak Trax because the roads were all totally slippery and covered in snow, even when driving.  The sidewalks and roads were in various states of being plowed, but it was very rare to be running right on pavement.  The first 4.5 miles went okay, I definitely was hanging in the back a little bit (that's me in the tutu.)

Once we got into Saratoga State Park we ran on ice.  Black ice covered in snow.  It was terrible and you needed to brace every step and do your best to find even footing.  The run through the park was the worst part of it which was probably from 4.5-10ish miles.  There was absolutely no clear ground.  We were either running on pure ice, inches of snow, the side of the road with random tire tracks and plowed snow, etc.  A lot of the road and areas we were running on had previously been plowed and or covered in snow layer over layer so none of the footing was secure.  Every step my ankles felt wobbly and I didn't know if I would have even footing underneath me.  Plus, when I went to take a drink of water, I realized that the water in my water bottles had  turned to ice!  I didn't even think that would be possible being so close to my body with the heat I was generating but I guess it was that cold!  It definitely was tough to not have any water.  I was so thirsty and so uneasy about the conditions and footing.  I am used to flat pavement runs.

A couple of the runners we started with had dropped off earlier.. one at 3.5 miles and one at about 4.  There were 4 of us going into the park and at about 5 miles we ran by Jess's husband and kids who were out cheering with signs (part of the surprise!)  Things started to get a bit stop and go at this point.  We stopped to give out hugs and then we stopped at around 6 miles because we got lost.  I used these opportunities to snap a few pictures.

Do you recognize where that last picture is?  Yep, that would be Saratoga Performing Arts Center, where I hadn't been since the warm summer months when we went to the ballet, orchestra, John Mayer concert, etc.  It was weird seeing it so deserted and SNOWY!  If it weren't so miserable out, I totally would have loved to run around and play on the stage or something but at this point in the run, I was already starting to think, "Oh my god, am I going to make it to the end of this run?"

When we were running through the park I felt like we were doing a snow covered trail run.  Aubrey dropped off from the run at around 6.5 miles and it was shortly after that I began walking a little bit.  I took a short walking break and then kept going again.  I walked up a couple of hills as well.  I am serious when I say that I really, really did not want to finish running and was very seriously contemplating stopping.

I kept thinking through my mind that I could just call Aubrey and have her pick me up.  I could just stop running.  I could just not finish this run.  Not continue training for the marathon.  Just stop running on that stupid snowy trail and never run again.

It sounded incredibly appealing and it was so hard to keep going.  I knew I would be embarrassed to have to do that in front of my friends.  I already felt embarrassed because I was taking walk breaks and the others were waiting for me.  I honestly wanted to cry and almost did but I think sucked it in because I didn't want my tears to freeze to my face.

At about 9 miles we broke out of the untouched roads in the path and were back to running mostly on the slushy snow packed sides of the road.  However, there was a small blessing of the fact that I called Aubrey at around 8.5 and asked if she could meet us with water.  We had a huge cheering fan/stop around 9 miles where Jess and I chugged a water bottle each and I had a couple of my Gu Chews, which I hadn't eaten because of the lack of water (you are supposed to eat them with water.)  We also got a new runner at mile 9 to finish with us.

For the next 4 miles, it was kind of fun because we had a few carloads of people who were tracking us along the run and continued to stop and cheer for us and see if we needed anything.  Also, when it got to 4 miles left, I knew I was going to force myself finish, but I also made the decision to walk at times.  I decided at every mile I would allow myself a walk break for about 1/10 of a mile.  I did that for the last 3 miles of the run at the 10, 11, and 12 mile marks.  Hence, I would often get really far behind everyone and then they would walk and wait for me, which I honestly felt really embarrassed and terrible about.

When we finally got to 13 miles we had a nice group of people waiting for us and a ribbon for Jess to run through as the winner of the birthday blizzard half marathon!

I was sooo happy to be done and get out of the snow.

We got lunch at Druther's in Saratoga where I had a burger on gluten free bread, some greens, some fruit, the frosting off of a cupcake, a cider, chocolate milk, tea, and water (yes, a lot of beverages!)  It was actually kind of funny because there were some kids in our group who had all gotten chocolate milks and when I later ordered one, they brought it out in a little kids sippy cup :) I said it was fine but the waiter insisted on sending it back and getting me a "grown up" chocolate milk.  It was all delicious!  (I was also able to watch Syracuse hit a 19-0 record in basketball, woohoo!!)

The burger was really good and totally hit the spot.  I had a bit of a stomach ache going into the restaurant and it took me a little bit to get an appetite.  I think I was so drained and so cold, and it was hard to warm up because I still had my sweaty clothing on.  So my hunger didn't hit for a bit because I wasn't feel well, but once I felt better the hunger came and once it was there, it was THERE.  It didn't leave for the rest of the day!!!  I ate all of my food and stayed hungry for the rest of the day.

After having an amazingly glorious shower at my Aubrey's house, my friends and I continued North to Jess's family's camp for the evening.  As a side note, I also showered at Aubrey's after the hot and sweaty 4th of July run we did in Saratoga.  I joked with her that I've had some of the best showers in my life at her house, which is totally true.  After that hot sweaty run in July, it was so nice to clean off, and after this freezing run, it felt great to get warm and then change into cozy clothes!

We went about an hour north to the cutest, coziest little home where there is no cell phone service, no WiFi, and no TV.  For the rest of the night we got cozy on the couch drinking champagne, wine, playing Rummy, laughing, talking, and enjoying a delicious dinner that Jess made of pork, kale, and quinoa and celebrating the birthday girl.  I went back for like 2nd and 3rd servings of food and could have kept going but I forced myself to stop.  Oh, and I also ate the frosting off another cupcake :)

I have to say that even though I walked throughout this training run and our time for the half marathon was about 2:35:08 (it took us longer to complete it overall, because I stopped my Garmin watch a few times), I felt really proud of myself.  Because my mental state has been a bit off this week and because of my serious doubts about whether or not I could finish in today's conditions, I felt really proud that I had stuck it out.  However, I started to doubt all of that because my legs weren't as sore as maybe they should have been last night or today.  My friends were talking about how sore their legs were and mine felt tired, for sure, but not as sore as maybe they should have been.  So, should I have pushed harder? Maybe I should not have given myself permission to walk?  I'm not sure.  Last night I started to feel a lot of self doubt and angry at myself for walking, which is such a different feeling from the PRIDE that I had felt towards finishing earlier in the day. I hate when this happens and I don't know if I should be proud or disappointed and end up just feeling angry at myself.  I'm not exactly sure why I went from proud to disappointed in myself and questioning what I did.  But maybe I should have pushed harder?  Maybe I can do more than I think?  This week I want to really fight to get my mindset back on track.  I don't like the mental slips I've been making and it scares me because there is no way I can finish a marathon if I keep thinking this way.  Right now, maybe I am being too lenient.  Ugh, I don't know!!

Anyways, despite my craziness, last night was a lot of fun and a perfect way to end the day. I know I've said it before, but I am so thankful to have great friends here that challenge me, push me, laugh and be silly with me, and include me in their families and lives.  I feel very blessed with the connections I've made!  People that accept me even when I act like a total dork!

Morning in Minerva
This morning I head back to Albany early and spent the day being productive... errands, laundry, cleaning, organizing, cooking, etc.  All of the usual Sunday suspects that I feel help me get ready for the week ahead.  I've got some fun recipes to share with you that I tried today but I want to close off here because this is a long post as it is and I've got some stuff to do!  I hope that you had a really nice weekend and a lovely start to your week.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Running for beer.

Hey guys, happy Saturday morning!  It's just a quick little update from me this morning as I've got to head off to do my weekend long run.  On the agenda this weekend is supposed to be a half marathon race but there aren't any local half marathons this FRIGID time of year, so we're just making up our own.  PLUS, it is my marathon running partner Jess's birthday.  Happy Birthday Coach!!!  But more on that later ;)

The past couple of days have been a little more of the same.  I have been tracking my points every day, eating healthy as best I can.  I made the decision to abandon the scale for a little bit and maybe do once a month weigh ins?  I haven't been on the scale since before the holidays and I am going to weigh myself on February 1st and then (hopefully) not again until March 1st.  I have a pair of pants that I want to fit me so they are my "goal pants" that I will use to track any weight loss progress that may come.  I have never worn these pants before and would love to get them to fit, but there is a ways to go.  I took a couple pictures of where I am right now, but I am definitely not brave enough right now to post it for you guys.  I'm sorry!  Maybe when/if there is some progress I might feel better about it.  However, right now it's just a picture of me busting out of the top of a pair of pants I can't even button.

I've also still been struggling to get excited about my workouts.  I am still doing them.  I did one of our Tough Mudder workouts on Thursday morning with the girls.

Friday we switched our morning run to an evening run.  We met AT a local bar, parked there, ran a 3-mile out and back route, and proceeded immediately to enter the bar for beers.  Yup, it was pretty spectacular.  Minus the fact that ermagawd, it is so cold.  My feet felt like blocks of stone they were frozen solid and I was glad I had my new sneakers on because the ground was so ridiculously hard it felt tough.  Our out and back route was mostly uphill then mostly downhill, so I think for the first run in my life, we did it with negative splits.  We also had the promise of beer waiting for us at the bottom of the hill.

It's totally normal to go to the bar in full reflective gear and with your face frozen, right?  Oh, and don't worry, I stuck with my gluten free-ness.  I tried a gluten free beer for the first time -- and I wasn't a fan.  I will stick with my cider and wine, thank you very much.

Well, I just ate myself some breakfast -- which was a delicious 2 gluten free waffles with lots of cut up bananas and strawberries and a tiny drizzle of some maple syrup.  I have been eating a waffle with fruit for breakfast all week and they really hit the spot.  Today I did 2 and added a little syrup because I am about to go run 13.1!

I'll check in later with a hopefully fun recap of the half marathon run.  It will be the most I have ever run outside of a race, and the temperatures here are still brutal, and the we are expecting snow.  So, it could be quite an interesting run to report on.  Happy Saturday and Happy Birthday to Coach B!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Searching for the runner and bloggers high.

Yesterday when I was at work, I had so many thoughts going through my head that I wanted to write about.  I was at work (duh) so I obviously couldn't take the time to flush out entries and really put all my thoughts into words but I was so excited to write the posts that were flowing through my head.

I had evening plans with a friend so I wasn't able to write exactly when I got home from work because I had to eat quick and head out the door.  (And as a side note, I had 2 cups of Trader Joe's Low Sodium Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup, with a little salt and italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese added, plus a side salad.)

However, we'd planned to not stay out late (#wearegettingold) in advance so I knew I could probably write when I got home.  Then I got caught up with phone calls and text messages and doing all sorts of random other things and I didn't have time to write.

So I decided that tonight was going to be a "reading and writing" date night with myself.  I knew I wanted to cook when I got home, and then I figured I'd have hours and hours to write not only the blog entries I wanted to write yesterday, but also updates and some other random things I've wanted to write about.  However, I worked a little later than I thought, and then I cooked for a while, which I enjoyed, and then I went to write and nothing came to my mind.  And so I first wrote out the recipe that I cooked tonight, and still however, nothing came to mind and I can't remember what those totally epic and awesome blog entries I wanted to share with you.  However, I swear, they were totally epic and awesome.  And deep.  Many, they were deep.  It was some philosophical stuff that I was thinking!  Ugh.  I hate when that happens.  I love the feeling of getting thoughts on paper (or computer?) and I am struggling to write things that seem at all meaningful lately.

Anyways, the past two days have been very good but holy heck they have VERY COLD!!!  I know it's lame and everyone is talking about how cold it is and we should all just shut up, blah blah blah.  But, ugh, it is SO cold.  I saw Runner's World post this to Facebook yesterday and it totally made me laugh.  Maybe because I have not only been having the thoughts lately of "Why did I sign up for a marathon?!?!" but also, "Why did I sign up for a SPRING marathon?!?!"

Being drunk might have made some sense, but I don't even have that as an excuse.  What was I thinking?!?

Things are starting to get into scary territory with marathon training.  I did 12 miles on Sunday.  And in my half marathon training plans, the 12 mile run was the cumulation of the training.  From there you tapered down a week and then did your race.  By the time the 12 week training run took place -- you were pretty much there.  Time to celebrate, so close to the goal.  You finished training.  But holy heck, man!  We aren't even CLOSE!  We aren't even half way through or into the tough stuff yet!  I did 12 miles on Sunday and then 3 miles on Tuesday and then 6 miles this morning!

Yesterday morning as I ran on the treadmill and did my "Tough Mudder" workout with my friends I felt so tired.  And it was so cold in the morning.  I suddenly had this thought that I later felt guilty about, I thought, "Ugh I wish I could just never work out again in my life."  I didn't get the workout "high" that day and I just felt terrible after exercising.

To be honest, too, it scared me a little bit that those thoughts could creep up into my head.  Lately I've been feeling pretty good that exercise is now just a part of my life.  I don't make it an "option" it is just something I do.  It is very common to hear me talking about how I "have to" run rather than "Oh, I want to run in the morning."  It's because I have found that if I make it something that is just a part of my routine, like brushing my teeth, than it is much easier to cut out of my life.  Especially while traveling.  I like having a training plan with numbers on each day because it does give me something that I "have to" do that day.  I thought that I had reached a point where I was good with the exercise and just needed to continue to work the battle to eat right.  It really scared me that I still had the ability to have the thought, "I just never want to do this again." go through my head.  Even now, when I write this, I am trying to rush myself to finish the entry so I can go to bed because I need to get up in the AM and work out.  It does sound tempting to just think, "I'm no longer going to do "working out" thing and just stay up late playing on the internet and sleep in a little later."  So I won't lie, yesterday did through me off a little bit with how crummy I felt and the "workout high" than never came.

I haven't given up yet though.  This morning I met my friends at the gym and I had a 6 mile run on the training agenda.  SIX miles after just doing 12 on Sunday.  I don't think I've fun that much so close to each other before.  As I mentioned, in the past after the 12 mile was a taper, and I usually took a break after the races from running.

However, I pushed myself this morning and "raced the treadmill" as I told my friends, playing my own little mind game shifting around the speeds between 6.0 and 6.8 and the height between 0.0 and 1.5.  Just those small shifts in pace and speed helped break up the 1 hour boring treadmill run.  As well as having my friends there to talk to and cheer me on!  One of my friends snapped my picture without me noticing and told me that she took a picture for the blog.  I posed for the next one and decided to still share them both here.  Normally I would only have posted the second one, because ugh, my arm in that first shot is scary.

And then, oh hey!  I spotted you!

I felt good after the run and was proud of myself for pushing through it.  I didn't feel good when I started but by the end I had that "runner's high" back and it was great.  Plus, do you see my new sneakers flashing by in the treadmill pics?  First day breaking them in!

So yah, I am feeling really good about the exercise and eating I've been doing this week.  However, it's hard to keep that high for too long nowadays because it is so stinking cold!  My god, it is so cold!!!  I wanted to run some errands over lunch today and it literally took me 20 minutes to psych myself up to go run outside to my car.  And then when I got into it, I looked like this.

That picture of me in my car just cracked me up a little bit and I wanted to share it.  Plus, I kinda think my makeup looks good there and I am vain.  There I said it.  #Realness.

Do I need to tell you when I am being real?  Is that necessary?  I guess it sort of comes out because I go to write something that I realize is not actually true and then I correct myself.  Like, I went to write a little reason why I was randomly including a picture of me with a funny face, bundled up in my car.  I wanted to say, "Oh I was reversing the camera to check if I had anything in my teeth or if my hair was okay and accidentally snapped this."  But um, that is totally false.  I took a selfie and didn't really look at it and stored it on my phone.  Then a few minutes ago when I was e-mailing myself pictures to include in this post, I thought, "Hey, I kinda like my skin in this picture, I'd like to include it."

Sooo... that's me.  But, you did get the fat arm picture too, so do I even out for vanity for the day? One bad pic for one good pic?  Do they cancel out?  I hope so!

Happy Hump Day everyone, I hope that you enjoy the stuffed pepper recipe I posted a little while ago!  My streak is now on 4 days of tracking and eating right according to Weight Watchers points.  Hoping to keep it going!

P.S. and Side Note:  I just wanted to mention somewhere in here that I have no planked for 2 minutes and 30 seconds nonstop two different times.  Craziness!

Quinoa and sausage stuffed peppers

This must be your lucky week or something because you are getting another recipe!  However, I probably make up for any points I earned by having truly horrific-ly bad photos in this post.  My apologies!  Today, I could not wait to get home from work and just cook a new recipe.  I had bought some quinoa a week or so ago and bought some things at the grocery store to make a quinoa stuffed pepper.  For some reason that just seemed appealing to me.  I wasn't entirely positive what I was going to do with it, but I knew the flavors I wanted so I just threw this together and am so happy with how it came out.  It was delicious and I'm excited to play around with quinoa some more!!

Quinoa and Sausage Stuffed Peppers
Serves 5 (Weight Watchers PP: 6 per serving)

- 1 small onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 small tub thing of baby bella mushrooms
- 1/2 lb ground Hot Italian Sausage (not in casings)
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1/4 cup fat free mozzarella cheese (optional)
- 1 1/2 cup fat free chicken broth
- 3 red bell peppers
- Salt and pepper
- Thyme (optional)

Step 1: Finely chop the small onion and then spray a medium sized soup pot with nonstick spray and add the onions.  Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent.  If the onions begin to stick to the pot, add a little bit of the chicken broth.  One of the 1/2 cups of broth is just for adding to the onion, garlic and mushroom while you cook that.  Feel free to use as needed!

Step 2: While onion is cooking finely chop the garlic and then add to the pot.  Stir onions and garlic to be sure they are cooking evenly.

Step 3: Loosely chop the sliced mushrooms into small pieces, add to the pot with garlic and onions and a little chicken broth if needed to keep the food from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  Add some salt and better and cook down.  The mushrooms will release some liquid as they cook down and are salted.  Cook until most liquid has evaporated.

Step 4: Add the italian sausage to the pot with mushrooms, garlic and onion.  Chop up the sausage into small pieces, cook until all is brown and fully incorporate together with the vegetables.  Turn heat to low and set aside.  So, at this point, I tried the mixture and I felt like it needed some other flavor -- some sort of fresh green herb I felt.  I had on hand, fresh thyme, so I threw some in to the mixture.  You totally don't need to do this or a bit of parsley or oregano would be good too.  However, even though I used thyme because it was what I had, I actually really liked how the earthiness of it added to the mixture.

Step 5: In a separate small pot, combine 1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa with 1 cup of chicken broth.  Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until quinoa has absorbed the broth and then you can fluff it up and combine it with the sausage & veggie mixture. Side note: this was the first time in my life I cooked quinoa and I was put off a little bit because it smelled kind of funny.  But just move past that and keep going :)

Step 6: Cut 3 red bell peppers in half and remove seeds and veins.  Put 5 of the halves in a small microwave safe dish with a 3/4 a cup of water in the bottom.  Cover in saran wrap and microwave for 6 minutes.  Eat the other half of the bell pepper.

Step 7: When the bell peppers are out of the microwave, make sure they are dried off from the water, and lay on a baking sheet.  Divide the filling into the 5 pepper halves, making sure to use it all and stuff it all in there!!

Step 8 (optional):  Top each of the peppers with a sprinkle of fat free Parmesan cheese

Step 9: Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes

Step 10: Enjoy!!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK Day and Enchilada Casserole Recipe

Hi everyone, I hope that everyone who also had a day off today was able to enjoy it with some family and friends -- or at least have a productive and relaxing day!  For those of you who had to work today, I hope that you had a great start to your work week.

I wanted to take a moment in the beginning of this post to include something about Martin Luther King Jr. Day and why we have this day off.  A few great articles to read today came from the Daily Kos and from The Atlantic, so please take a few moments to check them out!

Anyways, I spent my day catching up on things on my To Do list that had gotten long while I was out of town.  I went to the running store to pick up some new sneakers as I noticed during my run yesterday that my knees were hurting, which means it is time for new kicks for me.  As the woman at the running store laced the shoes onto my feet to try them on (even though I get the same brand & size over and over...) I suddenly had the thought, "These are the sneakers I am going to be wearing when I run a marathon."

Holy smokes, right???  It definitely gave me the chills when that thought hit my head.  So, without further ado, the sneakers that will come with me to Paris and carry me 26.2 are...

I also stopped at the eye glasses store (is that what they are called? it sounds weird...) to see if my glasses could be salvaged and I could stop wearing them looking like this in the evenings:

Creepy photo.  Sorry about that.  But you get the point, one-sided glasses may work for some (Mr. Peanut?) but not for me.  However, turns out they are goners.  They would have to replace the whole frame, so that to me, meant time for new glasses!  I tried on about 500 pairs, including some mens pairs as I accidentally wandered into that section.  Did you guys know Harley Davidson makes eyeglasses?  Because they do.  And I tried some on today.

Anyways, I picked out a pair that I am pretty happy with and I finally realized that they were the ones to get when I realized I was taking nonstop selfies.

Well, I also texted them to the best shopping partner in the world and she approved.  We all have friends like that, right?  Some that are great for shopping because they will give you really good opinions and feedback?  Well, they got approved by Meaggie and by the selfie police, so I am good to go.  I will share a real picture once I get them in, which shouldn't be for a couple of weeks.

I also did some random other errands today, attended another Nia class (love it!), had my amazing friend help me with some car work, and did some cooking for the week.

I have been eyeing this "Bubble Up Enchilada" recipe on the Emily Bites blog for a while and wanting to try it.  Plus, after having Mexican food in San Diego, I just want more and more of it.  I modified Emily's recipe and combined it with some gluten free enchilada recipes I found online and made my own gluten free enchilada recipe, which I will include below.  It was soooo delicious, I actually ate 1.5 servings of it today, one when it was out of the oven and one for dinner.  I'm taking it for lunch tomorrow too.  The recipe is below, and don't make fun of the fact that I made it into 6.5 servings... it was the best way to make the numbers for the points work!  Plus, I wanted to eat some right away and didn't want a full serving.  This recipe you can do a ton with, so I am excited about it.  But it's really easy.  When I eat this for dinner I will be eating it with a small side salad of mixed greens because there is definitely a lack of veggies here, so just take note of that.

Before I get to the recipe I will say that I am proud that I spent another day eating on track to my points!  I am not going to post my food every single day, but if you're ever curious, just ask. Duh!  Now, on to the foods!!!  Happy Monday everyone!

Recipe: Enchilada Casserole
6.5 servings at 8 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving (4 for the 1/2)

1.4 lbs lean ground beef (I used 94% lean)
15 oz can of tomato sauce
10 oz. can of enchilada sauce (make sure it is gluten free if that's what you're going for!)
15.5 oz. can of black beans
1 cup of Fat Free cheese (I used mozzarella because I couldn't find cheddar)
10 taco sized corn tortillas

Step 1: Brown the ground beef on the stove top and drain any excess oil.
Step 2: Add the enchilada sauce, tomato sauce, and drained black beans to the beef.
Step 3: In a nonstick pan, crisp the corn tortillas on both sides and then lay half of them across the bottom of an 9x17 inch pan (I think that's what I used...)
Step 4: Spread half of the meat and bean mixture across the corn tortillas, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the cheese
Step 5: Layer the rest of the corn tortillas on top, and then add the other half of the meat and bean mixture and the other 1/2 cup of cheese.
Step 6: Cover in tinfoil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, remove the tinfoil and cook another 10 minutes until cheese melts.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Relaxation and a 12 mile run.

So that title pretty much sums up my day.  I could probably just post that and no words and you'd probably get the jist of my day, but I'll keep going in more detail.  Because that's how I roll.

I literally remember my mom asking me what happened in an episode of Friends when I was younger and I started going into excessive detail explaining the episode.  She was like, "Uhhh, Kate, I just need like a 2-sentence recap."  This is when I first learned of my tendency to be incredibly verbose.  Probably why I like blogging, because I can write as much as I want and you can't do anyyyything about it!

I slept in this morning and had a hard time pulling myself out of bed at about 10:30.  In my defense, I was 3 hours behind because I returned from the West Coast yesterday!  I stretched out a bit and had some breakfast, which isn't my norm for pre-running but I knew I needed a well fueled system for my 12 mile run today.  I had some breakfast which consisted of yogurt, gluten gree granola, lots of freeze dried fruit, and some chia seeds.

Once it digested and I suited up, I head out on my run!  We received a couple inches of snow last night and it was that awkward amount of snow where nobody is really going to shovel their walkways and will just wait for it to melt. However, being that it was just the morning after, the sidewalks were all still pretty much covered with compact snow.  I also had been out running in warm weather for the past week and was nervous about returning to cold weather running with a 12-miler.

As soon as I started running I had that terrible feeling of running in the cold where it hurts your chest.  I hadn't felt that way at all running so far this winter so I was really nervous that it was going to be a terrible run.  However, luckily, it went away after a couple of miles.

The run went well, but it was definitely chilly and the packed snow was tough.  I tried to mentally think of the run as four 3-mile runs and just tried to get myself through one at a time.  I definitely needed to talk myself through a lot of the run and found myself repeating mantras, which I haven't done in a while, but helps me at times.

When I was running through some of the hillier parts of the run today I found myself using the mantra I used in the Nashville Half Marathon of "Survive the hills. Pace the race. You're finishing this thing."  Since it wasn't a race, I switched it to "Pace the run."  My mom had sent me a text message of encouragement where she told me to just pick a comfortable pace and do my best.  It's funny, when I was reusing that mantra, I started thinking about that Nashville race and how amazing it felt to finish it.  I seriously could have lived off of that high forever.  I didn't believe I could accomplish that, and it was such a defining moment in my life when I did.  I started getting choked up a little bit during the run today thinking about it.  It reminded me of this image I saw on Facebook the other day that says "I never knew how strong I was until I became a runner."

Although I still have a hard time really calling myself a runner, this couldn't be more true for me.  So during the run today I started telling myself, "Your legs are strong. Your legs are powerful. YOU are strong. YOU are powerful." over and over.

It took me 2:08:48 BUT I finished the 12 miles today and felt really accomplished afterwards!

The 12 miles was the major accomplishment/plan of the day.  I spent the rest of the day relaxing, doing some grocery shopping, watching football, and cleaning up my apartment a bit.  Tomorrow I've got some more cleaning to do, cooking with that food I bought, errands to run (need to fix those broken glasses!) and on my run today I realized that I need new sneakers.   So busy agenda!

And finally -- I am happy to report that I tracked everything I ate today on my Weight Watchers app because now that I'm home I really need to get back in gear.  I ate +12 points today but according to the app, I earned 25 points running.  So I'm pretty happy that I didn't do what I usually do in, "Since I ran today, I can eat the whole world!" and am hoping to string together a few more positive days in a row.  I do not want to rip myself out of my pants in the future!

Today's Eats (for the record...):
Yogurt, granola & fruit -- 10 pts
Apple with 1.5 tbs of almond butter -- 4 pts
Kind Bar -- 6 pts
Big salad with veggies, grilled chicken, olive oil & vinegar -- 9 pts
Angry Orchard hard cider -- 6 pts
2 cups Trader Joe's popcorn -- 4 pts