Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Well now, that wasn't so bad.

It turns out that I actually CAN run a sub 25:00 5K.
(24:48, to be exact)
Yup.  Who knew?
Got on the treadmill and ran one this afternoon, in fact.

Honestly, I didn't even want to run today.
(Molding the minds of seven 3 1/2 year olds for four hours wore me slick.)  

So, by the time I got into my car to leave for the gym I just sat there for a few minutes, trying to convince myself that I should still go.  Since I know that I've never regretted a workout, I was able to pull it together and do the right thing.  I wasn't going to have a very long time to run, so I figured pushing the speed would help me get in some more miles.  It was the perfect opportunity to try to string together those three (very separate) 8:00 miles I'd done on Monday.  

And, right here, I want to stop and thank Jenn at Running Sane for
commenting on Monday that she didn't think a 25:00 minute 5K
was out of the realm of possibility for me.
To have someone who is SO FREAKIN' FAST say that kind of lit a fire under me.

I'm also starting to realize that a lot of getting "better" (i.e. getting faster and being able to run farther) is

being willing to really challenge yourself.

And by "challenging yourself" I mean attempting things that might seem kind of ridiculous to you at first.  Because the closer you get to those things, the less ridiculous, and the more realistic they seem.  But, you have to be willing to put yourself out there.  That's hard for me since I'm not a person who likes to push myself to do things that may be uncomfortable.  I am also (*shockingly*) not all that fond of pain!

"I don't think you can become an outstanding runner unless you get a certain amount of enjoyment out of the suffering. You have to enjoy absorbing it, controlling it and—ultimately—overcoming it."—Derek Clayton in The Masters of the Marathon

I read that quote about a month ago and thought to myself that being an "outstanding" runner just might not be for me!  But, I think there can be a healthy mid-point between not pushing your limits at all and "enjoyment of suffering".  I don't know that I'll ever really enjoy the suffering, but I hope that I'm able to keep pushing myself beyond where I'm comfortable.  Because, really, that's the only way to get better.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Weekend in Pictures and Blogger Sighting!

So, this is what happens when my son and I play with the magnetic letters on the fridge.  We were trying to use as many of the letters as possible, and this is what we came up with.  We had a good laugh about it, but sometimes I wonder how my kids will ever have any decorum!!

The kids and I made a trip to Whole Foods on Friday.  While we were there I picked up some organic strawberries (pictured on the left).  The next day I bought some more strawberries (pictured on the right) at the grocery store, non-organic this time.  I had to laugh at the startling difference between the two.  Good grief, are the strawberries on the right what we've come to expect?!

After a week of making some very so-so meals (think boxed mac-n-cheese or scrambled eggs for dinner), Saturday night I made grilled asian-marinated salmon, sauteed spinach with tomatoes and onions and toasted pine nut couscous.  It was pretty darn yummy, if I do say so myself.

The kids set out their baskets for the Easter bunny, and they thought Jeremy and I should have ours out too.  You know, because we need the candy.

My son spent a good portion of Saturday evening looking out the window for the Easter bunny...I thought it was pretty sweet.

My daughter thought she should lay out a "cot" for the Easter bunny.  She figured he/she must get pretty tired hopping all over the world all night long, and might want to take a rest.  Our dog, Penny, thought it was pretty comfy.

After I took a picture of my son looking out the window, my daughter wanted to make sure I took a picture of her too.  What a ham.

On Saturday night, my husband turned our kitchen into a brewery.  I think he was in heaven.  I, on the other hand, thought it made the house very, very, VERY stinky.

All that brewing stuff takes up a lot of space.

Hmmmm.  Looks...yummy?

Somehow, I neglected to take any pictures on Easter.  I did, however, let my son snap a few shots.  I guess this is what happens when you let your almost-five-year-old son use the camera.

While I didn't take any pictures of our Easter meal, here's the leftover roasted asparagus (and some leftover salmon) that I put on my salad for lunch today.  It was gooood.
Saturday morning's run was so awesome!  My friend Karen and I ran 7 miles, and we both felt really good.  It was cloudy and cool, and not too windy for once--perfect running weather.  Her Garmin said we'd gone as fast as 6:28 during the run (probably on a downhill and for like 15 seconds, but still!), and our last half mile was at a 6:58 pace.  WHAT?!  That's definitely the fastest I've ever run, and it was even at a slight incline.  Pretty excited about that.  We also got passed by a local cycling club during our run.  I wish I'd had my camera with me because near the back of the pack of cyclists were three guys on roller blades!  That's a new one...

So, I think I've mentioned that Jim from 50...after 40 and Michael from Slowly Tri-ing live in the same town as I do.  A while back I realized that Jim and I also go to the same gym, and I wondered if we'd ever actually run into each other.  I go to the gym at pretty odd times, so I wasn't sure if our paths would ever cross.  But, he said if I ever saw him to rip out his earbuds and say hello.  Well, I didn't exactly rip his earbuds out, but I did say hello when I realized who he was today.  It was great to be able to congratulate him in person on his awesome Boston Marathon finish (PR!), and we got to talk for a few minutes about some local races.  He gave me some good advice on the Hospital Hill (10K) race that's coming up in June--I appreciated that.  And, I was able to send my good wishes to Michael who's running a half in Oklahoma this weekend.  So cool!

So, it was fun to meet Jim, but here are a couple reasons why Jim might think I'm a dork now:

1.  When discussing how he and his daughter had done the Groundhog Run (a KC race run in underground tunnels) last year, I asked "so, when is the Groundhog Run?"  He very patiently and politely said "Groundhog Day".  Hmmm, yes, that would explain calling it the Groundhog Run...good grief.

2.  It's possible that I may have had a booger hanging out of my nose while we were talking.

3.  There was something else dorky that I did or said, that my brain is now blocking out.

Anyway, it was good to meet you, Jim!
Today's run was on the treadmill.  It's actually been a while since I've run on the treadmill.  It was a good opportunity for me to work a bit on speed.  I was able to do three separate 8 minute miles.  PHEW.  It was pretty tough, and I was sweating to beat the band.  (Did I mention that I looked like a drowned rat when I ran into Jim?  I don't even want to THINK about how I smelled.)  And, while I was able to run the three 8 minute miles, I did take some short walk breaks in between.  I'd love to get to where I could string these together and run a 5K in under 25:00.

Well, it's time to pack the lunches!  Hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Where I'm at these days...

See, the problem with going so long between posts is that everything I've wanted to write about becomes a big jumbled mess in my head.  Then I get overwhelmed and just scrap it.  Then I go even longer between posts...and, well, you can see where this is going.  When I'm feeling overwhelmed by things in my day-to-day life I usually end up putting everything down on a list.  Seeing everything in a numbered or bulleted list makes it all seem so much more managable, and gives my brain a chance to release everything it's been trying to hold on to.  So, I'm just going to throw everything out there in bullets tonight!
  • Floating Away: Since watching 'Food Matters' I've really been trying to drink A LOT more water.  I'm terrible about drinking enough water as it is, so this is kind of a challenge for me.  This guy on the documentary talked about how important it is to make water the FIRST THING you put into your body every day--before coffee, before OJ, before tea, and definitely before any food.  He talked about how, even if you're eating really healthy, nutritious food, your body can't absorb those nutrients if you haven't prepared the way by flushing out any toxins that were in your digestive system.  He also discussed the importance of flushing the colon...but, I don't think I'm quite ready for that.
Speaking of flushing the colon, I swiped this photo from SUAR's blog.  I've heard of people doing this during races, but kind of thought it was more urban legend than anything.  Um, yeah, guess not.  EWWWW!
  • Speaking of SUAR's blog, I have SO loved reading all of the Boston Marathon race reports.  It's kind of funny because running a marathon, let alone the Boston Marathon, has always been really far off my radar.  It's been one of those things that I've always catagorized as plain ol' crazy, in the same way that I think jumping out of a plane or eating chocolate covered bugs is crazy.  But, as I've gotten farther into reading some of these amazing running blogs, and after reading some of the incredible recaps of the Boston Marathon, it seems a lot less crazy and a whole lot more awesome than it ever did before.  I'm not saying I'm going to do it myself.  But, I'm not saying I'm not either...
  • That being said, I haven't done much in the way of racing, well, ever really.  There's two races coming up this year in Kansas City that I'm interested in doing.  June 4th (I think) is the very well-known (locally, at least) Hospital Hill Race.  They have a 5K, 10K and a half.  I'm thinking about doing the 10K.  It's a distance that I know I could do even at my current fitness/training level, so I could actually work on a time goal.  Then, on October 15th is the KC Marathon/Half.  This would be a great time of the year for a half.  I'd have plenty of time to train and work to get a finish time under 2 hours.  There!  That feels good to get some goals down in black and white.
  • So, FOOD.  Watching 'Food Matters' has also got me thinking about my newest kitchen appliance obsession:  a VitaMix blender.  Hmmm.  If only they didn't cost $500!!  Do you like the blurry picture I've provided you with?  Figured you would.
  • Yesterday's run: I found a new outdoor, paved loop.  I did 6.5 windy, hilly miles and my hip flexors are feelin' it today.  Part of the loop was a little secluded for my comfort level, so I probably won't do that one again by myself.  I found myself looking over my shoulder a lot.
  • Last Friday I went to the gym with the intention of running on the treadmill, but when I got there I just couldn't face getting on that thing.  So, I hemmed and hawed about what to do.  The spin class was just about to start and there was a bike free, so I coaxed myself into walking through the door and getting on the bike.  It was such a last minute decision that I forgot to bring my sweat towel in with me.  Thank goodness I had my water bottle with me.  It was a KILLER class.  Pretty sure the class ended about 3 minutes before I would've puked.  That class kind of makes me want to cry.  Strangely, I haven't been sore afterwards the two times I've taken it.
  • I've felt like I've been operating in a sort of 'fog' this week.  You know, where you feel like you just can't quite clear your head or focus fully on anything or be truly present in any moment.  It's been driving me crazy!!  This evening, we ordered Chinese take-out (since there was pretty much nothing to make for dinner in our house).  After we ate, an impromptu game of what we termed "Chinese Tabletop Football" broke out after we'd opened our fortune cookies.  My daughter folded her fortune into a tiny triangle and started flicking it between the two take-out boxes.  My son followed suit.  Chinese Tabletop Football; it was a nice moment of clarity for me.  See?  Right through the take-out box uprights.

And, with my daughter's hand in your face, I'll end this random bulleted post.  Phew!  It felt good to get some of that out of my head.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Falling Off The Map.

Yeah, I know.  Where the heck did I go?!  I've been a little more than absent in the blog department.  I wouldn't be so arrogant as to think that people were out there just chomping at the bit waiting to read my every word.  But, I'm sure you missed me just the same, right?  Anyway, here I go jumping back into the world of blogging:

***Hi!  I'd like to take this opportunity to (re)introduce myself.  My name is Lisa and I like to blog about my life; mostly the parts where I'm either eating, running or finding spiritual fulfillment.  Although, you'd hardly know it with my lack of blogging as of late, huh?  I just had to let the blogging go for a little while.  I'm sure you all understand.  Anyway, it's been almost TWO WEEKS since my last post--you know, the one where I left you with a picture of my big cheesy grin.  So, I guess it's time to do some catching up...***

On Sunday, April 3rd, I ran the first leg of the Brew to Brew Relay; a 44-mile race from Boulevard Brewery (yum) in Kansas City, KS to Freestate Brewery (yum) in Lawrence, KS.  I was part of a team of 10 runners.  There are people who run this race by themselves (yikes) but it's broken up into 10 legs so that you can have a team of up to 10 people.  So, the distance was not a big deal for me; my leg of the race was just under 4 miles.  But, the conditions were, well...interesting!  As I was not in a "blogging state of mind" that day, I took NO pictures.  NOT ONE!  (BAD blogger.)  Which is too bad, because there were some pretty good costumes since they give awards for teams with the best spirit, best team name, as well as the team who comes in "dead last".  I was on a team with a friend of mine from the neigborhood, her husband, and a bunch of her co-workers.  Other than my friend and her husband, I had never met any of these people before the morning of the race.  This was clearly a "party" race.  I mean, it's from one brewery to another, so...  My friend and her husband picked me up at about 6:45; our team start time was 8:30.  We all got down to Boulevard Brewery at about 7:20.  There was already PLENTY of drinking going on.  I didn't figure having a beer would be a good idea for me, seeing that I'm a total lightweight anyway.  A beer at 7:30am and then running 4 miles...probably wouldn't have gone very well.  Besides, I spent most of my pre-race time waiting in line to use the MOST disgusting porta-potty EVER.  I'll spare you the details of that...but, lets just say that I'm pretty sure I was, like, the 734th person to use it that morning.  Gross.  But, after I made it through that I had a little time to hang out before my start.  At about 8:24, the "first leggers" headed across the street to the very unofficial start line.  As we stood there waiting for the stroke of 8:30, I asked the woman next to me what she paced at, since she was wearing a Garmin.  Since I don't have one and wasn't running with my friend Karen, who has one, I was going to be completely clueless as to my pace.  She said she ran a 10:00 pace.  Rats.  Well, I knew I needed to make sure she didn't pass me, but that was about it.  The clock struck 8:30 and we were off, in very unceremonious fashion, with all the other beer-drinking-later-leg-runners cheering us on from across the street at the beer tent.  Ha!  I'm not so sure that many of them were too concerned with actually seeing us off!  We started out and made an immediate turn onto a pretty industrial road and headed up a hill to cross a bridge over the Kaw River.  Not a particularly scenic river.  Kind of brown and stinky, actually.  Oh, and the winds were UNBELIEVABLE!!  Ugh.  On the other side of the bridge was a big staircase we had to go down so that we could get up on the river levee to run the rest of our leg.  At the bottom of the stairs was an old scrap of carpet covering up a muddy section of the ground.  (I had to sort of laugh at this point.)  Then there was a rickety metal step-stool for us to get up on the levee.  Hilarious.  Then we were up on the levee--basically a gravel road elevated from, but running parallell to the river.  The wind.was.crazy.  Not only was it blowing about 40 right in our faces, making it pretty difficult to muster any forward motion, but the dust and dirt were sandblasting us pretty good.  I figured my pace had to be at about 10:00 at that point, if not slower.  But, 10:00 Lady was still behind me, somewhere.  Probably running at about an 11:00 pace, is my guess.  At one point, we were directed to run down a rock embankment to pass under a road and then back up again to get back onto the levee.  I actually ran past it at first thinking, "this can't possibly be what they want us to do".  But, sure enough, that's what they wanted us to do.  It's beyond me how someone didn't twist an ankle on that.  After that craziness, I was almost home free.  All of a sudden I saw a large crowd of people up ahead on the levee.  Then I was able to spot my friend's husband, our second leg runner.  I pushed it into the finish and gave him a high-five so he could get started on his run.  My friend and I got into her car to head to the next transition point, where she would be running the third leg.  Once we got there, my husband and two kids met up with me so that we could head out.  Even though I never actually made it to the other brewery, it was fun to be there for part of the race.  I realized that I have no idea how hard to push myself in a race situation.  I found myself being worried during the run that I was going to sputter out at the end, but I think I could've pushed harder from the start.  Since it was a very non-traditional race (no chip times or anything), I only had my stop-watch to rely on for my time.  And, of course, I forgot to stop it at the end, so I have no idea how long it took me!  Oh well.  No biggie.  After I met up with my family, we went to Starbucks and then on to a doughnut place we've been wanting to try for a while.  It's always good to replenish the calories you've just burned...and then some.

That night we got a rediculous hail storm, that both of my kids slept through (I don't know how, since it sounded like people were throwing baseballs at our house in rapid-fire succession).  Here's what it looked like out our front door as it was going on...
This was just the small stuff.  It was kind of crazy!

The next day, I got back on the treadmill and played around with speed a little bit.  Ran a 7:00 pace...for 1 minute, just to see what it felt like.  Um, yeah, it's really fast.  But, I'm getting better at increasing my cadence vs. trying to increase my stride when I'm going faster.  I feel like the shorter, quicker steps look funny sometimes, but it does keep me from heel-striking.

That Wednesday, the weather was beautiful, so I was able to run outside on the trail at a local park.  It's pretty darn hilly, so I got a great hill workout.
This (above) is the part of the trail when I have to start pumping myself up for this (below):

The LONG climb up to the top.

I did the loop around the park 6 times, not knowing how long the loop was exactly.  Then, this past Saturday morning my friend Karen and I did a nice 6 miler (it was beatiful out) that included running the same loop around the park once.  She "Garmined" it and it's .91 miles around, so Wednesdays run ended up being 5.46 miles.

This week's running has been pretty weak.  Monday's run didn't happen because of staying later than usual at work, and Wednesday I went back to the same park again and took a different route out of the park to try something different.  About 20 minutes into my run a sweet little dog ran across 4 lanes of traffic over to my side of the road.  She was super cute and had all her tags.  I was pretty sure she was just from the neighborhood across the street, but there was no address on any of her tags.  So, I picked her up and walked back to the park where my car was parked so I could use my cell phone to try the number on her tag.  No answer.  Dangit.  Called the vet office that was listed on her rabies tag.  They gave me an alternate number to try.  No answer.  DANGIT.  Called the vet office again and they said they could hold her until the owners could pick her up.  Unfortunately, the vet office was probably 15 minutes away (and taking her there meant I would NOT be completing my run).  But, what could I do?  When I was about 3 minutes away from the vets office, guess who called?  Yup, the owner.  So I turned around and took little Scarlet home.  Did I mention I'd poured water into one of my son's carseat cup holders so she could have a drink?  What a mess.  Well, I'm planning on running tomorrow morning...assuming I don't run into any more stray dogs.

On Tuesday we had really incredible weather, so I decided to make use of our new zoo membership and take my little guy to the zoo.  We had so much fun!!  And, there was hardly anyone else there.  It was probably the best zoo trip I've ever had.

 It's not very often that Weston and I get to really do something fun together by ourselves (errands just don't count).  It was the perfect mommy-son day. ( Please ignore the evil squint I've got going on.)

Weston, being pretty excited to sit on the stone hippo.  We did actually see the real ones after this.

A  Ring-tailed Lemur-ball!!  I'm not sure how many of them were in there!

Weston under the polar bear.

There's the polar bear now!  Poor guy...he's all alone in there.  Kind of makes me sad.  It was so cool to see him so close up though.

Okay, so you figure there's been a lot of eating going on in two-week's time.  So I'm just gonna hit ya with a food photo montage now.

I'm pretty big on not wasting any of the food in our house so, often, that means I've got to come up with something "creative" to use things instead of throwing them out.  This was my "greek garbanzo and veggie salad" made with leftover black olives and avocado from tacos the night before, grape tomoatoes, cucumber, canned garbanzo beans, and homemade greek dressing.  The only thing missing was feta cheese.  It was still good and the kids ate it.  Score!

Homemade pizza night.

Homemade pizza sauce.  So much better than the stuff from a can or a jar.

Our family pizza before going in the oven.

Family pizza, out of the oven, sliced and ready to eat.  The homemade crust was...meh.  But, it was still fun to eat and the kids thought it was great.  My friend Kila perfects homemade pizza!  I gotta get her recipe...

Oven-roasted asparagus.  Just a little olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  Yum.  I think I ate almost the whole pound of asparagus by myself in one sitting.

I've been starting to do some reading on kids yoga to help prepare me for next year!  My 'Teaching Yoga to Kids' training workshop is in a few short weeks.

Okay, the last big thing I wanted to mention is the documentary, 'Food Matters', that Jeremy and I watched a few nights ago.  I won't go into it tonight because, honestly, I'm falling asleep at the keyboard, and isn't this post long enough already??  But, I will definitely be writing a separate post about it soon.  You should definitely watch it if you have the opportunity.

Oh my!  If you're still reading this and haven't fallen asleep, congratulations!  I'm barely making it through!!

Good night to all!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Strong, Fast and Happy!

This is how I felt today!  And, thank goodness!  It was time to clear the funk out, both physically and mentally.  This week was sort of, well...blah.  My running was lackluster, to say the least, and I was feeling a bit under the weather.  But, this morning I woke up and, for some reason, I just felt better.  (It certainly wasn't due to a wonderful night's sleep or anything.  We watched two more episodes of Big Love last night.  Tonight we'll watch the series finale.  Phew!  That show is wearing me out.)  Maybe it's because it's Friday.

Or maybe it's because I got to eat a piece of this for breakfast...

This is the Fresh Orange Cake I "made for my staff meeting" today.  This is so pathetic...I made it last night for today's meeting, and while we were watching Big Love I couldn't take it anymore.  I HAD TO HAVE A PIECE!!  So, I busted into it and had a slice.  It.was.awesome.  So, this morning, I had to figure out how to bring it to my meeting without anyone seeing that I'd already taken a slice out of it.  This was my solution...

I sliced that baby up and arranged it beautifully on a pretty plate--HA!  Nobody will ever know the difference!!  (Um...except my co-workers who read my blog...but by then our meeting will be over.)  So, when I was slicing it up to look pretty on a plate this morning, my husband, my son and I split one more piece.  It was just as awesome as I remembered it from last night.

Or, maybe I was feeling better today because of the hilarious 4-year-old April Fools jokes my son was telling me on the way to school today:

Weston: Knock Knock
Me: Who's there?
Weston: April Fools
Me: April Fools who?
Weston: April Fools wants to cross the street and jump up and down!

This is the kind of stuff an almost 5-year-old boy finds funny, people.  It was so cute.  He was really trying to grasp the concept of April Fools Day, and it just wasn't quite clicking.  But, this kid can make a knock-knock joke up about anything--and, it won't make sense, mind you--but, to him, it will be hilarious.  I try to cherish these moments.

Or, maybe it was the fact that the sun actually broke free from the clouds today--hallelujah!!!  As I came out of the gym and squinted in surprise, I actually looked at a total stranger who was walking in and just said "Sun." like some neanderthal idiot.  I think I was in a state of shock.  He did not respond.  Maybe he was feeling shocked too.

 See?  I'm pointing to the slice of sunshine that's streaming into our kitchen.

Well, whatever the reason for my feeling so much better today, it made my run much more enjoyable.  I felt both strong and fast.  I ended up going 6.9 miles in an hour with an average pace of 8:40.  I never felt overly fatigued (I mean, you should feel somewhat fatigued, right?  You're running.), and I had no pain or tightness.  Generally speaking, it was a joyful run.  And, I had been thinking this week about finding the joy in running again, so I am very grateful that the universe decided to bestow upon me a joyful run today.  Hopefully I can spread some of that joy around to others today.

I mean, really, if this doesn't make you happy, then I don't know what will.

Happy Friday, people!