Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Instead of the gym...

I just COULD NOT BEAR the thought of going to the gym and getting on the treadmill today.  I've been fighting some sort of mini-obnoxious-cold-thing all week and, finally, today I just felt completely worn out.  (It doesn't help that Jeremy and I have been staying up until midnight for the last three nights watching two one-hour episodes per night of the last season of Big Love.  Totally obsessed with this show.)  I was already talking myself out of going to the gym before I even left the house this morning, which is highly unusual.  I usually really look forward to my time at the gym.  But I just wasn't feelin' it.  I still packed my gym bag in case I changed my mind.  As my day at work went on, I felt more and more 'blah'.  So, I gave myself permission to skip the gym.  There was definitely a little bit of an internal struggle, since my running opportunities are relatively limited.  But, instead of the gym I:

  • went to Old Navy and bought my daughter some new clothes.  I can barely keep her in jeans these days!!
  • went to Starbucks and got myself a grande iced latte with 2 Equals (this is the only time I will ingest artificial sweeteners, as I think they are practically poison, but the Equal just disolves so well in the cold coffee and gives it the perfect sweetness.)  And--if you were wondering--no, I do not get my latte made with skim milk.  It's 2% all the way, baby.  We drink 1% at home but, good grief, I only go to Starbucks like 3 times a year, so what the hell.
  • went to Walmart to pick up a few groceries.  Yes, we have one of those Walmarts that has a full grocery store.  I used to be real snobby about Walmart and avoid it like the plague.  Then I realized that they sell the big Stoneyfield Farms Organic yogurt for about $2 less than our regular grocery store.  That's all it took.  I'm easy.
And, that was it.  Then it was time to go pick up my son from preschool.  As I was driving there, I was kind of wishing that I was all sweaty and worked-out like I usually am when I go to pick him up.  It felt weird not to have gone running.  It's become quite the habit.  My friend even noticed that I was in the same clothes she'd seen me in this morning instead of my running clothes like usual.  Well, there's always Friday morning...

Tonight I made a really good Beef-Broccoli Stir-Fry.  Everybody loved it, so in my books that's a big success.  It was in the most recent issue of Cooking Light (have I ever mentioned how much I love that magazine?).  So, you could probably go to their website and look the recipe up, but I'll save you the trouble and give it to you right now.

Beef-Broccoli Stir-Fry

3 cups hot cooked white rice (or it would also be great with brown rice--I have a great recipe for that too)
2 tablespoons dry sherry, divided
2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce (I used regular.  For shame.), divided
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound boneless sirloin steak, cut diagonally across grain into thin slices (great tip: put steak in the freezer for approx. 15 minutes before slicing--makes it a lot easier to slice evenly)
1/2 cup lower-sodium beef broth (again, I used regular.  again, for shame.)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce)  *LOVE THIS STUFF!*
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon bottled ground fresh ginger (I just keep a knob of fresh ginger in the freezer and take it out to grate or chop up when needed.  It stays forever in the freezer.)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (I couldn't live without a garlic press)
4 cups broccoli florets
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup sliced green onions

1. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon sherry, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, sugar.  Add sliced beef and stir to coat.  Set aside.
2. In another bowl, combine 1 tablespoon sherry, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, beef broth, cornstarch, hoisin, and Sriracha.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add beef mixture; saute 3 minutes or until browned.  Remove beef and all juices from pan.  Set aside.
4. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan.  Add ginger and garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add broccoli and 1/4 cup of water; cook 1 minute.  Add onions; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add broth mixture and beef mixture; cook 2 minutes or until beef is thoroughly heated and sauce is slightly thick.  Serve over rice.

We at it ALL.  NO leftovers.  It was really good.  And, for some reason, I find Chinese food the most difficult to reproduce at home.  But this had just the right mixture of flavors and little bit of spicyness from the Sriracha.  Sorry--no photos.  Our camera battery is dead and just sitting next to the camera on our counter waiting to be charged.  But the broccoli stayed a beautiful bright green and was perfectly cooked, if I do say so myself.

Last night we tried another Cooking Light recipe: Chicken Souvlaki Pitas with Tahini Sauce.  It was equally awesome.  But, seeing that I was too tired to go to the gym today, I should get off of this computer and get my butt to bed.

I'm feeling too lazy to come up with any good questions tonight...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Saturday Morning Run and Running Form

YAY!  My friend Karen and I finally got out for an early Saturday morning run this past weekend!  (I know.  It's already Tuesday and I'm just getting around to this post.)  We hadn't gotten out there for an early morning weekend run since before Thanksgiving and, oh, how I'd missed it!  I must say, though, when the alarm went off at 6:30 it was cold and dark outside and I was more than a little bit confused.

Why was the alarm going off??
Was it a weekday??

Then I remembered that I had, in fact, agreed to get up for a run...

At that point, it wasn't sounding like that great of an idea...warm bed? cold run?  warm bed? cold run?  hmmm.  But, luckily, there was no backing out.  Karen and I were going to get out there early enough to beat the crappy weather that was heading our way.  But, it was still only in the mid-30's.

Here I am being a dork while I wait on my porch for Karen to come outside.
Yes, I do have hair.  No, that's not my actual skin color.

Early morning running pals!
Gosh dangit, Karen!  How do you look so cute and I look so bald and double-chinned?!
(Sorry about the nostril shot, people.)

Well, the cold really wasn't that bad.  But, the WIND was pretty wicked.  (This is becoming somewhat of a theme and I'm starting to think that I should just tell you when it's NOT windy.  Sound good?)  Even though the wind was howling, Karen and I were shocked when she looked down at her Garmin (God love her) and saw that we were going at an 8:30 pace.  Yeehaw!  Honestly, I expected to feel kind of crappy on this run, but was pleasently surprised that I felt really good.  It is so good to have a friend to run with!!

This run took me over the 20 mile mark for the week.  23 to be exact.  That's a new weekly mileage high for me.  I was happy with it.

Running Form...

My Monday run was back at the gym...on the treadmill.  *yawn*  The first 20 minutes pretty much sucked.  I just could not get into it.  At 6 minutes in, I gave up on running, slowed down the pace to a walk and took the incline up to 15% (sometimes I just like to see what those things can do.).  After 5 minutes of that, I put the incline back down to 0% (I'm such a stud) and took it back up to running, and then realized I had to go to the bathroom (darn).  When I got back from my bathroom break, I felt much more energized and had a great 30 minute run at an 8:30 pace.

During the 30 minute portion of my run, I was thinking a lot about my form.  I find that I think about this a lot more on the treadmill than I do outside.  Maybe it's because there's just not that much to think about when you're running on a treadmill?  Anyway, this is what I think about with reference to my form:

  1. Landing on my midfoot (aka not heel striking), and running "quick and light" (I almost laughed out loud when I typed this, because when I started running again a year ago I lovingly referred to myself as "the plodder".)
  2. Keeping my hands loose and not letting my arms crossing my mid-line.
  3. Keeping my shoulders relaxed.  I do have to let my arms go limp every once in a while to shake out the tension.  I tend to carry stress (and exhaustion) in my shoulders.
I know there are a bunch of other things to think about with running form, but this is all I can handle at this point.

How cold is too cold for you to run outside?

What do you think is the most important part of running form?  What do you focus on most?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Peanut Butter, New Opportunities and Unorthodox Goals

I mentioned a recipe for a Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce/Dressing in my last post and promised to post the recipe later.  Well, here it is!

3/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 1/3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
2 1/2 tablespoons Asian chili paste
1/2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
6 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chopped green onions

The recipe calls for all ingredients to be whisked together in a bowl, but I actually just put everything in the food processor.  You can leave this thick to use as a sauce** for noodles or fish or as a dip for veggies or you can thin it out with another 2 tablespoons of water to use as a salad dressing.  Either way, the flavors are delicious!!

**My sister-in-law made a Thai Chicken Salad for dinner one night during their visit with us last week.  It was AWESOME and it's what inspired me to try to make my own homemade sauce.  The salad was mixed field greens with chopped bell pepper, chopped tomato, sliced cucumber, and shredded carrots.  Then she baked some boneless/skinless chicken breasts, chopped them and tossed them with a similar sauce in a sautee pan to warm the mixture.  Than you spoon some of the warm chicken and peanut sauce mixture over each individual salad.  Hmmm, yeah, pretty good.

So, peanut butter.  I'm not such a fan of it that I like to dip my fingers into the peanut butter jar like Janae.  But, I do love the flavor of it and love it in stuff.  Another one of my favorite peanut butter recipes is a smoothie.  My kids LOVE this one...

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

4 oz. milk
1/3 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla)
1/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter
one peeled banana (as if I need to say peeled...but, you never know)
1 tablespoon honey
5-6 ice cubes

Blend and enjoy!  I like this as a post-run drink.  And, if I want to make it extra "treat-y" for the kids, I use chocolate soy milk instead of regular milk and leave out the honey.

I've been starting to feel a bit anxious about the next school year.  My little guy will be going to kindergarten, which will rock my world in more than one way.  But, one thing is for sure: I'll need to work more once my kiddos are both in school full-time next year.  It's been amazing to be able to be home with my kids for the last (almost) eight years, but I've been looking for a way to transition myself back into the world of making money.  I've been working as a teacher's assistant a few days a week at my son's preschool this year.  I love it and have been hoping I could stay on in a more expanded capacity next year (read: more hours and more money).

This week, the director asked if I'd like to attend a
'Teaching Kids Yoga' training workshop
 and become our preschool's yoga teacher!! 
I don't think I could say 'yes' fast enough!! 

I'm not sure I could've thought up a more perfect scenario for next year.  (Well, I guess something with a $75k salary would be tempting...)  Some of you are probably wondering if I even do yoga.  Currently, no.  But, I used to do Ashtanga yoga before I had kids and I loved  it.  Getting back to yoga has always been in the back of my mind, and I'm taking this as a sign that now is the time for that to happen.  That's right--it's time for a yoga revival!  I'll keep you posted...

I'm starting to realize that my running goals may never be like that of a lot of other runners.  I think I touched on this when I wrote about being a "casual" runner vs. a "serious" runner.  If you haven't noticed yet, I'm not training for anything!  And, I'm not exactly clamoring to sign up for any races either.  I've never been a very competitive person.  I like to do things that make me feel proud and feel good about myself, and running is definitely one of those things.  But I don't feel particularly compelled to compete against others in running.  I do have running goals though.  This week, I'm planning on running more than 20 total miles for the first time.  I'm already at 18 for the week and my friend Karen called this evening to see if I wanted to run in the morning.  That should do it!  I'm also toying with the idea of running a total of 26.2 miles each week this summer (a marathon every week!).  Maybe racing and setting PR's will be goals of mine in the future but, for now, I'm happy with my "unorthodox" running goals.

What's your favorite way to eat peanut butter?

Do you do yoga?

What are your current running goals? (unorthodox or otherwise)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

8 Days Without Running

Long Post Disclaimer: 
It's been a while since I've posted...
you may want to grab a snack and a comfy chair.

I didn't run for eight straight days last week.  I'll admit, it kind of got under my skin.  But, we had family visiting who we don't get to see very often, and that trumped running (and blogging) by a long-shot.  So, here's what I did last week instead of running and blogging (except for that weird little post I put up because I was having blogger's withdrawal.  "MUST...POST...SOMETHING...") :

Eating Thai food with my family.  Yum.

My cute neice, Lexi, waiting for her shrimp fried rice. 
 My brother-in-law, Tony, looking completely enthused.

The cousins eating their lunch on the "rocking boat" at the park.

My cutie-patootie nephew, Jake.  The last time we saw him he was only 4 months old!!
Poor little guy was really sick while he was here visiting.  He was a trooper though.
I think he was trying to avoid the flash in this picture!

Some cousin love.

It's hard to get three kids to smile and look at the camera at the same time.

Okay, nevermind.  This clearly wasn't going to work.

We had some really nice spring-like weather over the weekend.
"I am Buzz Lightyear!"

Pure swing-happiness.
We had some pretty warm weather over the weekend, so we were able to have
our first dinner on the deck of the season.  Grilled brats, bean salad and fresh strawberries...

...and BEER.

Smile nice for the camera kids!

After all that spring break fun, I wanted to get back to running (and blogging).  On Monday it was really warm again so it seemed silly to go to the gym and run on the treadmill when it was a perfectly lovely day outside.  Well, here in the midwest we have a thing called wind.  I had apparently forgotten about that.  It was probably blowing 20-30 the ENTIRE time I ran.  And there's hills when you run outside.  And you can't change the grade at will.  You just have to run 'em.  What I'm trying to say here is that it was a tough run.  It was a hot, thirsty, hilly, windy, sweat-stinging-my-eyes-y mess of a run.  I ran 6.4 and ended up averaging a 10:00 pace.  Wow, my pace hasn't been up there for a while.  But, I did stop for a few (um, I think five) walk breaks when the hills were really kickin' my heiny.  So now I'll tell you about the aftermath of that run...

I usually run on Mondays and Wednesdays after I'm done working at my son's preschool and while he's still enjoying two more hours of pre-school fun.  I also usually stop by Walmart (keepin' it real) one of these two days after I'm done running.  Monday was one of those days.  It was so hot Monday that I didn't put on any kind of jacket over my running tank to go into Walmart.  It doesn't bother me to go into a public place stanky and looking like...well, I went for a run.  I just don't care.  I mean, I like to look (and smell) good just as much as the next gal, but most of the time I just don't care.  But, it seemed as if people were sort of looking  at me in Walmart.  Was everyone giving me an extra-friendly smile?  My, what a nice midwestern town we live in!  Hmmm.  When I went to pick up my son we went into the bathroom at his preschool and I got a gander at myself in the mirror.  Most of you have probably heard of the term 'sweetheart', but have you ever heard the term 'sweat-heart'?!?!

Holy Crap.  I had a 'sweat-heart'.
(And I look pretty happy about it in this picture.)

So, no, the people of Walmart were not simply bestowing their goodwill upon me.  They were all but pointing and laughing!!  And, I have to say, I can't blame them.  I had a pretty good laugh about it myself.

I was also reminded that running outside for an hour at 1:30 in the afternoon requires
a bit of sunscreen.  I'm getting a good start on my tank-top tan.

I forgot to take a picture of it, but my fingers after running outside on a warm day = large sausages (Brats, perhaps?)  I swell like no other person I know.

When I got home on Monday and checked the mail there was a package from my Uncle Bruce.  I couldn't imagine what it was.  I opened it up to find that he'd sent me his Camelbak!  He'd seen that it was on my running wish list.  It was just about the coolest thing that he'd thought to send me his.

I think I'll try it out this weekend!

Thanks Uncle Bruce!!

Oh my, I had other things I was going to write about, like the delicious Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce/Dressing recipe I just tried and the butterscotch and white chocolate chip cookie bars I made for my husband's birthday, but those will just have to wait until another post.  I need to shut this thing down!

What fun things have you been doing over your spring break (if you're lucky enough to get one)?

Have you ever had a 'sweat-heart'??

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ants In My Pants and Speed Workouts

It's our spring break here this week, and we have been blessed with a visit from some of our family from Maine (hence, my lack of posting).  Our kiddos have been having a blast playing with their cousins, who they get to see far too infrequently.  We've had some bizarre weather the last four days.  It snowed on Monday and it's supposed to be almost 80 degrees tomorrow.  Weird, but I'll take it.  The last few days of warmer weather has given me a serious case of 'ants in my pants'.  I have been absolutely ITCHING to get out for a run, but spending the time with family has taken (and should take) precedence.

But, I think I may sneak out early tomorrow morning...

And, I was pretty excited to find out from a friend who works at the high school just up the road from our neighborhood that using their track for speed workouts should be no problem.  Now, I just have to figure out what a speed workout is...

Do you ever feel guilty for "squeezing" your runs/workouts in during times when you know there are more important things going on?

What exactly does a speed workout entail?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

On the road again...well, the sidewalk, mostly.

So much for getting into that zone where I "forget that I'm running".  Yeah, this morning that seemed like a distant memory.  I went for my first Saturday morning outside run since...well, November, I guess.  I didn't have my neighbor-friend, Karen, with me so I was all by my lonesome out there.  (Poor me, having to run outside on a beautiful Saturday morning, right?  It's possible that there are worse things in the world.)

Turns out I'm not all that keen on running by myself outside.
I think I've been spoiled.
I missed having the company of my running pal.

Each step seemed like work today, and I was worried when I stopped that I'd only gone like three miles or something.  But, a quick drive of the route (aka "the ghetto Garmin method of measuring the distance of your run") showed that I ran exactly five.  Today's route was super hilly, and the wind kept messing with me too. Every time I thought it was at my back giving me a little boost, it would whip around and blast me in the face, just to remind me who was boss (hint: it wasn't me).  My average pace ended up being 9:18, which I'm okay with considering the hills and the wind.  Overall, not my best run ever, but I was happy to have the sun on my face.

As spring and summer approach and outdoor running becomes a reality again (for those of us who live in the frozen tundra, that is), I wanted to mention something that I never leave home without on my outdoor runs.  It's my RoadID band.  I'd never heard of them until my neighbor/friend/running pal told me about them last summer.  She had one and told me I should get one for myself.  If something should ever happen to me on the road, it's got my name, my birth year, my husband's first name and our home phone number.  There's also an online form that you fill out with any medical information you might want a paramedic to know that can be accessed by using the serial and pin number on the back of the ID band.  I thought it was a great idea, and for twenty bucks it's well worth the peace of mind it gives my husband (such a worrier, that man!).  So, here's what it looks like...

The serial and PIN # are on the back of the engraved ID plate.

 It has an adjustable nylon velcro band.

Have I mentioned my newest obsession, Chobani yogurt?!

Realized this week that Costco carries it.  Booya! (Think we have enough yogurt in there?  And, yes, that's a 2 1/2 year old bottle of champagne in the back.)

There was no dinner plan tonight (sorry to say, not uncommon for me) so I had to try to pull something together with what we had around (and Chobani yogurt was not an option.  boo.).  So we ended up having "The Green Meal".  I had a bag of baby spinach and some broccoli that needed to be used.  So I made Spinach Walnut Pesto.

It's so fast.  You just put everything in the food processor and turn it on.


To complete "The Green Meal" I cooked some pasta and steamed the broccoli and tossed it all together with the Spinach Walnut Pesto.  My daughter ate two bowls of it!  My son, not so much.  But he did scarf down about 74 blueberries.  I guess he had "The Blue Meal" in mind.

Spinach Walnut Pesto

2 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Place all ingredients into food processor and process to a fine paste.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Transfer to a glass container and top with a thin coat of olive oil to prevent pesto from discoloring.  Keeps well for weeks in the refrigerator.

Yeah!!  It was nice enough for the kids to swing outside in the back yard today!  My husband built that swingset himself.

Have I mentioned that he's really crafty?

Is there something you never leave home without when you head out for a run?

Any latest obsessions you'd like to share?

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An out of body treadmill experience...

I had a strange thing happen today.  I was on the treadmill and, for just a moment...

I kind of forgot I was running. 

It was like when you're driving a really familiar route and you sort of space off for a while and then go "Oh. How did I get to this exit?", and realize that you don't exactly remember the last few minutes of your drive.  Well today, about 50 minutes into my run I had the same experience (except with my legs instead of my car).  I don't think I've ever allowed my mind to wander that far off while running before.  It was like being on auto-pilot.  It kind of freaked me out for a second.  But, then I thought about how awesome it would be to be able to get into that frame of mind during a longer race.  To just turn it on and zone out.  Obviously, this meant I wasn't pushing myself terribly hard today, but I was running at a pace that I'd be happy with for a half marathon.  I ran close to 8 miles today--farther than I've run for some months now--and it felt really good.  I felt like I could've kept going, but it was time to pick up my little guy from preschool.  Today's run made me feel like I could definitely pull off a half in under two hours this year.  I would be plenty happy with that.

So, I think all of this body jostling (aka running) may be wreaking havoc on my lower intestines (if you know what I mean *wink wink*).  And, speaking of wreaking, my husband has politely asked me to take a break from all the beans for a few days.  You know what they say "beans, beans, the magical fruit..."  I made chili, with both black beans and kidney beans, for dinner last night and had a big salad for lunch today with a bunch of garbanzo beans on it.  And then, this is what we had for dinner tonight:

I almost got away from beans but, alas...not so much.  Refried black beans with our cheese quesadillas, avocado, salsa and fat-free plain greek yogurt (this is my new sour cream substitute--love it).

Do you ever go into "auto-pilot mode" during your runs/workouts?

Does running mess with your digestive system?

***Now I've got to go figure out how "The Tooth Fairy" is going to scrounge up a couple bucks for my little girl, who lost her fifth tooth tonight after dinner!  There is no cash in this house right now!!  And, this "Tooth Fairy" usually delivers a new book along with the money.  I hope there's still some in the secret stash!***

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Back at it...

After a four day unintentional break from running (sometimes life just gets busy) I re-acquainted myself with the treadmill yesterday.  I went back to the one with the up-in-your-face screen, since it seems to provide better shock absorption than the other kinds at the gym.  I'm willing to put up with the obnoxiously close screen to get less wear and tear on my joints. 

Plus, I can stare at the reflection of my own sweaty face the whole time I'm running, complete with it's pained
"please, dear God, let this be over" expression.

 That aside, yesterday's run went pretty well.  I was still sore from my ab/core workout on Saturday (getting up out of bed yesterday was interesting), so I was able to really feel how engaged my core was during my run.  It gave me a good perspective on how important the core muscles are for running.  (Mental note: keep working on strengthening your core.)  And, I'm please to say that, for the first time, I was able to pull out a 7:30 mile yesterday.  Wow.  I'm not really sure how some of you people are running sub-7's. Amazing.  At a 7:30 pace, I was basically at an

all-out sprint.

At least, that's what it felt like.  I mean, I don't think I've ever run that fast, unless I was trying to chase down my dog after she'd jumped the fence or something.  And I most definitely was not about to try another one yesterday.  One was plenty, thank you very much.  In fact, after I finished it, I took a few minutes to actually walk on the treadmill.  Haven't had to do that for a while.

To change the subject completely, I am really starting to look forward to spring and summer!!  Aside from just being ready for warmer weather, my neighbor/friend and I were talking yesterday about getting back to our Saturday morning long runs sometime in April.  I can.not.wait.  I've really been missing them.  And, on a mommy note, I've been making all kinds of plans in my head for this summer with my kids.  It's kind of a momentous summer for me, since my little guy will be heading off to kindergarten in the fall (*sniff*).  It feels like a really big crossroads for me--the end of my stay-at-home mommyhood.  Feels kind of like there will have to be a sort of "re-invention" of me, in a way.  (Am I getting too dramatic here?)

Well, in keeping with the mommy theme, here's something my kids love to get in their lunch...

Mini Cinnamon Rolls
1.  Use a rolling pin to flatten one or two pieces of bread, cutting off the crust with a pizza cutter.  As you can see, we use the kind of bread that has lots of seedy, nutty things in it.  I've tried to convince my kids that this is normal.  I think it's possible that I'm making them "those" kids.  You know the kids I'm talking about.  Example: A few months ago someone mentioned Twinkies, and my kids were like "what's a Twinkie?"  I felt proud but sort of like I'd failed them all at the same time...

2. Spread cream cheese or butter on the bread and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

3. Roll the bread up tightly.

4. Slice into "mini cinnamon rolls".

So, that's what's in my little girl's lunch box today.  We got the idea from a doll tea party book she has, with all kinds of recipes for doll-sized treats.

Will your running/training routine change significantly once warmer weather arrives?

Mommies: How have you dealt with your kiddos heading off to school?  And, what are your kids favorite lunchbox treats?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Abs/Core and Pumpkin Muffins

Well, I have discovered through forced experimentation (read: no time in my schedule to go to the dang gym) that three days off from running is frustratingly long.  I'm getting that antsy, distracted feeling.  Maybe you're thinking
"Three days? BIG DEAL."
But, I am a creature of habit, and I really don't like more than one day of rest between runs.  It's not like I'm doing any long runs right now, so I like to stay consistent with my 5-miler's.  So, this morning, knowing that today was probably going to be another day without a run, I decided to try some ab/core work right here in my own living room (turns out you don't actually have to leave the house to get in a workout--I have a hard time with this concept).  Last week I saw a link to an ab/core workout on one of Chris K's (The Manly Runner) posts that I wanted to try.  I'm not usually good about strength training/cross-training, but I'm starting to realize that it could really help improve my running and help to keep me injury-free.

Good, and good.

Chris mentioned that the word he'd use to describe the workout would probably be "ouch".  Yeah, I concur.  And, I haven't even had time to get sore yet.  Here's the link to the workout:  It's 30 minutes long, with all the excercises done twice.  I did NOT make it through the second round.  I *sort of* made it through the first.  Have I ever mentioned that I can't actually do a real sit-up?  Yup.  Obviously, I'm a person who could benefit from some core strengthening.

My friend, Kila, at Lil Surfer Girls is also focusing on abs/core right now, with her 'Whittle Your Middle' challenge.  She's prepping to train for the San Diego Rock-n-Roll Half, and I'm willing to bet the ab/core strengthening she's doing ahead of starting her official training schedule for the race will prove to be incredibly beneficial.  Check out the ab/core excercises Kila's been doing!

On the way home from my daughter's acting class today I heard this song in the car and decided it would be a good ab/core workout song.  You know, something you could grit your teeth to while your abs tremble. 
(Plus, it's my favorite Wheezer song.)

Then I heard this song and I just think it's fun.  It made me think of all the cool running shoes I keep seeing.  Yes, this is how my brain works.  I hear a song and think "how does this apply to my life?"  Weird.

This afternoon I made Pumpkin Muffins.  I used to make these all the time, but it's been a while.  My kids LOVE them, and it's a great way to get some good stuff in them. 

Here come's the muffin photo montage...

Dry ingredients, meet wet ingredients.  I think you two are really going to hit it off.

See, I knew you'd like each other!

The Ice Cream Scoop: It's not just for ice cream anymore.

Smart Balance never had it so good.

Pumpkin Muffins

1/2 cup flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons apple sauce

Heat oven to 375.  Combine all dry ingredients, flour through flaxseed meal, in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients, eggs through apple sauce.  Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and stir just to combine.  Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray.  Using an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin cup 2/3 full.  Bake for approximately 22 minutes.

*You can also stir in shredded carrot or chopped apple to the batter before baking.

Now I have this leftover pumpkin.  Maybe I'll make pumpkin smoothies or pumpkin pancakes with it. 

Are you a pumpkin fan?  Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe?

Do you do ab/core strengthening exercises?  What's your favorite one?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Shins (Band or Body Part?)

When I got on the treadmill yesterday, I was expecting the worst.  Nervous that my shins would really be hurting, I started out slower than usual, at around a 9:00 pace.  Fifteen minutes went by with no pain, so I sped up to my 8:34 pace and was able to keep that up for the rest of the run.  I was so dang relieved!!  I don't know if it was the Advil I took in the morning, using one of the newer screen-right-up-in-your-face treadmills, or taking those first 15 minutes to ease into my pace, but something worked.  Yippee!  So, I thought it only appropriate to include a song by, none other than, The Shins on my post.  The song is even called 'Phantom Limb'.  Thank goodness my shins felt kind of phantom-like yesterday.  With the pain pretty much non-existent, I almost forget they were even there...But, just to be on the safe, proactive side, I iced later that afternoon.  And, when I say "iced", I mean I lasted about 3 1/2 minutes with a gel ice pack on one leg and a bag of mixed vegetables on the other.  Clearly, I need to build up my tolerance.

My daughter took a picture of my "hard core" icing.  Can you see my pained expression?  My kids were pretty confused as to why I was putting frozen veggies on my legs.  The wanted to give it a shot.  They didn't last too long either.

I got another nice surprise yesterday afternoon.  When my mom showed up to give my daughter her piano lesson, she brought me this--
 (that's my son with his Dr. Seuss hat that he made at school yesterday for Dr. Seuss' birthday)

Thanks, mom!!  I can check that one off the Running Wish List now...I asked her if she could show up with a Garmin next time.  ha ha.

I've really been trying to pack in the veggies this week.  I was feeling inspired after reading Jenn's post about what she eats (her blog is called Running Sane, and she's an amazing athlete).  I've eaten a LOT of salad.  A LOT.  But, last night I roasted a bunch of vegetables, grilled some chicken and tossed them all together with bowtie pasta.  The kids and I topped it off with some feta cheese (my kids LOVE feta).

The veggies before roasting.

Is it weird to post a picture of grilled chicken?

Got feta?

Today has been a rest day for me.  No running.  Just hanging out with my little guy at the park (it is BEAUTIFUL here today).  While we were there, I ran into a friend that I haven't seen for a long time.  She's planning on running a 5K in May and said she's been reading my blog.  It is so fun to feel like your making a connection with so many different people and I've been struck by the all the positive energy this blogging thing is bringing into my life.  I'm feeling grateful for it.  But, last night, I laid off the blogging (reading and writing) so that my husband and I could just hang out and catch up on The Office and Community (freakin' funny, by the way).  As with everything, it's all about the balance, right?  I'm not always the best at this...

What things in your life do you find difficult to balance?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Running Wish List and My Achin' Shins...

Seven and a half years of living on one income, so that I can stay home with our two kids, doesn't exactly make you rich.  Don't get me wrong, it's been worth it.  But, I can't lie, there's definitely things that I really want and just can't have right now.  That's just the trade-off.  And, now that I've gotten back into running, there's all kinds of things that I want.  Sometimes it makes me feel better to make a list of the things that I want and can not currently have.  You know, just put them out of my brain and into the universe in hopes that I won't feel like I want them quite as badly any more.  Sounds like shaky logic, but I'm still willing to give it a try.  So, here's my very own Running Wish List:

  1. A Garmin - I think I've mentioned that I think of myself as the last runner on earth without one.  (I know--boo hoo, wah, wah, wah.  This is fun already, right?)
  2. A Treadmill - Yeah, this is a pretty big long shot item, but it would be totally awesome to be able to go for a run right here in my own house, anytime I wanted to.  Check out the shear joy of receiving your very own treadmill HERE, when The Hungry Runner Girl received one from her husband for her birthday.  So cool!!
  3. A Camelback - I just read about how Jim from 50...after 40 uses one of these for pretty much all of his longer runs.  So smart.  You don't have to worry about planting water in a bush or circling back to your car or any of that nonsense.  You just have the water right there with you for the whole run!  Genius!
  4. Body Glide - Okay, I could probably pony up the $6.99 it costs to buy a stick of Body Glide, but it's my wish list and I'm puttin' EVERYTHING on it.
  5. A Gait Analysis - I would love for someone knowledgable on the subject to take a look at my form and give me some pointers on how I could improve it.  I'm thinking it's quite possible that one of my legs is significantly shorter than the other.  That, or one boob is weighing me down more than the other.
  6. Some new sports bras - (Speaking of boobs.)  I realize now that the sports bras I have are complete overkill in the compression/support department.  Yeah, after nursing two kids for a combined two and a half years, the ol' girls just ain't what they used to be.  So, believe it or not, I'd like to try something with LESS support.  I'm starting to worry that they're going to get compressed into something even smaller...
  7. Some good running tanks -  I do prefer a tank over a t-shirt when I run.  But, my 100% cotton Old Navy tank tops don't exactly qualify as good running apparel.  Not exactly moisture wicking.  I pretty much look like I dumped a bunch of water down my chest by the time I'm done running, and a cotton tank top can only get sweat in so many times before it just smells permanently nasty.
  8. More than one pair of running shoes - Yes, I'll admit it, I'm getting jealous of all you runners who have like 15 pairs (I'm exaggerating) of running shoes.  It would be so fun to try out a bunch of different kinds of running shoes! 
Alright, now the list is starting to get a little self-indulgent, so I'll stop.

What's on your Running Wish List?
Okay, so as the title of the post eludes to, my shins have started bothering me.  During the last few treadmill runs they've been really achy, and today when I was running behind my son who was riding his bike they were really really achy.  Hmmmm...poo.  Could this be the beginning of an actual running injury??  I sure as heck hope not.  I feel like I'm just starting to really get going on this running thing.  So, of course, I googled 'shin splint prevention' and came up with some good videos of some excercises to do to help prevent shin splints (which is, apparently, a pretty broad term applicable to any sort of pain in the shin area).  I did them IMMEDIATELY, in hopes that I'm catching this early...

(Insert cool video of heel walking and big toe raises from Runner's World here.  Apparently, I am not technologically savvy enough to figure out how to imbed the video on my blog.  After about 15 minutes of failed attempts, I gave up in a huff.)

So, what do you think?  Any advice on this issue?  Should I be taking it easy or laying off the treadmill for a bit? (By the way, I really want the answer to this to be NO.)
And, before I take my sleepy self to bed I'm wondering if you've ever been THIS tired??
I'd gotten my little guy a bath, wrapped him up in a towel, laid out his PJ's for him to put on and then went to get my daughter started on her bath.  I came back a few minutes later to find him crashed out, still in his towel.  Funny enough, this is NOT the first time this has happened!  When he's ready to sleep, he's ready to sleep!  I came in and snapped a few photos, flash and all, and he never even moved.  My husband came home from work and got him dressed in his PJ's and tucked him into bed, and he still never woke up!

Seriously sleepy...

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY MOMMY!!  She is one year older, and 27 pounds lighter today than she was on this day last year!  I've promised to do a before/after post on my mom soon...