Monday, February 21, 2011

MBE: Racing and Vacations

This Weeks Monday Brain Exchange Question:

Do you make vacations out of your races when they are far from home?

I've only run one race out of state, Bay to Breakers in San Francisco, and hell yeah we made a vacation out of it. We were already spending the money to fly out there, which is the biggest expense, so we stayed for a week with friends and had a great time.

We want to go back this year for their 100th anniversary, but my dad wants to run the San Francisco Half Marathon in July, so we may go run that instead. We may not stay for a week this time, but we'll probably take a few days off before and after for a long weekend there.

In March, we're driving to Sarasota for Jason's 2nd Half Ironman and we're going to make a mini vacation out of it and celebrate our 7th anniversary.

I applied for the New York City Marathon, and if I get in you bet we'll be turning that into a vacation. I've only been there once, but love that city.

Eventually, I would love to run in every state, but that will take some time. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Five: Recipes - Homemade Treats

Since starting to focus on eating "real food" and making at home from scratch the processed stuff I used to buy, treats have been the hardest. But I even found substitutions for most of those. Here are my favorites.
  1. ice cream - I tried making it by hand, which worked but took forever. Then I got an ice cream machine for my birthday and have not bought ice cream since. We make ice cream at least twice a week, usually  honey/cinnamon or peppermint, and it's so much tastier. It goes great with homemade chocolate sauce (cocoa and maple syrup). We still occasionally go out for frozen yogurt  by the ounce, but we do it a lot less now. I usually use organic half and half, mixed with honey or maple syrup and flavored extracts. Yum!
  2. granola - this has replaced cereal for Jason every morning, and it also makes a great snack at work or when we get home starving before diner is ready. It's also a great topping for the honey/cinnamon ice cream.
  3. apple sauce - In trying to make baked goods healthier, I started using apple sauce to replace butter or eggs or oil. It works really well, but I didn't want to replace it with processed apple sauce so I started making my own. It is ridiculously easy, specially if you have a slow cooker; it just requires a lot of chopping. If you don't have a slow cooker, check out this stovetop apple sauce recipe.
  4. whole wheat chocolate chip cookies - the hardest thing was finding a cookie that truly used 100% whole wheat flour. This one works well, but I've made tons of adjustments to make them healthier, like using honey or maple syrup instead of the white and brown sugars. Apple sauce instead of butter  works well too. 
  5. whole wheat cut out cookies - This is a great base recipe to make gingerbread cookies or any other flavor hard cookie. Definitely play with the spices to add more flavor as they tend to be a tad bland at first, but the recipe makes a LOT of cookies so I always make less. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Three Things Thursday: Heart Health, Choice, New Yoga Book

#1 Hearth Health - Today's  Daily Challenge is to Review the warnings signs of a heart attack. This one really hit home because when my dad had a heart attack a few years ago it was the scariest time of my life. I read all about the symptoms then, but this was a good reminder to review them again. It is scary to know that women can have a heart attack and not even know it because there are often no symptoms or the symptoms may be dismissed as something else. Please take a moment today to review these links. It may save your life or that of someone you love someday.
The most common symptom of a heart attack in both men and women is chest pain or discomfort that can be mild or strong, though not ALL attacks start with chest pain. Women may experience different warning signs and symptoms. Look over these signs of heart attack: (If you're a woman--or have loved ones who are women--read this page also:

#2 Choices - The other day before we headed to my sister's baby shower, Jason and I were talking about how there would probably be all this tasty but unhealthy food and candy there, and I probably would not be able to resist. I jokingly said to him, "I have plenty of self control; I may just choose not to exercise it!" This made us laugh, but it is a very powerful statement and realization. I AM in control of my body and my actions. If I make a bad decisions about what to eat or skipping a workout because I am lazy, it is by choice, not compulsion. It may seem like a force outside myself is making, but that is a cop-out and I do not accept it. I will take responsibility for my actions and suffer the consequences. The good thing is that making the right choices more often has become way easier because I feel awful (physically, and mentally) when I don't and the feeling is so much greater when I eat right and exercise. 

#3 New Yoga Book - I've been doing yoga with DVDs and YOGAmazing podcasts, but by now I know most of the poses that work for me, so now I can do it from memory and hold each pose for as long or as little as I'd like. I feel like my yoga practice is reaching a new level where I can start stringing together poses to make my own routines, so I bought The Athlete's Pocket Guide to Yoga. One thing that I liked about this book is that it lists a series of short routines with how long to hold the pose in terms of breaths and it says this "The breath guideline is merely a suggestion; hold the poses until you feel even side to side." I love this and I feel is what I've been doing when I do yoga for runners on my own from memory. I try to hold everything for a minimum of 3 breaths, but the poses I really like or that are really beneficial I hold for as long as it feels good. It's awesome!

Monday, February 14, 2011

MBE: Keeping it Fun in Extreme Weather

This Weeks Monday Brain Exchange Question: 

Do you deal with any types of extreme weather where you live? Heat warnings, a lot of snow, frequent tornados? How do you keep your workouts fresh and fun when you are stuck indoors?
I am thankful that Florida does not experience very extreme weather, except for lots of rain during hurricane season, and it get pretty hot and humid during the summer. The rain is pretty predictable, so I can usually plan my runs around it. During the summer, I get up early to finish my runs before it gets too hot/humid. In the winter, I can sleep in because it's cool enough to run later in the day. LOVE his!

I love exercising outdoors, and avoid the gym like the plague, so I've acquired the right gear to maximize my outdoor workouts. When I absolutely must exercise indoors, I focus on yoga. I have a ton of 15-20 min yoga podcasts from that I can rotate between to keep things fresh. I also have some yoga and kickboxing videos I can do for more variety and indoor cardio. This morning I started the day with a fitdeck workout. These are the perfect tool to keep your workouts fresh because even if you do the same deck every day (I have 4) it will still be different if you shuffle the deck. For more resources, check out my Home Workouts Page.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Five: Whole Wheat Recipes

I've been trying to follow the real food rules in everything I eat, which means eating 100% whole wheat and grains, no refined grains or sweeteners, and limiting processed food to things that contain 5 ingredients or less that I can actually pronounce. This means that most store-bought breads, crackers and doughs are out of the question, so I've started making my own. This is not nearly as hard as I thought it would be, and actually quite fun.

Below are my top 5 favorite recipes to replace often bought items. They are all 100% whole wheat.  The great thing about making your own "real food" is that they require very few ingredients so they are super easy to prepare. 
  1. whole wheat biscuits - I've never made biscuits of any kind, and these are both healthier (they still have a lot of butter) and delicious. I make mini ones and freeze them so they reheat really nicely.
  2. pizza dough - I use my bread machine to knead the dough for me, and after letting it rest I roll it out onto a baking stone. I recently bought a pizza roller to make it even easier, but it's not required.
  3. pie crust - I made this to make my own quiche and it's so quick and tasty.
  4. pasta - this recipe is for ravioli, but the same dough can be used to make any pasta shape you want, just roll it out thinner. I don't have a pasta machine, so I use a rolling pin. These also freeze well and cook super quick.
  5. crackers - I love crackers and thought I would have to do without or only eat triscuits for the rest of my life because finding 100% whole wheat crackers at Publix is no easy feat. I gave these a try and was shocked at the results. I used all 100% flour, spices to taste (e.g. rosemary and salt), and rolled it out as thin as possible. They are amazing!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Daily Challenge by MeYou Health

I joined the Daily Challenge by MeYou Health because I love challenges =) They really motivate me to better myself when I can check things I've done off a list.

From their site:
The Daily Challenge is a social well-being experience that gives you the opportunity to positively impact your life every day by doing simple daily challenges and sharing the experience with your personal connections -- all while you earn points, collect stamps and achieve new levels.
I don't want to spam anyone so I didn't send out any invites, but if anyone decides to do it I'd love to connect and follow along. The challenges include all aspects of well being, such as emotional health, physical health, and even financial health, which is awesome.

Yesterday's challenge was to
... include at least one food that contains omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts, ground flaxseed, or cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, and herring. Some fruits and vegetables like cantaloupe, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and spinach contain omega-3s too.
It was great to confirm that I already incorporate this into my diet with flaxseed and spinach. Upon seeing "ground flaxseed" on the list, I wondered why I never see "whole flaxseeds" in recipes, so I googled it and found this:
Most nutrition experts recommend ground flaxseed because your body is better able to digest it. Whole flaxseed may pass through your intestine undigested, which means you won't get all the health benefits.
I should have looked this up long ago. We've been using whole flaxseeds in our granola all this time, so last night added them grounded to our latest batch of granola.

Today's challenge was to request a copy of my credit report, which you can get for free every 12 months from I've been meaning to do this again for a while, but always put it off, so this was just the push I needed. There were no surprises. yay!

3 Things Thursday: Running Love, Cycling Savvy, Yoga and Core

This is a slightly longer than usual 3 things thursday to make up for my slacking on posting lately. I've just not been motivated thinking I didn't have much to say, but I guess I was wrong.

#1 - Running Love

My running has been great lately, and I've even done a few runs on back to back days. No worries, I've been  listening to my body very closely and easing the pace or distance as needed. I've been doing really well on my short runs, and it looks like my new easy pace is 11:30 mm (without walk breaks); it used to be 12 - 12:30. Most of my short runs have been sub-11 and long runs sub-13, so I'm thrilled with that. The cool weather is certainly helping.
I've also been building my base and ran 10 miles @ 12 mm 2 weeks ago. I'll be tackling another 10 miles this Sunday with my friend Jen, who is training for her first half marathon! I'm so excited for her and to be part of her journey. I'm also the captain for our Corporate 5K team this year, and we've been training together after work every Monday and Wednesday. We already have 10 signed up! My goal this year is 40 :)

I'm tentatively running the Orange Blossom Half Marathon on 3/6 if our car is fixed, if not I'll keep maintaining my base by running 6-10 mile long runs each week and work on speed. I plan to do a 10K in March, a few 5Ks throughout the summer, and maybe a duathlon or two before beginning Marathon training in June.

I ran the Lady Track Shack 5k on Saturday and missed a PR by 20s, finishing in 32:30. Read the race report on Dailymile. I was a little disappointed because I felt like I gave up when I realized I would not meet my goal of finishing in 31 minutes. By the time I realized I could still PR (32:10), it was too late to push harder. I tried, but came up 20s shorts. I haven't race a 5K in a LONG time, so I'm over it and will try again soon.

#2 - Cycling Savvy

On Saturday I also taught my first Cycling Savvy class. Since I had the race in the morning, Jason and Rodney helped with the bike handling skills class in the morning, then Lisa  and I helped with the road tour in the afternoon. It was a lot of fun and very rewarding. I taught at least half of the features, and Keri filled in on the harder ones and any key details I forgot to mentioned. 

This is such a great class to empower bicyclists to ride on the road, and I am thrilled to be able to be part of the team spreading the word. If you are in the Orlando area, check out the site for details and register for the next class on March 11 & 12.

#3 - Yoga and Core 

With all this running I've been doing, I really need to take care of my body to avoid injury. I've been neglecting yoga, my core and strength training -- basically anything that is not running. I know being more flexible and having a strong core will really help my running, specially on long runs. 

So this week I recommitted to making me a priority.  I rediscovered this quote while reading my blog archives, and it's a really good reminder:
There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when it is convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results. - Kenneth Blanchard
I am trying to make yoga a part of my daily routine. The past few days I woke up early to do yoga before leaving for work and it's been awesome; it is a the perfect way to start my day. I've also been doing yoga when I get home, specially after a run. These are usually 15-20 min sessions, but they really help. I still also stretch throughout the day when I have a few minutes, such as while waiting for the bus or heating up my lunch. I am slowly incorporating core and strength training too, mainly various crunches, yoga and push ups. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Race Report: Lady Track Shack 5K

This was my first race of 2011. It is an all women's race and a fundraiser for breast cancer. I wore my new blue running skirt, black top, and black knee high socks. I biked to the race as my warm up, then walked and jogged for a few minutes before the start.

With almost 1800 participants, it was a very crowded start and I probably ran more than 3.1 miles with all the weaving around because I started too far back. The route reminded me of the Watermelon 5K. It was scenic, but I did not care for all the bricks. I missed a PR by 20 seconds, finishing in 32:30. That's not bad considering how crowded it was, byt I was a little disappointed because I felt like I gave up when I realized I would not meet my goal of finishing in 31 minutes. By the time I realized I could still PR (32:10), it was too late to push harder. I haven't race a 5K in a LONG time, so I'm over it and will try again soon. I still hate 5Ks =P 

  • Clock - 34:32 
  • Chip - 32:30 
  • Overall - 561 / 1795 
  • AG - 91 / 257
  • Splits - 11:12 - 10:28 - 10:01 - 52s 
  • Intervals -  2/1

Thursday, February 3, 2011

January 2011 Recap

I've been meaning to post all kinds of things, but I've just been super busy running, cycling, cooking from scratch, and becoming a cycling savvy instructor. I'll try to get those posts up soon, including an update on my progress on the 101 Things lists, healthy eating/cooking, and life without a car. In the meantime, here are my January stats.

Goals/Races for February 2011

  • Lady Track Shack 5K
  • Teach my first Cycling Savvy Class


  • Became a Cycling Savvy Instructor
  • Set up Corporate 5K Team and began team training

January Stats

  • walk = 40 miles
  • run = 58 miles
  • longest run = 10 miles
  • # of runs = 15
  • bike = 148 miles
  • longest ride = 16 miles
  • total = 246 miles / 36.5 hrs (avg 1.2 hrs/day)

2011 Goals Progress

To be on track, percentages should be around 8-9%
  • Run/walk = 98 / 1100 (avg 98/mo; 25/wk; 3/day; 9%)
  • Bike = 148 / 2000 (avg 148/mo; 37/wk; 5/day; 7%)
  • Car = ? (will update later)
  • Home cooked meals = 94% (6/9 out)
  • 101 Thing = 1/40 (3%)
  • Books = 0/12 (0%)
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