July 31, 2012

Rockford, Day 4

I made sure to wake up bright and early this morning to get a run in. Jerry has his very first race on Saturday (a 10K) and I asked him if he wanted to come with me. We drove to the Rockford YMCA to park, because there is a trail right next to it. I had looked up popular places to run in Rockford, and this was the number one pick.

Today on the schedule was a 54 minute run--20 minutes easy, then six repeats of (2 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy), then 10 minutes easy. However, since I was running with Jerry, we decided to just run six miles easy, and not worry about pace.

I was shocked at how many people were out! We must have seen about 40 people--running, walking, and biking on the trail. We just did an out-and-back route. I really liked the path we were on, but it was broken up by going through neighborhoods, which was kind of weird.

We did six miles total, at an 11:16 pace. It was kind of fun, running with Jerry. I think we'll do that together more often ;)

When we got back, I had to do a Wii Active workout. I finished it and now I'm halfway through the 30-day challenge!

I made it a point to eat much better today than I have been the past few days. I had cream of wheat for breakfast, and instead of going out to lunch with Jeanie and the kids, I had a veggie hotdog and an orange. After lunch, we went to Volcano Falls, which had go-carts, batting cages, an arcade, mini golf, etc. I had some fun with the batting cages:
I did the slow pitch softball, and it was so fun! Then I had a long chat with Shawn (my brother-in-law) while the kids did the go-carts.

We went to a Japanese steak house, called Shogun's, for dinner. We usually make it a point to go there every time we visit my sister. It was fantastic, per usual. First, we started with drinks. I got a "Shogun Cosmopolitan":
I ordered the "Vegetable Dinner", and it was SO good. I got miso soup, salad, fried noodles, steamed brown rice, and tons of vegetables. It was fun to watch the chef cook our food...
I had three Cosmo's. Don't judge.

Tomorrow is our last day in Rockford, and then we are leaving on Thursday. I'm not sure what the plan is for tomorrow just yet. But I am kind of sad that our time at my sister's is coming to a close!

July 30, 2012

Meeting Mary

What a fun day! I got up at 6:00 this morning to shower and get ready to spend the afternoon in Chicago with Mary. The plan was for Jerry and I to take the Metra train into Union Station where we would meet up with Mary. My sister lives about 45 minutes from the Metra station, so Jerry and I drove there first and boarded the train.
The train took about an hour and 20 minutes to get to Union Station. I was excited to meet Mary (and a little nervous). I've been reading Mary's blog for about a year, and we've been getting to know each other on our Ragnar team's private Facebook page, so I felt like we were already friends.

I recognized her right away and gave her a hug. She's as adorable in person as she is in her photos ;)  We walked to a bus to go to a brewery that Jerry wanted to check out.
We had a beer at Goose Island Brewery (Jerry was totally thrilled); then we walked to a restaurant called The Chicago Diner:
This is an all-vegetarian/vegan restaurant--we have nothing like this around us in Michigan, so I was really excited to try it. I ordered a reuben sandwich with sweet potato fries. The "meat" in the reuben was seitan, which I'd never tried before. The sandwich was great! I used to love reubens when I was overweight, and I hadn't had one in a long time.
After lunch, Jerry really wanted to get a picture of himself in front of Wrigley Field, so we walked there. On the way, I saw a frozen yogurt shop, and just HAD to stop for dessert. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like EVERY food blogger has self-serve frozen yogurt at least five times a week... and I've never had it! I am always so jealous when I see the pictures.

I definitely did not skimp when I made my dish... I put in three flavors of fro-yo: red velvet, french vanilla, and pistachio. Then I topped it with cheesecake bits, cookie dough, Reese's Pieces, Reese's Cup bits, and marshmallow topping. Do I even have to describe how good it was?!

The afternoon has flown by, so we took Jerry's picture at Wrigley Field and then got on the bus to head back to the train station. Mary and I said good-bye; it was SO great to get to meet her in person! She is exactly how I pictured, and just as genuine as she is on her blog. (I think I may have scared her with my love for desserts, however...)

Jerry and I took the train back to Elgin, then drove back to Rockford and got to my sister's at 6:45. I got a text message from my friend Sarah, and everything went well with her c-section today. I am SO excited! This is probably the closest I'll ever get to being an aunt ;)  I'm going to give her a call tomorrow for some more details.

I didn't end up running today like I was supposed to. I was thinking I'd run when I got back from Chicago, but it was 92 degrees--much too hot for me! So I decided I'll get up early tomorrow morning and run instead. I did, however, do my scheduled workout for the Wii Active 30-Day Challenge. That is some serious dedication, I swear. My sister and the kids were making s'mores while I was sweating it out in the basement with the Wii. But I felt good about burning off a smidge of the ice cream I ate today ;)

July 29, 2012

Rockford, Day 2

I slept like a rock last night. It was so nice! Normally, when I'm not at home, I have a really hard time sleeping, but I definitely didn't have that problem last night.

I didn't have a scheduled run OR a Wii Active workout today. I actually brought my Wii and the Wii Active stuff with me to Jeanie's, so that I can keep up with my 30-Day Challenge. Tomorrow I am supposed to do a run and a Wii workout. Since I'm going to Chicago in the morning, I'll probably do it in the evening when I get back.

My sister has the amazing White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter, so I made some cream of wheat for breakfast and topped it with the peanut butter. It was so good! I love that peanut butter, but it's hard to keep it in the house at home--I eat it all in one day. Jeanie also had the stuff to make mimosas for breakfast. How fun!

I spent some time chatting with Shawn, my brother-in-law, this morning; then I went with Jeanie to take her dog on a play date. Yes, a play date. For a dog. Her basset hound Remy has a "friend" from the dog park, a pit bull named Peanut.

My sister kept asking if there was something we'd like to do for entertainment (she's very active and is always planning all kinds of things), but I honestly just wanted to relax while we're here. I am perfectly content to sit outside and have a few drinks and chat.

We went to a late lunch/early dinner at Old Chicago. I ordered water to drink, but while we were waiting for our food, I saw a picture of a mojito on the table--and I really wanted one. I hadn't had one in a long time! So I decided to get it, and it was fantastic!
My sister said she thinks mojitos are gross, and taste like "lettuce in a glass", but the meddled mint is my favorite part!

I'm almost ashamed to post this, because I didn't eat very well yesterday... but Jeanie ordered everyone a cookie dessert after lunch. I know I didn't need any more calories, but it was too irresistible to pass up. And vacation calories don't count, right?! ;)
That's a perfectly-baked chocolate chip cookie topped with ice cream and whipped cream. I ordered one of these before at a different restaurant, but the cookie was terrible. The one I had today was AMAZING. I was very full after lunch, and none of us was hungry for dinner.

Tomorrow I'm going to be extra careful about my calories, however. I will eat a good breakfast, but then we are taking the train to Chicago, and having lunch in Chicago. I'm going to order what I want, but I'll just be careful not to stuff myself. Especially if I'm going to have to run when I get back to my sister's house!

In other news, my long-time best friend Sarah (who lives in Arizona) is having her baby tomorrow! Remember how I was the matron of honor in her wedding in October last year? She got pregnant just a couple of months later, and tomorrow she is having a c-section  (the baby is really big). I'm super excited for her! I wish I could go out there to meet her baby boy, but I will probably go sometime next year.

July 28, 2012

Rockford, Day 1

Well, I am writing this from Rockford, IL, at my sister's house.

This morning, I woke up early to finish packing for our trip and to get in a Wii Active workout before we left. I finished workout #8 of the 30-Day Challenge today. I had to do the "kick ups" or "butt kicks" again--those kill my calves! But I've noticed that I'm getting better at the exercises I hate--and they are feeling a little easier, which is a good sign.
After I finished the workout, Jerry and I finished getting ready to go. I was worried about leaving the cats... normally, people can just put out a bunch of food and water for their cat when they go away, but we can't do that. Because we have FOUR cats, we have to have someone come take care of them the same that you would a dog. The litter box has to be cleaned out every single day. And it's gross--nobody likes doing that for their OWN pet, let alone someone else's!

We finally got out the door at around 9:45, and we went and picked up the kids, who had spent the night at my parents' house. Then we headed out at about 10:00. We stopped at Tim Horton's, since we didn't have breakfast at home. I got a blueberry bagel with cream cheese while Jerry and the kids got doughnuts.

The drive is about six hours, and it actually passed pretty quickly. We stopped at about noon for lunch--the kids wanted Steak 'N Shake. I looked at their menu and saw that they didn't have a single vegetarian item, and decided to just wait in the car while Jerry and the kids ate. I was hungry and irritated, and after we left, I ended up getting a Blizzard from Dairy Queen--definitely not a smart choice for lunch, but options on the Ohio Turnpike are completely limited, and I ate that out of frustration.

We got to Jeanie's house at around 3:30 (we gained an hour going there, because we are in different time zones). Jeanie ordered Chicago-style pizza for dinner, and it was fantastic!! I had a piece with green pepper and feta cheese, my favorite. I definitely ate a lot of junk today, but I don't feel guilty about it in the slightest. I do need to be careful that I don't gain a ton of weight while I'm here though!

After we had dinner, we went to Rockford Speedway. We all picked cars that we liked and hoped would win. Eli kept changing his mind throughout the race, always making sure his favorite car was the one that was in first place. But it was cute to watch him, because he got SO excited.
Jeanie taught him what the different flags meant, and he loved waving his flag for the last lap.

The kids didn't want to stay very long, so we left after about a hour or so. I'm not sure what the plan is for tomorrow yet. I'm super excited for Monday, because Jerry and I are going to Chicago to meet up with Mary from my Ragnar team!

If I happen to post at odd times this week, it's just because I'm at my sister's--but I will post when I can. Have a great weekend!

July 27, 2012

Push-ups in the woods

Long run today. This week is a cut-back week, meaning my mileage is shorter, so my long run was "only" 10 miles.

I finished reading Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance, and I absolutely loved it! It's unlike any other "diet" book I've ever read, because it's specifically geared toward endurance athletes, rather than the average person looking to lose weight. While I find it strange to call myself an athlete, I AM training for my second marathon, which is an endurance sport. So therefore, I guess I'm an endurance athlete?

But anyway, Racing Weight lays out the plan for endurance athletes--of different sports, and different amounts of training. There is waaay too much information to go over everything, but a few changes that I plan on trying out right now are: 1) To have a high-carb snack before I run; 2) To use either a sports drink or Gu during my runs (I haven't been doing the Gu since the marathon); 3) Eat as soon as possible after I run; 4) Try and follow this as a general plan:
The book goes into a lot of detail about what foods are "high quality",
as well as the timing of meals.
So as soon as I got up this morning, I had a Larabar (almost pure carbs). I didn't have any Gatorade to take on my run, so I brought a Gu and water. I parked at my usual spot and headed out on my favorite route. My legs felt really tired! I was kind of frustrated, because I had barely started running when my legs felt heavy. I'm guessing this might be from the Wii Active workout I did yesterday, because it was a tough leg workout. I'm going to have to try and plan those better next time.

My legs finally loosened up a little after two miles. I ran a pretty consistent pace for the first half of the run. That is something that has always been hard for me--my splits are usually all over the place.

I only looked at my Garmin at the top of every mile (when it vibrated to let me know I had finished a mile). I turned around at mile 5 for an out-and-back run. I could feel myself picking up the pace, but I couldn't help it. There were a lot of people around at that point, and I always tend to go a little faster with people around ;)

When I reached mile 6, I ate my Chocolate Mint Gu. I love that stuff! It tastes like melted Junior Mints. I was fine with my water, and still had almost a full bottle, so I didn't even stop to refill. I could see a runner ahead of me by about a half-mile. At first I thought about making it a goal to catch up, but then I thought that was stupid, and I should just run a consistent pace.

I came around a bend in the path (in the woods), and I saw him on the ground doing push-ups! I'm sure he probably thought he was alone in the woods, and nobody would see. He was pounding them out though, and looked like he was in good shape. Then he jumped up and started running again--and took his shirt off. It was then that I decided to pass him. He was about a tenth of a mile ahead of me (and he still hadn't seen me), so I picked up the pace to an 8:30ish mile, and as I caught up, I said, "Good morning!"

Poor guy looked a little surprised to see me, and I felt kind of bad for passing him, so I said, "I may pass you, but I will NOT be doing push-ups up here... good for you!" He laughed, and maybe that made him feel better about being passed by a girl.

Right after I passed him, though, I thought, "Crap, now I have to hold this pace so I don't look like an ass!" I was hoping he'd turn around at the end of the park (about a half-mile ahead) and thankfully, he did. I kept going, out of the park, and was able to slow down then. I was absolutely pouring sweat. It was really humid this morning, and I was drenched when I finally got back to the car.
I assure you, I did not do a sub-4:00 minute pace at ANY point, so that
must be a little blip just before mile 5 ;)
 I could not decide what to have for a long run "treat" today. I've been having pecan pancakes from Cracker Barrel, but because the service was so bad the last two times I went, I really didn't want to go today. I decided I wanted a doughnut from the new bakery, but they were closed by the time I went. So Jerry and I went to Kroger to get the stuff to make burgers for dinner (veggie burger for me). While we were there, I got some Moose Tracks frozen yogurt to have for dessert.

The kids are staying the night with my parents tonight, so Jerry and I are going to have a stay-at-home date night ;)

July 26, 2012

Four seconds

I was cleaning up the house this morning and discovered that I had a few things that I had to return to different stores. I figured while we were out, I would take the kids on their very first trip to Whole Foods. I knew it wasn't as exciting for them as it was for ME, but I haven't been there since probably April sometime.

We stopped at ACE Hardware for a return, Wal-Mart for a return, and then Lowe's for a return. We also stopped in a new store called Ollie's just to check it out. It reminded me of a Big Lots. I bought a 16-count box of Larabars for 7.99--50 cents each is a great price! And they were my favorite flavor--Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip.

Then we made the 45-minute drive to Whole Foods. I didn't do any shopping there, but we were going to have lunch (and a treat) and then head to Trader Joe's. All three of us wanted pizza, and I got a slice of the spinach and feta pizza...
It was okay, but I don't think I'd get it again. I wasn't crazy about the sauce.

After we finished our pizza, we went to pick out a treat from the millions of amazing desserts that Whole Foods has. The hardest part about choosing a dessert there is picking just one. They have so many that look so good! I ended up getting my beloved Turtle Brownie. The kids each got one of the chocolate peanut butter brownies.

They wanted to eat the treats there, rather than take them home. That was actually a good idea, because then I wouldn't be tempted to buy all kinds of junk at Trader Joe's. I ate my entire brownie. It was really good, but not AS good as the first time I had it. Next time I will definitely choose something else.

We went to Trader Joe's, and I picked up a couple of things--but I left thinking, "Why did I want to go there? I didn't buy anything!" I just got some wine and almond butter. Driving home was a nightmare, because there was a ton of construction.

When we got home, I remembered that I had to do my Wii Active workout. I'm on workout #7 of the 30-Day Challenge. Today it had me do "fast kick-ups" around the track two times. WOW, was that ever tough! Kick-ups are hard to describe--picture standing up, then bend one leg behind you at the knee so that your foot reaches your butt. Then switch legs quickly; keep doing that, so that you are kind of running in place by kicking your leg up behind you. My calves were killing me! But I completed Day 7...
After I showered, I decided to try and do a headstand again. And I did it!!! I was actually able to get my legs up (briefly). I tried it again, and was able to hold it for about four seconds or so--long enough for Jerry to take a picture ;)
Note: I would have changed clothes if I thought I might
take a picture that would end up on my blog!
Actually, he took a video at first... I thought he was going to take a picture. I lifted my legs up, and was waiting for the flash. I said, "HURRY!!" then I came down and then said yelled, "Damnit, why didn't you take it?!" Then he said, "I'm taking a video" and we busted up laughing. I am NOT posting that video ;)

I will say that my abs were really sore today, and I'm sure it was from trying the headstand yesterday. I'm going to keep working on it so that I can hold it longer. If nothing else, it's a great ab workout!

July 25, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Today was another double-workout day. My scheduled run was 15 minutes easy; then two repeats of 10 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy; and finishing off with 10 minutes easy--a total of 51 minutes. I put The Biggest Loser on Netflix, and hopped on the treadmill.

Almost immediately, I felt fatigued. I think my legs were really tired from yesterday's unintentional one-mile sprint. I did the 15 minutes at 6.0, which is what I usually do; then I started the first tempo interval at 7.0 (again, what I usually do). After about 4 minutes at 7.0, my legs were feeling really tired, and I decided to drop the speed down to 6.6. I finished it out at 6.6, and then did the 3 minute recovery interval at 6.0.

At that moment, the teams on The Biggest Loser started doing a challenge on the show. I decided to do 7.0 for the second tempo interval--I told myself that I would do it as long as the contestants were doing the challenge. It was actually really motivating! Every time I wanted to reduce the speed, I kept reminding myself that the contestants on the show (who were MUCH heavier than I am) were doing something MUCH harder than I was. I pushed through the fatigue and kept going.

The challenge ended when I was eight minutes into the interval with two minutes left--so I decided I could stick it out for two minutes longer. I was relieved to finish that interval, and then I did the remaining 13 minutes on 6.0 speed.
Looking at the splits, going 6.6 for most of that first interval really didn't have much effect on my distance. 1.14 miles instead of 1.19.

As soon as I was done running, I started my Wii Active workout (#6 of the 30-Day Challenge). I was so happy that I didn't have to do any forward/backward lunges today! I discovered that the resistance bands I bought are the same length as the one I was hoping to replace (too short)--so I will have to return them to Wal-Mart. I'm hoping Dunham's will have one in a longer length. So today, I had to suffer through with the shorter band--my muscles should be HUGE after using it, haha.

I made some cookies a few days ago, and I've actually been able to keep them in the house without inhaling every last one. That never happens!

I was craving peanut butter cookies really badly, but I knew it would result in a binge; so I ended up making some pumpkin spice cookies. These have so much flavor that I don't feel like I have to eat the whole batch. And they only have 64 calories each!

(I just posted the "recipe" for the cookies on my Recipes blog--I put "recipe" in quotes, because it's SO simple that it barely counts as a recipe!)

The kids and I somehow got the idea to try and do headstands today. I'm sure I was definitely a funny sight while I tried ;)  We even watched YouTube videos on how to do it. Noah actually did it, and held it for about 10 seconds!

I am able to get into a tripod position (no idea what it's called, but where you're balancing on your head and hands, with your knees resting on your elbows. From that spot, you're *supposed* to just be able to raise and straighten your legs, so that you are doing a headstand. But I cannot, for the life of me, find the strength to get my legs up. They're heavy!

I think it would be really cool to actually be able to do a headstand, so I'm going to work on it every day and see if I can make it happen.  ;)

This afternoon, I asked Jerry to clean out the litter box. When he was done scooping, he took the bag and went outside to throw it in our outdoor trash cans. He lifted the lid, tossed it in, then dropped the lid shut. Then he heard a bunch of movement inside the trash can. So he lifted the lid to look inside...

There was a raccoon in there! It was trapped, because the trash can is really deep and there was only one small bag of trash in there. I was wondering what we should do--I said maybe we should call animal control (I can't help but associate raccoons with rabies), and Jerry said we should just leave it in there. But I felt really bad for it, because it's been so hot here and it was trapped inside, so I said we should let it go.

Jerry got the broom and used the broom to lift the lid, and then he tipped the can over. The raccoon ran out of there and took off for the woods so fast that I couldn't even get a picture of him. It was really small, and looked like a baby. Poor little guy! Hopefully he learned his lesson and we won't find him back in our trash.

July 24, 2012

Running on adrenaline

I think I ran the fastest mile of my life today. And unfortunately, I will never know, because I wasn't wearing my Garmin. In fact, today was a rest day, so I wasn't even planning on running.

My mom, my sister, and I all took the boys (and Jeanie's dogs) to the state park today. Eli wanted to fish, so he brought his fishing pole; and Noah wanted to ride his bike. Jeanie and I decided to walk the dogs around the three-mile loop, and Noah could ride his bike along with us. (Lucy, my sister's other basset, doesn't like to walk too far, so Jeanie brought the wagon to pull her, haha)

We started walking, and I told Noah he didn't have to stay right next to us, but he had to stay in our sight (if he couldn't see us, he had to stop and wait for us to catch up). It worked out pretty well--if he got out of sight, I just yelled, "Noah!" and hear him respond, "What?!" and I would yell back, "Wait up!" so he would wait for us.

After about 1.3 miles or so (I know that path like the back of my hand), Noah asked if he could turn around and ride back to where my mom and Eli were. I thought about it for a minute--I could call my mom, tell her that he's on his way back, and she could watch for him. But then I thought about the one fork in the path, and I worried that he might turn the wrong way. He said he knew which way to turn, but it can be really confusing (I got lost lots of times when I first started running at the park).

I told Noah no, that he still had to stay in our sight--but we would turn around and head back instead of finishing the loop. So we started back along the path, and I noticed Noah wasn't in sight. So I yelled, "Noah!" expecting him to yell back. I didn't hear anything, so I yelled again, as loud as I could. Still, nothing. Jeanie suggested that maybe the wind was drowning it out because we had turned around, so I decided to do a short run ahead to see if I could see him (he was supposed to stay in sight, remember).

I started running, and when I went around the curve, I could see pretty far ahead--and Noah wasn't there. I picked up the pace and started running as fast as I could--faster and faster until I was running so hard, I felt like my lungs would explode. Every 10 seconds or so, I would yell his name, but there was no response. I had my phone with me, so I called my mom's cell and asked if Noah was with her. She panicked and said no, he wasn't.

I really freaked out then. I felt like I was choking, and as I ran, I was picturing all the horrible things that could have happened to him. After about a half-mile, I saw some people on bikes coming toward me. I asked them, "Did you see a little boy on a bike?" And they said yes, they had passed him "waaay back there". I kept running, and asking everyone I saw if they saw a boy on a bike. About a 1/4 mile from where my mom was, my mom called and said he showed up with her. I told her to tell him to stay there, and he was in big trouble.

Eli is obsessed with fishing lately
I was trying to catch my breath after that uber-fast sprint. I reached where my mom and the boys were, and I sat and talked to Noah about what he did. My mom told me that as soon as he reached her, she said, "Your mom is really worried about you" and Noah burst into tears--knowing that what he did was wrong. I was furious that he disobeyed me, when I was so specific about the fact that he was not allowed to go by himself (or out of sight). Of course, I was also very relieved that everything turned out okay.

I'm sure the state park is very safe, and I've never heard of anything bad happening there, but it's also very secluded, and I don't even feel safe running there by myself. I always take pepper spray if I don't have a running partner there.

My sister and her husband are going back to Illinois tonight--but first, they decided to stay and watch Noah play his final baseball game. Noah was actually chosen by his coach to play on the all-star team! There were only five kids chosen, so he is pretty proud. I'll be seeing my sister again in about a week, because we are going to visit her in Illinois. I'm excited to go--we always have fun when we visit!

July 23, 2012

A ride in the clunker

First off, the winner of the NatureBox giveaway...
Liamsmom9710, please send me an e-mail at SlimKatie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com with your name, mailing address, and phone number within 24 hours so I can pass it along to NatureBox. Congrats!!

Today was such a busy day! I woke up this morning and as usual, got my run out of the way first thing. On the schedule was: 20 minutes easy run, then 6 repeats of (2 minutes hard running, 2 minutes easy), finishing with 10 minutes easy... so a total of 54 minutes.

I did my easy running at 6.0 mph and the intervals at 8.0, 8.0, 7.5, 7.2, 7.5, 8.0. I was hoping to do all 8.0's, but it was tough!
I love how nice and neat my pace looks on a chart like that! About 2 minutes in, you can see I had to stop for a second. I forgot to bring the fan in next to the treadmill, and there was no way I could run without a fan blowing on me. I wore a new pair of shoes today, too--Brooks Adrenaline 12's. I still have some mileage left on the Mizuno's I bought to try, but on long runs, I was getting blisters with the Mizuno's, so I decided to switch back to my beloved Adrenaline's. My new ones are black; I've never had black running shoes before, and I kind of like them!

So anyway, I watched The Biggest Loser while I was running, and it went by pretty quickly.
When I was done, I had to do Day 5 of my 30-Day Wii Active Challenge. I was relieved to see that it said we would "give my legs a break" and focus on my arms today, because I despise lunges! But they still made me do lunges today--4 sets of them. I guess that's giving them a break compared to what I had to do yesterday. There are different kinds of lunges to do, and yesterday I had to do "jumping lunges"... where you step back into a deep lunge, and then jump up high and switch legs in the air and land into a lunge on the opposite leg. Hard to describe, but I hated every second of BOTH sets.

I finished my first complete week of the challenge, and I'm 25% of the way done. I've never made it through 5 workouts of the challenge, hahaha.
Tomorrow is a rest day from running AND the Wii Active--looking forward to that :)

After showering and having breakfast, I went to Wal-Mart to get a new resistance band for the Wii. The one that came with the game was old and it broke a few days ago. So I had to use the one that I got from the sports medicine doctor, but it was much shorter, and nearly impossible to do shoulder presses. It was really irritating to use it--my hands hurt from the straps digging into them. So I got a new one, and now it should be fine again.

My sister asked me if I wanted to go to Amigo's for dinner with the kids, and I said sure. Amigo's is our family's favorite restaurant of all time--I remember going there all the time when I was a kid, and I still love it. Anyway, she wanted to drop off my brother Nathan's dog at his house. I really didn't want the dog in my Jeep, so I ended up taking the van.

We have a 1999 minivan, and I am terrified of driving it. It's old and has broken down lots of times. Jerry drives it to work and back, and that's it. My brother's house is about 30 minutes away, so I was nervous, but I decided to just hope for the best.

It was actually kind of funny--the air conditioner barely gets cool, let alone cold, so we had to have it going full-blast the whole time just so we didn't suffocate in the 100 degree weather. The driver's side window doesn't go down, so you have to open the door if you need to talk to someone (or place an order at a drive thru!). None of the interior lights will shut off, so Jerry had to dismantle all of them. And there are lots of other little quirks this van has.

First we drove the dog to Nathan's, then we drove 30 minutes to Amigo's. Dinner was great! I normally get the flautas, but since I stopped eating meat, I decided to get cheese quesadillas--which had all the good stuff piled on top. I asked if their beans were vegetarian, and they were; but sadly, their rice was not. So I just had a double order of beans. I ate about half of everything, being careful not to get stuffed (I hate that feeling!)

We ordered food for Jerry and Nathan, who were both working. So then we drove the clunker van 20 minutes to Jerry's work, and then another 20 minutes to Nathan's work. Then home. I am amazed that we made it home in one piece!

Oh, and Jeanie had borrowed the van this morning to go pick up Bailey (Nathan's dog) to play with her dogs at my mom's house. She took the kids with her, and one of her dogs. So picture this: Jeanie, two kids, and two dogs in the clunker van. And then the kids convinced her to go through the drive-thru at Burger King, where she discovered she couldn't put down the window, so she had to open the door to order and pick up the food. Hahahaha, just thinking of that scenario makes me laugh.

July 22, 2012

Reader Questions & Answers #22

On Sundays, I will answer some readers' questions in a post. If you have a question that you would like me to answer here on the blog, just send me an e-mail with the subject "Q&A", and I may include them in a future Q&A post. They don't have to be about weight loss or running--anything is game!  (Remember, I'm not a doctor or dietician, or any sort of medical professional--I can only answer questions from my own experience).

Q. How did you prepare for the half-marathon that you walked?

A. The first half-marathon that I walked (my first race ever, actually) was the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in 2008. I had no idea what to expect, but my sister had walked one, and told me I could do it if I trained for it. She stressed how important it was to train, because I would be really sore if I didn't.

In retrospect, I should have listened ;)  I was very overweight at the time I registered (probably about 215? This was after losing some weight). I guess I assumed that walking was "just walking", and anyone could walk 13.1 miles. I did about 2-3 training walks of a few miles each in the fall--and nothing else until the race in May. Very bad idea!

Totally miserable! 2008
I was miserable the entire time, my legs and feet were absolutely killing me, and I could barely walk back to the hotel afterward. It didn't get any better, and I went to a podiatrist when I got home. He said I had pretty bad tendonitis, and I wound up in a walking cast for a few weeks. I registered for the following year's race, but made sure to train for it.

So to answer your question, I followed a training schedule by Hal Higdon for walking a half-marathon. I was so worried about screwing up my feet and legs like I had the previous year, that I made sure to follow it to the letter. The first week of his program has a three-mile walk for the long walk day, so you should be able to do that before you start the program. If you can't walk three miles yet, I would build up to that first.

Hal's training plan is 12 weeks, so I would count backwards from your race and pick the date to start the plan. I think throughout the whole schedule, I missed only a couple of walks. I made SURE to get in the long walks once a week, but if I had to miss a shorter walk once in a while, it wasn't the end of the world.

On race day in 2009, I was my heaviest at 253 pounds (my "before" photo, with the blue shirt, was taken at that race). But I felt GREAT when I finished the race! The training had certainly paid off, and I enjoyed myself. I could walk afterward, even though I was sore--it was a "normal" sore, and not the kind that took me to the doctor ;)  

Q. Am I the only one that keeps slicing her legs while shaving because I'm not used to the bones?

A. This question made me laugh. I'm not sure if it was hypothetical or not, but I wanted to respond. I've not had that problem with my legs (my legs are anything-but bony!), but I remember the day I discovered why armpits are called armpits. 

This is probably way more than you wanted to know about me, but when I was heavy, my armpits weren't really "pits" at all--they were flat and very easy to shave. But when I had lost a good chunk of weight, probably about 80 pounds or so, I noticed that my armpits were concave and much harder to shave! Then it dawned on me, "Ohhhh, that's why they are called armpits. Duh!"

This isn't a question, but I wasn't sure where else to fit it in. I get a lot of e-mails from companies and websites asking me to mention them in my blog. Normally, I send a polite "thanks-but-no-thanks", but I got an e-mail from a company recently that really "tugged at my heartstrings" (words of the very wise Mattie Stepanek). Here is a quote from the e-mail I received from Jessica, the woman who started Headbands of Hope:
This little girl is Tori
"Last year, I participated in a summer internship with the Make a Wish Foundation. I found that many girls fighting childhood cancer lose their hair during their rigorous chemotherapy treatments. I realized that headbands are the perfect way for these girls to keep their feminine identity and have a constant reminder that they're not alone.

For girls and women everywhere, their hair is a part of their feminine identity. Wigs can be uncomfortable and unappealing, especially to younger girls. Therefore, I started Headbands of Hope. For every headband purchased, one headband will go to a girl with cancer and $1 will be donated to the St. Baldrick's Foundation to fund life-saving childhood cancer research.

Headbands of Hope provides a movement to spread hope in all girls and fight in the battle against childhood cancer, one headband at a time. We have a glitter athletic band line that would be perfect for your readers. I'm a runner and I run in them all the time!"
I think it's amazing what Headbands of Hope is doing! The headbands are really cute, and I just ordered one for myself. It's heartbreaking for ANY child to go through something like cancer, and I love that Headbands of Hope has a mission to make little girls feel pretty, despite the awful cancer treatments. So if you like headbands, or you are looking for a gift for a little girl, I encourage you to check out their website :)

Jessica wrote on her blog about how the idea for the headbands came about--just beware, I sobbed while reading it!

July 21, 2012

NatureBox Giveaway!

Noah is home, safe and sound. My sister, Jeanie, and brother-in-law, Shawn, drove him here yesterday. They are staying for a few days to visit, and they brought their two basset hounds with them. Jeanie and Shawn don't have kids, and they treat their bassets like children. Jeanie was very worried about leaving Remy (short for Remington) tonight, when they go to Shawn's high school reunion.

Since she certainly did her share of spoiling Noah rotten while he was staying at her house, I decided to take Remy for a walk this evening. I am definitely not a "dog person", but it was the least I could do. We walked about 3 miles, and on the way back to the car, we stopped at a frozen custard stand so I could buy him an ice cream cone...
I wasn't really in the mood for ice cream. I KNOW--what the heck, right?! I must be coming down with something.

Anyway, on to the giveaway...

A company called NatureBox contacted me recently and asked if I would like to try their July box. I checked out their website, and was intrigued. When I was a kid, I used to LOVE buying grab bags from the dollar store--the whole mystery of not knowing what you were buying always sucked me in ;)

Which is one of the reasons I think this company is pretty fun--you pay a monthly subscription, and they send you a box filled with 4-6 different bags of snacks. Each month has different products, so you never know what you're going to get. A lot of the snacks look like varieties of nuts and dried fruits, which you know I LOVE. All of their products contain:

When I got the box, there were 5 different bags of snacks. I won't go into a lot of detail about the snacks themselves, because you would be getting different ones than I got. But they were really good! I pretty much inhaled the trail mix, and Eli claimed the BBQ sunflower seeds as his. Jerry and I both agreed the tomato almonds were our favorite (which is strange, because neither of us like tomatoes). Between me, Jerry, and Eli, all 5 bags were nearly polished off within two days.

NatureBox has very generously offered to give a box away to one lucky Runs for Cookies reader! (I'm sorry international friends, but you must live in the U.S. for this one). FYI, the box you get will not be the same as the box I got--it will be a future month's box. Also, they cannot customize the box for dietary needs (i.e. gluten free, nut allergies, etc) at this time--although it's a possibility for the future.

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment here telling me what you look for when choosing a snack. I will select a winner Monday (7/23) at 8:00 a.m. EST. CONTEST HAS NOW ENDED.

NatureBox is also offering 25% off your first month of subscription if you use the promo code ZESTY (the 25% discount is only applicable to the month-to-month subscription. 6 month subscriptions receive 1 month free and 12 month subscriptions receive 3 months free).

(In full disclosure, I was given a NatureBox for free to review, but I was not paid for the post and all opinions are truthful).

July 20, 2012

Double workout

I have no idea why I was anxious about my long run this morning, but I didn't get much sleep last night because of it. I think I was just worried about being so sore and trying to run 12 miles. My calves were still very tight and sore when I got out of bed, but I was determined not to skip my run. Eli spent the night at my parents' house last night, so I was able to take advantage of that and run outside.

It was also very nice running weather this morning, considering the weather we've had lately. It was 67 degrees and overcast. I did my favorite trail through the Metropark, but had to add in a little extra to hit 12 miles.

As soon as I started running, I thought, "Oh wow, this is going to be a long run!" because my calves were hurting from the Wii Active. I hoped they would loosen up after a couple of miles, and they did--thank goodness. I ran 5 miles, going to the far point of the Metropark, then turned around.

As soon as I turned around, I was running directly into a strong wind. I had no idea how windy it was, because it was at my back the whole way out. As soon as I wasn't so close to the lake, the wind wasn't too bad anymore. Instead of following my route back to the car, I did a 2-mile detour to add some mileage.

I ran a dirt trail that loops through the woods and right along the lake. I love to run that spot!
This picture was from April. Now everything is full and green, so it's a lot thicker. But still, you get the idea.

I refilled my water at about mile 8. That was actually the only time I stopped throughout the entire run. My knee held up perfectly, so I didn't have to do any walk breaks. I kept a pretty even pace the whole time, which is my main goal on my long runs--to stay consistent.

At about mile 9, this guy came up behind me riding a very strange looking little bike thing (I just did a Google search, and it is apparently called a Trikke). It looks like this:
I told him it looks like fun, and he said he calls it his "Butt Master" because it really works the backside of his legs. He said when he first got it, he couldn't even go a whole city block, because it's such hard exercise. And from the looks of it, I believe him! I tried to get a picture after he passed, but you can't see much:
As soon as I hit mile 11, just a mile from the car, a girl turned a corner and was running about a block ahead of me. She was dressed in the tiniest shorts I've ever seen and a sports bra. She didn't have a single jiggle of skin or fat anywhere. And she was fast. I tried keeping pace with her, but that lasted all of 15 seconds. Finally made it back to the car, feeling really good about my run...
As I drove home, I remembered that I also was supposed to do the Wii Active 30-Day Challenge today. I really didn't want to! My legs were extremely sore from the last two workouts, and I had just run 12 miles. But like I said, I am determined to finish the challenge this time. So I didn't even eat breakfast before jumping into the Wii Active workout. Thankfully, there was a lot of focus on arms today. I did have to do the inline skating once, which was killer; and I had to do side-to-side jumps, but those went by fast.

This time my heart rate monitor said I burned more calories than the game. The heart rate monitor showed a burn of 150 calories, compared to 145 on the game. My heart was probably working a little harder since I was already exhausted from the run.

I quickly showered and all I could think of was breakfast. I am rarely in the mood for eggs, but I really wanted scrambled eggs with potatoes and cheese. So I peeled and shredded a potato, and cooked it with some diced green pepper, and then added 3 eggs and a wedge of chipotle Laughing Cow cheese. It was SO good, and just what I needed after all the exercise.
I read my book until Jerry woke up, and then we (along with Eli) went to Cracker Barrel for lunch so I could get my beloved pecan pancakes. They were fantastic, as always, but the service was terrible and it kind of ruined my runner's high. I told Jerry maybe I'll think of a different treat to refuel my long runs with. The last two times we've gone there, the service was bad.

I actually finished The Glass Castle today! Much sooner than I expected to, which means it held my interest enough to make me want to keep reading. It reminded me SO MUCH of the TV show on Showtime called "Shameless". (I absolutely love that show!) But anyway, the book was great and I'm glad I read it. Thanks to all of you who suggested it! Next I'm going to start on Racing Weight.

July 19, 2012

Lots and lots of lunges

Another dentist appointment this morning... this time for Eli. I'd always taken the boys to a pediatric dentist (40 minutes away!) but it was so hard to get an appointment, and then when they called to cancel my last appointment, I decided I'd had it. So I'm switching the kids over to the same dentist and hygienist that I see.

Eli is a total pro at going to the dentist--when he was three, he had to have braces. Yes, like the kind you get as a teenager. He had a cross bite that made him unable to bring his molars together, and consequently, he would choke on his food a LOT because he couldn't chew it well. So the dentist put braces on for four months in order to correct his bite--and it worked perfectly! He was seriously the cutest kid EVER with those braces though...
He used to call them his "bracelets".

So anyway, I looked like a weirdo walking into the dentist because I was walking so strangely--I was SUPER sore when I woke up today. I thought my calves were sore yesterday? Ha! Today I could just barely move around for the first half of the day.

I so badly wanted to put off the next Wii Active workout, but I'm determined to finish this 30-day challenge, so I waited until evening. Thankfully, the workout didn't include the inline skating, because I don't think I could have done that. Instead, I had to do at least 30,000 lunges--I hate lunges! The side lunges aren't TOO bad, but I really despise the forward/backward lunges. I was seriously cursing at the TV. But I finished workout 2 of 20.

Of course this is the day before my long run, so I can only hope my legs aren't feeling like Jello tomorrow morning! I totally underestimated how well the Wii Active actually works my body. I wore my Garmin heart rate monitor during the workout today to see how accurate the calorie burn was...
The Wii said 157 calories and my Garmin said 133, so it's not too far off.

I got a package from Amazon today. I love getting packages, because it feels like Christmas--even though I already knew what it was, since I ordered it ;) I have this habit of putting things in my Amazon cart and leaving them there for a really long time until I either remove them or buy them. It's actually a good thing, because then I don't make very impulsive purchases. I had two items in my cart for the longest time: a Teavana Perfectea Maker and the book Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald.

Then last week, I made a totally impulsive purchase, and while I was at it, I finally ordered the tea maker and book as well. My totally impulsive purchase? A 96-count package of single-serve Nutella! hahaha
I LOVE Nutella, but I can never keep a jar of it in the house, because I will eat it all--in one or two sittings. So these little things are perfect for me. I can even eat it right out of each container (because of course that's the best way) and not have to worry about eating too much. Eli was very excited about getting the Nutella as well ;)

Also in the package were my Teavana Perfectea Maker and book:

I never buy books--ever since I discovered what a gem the public library is, I don't like to waste money on books. But Racing Weight isn't available at my library, or even in my library system. So I finally decided to just order it on Amazon. I'm super excited to read it, but I refuse to start it until I've finished my current book, The Glass Castle. (Now that I think about it, that's probably why I never finished The Glass Castle the first time I attempted it--I have a bad habit of starting a book, then getting a new one, and reading the new one instead of finishing the previous book). I'll write a review on Racing Weight once I'm done reading it, since it's pretty relevant to my blog.

Noah comes home from my sister's house tomorrow. I'm actually really surprised how fast the week without him went by! It sounds like he had a totally miserable time on his little vacation... ;)
My sister's Facebook status today
Hahaha, he's going to be SO sad to leave tomorrow, I'm sure! My sister and her husband are driving back here with him, and then they are going to stay for a few days to visit. Should be a fun weekend!

July 18, 2012

Special delivery

As soon as I opened my eyes this morning, I thought, "Wow, my calves are so sore!" I was hoping that my thighs would be sore from yesterday's workout, but I mostly just felt it in my calves and triceps.

Today's scheduled run was the same as last week--15 minutes easy, then two repeats of (10 minutes tempo pace, then 3 minutes easy), finishing with 10 minutes easy. A total of 51 minutes. I chose to do the treadmill again. The treadmill makes doing tempo runs much simpler. When I run outside, I tend to daydream and totally forget that I'm supposed to be holding a particular pace. On the treadmill, you just set the pace and forget about it.

I did the "easy" pace at 6.0 mph and the tempo pace at a comfortably-hard 7.0.
I watched Season 9 Episode 3 of The Biggest Loser while I ran, and it wasn't very interesting today--which made the treadmill very boring at times. I need to find a show that I can get really interested in so that I don't even mind that I'm on a treadmill. Especially when I have to do some of my long runs on the treadmill, which is bound to happen sooner or later.

I had set the calibration to 900 on my Garmin foot pod, and found that that was pretty close to what the treadmill was reading, so I will leave it at that. But I really don't believe my treadmill is properly calibrated, as I've mentioned before. Even the timer on it is off--I started the Garmin's timer just 5 seconds after the treadmill timer, and by the end of the run, the treadmill timer was off by 12 seconds instead of 5!

It doesn't sound like a big deal, but it makes me wonder how off the speed is, too. I'm glad I chose the marathon training program I did this time around, because the runs are based on time rather than distance (except for the long runs). So it really doesn't matter how fast or slow I go, because I'm going to be running for a specific time regardless.

For breakfast this morning, I decided to make the same thing as yesterday--but cold oatmeal, this time. When I ate the Banana Cranberry Oat Bars, I always ate them right out of the fridge because they tasted the best that way. So yesterday, when I recreated the bars with hot oatmeal, it was lacking that one little element. Today I combined 1/2 cup quick oats, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, and 1/2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup in a bowl, and then let it sit in the fridge for 20 minutes while I showered and dressed. When I took it out, I topped it with 1/2 a sliced banana, and a sprinkle of coconut and dried cranberries. It was heavenly! The cold oats made it perfect:
I didn't put almond butter on it this time, but I didn't miss it at all. I think I actually preferred it without the almond butter.

I had a dentist appointment this morning, just for a cleaning. I despise going to the dentist, but I really do like my hygenist and my dentist. My dentist is a runner, so we usually chat about that--today I told him about the Ragnar Relay Florida Keys team. I get butterflies in my stomach every time I think about the race! Of course I'm way more excited to meet my team than I am about running the race, but I'm just nervous and giddy about the whole experience. Nervous in a good way, of course!

So I started reading The Glass Castle yesterday, and I was right--I knew I had read it (or at least started it) before. But I have no idea why I didn't finish it, because this book is so good!! I had planned on making myself read 20 pages per day, but I found I didn't want to stop reading, and I'm already halfway through it (meaning I've been reading ALL day). I really do love a good memoir.

I got a very special delivery from Fitness magazine today. I was super excited when I opened it:
Some awesome fitness gear and my "official" Fitterati award!

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