June 30, 2013

Six months in

Jerry and I went to see World War Z last night, and I thought it was really good! I wasn't expecting much, because it is rated PG-13, which is strange for a movie about zombies. But the movie was scary and jumpy without being super gory, which was actually really refreshing. I don't mind goriness, but it seems like movies are constantly trying to outdo each other by being even more gory than the last, rather than focusing on a good plot.

I used to hate zombie movies, or anything to do with zombies. Then I promised Jerry I'd watch ONE episode of The Walking Dead, just to prove how dumb it was. And by the time he got home from work that day, I'd watched the entire first season ;) Anyway, I never read the World War Z book, so I can't compare the movie to that, but I really liked the movie.

Before the movie, we went to Mrs. Fields so that I could spend my activity PointsPlus on a peanut butter dream bar. Jerry wanted one, too, and as usual, they are buy 2 get 1 free. If someone had been in line behind us, I would have offered it to them, but nobody was there. So as tempting as it was to get it, we declined the free dream bar. I wish I was one of those people that could stick it in the freezer for another day, but I would have eaten it before we even got home!

I was really missing the kids this morning. They spent the night at the campground with my parents last night, and this morning, I watched the Anna Nicole move that was on Lifetime last night. Watching that made me think about the kids (I kept feeling sorry for Anna Nicole's son throughout the movie), and I was excited for them to get home.

Today, I had a four-mile tempo run on the schedule. My last few tempo runs haven't been good at all, so I was getting a little worried about how it would feel. I decided to do the treadmill, because it's easier to maintain a consistent pace. My goal for tempo pace is 8:02-8:18/mi, and the last few tempos I've done, I've really struggled just to finish.

I turned on Pretty Little Liars, and set the treadmill at an 8:06 pace. I'm relieved to say that I had a good tempo run today! It wasn't easy--tempo runs are supposed to make you a little uncomfortable--but I was able to do all four miles at my target pace, and I didn't feel terrible. After the first half-mile or so, my heart rate was in Zone 4 the entire time, which is just where I wanted it to be.

After my long run on Friday, my mileage for June was at 98. So today's run put me over the 100 miles mark. I'm halfway through the year, and still going strong on my goal of 100 miles per month. And the best part is, I've remained injury-free.

Sarah's husband Ne came in from Arizona last night (Jerry went to pick him up from the airport at 2:00 AM!). Tomorrow, they are coming over with their 10-month old, Alex, and we're going to cook out on the grill. I'm hoping for better weather than we've been getting; it's been storming on and off every day for about a week straight!

June 29, 2013

A long car ride

I feel like I spent the entire day in the car today. My kids went camping overnight with my parents, and they wanted me and Jerry to go up and see them. They'd been fishing and swimming, and they were excited to show us the campground. My mom said it was about an hour away, so Jerry and I decided to go up there and see them before our date night.

On the way up to the campground, I got a text from my sister. She was in the Upper Peninsula, and she saw these cookies at a bakery: two peanut butter cookies with peanut butter frosting sandwiched in between, drizzled with chocolate.  My eyes bugged out of my head when I saw the pic.

She offered to ship one to me, and while I was totally tempted, I figured it probably wouldn't taste very good by the time it got here.

The drive ended up being an hour and a half--if we hadn't gotten lost. But by the time we finally found it, we had been in the car for two hours. The kids were really excited to show us the campground, though, so it was worth it. Eli is all boy, catching tadpoles, toads, turtles, and fish.

Noah wanted to rent a paddle boat, so I made him a deal--if he let me pull his (super loose) tooth, we'd rent the boat. It took some convincing, but finally I pulled his tooth (seeing it dangle there was driving me crazy--it was beyond ready to come out). Then Jerry took the paddle boat out with the kids.

When we headed home, we drove a little over an hour and then stopped at La Pita for dinner. I got the chicken tawook sandwich again, and we shared some hummus. I wanted to save enough of my activity PointsPlus that I earned yesterday for dessert today. We're going to see a movie tonight, so I'm going to get a peanut butter dream bar from Mrs. Fields while we're at the mall. After dinner at La Pita, I have just enough PointsPlus left for the dream bar.

I can't remember if I mentioned this, but we took the kids to see Monsters University last week, and during the movie, the film just shut off. It took a long time for it to come back on, and then when it did, it was way ahead of where it left off. They finally got everything back to normal, but it took about 20 minutes. So while we were leaving after the show, we were given four free tickets to use whenever we'd like. Jerry's been really excited to see World War Z, so that's what we're going to see tonight.

I'm going to keep this short, so we can make it to the movie on time. I wore my hair curly today, for the first time since getting it cut, and I think the shorter cut works well with my curls. I kind of like it!

June 28, 2013

A humid long run

Phoebe is driving me INSANE with her wake-up calls every day. Literally, every single day, she wakes me up. First, she was scratching her nails on the carpet. I finally started ignoring that, rather than scold her, hoping she'd just give up. So now she plays around in my window blinds, which is even louder. She tries to climb in between the slats, and then positions herself between the blinds and the window, making a ton of noise in the process. She's been doing this at 5:15 every morning.

Anyway, I was up bright and early, but I had decided to do my run on the treadmill today. I was feeling anxious about running long outside after how I felt last week. So I ate breakfast, and while I was drinking my tea, I was reading through my latest issue of Runner's World magazine, which is a special issue about the Boston bombings.

Reading through that really inspired me to take the run outside, and stop worrying about it. So I decided to drive to the Metropark and do two six-mile out-and-back routes from my car. It wasn't super hot (72 degrees--hotter than ideal for running, but it could have been worse for late June), but it was very humid (78% humidity).

My plan was to just keep my heart rate in Zone 3 (139-155 bpm). I brought my handheld water bottle with me (knowing I'd have to stop at the water fountains to refill a couple of times). I also brought along my point-and-shoot camera, that I really haven't used since I got my iPhone a year ago. I almost always see something that makes me wish I had a camera with me.

Less than a mile in, my heart rate was already in Zone 4, so I kept consciously trying to slow my pace. My legs wanted to go faster, but my cardiovascular system was definitely wanting me to slow down. So the first couple of miles, my pace was going up and down, trying to find a good compromise.

My newly-short hair was driving me insane. I had it in a ponytail, and it kept slapping my left ear with every step. Not my right ear, just my left. In hindsight, I should have just stopped and taken a minute to adjust everything, but I decided to wait until I got back to the car at mile six. I accidentally took a picture while I was tugging at my hair, mid-run.

I reached the end of the park at mile three, then turned around and headed back. I stopped on the bridge to get a quick picture.

When I got back to the car, I ditched the camera--I didn't see a single thing worth taking a picture of, so there was no use taking it out again. I pulled my hair into a knot, and then started on the second half of my run. My hair felt a million times better after that!

I started to feel pretty good around mile 7, and that lasted until about mile 10; probably because of the slower pace. I stopped once more at mile 10.75 to refill my water bottle, and I dumped the entire thing over my head. I was completely sopping wet after that, but it did feel better! Then I just did what I could to make it back to the car. My heart rate was too high, but it's hard for me to slow down when I know the end is getting close ;)

Got back to the car, and dried off with the towel I brought. Overall, it was a tough run, but I'm glad I did it outside instead of on the treadmill. My pace was kind of slow, but I wasn't worried about that. I was actually kind of surprised just how consistent my splits were! The first couple of years that I was running, my splits were all over the place; now, it's not unusual to have several splits within a second or two of each other.

I didn't spend my activity PointsPlus today, because I want to save them for tomorrow. Jerry and I are having a date night, and even though I have no idea what we're going to do, I'd like the option to spend them then. My stomach was actually kind of upset all afternoon after my run today.

Tonight, Sarah is coming over for a little while. I'm looking forward to some adult conversation! I'll have a glass of wine, but I'm stopping with one. Last time she came over for wine, I had four glasses, and felt awful the next day!

June 27, 2013

Cherry pickin'

I'd like to say hello and welcome to any new readers who found my blog from Another Mother Runner! I was honored to have my story featured on their site. The site has some great info for runners (not just mother-runners, either!). Anyway, thank you for stopping by :)

I'd also like to say thanks for the encouraging comments on my last post. It always helps to know that I'm not alone--whether with weight management, or depression and anxiety. Yesterday was a rougher day than usual for me, and I'm glad I ended up mentioning it on my blog.

Nothing like a good run to make me feel better, though! This morning, I had four miles at easy run pace on the schedule. I had to do the treadmill today. Over the past year or so, I've actually made peace with the 'mill. I used to hate with a passion, but once I started setting up my computer to watch a good show on Netflix, I realized it's not so bad. I don't dread running on it anymore.

The one drawback to running on the treadmill instead of outside (for me) is that I don't get the same kind of "runner's high" that I get from running outside. There is something about running outside that just makes me feel sweaty and beat-up, like I really did something good for my body. Physically, I get that from the treadmill (sweaty and beat-up), but I don't get that same feeling mentally. I hope that makes sense; it's hard to describe.

But anyway, I set the pace at a 9:00/mi and just ran and watched Pretty Little Liars. That show is VERY addicting, by the way! Four miles flew by pretty quickly, and 36 minutes later, I was done. I felt kind of tired today, but I think that's because of the rough (mental) day I had yesterday.

I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon working on little projects in the house. I cleaned out a few cupboards and drawers. I wish I'd done it a long time ago; it didn't take long, and they look so much better! Here are a few before/after pics:

Random junk drawer in the kitchen

This one still isn't super organized, but it does look neater
It was actually kind of fun going through everything and getting rid of stuff. 

This afternoon, we went over to my parents' house, and my dad said that the cherries were ripe on his cherry tree if we wanted to pick some. They have to be picked within a few days, because the birds eat them otherwise. I picked one to try, and it was SO good (I love sweet cherries!) so Jerry got out a ladder and we picked a bag to take home.

I probably ate about 20 of them while we were picking. Jerry doesn't like cherries, which I think is crazy!

I really want a fruit tree. When we first moved in here (10 years ago), I planted an apple tree. Some jackass ripped it out of the ground shortly after I planted it, and it died. I tried again the following year, and that one died, too (not sure why). Finally, I planted one that lasted a while. After two years, there were four apples that grew on it, and I was so excited! Then my dad told me that I needed to cut the tips of the branches to help it grow better (or something like that). So I did.

Yep, it died. I haven't tried again, but I would love to have some sort of fruit tree! The cherries are a huge mess, but an apple tree would be nice.

The kids' baseball game was canceled again today. We've been having thunderstorms all week long. Today, my brother, Nathan, was supposed to come watch them play, so I was really disappointed that it was canceled. Hopefully the storms cool everything off for my long run in the morning ;)

I have to run 12 miles tomorrow, and after last week's long run, I'm a little nervous. I'm going to run based on my heart rate, rather than my pace, so hopefully I won't feel as exhausted as I did last week. Last week wasn't terrible, but I was definitely feeling every step of the last few miles.

I got my new shipment of David's Tea today! I tried the Oh, Canada! rooibos this afternoon, and I really liked it. It definitely has the rooibos flavor, so if you don't like that, then you probably wouldn't like it. (Does anyone else think that rooibos tea smells/tastes like a cigar smells? Sounds strange, but that's what it reminds me of, and I like it). The Mint Chocolate rooibos smells heavenly, so I'm going to make that one tomorrow. I'm excited to try the rest!

June 26, 2013

On the right track

For the first time in weeks (maybe even a couple of months), I wasn't dreading getting on the scale for my Wednesday Weigh-in this morning. I was 100% on track all week long.

See what happens when I don't go over my PointsPlus for the week? According to the Quantum scale, I'm 0.2 pounds below my goal weight (which I thought I set as 133). That surprised me, so when I stepped on my trusty old scale to see the actual number, it was 134, which is more realistic. The first time I set the Quantum scale, it was at 134, so I wonder if that's the number it's set at right now. Regardless, my weight is down from last week, and I'm happy with that!

I finished the week with a balance of 0 PointsPlus (meaning I ate all of my PP, but I didn't go over). The little bet I had with my sister helped me a lot! We both stayed on track all week, so neither of us ended up having to pay out (which was the goal). This week was just what I needed to get (and stay) on track. Once I have a streak going, it's much easier to stick with it.

I tried something new with my PointsPlus this week, and I think it helped quite a bit with staying on track. Before the week even started, I divided up my 49 weekly PointsPlus to allow for 7 every day. That way, instead of aiming for 26 per day, I would aim for 33. Then, I used my activity PP as "bonus" points, to fit in a couple of spontaneous treats. My week was much more consistent that way:

Wed: 33
Thu: 33
Fri: 33
Sat: 54
Sun: 33
Tue: 39

I'm going to do the same thing this week, too, because it worked out really well. I wasn't hungry, I was able to fit in some treats, and I felt satisfied all week long.

Today was a rest day, and I really was pretty lazy all morning. I finished another Lisa Gardner book ("Hide"). Conveniently, the book of hers that I had requested at the library ("Alone") just came in, so I picked that one up today. Now I can start the series from the beginning. I'm glad I found a series that keeps me interested!

This afternoon, I did some chores around the house that I really had been dreading. Organizing DVDs, dusting behind the TV, and cleaning the cat hair off of the cat tree (fun!). I've been in an organizing mood for some reason, so I'm going to take it one room at a time and get my house in order.

I've been having a rough couple of weeks with my anxiety and depression. I've been feeling pretty down for no reason at all. This happens to me a few times a year, and now I've learned to just ride it out, knowing I will feel better soon. But it still makes me not want to do anything; even blogging is hard, because I just don't feel like I have anything to write. My "normal" self loves to write about anything and everything, as uninteresting as it may be to others; but when I'm in a funk like this, I just have a hard time writing anything at all.

Normally, I probably wouldn't have even brought it up, but I've gotten a lot of e-mails from readers who appreciate the fact that I write openly about depression, because they deal with it, too. It's kind of ironic, though, because writing about my anxiety (and depression) causes me anxiety--I get nervous to post about it! But I almost always feel better when I do. Hopefully I'll be back to my normal self soon; the fact that I've been eating better this week will probably help.

I really don't want to end this on a negative note, so here is a picture I took of Phoebe and Estelle. They were both looking at each other (and swatting at each other) with their heads turned upside-down. I still can't figure out if they are enemies or BFF's...

June 25, 2013

Taste Test Tuesday

The Mayflies are still pretty gross around here, so I've been running on the treadmill the last few days. Yesterday, I was doing a four mile easy run, and my hair was driving me crazy. Putting it in a bun no longer worked for me, because my hair was so heavy that it would bounce up and down and then the bun would come undone. So I started wearing it in a ponytail, but that got on my nerves, too--it would bounce on my back.

So during yesterday's run, every slap of my hair against my back just made me a little more annoyed. While I was showering, I thought, "I'm going to cut all of it off!" And as soon as I got dressed, I told the kids to get their shoes on, because we're going to get my hair cut.

I just drove to the nearest salon that takes walk-ins. I wanted it done now. When the woman asked what I wanted done, I just told her that I wanted to cut eight inches off. She was a little taken aback, and said she wasn't expecting that, but she started snipping. I almost immediately regretted it, but I knew it would feel a million times better.

It ended up being a lot shorter than I thought it would, and I'm not thrilled with how it looks; but it's definitely lighter, feels healthier, and more practical when I run. I don't have a good picture, because I haven't styled it yet, but here is a pic to see just how short it is:

This morning, I pulled it up in a bun, and it actually stayed put through my run--it's been a long time since I've been able to do that!

I was nervous about this morning's run, because I was going to do 1600-meter (1 mile) repeats for the first time ever. I've always been intimidated by those, because 400-meter repeats are really tough; so I just assumed the 1600 meter repeats would feel the same, only 3 times longer.

I started with a 1-mile warm-up, and then did 2 repeats of 1 mile at 7:41-7:53 pace and half a mile of jogging. I expected to be totally miserable during the intervals, but they weren't nearly as hard as I was imagining. I did the first interval in 7:51, and the second in 7:49.

Next time, I'll either add another repeat at the same pace, or pick up the speed a little. I have to say, I actually like the 1600's better than 400's or 800's. I wish I hadn't waited so long to give it a try!

This is kind of random, but I tried out a few new-to-me products this week because they were marked down, and I thought about starting "Taste Test Tuesdays" on my blog. Basically, I'll just buy and taste something I've never tried before, and write what I think. I always love to read food product reviews on blogs, because I'm used to just buying the same old things when I go to the store, so it gives me ideas for new things to try (or things NOT to try...)

While at the store, I saw these bars, and considering I'm addicted to chocolate and peanut butter, I decided to give them a try. I wasn't expecting much, because they are only 110 calories, and usually the 100-ish calorie snack foods aren't very good.

I thought they would be teeny tiny, but they were a decent size for 110 calories!

One bite, and I was in love. They are VERY peanut-buttery, which you know makes me happy. They remind me a lot of the Nutty Bars by Little Debbie (although it's been YEARS since I've had one of those). They're very light and airy, so they're not a filling snack; and, they're still "junk" food. But if you're craving a candy bar, and looking for something lower in calories, these hit the spot (for me, anyway).

Funny story about Eli: I let him ride in the front seat, which he thought was cool. He asked me, "Mama, is it dangerous to ride in the front seat?" And I told him, "Not really; it's safer in the back seat, but you're old enough to start riding in front if you want. And I'm a very safe driver."

In my mind, I was thinking of the fact that I don't drive with distractions (texting, radio fiddling, eating, etc) and I'm always very aware of my surroundings. When the kids are in the car, I make sure to be even more careful than usual. So after I said I was a very safe driver, Eli said, without hesitation, "No you're not! Remember when you almost ran over those three baby kittens?!"

I had to think for a minute what he was talking about, and it was actually a few years ago; he must have been four years old. It was nighttime, and I was driving slowly down our street, when a cat darted across the road, followed by three of her kittens. Thankfully, I was going slow enough that I was able to stop before hitting them. I never thought about it again until this conversation with Eli. Apparently, he thought I was trying to hit the kittens in the road, and therefore, I'm not a safe driver ;)

It's been thunderstorming on and off all day, and the boys' baseball game just got canceled. Bummer!

June 24, 2013

Motivational Monday #21

I hope everyone's summer is off to a great start! This bet I have going with my sister has been SO helpful in keeping me on track all week. I've been staying binge-free, eating within my PointsPlus budget, and even counting my little bites, licks and tastes (which I'm usually not very good about doing...)

Yesterday, I was craving a vanilla ice cream cone dipped in sprinkles, and I had enough PointsPlus to get one, so Eli and I went up to the ice cream shop. They had a sign saying that they had fat-free/sugar-free vanilla ice cream, so I decided to try that.

It turned out to be a horrible choice--I was so disappointed when I tasted it! I'm used to McDonald's soft serve, which is really creamy and good; but this stuff was totally bland and gritty. Normally, I would have eaten it anyway, because I already paid for it and because I planned to spend my PointsPlus on it; but I realized it really just wasn't worth it, so I threw it away.

That was really hard for me to do! But I was proud of myself for not eating something just because it was there and I had paid for it; it didn't taste good, so I threw it away.

This will be another short (but certainly motivating) Motivational Monday, since I didn't get many MM e-mails this week. I hope that means everyone is keeping super busy and active! ;)

Amy ran a tough half-marathon on Sunday, of which even the announcer was saying that it wasn't a good day for a PR--the course was hilly, without a lot of shade, and it was a hot, humid day. Amy's goal was a sub-2:00 finish, and she finished in 1:59:22! That's 14 minutes faster than when she ran this race as her first half-marathon three years ago.

On this day exactly two years ago, Cat decided to change her life. She started by making changes with her diet, and eventually started exercising. She had a dream in her mind to become a runner, and started the Couch to 5K program. After finishing her 5K, she was hooked! Over the last two years, Cat has run over 20 races, including 4 half-marathons and even a full-marathon. She's also down 75 pounds!

Claudia ran her first 5K race, and is very proud of her 32:50 finish time! Over the last year, she has lost 55 pounds with Weight Watchers, and working out with kettlebells. (Here is Claudia's blog)

Desiree hit a huge milestone this week--she reached ONEderland! She has lost a total of 45 pounds so far, and was thrilled to get under the 200 pounds mark. She also hit a nice running goal--she ran a 14-minute mile, and when she started, she was running a 17-minute mile!

Don't forget to check out the Motivational Monday Facebook post for more stories!

June 23, 2013

Ragnar Relay Q&A

I recently got an e-mail from someone named Andrea, who is going to be running a Ragnar Relay in September. This will be her first, and she and her friends had some questions. Since I've run a couple of them, and other people may have the same questions, I figured I'd put these on a post of their own.

(You can read my race recaps of Ragnar Great River 2010 and I have lots of posts about Ragnar Florida Keys 2013).

Q. Did you actually get any sleep during the relay? Or were you and your team awake during all of the breaks?

A. I got about an hour of sleep. We had a 15-passenger van, but that space gets really small when you have 5-6 people in it with their bags. If you're good at sleeping upright (I'm not), then you will probably get more sleep than I did. There are some designated sleeping spots during at the major exchanges, where you could nap if you wanted. I had more fun chatting with my teammates, though! There may be a school gym available, or a grassy park, or something like that. I experienced both of those.

My brother came prepared with a hammock!

Q. Did you get to spend any time with the other van during race, or do you only really get to spend time with the people in your van?

A. This is the only part about a Ragnar that I wish was different. You really only spend time with the people in your own van. You will see the other van at major exchanges only. Two vehicles from the same team are actually not allowed to park at any of the exchanges (except the major exchanges, where it's necessary). 

Q. The legs that are listed as "very hard" on the Ragnar site. Did you run any of those? How hard were they?

A. I ran a couple of the "very hard" legs. It really depends on the course of the Ragnar. I did Ragnar Great River, which was pretty hilly, and the "very hard" usually meant tough hills. But in Key West, the course was pancake flat, so the "very hard" just meant that it was a long leg. So the "very hard" is usually determined by either the elevation, the distance, or rough terrain. Don't let those two words scare you, though! My "very hard" legs were actually really fun interesting ;)
Q. I know from your blog that you usually run on an empty stomach. Were you nervous about planning your meals around your races?

A. This was tough for me! During my first Ragnar, I actually experienced my first binge in a YEAR. The van was loaded with junk food, and I couldn't resist. My stomach wasn't used to all that, and I wound up spending quite a bit of time in porta potties--not very cool! But in Key West, I was with 11 other people who had lost an average of 100 pounds each, so we were loaded with healthy snacks. During Great River, we didn't stop at any restaurants, which meant we just snacked the entire time. But in Key West, we ate regular meals, and that was MUCH better. I would recommend finding a place to stop on the course, where you can eat an actual meal while the other van is out racing.

Q. Do you think there's any way to avoid getting a van (e.g., piling into a large sedan, or a station wagon)?

A. It's certainly possible, but I would highly recommend the van. The bigger, the better. The space gets SO small once everyone is piled in there with their bags, pillows, race gear, etc.

Q. How would you recommend training for a Ragnar? Did you do any special training? Have you ever tried running multiple times in a day to train, since that best mimics the race conditions? 

A. I didn't train for my first Ragnar. My brother was looking for a last-minute runner for his team, and I agreed to do it. The farthest I'd run up to that point was 9.3 miles, just a couple of weeks prior to the race. During the race, I had the least amount of mileage on the team (I believe like 3 miles, 5 miles, and 4--something like that); and I did just fine with it.

My brother handing off to me for my first leg at Ragnar Great River 2010

For Key West, I just trained as if I was running a half-marathon. My longest leg of the race was 8.8 miles, so I was plenty prepared for that. A lot of people recommend running twice a day to prepare, but I don't think that's necessary. Honestly, I think that training as if you are running a half-marathon is perfect for a Ragnar.  

Q. Do you have any suggestions on how to save money, I know you mentioned the race was a really expensive experience for you. In this case, we're not paying for plane tickets, since the race starts about 30 miles from where we live. We were planning on just driving the 200 miles back after the race, and not getting hotel rooms. Do you think that that's a bad call?

A. A Ragnar is definitely more expensive than your average race. The race fee itself is a little over $100 per person, and then you have to factor in travel, van rental, gas, van decorations, food, etc. You certainly can save money by leaving right after the race, but to be honest, the whole fun of the Ragnar is the after-party and staying a couple of days afterward!

My Key West Ragnar was the most expensive trip Jerry and I have ever taken, but I wouldn't change a thing. Some of my teammates left the day after the race, and really regretted not staying. Getting to hang out with the rest of my teammates for a few days afterward was SO MUCH FUN. Therefore, I recommend getting hotels; but if you can't afford it, then driving back would work, too. After the finish line (of both the Ragnars I did), I got a second wind of energy where I stayed up pretty late.

I guess the bottom line is what your goal of the race is--if you're doing it to have fun with friends that you don't see very often, I would definitely plan on staying a day or two (or more) after the race. But if it's with friends that you see all the time, and you just want to experience a relay race, then going home right after the race would be fine.

Q. Is the Ragnar set up the way other races are, with bathrooms and water stations, or, are there bathrooms and water stations were each leg starts?

A. There are very few water stations on the course. On the legs that don't allow van support (maybe a narrow bridge, or something like that), then there may be a water station set up because your van can't get to you to give you water. But usually, it's your van's job to support you--give you water, fuel, lots of cheering, etc.

Honestly, I don't remember much about the bathroom situations. I know they have them at major exchanges, but I don't know about ALL the exchanges. We would go to the bathroom when we stopped to eat, or when we stopped at a store to get some more snacks. 

Q. Did you bring multiple changes of clothes, and change between each leg? Did you shower at any of the shower stations?

A. I wore my first running outfit from the hotel, and then I had my other sets of clothes in separate gallon-size bags. When I was done with my leg, I changed everything--bra, panties, running capris, tank top, and socks. Then, when I took the stinky clothes off, I put them in the bag and zipped it shut, so it wouldn't stink up the van. I didn't take a single shower the entire race. Some of my teammates did, but I decided to sleep in the van while they were showering.

These are John's clothes. His husband packed and labeled them for each of his legs ;)
I wouldn't recommend changing out of your clothes after the third leg, because your entire team runs across the finish line together; so if you're wearing matching clothes, or costumes or something, you'll want to leave it on, even if you're the first runner done (like I was in Key West).  

Q. How would you rank its difficulty compared to another race? What I mean by that is, I know the legs are shorter than say, a half marathon, but you're running 3 times. In terms of how hard it is to run again after pushing yourself to run several hours ago, would you say that it's more challenging, than say, a half marathon? How would you suggest pacing yourself, so you're not too exhausted to run the third leg?

A. Unless your team is super fast, it won't feel like you're running three times in one day. You'll have roughly eight hours between runs, and to me, it felt like a fresh new day. My legs didn't feel any more tired than normal. Of course, it depends on how long your legs are, how hard you push it, and how difficult the course, but I would compare it to an easy paced 8-mile run in terms of how tired my legs felt. It was easier than a half-marathon (my legs didn't get nearly as tired as they do during a half).

Our team wasn't running it to win, so I wasn't trying to run my fastest. I just wanted to truly enjoy the whole experience. If you run it like you would to PR a race, well, you'll probably be a lot more tired than I was! ;)

Q. Did you guys bring snacks in the van, or did you stop along the way for places to eat and such?

A. We had snacks in the van, but we stopped for meals. I would definitely recommend stopping for meals rather than just snacking the entire time. It's important to stay close to your usual routine at home, so that you don't wind up with lots of stomach issues! 

Q. When you're running, is it hard to tell which van is yours, unless you decorate it?

A. There are HUNDREDS of big white vans, and unless you do something to make it stand out, yes--it will probably be hard to figure out which one is yours. This is especially true in the dark. We had some unique van decorations, so it was easy to spot ours. Also, it's super fun to decorate the vans!

Something that I thought was fun is "tagging" other vans. Lots of teams get magnets made with their team name, and then they stick them to the other vans when nobody is looking. You'll wind up with a ton of magnets on there. We got 500 magnets made, and we used up almost all of them!

Writing this post made me SO nostalgic! I can't wait to hook up with my team for another adventure next year :)

June 22, 2013

Long run with Renee

I woke up at 5:15 this morning to get ready to run with Renee. Since it was so early, I just ate a peach and decided to wait to eat breakfast after the run. I drove over to Renee's so we could head out from her house at 6:30. I had to stop at the end of my street to take a picture of the Mayflies. It was unbelievable just how thick the piles of them are:

It looks like mulch, but those are all Mayflies. My car even slid a little while driving through a pile. It's like driving through snow!

We did an out-and-back route from Renee's. I used to park at her house and run this route all the time when I was training to run my first half-marathon in 2011. We started running at what felt like it was probably a 9:00/mi pace (I didn't want to keep looking at my watch), but when I did look, it was more like 9:30. I tried to pick up the pace a little and prayed I could make it through the whole thing ;)

It was 72 degrees and pretty humid, even at 6:30 this morning. The first half of the out-and-back passed pretty quickly, and I felt good. I felt like I was going faster than I was, but that has been happening on all my runs lately. At around mile seven or eight, we stopped at a drinking fountain to refill our water bottles, and I forgot to restart my Garmin for a quarter mile. So after that, my Garmin was a quarter-mile behind Renee's.

Starting at around mile seven, my legs felt like they turned to lead, and I felt bad that I was slowing us down. When I finally looked at my heart rate, I could see why I was feeling so cruddy--my heart rate was almost in Zone 5 (it's supposed to be in Zone 3 for a long run). Renee asked if I wanted to slow down some more, but at that point, I was desperate to be done, so I just kept going.

I'm sure I was miserable company for the last mile, but it felt like forever, and my legs were so tired! When we reached Renee's house, her Garmin beeped for mile 11 (even though mine only read 10.83, there was no way I was going to run farther just to see 11!). I was totally drenched in sweat, and so relieved to be done. We sat on Renee's porch for a few minutes with some water before I headed home.

I'm really glad I ran with Renee; if I had been running alone, I'm sure I would have gone much slower and it would have felt so much longer. Running with someone else always makes the time pass faster. And because of my effort, I managed to burn nearly 100 calories per mile! Usually, it's more like 80.

We averaged a 9:10 pace, which is slower than I'd hoped I'd be able to do, but considering I've been running more like 9:30 lately, I was happy not to slow Renee down too much ;)

Noah is at a sleepover tonight, so I wanted to do something special with just Eli. When I asked him what he'd like to do, he said, "Go to La Pita for dinner!" Hahaha, I have no idea where that came from, but he's certainly his mama's boy.

He'd been asking to go to Chili's for a while, so I asked him if he'd rather go there instead. He was really excited about that. I'd only eaten there maybe once in my life, but I know my sister likes Chili's, so I asked her what I should order. She highly recommended the Margarita Chicken (which comes with black beans and rice). That's what I ordered, and I was SO impressed with just how good it was! For 14 PointsPlus, you get this:

The beans were my favorite part--they had the same flavor as black bean soup. I only wanted to spend 10 PP on my dinner, so I decided to skip the rice, but I tasted it and it was fantastic. Normally, I'm not one to eat a chicken breast unless it's cut up in a casserole or something, but even the chicken was delicious. The whole dinner was excellent, and I would definitely go back there to have it again. 

Eli and I got cookie dough ice cream to have during a movie tonight. I'm spending all of my activity PointsPlus on that. After my hot and humid 11-miler this morning, I can't think of a better way to spend those PP!

June 21, 2013

First day of summer!

Yesterday at the boys' baseball game, I saw Renee and chatted with her for a few minutes (her son was playing against my boys' team). She's training for a half-marathon in Chicago in August, so I suggested doing our long runs together this weekend. Normally, I do my long run on Friday, but it worked out with Jerry's work schedule that I could get away on Saturday morning. I'm going to head to her house at around 6:15 tomorrow morning to run 11 miles.

I know I shouldn't be nervous, but Renee is a lot faster than me, so I feel a little bit of pressure to hold pace. We agreed on a 9:00/mi pace, but lately, I've been doing my long runs a little slower than that (9:15-9:30) because of the heat. I will do my best to stick with 9:00's, but I may not be very talkative! I haven't run with a partner in a long time, so in that sense, I'm looking forward to it. Definitely more fun than running 11 miles by myself.

Yesterday, I got an e-mail about upcoming races, and I saw that there is a local 5K on Noah's birthday next month. I asked if he would want to do it with me, and surprisingly, he said yes! I told him we'd have to train for it, so we planned to go for a run today. Eli wants to do the race, too, so I'll sign all four of us up.

Today, I wanted to try out a two-miler, and see how far they could go without walking. The furthest they've run is a mile, so I figured if we go really slow, we might make it two. We got dressed and as soon as we stepped outside, the Mayflies were all over us. Gross! We've gotten pretty used to them over the years, though, so it didn't stop us from running (although, if I was doing a run alone, I would have chosen the treadmill over the bugs!).

We went very slowly, and Noah really wanted a walk break about a half-mile in. We walked a bit. Then ran to my parents' house for another break, where the boys wanted water. They drank a few sips and then dumped the rest of the bottle on their heads (they're just a wee bit dramatic). We couldn't believe how bad the Mayflies are this year; I haven't seen this many in at least five years!

We walked a few more times on the way home, but I was proud of how well they were doing. When we got to our house, we'd gone 1.89 miles, and Noah went inside. Eli said he was disappointed, because he wanted to do an even two miles (he takes after me, haha), so we ran to the end of the street and back. Overall, I'd say they did pretty good! They ran a lot more than they walked.

I told them we'd have to practice a few times a week to be able to run the 5K next month. Noah was really discouraged with his running today, and said he "can't" do the 5K. He just doesn't understand that people don't just go out and run a 5K on a whim--they have to train for it!

Later this morning, I took the kids to the batting cages. They've always been really good at hitting the ball, and when Jerry or my dad pitches to them, they always crush the ball. But at their games this summer, they've been striking out at least once or twice each game, and it's making them really frustrated. Noah left the game crying yesterday, so I told him we'd go to the batting cages to practice.

They practiced hitting for about an hour, and then I stopped at Weight Watchers for my June weigh-in. I'd been dreading it, because the last time I went to weigh in at the center, I was 132 (at home), and since I was 136 (at home) on Wednesday, I knew my weight was going to be up. But I have to weigh in to keep my Lifetime Membership current.

I got on the scale, and sure enough, it was up, but still far under my WW goal weight. So I'm good to go for another month. I think I'm going to start weighing in weekly again, though. I was doing much better when I weighed in every week. I may try going to the meetings again. Jeanie mentioned that I might want to try a meeting in the evening, where there will probably be younger people there; in the morning meetings on weekdays (what I went to before), it was mostly people over 50, and I just didn't have much in common with them.

I'd better get to bed early tonight, so I can keep up with Renee tomorrow! ;)  Oh, Renee posted a link on Facebook to this article, and I think it's a great article for new and experienced runners: The 25 Golden Rules of Running. It's worth checking out!

June 20, 2013

Pizza Thursday

This morning, while I was drinking my tea and browsing Facebook, I saw this post from Michigan Weather Watcher:
Since not everyone can read print so tiny, it says: "Check this out guys, what looks like precipitation on the radar is actually bugs! Yep, that's right, BUGS! These are Mayflies, but not to be confused with fishflies; mayflies are a lot smaller, but very similar. How wild is this?"

I happen to live in the yellow part. The Mayflies had hatched overnight, which means for the next week or two, the streets will be covered in them. They are already all over the outside of our house. I had been planning to run outside today while the boys were at basketball camp, but changed my mind and chose the treadmill instead. I'll probably be confined to the treadmill for a couple of weeks. This is a picture of the I took a couple of years ago while out for a run:

Gross, right? They make a popping noise when you step on them.

I had four miles on the schedule, so I turned on Pretty Little Liars, set the treadmill at 7.0, and just ran. Thankfully, I felt much better during today's run than I have lately. I think it's probably because I've been eating better the past few days. When I eat too much or eat really crappy food, my running suffers a lot.

After I showered, I took the boys to basketball camp, and then went to a local consignment shop to drop off a bunch of clothes. I haven't brought clothes there in a while, but when I recently cleaned out the boys' dressers and closets, there was a ton of stuff that was too small on them, and in really good condition. I figured I'd at least make a few bucks by consigning them instead of just donating them. While I was there, I browsed around a bit, but I really don't need any clothes right now.

Speaking of clothes, this afternoon I was putting a load of clothes in the laundry, when I felt something tickle my arm. I threw the clothes into the washer (thinking it was probably just a string or something on the clothes) but still felt the tickling, and when I looked down, there was a HUGE spider crawling up my arm!

I completely lost it, and started screaming and flinging my arms all over the place. I couldn't get the image out of my head of that spider on my arm. When I went back to try to finish loading the clothes, I very carefully picked up one piece of clothing at a time (touching as little of it as possible), and shaking it out before putting into the washer. I never did come across the spider again, which means it's somewhere in my house :(

The boys have another baseball game tonight, but it doesn't start until 8:00. We decided that since Jerry is off today, we'll do "Pizza Thursday" this week instead of "Pizza Friday", and go out for pizza before their game.There aren't very many places around here where you can dine in for pizza. We went to a place about 30 minutes away, near my brother Nathan's house.

If I hadn't made a bet with my sister yesterday, I totally would have blown my PointsPlus today. Eli and I both love fried pickles, so we got an order for an appetizer. I only ate four of them (I estimated 4 PP), even though I wanted to eat the entire plate. Then Jerry and I got a small pizza with ham, pineapple, and banana peppers. I had two slices of that (again, I would have plowed through it all if I could!).

I just tried to eat really slowly, so that by the time I was done, everyone else was already done with seconds. While we were eating, Jerry said, "Man, if I was Nathan, I'd eat this pizza every day." Right after he said that, Nathan walked in the door! He said he was meeting a friend for dinner. We chatted with him for a few minutes, and he said he's going to try to come to the kids' game tonight. I hope he does.

On the way home, I was thinking how glad I was that I only had two pieces of pizza. I even saved 5 PointsPlus for a McD's vanilla cone after the boys' baseball game tonight!

June 19, 2013

Feta makes everything betta

Lately, I've been eating way too much on Tuesdays for some reason, which is the day before my weigh-ins; but yesterday, I managed to keep control of myself, and I was happy to see that the scale was down a bit from last week.

I am 2.6 pounds over goal weight, and last week I was 4 pounds over. I will be very happy when that reads 0.0!

I still went over my PointsPlus this week, but only by 30; and since I had ditched the ActiveLink, I was manually tracking my Activity PointsPlus (which gave me less than using the AL would have). I'm happy with the decision to stop using it.

The ActiveLink really did help develop some positive habits for me, though. Even though I wasn't wearing it this week, I still always made it a point to park very far from the entrance to the stores, do active things with my kids, and stay actively busy around the house. I knew I wasn't earning PP for doing those things, but I know that some extra movement never hurts!

Today, I realized that I could still wear the ActiveLink and not be subscribed to it. I wouldn't get any feedback on the computer as far as PointsPlus go, but that's what I like about the idea. My only goal would be to see how many lights I could light up each day (basically, just to keep me moving, but without earning PP as a reward). Like using a pedometer, only there wouldn't be any numbers. The only activity PointsPlus I would count would be from my running, and I would calculate those manually, as if I wasn't wearing the ActiveLink at all. Hard to describe, but it makes sense in my head ;)

I also made a deal with Jeanie. We've been texting our food logs to each other every night, but I still ended up going over my PointsPlus for the week. So this week, we are going to owe each other $1 for every PP that we go over. We can still use our daily, weekly, and activity PP; but if we use more beyond those (going into the negative), it will cost us $1 per PP. This week would have cost me $30. I think with that kind of incentive, I will be very likely to stick to my PP!

I tried a new Weight Watchers recipe for dinner, and it was SO good! Jerry's been wanting to cook on his new grill, so we made Greek Grilled Chicken Sandwiches. I've been buying these 4 PP hoagie rolls from Sam's Club, and they make an ordinary sandwich taste amazing, so we used those for the sandwiches tonight. I love anything with feta cheese, and this recipe includes a feta spread for the sandwich--it's just feta cheese, milk, and chopped onion. I could have eaten it all with a spoon!

Here is a link to the recipe. I followed it as-written, except I used dried dill instead of fresh and I used fat-free feta. It ended up being 9 PointsPlus--not bad at all for such a tasty sandwich! I bet it would be awesome on homemade pita bread, too.

 I'm going to place another David's Tea order tomorrow. They offer free shipping if you order $50 worth, so when I order, it's usually a pretty big list. Some of these aren't new to me, but I'm excited to try the ones that I haven't tried before:
The ones I haven't tried are the Brazillionaire, Birthday Cake, Mint Chocolate Rooibos, and Oh Canada!. I think David's Tea should have a "create your own sample pack" option, where you pay one price for a sample of a whole bunch of different teas of your choice. They have a lot of variety packs, but I think it would be awesome to create my own. Any other flavors that are a "must-try"?

June 18, 2013

Niagara Falls

My kids have basketball camp this week (just a couple of hours each day). Yesterday, I dressed in my running clothes before we left, and decided to just run my four miles from the school where their camp was being held. The camp started at 10:00, and it was already 75 degrees (and very humid!) at that time.

I also decided to run the way I was pacing myself before my RRCA class, when I was training for my sub-2:00 half-marathon. Then, I was pushing myself on each run--not to the point that I felt awful, but a little faster than was comfortable. Lately, my pace has been slowing so much, that I just wanted a confidence booster, so I decided to see if I could still manage a sub-9:00 pace in the heat.

There wasn't a single cloud in the sky, and the sun was beating down. I swear it felt 100 degrees, and not just 75 ;)  But I was really happy with my pace, because I managed four sub-9:00 miles.

I think I paid the price for that today, though. My legs were tired, and I had intervals on the schedule.  I did the intervals on the treadmill before taking the kids to camp. I had 8 x 400's to do, which are done at a 6:58/mi pace. I honestly felt like I was going to puke. They felt SO HARD!

After I dropped the boys off at basketball camp, I headed to my mom's house to pick up my older brother, Brian. He flew from Minnesota to Detroit only to get his car from the airport to my parents' house, where my dad could fix a problem with it. He pulled his car into the driveway, then hopped in my car so I could take him back to the airport to fly right back to Minnesota. Crazy, right?! I guess when you're a pilot, it doesn't seem so weird.

Brian just ran the Ragnar Relay in Niagara Falls, and it was awesome to hear about it. His team had a really cool idea for choosing their legs for the race. Usually, teams assign their runners long before race day, and they know exactly what order they'll be running. Well, BioFuel (my brother's team), all threw their names in a bag (along with two "wild" cards). At the starting line, they still didn't know who was going to run first.

Brian's team (he's on the top right). I love the barrel costumes!
Very appropriate for a Niagara Falls finish line ;)

They handed the bag of names to the announcer, who waited until 10 seconds before the race started to pull out a name for them. When the girl's name was called, she quickly pulled out another name, who would be runner #2, and then she ran across the starting line and was off for the first leg.

At each major exchange, the team drew their leg assignments again, which meant they were also swapping van assignments around. I thought this was awesome! That way, you would get to see everyone from your team, rather than just the people assigned to your van.

The whole thing is SO hard to explain, but after hearing about it, I decided I'm going to put together a team for next year. It may end up being a From Fat to Finish Line team reunion, if everyone is interested. I just love the idea of the random leg assignments. It would be so exciting not knowing when you're going to be running next!

I just got a list of questions from someone via e-mail about Ragnar and how certain parts of it work. I'm going to post those this week, to hopefully clear it up a little.

The boys had a baseball game tonight. I really love watching their games! They're at the age now where it's actually kind of exciting to watch. Noah and Eli are both pretty good, and they work really well together. Eli usually plays third base (he has a good arm) and Noah usually plays first (he catches everything). Jeanie was actually able to go to their game today, too--this was the first time she's been in town for one of their games.

My friend Sarah also came with me, because tonight was the only time that worked for both of us to get together. She stopped by my house first with her 10-month old boy, Alex. I miss my boys being that age! He was walking all over, following my cats around. I showed him the feather toy that my cats love, and he was swinging it around while chasing the cats.

Oh, speaking of the cats... I've been meaning to give an update on Chandler's weight loss. He weighs 21 pounds, down from 25, so he's lost 4 pounds! I'm really excited about that. I can see a difference in his body, too. He doesn't feel like he's ready to bust open at the gut anymore, and his skin feels like there's some slack to it. He still can't reach his whole body to groom himself, but he's getting better at it. When he reaches 5 pounds lost, maybe I'll post comparison photos ;)

June 17, 2013

Motivational Monday #20

Wow, can you believe this is the 20th post of Motivational Mondays? I love getting your MM emails throughout the week; sometimes it's just what I need to get through a weak moment! The moment I am most proud of this week is definitely the fact that I stuck to my food plan yesterday at my parents' house. Instead of caving at the sight of fried fish and potatoes (and not to mention dessert), I ate the meal I'd brought along with me.

Unfortunately, I tend to have a few good days in a row, and then one bad day that negates all the good I did--which is getting SUPER frustrating for me! The scale isn't going back down, so I really need to get it together and stop having the sporadic bad eating days. But I am still proud of the fact that I am NOT giving up; I'm barely holding on by the skin of my teeth, but I AM holding on ;)

Let's see what you've been up to this week...

Just 12 weeks ago, Jen was (in her words) "pretty sedentary". She started a No Boundaries 5K program from her local Fleet Feet store, and followed the training plan. Well, it certainly paid off--she just ran not one; not two; but THREE races in one week! Two 5K's and a 3.5 mile race. She's lost 40 pounds now, but says she doesn't run just for the weight loss benefits anymore. She has truly fallen in love with the sport.

Next in line for Jen? Between now and October, she has: a mud run, a 30-mile bike ride for cancer research, two 5K's, a 10K, and a half-marathon on the schedule. I'd say she's anything BUT sedentary now!

Lyda, a self-proclaimed wimp when it comes to running in outdoors when the weather isn't ideal, ran a 5K race in the pouring rain! She says she probably would have left before the race started (due to the rain), but she saw a runner friend of hers; she didn't want to wimp out when her friend knew she was there ;) The race turned out to be a great experience!

Katie completed her very first 5K race! She had set a goal for herself of 1:05, but she finished in 54:47, crushing her goal. (You can read her race recap on her blog.)

Laura was thrilled to finally run a sub-10:00 mile! She started running when she was 42 pounds heavier and was completing a mile in about 15 minutes. Her next goal is a sub-30:00 5K! (You can read about it on her blog)

I've seen a lot of before and after photos, but I have to admit, I was STUNNED when I saw these photos! Chelsea just celebrated her two-year anniversary of her new healthy lifestyle. She's lost 115 pounds (maintaining for seven months and counting), and has become a runner. In addition to her anniversary, she completed her first half-marathon on Saturday--in an amazing time, too! She had a goal to finish under two hours, and she finished in 1:57. (You can read her race recap on her blog). 

After watching Elyse complete several 5K races, her niece and nephew were inspired to run their first kid race! Mya was very scared to run (I know just how that is, because my boys were the same way), but she had a blast; and her brother did great, too. The kids were excited to hang up their medals and bibs right next to their aunt's :)

Jenn bought a brand new hybrid bike, despite the fact that she hadn't ridden in about 20 years! She said at first, she was nervous and a bit shaky, but she's been practicing and getting better. She usually does a 4-6 mile route, but last week, got the idea to try for 8-9 miles instead. She mapped it out so that she could head home at mile 6 if she needed to, but in the end, she actually pushed the extra mile and completed 10 miles! She said it was so much fun that she's mapping out a 15-mile course next.

Don't forget to check out more on the Facebook post!

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