April 28, 2016

Home repair

Jerry and I have lived in this house ever since we got married nearly 13 years ago. Neither of us had any clue about home maintenance, so we've just been dealing with issues as they come up. After about 10 years, we started having little things here and there that needed to be replaced, but luckily, we haven't had anything major happen.

Yesterday evening, I went into the utility room to feed the cats, and I noticed water on the floor. The only place it could have come from was the water heater. We've known for a while that the water heater would need replacement soon, but we kept putting it off (word of advice--don't put it off! ha). I called Jerry at work to tell him about the water heater, and he ended up coming home. My brother Brian came over as well (he does all sorts of DIY stuff, and Jerry didn't have any idea what to do about the leak). I noticed that the floor felt kind of soft in front of the water heater, so Brian and Jerry pulled back some of the linoleum to check it out.

The floor surrounding the water tank was totally rotted from water damage!

We couldn't see it before because the linoleum covered it up. It wasn't until I stepped down and felt a soft spot on the floor that I realized something was wrong.

Anyway, I was shocked when I saw it! Brian and Jerry took the water heater out, and from the looks of it, it clearly should have been replaced a long time ago. They also had to take out the washer and dryer. They pulled up all the linoleum, and then the subfloor. I couldn't believe what a disaster the whole thing was.

By 10:00 pm, the room looked like this:

I wish I had a before picture, but I wasn't exactly planning on renovating ;)

I knew that I wanted to get a tankless water heater. They're more expensive up front, but they're very energy efficient and we won't run into this problem again later on. Jerry's dad and Brian came over this morning, and the three of them worked on the room all day. Brian set up the gas and water for the new water heater, which required tearing out a lot of the wall. Then they had to put in a new subfloor, repair the wall, and hang the water heater.

The water heater is the size of a carry-on suitcase! Soooo much smaller than the 40-gallon tank we had before. Now, we'll have a lot of extra space in that room (we keep the litter box and cat food in there, as well as the washer, dryer, and furnace).

The water heater is that white box. It heats water as you use it, rather than heating and storing it in a tank. Brian has one and he loves it.

Now, we have to finish the walls and floor, but at least we have hot water! Jerry and I learned a lot about home maintenance, too--I had no idea that water heaters actually have a "life expectancy". And I'm sure ours wasn't expected to last 13 years! ;) Jerry learned how to replace flooring, which will come in handy when we redo our bathroom next year (another project that we've been putting off).

This whole thing was a disaster, but interestingly, I wasn't stressed about it. I think that going to psychotherapy every week has been helping with my anxiety. Normally, this sort of issue would have sent me over the edge, and I would have been super stressed over it. But even though the house was torn up and we had to spend a lot of money on the credit card, I felt calm about the whole thing.

I had a great day yesterday and today with getting back to feeling peaceful about food, too. I've been eating what I want, and counting the calories for it, and I don't feel anxious about it. I think writing yesterday's post was almost therapeutic in a way, because it helped me sort out my thoughts about the bad week I had. Speaking of eats, check out what Brian brought the kids from Japan! They requested Japanese candy, so Brian fooled them with this dried squid before giving them actual candy.

I ate one of them, just to try it (I love to try new things) and I was surprised that I actually really liked the texture of it (it was like jerky). But the taste was kind of fishy, and I wasn't crazy about it. Still, it was interesting to try!

Tomorrow, I may be going to Pinckney again with Nathan to do a long run on the trails. This week is off to a great start, despite the utility room disaster!

April 27, 2016

Week 37 Weigh-in

Let me just start off by saying that this past week was the worst week I've had since I started counting calories 37 weeks ago--yikes! (I don't mean the "worst" as in weight gain, but more of how difficult it was.)

I didn't binge; but like I wrote yesterday, I was just lacking all sorts of motivation this week. Eating, running, blogging, all of it. I only got in my step goal five times (and there wasn't a good reason to not get in the steps on the other two days); I only wrote a couple of blog posts, mainly because nothing was happening and I just didn't feel like writing; I didn't try any new recipes; and my eating was totally out of the norm (again, for no real reason). Sometimes, I'll have a bad run for no particular reason; so I think maybe this is similar, in that I just had a bad week in general.

I could even see that my weight was up a bit, but I just didn't care. I don't feel like the lack of motivation was a permanent thing (hopefully this week will be better), but it was definitely a rough week. And it showed up on the scale today (although not as bad as I imagined it would be):

I was 128.2, so I was up 1 pound from last week. Not a huge gain, but those pounds do add up over time! (Also, I'm not being hard on myself--I'm just stating the facts.) Today has been a great day, so hopefully my funk from last week is over. I've been thinking about what happened, and here are my thoughts:

After my 10K was over, I felt an enormous sense of relief. I had set a near-impossible goal and I reached it--yay! But it took a huge toll on me mentally. I was so completely focused on that goal that when it was over, I felt kind of lost. I think that contributed to the lack of motivation I felt all week. Without a big goal in front of me, I just didn't really feel the drive to continue what I'd been doing.

In Seattle, I did the cupcake crawl with Laurel, and I absolutely loved that. When I got home, however, I thought I'd better try to cut back on the sugar because I'd eaten so much sugar in Seattle. I *knew* that "cutting back" was a mistake, but I still did it. Whenever I try to cut back on or cut out anything at all, it either makes me binge or I lose control somewhere else. I managed not to binge (barely), but this week was the most difficult week I've had, and I certainly strayed from my normal eating patterns.

When I saw the gain on the scale last week, I wasn't bothered in the slightest--I'd gone on a very fun vacation, and it was worth a 3.2-pound gain on the scale. But again, I decided I should try to cut back in order to take that weight back off, and it messed with my head. The lesson I learned this week is that I need to just keep doing what I was doing all along, and my weight will adjust and fall where it wants to. The most important thing to me is to keep peace with food, and I didn't have that this past week. Instead, I felt stressed about food.

This coming week, I am not even going to worry about losing any weight (I'm still 5 pounds under my goal weight anyway); instead, I'm going to focus on getting back to that peaceful place with food. Eating whatever I want, not trying to cut back on anything, and maintaining balance. For 36 weeks, I wasn't worried about food at all, and I felt good about it; then this past week, it was like I turned into the "old me" on Weight Watchers, trying to make up for the gain on the scale, and allowing it to stress me out.

As far as the motivation goes, I really want to come up with a goal that gets me excited, like the 10K goal did. I haven't quite figured out what that will be, though. Lori mentioned on yesterday's post that maybe I could come up with a biking goal instead of running, and I like that idea--although I have no idea what kind of goal that would be. Maybe I could try to bike a certain mileage through the summer? Or slowly work my way up to being able to bike a "century" ride (100 miles)? The most I've ever ridden in one day is 30 miles, so that would be a pretty big challenge--but that's exactly what I'm looking for. I want it to be very challenging--even borderline-impossible ;) (Triathlons are out--I just don't have any interest in them.)

I'm going to think about it some more, and put together a plan this week--regardless of what I decide for my next big goal. I just want a new focus to keep me motivated!

April 26, 2016

New running goals

I've been getting emails asking if I'm okay because I haven't written, so I thought I'd better write a quick post. I'm fine! Life is just really boring right now, and I don't really have anything to write about. I feel redundant when I post about my running, even though that's what I enjoy writing about the most.

I really need to come up with another goal, and I've been thinking a lot about it. Without a goal, I feel kind of lost--like I'm running a race with no finish line. I'm still not interested in any distances longer than a 10K, so I was thinking of setting a 5K goal for the fall. My current PR is 24:51, but I think I am capable of running about 23:45 right now.

So, I was thinking I may try to aim for sub-23:00 in the fall. It sounds totally crazy! But so did a 10K PR last year, when I set the goal, and I did it.

When I plugged in my recent 10K time into the McMillan calculator, I got these predicted race times:

(These are the race time equivalents based on my 10K time.) The half-marathon time prediction is 1:49:21, which is tempting to try! A sub-1:50 goal was on my radar for a couple of years after I ran my PR race of 1:52. But I really don't want to run any halfs in the foreseeable future, so that goal is out. But seeing these predictions makes me think that if I work on it, I could probably run a sub-23:00 5K in the fall.

Anyway, I did speed work today, same workout as last week: 10 x 45 sec. It went much smoother now that my heart rate monitor is working! I ran a 10-minute warm-up, and then did the 45-second intervals. Between intervals, I walked slowly to bring my heart rate down to 136 bpm. Once it hit 136, then the next interval would start.

It's interesting to see that the further I got into the workout, the longer it took to recover from each interval.

One of the things I really like about doing the same workout periodically is to see the improvement very clearly. My splits were a little more even than last week:

Last week, I mentioned how cool it would be to see an interval in the 5:00's, and today, my last interval was a 6:01 pace--so close! (Keep in mind, these are just 45-second intervals, so they're only about 200 meters long.)

Other than the running stuff, my week has been pretty terrible as far as my motivation. I'll write more about it tomorrow on my Wednesday Weigh-in post (spoiler--the scale will most likely show a gain this week). I haven't binged, but this whole week I've felt totally unmotivated to get anything done, and it has made me realize that I need to set a new running goal. It was my 10K goal that kept me focused all winter, and like I said, I feel kind of lost without a goal right now.

Anyway, I'm here, I'm alive, everything is fine :) I'll write more tomorrow!

April 22, 2016


Jerry was off work today, and he said he was planning to run 5-6 miles, so I asked if he wanted to run with me. He said something like, "Oh, that's okay, I can just run by myself..." Haha, while I happen to love running with a partner, he prefers his headphones. He also runs at a faster pace than I do (doing his easy running too fast!) so we just agreed to run separately.

I wanted to do five miles, so I decided to do a five mile loop at the State Park. Jerry hates doing out-and-back routes, so I told him that if he wanted, he could run the six miles to the State Park, and we could time it to finish our runs at the same time, and I would drive him home. A win all around.

It was extremely humid this morning--not hot, but the air was really thick. I dressed too warm, which I later regretted. I fixed the problem with my heart rate monitor, though! As a last-ditch effort, I decided to try cleaning the electrodes with alcohol. We didn't have any rubbing alcohol, so I used vodka ;)

It worked perfectly, and the last two times I've used it, I haven't had so much as a single abnormal spike or drop.

I drove to the State Park, and about five minutes after I left, Jerry headed out on his six-mile run to the park. I started on the five-mile loop, and felt kind of tired. Jerry and I had a couple glasses of wine last night, and my body just can't handle alcohol like it used to. Even with just one glass, I don't feel my best the next day, unfortunately. Because of that, I've been cutting back more and more, so now I usually have wine just once or twice a week.

I kept my heart rate under 146 as much as possible. The only time I had a hard time with that was when I ran past some guys who were spearing carp with crossbows. They didn't see me, and I was terrified they were going to accidentally shoot me with an arrow. My heart rate jumped up for a few minutes, and then for the last mile, I had to keep forcing myself to slow down and keep my heart rate low. But overall, it was a good run! Jerry and I are taking the kids (along with my parents and my sister-in-law Becky) out for pizza tonight, so I wanted to burn some extra calories. I was very disappointed to see that I only burned 394 calories during my five-mile run. Better than nothing, though!

When I got back to the car, Jerry wasn't there yet, so I just ran past the car to meet up with him. We timed it pretty well, because he was just a couple of minutes away from the car. He finished his six miles at a 9:40 pace, and was thrilled with that! He hadn't run that far in a long time, and to have a good pace made him feel confident and happy.

About a week ago, I decided to try out a website called SportTracks for my running data. It costs $59 per year, which I really wasn't interested in paying when there are so many free sites; but they have a free trial, so I thought I'd at least give it a try. There is one feature in particular that I was interested in--a bar graph that shows how many minutes you spend in each heart rate training zone (zones can be set by the user). This is helpful to know when trying to keep my 80/20 ratio of easy to hard running. Here is the data from today's run:

My "easy run" zone is Zone 2, which is 137-146 beats per minute. When I run easy, I want to keep as much of the run as possible in that zone (or even zone 1). For the most part, that's what I did today. It shows I spent 4:23 in Zone 3, which was when I passed the guys spearing carp and the few times where I just mindlessly picked up the pace.

The new Garmin Forerunner models have this feature built in, and I'm super bummed that they won't add it to the 620 (the model that I have). But I'm not going to spend a fortune on a new Garmin just for this info. I really like the data on the SportTracks site, so I may end up spending the $59 for the year. You can also see the time spent in each pace zone (again, set by the user).

This might come in handy when doing speed work (intervals, in particular).

This isn't so relevant for me, because I don't have hills around here, but you can also view the time spent in each zone for the grade percentage (uphill, downhill, and flat). I looked at the trail run I did with Nathan and Kendall, and this is what it showed:

This would be helpful info when doing hill workouts. (Those were the default zones; I would have no idea what to set them at.)

Anyway, SportTracks is just another data analysis website--since I love the nerdy numbers and stats, it's fun to look at! I'm not sure yet if I'll subscribe, but it's been fun getting to try out the features. I wish that there was just one site that has EVERYTHING; instead, I use about four different sites/apps to get all the info I want.

We don't have a whole lot going on this weekend, so it should be pretty relaxing. Tomorrow, Jerry's employer is taking out a bunch of the employees to a Tigers game, so Jerry is going to that. They're also going out to dinner and for drinks. I volunteered to drive some of the guys to and from the meeting point, so that nobody would have to drive after they inevitably have several beers ;) I'm excited for Jerry to get to go out with his coworkers, because he doesn't do stuff like that often. While he's gone, I'll probably do something with the kids (not sure what).

I'm looking forward to going out for pizza tonight! We're trying a new pizza place (the restaurant isn't new, but we've never been there). Pizza is one of my favorite ways to spend my high-calorie day :)

April 21, 2016

First trail run!

Ever since my younger brother, Nathan, started training for his ultramarathon over a year ago, he's been trying to talk me into giving trail running a try. It wasn't that I was against trail running (I've always thought it would be fun to try), but we just don't have any trails around here. Nathan would drive all the way up to Pinckney to run the trails, but I just couldn't imagine driving 75 minutes each way for a run.

I always told Nathan, "Some day, I'll go with you" but that day never came... until yesterday. I finally made plans to go run the trails in Pinckney. Nathan and Kendall both happened to be off work yesterday, so we made plans to go up there while my kids were in school. It was kind of interesting while I was getting ready to leave--I had no idea how to dress for trail running.

I ended up just dressing the same as I would for road running--running tights and a tank (I brought a jacket, too, but ended up leaving it in the car). I told Nathan I didn't want to do more than six miles, so I didn't need to bring water or fuel or anything.

I drove over to Nathan's house, so that I could bring Joey to play with their dogs while we were gone, and then Nathan drove to Pinckney. After we parked, we checked out a map of the trails to figure out what we wanted to do.

The large orange loop is 17.5 miles, so clearly, that was out of the question ;) We ended up doing the green loop, Crooked Lake Trail, which was 5.1 miles. It looks neat and simple on the map, but looking at the satellite view, it was quite different! I was later glad that Nathan went with us, because I would have gotten lost for sure. (Also, I had no idea that there is a particular direction that hikers/runners are supposed to go; mountain bikers go the opposite direction on the trail. I never would have guessed!)

The trail was kind of narrow in a lot of spots, so we ran single file, with Kendall in the lead so she could set the pace. Almost as soon as we started running, the first thing I noticed was that it's nearly impossible to run with a heel strike while running on dirt and with lots of hills. Heel striking has a reputation for causing injuries, so I think trail running would be great for someone who is trying to adopt a mid- or forefoot strike.

Also, running on the dirt was actually really comfortable. My eyes were glued to the ground at first, because I didn't want to trip over tree roots or rocks, but once I got used to it, I loved the feeling of running on dirt. Kendall was getting over a cold, so we took it nice and easy--but that's the best part about trail running! Pace doesn't matter.

Once I was able to stop focusing on the ground, I was able to look around and see how pretty it was! It was a gorgeous day for a run, and we had some really nice views.

As we were running, I was wishing that this place wasn't so far away! But I'm glad I finally decided to go give it a try, because it would totally be worth the drive for a long run once in a while.

When we got back to the start of the loop, my Garmin showed we'd only run 4.5 miles, and not 5.1--but either way, it was so fun! Nathan told me that when he started trail running, he got a lot faster in his normal road running pace without even trying (likely due to the hills). I've never enjoyed hills on a road, but running hills on the trail was actually a really fun challenge. They weren't ridiculously hard, but considering I don't have any hills around my house, they were significant enough for me.

When I told Nathan how much I enjoyed the trail, he said, "So, you're ready to train for an ultra?" Hahaha, NO. There will be no ultras in my future, but I definitely want to make it a point to do some long runs on the trails. The day went by so fast, though--I left home at 9:30 to meet at Nathan's at 10:00. By the time we drove up there, did our run, drove back to Nathan's, and I drove home, it was time for Noah to get home from school! The run was super fun, though, and I'm glad I finally gave it a try.

April 20, 2016

Week 36 Weigh-in

The moment of truth weigh-in after a week in Portland/Seattle ;)

I left for Portland on Friday the 8th, and came home last Wednesday. Since I was in Seattle on Wednesday morning, I didn’t get a chance to do my usual Wednesday Weigh-in. I have to admit, that was kind of a relief, considering I ate a LOT of very caloric food on my trip. 

Out of curiosity, however, I got on the scale Thursday morning, and was kind of shocked (but not really) to see 132. I left home weighing 124, so that’s an eight pound gain over six days! I didn’t panic, because I was still under my goal weight. That was the whole point of having a cushion under my goal—so I could indulge on vacation, or treat myself here and there without going over my goal. 

Also, I knew I didn’t actually gain eight pounds of fat. I imagined probably 3-4 pounds of it was “real” gain, and the rest was water weight that would be easy to take off once I got back into my normal routine. So, I honestly didn’t worry too much about it!

It was very nice to not be over my goal weight, though—if I had left home weighing 133 (my goal weight) and come home weighing 141 (eight pound gain) I am sure I would feel differently. 

Anyway, I tried to get back to normal eating habits this week, and I did pretty well! I was pleased with the scale this morning:

I was 127.2, meaning I am up 3.2 pounds from when I left for vacation. Not too bad! I ate and drank some really delicious things while I was gone, and I don’t regret a single one. 

I’d like to get back down to about 123 over the next few weeks, however, because I want to have that 10 pound cushion come summertime. I just wrote a couple of days ago how I want to still be under my goal weight at the end of summer, so if I start summer 10 pounds under goal, then I’ll feel more confident in doing that. 

I don’t want to drastically cut calories or anything, so I’m going to try and aim for about 1700-1800 for a couple of weeks, and see what happens. When I was eating 1900, I was maintaining pretty well. On my trip, I averaged over 3,000 a day! (I did log everything, but I didn’t restrict myself in any way). 

This week, I did pretty well with my long term goals:

(App is called Momentum)

7,000+ steps 6+ days per week: I only managed five days this week. On Wednesday, I was traveling back home, so the day was really short for me. And Thursday, I was just exhausted, and didn’t want to move much. 

Binge free: Today is Day 260. Still going, and feeling really great!

Cook one new recipe per week: My family LOVES the bubble up casseroles, so I’ve been experimenting with different versions of them (if you search “bubble up” on Pinterest, you’ll see a ton of ideas). I was inspired by this recipe to create a chili dog version of the bubble up casserole. Needless to say, my kids loved this one (as did Jerry and I). I didn't follow that recipe, but I just took all the ingredients of a good chili dog and mixed them with the biscuits and baked the whole thing. It tasted just like a chili dog, only it was not nearly as messy to eat. 

Overall, I’d say it was a good week! I am glad that I was able to get right back into my routine and minimize the damage after I got home from my trip. I’m also glad that I had some pounds to spare before I left ;)  Ten years ago, I never would have guessed that I would one day weigh 127 pounds—let alone AFTER A VACATION. 

April 19, 2016

Spring sprints

Speed work today! I wasn't too enthusiastic about it, because I'm not really training for anything right now. I had been planning to take the whole summer off of doing any sort of speed work, and just focus on endurance training (at a low heart rate); but I was listening to a podcast during my long run and the guest (I think it was Matt Fitzgerald, actually) made a really good point...

He said that if you're not used to doing speed work, it's best to just focus on building a base of endurance training during the off season. If you've been doing speed work, however, and then you stop for a while, you'll be more likely to get injured when you resume speed work because your muscles will have to adapt to that again.

That makes a lot of sense! Speed work increases risk of injury, especially when you first start doing it; so by doing a small amount of it even during the off season, you are reducing your risk of injury when you start training hard again.

He said that you don't have to do much at all--just some very short, very fast sprints will be great, and have little risk of injury.

Out of all the speed work, the short and fast intervals are my favorite. Today, I decided to do a 10 x 45 second workout that I did back in December. I've done it a few times, but I think the last time I did it outside was in December--I usually do it on the treadmill, because the intervals are so short. I was curious to see how my speed today compared to a few months ago.

I'm getting bored with the roads around my house (one of the problems with living on a peninsula is that there is only one road to get OFF of the peninsula, so I know that road like the back of my hand.) To get a change of scenery, I went to the State Park this morning, even though my run was going to be really short.

I wore the yellow shirt that I wore for my first marathon, and this was the first time I've worn it since that race. It was snug when I wore in 2012, and then in 2014-2015, it was TOO tight to even wear in public. I was really surprised when I put it on this morning, then, when I found how big it was! It's an Under Armour shirt that is meant to be form-fitting, but it was very loose on me today. I wore it anyway, but I don't think I'd wear it to a race or anything. That was a fun (and unexpected) non-scale victory!

I chose the 5K loop, and ran 10 minutes to warm-up. The new heart rate strap I bought isn't working, so I spent the first 10 minutes adjusting it, trying to get an accurate reading. So frustrating! I might just need to buy a whole new monitor (the strap is cheap, about $15; but the monitor is about $100). The workout on my Garmin was set to 45 seconds fast, and then recovery until heart rate reaches 136 bpm; and since my HR strap wasn't working (it was reading very high), I knew I'd just have to manually start each lap of fast running. I settled on a one-minute recovery, which ended up being pretty perfect.

When I do the 45-second sprints, I like to do a walking recovery, because I run the sprints nearly as fast as I can. As soon as I hit the first sprint, I was surprised at how clumsy my legs felt. The first interval is always the hardest (I read somewhere that the first being the hardest is very normal, because your legs need to be "primed" for the intervals--and that first one is the primer).

I love how short the 45 seconds feels! It's almost like as soon as I get into a rhythm, I only have to hold it for about 10 seconds before it's time to walk. I did a 45 second sprint, 1 minute walk for a total of 10 times, and then jogged the rest of the way to my car to cool down. It felt like a good workout, and it went by SO quickly.

I know, I was totally impressed by that elevation gain, too. I really should choose a flatter course next time ;)

I was pretty psyched when I saw my pace on the intervals! Here they are, compared to December 21st:

The fastest one was a 6:17 pace. I'm in awe of the elites who run full marathons at a sub-5:00 pace! I think it would be pretty cool to see a 45-second sprint at a sub-6:00 pace one of these days, but sub-5:00? Mind-blowing.

I can't believe today is only Tuesday... it feels like it should be at least Thursday! I'm totally ready for the weekend.

April 18, 2016

Summer plans

No run today. I'm not following a particular schedule right now, but my legs felt tired this morning, so I thought a rest day would be good. Jerry was off work today, so we planned to get some stuff done around the house while the kids were at school.

Jerry went for a run this morning, though--he's actually been running quite a bit! He tends to go through phases of running often, and then he just stops for months and months. I told him a couple of months ago that he should start focusing on just three days a week, 1-3 miles at a time, rather than immediately start running five days a week, 3-6 miles each. I think he just needed to establish a habit. And so far, it's working out well for him.

I was surprised that he even ran a couple of times while I was gone last week! Right now, he's building a base (about 10 miles per week). Then, in mid-June, he'll start training for a half-marathon. It will be his second half marathon (his first was last May, when he ran Indy with Rik).

Jerry and I are going (with the kids) to Virginia Beach over Labor Day weekend for a From Fat to Finish Line community meet-up. A lot of people are running the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon (I won't be running, but I'm excited to go meet up with people); and this will be Jerry's goal race. (He's not aiming for a particular time, but he'd like to be well-trained before doing it.)

There will also be a screening of the documentary, From Fat to Finish Line, which should be fun. It's open to the public, so if any of you want to head to Virginia Beach for Labor Day, it should be a great time! (Speaking of the documentary, the producers finally have a release date--I'm not allowed to say anything about it yet, but I promise that as soon as I get the go-ahead, I will announce it.)

Anyway, while Jerry was cutting the grass this morning, I headed out for the necessities--you know, like my free panties from Victoria's Secret ;) I had a coupon that was going to expire next week, so I wanted to use it. I love getting those free panty coupons in the mail! I just wish that we had a VS closer to us.

I also went to Sam's Club while I was out. They have these Chicken Melts in the freezer section that are surprisingly very good, and they only have 160 calories. I like to keep them in the freezer for when I'm starving and need to eat something quickly. It's a lot cheaper to get them at Sam's than it is at the grocery store.

While I was there, I noticed that they are getting all the summer stuff out! Beach towels, summer glassware, bathing suits, seasonal beer, etc. Summer is the most difficult time of year for me when it comes to keeping the weight off. If I wasn't concerned about my weight, I would love to just sit outside and drink margaritas all evening (chips and guacamole would be great, too... and ice cream for dessert!). But I've tried that approach in the past, and I gained weight--can you believe it?! ;)

I can't think of margaritas without missing my Sole Mate, Bonnie!
I am more determined than ever to keep the weight off this summer. I have a bit of a cushion under my goal weight (well, the cushion is smaller now that I went on vacation--haha!) but I am still under my goal (I'll officially weigh in on Wednesday). I will be very happy if I can go into fall at or under my goal weight of 133. That means I'll have to be very choosy about how I splurge through the summer--no margaritas on the daily, or bike rides to the ice cream shop (a leisurely three mile bike ride doesn't burn off the calories in a peanut butter cup hot fudge sundae, does it?).

A couple of years ago, I made a goal to go an entire season without going to the local ice cream shop, and I actually did it. I'm making the same goal this season--I haven't gone since they opened, and I don't plan to. I don't mind going to the dairy farm for ice cream (it's 30 minutes away, so I only go a couple of times a year), but the local ice cream shop is so close to my house that it's easy to swing through on my way home. I could easily gain 20 pounds in the summer months from flurries alone.

Since the Virginia Beach meet-up is at the end of summer, I am keeping focused on that as my goal--I want to be at or below my goal weight when I go to Virginia Beach. Who knows, maybe I'll even be drunk brave enough to wear a bikini! Probably not, but I'm not discounting it just yet.

Anyone else have a hard time during the summer months? A lot of people say that they lose weight best in the summer, because they are more active; but I find the opposite to be true for me. All the good food and drinks are summertime hurdles!

April 17, 2016

Dip netting season

Today was an absolutely beautiful day in Michigan! I've been taking it easy on the running this week (I took four days off after the race, and then I did a couple of easy three-milers. Today, I wanted to take full advantage of the great weather, and do a longish run.

I was thinking it was going to feel colder than it actually did, so I totally overdressed--running tights and two long-sleeved tops. I've noticed that when I do my easy runs, I'm colder than usual because I keep my heart rate low (sometimes, I don't even sweat--which seems totally crazy to me!). So, I've had a hard time dressing for the weather. Of course, it doesn't help that Michigan's weather has been all over the board this year.

Anyways, I headed out, and while my legs felt good, I think my body must still be tired from the race last weekend. I had a hard time keeping my heart rate low, and I had to run in the high 10:00's and low 11:00's to stay under 146 bpm.

Speaking of my heart rate, my heart rate strap decided to totally give out on me just days before my race--so I had to buy one with two day shipping and have it sent to Portland, just so I'd have it for my race! It arrived on Saturday, just in time. I certainly could have raced without it, but it would have bothered me so much not to have it.

There were a couple of odd spikes in heart rate toward the end of my run today, and I know that wasn't accurate. I adjusted the band the best I could while trying not to flash all the cars driving by, and it worked again after that. I don't ever remember my heart rate strap causing so many problems over the past several years!

I ran a lollipop route, which ended up being 5.5 miles. Despite overdressing, it was really nice to be outside this morning.

My dad asked if we wanted to go dip netting this afternoon at the Metropark, and considering it was so nice outside, I decided I wanted to go. Dip netting is a way of fishing in which you drop a net from a bridge, and randomly pull it up once in a while to catch fish. I used to do it all the time when I was a kid, and while I don't enjoy fishing anymore, I thought it would be fun to take Joey and just watch the boys fish. My parents, the kids, and a friend of each of the kids went.

This is the bridge. I was standing across from everyone, just to get a picture:

Joey had a BLAST playing in the water. He was basically just jumping around, in and out of the water constantly.

He may have scared all the fish away, because we only caught two ;) The kids had fun playing on the rocks, though, and my mom brought a picnic lunch for everyone. It was a great way to take advantage of the weather. When we left, my mom and I drove separately in her car, and Joey had the backseat to himself. I looked back at him, and saw him curled up like a cat! I don't know how he can make himself so small. At home, he takes up half of my queen size bed; but give him his own backseat of the car, and he curls into a tiny ball ;)

Silly dog. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

April 16, 2016

A recap of my 10K PR training (how I improved so much in a short time frame)

This is going to be a rather boring post to most of you, but I really wanted to write this for myself. Because I set such a difficult goal last year, trained hard, and completed that goal, I wanted to put all of my training info in one spot for future reference.

If you missed it, back in August, I set a goal to get back to my goal weight and PR my 10K (my PR at the time was 49:23 from March 2013). I dropped the weight and reached goal (133 pounds) just before Thanksgiving, and started 10K specific training at the end of November.

Last Sunday, I ran my goal race and finished in 49:03! (Early in 2015, my weight was up to 160 and my 10K pace was around 11:00/mile.) I was thrilled with the PR, and I'm still kind of in shock that I actually pulled it off.

Anyway, here are some bullet points about my training:

  I started doing my easy runs REALLY easy (by keeping my heart rate low). I think this was a huge factor in getting me to my goal. (I started doing this on 12/24.)

  I got to my goal weight before I started 10K-specific training. I knew that in order to run my best, I couldn't be carrying any extra pounds.

  I ran a 5K race at the beginning of my 10K-specific training to see where my current fitness level was. I am so glad I did that! It helped to see the numbers improving during training.

  I tried to keep 80% or more of my weekly training at a truly easy pace, and less than 20% at a moderate or hard pace.

  I started out by following this plan, but after several weeks, I used a more intuitive approach. I kept with the pattern of five days of running per week, including 1-2 speed sessions (maintaining the 80/20 ratio), but I used my intuition to tell me how many miles to run and on which days. A lot of times, I didn't even know what type of run I was going to do until I was half a mile into it, so that I could see how I felt. (I don't recommend that beginners do this, but it worked well for me.)

  When I did my speed sessions, I gave it everything I had. My interval pace improved pretty much every time I did a speed session. I think this is because I did my easy runs VERY easy.

  I rotated four different pairs of shoes so that my feet wouldn't get used to just one particular model. Not sure if this helped at all, but I figured it was worth a try. I do have a "favorite" pair, though--my Brooks Ghost 8's--and that's what I used for my race pace runs and the race itself.

  I did two tune-up races: a 5K at the beginning of February, and a 4-miler at the end of February. The 5K went really well, and I actually set a new PR. The 4-miler was a bad race, and I crashed at the 2-mile mark.

  Race pace runs were the biggest confidence builder in my training. Once I did a few of those, I felt much better about my training. Next time, I don't think I'll do them--I'll just stick to tempo intervals (2- or 3-mile intervals near race pace)--because I don't think they are necessary to my physical performance (they just helped with my confidence).

  I averaged about 21 miles (a little over 3.5 hours) per week.

  I included a warm-up for all of my speed sessions (and sometimes a cool down).

  I knew that having someone pace me during the race would help, so I enlisted my BFF Thomas. I chose him because he's not afraid to call me out on my bullshit, and when I inevitably would try to quit, he wouldn't let me. It worked very well at mile four of the race!

  I chose an out-of-state race, but next time, I don't think I'd do that. My stomach felt all messed up a couple of days before the race, probably due to drinking and eating food I'm not used to.

  I did all of my training on flat roads, knowing that the race course was flat. I didn't expect the long gravel portion of the race, and I wish I'd trained better for that. It threw me for a loop, and messed with my confidence during the race. Next time, I want to look at the race course well to be prepared.

  I had no plans of running faster than I'd stated in my goal. I knew if I went out too fast at the beginning, I would likely crash during the race; so, I told Thomas not to let me go any faster than 7:50, even if I felt on top of the world. I'm glad I did this, because I had a very difficult race starting around mile 3.5, and I had zero energy to spare. Three of my splits were actually over 8:00/mile.

  My race morning breakfast was a Larabar at 5:00 am and another Larabar at 7:00 am (450 calories total of mostly carbs). No coffee or tea. Five cups of water at 5:00 am. I had no stomach issues.

  It was 50 degrees and overcast for the race (PERFECT running weather). I wore HeatGear capris and a tank. I left my phone in the car, because it felt heavy around my waist, and I'm glad I did that. I didn't need it during the run, obviously, so leaving it the car was a good idea.

  I was VERY public about my goal from the beginning, and I later regretted that because I felt so much pressure to hit it. However, I don't think I would have hit my goal if I hadn't been so public about it. Since everybody knew my goal, I worked extra hard to make it happen. It would have been embarrassing not to do it!

I'm still so excited about hitting this goal! It makes me look forward to choosing another challenge and working hard to make it happen (not sure if I'll announce it or not--I'm enjoying not feeling any pressure right now! haha).

Anyway, here are the weekly stats of my training (these stats include my easy runs AND speed work, so I'm not sure how helpful they'll be):

If you're interested in trying my method to PR your own 10K, I've written this training plan: "Your Best 10K". This closely resembles my own training as I reached for my goal. 

I've also used the same method to create a 5K training plan: "Your Best 5K".  It's tough, but I'm confident it will get you to your goal. Let me know how it goes for you!

April 14, 2016

Portland/Seattle trip recap

I'm home! I had SUCH an amazing time in Portland and Seattle, but I was missing Jerry and the kids (and the pets) quite a bit, so it feels nice to be back. This was my third time visiting the Pacific Northwest over the last year, and it has become my favorite spot for a fun trip! Taking the train to Seattle was awesome.

My friend Laurel picked me up from the train station. Laurel started reading my blog several years ago, and I met her in person when I went to Portland for the first time. She and Thomas were best friends/roommates in college, and she is the one who introduced Thomas to my blog. She now lives in Seattle, but she goes down to Portland very frequently. So that's how I met her and Thomas.

Laurel took me to this gorgeous waterfall right after she picked me up

I won't recap my entire trip, because that would probably take up several posts, but here are a few highlights...

On Saturday, Thomas, Brandon (Thomas's "little brother" from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program), and I went hiking in Ape Cave at Mount St. Helens. I had never seen a cave before, so I wasn't sure what to expect; but I'm kind of a scaredy cat when it comes to adventure, so I was pretty nervous about it! I'm not necessarily claustrophobic, but if there were any really tight spots to crawl through, I wouldn't be happy about it ;)

I'm so glad that I went! At first, I thought I made a big mistake, because I was shaking so badly (nerves) and it was hard to find my footing. The cave is completely pitch black (without a flashlight, you can't even see your hand in front of your face), and there are tons of huge boulders to climb over, through, and around. I was scared of falling off the boulders and breaking my leg (the day before my race!), so I was being extra careful.

As we went deeper into the cave, though, I got more confident with my climbing. Physically, it was a tough workout! At one point, we even have to use a rope to climb up about eight feet of solid rock wall. I kind of impressed myself that I was able to do it. I don't have many pictures, but here are a few:

This is the opening where we started

Boulders everywhere

Brandon and me (I was covering my headlamp);
He's taller than me now!

Almost too claustrophobic at some parts ;)

The cave was 1.25 miles long, and I'm not sure how long it took us to do it, but my legs were tired after that! I was worried it would affect my race the next day, but how often do I get a chance to hike through a cave? It ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip.

I had two reader meet-ups--one in Portland on Saturday morning for coffee, and one in Seattle on Monday night for drinks. I love doing these meet-ups! I met some really fantastic girls. Here is a photo from coffee on Saturday:

Samantha, Mary, Katie, me, and Margaret
I'd met Mary and Katie the last time I had a meet-up in Portland, so it was great to see them again. And Samantha and Margaret were super sweet! Samantha had just gotten off working a night shift, so I was honored she came. And Margaret was going to be running a half-marathon the following day (she hit her goal of sub-2:30!).

On Monday night, Laurel, her husband, Dan, and I went to McMenamins Queen Anne in Seattle for the other reader meet-up. I invited my friend from high school, Allison, to come meet us before everyone else got there, so I could catch up with her. I hadn't seen her in about seven years! I thought it may be a little awkward, but we talked as if we'd seen each other just last week.

I was so very excited to meet reader Melisa, and she showed up next. I don't read many blogs, but I adore Melisa's writing style (she's very witty and hilarious), so I was really looking forward to meeting her in person. And she is just as great in person as she is on her blog! We laughed (a lot).

Rounding out the meet-up was Amber, a sweet-as-pie girl (with a voice to match) who loves cupcakes so much she has a tattoo of one on her arm; and Laura, a very busy mom of three kids, all under age three! I am so sad that I forgot to get a group picture of everyone (likely due to the vodka tonics I was drinking! ha). It was a super fun evening, and meeting Laura, Amber, and Melisa was awesome. I hope to see them again if when I go back. (Laura, we didn't get a picture together! sad face)

Amber and me

Just before the meet-up on Monday, Laurel, Dan, and I went up in the Space Needle. As touristy as it is, I just had to do it! It had an amazing view of the city. Thankfully, I'm not afraid of heights, because it was pretty high in the sky.

Laurel happens to love cupcakes, and she obviously knows I love my desserts, so she suggested a "cupcake crawl" in Seattle--going to several cupcake shops and taste testing. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate my new 10K PR! So, Tuesday, we spent the day eating cupcakes and walking around. We went to four different cupcake shops, and Laurel actually took notes at each one about my thoughts--which comes in handy now, as I write this.

At each shop, Laurel and I each ordered a cupcake, and then we split them in half to share. That way, I could try eight cupcakes, from four different shops. Here is the gist...

Stop #1: Pinkabella
We tried the Cookie Dough and the Chocolate Peanut Butter. I loved both of these! The cake itself was good, and the frosting was sweet, with enough frosting to cake ratio (I prefer a 50/50 ratio, but none of the shops were THAT generous with the frosting, haha). I can't really decide which of the two cupcakes I liked better, but I think I am leaning toward Cookie Dough just a smidge.

Stop #2: Trophy
We tried the Chocolate Peanut Butter and the Samoa. The peanut butter frosting wasn't quite as sweet as I would like, but it was very peanutty, which made up for it. The cake itself was a touch drier than the Pinkabella cupcakes, but it had a very deep chocolate flavor, which was good. The toasted coconut on the samoa cupcake was amazing, and we both declared the samoa the winner there.

Stop #3: Yellow Leaf
We tried the Pancakes & Bacon cupcake and a vanilla cupcake. These were my least favorite of the day, and I actually didn't even finish eating mine, because it wasn't worth it to me. I believe the frosting was whipped, and not buttercream, because it wasn't sweet at all (so if you like whipped frosting, you'd probably like these cupcakes). The cake part of the Pancakes & Bacon cupcake was the only thing I liked--it was almost like a pound cake texture, with some maple syrup soaked into it. I thought the vanilla cake was dry.

Stop #4: Cupcake Royale
We tried the Lemon Drop (lemon cake with lemon frosting) and the Kate (chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream). You all know that I love frosting, and these didn't have nearly enough for me. I took off a lot of the cake part, so I could have a more preferable ratio of cake and frosting. The cake part was a little bit dry, but the frosting was delicious. I liked the Lemon Drop one best.

Overall, my favorite was Pinkabella, hands-down. They had the whole package--good cake, good frosting, good ratio of cake and frosting. Following that would be Trophy, then Cupcake Royale, and then Yellow Leaf.

To avoid sugar overload all at once, we spread out the tour throughout the day, which worked out well. In between, we shopped Pike Place market, which was AWESOME--I could have spent all day there. I bought a couple of souvenirs for the kids and Jerry. We also met Allison for a ginger beer at Rachel's Ginger Beer. She told me it was a must-try, so I was glad she was able to meet us there during a break from work. I have to say, the ginger beer (I got the original) was amazing! I love ginger and lemon, so I knew I'd like it, but I can't even describe how good it was.

My entire trip went by so quickly! I am thrilled to have met my goal at the 10K (it still hasn't really sunk in, yet); I made some amazing new friends; I tried lots of delicious food and desserts; and overall, just had a really great time. Now, it's back to reality ;)

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