Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Heart of it All

Thanks to everyone for hanging in here! It seems like my blog world has recently been overrun with people dealing with family stresses and losses- my thoughts are with all of you going through that.

I just wanted to pop in quickly to shed a little light on what's been going on in our world. During what should have been a routine appointment last week, K.'s dad was informed that he would be needing a triple bypass- and while it wasn't exactly an emergency situation they did recommend that he do it as soon as possible, which ended up being the very next day. Although they aren't biologically my family, I am certainly close to them and I wanted to be present as much as I could throughout the whole ordeal. It was a very hectic and stressful 24 hours- the hardest part for me was watching K. try to deal with it all. He was out on a stress-reducing bike ride when his mom texted to say that his dad had come out of surgery and everything had gone smoothly. When I told K. that things were looking good it was as if every emotion he had been ignoring just washed over him, it was so good to see relief finally settle in. We learned shortly after the procedure that they ended up doing a QUADRUPLE bypass and that his dad's heart had essentially been a ticking time bomb.

Everyone is feeling quite thankful- he could have had a heart attack while he was out riding his bike, working in the yard or even just during a stressful drive to work. That would have damaged the heart muscle so that it wouldn't be recovering so fast (or even worse, which I don't think I need to say). His dad is home now, coming around quite quickly, but still has a long road ahead. 

What this experience shows me is that diet and exercise aren't just about vanity or stress relief, it's first and foremost about our health. And while I still strongly believe that we can enjoy all things in moderation, it does make me look closely at the occasional questionable food choices we make (lazy nights of ordering in pizza, post-bar stops at Taco Bell, etc.) and really want to limit them even further going forward.

As I dive back into regular blogging there will be a heavy focus on meal planning as we are going to be preparing lots of food for his parents. Just like everything else in life there are always ways to improve. Although I know that generally speaking I sit on the healthier end of the spectrum I have a few changes to my diet that I want to make as well. I also want to be sure that exercise for health is something that I achieve daily- just because I miss a planned workout doesn't mean I can't take a 30 minute stroll to enjoy the sunset. I'm feeling a renewed sense of gratitude for my body and what it allows me to do and I want to repay it for all I put it through.

I plan to return with regularity (and pictures and recipes and workouts, oh my!) on Monday. 

Enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Family First

Just popping in to say that I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth! There was a family medical emergency last week and I've just been caught up in that. Things are, thankfully, going even better than expected but it's still a bit overwhelming. I hope to return to my normal routine in a few days and that routine will include regular posts! Hopefully there will be still be a handful of readers left by then :-)

Hope everyone had a safe and fun Memorial day weekend!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

One of those weeks

I don't know what it is but I just haven't been able to wrap my head around this week. I feel like I've spent most of it not knowing what day it is! Yesterday after a marathon day at work I came home and immediately crashed in my bed, when I finally woke up I was SO confused! I remember thinking it was Saturday morning and I felt like I had to be somewhere. Needless to say I'm more than thankful that today is almost Friday.

Let's rewind and see where my time has gone.

As soon as I got home from work on Tuesday, I whipped up this banana bread from Christina @ Hungry Meets Healthy, subbing blueberry Chobani for the banana (because that's what I had on hand). The smell of the bread baking was pretty much all that could get me through my workout. NMTZ was seriously tough. My still sore muscles were rebelling against me but I powered through the best I could. It was certainly not the greatest of workouts but I was happy to be doing it. Dinner was my standard mixing bowl full of salad, this time pumped up with a black bean burger buried somewhere in there. 

Dessert was (unpictured) banana bread and it.was.heavenly! Follow that link and make it right now. I whipped it up in minutes and barely made a mess (which is a HUGE accomplishment for me!). DO IT.

I crashed hard on Tuesday and knew that Wednesday had to be a rest day. Work was kind of blur, things have been hard and hectic at work and my days there just feel so long. I took my random nap last night and raided the refrigerator for anything that could resemble dinner. What I came up with is too embarrassing to admit. Popcorn + banana bread were also enjoyed.

I'm still (impatiently) waiting for photos, but may just end up posting my Dirty Du recap tomorrow anyways, without them :-/. I'll be so disappointed if there are none because there were also ZERO official race photos of me at Cap City. How does that even happen?!?

Memorial Day is coming up and I barely even realized! A 3 day weekend COULD sound awesome except I'm working second job Fri-Sun. That would bum me out more if I wasn't desperately trying to save up for a new bike thanks to my reignited love of cycling. If I keep getting all these extra hours I'll be riding this baby (in charcoal/teal) in no time! Memorial Day also means that it's just about time to get back into my training plan, where did my freedom go?!? At least I have Monday off to do absolutely nothing, so thankful for that.

Any big Memorial weekend plans?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Running for fun

For the first time in many months I currently have nothing definite to train for. I have some potential races and goals but as opposed to just diving head first back into a training plan I knew I wanted to take at least a week or two to just do as I pleased, exercise-wise. With that in mind I made the (questionable) decision to ignore the 90 degree heat/90% humidity and go out for an easy run last night to shake out my legs. It was rough but at least it was pretty!

I covered about 3 miles running and 2 miles walking, I drank every last drop of water that I had and when I came home to my un-air conditioned house (another questionable decision) I.was.DYING. I couldn't find an escape from the heat so I did the only logical thing- got into an ice cold shower still wearing my sweaty running gear. The initial shock of the cold water took my breath away but after that it felt like heaven! 

Post-run ice shower was followed up by Thai food and board games with friends. Delicious and fun!

When my alarm went off this morning I literally popped out of bed. I had no intentions of running but it just looked so peaceful outside and despite still being a tad sore my legs were itching to run. Another easy (pace, not so easy on the quads) 3 miles and I was more than ready for a cold breakfast.

Lemon Chobani, raw oats, chia seeds, slivered almonds, tiny pinch of shredded coconut

I've got Jillian planned for tonight and I can truly say that I am so excited to spend an hour cursing at the TV. I'd really cut back on the Jillian DVDs pre-half to avoid being too sore and I just didn't have time for them while I was trying to learn how to ride a bike and trail run before the duathlon (review coming soon, I promise!) so it's nice to welcome them back into the fold. It feels good to WANT to do my workouts, just a few short weeks ago I was so over running I thought I was going to quit. The weather is certainly helpful too, summer makes me so happy. I swear I suffer from some version of seasonal affect disorder- as soon as the days are long, warm and sunny I'm the happiest girl in the world.

Happy Tuesday :-)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Manic Monday

Happy Monday! Due to summer hours I get to work a (slightly) shortened day today which would be great if I didn't have so much work to get done! Considering that, I'll keep this short & sweet.

1. My duathlon yesterday was awesome! I have a recap post in the works but I'm just waiting for some photos to drop in. I'm absolutely hooked on multi sport events now and desperately want to start swimming so a tri can be in my future. 

2. The high here today is close to 90 degrees! Ohio is so bad at seasons.

3. Thanks to #2 our poor kitties are really hot today. Since the temperature is supposed to drop back down we are trying not to turn the AC on (which I realize sounds insane given the 90 degrees high, but whatever) and the gray girls have just been sprawling out on the hard floors all morning. I tried to explain to them that the basement would be cooler but they didn't seem to understand.

4. I'm completely obsessed with A1 sauce. Last night for dinner we grilled some spicy black bean burgers and I covered that thing in A1. So delicious, definitely not just for steak!

5. K.'s mom bought us a panini press a couple weeks ago and we thought that was totally weird. We have a REALLY small kitchen (which makes me so sad) with zero storage space and we just don't need random appliances. Little did I know that I would fall in love with this thing. I swear I have used it almost every day. It makes toasty, melty sandwiches in 30 seconds flat.

6. I'm absolutely eating frozen yogurt for lunch today. 

That's all for now, have a great week!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Rules of the road

Thanks to the summery weather of yesterday I wanted nothing but vegetables for dinner. On my walk home from work I broke the cardinal rule of grocery shopping (don't go hungry!) and popped in the store to pick up some dinner supplies. Everything sounded good! I reminded myself that I was walking and therefore needed to show some restraint but I still ended up with some seriously heavy bags.

From store to table in 15 minutes flat!

This picture is deceiving but that is actually a small mixing bowl full of salad. Romaine, red peppers, carrots, avocado, feta cheese and my go to agave-Dijon dressing. Quickly sauteed (maybe 5 minutes in the pan?) kale + broccoli, with sea salt and lime juice, and a good sized sweet potato with butter and cinnamon. I was so insanely full after eating this (but I was still able to clean my plate :-) ).

After my dinner of vegetables we headed to a mini cookout with two of our friends. They enjoyed their brats (while I snacked on one too many PopChips) and we started talking about the upcoming duathlon. I haven't really thought too much about the fact that I don't even know how a race like this is run. I knew about transition but I didn't really think about the logistics of it all. This is a relatively small race so we only need to be there 1 hour before the start to get our stuff settled in the transition area. I won't be wearing cycling shoes to transition for me will literally just be putting on my helmet, switching the Garmin to cycling mode and hopping on my bike. Nice and simple. 

As I learned yesterday the two most important rules are:

1. Helmets are required, which I assumed. I don't ride without one ever
1. Drafting can lead to disqualification. You must stay three bike lengths behind the nearest cyclist unless you are actively attempting to overtake them. If you spend too much time within three bike lengths you will receive a time penalty. This makes sense to me but I didn't know if was an official rule.

I'm definitely more nervous about getting into something new than I am about my performance. After looking through some pictures and the results from last year, I know that the trail will be quite muddy (lots of lost shoes!) and I have NO idea what to expect from myself time wise. The fastest female in my age group ran at a 9:46 pace and biked at 15.1 mph, while the slowest ran a 14:50 pace and biked at 10mph. I imagine I'll fall somewhere in the middle of that but I kind of want to push it hard and be competitive! My running pace will really depend on what the trail is like, obviously. As far as the biking goes I just plan to give it everything I've got. I find comfort in the fact that last year's group wasn't full of crazy fast girls, I was afraid that I'd be way way back in last place!

Any tips for pre-duathlon prep?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What season is it?!?

Yesterday was kind of an off day for me. I worked both jobs, grabbed fast-ish food on the road between them, got home late, ate ice cream and pizza and stayed up way way past my bedtime. I felt off, I was feeling bad for myself and whining about my long day. At 1a (seriously) I made the decision that come hell or high water I would fit a run in before work in the morning.

5.5 hours later l was slowly reminding myself of said decision. Despite the lack of sleep I felt ready to tackle the day, my body just needed a little convincing. I checked the weather only to be pleasantly surprised- 66 degrees and sunny! With no excuses left I got myself moving, laced up the PureCadences (that I plan on running in this weekend) and got out the door.

I'm not exactly sure what I thought 66 + sunny would feel like, but when you are running what it feels like is HOT. By mile 2 I was super sweaty and needed a little reprieve. K. had told me about some mountain biking paths that shoot off the trail so I kept an eye out for one and was more than happy to hop on and enjoy some serious shade. The running part of this upcoming duathlon is legit trail running and since I have zero experience with that I figured now was a good time to try it out, better late than never, right? I hopped some tree branches, sank into the mud, got hit in the face with more than a few vines and quickly realized that I needed to really pay attention to what I was doing or else I would break an ankle. I did just a bit more than half a mile in the woods before coming to an exit, a good start if I do say so myself.

At this point I was on a real time crunch, as my original plan had been an easy 3, so I picked up the pace just a tad and made my way home. I immediately downed the largest cup of water I could find and stretched my calves, I think this might have been my longest run in these more-minimal shoes (and it is, sadly, my longest run since my half) so I knew I couldn't skip this very important step that I constantly ignore.

Not too shabby for an easy run for me, especially given my trail running detour

I had about 20 minutes to shower and get ready for work, so that was really fun. By the time I got to work I was famished and quickly headed over to the cafe for my favorite vegan breakfast burrito.

It's not pretty but it is delicious.
Spinach tortilla stuffed with vegan sausage, marinated tofu, roasted potatoes & broccoli, pico on the side

Two days ago it was 35 degrees when I woke up and now our high is 87. I can't keep up with this Ohio weather! I'm much more of a summer girl so I say bring on the heat :-)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Run, ride, run- Oh my!

So yesterday was a landmark day for two reasons- my first ever brick workout and a training ride without K. It made me feel like a real cyclist!

My friend (who is doing the duathlon with me) and I had made plans to work out together. She is mainly a cyclist who has only dabbled in running so I was there to motivate her through the run and she was in charge of pushing us during the ride. Since the race is 2-12-2 we planned to do 1-10-1 with no real pace in mind, just getting out and pushing ourselves a bit.

I had a pretty standard pre-workout breakfast about 2 hours before we were set to head out

Toast with mounds of PB2 + strawberry jam, peach Chobani, coffee

Running a mile felt kind of stupid, to be honest. I didn't really know a good route so I just took us in a big loop around the block and used the Garmin to figure out when to turn and head back. My street is a serious up hill climb so I probably could have made a better decision (especially with a running newbie) but she did great. It was a nice slow mile that got our legs ready to ride. We popped back in the house, grabbed our bikes and headed to the trail. Here is the downside of having my Garmin- I didn't even think to bring my phone to use as a camera! It was a beautiful day out yesterday. Chillier than it has been but clear and sunny. The sky was super blue and with all the trees in full bloom the trail just looked better than ever. Thanks to the cooler weather our route was less busy than usual and we could comfortably ride side by side if we wanted. We alternated between a comfortable conversational pace, chatting away, and really pushing ourselves for a mile or two at a time. 

We ended up knocking out over 11 miles way quicker than I had imagined (which was good because I was on a SUPER time crunch) and then headed out for our last mile of running. Unfortunately my friend's shin splints were acting up so it turned into more of a run/walk deal but it still got us to shake our legs out. I was pleased to see that our average pace was about 2 mph faster than my last ride, it gave me more confidence in my riding and made me more aware of the fact that I can push myself to be better on the bike.

By the time we got home I had to move in super speed to make it to lunch on time. I chugged some water and was showered and out the door in 15 minutes flat. Someone should really give me a medal for that performance.

We were out of the house all day long yesterday and I was so thankful to come home and collapse on the couch, I think Dora felt the same way

Seriously, how cute is she?!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spring has sprung

Last night's workout was supposed to be some quality time with my good friend Jillian Michaels, but when I got out of work and noticed that it was still beautiful outside I didn't want to spend an hour cooped up in my house when I could be enjoying this perfect day. K. was free as well so we decided to set out on a nice long bike ride. We got our bikes all geared up and ready to go and prepared my Garmin (I should name him) for his inaugural workout.

This little guy is my Garmin Forerunner 405 and I am in love with him. 

I have to admit, I don't have very much experience on a bike. K. has been cycling for years (for enjoyment, as a mode of transportation and competitively) and encouraged me to get into it as well. He bought me my bike for my birthday a few years ago and I've rode it every now and then but never really consistently. One of the things that prevented me from riding more often is that he wasn't exactly the most patient of instructors. On our first ride ever (which was basically my first time riding a bike since my teens!) I could tell how frustrated he was getting with me for being slow. After a good talking to from his cyclist friends he realized he needed to be a bit more understanding and it's been a lot smoother since then. Our rides now are longer, a bit faster and generally include working on a few different cycling skills (riding close to other people, shifting better, working on my cadence, getting out of the saddle to climb hills, etc). I'm kind of having him train me for this upcoming duathlon even though I have absolutely no expectations or time goals since I have no idea what I am getting myself into.

Anyways, back to last night!

We rode along our favorite trail for awhile but it was a bit congested with commuters and walkers enjoying the day so K. lead us on a bit of detour. We climbed up a steep bridge that ran over a highway (mildly terrifying) and into a less busy area with open roads. I worked a lot on shifting and allowing myself to gain speed on downhills and turns. After a half an hour of that we headed back to the trail to ride up to this super pretty man made lake. It was at that moment that I realized that spring has actually arrived. Everything was so green! I feel like it happened over night. I wish I'd had my camera. We enjoyed the view before heading home. I took the lead and set the pace and discovered that I could actually ride a lot faster than I thought. Don't let that mislead you I am still a painfully slow cyclist, but I'm seeing improvement and I find that really encouraging. All said and done we were on the roads for about 90 minutes and it felt great. 

One of the downsides of cycling, for me, is that right now it doesn't feel like as good of a workout as running. I'm not at the point where I am really pushing myself and I don't experience the endorphin rush that I do after a long run. I'm hoping that once I'm using the heart rate monitor I'll be able to really start putting in the efforts and feeling more accomplished at the end of a long ride. 

Post-ride I played around with my new boyfriend the Garmin and looked at the stats from the ride. We ate pierogis for dinner and finally watched this week's Game of Thrones. Does anyone else watch? It's basically the only TV show we are ever caught up on and that's only because K.'s parents let us use their HBO Go account. Shhhh... Don't tell on us!

I've kind of completely ignored my proposed training plan, but since the weather is great again today I'm hoping to get back on the bike and follow it up with a quick run. Exercise is exercise, right?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Training Plan Tuesday

I'm a huge fan of alliteration so Tuesday seemed like a great plan to share my training plan for the next few weeks. 

This upcoming duathlon will be my first not-just-running race and I have absolutely no idea how to train for it (obviously as I have clearly not been training for it yet).  I'm still shaking out my legs from the half so I will be pretty flexible with my goals for the week and just kind of see how I'm feeling.

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 20-30 minutes- bike
Wednesday: a.m. easy 30 minute run, p.m. Jillian DVD
Thursday: 30-40 minutes bike
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 4 miles running/10 miles biking
Sunday: 1 hour yoga

My plan is to essentially repeat this next week, slightly increasing my times, and try to squeeze in one more longer bike ride and maybe another brick workout. The set up of this race is 2 miles running/12 miles biking/2 miles running. I'm certainly not concerned about the running and I have ridden 10-15 miles plenty of times I've just never done it with any sense of urgency. I'm oddly nervous about cycling in a race environment but the only way to move past that is to do it!

After the duathlon I'll have another easy week and then it looks like I'll be diving back into half marathon + (eeek) full marathon training! As of today I'm eyeing a half on 8/25 and a full on 10/20 (among a few others...). The plans that I've been playing around with line up pretty well and even though I was tempted to have a few more plan-less I think that sticking with a schedule is best, plus I won't lose any of my base this way. I've still got a few weeks until I need to register (re: until the prices rise) so if anything comes up and I need to dial it back it's not a problem. I'm so excited about moving into longer distances and hope to use cycling as my cross training and come across a few more multi sport races this summer. 

How are your race schedules shaping up?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Capital City Half Marathon- Race Report

I wish I had some sort of device that could record my thoughts because despite the fact that the race just happened it already feels so hard to remember everything that was going through my mind. I apologize because exactly zero photos were taken, whoops! I also apologize because this is probably going to be long. 

Pretty much everything about Friday was as perfect as I could have hoped. I enjoyed a carb heavy day and made sure to stay well hydrated and loaded up on my electrolytes. Honestly, I was pretty lazy. Even though I knew we had visitors coming in I didn't do as much to prepare as I had planned to. I worked on my playlist (which was hugely helpful) for most of the morning and hit the expo in the afternoon. The expo took place at a convention center downtown and while I have no real complaints it also wasn't very impressive. It was set up in a large conference room but as opposed to making good use of the space the set it up almost in aisles that led to lots of congestion. They also had packet pick up sorted by bib number as opposed to last name and while I was prepared with our email confirmations a lot of people weren't so some of the lines were a bit backed up. Despite the traffic we were in and out in less than half an hour. 

I took a little power nap before getting started on dinner (being lazy all morning can really tire a girl out!). We enjoyed our fettuccine w/ meatless meatballs and got ready to head to the hotel. I obsessively went over all the things I was packing and ended up with enough luggage to stay for a week! This was my first time staying in a hotel before a race and my anxiety was through the roof. Luckily I remembered all the important stuff and also brought quite the selection of breakfast options. Our hotel room was insanely nice and I surprisingly slept like a baby despite my nerves.

I woke up easily at 5:32a and got right into my pre-race routine. I made a small cup of coffee and enjoyed it with a large glass of water while trying to shake out some mystery pains. My right hip felt off (which is weird because I have never had hip troubles) so I used my heating pad while enjoying an episode of Full House. A bit after 6a I ate my standard bread + PB2 + 1/2 a banana and drank some more water. Our hotel was honestly just feet from the starting line which was amazingly convenient, it seemed a little crazy to stay in a hotel when I live about 10 minutes from the race but I would absolutely do it again. Worth every penny. We geared up and headed down around 7:30a. The weather was fantastic, "felt like 56" and there were just a few clouds in the sky. Everything about the morning went as well as could be. I got into my corral  and lined up with the 2 hour pace group, I was feeling ready to own this race.

Go Time
After some great starting line music we were on our way! I settled into a nice 9:00ish pace and was so thankful for the pacers. This was the first race that I didn't go out way too quickly and that definitely made all the difference for me. I had made the decision beforehand to carry water and fuel and not have to deal with the water stop madness and that was also a good choice. Miles 1 through 3 were solid, I felt good, I teared up a few times and I spotted K. for the first time (he was seriously spectator extraordinaire). My fuel plan was a shot blok every 3ish miles and to make my 20oz of water last the whole race. 

(disclaimer: my RunKeeper app has this course being super long, at 13.47 miles, so my splits are probably a bit off but it's the only data I have on hand. A few friends each had their GPS watches claiming 13.36 so take that as you will)

Mile 1  8:54
Mile 2 9:02
Mile 3 9:03

4 through 6 is kind of a blur. We tackled our first uphill, which is still nothing because Columbus is pretty freaking flat, but it felt like a mountain at the time and the wind was blasting us in the face. I tried to eat a second shot blok and it was just not working. I chewed and spit it out which made me nervous. Around mile 5.5 was the first time I wanted to quit. I was still with my pace group but I felt like I was already starting to dig deep and knew it was way too soon to feel that way. The only thing that kept me running at this point was assuming I'd see K. shortly and I didn't want him to see me walk. Right as expected I saw him just past mile 6 and it was a life saver. I was right next to the pacer and I excitedly pointed that out (even though inside I wanted to die)

Mile 4 8:55
Mile 5 9:06
Mile 6 9:04

7 & 8 were the last miles that felt remotely bearable. Pretty uneventful, I let the pacers get a tad a head of me but I caught up to them quickly. I was just running at this point and didn't know how much longer I could do that for. 

Mile 7 8:50
Mile 8 8:50

From 9 to the end I was dying. Due to all my set backs my longest training run this period had been a 9 miler and mentally that really messed with me. I hit the wall hard core. This is also where it finally clicked that the pacers were running a clock time of 2 hours and not a chip time, we had started in corral C so that was shaving nearly 3 minutes off my plan and I just did not have that in me. I admittedly started walking a bit here but kept the 2:00 sign in my sight. Despite the walking breaks I didn't lose much time at all but I pretty much knew sub 2 was gone. I started crying, I desperately wanted to quit and it was pretty terrible. I couldn't get any fuel down and I knew I needed it. I saw K. around mile 10 and that kept me running through a whole song. I felt like I was back on track in mile 12 but turns out that was my slowest mile of the whole race, I probably would have been better off sticking with walk/run. I saw K. again right past 12 (I don't know how he kept getting to these spots so fast!) and only kept running because I didn't want him to see me walk. 

When my RunKeeper app popped in my ear to tell me I had hit 13 miles, I knew I was close to the real 13 mile point. It announced a 1:56:XX time and I did the math in my head and knew sub 2 had to be so close. I had promised myself that I would cross the finish line dying so I put everything I had into my sprint to the end. I felt terrible, everything was burning, I crossed the line and just fell onto a volunteer. My app gave me a time of 2:00:38 for 13.47 and I didn't know what that meant for my official chip time but I didn't care at that moment.

Mile 9 8:59
Mile 10 8:58
Mile 11 8:55
Mile 12 9:12
Mile 13 9:00
Mile 13-13.47 8:38 pace (yay sprinting)

I stumbled through the (very congested) finisher's chute and got all my goodies. I found my way to K. and immediately took off my shoes to reveal quite the collection of blisters, ouch. I still didn't know my time but he gave me my present anyways (a Garmin! Finally! If I had had this during the race I would have known just how close I really was...). He had to jet off to work so we said our goodbyes and I walked around finding more things to eat and drink while waiting for my sister. 

An alert popped up that my results were available and I was forced to find out that I was a mere 5 seconds away from my goal. So many feelings washed over me. Of course I instantly thought of the few walking breaks I took or wondered if I could have sprinted harder at the end. I tried to do that math (5 seconds divided by 13.1 miles...) and replay every step in my mind. Disappointment started to creep in and then I thought back to an article I had read recently about reframing your thoughts and how that is the key to future success. I knew sub 2 was a lofty goal given my sporadic training, I just hadn't gotten the long runs in. This was a six and a half minute PR and that is HUGE. I couldn't downplay that victory. This is progress and that is great. I also ran PAIN FREE. My muscles were burning and my legs felt like lead but nothing hurt and that's also a pretty big deal for me. I've been fighting with my foot issues for so long and it was such a relief to not be affected by those on race day.

I'm proud of myself and more determined than ever to fight for that sub 2. I've already started looking at what halves I can add to my schedule and have been tantalizingly close to making the plunge into full marathon territory. I've got some training plans to review and some things to check on my calendar but expect some future race announcements soon. For now I'm going to switch my focus to cycling to hopefully not embarrass myself in this duathlon in 13 days (eek). 

Any advice on how to become a better cyclist in less than two weeks? :-)

Will run for cupcakes

What a weekend. I'm still exhausted and really have no idea how I made it to work on time this morning! I have a race recap in the works, but for now I'll just fill in the rest of the weekend.

Post-race on Saturday was filled with pancakes, bananas, vitamin water and ice baths. My sister and brother in law headed out of town right as our next weekend visitor was arriving. Pizza was eaten, beers were drank, pool was played (I am a TERRIBLE pool player!) and lots of fun was had. We stayed up far too late, especially given that I had woken up @ 5:32a, but it was a fantastic night.

I managed to be lazy for the first few hours of Sunday but then I realized that our house was a disaster and despite my tired legs I couldn't (and shouldn't!) just lay around all day. I did a marathon cleaning session and started prepping foods for our mini Cinco de Mayo party. The menu was pretty simple- homemade guacamole, veggie fajitas, margarita cupcakes and fresh margaritas for drinking.

As expected the cupcakes were the star of the show, though my guacamole gave them a run for the money (my secret ingredient- finely diced home roasted red pepper, it just makes it extra special). After the success of my Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, I knew I wanted to have  similarly festive alcohol-infused cupcake. Luckily, the Brown Eyed Baker had a delicious (and easy) sounding recipe. I followed her recipe to a T and the only thing I didn't love was the frosting, but I think that's really just my own issue with basic buttercreams since all my taste testers were fans. Now that I'm baking a bit more frequently I think I need to start playing with new frostings.

 Fresh lime zest gave the cupcakes the perfect amount of tartness

 I really need to work on equally filling my cupcakes.

We ate real food first. 

Garnished with a lime wedge and a dash of course salt. 

Cinco de Mayo ended a bit early since I may have fallen asleep during a movie that we were watching. Sorry friends! You aren't boring, I was just exhausted. 

A perfect end to a pretty great weekend.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

So close yet so far...

2:00:04. 5 seconds! Of course there's disappointment, but I ran my race, I pushed through when I wanted to quit and I collapsed into a stranger when I crossed the finish line because I had given it my all. A time that started with a 1 would have been ideal, obviously, but I can't argue with a 6 and a half minute PR. This weekend I celebrate, Monday morning I start looking at what I can do better.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Me Day

Greetings Blogland!

I'm taking today as a me day. I've got a vacation day from work, I slept in and now I have the next few hours to work on my race day playlist, clean the house for my weekend visitors and lounge around with the kitties to fully rest my muscles :-) I'll be hitting up the expo later today (one of the best parts of race weekend!) and then enjoying a nice spaghetti dinner with a few of my favorite people.

My focus for the day is to keep my nerves at bay and just remember that I've done everything I can do.  I'll be dreaming dreams of sub-2 all day and night and giving this race all I've got. In past races I was too afraid to fight for one goal because I didn't want to end up disappointed but I think a little disappointment is okay and can be motivational. Regardless of my time I'll be happy knowing that I did my best (is that too corny?) so that's what I plan to do.

At some point I'll be back with a race report, hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Carb Loading?

With less than 48 hours until race time (yay!) I'm going a bit crazy over here. Physically, there isn't much more I can do. I plan on getting some good stretching in tonight and tomorrow and maybe squeezing in an easy bike ride or a long walk, purely because the weather here is beyond perfect, but that's about it. What I CAN do is completely obsess about everything else. Over the past week I've definitely read every article I could find about pre-half marathon routines. Despite this being my third half marathon I'm still approaching this whole thing like a beginner and trying to be as thorough as possible. Perhaps this is me trying to overcome my less than ideal training with perfect nutrition or something, but regardless I feel like I'm learning things.

So let's talk about carbs.

While perusing Runner's World I found a lot of differing opinions on exactly how many carbs one should eat pre-race. This article said a marathoner should eat 4.5-5.5g of carbs per POUND of body weight during the 2-3 days before a race, while this study showed that an average of 5-6g/kg of body weight led to an increased performance. What I took away from most of my research was that there really isn't an exact answer to this question. There's no magic number to aim for but there is proof that increased carb consumption does help.

What does that mean to me?

Generally, I strive to eat a lower carb diet. By no means does that mean LOW carb! When I first because a vegetarian (light years ago, ha) I relied on carbohydrates far too much. As I've grown up and learned more about my health (and become more serious about exercising) I've shifted my nutritional goals a bit. I aim to get more protein and good fats and a few less carbs. Since I'm "only" running a half marathon, I have simply shifted my diet around and I'm aiming (loosely) for 3-5g/kg for today and tomorrow. 

Something important to remember is that carbs aren't just bread- they are found in fruits and starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes are a fantastic source of carbohydrates!) too. Most of the articles I read also recommended staying away from foods high in fats and not eating too much fiber the night before the race (obviously). Here's a look at my planned eats for today

Greek yogurt pancakes made with 0% raspberry Chobani 
~44g carbs

Vitamin Water Revive (normally I drink the Zero, but I want the potassium AND carbs today + tomorrow so I will drink the regular kind)
~32g carbs

Baked tofu (marinated in dijon + agave) sandwich on double protein whole wheat bread w/ spicy red pepper hummus & romaine
1 clementine
~55g carbs

post-work snack
Thai Chili popchips 
~20g carbs

Homemade burrito bowl (quinoa, black beans, sweet potato, red/orange peppers +onions, avocado, lettuce, 0% plain Chobani)
~53g carbs

0% plain Chobani w/ raw blueberries + strawberries

Total Carbs
214g (!!!!!)

This puts me comfortably inside the 3-5g/kg range and also gives me a whopping 75g of protein for the day.  

What are your thoughts on carb loading? 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Meal Planning + Grocery Shopping for Two

After years of living with roommates (and not sharing food) and then living alone, I felt like I had just about mastered the art of grocery shopping for one. There were definitely some times when I would overestimate and things would go bad, but in general I felt like I had a perfectly stocked fridge. I loved knowing exactly what was at home and planning dinner as I walked home from work.

Oh my how things have changed!

Despite having lived together for a few years now I feel like I'm just finally getting getting the hang of shopping for our family of two. K. and I are both typically very active people who strive to eat as healthy as possible while living on a budget. All those things combined make grocery shopping a real chore. I've been working really hard at making a meal plan and then basing our grocery list off that and it seems to be pretty successful. Here's a look at the planned eats + groceries for this week.

Eggs + toast, bagels w/ cream cheese, yogurt + fruit or pancakes. If not for the half this weekend, bagels wouldn't have made the grocery list but they are a nice little treat.

Salads, sandwiches (turkey for K., PB2 + jam for me), leftovers

Monday: eating up leftovers (random pizza for K., giant sweet potato + assorted greens for me)
Tuesday: Spicy Peanut Noodles
Wednesday: Giant Salad w/ baked tofu
Thursday: Messy Mexican Burrito Bowls
Friday: Pasta night
Saturday: cupcakes (oh just wait for these!) + out to dinner
Sunday: eat our way through leftovers

Grocery list

Carrots, cucumbers, romaine, baby spinach, bok choy, avocados, green onions, red/orange peppers, cilantro, limes, bananas, apples  (I wasn't pleased with the organic apple selection so I got strawberries + blueberries on sale instead), frozen edamame, onions

Grainy Items
Brown rice noodles, linguine, blueberry bagels, Double Protein whole wheat bread

Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, butter, buttermilk (both for cupcakes), light cream cheese, eggs, muenster cheese

Black beans, tofu, turkey (for K.'s lunches), PB2, hummus

Revive Vitamin Water Zero (SO MUCH POTASSIUM!), Naked coconut water

Pop chips (sweet potato and Thai chili. They were on sale), popcorn kernels, flaxseed tortilla chips and salsa

Powdered sugar (for cupcakes), pasta sauce

Total money spent: $75

Very important thing that I forgot- CUPCAKE LINERS! Stupid Ashley.

I can't remember the exact split but we buy organic as much as we can- especially fruits and veggies. 

The snacks don't stand a chance of making it to the weekend, minus the popcorn kernels since I bought 2 lbs, but I bought more than enough to get us both through breakfast, lunch and dinner for nearly a week. We always have a pretty well stocked pantry so rice, quinoa, lentils, etc. are already in the house. K. also supplements his diet with protein powder after all his long rides + hard climbing days, so that helps to keep him full.

I'll report back on how long these last- I swear if I'm at the store for anything other than cupcake liners and tequila (an important ingredient in the cupcakes ;-) ) before next Monday I will not be a happy camper!

A kitchen success, a kitchen failure and my LAST training run!

Yesterday before I went to the grocery store I emailed K. the meal plan for the week + the snacks I planned on buying to see if he had anything to add (we are trying to stick to meal plans & grocery lists, but I've got a whole post dedicated to that coming up later today) and his only request was that I bump Thursday's dinner up to last night. So our planned salad night turned into Spicy Peanut Noodles

A few years ago K. and I were OBSESSED with making mac n' cheese. It was a very elaborate recipe and not even remotely healthy but it was insanely delicious. A couple months back I whipped up these easy peanut noodles and K. decided they should become our new mac n' cheese. I perused the internet for inspiration but I wasn't super stoked on any of the recipes I found- they either had too much oil, too much soy, too much honey or not enough PB. Here's my version of the sauce (enough for 3 large portions, or 1 normal sized portion and 1 K. sized portion):

3 T sesame oil + 1 T red pepper flakes cooked over medium heat for 4 minutes, strain out the red pepper flakes and return the oil to the pan.  Add in 4 T of PB2 (prepared per instructions on the jar), 3 T soy sauce and 2 T agave nectar. Stir to combine, adjust as needed. I added another sprinkle of dry PB2 and a squeeze of agave.

We used brown rice noodles and added in sauteed bok choy. I topped it off with green onions and cilantro. Quick and delicious.

This morning was my last training run! My legs were tired but I really just wanted to test out the temperature as the forecast for Saturday is looking a lot like today. According to it "felt like" 54, so I went with my favorite Moving Comfort shorts and a basic C9 tee. I did an easy two at a ~9ish pace. Admittedly I set out for three but I felt the slightest twinge in my foot so I stopped on the spot, not the time to get hurt! I was a tad chilly in the shade but the sun felt great. Since my race starts about an hour later than my run this morning and will be more than 6 times as long (eek) I think my planned outfit will be just fine.

Post run I stretched (which I will be doing a LOT more of over the next 48 hours) and attempted to tweak my favorite Greek yogurt pancakes. The result was a huge giant failure. I was able to salvage about half of the batter and turn it in an edible pancake but it was not delicious. I'm determined to achieve what I was going for and as soon as I do I'll share the recipe.