Monday, March 24, 2014

I'm moving!

Come check me out over here!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Advice please!

I have fallen into a deep dark pit of research. As I mentioned months and months ago, I have big dreams for this little (recently neglected...) blog of mine and I'd love to make them realities! So, for all of you who have bigger and better blogs, what are you using? Where should I start? How do I make this happen?

Please help a cardio kitty out!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New shoes and 60 degree weather changes...

I finally set the time aside to visit my local running store and was extremely pleased to learn that they were having a big sale- $15 off all new shoes and a free t-shirt. I love me some free t-shirts so I was ready to shop!

I've been down this road before so I knew that the process of finding me a shoe would not be an easy one. I was assigned a shoe-fitter who I hadn't worked with yet (shocking, as I've spent much time in this store) but was very pleased to learn that he was the owner of the store. I had no doubt that I'd be receiving great treatment. We went over all the basics- he had me stand up to check out my arches/sizing, walk around, run on the treadmill a bit, talked about what I was training for, what I currently (and have previously) ran in, etc. and then got down to business. I went through no less than 7 pairs of shoes: the new Wave Inspires (DO NOT LIKE), some New Balances, Nikes, Asics, etc. Nothing was fitting right. He brought over a second pair of eyes and they had me run on the treadmill for a bit longer (a solid 5 minutes) to really analyze my running style. They agreed that my foot strike is "unique" (another word for bad) and that although my foot shapes predicts a stability shoe with a 60% gradient my stride is already overcorrecting any overpronation and I'd probably be better suited with a 30% gradient. This all sounded kind of foreign to me, haha, but at least I remembered it!

After again reminding me that both my feet and my running style are "unique" (I get it guys!) I was handed another round of shoes to try on. I felt a lot like Goldilocks at this point- searching for my "just right". When I put on the Saucony Guide 7s I felt like I had found it. Right off the bat the shoe felt comfortable and my foot didn't feel like it was being forced into doing anything. 

So, there you have it! A new shoe to try. This little guy got his first pounding of pavement yesterday on a beautiful 67 degree day. We only ran a 5K so I can't be certain if this is really the shoe for me, but we did all right. 

Unfortunately it looks like it'll be awhile before we are out on the open road again thanks to this:

A low of 9 and 100% chance of snow. Winter, I am so over you.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I need new shoes.

After yesterday's declaration to be smarter, I'm reminded that I desperately need new running shoes. I've been running in my PureCadence 3s ever since I declared the death of my Mizuno's during the first 6 miles of my marathon last fall. Don't get me wrong- I really love my PureCadences- they fit my foot like a glove and help move me towards a midfoot strike- but these are not long distance shoes for me. I can run maybe 8 miles in them comfortably and since I'm (supposedly) training for a 20-mile race in 7 weeks, I need to be running a whole lot more than 8 miles. 

So- shoes! What to do, what to do. Despite running regularly for over 2 years now, I feel like maybe I still haven't found my perfect shoe. Do I keep putting my faith in the staff at my favorite running store? I feel like we made a bit of progress last time, as the Wave Inspire 9s worked pretty well for me, but I think there still may be a better shoe out there. I have very unique feet and pretty terrible running form (I'm working on it) as demonstrated during the Emerald City half last summer. Remember this?

I don't know if shoes can help me not run on the outside edge of my foot or not, but I do know that with form like that I'm destined for injury (again).

I've taken the little shoe recommending tests on Brooks & Mizuno, since they are brands I've been running it. I'm sure those are completely accurate, right? Their recommendations:

Brooks Ghost. A neutral shoe, which seems smarter for me than a stability shoe as I obviously don't need extra padding under my arch since my foot is already turning the other direction.

Mizuno Wave Sayonara This shoe is supposed to let my foot do what it wants to do naturally but still have a medium amount of padding to provide enough comfort for long runs.

I also took the test at Running Warehouse but they recommended a trillion different shoes. I have to assume that it's better for someone to see my running in person but after so many conflicting opinions and recommendations from the staff at my local running store I don't even feel that confident in what they are saying. 

How do your choose shoes? Buy & try? Running store recommendation? Whatever is on sale? Somebody help me!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Facing the facts.

Over the course of the past week there have been two instances that really highlighted some new things I need to focus on while getting back in race-shape. Allow me to share these with you.

First, K. and I went to COSI to see this very awesome Sherlock exhibit. Since we still had a few hours before the museum closed, we spent that time actually participating in some of the interactive permanent exhibits. One of the areas, Life, has you do a series of tests to give you a sense of your overall health (seeing as these tests never included entering a lot of pertinent information, I would certainly not consider this a professional diagnosis, but I digress). We participated in four different activities to test strength, flexibility, resting heart rate and active heart rate. Other than my slightly higher than usual resting heart rate (while at my marathon training peak I had my HR under 50 and felt good about it. Obviously I'm not running enough these days. Thanks for the reminder, COSI) I felt pleased with my overall health minus one glaring failure: flexibility. This was absolutely no surprise, I've always struggled with flexibility thanks to my crazy tight hamstrings but the results of my test were honestly embarrassing. For this highly advanced test, you sit on a bench with your feet against a wall. While keeping your legs straight you push a bar and it measures the distance that you were able to push. The female average for my age group was something crazy, like 14.5. My results? 1.6 

This is how I felt after seeing that. (image stolen from the internet)

On Monday, we were treated to a 10-minute chair massage at work. I was very much looking forward to this as my shoulders/back have been feeling extra tight lately. Now I've always known that my back is not in a great state- lots of knots back there. Admittedly I have pretty poor posture and the hours that I spend slumped over my computer at work each day certainly don't help. I went into this chair massage thinking I would walk out full of relief (10-minutes should be enough, right?). Not for me, apparently. This woman didn't even attempt to hide the shock she felt when she started working on my neck. 

Her: "Is it always this bad?" 

Me: "I never really considered my neck to be a trouble spot, actually. My shoulders and back are full of knots though. I'm kind of a high-stress individual that carries it all there."

(begins to move her hands to my shoulders) "Oh my. Well, let's just focus on this unhealthy knot in your neck and then we can talk about what to do about the rest."

This poor woman spent more than the allotted 10 minutes on this one small area and informed me of all the options available to me through work. She encouraged me to call and schedule an appointment with a stress specialist (oh the things that exist in our world!) to work on breathing techniques and relaxation. She also reminded me, multiple times, that I can get regular massages covered by my insurance when my back is in this state.

These two incidents, happening in less than a week, really reminded me that I need to focus even more on the overall state of my body. Sure, I eat relatively clean and I love a good cardio workout, but my body needs more than that. I've flirted with yoga but I've never committed to a studio (yes, for financial reasons but even more so because I'm so embarrassed by my inflexibility) but I think it might be time to take the plunge. I've found a few groupon/yelp/living social deals at some reputable studios around town and I'm just kind of weighing my options at this point. My hope is that my joining a studio and practicing more regularly I'll be able to get more actual assistance from the teacher and not just struggle through the parts that require me to touch my toes (because spoiler alert: I can't). Are any of you yogis? Yay or Nay on joining a studio?

As I dive back into a full on training plan and begin to daydream about the races I want to run this spring/summer/fall I want to commit to doing better things for my body. Working on stretching is obviously key, but focusing on stress management and my mental health is equally as important. It's easy for me to run, generally (just don't look at my Garmin data from that past few weeks) but it's all the other stuff that starts to fall away. Now is as good a time as ever to start making these changes, right?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The greatest vegetable lasagna you'll ever eat

While tackling my 30 days dinner (which was a relative success), I started every night with the same question: what cuisine do we want? We tend to eat a lot of the same things, mostly Asian, Mexican, Indian and Mediterranean. I'm not sure why I neglect Italian food so much (especially given my affinity for carbs) but I generally only eat pasta before races. I decided to mix it up and make lasagna. I've made lasagna exactly one time before in my life, in the very early days of my relationship with K. and he actually did most of the work. We also used zucchini and eggplant in place of the noodles, so this was going to be a whole new ballgame.

Excessive googling of "best vegetable lasagna" lead me to The Pioneer Woman and I am oh so glad that it did! I've been using recipes from her site like crazy ever since. I used her Vegetable Lasagna recipe and only made one real change- I left out the squash and added in a huge bunch of spinach. In my mind, this was going to be a pretty simple undertaking. Boil some noodles, cook up some veggies, mix together ricotta, layer it all and bake. I was very wrong. My kitchen literally looked like a bomb had gone off (sorry, no photo evidence. No one should have to see that.) and I used up every millimeter of counter space. My original thought was that I'd have this all baked and on the table when K. got home from the gym but really I was just standing in the kitchen, staring at the mess and unassembled layers on the verge of tears. I stepped away from the kitchen and let him do the building and the baking (team work for the win!).

Vegetables cooking down

Delightful ricotta/parmesan/egg mixture

Insane amount of noodles spread all around the kitchen

The final product! 

(I'd love to take credit for the adorable parsley cat on top but that was all K.'s doing. So cute!)

I really can't say enough good things about this recipe, it truly was the perfect lasagna. Insanely rich though, definitely a one-piece-and-done deal (even for K. who is the king of second helpings). This baby lasted us more than a few days in the fridge, which is always a bonus in our home.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The little things.

On Saturday it was 55 degrees and sunny. It feels like it's been a lifetime since I've felt the sun on my face. Is that too melodramatic?

This morning I made myself some silver dollar Greek yogurt pancakes. It's also felt like a lifetime since I've cooked a well-balanced breakfast.

This winter rut of mine? I think it was a little bit deeper than usual. I think I may have lost myself for a little bit. But just like the sun finally did, I'm coming back out.

I can't make spring come any sooner, I know that most of the country is wishing for the same thing. But I can focus on the little things that make the gray days a bit more tolerable.

Kitty on the my laptop.

Six dozen Monster Cookies.

The perfect cup of coffee.

For today, these things are enough. 

For today, this is progress.

(for next week, this list better include a double digit run or that 20-miler may be a disaster :-) )

Hello again and happy Monday.