Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Things I am loving right now

Here are a few things that I am loving right now.

Violets of March by Sarah Jio.  Loved this book.  Could not put it down.  Finished it in 2.5 days. 

Cold winter morning running.  Last week it was so cold in the mornings but I still braved the weather and ran outside.  It wasn't fast but it was wonderful to be outside in the fresh air.  My eye lids did get a bit frosty.

Moroccan Oil. I had heard that Moroccan oil is good for your hair especially if you have frizzy hair (which I do).  I also heard it was expensive so I decided to just try some from the grocery store before I spent big bucks on it.  I tried this on my hair, putting a small dime size dollop into my palm and rubbing it into my wet/damp hair and it works really well.  It doesn't get rid of the frizz completely but this works better than anything else I have tried!

 Snow! I love the snow and I really want to go skiing again so I am hoping we start to get more snow!

What are you loving lately??

Monday, January 28, 2013

I wish I was a food blogger

I seriously wish I had enough time and energy to cook and photograph like many of the food bloggers I follow.

First, I am not that good with a camera.  And usually I forget to take a photo because I am so hungry by the time I finish cooking.

From "Your Cup of Cake"
 I think I have over 100 recipes bookmarked mainly because I love how the food looks in the photos.  I am in envy of all the bloggers who take such great photos of food!

Post photos of delicious looking desserts and I am sold.

From "Oh, Ladycakes"
So I live vicariously through the food/cooking/recipe blogs that I follow and often times I find that the recipes they post with all those amazing pictures really are good recipes and have become favorites in our house.

One of Brian's favorite meals is this Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Rice casserole.  Back in his bachelor days, when he was in college and swimming on the college team he would make rice with chicken and then pour a can of cream of mushroom soup over it.  Add in some broccoli and this was his favorite (and easiest) meal.  Then I came along and I could not make it for him because I did not like how it tasted at all so when I stumbled across this recipe I made it for him and he loved it.  Now I never have to see another can of cream of mushroom soup again.

Last winter I had never made soup before.  I tried this minestrone soup recipe and it knocked Brian's socks off.  He loved it so much that he requests it often in the winter. In fact I made this last night since we were having our neighbors over for dinner.  Delicious.

From "Iowa Girl Eats"
Last year I needed a healthy dish to bring to a potluck and I made this southwestern black bean salad. It turned out delicious and everyone loved it. Now I make it often to bring to parties or serve when I have guests over.
From "Skinnytaste"
And my personal favorite is this mac and cheese recipe I found.  I could eat mac and cheese every day (I could also eat pizza too) but it really can not be that good for you so this recipe was perfect because I can eat a reasonable amount and not feel sick from all the fat.

From "Skinnytaste"

Here are a list of the food and recipe blogs that I currently drool over, I mean follow

Skinnytaste - These recipes are easy and delicious and I usually have most of the ingredients already on hand in the cupboard.

Iowa Girl Eats - LOVE her and all the delicious recipes that she posts!

Peas and Crayons - Some fun and creative recipes plus the creator of "What I ate Wednesday"

Your Cup of Cake - Looking for a cupcake recipe? Look no further. So many different kinds, not enough time!

Raspberri Cupcakes - Gorgeous photos. Enough said.

Oh, Ladycakes - Just found this one so I am still new to it but the pictures say it all.

How Sweet It Is - Noticing a theme here? I seem to love food blogs specifically focused on desserts.

**All photos are not mine and are from Fabulous Food bloggers!

Friday, January 25, 2013

How to stay injury free

Over the last 4 years I have faced a few injuries.  It seemed like every fall I would suddenly be struck with pain in one of my knees and all my training and running would come to a halt.

Finally after going through three fall seasons with injuries I decided it was time for a change.  After taking time off back in the fall of 2011, I decided I need to make a change and break my fall injury streak.

As I got back into running and began serious training for a spring marathon, I stuck to 5 days a week of running and made sure my easy runs were in fact easy.

But on top of all that I began to go to Pilates class every week after my long run.  Often it was tough to go to an hour class after running 12+ miles but after a few weeks I got the hang of it and I began to like it.  I could feel my hips becoming stronger and I noticed that I was recovering from long and tough runs faster.

I think it was the core work mixed with the controlled hip exercises that made the difference.  Especially doing those exercises when my body was already tired from a long run.  The class that I attend is very relaxed and the only equipment I use is my yoga mat.

Since I have been going to class for over a year I have a pretty good idea of the flow and sometimes I do the exercises at home when I can't make the class.  The important ones I make sure to do are (1) side kick series, (2) kneeling side kick/donkey kicks, (3) bridges and (4) planks.

Side kick series

To begin, lie on your side with your legs, hips and shoulder in line similar to the picture below.  Use the leg on the bottom for stability and make sure to turn the heel of your top foot down so that as you complete the exercise it is as if your heels are clicking.

I complete small circles (in both directions), leg lifts up and down, leg lifts forward and back, side passe (in both directions), and leg circles (in both directions.  Then repeat on the other leg.  For more details and visual cues see this website.

Kneeling Side kick/Donkey kicks

These kneeling side kicks are tough.  Even though I have been doing them every week for over a year they still are tough to complete.  The starting position is similar to a modified side plank with your knee on the floor.  Lift the opposite leg up to hip height and begin by doing up and down lifts followed by circles in both directions.  Repeat on opposite leg. 

For donkey kicks, position yourself with hands and knees on the floor.  Lift one leg up with foot flexed and raise towards the ceiling and the lower back down to starting position.


To start this exercise, begin on your back with your knees bent and your heels as close to your butt as possible with your arms laying by your side.  Curl your hips up to the ceiling and hold for 20 seconds then back down to the floor.  To increase the difficulty, press up and then lift one leg up while you pulse, then switch sides and repeat.


For me planks are tough.  I think if I timed myself I would only be able to hold a plank for about a minute. 
To start, lie face down then push up onto toes and rest on elbows.  Hold for as long as you can.

I really think these main exercises have attributed to helping me to stay injury free for over a year. 

And for more Pilates exercises, I found this great little portable pilates workout sheet to allow you to do Pilates anywhere!

Have you ever tried Pilates? 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Oh my shoe!

It is a known fact that I love shoes and actually have quite a few of them.

Boots.  Oh yes.
High heels. Yes please.
Running shoes. Of course.

I really hate to see my shoes wear out and I wish they could last forever.  My running shoes wear out much quicker than any of the other pairs of shoes I wear.  Last week I finally broke down and bought a new pair of Brooks Ghost 5s.  My original Ghost 5s are about 8 months old and I ran my first marathon in them back in May so I have been having a hard time giving them up.

But it was time for them to become my "last resort/icky weather running" shoes because they have quite a few miles on them.

In fact they have 721 miles.

The cost per mile works out to be 0.15 cents (If you remember I keep track of that stuff).

The new Ghosts arrived last night and they are just gorgeous. I didn't really care for the color of my first pair of Ghosts - the blue and purple just was not working for me.  This pair is so perfect because they are PINK!  I love that they are a flashy color.

On closer inspection, you can see I have put quite a bit of wear onto the old Ghosts.  The treads have definitely been worn down.  My right shoe seems to have more wear on the front, while it seems I tend to heel strike a bit on my left. 

It was time for new shoes.  This is the most miles I have ever run on a pair of shoes and I really happy with how well the Ghost 5s held up.  My Ghost 3s are still going strong too, but the two pairs I have are still in the 500 (mile) range.  I think that Brooks seems to make a pretty good quality product that stands up to a lot of miles.

This afternoon I get to test out my new shoes with a nice treadmill run.  It was (and still is) way too cold to run outside!  The temperature is 10F with a wind chill/feels like temp of -5F.  Brrr.  Yes it is definitely a treadmill kind of day.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sometimes I wimp out

I really enjoy morning running but there are some mornings when I just don't think I can bring myself to run outside.  It just is too cold or the conditions are just not right.

Yesterday was one of those day and it looks like I may have started a trend for the week.

I woke up to 45mph winds!  Even though the temperature was in the high 30s, I just could not bring myself to run outside.  I decided on the treadmill instead.

The gym was pretty empty since it was mid Sunday morning and I just cruised along while watching Law and Order.  I think as long as I have a Law and Order show to watch, I could run on the treadmill for a very long time. Running and reading the captions on the TV is one of my favorite things.  Reading the captions distracts me very well so that I stop looking at the treadmill screen and focusing on how much distance I still have to run.

Sunday's run was 5.4 miles to finish out my week with even mileage.

I spent the rest of the day cleaning the house, baking blueberry muffins and watching some football.  As the day wore on, I checked the weather to see how my Monday morning run was going to go.  With predictions of 2-4 inches of snow and "feels like" temperature of 10F, I decided that I might as well hit the treadmill again.  I packed all my clothes to change at the gym for work, packed my breakfast and lunch then went to bed.

Monday morning I woke up to no snow,  but very cold temperatures.  I think I could have probably run outside this morning but since I was already packed and ready to go, I just went to the gym.  I was able to crank out 6.5 miles on the 'mill while watching another Law and Order.  I hadn't seen this episode before and I was quite intrigued by the plot.  The episode was about a killer who had three personalities and I couldn't keep my eyes off the captions because I wanted to know how they would break him!  I think over a mile went by without me looking at the treadmill screen - it was a pretty good episode.

Tuesday is supposed to be even colder than this morning with a "feels like" temp of below 0F!  I already know I have a date with the treadmill.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Boilermaker 2013 Closed

After just 4 short days, registration for the 2013 Boilermaker 15k is closed. 

2012 Boilermaker
Over the past 8 years, I have been a frequent participant in this 15k race that is held in the middle of July and boosts the largest crowds and best spectators along with beer at the finish line.  In fact, in the last 8 years I have run 7 Boilermaker races.  In 2011 the race sold out before I could register.

This year as the date to start registering approached I wasn't sure I was going to sign up.  It was barely January and my summer calender was already pretty booked up due to FOUR weddings.  The weekend that the Boilermaker was scheduled for - July 13th/14th, was the only weekend I had left free in July.  And the two weekends previous to the race was the first two of the four weddings.

Wow, just sounds tiring. 

I also worried that a bridal shower of one of the remaining weddings would be scheduled on the weekend of the Boilermaker and then that would just cause problems.  Of the two final weddings, I am a bridesmaid in one and so I knew I would need to be available even with my crazy summer schedule. 

And that is how I came to decide to not sign up for the Boilermaker this year.  I didn't think the race would fill up that fast; thankfully all my friends who regularly run it with me were able to register in time and get a spot in the race.
2010 Boilermaker
If you haven't heard of the Boilermaker race, I strongly suggest looking into it.  This race was the race that really got me addicted to running.  It is one of the best race experiences I have had and there are just so many people - runners and spectators. 

And just for fun, check out this awesome horrible photo of me from my first Boilermaker. Now that is a good death face.

2005 Boilermaker

For Further reading....
Boilermaker 2008 Race Report
Boilermaker 2009 Race Report Part 1 and Part 2
Boilermaker 2010 Race report
Boilermaker 2012 Race report

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Raynaud’s Disease

What IS that? 

That is exactly the question I asked my running buddy over a year ago when she told me I had the disease. 

Raynaud's Disease (pronounced ray-nohz and also known as Raynaud's Phenomenon) is a condition that causes some areas of your body (fingers, toes, nose, ears) to feel numb or cool in response to cold.  To get all scientific on you, the smaller arteries that supply blood to your fingers or toes narrow and limit blood circulation. The result of this is that the skin turns pale or even blue.  Once the area is warmed and blood flow returns, the affected area turns to red and then back to normal but is often accompanied by tingling or the "pins and needles" sensation. (source)

I actually have been dealing with this for a long time and didn't even know it.  It really only affects my hands.  Once my running buddy noticed my hands were really white after a long run last winter, she diagnosed it for me.  All this time I just thought that my hands were cold and it was all normal.

On every single winter run, I always wear gloves and my hands are always warm while I am running.  It is usually after the run that my hands start to go numb and white.  Back in November, I was running a track workout with my running club and it was pouring pretty hard. I had forgotten gloves and my hands were so cold they went white and then turned blue before finally warming back up and turning red.  In another case, I got into my car and didn't have gloves on - the steering wheel was cold and before I knew it my hands were numb and white.

It can be a simple case where I just touch something cold - the steering wheel, frozen foods; or it can be more drastic like what usually happens after my runs.  It isn't that painful, it is more annoying than anything else because my fingers are numb.  It makes grabbing items, buttoning pants, opening doors, taking off my running shoes and typing on a keyboard pretty difficult. 

There is a way to quickly warm  up your hands and return circulation.  Once my hands are white and numb, I run cold water and put them under the faucet (I know that seems weird).  I let the cold water run over my hands for a bit and then slowly turn on the hot water and increase the temperature.  This is the fastest way I have found to bring my hands back to life.  Sometimes I do get impatient and just stick my hands under hot water but it always make the "pins and needles" feeling worse and more painful. 

The warming up process can be done naturally by just going inside but I prefer to use the water method.  Letting my fingers warm up naturally usually takes a long time and can get pretty painful. 

The pictures above are a good representation of what happens on a normal day when I wear gloves and I am prepared for cold weather.  The best way I have found to avoid this is to use hand warmers; especially on the really cold days.  Always wearing gloves helps as well, although I can usually get away with not wearing gloves when the temperature is above 40F.

Do you have Raynaud's?  How do you handle keeping your hands warm in the winter?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Runner Confessions

I must confess...

it has been three weeks since my last speed workout. 

That means over 21 days without tempos or intervals, no mile repeats or 800s.  And I am not sure I see the return of them in the next few weeks.

If you have been reading for a while then you know that I love speedwork.  Just love.  Love sprinting around a track; love 400m repeats, love long tempos.  Painfully hard and challenging workouts, yes please.  So deciding to take a break from it was difficult. 

For the past 21 days I have been running the same amount of miles per week but they have all been easy.  After a hard year of training, I knew I needed to take some time to let my body rest.  And since I have no real race plans as of yet, it was getting hard to find motivation to run fast especially in the cold mornings. 

Running easy is great but after a while it gets a little bit boring.  Slower miles all the time on the same routes in the dark can just be overwhelming and not motivating at all.  So I decided it was time to mix things up a bit.

I ran in the afternoon instead of morning.  Running in the morning guarantees I get my workout in but sometimes switching to afternoons can really help.  Plus I get to actually see the scenery that I run by and often notice new things.

I ran with my best running friend.  NOTHING makes the miles fly by quicker than running with my BRF.  She is basically my twin and we always talk while we run.

I ran a new route.  Often I am afraid to run a new route in the mornings because it is dark.  I stick to routes I know in the morning so I took the chance to not only run in the afternoon but also run a new route.  I love exploring on the run and finding new routes.

But even with these, sometimes the miles are still boring and tough.  What do you do when you lose motivation??

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Back into the routine

Over Christmas vacation I didn't run once at 5am.  I didn't set my alarm, I let myself sleep in and wake up naturally.  It was glorious and I loved it. I loved waking up and eating breakfast and then heading out mid morning for a daylight morning run. 

Last week I managed to avoid morning runs as it was a short work week and the weather cooperated.  But this week it was back to the normal routine and back to 5am morning runs.  Even though I bundle up with my spandex and long sleeve and jacket and hat and gloves, the first few steps outside are pretty cold.  It's hard to leave the warm house to go outside and run. 

This morning it was pretty chilly because there was no cloud cover - the stars and a sliver of the moon were shining bright.  I had decided to run my standard 6 mile route with a few detours to stretch it to 8 miles.  

The hardest part of winter running for me is getting out the door.  Day after day I run in the dark and cold and it can be hard to find the motivation.  But often after a long day at work, I just don't feel like running and the sun is setting and its getting dark.  And on those days I am thankful I didn't sleep in, I am thankful I got up and ran before dawn and before work. 

It may be tough, it may be cold but it is always worth it! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Running in the winter weather

Yesterday was my first day back to work which meant no more sleeping in.  But when my alarm went off at 5am and I looked at the temperature outside, I decided to sleep in and run after work.  It was 13F with a feels like temperature of 3F with 25mph winds.  I have run in that cold of morning weather before but I just was not feeling up to it.

After work I stepped outside and was surprised to find it was snowing pretty hard.  Big white flakes were swirling everywhere and driving was tricky.  I kicked myself for not packing gym clothes so I could run on the treadmill.  I wondered what I was going to do since I wanted to run but didn't know if the conditions were suitable.  As I drove closer and closer to my house, the snow began to taper off and when I arrived home there was no snow at all.

I quickly changed into my running clothes and headed outside just as a few flakes began to fall.  The streets were clear as I started out on my route and just to be safe I decided to stick to the neighborhood streets.  The snow began to come down and soon the roads were covered with snow.  I saw one other crazy runner out, but otherwise the streets were lonely.

Six snowy miles later I finally returned home, finished with my run and covered with snow. 

It was not a very fast run but it was good to be out in the fresh air.  I am glad I was able to get out before the snow really started coming down.  Although I am not sure running after work proved to be any better than running in the morning.  I love running in the snow but it can get slippery and dangerous.  But running in the cold, cold temperatures and wind is not very appealing to me at all.  Yesterday I chose the snow.

Which would you choose? Snow or cold wind??

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Thanks for all your comments on my last post.  For now I am still on blogger but I am back.  I know that 2013 is going to be even busier than 2012 but blogging about running has become part of my life and its hard to give that up.

The last two months have been hectic and stressful.  My job can be quite stressful at times and even though I use running as my main stress reliever there is nothing like a vacation.  For the past 10 days I haven't thought about work, I haven't checked my work email and I haven't set my alarm clock.  Every run for the past 10 days has been easy and carefree - I haven't run predawn and I haven't seen 5am on a clock.

So now on the first day of the new year, it is a time to start over.  But first here is a brief overview of 2012....

I ran my first marathon

I celebrated one year of marriage with Brian

 I saw my best friend get married

 I ran 2142 miles (compared to 1302 in 2011)

And I even talked Brian into doing a photo shoot for our Christmas card!

Plus much, much more! And I know that 2013 is not only going to be better but also busier and I can't wait! 

I am not really big into resolutions but it is the start of a new year and it is a chance to start over again.  My mileage tracking starts from zero now and there are 12 months ahead where anything can happen.

This year I am hoping that I can run just as much as I did last year and enjoy every step. 
I am hoping I can read more books because last year I slacked off a bit on reading. 
I am hoping that I can continue to eat less cookies and more fruits and vegetables. 
I am hoping I can continue to include cross training in my normal routine because I think that helps to keep me injury free!

Just a few things that I am hoping will happen in the coming year!