Monday, November 24, 2014

Random Thoughts on Life and Great Recipes

I'm sitting here swilling coffee out of this mug:

Too early?

I'm trying to get the motivation to get up and out to get my workout in for the day.  yes, I do have a lazy bone in my body.  Sometimes I do indulge it.  I'm not perfect nor do I want to be.

First let's get the mundane out of the way - it's that crazy ass weather time of year.  It could do a 180 from one day to the next.  Right now it's in the 60s.  However recently, it's been so damn cold, I've been known to run in this attire:

Wind was really whipping that day too.  I don't think you can see it, but ignore my neighbor's tarp covered boat.  He can keep the boat covered up, but can't clean his dog shit out of my yard.

Speaking of weird animals, my oldest cat Meatball has taken to obsessing over celery.  Yes, the big green stalks of crunchy stuff.  I don't even know what started it other than she got a whiff and a lick of it in a bag that I brought home one day and that sealed the deal.  She has even gone so far as to jump INTO the fridge if you leave it open a split second to get to it.  I've searched and it doesn't seem like it's a harmful thing so we've been just giving her little pieces of the leafy stuff at the top if she's really persistent.  I guess cats get a little crazy when they get old too.

I'm loving this relaxed in between season of working out.  Of course this is only in regards to running because I'm starting week 3 of "Nichole's flavor of Strong Curves" and it's going great.  I did notice on my 10 mile run yesterday the extra strength I've got in my ass as I was running over bridges so I guess that's a good thing.  I do need to add a yoga/flexibility workout to my rotation again.  I miss doing a weekly one and I still have some stiffness to get gone.  Or maybe, like my cat, I'm just old.

Holidays... we are staying home!  We were going out to visit my family but our van just isn't in perfect condition right now.  After the rocky trip to MCM where the radiator almost left us stranded, it just hasn't been right and I don't feel comfortable taking another trip in it until it's either 100% fixed or (gulp) replaced.  So we've got a turkey, and we're getting all the rest of the fixins together to have a pig out fest of our own.  And yes I'm a trainer and yes I preach health and fitness to people and yes I believe that you should (mostly) be mindful of what you put in your body.  But that said, seriously I get annoyed at the barrage of "How to be healthy over the holidays" and "Don't eat all that bad food" and "Say no thanks to unclean eating this season" posts/memes/etc on the interwebs.  Honestly it is important to be healthy but it is just as important to experience and enjoy life.  You have to find that balance.  Have fun with your friends and family.. drink another glass of wine or scotch.. eat that pie only your grandma can make because you don't know if she'll be around to make it next year.  You know your limits, you know what it's gonna take to burn whatever you put in you off.  But that time... those people, those foods, those smells, those memories.  Enjoy it!  You don't have to answer to anyone, certainly not me.  I've told my clients to just have fun and enjoy themselves.  Be aware of what you're doing, but don't let it make you resentful or unhappy.  Come back honest and ready to put in the work at the gym next session.  If that makes me a slacker or a bad trainer or whatever than so be it.  I'll drink another just for you.  Cheers.

Kinda went on a tangent there.... sorry not sorry.

Speaking of putting things in your mouth, I tried two great new recipes this week that I believe are worthy of sharing.

First:

Garden Style Lasagna  This was divine!  It's hard for me to cook meatless in this house.  It sucks, because I don't always "need" or even want meat, but even when I make a salad or plain pasta or heck anything else, the response I get from the males in this house is "where's the meat".  But this recipe had people coming back for more and NOT ONCE did I get a request for meat.  The leftovers were great too.  Just don't scorch your first batch of white sauce like I did... oops.

Second:

Shredded Beef  I know this recipe is written to make French Dip sandwiches, but I just made the shredded beef and served it (and that awesome juice) over brown rice with veggies on the side.  My husband is still raving about it.  He even used some leftovers to put in a tortilla and make a burrito.  For such a simple recipe with so few ingredients, I can't say enough good about it.

And on that note, I think I've worked up the motivation to get my sweat on.  To the gym I go!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

When I'm Not Running...

Don't let the title fool you.  I've been running.  I'm happy to say that I finally feel back to myself after MCM.  Like I said before, I want to work up to running 20+ miles per week to maintain over this winter.. which seems to be appearing pretty freaking early since this morning was -1 (yes there's a MINUS there) with the windchill.  Last week I put in around 17 and half miles, so I'm definitely on the right track.  This week I'm shooting for 20.

I've also on week 2 of the Strong Curves "flavor" workout plan.  Holy crap that first week was rough.  I was SO sore.  I didn't know if I was from still recovering from the marathon or the new training.  I believe it was from the glute exercises because I've never been sore like that in those areas before.  Wowza.  Hopefully this will be a good thing and help me in my running... in the long run.  Ha.  I'm so funny.

But, I didn't come here to talk about running or any other exercise.  Or the fact that I've eaten less than 100g of carbs a day for the last several days (hello again abs!).  What I want to tell you about is what I do when I'm not working out or participating in real life responsibilities.

WORLD OF WARCRAFT.

This past Thursday the new expansion, Warlords of Draenor, hit the market.  I had prepurchased it and was ready to go the second it went live.  Which was 3am EST.  Yes, my ass was in this chair.  I was there for the herd of people standing on top of Khadgar, jumping through the portal and starting the grind to level 100.  It's always such an experience that I'm glad to be a part of.  I've played WoW nearly 10 years now.  It's been a major part of my life.  I've met friends who I've connected with outside of WoW, witnessed people get married, have kids, even just grow up and go off to school (or as they say, "Uni", depending on where they're from).  I got lucky to be on an early American converted to Oceanic server, so most of my online connections are with people from Australia.  I love it. It's like I live in 2 parts of the world every day.  I remember hearing about Steve Irwin's death while logged in - even before American news was reporting it.  Memories.

So, every time there's a new release my husband and I go all out for it... get the game going the second it comes out, stay up all day and night, etc.  And now that the kids are older, they're into it too - especially the midkid who has his own characters going and really understands the game probably better than most.  After the newness wears off it's back to being more casual and relaxed about it (our hardcore guild and raiding days are long over), but it's nice to get back into it like crazy kids for a bit.

I did hit max level pretty quickly btw.  Because I rock.  Troll Shadow Priest FTW.  For the glory of the Horde.  Now if I can only get my Garrison built up the way I'd like it....

And for the record, I still got all my runs and all my other workouts in.  And I cooked (mostly) healthy foods.  Even on few hours sleep.  Years ago I would have just slothed around and ate burritos and chips.  But I guess I'm older and more responsible now.  Or maybe I'm just old in general.  That's ok too.

Thanks for 10 years of freaking awesome experiences, Blizzard.  Here, let me hand you more money.  I couldn't imagine being addicted to something more... EPIC.

An old pic of my priest after being one of the first people to get the Violet Proto Drake from the What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been achievement.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Aftermath and Now What?

You never know how you're going to recover from a marathon - heck, any race - until you run it.  I didn't know what to expect out of my body post-MCM so I really didn't lay out any rigid plans for myself.  I knew that I wanted to be on the conservative side and allow myself to rest and heal up as needed.

Something I am aware of for me is that I have to have a happy balance of keeping moving and resting.  If I simply lay around, I feel like crap longer and I tend to get really tight very quickly.  If I try to push myself to go and go and go, of course that just delays my recovery time.  So it's all about finding that sweet spot.

Walking the National Zoo (very sloooowly) the day after MCM was a good thing for me, I think, especially since I had a long car ride the rest of the evening to get back home.  The day after, more DOMs kicked in via the quads, but it wasn't too bad.

I wanted to take 7-10 days or more off running.  I didn't (and don't) see any reason to be out running in the days after.  In my belief you won't be helping yourself any, but you certainly can hurt yourself and I don't want to chance it.

In the week after, I went for a couple of easy to brisk walks, rode the bike and got on the crossramp.  The crossramp was the worst, as it generated some odd twinges out of the backs of my knees.  It felt good to be back in the gym and breaking a sweat in ways other than running, though.  Sometimes you just need the change of pace, if you will.  I'm excited about the fact that our neighbor offered us his upright bike when he moved.  We just got it set up in our new place yesterday and it will be nice to have that option here at home.

I ran on the 9th day post-MCM.  To be honest, I was scared because I didn't know how it would go.  It went ok... not great, but not awful.  I had that "I forgot how to run" thing going on at first, but then I eased into it.  I still felt sore in places - particularly my hip flexors - but I was able to keep going.  My body kept wanting to run at marathon pace, and I had to keep pulling back.  It didn't feel like I was running too fast, but I don't want to "accidentally" go too hard/too fast when it is unnecessary.  I got a little over 4 miles in, so no disappointments there.

I'm planning another short run this week and then I'm going to try just running for an hour this weekend sometime.  My goal at this point is to work myself back up to 25-30ish miles a week for the rest of the year.  I'd like to run 4 days per week and do strength training 3 days.  I will have a total rest day, of course, so one day will be both a short run and a lifting session. I'm looking at doing the Strong Curves program (with my own flair, of course) as I still believe I have weakness in the glutes more than anywhere else.  Right now I have nothing set in stone until I get a feel for exactly when I am fully recovered from the marathon.

Nutritionally speaking, I'm happy to be lowering my carbs again and picking up the protein (my diabetic husband is thankful for this as well - less temptations in the house for him).  I usually crave it after racing anyway... My standard post race or long run meal is a juicy burger.  I'm currently back to eating more whole foods and feeling good about it.  Not that I ate like crap during my marathon training, but at the end there I felt like I was eating us out of house and home and while travelling I was leaning on snacky things like energy bars, pretzels, etc.  Last night I made a delicious pizza casserole out of spaghetti squash and Italian sausage and packed it with mushrooms, onions and fresh basil.  Now I'm hungry for leftovers for lunch and it's not even 10 AM.  Crap.

Future plans... Well, in the immediate future I'm going to continue to enjoy the break... from extremely early wakeups, to being exhausted, to the rigid schedule, to the intensity of everything.  I want to get back to blogging more about my day to day and with that I want to catch up on the blogs I've been missing.  I've been reading and reading (bloglovin + long car rides), but I want to reach back out there and be more social.  I feel like I've cut myself out of the loop - I know I did - but I'd like to wiggle back in there.  This is also something I need to have a happy balance of - I tend to either overshare or just not be here at all.  There's gotta be a middle ground.  One of the things I'm considering for the next year is actually training with an actual group.  Maybe finally break out of my comfort zone as a perpetual lone wolf.

Racing...  I'm tentatively saying that my next race will be the Frigid 5 Miler in January.  I've wanted a redo of that since I did it almost 2 years ago.  I'm still trying to make a decision on Pittsburgh.  Part of me wants to go for the marathon to finally say I did it, but at the same time I really love that half and I'm still kinda bummed I couldn't PR it last year.  And, I don't know if I want to do two marathons a year (assuming I'll do another Fall marathon - be it MCM or Philly or another).  I would love to work on getting my speed back in the coming year... I know it's there, just lurking under the surface.  I feel it in the form of "oopsie" sub 8 min miles in the middle of random 5 mile easy runs...  It just needs coaxed out in the form of focused training.   Again, I don't know... nothing is set in stone.

Right now I'm going to enjoy this period of going with the flow.

Monday, November 3, 2014

MCM Weekend Photos and Stories

I promise after this post I will stop talking about my marathon.  Ok, probably not.

There's really not a whole lot to say about Friday.  We drove there - it took a while.  We did take the kids with us (DC is an educational experience after all, and we've never had the opportunity to take our brood there before this), and of course that meant stopping at every rest stop it seemed.  At least it was a beautiful day, and we left pretty early knowing this would happen.

 Practicing high kicks.
 Hanging out by the C&O Canal

 What a ham.
 This was a nice little stop.
More C&O Canal.

After we finally got to our hotel and checked in and then got some food (we were starving!), we went to the Expo.  I feared long lines and waits, but really it was no different than any other race to me.  After a short security check in, everything was smooth sailing.  Packet pickup was downstairs and then the actual expo was upstairs.  I thought that was convenient.  Now, really, the expo wasn't totally "WOW".  Maybe I'm just on race expo burnout or something, but it all seems like the same stuff over and over.  This one had the advantage of having more specific military-type charity booths, but other than that it was the same vendors you see everywhere.  Swap the Brooks store with a Dick's and there you have the Pittsburgh Marathon expo.  So, while I browsed for a short bit (and bought a new Bondi Band for myself and for my daughter), we didn't stay too long.

Later that evening was the First Timers Pep Rally.  I signed up for this because 1) it was cheap.. haha, and 2) I thought maybe hanging out with other first timers would help somehow and 3) I'll never have this chance again!  This is only time I'll ever be a First Time Marathoner!

It took place at the host hotel - Hyatt Regency Capital Hill.  I got there pretty much right on time, got checked in, given a really cool pin, temporary tattoo (that I never put on), and an MCM 26.2 car decal.  Then I got directed to where the actual pep rally was down the escalator.  It wasn't too crowded just yet so I grabbed a seat and chilled out.  On the way in they handed us pom poms... lol
 One of the "famous" arches.
 Pom poms.  ha.
They had these screens on each side.  They showed videos and then streamed photos from Instagram and Twitter. #RunwiththeMarines

It was a good time and I'm glad I went.  Bart Yasso was hilarious (told us a lovely story about the Mile High Club), and the other speakers were good too (Clif Bar Pace team, etc).  There was an open bar and food.  I didn't partake of either since just eating before and I wasn't tempting fate with drinking.  I couldn't believe the amount of people getting a buzz on.  I wondered how they were going to get up the next morning.. lol.  Anyway, they did a lot of goofy competitions for prizes - Who had the best Oorah, who could run on stage and hug the host the fastest, who was coming from the farthest away, etc.  It was all really cheesy (and not something I would do normally), but I think I got my ten bucks of entertainment out of it.

Saturday morning I got up and headed out on the Metro to the Runners bRUNch, which started at the Iwo Jima Memorial.  Luckily, I met a couple other runners waiting for the train and we were able to get to the start together.  Unfortunately this was the most unorganized event of the weekend.  There were conflicting statements on where the start was, how long the run was, how to get there, etc.  There were no signs and no one to direct you.  It was strange.  But, we made it (after taking the long way around, of course) to the start where we had time to snap a few pics of each other in front of the memorial before the start.

 Epic.
 Yep, there's Bart Yasso back there again.  Giving us all a peptalk.  This isn't a good pic, but the second guy in there from the right wearing brown is Sean Astin, who was also hoping for a sub 4 hr MCM.  Another very cool guy.

In more poorly organized fashion, in one minute we were told there were going to be pacers for different times and then the next it's "lets get started" without telling us who was pacing what.  haha.  I was just pretty amused by all of this with my mind focused on keeping this a nice relaxing run to freshen up for the big day tomorrow.

I started off running with one of the girls I met at the Metro.  She was going for a sub 5 hour marathon time, had an achilles injury and wanted to stay slow.  We chatted a bit about various races (this was not her first marathon.. she's done quite a few), and I'm always interested in hearing others experiences in other places.  She recommended the Grandma's race.  After the first mile and change, I told her I was going to pick it up a bit (my goal was a light progression - averaging out around a 10 minute mile), and I bid her farewell.  Unfortunately I never saw her again, but I hope she had a good marathon.

It was a gorgeous sunny day for a short run.  The course went from the Iwo to the Jefferson Memorial and back.  I completed the run as I intended... nice and easy with a light pickup and was happy with it and confident for race day.  They gave us a book about the history of the MCM and a commemorative coin.

After the run, they had a huge breakfast buffet.  Huge donuts, bagels, pastries, oatmeal, yogurt, granola, fruits, etc.  I settled on what you see here - fruit, a small plain croissant and a banana nut muffin.  I didn't want to chance any frosted or filled donuts.  lol

Yum.

Again, I'm glad I did this.  That said, this is one weekend event that I don't know that I'd do again.  First of all, it was expensive - $40+service charge.  For a run that had a lot of confusion surrounding it, etc I just don't think that it's worth it in the long haul.  I probably could have been just as well getting to sleep in Saturday morning, eating fruit and muffins at the hotel, and then going for a short run locally on my own.  Maybe that's just me, though.  Let's not forget running that hill that day gave me a really evil false sense of security for the actual race.  So maybe I'm just bitter about that too.  ;)  Still.. I can see better ways to have spent $45 bucks when you figure in service charge and metro charge to get there.

I already posted my epic long race day recap, so here's some photos from the day:
 Me and the kids with Miles after the race!
 I typically think Michelob is "beer flavored water", but it was fantabulous on this day!!
 My cheer squad.

Their little legs walked so far on marathon day.  I'm so proud of them!

After a decent night's sleep Sunday, we checked out of the hotel and headed home.  But first, what would a trip to DC be without a stop at the Zoo??  Yep, my crazy butt walked around the whole National Zoo the day after I ran a marathon.  No regrets.








It was a great weekend with lots of adventures!