Thursday, December 31, 2009

Your favorite moment of 2009?

Chrissy at Glamour's Storked got me reminiscing on 2009. Since I'm in Rose Bowl central, it doesn't really feel like New Year's Eve, but all the same I'm enjoying it.

My favorite moment of 2009 happened early on in the year. Jan. 1st, in fact. It was an early morning after a fun night of drinks with the runners. Bleary eyed and dehydrated, I woke up on the couch at a friend's house. The manfriend got up to leave around 8am saying he had to go let his dog out. He asked for my phone number, kissed me goodbye and said he would call soon.

Being me, I wasn't positive I'd hear from him. But sure enough, the next day (and conveniently my birthday) I was lounging in a comfy chair in Borders reading a book and writing in my journal when I got a text from him. Shortly after, a date was confirmed for a few nights later and the rest was history.

Tell me, what was your favorite moment or memory from 2009?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rain in So Cal freaks drivers out

Last night we had a staff dinner at Mastro's Steakhouse, which was hands down one of the best meals I've had in a long time. Although I'm not much of a red meat eater, I enjoyed the smells from everyone's plate. I ordered the warm spinach salad and snapper. The whole table shared sides of creamed corn, broccolli, marinated mushrooms (yum), lobster mashed potatoes (super yum), garlic mashed, etc. By the end of the night I was totally stuffed. But leave it to us to order a few desserts for the table.

When this thing showed up, it was impossible to pass up a few bites.

And the courtyard across the street from the restaurant was too pretty to pass by without a photo.

I had a hell of a time finding my way back to my hotel that night thanks to the non existent GPS in my rental car. UGH! But I finally figured out a street that would take me all the way back home and hopped on it. After a lot of stress and a few tears, I was at my hotel, chatted with the man friend, did some yoga and went to bed. This girl is definitely good at big city driving, but not knowing where you're going can get really stressful and frustrating at times. I just wanted to be in bed and I kept circling around the same blocks not being able to find the on ramp to the highway I needed.

I was determined to make today a better day. This morning, after hearingEat Live Run's Jenna rave about this guy, I finally tried a Dave Farmar (free!) yoga podcast for the first time! I did a 60 min class in my hotel room and it was awesome. I do have to admit that yoga on slippery hotel carpet isn't quite as good as on my pink Gaiam yoga mat, but it worked and I felt really good afterward.

So, I headed downstairs to the gym to get the heart pumping. I did 22 minutes of treadmill time, 7 of it walking at a decent incline and 15 at a steady clip of 6.5-7.2 mph. Then I hopped in the unusually large hotel pool for a little dip, then on to the hot tub and steam room. Why? Cuz I could! Plus, I have a nagging sore throat and steam always seems good for a nose/throat issue.

After getting ready and grabbing breakfast, it was on to the duties of the day. We spent some time at the Santa Monica Pier in the drizzle.

Then we admired cool light fixtures in the awesome vegeterian restaurant, Real Food Daily, we went to for lunch. I had Mexico City tofu tacos...delish!

Does anyone else feel weird about asking someone to take your photo if you're traveling by yourself or with coworkers? I'm a photo junky and feel like I always have to explain myself when pulling out the camera.

After a few more hours of workish things, we were done for the day and I headed off to meet up with a college friend I haven't seen since we ran the San Diego Marathon together back in 2007! It was so good to reconnect. Now it's time for bed and hopefully recharging the energy levels. Gnight!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Looking toward 2010 and a few new goals

This year, I thought about the new year a little earlier than some. Say, a week or two earlier. Usually, I think "Hey, it's Jan. 1st! I guess I better figure out some resolutions." Well, after running a 1/2 marathon (now 8+) and then a full (or four) and have achieved a goal level of fitness and maintained an healthy weight for three years, I have to think a little more about what these resolutions might be.

So, this year I've decided I will strive to...

1. strengthen friendships, maybe even make some new ones, and reach out more often to the great people in my life

2. cook my way through my Splendid Table cookbook (the recipes that sound appetizing anyway).

3. continue working toward overall body strength (not just running strength), which includes core work, variety of exercises, running, yoga and strength training (and plenty of sleep). So far, this newish method (to me) seems to be working well in keeping my body strong AND uninjured.

4. bust out a little more creativity and thought into my blog. What does that mean? It means I want to spend a little more time preparing blog posts, thinking about what I'm going to write, posting photos, and getting creative to bring you fun new content that keeps me excited about writing and you excited to read it.

Cheers to you and a fabulous 2010! I'm off to Pasadena tomorrow for a week of Rose Bowl action! I'll try to check in when/if I can. I'll be there for work (but fun work) so I'm sure I'll be running my rear off doing all kinds of crazy things.

And in case you're wondering who you should root's the Ducks! Those Buckeyes are going down.

A few tidbits of information about the University of Oregon (and some of its famous alums) that you might not know...

1. NBC Today Show news anchor Ann Curry '78 hails from the UO journalism department
2. Ann Bancroft '81 was the first woman to ski and windsail across Antarctica
3. Author Ken Kesey of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is a UO graduate
4. The cartoon Stone Soup comes from UO alum Jan Eliot
5. Animal House was filmed on the University of Oregon campus
6. Nike's elite running coach Alberto Salazar '81 (also a graduate of the UO) won the NYC marathon three times
7. Ahmad Rashad '72 carried the football for the Ducks for 2,306 yards and 131 receptions during his college career

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What did you not know before blogging?

A short, but fun little post for Christmas eve. I woke up at 3:30 am this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. So, I got up, wrapped a few final gifts, wrote a grocery list for the quiche I need to make tonight, gave myself an at home Dr. Scholl's foot spa pedicure, read a bit of A Homemade Life, got inspired by my Splendid Table cookbook, and finally hopped on the bike trainer for 30 min.

During my four hours of extra time this early morning, I thought about all the things I didn't know about prior to blogging.

So, here goes. Before starting Sassy Molassy, I didn't know...

1. what in the world a "green monster smoothie" was
2. that near empty almond (or peanut) butter jars make for an amazing bowl of oatmeal
3. that so many other 20 & 30 somethings enjoy two commonalities: running and preparing/eating seriously good food
4. that I'd ever consider traveling to meet up with someone I've never met in person before
5. how fascinated we are with the details of other peoples' lives
6. that one could blog as their J-O-B
7. that they then could receive a book deal from said blog

Okay, your turn to add to the list! What did you now know before hopping into the blogosphere? Merry almost Christmas to all of you celebrating!

Okay, the exhaustion is starting to kick in. Just a 1/2 day at work and then I have a tempo workout, groceries and chores to do!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cccccrunch time (and peanut butter blossoms)!

It's that time again...presents frantically being wrapped/purchased, goodies to be baked, festive outfits assembled, hot cider to be mulled, and cheer to be passed around! Last night I had my first dose of the crunch. This is the first year I've been so prepared and I'm not sure why. It may be in part that I decided to pass on doing xmas cards this year and I set a small budget for each person I was buying for. Once that was reached, I was done. It worked not only for my wallet, but saved time!

But last night I stayed up late finishing a little craft project I've neglected for way too long. This isn't your standard holiday themed decoupaging or button wreaths, but rather a wedding album I had intended to finish for a friend two summers ago...when she got married. I know, EEKS! Needless to say, it was high time I got that puppy finished and outta my hands.

Since tonight is our Christmas get together with the high school gang, I decided this was a perfect time to SET a deadline. So I printed photos a few weeks ago and spent a few final hours on it last night. I'm sure she'll be happy to have the album. Better late than never, eh?! The cool thing about it is that I included photos from their childhoods through meeting each other in college, the engagement, and finally the wedding weekend festivities.

I nearly forgot to tell you that I also baked a nice batch of peanut butter blossoms. I'll link to last year's photo since that's pretty much what they looked like! These things are delicious! I can't wait to give them away. :)

Per the usual, there's (almost) never an excuse for not getting in a good workout! Yesterday, it was a 30 min run before work and then 75 min of yoga after work. This morning, I woke up at 6:30 to fit in a short (17 min) run with the dog and then hopped straight on the trainer (for my bike) for another 23 min sweat session. Now I'm just trying to figure out how I'll fit in that speed workout our coach has assigned us, prior to going to work tomorrow. Maybe I'll wait and do it in the afternoon. We'll see! Happy Christmas/New Year preparations!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Looking back on the resolutions of 2009

Last December, I made a few resolutions. Some, I accomplished more or less, and others I didn't. I'm okay with it. Life happens.

Here it is straight from last year's New Year New You post...
1. Say yes/being open to more opportunities (Have you read Yes Man by Danny Wallace? If not, you can now watch the movie.) *This is probably the biggest one for me because ultimately it means being open to guys I'm not originally interested, letting people know me better, making more of a concerted effort to be outgoing and talk to people, doing things that might have me scared shitless (moving to a big city and leaving my friends behind) so I learn something new and expand my horizons.
2. Consolidate and simplify some areas of my life while saying yes to more (does that make sense?)
3. Stop biting fingernails (i do this when i'm stressed, bored, frustrated)
4. Move on, get new job, figure out the whole grad school thing (if i'm going, where i want to go, what degree i'm seeking)
5. Get 8 hours of sleep a night
6. Focus on finances, specifically curb impulse buying and decide i don't need everything i love

Looking over this lovely little list, I noticed that I accomplished #1 in a very big fashion, but also regressed in this area in other fashions. How so? Well, I opened up big time to a man. This was monumental really. My trust in men prior to the manfriend was lacking. I not only opened up, but allowed myself the opportunity to be vulnerable and gain something fabulous in return.

As comfort with the relationship grew, my focus and time for friends decreased. I'm not proud of it, but it happened. The good thing is, I've noticed it and I want to improve. I'm looking to reach out and really spend time with my girlfriends again in the new year.

What else did I accomplish? I've been weeding through clothes and knick knacks trying to empty the stuff from my life that doesn't do me good. I've given bags of goods away to the local Goodwill and sold more recent items to a used clothing store. And then, somehow I find myself at the mall purchasing another item of clothing that I just have to have. ;) I'm also sleeping eight hours a night most nights, which has really made me much more functional in the morning AND able to get an early workout in right away.

As for those I'm still working on...the fingernails are still nubs. It's a busy stressful time around the office. I'm not moving on, life is good and I'm happy to have a job that has some great benefits. I am however, looking into grad school programs and taking some classes!

Finances are something I've been better at managing, but something I will consistently be working on. As a young professional moving out of that college garb of jeans and sweatshirts, it's tough to not see the opportunities in becoming more professional with those pieces I still don't have. For example, at the moment I'm constantly scouring for black or brown leather boots, another work jacket, black work shoes (comfy but modern and fun enough to wear for a night out with the girls), sweaters, layering pieces, a white button get the idea. The list is long and it never ends. I have however found appreciation and inspiration (from Academic Chic and What I Wore for getting more creative and not insisting that things must be new or expensive to create a great look.

Let's kick off 2010 right. What are your aspirations for the new year? How will you make sure they happen?

My weekend was fun and relaxing! The snow wasn't as abundant as we expected, but we did enjoy the hot tub, go ice skating (i fell once very hard on my right knee-ouch and manfriend skated for the first time ever), play several board games, have mimosas, catch up with a college friend who just moved to Central Oregon, enjoy pulled pork sandwiches from the crockpot, and have a nice wet run. I can't believe this week is Christmas, but I'm happy it is!

Friday, December 18, 2009's been a while.

Due to a little cold that caught up with me last Saturday or so, I hadn't run for nearly a week! In the running world, that feels like a VERY long time. To the legs, it wasn't so bad, but I took it easy.

Playing it safe, I stayed indoors this Wednesday for 45 minutes of serious spinning. I even brought my own Shimano cycling shoes to clip in to the bike pedals! If I can't ride outside, I might as well get a good workout inside. Afterward, I hit the weights for about 15 min and did some stretching.

Last night, feeling mostly healthy and rested, I met up with the group for some running. I of course planned on not doing the speed workout and sticking with easy laps around the track. Instead, I did a nice 15 min warm up, a second 10 min warm up, 4x100m strides and then got sucked into most of the workout.

With legs that weren't feeling super strong, I decided to take the intervals at a nice clip, but not my 5k pace as instructed. I maintained a 7:40-7:45 pace most of the workout without feeling depleted by the end.

The workout: 1600m (90 sec rest), 800m (90 sec rest), 800m (90 sec rest), 400m (90 sec rest) followed by another 15 min of easy running.

I can't say the legs aren't feeling it this morning (I clearly need to do some stretching), but the workout really kicked up my furnace. I grabbed a chicken burrito at one of my favorite organic restaurants in town and then had a few drinks with the runners. In the middle of the night my stomach was famished and I was pleased to see these legs and lungs were back!

I did an easy 24 min run with the dog this morning, I have a half day at work and then will pack and head for the mountains with the man! We're off to meet my family at a cabin my parents rented for the weekend. I'm super excited! I see snow, hot tubs, good meals and a few drinks in my future. What are your plans?

Are you a snow person (i.e. do you like to snowmobile, ski, snowshoe?) or do you prefer looking at it from your window? I like a little of both. Snuggling up by the fire with some hot cocoa isn't half bad, but I love getting a great workout in the snow too. Last winter it snowed big time for Oregon a few days and I went on an awesome 10 mile run. The ipod bit the dust in the moisture, but it was worth every mile!

Happy weekend everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sit still when sick?

I don't know about you, but I have a very hard time sitting still when I'm sick. Even if I'm "not going to work sick." This weekend (and today), I have a little cold, stuffy nose, headache and sore throat action going on.

Trying not to push it, I didn't do ANYTHING what-so-ever strenuous this weekend. I took the dog on a few walks, walked around the dog park, and did some gentle yoga. But today, I couldn't take it.

I tweeted about this earlier today, but I'm curious as to how many of you work out when you're sick? And when are you too sick to workout?

I headed to the gym for a late lunch hour workout and an easy session on the bike. I hopped on to the spinner and began slowly cranking up the resistance. After 30 min of spinning, I cooled down, walked around the indoor track for a few, stretched, did a set of push ups and called it a day.

Now I'm trying to duck out of the office for a little walk with the running group. What I have noticed however, is that even though I'm showing restraint by not running (and pulling all that cold air into my lungs), I do need to bundle up for my slower pace.

Ok, I'm outta here! Planning on night #2 of an easy appetizer meal full of: carrots, sliced apple, crackers, brie, pepperjack cheese, salami and salsa. I love these nearly no prep meals, especially when I'm not feeling 100%.

PS-Anyone else participating in a blogger cookie/ornament exchange this year? I participated in Batter Splattered's last year and it was so much fun to receive my package AND to make one for someone else. I think I missed the boat this year. Busyness and life got in the way.

A Day with Nature

Before the Christmas tree adventure, I mentioned a hike/walk. A walk in which we got a little picture crazy. What can I say, it was a beautiful day and we were having fun!

There were bundled up boyfriends...

There were fabulous old signs...

There were old barns

and a nice flat walking trail

There were cool photos...

There were uniquely growing trees...

There were too many layers and nerdy looks...

And then there was a pushup contest, which I lost...barely

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Christmas Tree

A few weekends ago, the man and I headed out into the great outdoors for a hike and a Christmas tree. After a nice hike, hot springs and driving, we arrived at a local family farm and selected a Christmas tree. I've been meaning to post these for a while, so here goes.

Searching for a lovely pre-cut tree (yep, we were lazy like that)

Then took a stroll through the still living ones...

Peeking around the tree!

Whoa, close up!

Man friend happy to have a tree this Christmas!

The past few years I've missed having a tree so it's very nice to have our own this year. Man friend isn't going home to the midwest for the holidays so he appreciates having a little holiday cheer around the house. Not to mention the fact that I'm playing Bing, Mariah and Chipmunks' Christmas cd's. What's your favorite holiday music? Do you have Christmas decorations up yet?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lemon Rosemary Buttons

Last night after a nice return to my boot camp class (I was rocking the running/sprinting in place and weights portions of class), I came home and fixed myself a nice little bean/cheese/tomato/spinach quesadilla. Then it was time to get down to business!

With so many new cookie recipes filling my cookbook these days, I'm on a mission to try several of these out before Christmas arrives. So last night, I tackled these guys. I was attracted to them by the rosemary, which is not often an ingredient in a cookie. But I trusted Sunset wouldn't lead their readers astray.

First the flour, sugar, salt, zest of lemon and chopped rosemary. Doesn't it look pretty? I love the color combo! Kind of Ducky if I do say so myself. ;)

Next, I was supposed to use a cookie cutter before baking the shortbread. But I think I mixed the butter/flour/sugar combo too much and it just didn't want to stick together, therefore making the cookie cutters IMPOSSIBLE to use.

In a pinch, I decided to just bake a flat sheet of the shortbread and use the cookie cutters as soon as I popped it out of the oven. Worked pretty good in my opinion. The glaze was a mix of powdered sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. I love the finished look topped with a sprig of rosemary!

All packed up to be shipped to my grandma!

While mine didn't turn out as lovely as Sunset's (they never do), they taste absolutely divine! Bake these immediately and send to a good friend or loved one. You won't regret it. Happy holiday baking!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Book nerd review

Body Broken, a memoir by Lynne Greenberg

I picked this off the shelves when I was looking for a few other good books at my local library. I'm also in the midst of Pride and Prejudice, but this one is due this week er, yesterday so I've been busting my rear to finish it.

Within the first 30 pages, the main character gets in a serious car accident at the age of 19. She breaks her neck and doctors miraculously find that it all heals properly. After going on with her life, getting married and having two children, one day she suddenly feels a twinge in her neck. The pain spirals downhill from there and leaves her nearly bedridden, damaging her relationships with her husband and children as well as her career as a college professor.

I won't give it all away, but things begin to look up. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone. The next memoir on my list is A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. Has anyone read this, besides my girl Siri?

And I don't know about anyone else, but temps in the NW are beyond freezing. This morning it was 10 degrees when I walked the dog. Some of you midwesterners might be thinking "PSH! That's nothin'!" But here, it just does not happen. Last night's run was frigid. I was under dressed. My hands were ice, even with gloves on. It made me think "I can run in rain and snow, but I will NOT again run in 10 deg windy weather."

Friday, December 4, 2009

I love my ducks

It's official. We're off to Pasadena! Last night's game was crazy exciting and this girl got an early birthday present.

Well, it's a busy day around these parts. Good thing I got an early 30 min run in with the dog this morning! No time for a trip to the gym, much less a lunch break.

I'm headed off to Portland this evening with the man and his friend for a big cyclocross race tomorrow morning. We're staying at my brother's apartment, stopping by Hopworks brewery for packet pickup and dinner and then hitting the hay. Hope everyone has a fun weekend ahead!

PS-Want a few fun healthy meal/snack ideas to make for your favorite athlete (or even yourself)? I just got these recipes in my inbox from!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

workin' it in

Things are busy, busy, busy around these parts. Work is busy, tonight I'm attending a work event and tomorrow is a BIG college football game in these parts. Not only is it Civil War (Oregon Ducks vs. Oregon State Beavers), but it is also the deciding factor in who goes to the Rose Bowl to play against Ohio State on Jan. 1. And being that my birthday is Jan. 2, I'm really hoping for a nice little early birthday present of a win tomorrow night.

In the mean time, I've been staying fierce with these workouts. No slackin' here! Even if that does mean I had to get out of my snuggly bed earlier than desired this morning.

Monday I did a nice hard five miler with the group. Then yesterday, with plans to head to Costco after work with the man, I fit in a nice four mile treadmill run and 10 min on the elliptical during lunch.

A side note on Costco: some things there are a darn good bargain. However, I'd need a huge pantry or an army of children to feed in order to justify purchases of an eight pack of beans, two large jars of pb, 10 lb bags of sugar, etc. Regardless, it was fun wandering through the aisles. We did find: tillapia for fish tacos, some jumbo boxes of cereal, contact solution, a large salad mix, and a few other goodies.

This morning I hopped out of bed, had a quick bowl of cereal (I don't know about you, but I cannot workout in the am w/out a little food in the tummy), packed my lunch and headed to the gym. With just an hour to fit in a good workout, I jumped on the bike for a warm up, then hopped on the PreCor EFX trainer for 25 min of serious interval work. My legs were definitely feeling yesterday's workout. After another five minute bike session, I hit the weight room.

For a quick weight lifting routine that packed a punch, I did:
-5 sets of bench press (45lbs, 65lbs(3), 45lbs)
-3 sets of oblique twists w/ a 10lb weight
-3 sets of single leg squats on each leg (90lbs/leg)
-3 sets of double leg squats (140 lbs)
-1 set of incline back raises

I was impressed with my use of time. I had just 20 min to spare and this was a great routine because it targeted some major muscle groups and left me fatigued. What weight/cardio workouts do you stick to when you're looking to really challenge your body?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Turkey Stuffer Recap

Who doesn't love a good run before you get ready to stuff your face (and belly) full of goodness? I'm all about getting an extra hard workout in prior to indulging. Thanksgiving morning I woke up around 630, grabbed 1/2 a bagel with almond butter and jam and put on the running gear.

Here in the NW, it was gorgeous out and not too chilly. I opted with capri spandex and a long sleeve tech shirt for the race, no gloves or ear warmers needed. I got to the race about 20 minutes before the start and got right to work on that perfect warm up. After about 13 min of nice easy running, I made it back to the pool where the race started and ducked in for a quick bathroom stop. And then it was race time!

Being a family oriented race, I made the mistake of not starting near the very front. From experience, the more community/family oriented the race, the more likely it is to have non runners or slower pack runners at the front. So the first few minutes was spent dodging some people, but after that I got into my rhythm.

I headed out a bit fast, hoping I could hold it. When I reached the first mile marker at 7:25 I thought, "crap, that's going to hurt me." And when mile two hit and I was still holding that pace, I was shocked. Mile two is where things really started to hurt. I just had to tell myself not to let down, no matter how it hurt. As we rounded the corner to the finish line, I heard someone pass me saying "if we hurry, we can still be in the 22's," which prompted me to mentally say "no way!"

I managed to push it without throwing up and finished in 23:01 according to my watch. Official results still aren't in, but I'll tell you this girl was happy to have a PR of a minute or so faster than my previous PR.

I'm crediting the great race to: taking it easy the night before and not going to my bootcamp class, my perfect warm up and those bootcamp classes I have been doing. And the fact that mentally, I kept telling myself "Do not slow down. This pain is nothing compared to the last six miles of a marathon."

How did your turkey trot/stuffer/run go? Did you survive Thanksgiving?

After getting home and showering, man friend and I headed to see my family and grandparents. I succeeded in having just one small plate of Thanksgiving goodness, not going back for seconds and thirds like the man (but hey, he has a little more room in his stomach than I do and a bigger bod to feed). I was completely satisfied with that one plate! Then a few hours later, he and I shared a plate of three desserts: coconut cream pie, marionberry cobbler and of course pumpkin pie! Yum.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm thankful for...

Short and sweet, I just wanted to say I'm thankful for a lot and it's never a bad time to remind yourself and others just how thankful you are for the things in your life.

This year, I'm thankful for

1) my family who is all relatively nearby, happy and healthy
2) my friends who make me laugh
3) the man of my dreams (oops, did I just say that out loud?)
4) my body's ability to stay injury free these past six months!
5) a job that's flexible, yet stable and sometimes a lot of fun
6) an amazing experience through Europe w/ a good friend

By the time you're reading this, I've probably finished that 5k. My goal is to stay under 8 min/mile so let's hope all goes well!

Happy Turkey Day to those of you who are celebrating!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Running a 5k on Turkey Day?

I know some of you out there, like myself, are running a 5/10K on Thanksgiving morning as it's a fun way to burn some calories and start your day with a bang. As I was researching for myself about what I should do for a proper 5K warmup, I thought you might like to know as well.

After all, when it's something we're not used to, we might need a little refresher. Running 1/2 and full marathons are much different than shorter races because most training plans suggest not needing to warmup because you'll have plenty of time to get into your groove during the race. I know I've read somewhere (most likely in RW) that the shorter the race, the more important and longer the warm up.

I had an idea of what I should do come Thursday morning, but wanted to look to the experts for more specific advice. So here it is, courtesy of Runner's World, the perfect warmup.

Unfortunately, most runners warm up and then stand around for a while before their races begin. They might as well not warm up at all! Research has shown that for the best performances at 5-K intensity (about 95 percent of maximum heart rate), you should rest for no more than 30 seconds after your warmup; longer rests allow the heart rate to slow, thus slowing oxygen transport to the leg muscles. Your warmup should continue until just before the starting gun goes off, even if that means jogging in place in the starting area.

Scientific research on warming up has confirmed the following key points:

1. To enhance performance, your warmup should involve at least 10 minutes of continuous activity--long enough for the muscles to reach their optimum temperature.

2. The warmup should elevate your heart rate to about 70 to 80 percent of maximum. Less vigorous exercise doesn't seem to activate your cardiovascular system adequately, while more intense efforts can increase fatigue during the race.

3. For competition lasting more than 60 minutes, it's a good idea to interrupt your warmup briefly, 10 to 15 minutes before the start, to take in about 10 ounces of sports drink. The carbohydrate in the drink will help you sustain your pace as your muscle glycogen begins to run low. (Also sip at least 5 ounces of sports drink every 15 minutes during the race--but make sure to practice all of this in training.)

4. If you feel any muscle tightness while you're warming up, stop jogging for a moment and stretch out the tight area (but don't count this stretching time as part of your 10-minute minimum). Studies confirm that this jog-stretch-jog combination can significantly improve the flexibility of muscles and connective tissues.

5. As you begin to feel loose and ready to race, visualize yourself running fast, particularly over the toughest portions of the course.

6. Toward the end of the warmup, it's important to do a few 50- to 100-meter surges at approximately race pace. These surges "wake up" your nervous system and boost your coordination and efficiency.

7. If your race takes place on a hot, humid day, limit your warmup to 10 minutes and try to do it in a shady area to decrease your risk of overheating.

8. Even if it isn't hot out, warm up for no more than 15 to 20 minutes.

Follow the above guidelines before fast-paced workouts as well as races. Prior to less intense training sessions, you may not need to warm up, as you can gradually increase your pace during the workout. In effect, the first 2 miles of a moderately paced training run will act as the warmup.

And, if anyone is interested in coming to Oregon to run the inaugural Portland Half Marathon (or full marathon), registration is open! This is a beautiful course, fairly flat and well organized!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Look who got an apron...

It all started when Lisa mentioned her recent purchase of an Anthropologie apron. Well, it truly started a few years ago when I really got into baking and cooking and began the hunt for a fabulous vintage (real or inspired) apron. I looked at etsy, home/gardening/kitchen stores, second hand shops, etc, but found nothing. Until...the Anthropologie suggestion.

Don't be jealous of the blue crocs or messy pony tail. It just happens.Last week during my lunch break, I went to the library and picked up a few fun books, one of which was this Eating Well (and in season) cookbook. While browsing the pages, I found this fun cranberry-orange pistachio bar recipe and thought, "hey, why not? Something different than the usual cake or sweet bread."
Little red jewels

Red jewels chopped


Finito! This was definitely a less sugary dessert with great colors and a nice little punch with the sour/sweetness of the cranberry-orange combo.

Thanks, Oprah!

Not gone, but different. I can't imagine how many young women like myself grew up watching Oprah from middle to high school,through college and beyond.

Truth is, whether or not you can get behind the whole Oprah thing, she has inspired and touched the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions. I received this little video about her new network and what it aims to do. It truly speaks to everyone and creating your best life.

There is something truly amazing about being able to dream nearly impossible dreams and yet have the capability to realize them. We're all looking to be/do something great (I hope), so what's your dream list? I'll go first...

In no particular order, I dream of living a truly fulfilled life that consists of one or many of the following things (after all, if you can't dream big, where's the fun in life?):

1) working for the Olympics/XGames/major event as a publicity/marketing/social media/event planner
2) traveling to India, Africa, Ireland, going back to Italy
3) freelancing for running/fitness/lifestyle magazines
4) creating a beautiful/comfortable/creative home
5) raising a few amazing children
6) taking a bike adventure with the man through the small backroads of Italy and France
7) becoming fluent in Spanish and French
8) establishing serious photography skills
9) visit all the major U.S. ski towns (Jackson Hole, Sun Valley, Colorado Springs, Vale, etc)

Wait, did you watch the video? You need to.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Run to Stay Warm Race Recap

Friday night, after a fierce game of Scrabble between manfriend and I (which I lost), J arrived. We headed out for some carb loading/dinner at a local brewery. I loaded up on their smoked salmon fettuccine while the other two had pizza.

Saturday morning, I woke up early to watch ESPN College GameDay because guess what, my Ducks are still on the race to the Rose Bowl! After some almond butter/jam toast and tea, J and I put on our spandex and long sleeves. To our sheer luck, the rain from the night before had subsided and the sun was out. It was a chilly morning so I put on my ear warmer head band, Smart Wool long sleeve and a thin vest.

With a 9am race start, we headed down to the water front where the race begins, around 8:20. I chatted with several of my running groupies and the manfriend before ducking inside to enjoy real bathrooms and heat.

So, a little about the race. For just $25, we entered the EWEB Run to Stay Warm 1/2 Marathon, whose proceeds go to benefit the Customer Care Program, which helps those in need pay their water and electric bills. How awesome is that? Definitely a race I can get behind!

With just five minutes to go, we headed out into the crisp air to wait. And we were off. The entire race consists of one big loop along the river path so it's beautiful scenery and fairly flat. The first few miles were great. I was immediately too hot and took off the gloves and ear warmers. I stuck out the vest and eventually was completely comfortable wearing it when we'd hit those chilly shaded spots or a gust of wind came along.

By mile six we hit that point where we still felt strong, but could be done any time. The race included a 5k and 10k so after the 5kers peeled off, it was a bit confusing when for example, a lady with a baby stroller comes blazing past us with no troubles. I'm going to assume she was running the 10k.

We hit the bridge around mile nine to cross the river and that little slope felt like a mountain. At this point, we still hadn't seen a SINGLE mile marker. Thank goodness we didn't really care how fast/slow we were going or where we were on the course. At mile ten a fellow runner shouted "just three miles left." Oh jeez, I thought. This 1/2 marathon thing is harder than I remember.

By this point, J and I's conversation was limited to a few fragmented thoughts now and then. With two miles to go, for no apparent reason, I began hyperventilating. This had happened one other time during the San Diego Marathon in 2007 and lasted from mile 17-21. Because I didn't want to slow J or myself down, I just kept on going, focusing on even breathing.

In the last mile, J and I just powered through and finished the race shoulder to shoulder. Manfriend, as usual, was awesome. I think I spotted him six times on the race course, no joke! We never saw a single mile marker, but we made it 13.1 just fine. I was definitely a bit sore afterward, but it wasn't that "oh, you really put 100% into this sore," but that's just fine with me.

Finish time: 1:51 (not a PR, but that's ok)
Pace: 8:33
Division place: 4/25

Friday, November 20, 2009

an easy four

My schedule for last night was an easy four miles. So, I headed out in the darkness running comfortably, forcing myself not to push it. What I remembered was how hard the easiest runs can be. At every moment I wanted to take it up a notch and do some 8 min/mile work, but I stuck to the plan.

I met up with the running group for my final mile and then a little walking before heading off to dinner and beers with the gang. Today I've managed to do 20 min of yoga, which consists of my entire workout for the day. But I know that fresh legs mean a strong race tomorrow so I'm crossing my fingers here and sticking with the plan.

Thank goodness taper week is almost over! It nearly drives me insane every single time. My friend J is coming tonight for the race! I've already done lots of cleaning and laundry. Now a few errands, lunch, coffee/book, and who knows what else. It's a perfect rainy day to spend inside. Happy weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dragging him along

Since it's that time of year for white elephant gift exchange, upon holiday event, upon family gathering, there are many opportunities to be inviting your S.O. along to something he/she may or may not want to attend. And I for one, am not the type to force people to do things they're not interested in. Sometimes I feel like I'm dragging him along.

Because it's a first holiday with boyfriend (FHWBF) for me, I'm feeling especially apologetic to man friend for these various family affairs I feel obliged to attend. Being that his family is over 2,000 miles (and an expensive plane ride)away and we just saw them a few weeks ago for the wedding, he won't be traveling east for the holidays. And because my family is generally all within an hour or two's drive, I have the luxury of being able to see them whenever I'd like. As a result, I also feel obliged to say yes because I am lucky to live so close to them.

So, in the next month, man friend will be attending two Thanksgivings, two or three Christmases, perhaps a high school friend get together and a few holiday work events. And some of these events will involve about 50 family members. Insert screeching breaks.

Each time I invite him or we discuss details for these events, I put on smiley face and remind him he really doesn't HAVE to come if he doesn't WANT to. But no, no...he wants to come. I'm not sure he'll be so sure when my various aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents begin asking when the wedding bells are coming. Thank goodness he's a keeper!

Can anyone else relate to my FHWBF anxiety?

P.S. I'm taking tomorrow off because I simply need it for my own sanity. And, I worked 9 hrs on a Saturday. I deserve it. My plans are just to relax and maybe grab a hot drink and a book and loose myself in a cushiony chair at Borders. What do you like to do on your day off?

Feel like you're entering holiday survival mode?

Hey-o! Are you surviving the holidays? So far, more so than past years, I feel like this season isn't riddled with weight gaining opportunities. Maybe that's because Thanksgiving is still a week away.

But even so, I have a plan. In addition to the 1/2 marathon I'm running this weekend, I'll also be racing the local Turkey Stuffer 5k on Turkey Day morning. Anyone else racing before your feast? It's always a fun way to start my morning with a bunch of enthused runners and friends before heading off to see the family.

And on top of that, I feel like I'm already ahead of the game by fitting in workouts these past few weeks even when I have just barely 45 minutes to spare. Tuesday night for example, I had a girl's night to get to, but a long day chalked full of meetings required a little gym time. So, I busted it to the gym, hopped on a treadmill and enjoyed 35 min of sweat inducing fun before showering and heading off for my night of soup, salad, bread, cheese, chocolate fondue and wine.

And, instead of only sometimes fitting in time for yoga in the mornings, I've been making it a regular habit. I like the RW article I linked above because it talks about spending more time working on your strength and stretching during those winter months when you can't get outside as much for runs. It's true, even on my most hectic days when I can't get much of a real workout in later in the day, I feel okay because I've already completed 30 min of walk/run and yoga in the morning.

I'm not gonna lie, it's not all perfect. I probably had 10 too many pieces of cheese the other night and more than my fair share of fondue goodness. I definitely tend to overindulge when too many goodies are within arms reach, but it's all about balance. I've definitely moved on from the days when I left thanksgiving feeling utterly stuffed. And because I know my grandma will have the works prepared for us on Thanksgiving, I generally avoid alcohol and save the calories for the turkey, mashed potatoes and berry cobbler.

Do you have any strategies you enlist when trying to stay on track during the holidays?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Welcome back, race week!

I realized while talking with my friend J last night that it has been quite a while since I last race raced. So, here it is...race week! After an early Thanksgiving brunch with my mom's side of the family, man friend and I came home and took the best nap ever. I had to gently force myself to get out of that cozy place and into my spandex. It reminded me why I try to get my weekend runs out of the way early so I don't struggle in the afternoon.

The sky was looking darkish and a bit breezy so I layered up, grabbed the ipod for support, forced the man friend to get on his bike, and headed out. The first 20 minutes killed. Maybe those hard five miles on Saturday and four extra miles of walking weren't the greatest idea...

Once I got in the groove, it was manageable. I ran along the river, the same path Saturday's half marathon will be along. The second half was mentally tough, but I picked up the pace a bit anyway. I finally made it back home with 90 minutes under my belt and some tired legs and lungs. A good stretch and some tea helped.

I feel like it's been so long since I've raced that I've nearly forgotten how it will feel. Luckily, my friend J (whom I ran those six miles with @ Portland Marathon) is coming to run it with me, so we will keep each other in check and hopefully take it nice and easy those first few miles.

Dinner last night was an easy, but fun mish mash of bruschetta on a baguette, caprese salad, salami slices and apple thanks to man friend's suggestion. And tonight...vegetarian crock pot chili! Little work, but lots of goodness in a pot! Anyone else racing next this weekend?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Taking things one hour at a time

because if I take them in chunks any larger I just might not stay calm, cool and collected. This weekend I not only have a board meeting, but a few big events going on for work. All things that have to happen in a matter of 72 hrs, giving me the luck of working 9-10 hours on Saturday.

But at this point, we're one event in and several more to go and I'm just trying to breathe. Thank goodness for my hyper planning and getting a good swim in this morning before work because my eyes barely left my computer screen all day long until late this afternoon. And I missed the group run so I'm hoping to get some more work done and scoot out of here in time to meet them for dinner or maybe just a quick hello.

Next week I hope to be back in a bit more of a relaxed state chalk full of time for running and chilling out. But for now, it's eye on the prize (which is getting to Sunday). I can't believe I used to dream of being this high powered over stressed business exec. I guess those were the days when I didn't value my personal time quite as much and wasn't entrenched in "the real world." Wish me luck!

P.S. I just threw away a pair of work shoes (black patent leather kitten heels) that were done. Anyone have suggestions for cute, functional and comfy work shoes in black/brown? I own two pairs of Danskos and am looking for something different.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chicago recap with photos

So, where did I leave you? Oh, that's right...Lake Michigan and the run. I originally set out thinking I'll do maybe 35-45 min, but then it dawned on me that I had plenty of time so I decided to head out for a bit longer run, finishing almost 8 miles along the water.

Heading South it was pretty windy and I even felt pushed around a few times by the wind, but otherwise it was perfect. There were bikers, bladers and runners galore. I finally finished, stretched and did some abs and pushups before heading out for a late lunch at Jimmy Johns. Those in the middle part of the U.S. swear by it, but to me it's not much different than Subway.

Then it was on to the rehearsal at the church followed by an Italian dinner. Saturday involved a tough workout in the hotel gym, the 1 PM wedding, family get together and finally the reception from 5-1130 PM...and an after party at the bar next door. Yeah, it was a late night.

I'll let the pictures do the talking...

Groom's parents

A sweet car we saw as we were leaving the wedding

Black and white picture of the city doubled as our table assignments

Bride shows off her guns

Getting my dance on!

The end of one happy, exciting evening

As you can see, this was a beautiful weekend in Chicago. The temps were in the 60's and tights or bulky coats were NOT needed. I took over 200 photos this weekend so now it's time to edit and copy several cd's for the bride & groom, man friend's parents and a few others. Another great trip completed. Chicago might just be my favorite city to visit next to NYC. What's yours?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Eeks! I'm getting excited...

Last night we spent the evening at man friend's brother's house and hung out with a bunch of family. Everyone was drinking and talking so much that we didn't even get around to having dinner until 930PM. I can now officially say I've had Chicago style pizza. I'm not such a fan of the deep dish, but after a few glasses of wine, anything to hit the spot.

You guys, look at the place we're be staying...The Ambassador East Hotel, home of the Pump Room, an award winning restaurant that I'm sure we'll be frequenting in the evening hours.

Today we've done some running around in the city getting the groom's ring resized and refinished, dropping off decorations for the reception and gifts for the hotel guests, trying to find parking spots and what not. I'm officially in love with this city on relatively warm, sunny days!

The wedding tomorrow will be at St. Hedwig Catholic Church and the reception at Gibsons Steakhouse!

Oh, and you'll all appreciate knowing that I woke up at 5AM yesterday (about 45 minutes earlier than we needed to be up) to get a quick run in before our day of traveling. I'm just a happier camper in general when I've had a workout the day I'm flying. I hate that feeling of not knowing when your next chance might be to break a sweat. It makes me feel a little claustrophobic to tell you the truth. So, a nice brisk, dark 20 min run later, the dog and I were both pleased.

Ok, I'm off for a quick run along Lake Michigan! Yippee!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

setting your intentions

I've been thinking more lately about setting my intentions and really living life the way I intend to. With the helpful nudge of a few fitness instructors over the past few weeks, bloggers who are living their dreams, and a friend who's been pondering some of life's "what if's," I was reminded that just going along without truly telling the world what I want won't get me to where I want to be.

How many of you regularly set your goals and life's intentions for that week/day/hour/moment? In yoga, I'm often reminded of how difficult it can be to focus my mind and breathe to a specific pose even in such a serene place and state of mind. But once I'm there, I know I've done the work yoga asks of me. It's not easy, but that's why they call it a practice.

In life I want to achieve the same. Instead of letting my mind and heart jump about the thousands of opportunities out there available to me and be overwhelmed by the possibilities, I want to focus my energy on that which not only brings me but my surroundings the greatest pleasure and benefit. Because of that I'm finally deciding what my future will be.

This winter I'm going to start taking a class or two and the University in subjects I'm interested in because I'm not necessarily sure if I want to get an MBA, or degrees in graphic/web design or nutrition. I also want to regularly set my intentions for a specific day or week and believe that I can achieve it. After all, life doesn't happen to you, you've gotta live it up.

I think for a while I've relied on the hope that even though I don't know where I'm going, someday I'll get there. Well, for this girl that's simply not enough. I like checking off boxes and moving closer to someone I admire and aspire to be. A few people who are living their intentions and dreams...Jess of Makeunder My Life, this girl, and Jessica of What I Wore. There are so many others, but these are just a few who have stuck in my mind as of late. Impressive ladies living their dreams.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Get out your dancing shoes!

Hey there! I finally got my butt around to having the man snag a few photos. Last night after a quick 5 miler in the cool evening with the runners, pizza night and heading home for a shower, I slipped on the dresses for a little photo shoot. Tonight I need to figure out what jewelry is coming with me. A coworker loaned me an entire jewelry box full of goodies yesterday!

I'll be wearing nylons/tights with both dresses because well, they're short and it's cold out. That's what happens when you shop in the summer for a fall wedding in Chicago and you don't think about your bare legs.

Rehearsal dinner...

The shoes...

And for the wedding attire...

I've yet to come up with an appropriate cover up, but something tells me I'm leaning toward a black cashmere wrap that I need to pick up tonight @ Macy's. I like the wrap because it's versatile and cute, while still looking dressy

Dress #1: Ann Taylor
Magenta Pashima: H & M
Shoes: Tahari via DSW
Dress #2: Donna Ricco via Macy's
Tights (not shown): Banana Republic

And last but not least, the photographer!

Let me know what you think. I truly hope I'm not freezing my butt off, but is predicting high 40's to mid 50's with partial clouds so I'm keeping my fingers crossed! Plus, we'll be inside most of the time enjoying the events.

The man asked me the other night if I'm getting nervous about what I'm wearing because I was trying on a heap of cardigans/wraps with the dresses. I replied "no, it just takes a lot of planning to make sure it looks right." I'm not even in the wedding and I can't even tell you how many hours I've spent searching, planning and thinking about this, while he just had to get his measurements taken and send them to his brother. Easy peasy!

Thursday morning we fly out so I've got a lot to do work and errands wise before then. Oh I do looove traveling! I'm not sure I'll be getting much running in so I'm trying to front load this week in with lots of running and working out. This morning was a 12 min run with the dog and 20 min with the Biggest Loser DVD.