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.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Real Life Betty Crocker (on occasion)

When I saw this fall inspired recipe with fairly few ingredients, I had to snag it. Then last Sunday, I promptly dragged man friend to Thistledown Farms to purchase the goods (and maybe a few homemade donuts). $20 later we left the farm with bags full of pumpkin, squash, leeks, apples, onion, garlic, carrot, etc that would serve as makings for a meat loaf (made last week), roasted pumpkin butternut squash soup AND apple crisp. Can you handle it?

So yesterday afternoon, it was high time I got to work on that pumpkin and squash. I present to you...
Roasted Pumpkin Butternut Squash Soup courtesy of Joy the Baker!

Man friend kindly helped me cut up hack through the squash and prepare it for roasting. Some serious muscles were needed. 35 minutes later...roasted.
While the squash was roasting, I prepped the apple crisp! The fabulous recipe was courtesy of Kitchen Parade!

Then removed the skins and put in the pot for a little hand mixer and vegetable broth incorporation.

Thirty minutes later, a spoonful of lovin' brown sugar and a few pinches of nutmeg later...voila!

And I topped the soup with bits of organic turkey bacon!

The apple crisp was put out to cool as we enjoyed the tasty soup!

And I even hand whipped (for about 10 min straight) some whipping cream. Now THAT will build some good biceps!

Have you ever hand whipped whipped cream? It was a first for me. It was also a first for spending three hours straight in the kitchen. But it was totally worth it. I'm seriously in love with fall and all the meals it inspires. What about you? Speaking of which, Halloween is gone, done, finito. It's only a matter of weeks before we've blown through Thanksgiving and Christmas. Crazy!

P.S. Saturday I managed a 12 miler, which was quite successful if I do say so myself. I was sore, but I pushed through mentally and physically and even got to see some early morning tailgaters and lots of USC fans. Go Ducks on the big win!