Saturday, December 31, 2011

Packing and Heading to Sunshine

I'm bound for sunny Los Angeles today for the Rose Bowl! My grandma requested photos of my packing so I decided it might be fun to do. I'm not the best packer as I like to be prepared for anything AKA I am NOT a light packer. 

Yesterday, I worked a half day and then came home to pack, get in one last recovery run in Oregon before 2012 and headed to Portland for my flight. Luckily, the packing is pretty predictable because most  of it will be work related - khakis and Oregon shirts are my woredrobe staples this weekend. Even so, I always write out a packing list for my trips so I don't forget any necessary items. 

My carry on usually includes my computer, camera, magazines, water bottle and some snacks (larabars, apple and banana today). 

All together now and ready to go!

I stayed at an airport hotel last night. Apparently, the hotel has sleep number beds, but I think mine was one of few that wasn't a sleep number - hard as a rock I tell ya!

I usually have no problem sleeping in hotels, but last night wasn't great. I woke up in the middle of the night to neighbors being loud. Then I woke up early to get in a short 20 min sweat session at the hotel gym. It makes my flights so much more pleasant.

This morning's airport breakfast: Starbucks perfect oatmeal w/ banana, nuts and dried berries and a cinnamon dolce misto

Okay, off to fly the friendly skies! See ya from LA!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Goals for the New Year

New Year's Resolutions have never really worked for me. The idea of New Year's resolutions is great, but hard to follow through with. Keeping those goals top of mind throughout the year when regular life stuff, work and other distractions take precedence isn't easy to do.

Over the last few months, the one thing that's popped into my head is that I'm often apologizing for being me or not being confident in the decisions I've made. I don't necessarily make apologies verbally, but often in my head thinking "Man, I should really be dressing this way, or making that much money, or doing this for work, or seeing my friends more, or going to these events or volunteering/running/cooking/learning more..." The list goes on.

So the goal for 2012 (among other things), is to be bold and stay true to what I want and who I am. Apologizing and feeling sorry for not being how others might expect you to be (or how others are) doesn't work. And beating yourself up for not being superhuman isn't helpful either. But that's part of the growing process - realizing that you are great for who you are and how the universe made you. And we all benefit by being our authentic selves.

Photo thanks to Mom during breakfast at Besaw's in Portland, OR last weekend. So delicious!

How will I do this? Honestly, I don't have all the answers. My goal is to focus on the little things I can do to work toward the bigger goals in my life. After all, saying "I want to be able to run a marathon tomorrow." is less motivating than saying "Tomorrow I'm going to run 5 miles and build from there."

Baby steps...

Do you have a goal or focus for 2012? It feels like 2011 flew by. I wouldn't mind if 2012 slowed down juuust a tad.

2010 Recap Maybe I should do a recap of 2011?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It Comes Just Once a Year

As magical as Christmas time is for me, I have to say, I'm thankful it comes just once a year because I am wiped. I'm sure I wasn't the only one today staring zombie like at my work computer.

While I love the selecting of gifts, Christmas carols, twinkling lights, wrapping presents, baking cookies and seeing family, it all reaches to the point where it's simply time to move on. After four days of relaxing, laughing, family time, presents and eating too much junk, I'm thankful for a heaping salad and some quiet time.

The holidays have become something that while joyous, are also stressful and overwhelming for me.

I found myself reflective as I drove home last night (with the dog passed out in the back seat) about it all. These presents are appreciated (but not needed), the giving feels good (but never as much as I'd like), family bonding is fun (but there's never enough time to have all the conversations you'd like), the cookies, booze and cheese are delicious (but not 5 lbs delicious).

But amidst it all, the chaos has me feeling thankful for everything and everyone in my life. These rare occasions to see family and relax a little make me appreciate my family and this life a whole lot more. While the manfriend and I were not together on Christmas, I also felt grateful for his presence in my life.

Spending time with family and friends means so much more than any gift under the tree. It's amazing to look back on my ten year old self who might have been disappointed if I hadn't received one item on my Christmas list. With time and some perspective brings us the realization that each other is all we really need. 

The holidays are definitely more joyful than they are exhausting, but in 2012 I hope to look at ways of making the season just a bit more simplified, yet equally satisfying for me.

And finally, a few baby pics because babies make everything happier, more stress free and fun.

Mikaela is my cousin's six month old who happily babbled at us and entertained herself all of Christmas morning.

Do you crash hard after the holiday season? Or do you pace yourself well and find a good balance among the busyness? 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve Mushrooms

You know those recipes that sound fun to make, but are most suitable for parties? Well, I've been wanting to make Kath's stuffed mushroom recipes so I figured Christmas Eve would be the perfect opportunity - fun and festive and I wouldn't be tempted to eat them all.

The process was fairly easy: rinse and dry mushrooms, remove stems, combine goat cheese mixture and stuff, bake for 30 minutes. But of course it always takes much longer than you think it will. 

They were definitely hit! Both the lemon almond honey and the bacon sage goat cheese stuffed mushrooms were gone by the end of the night.

A few more photos of the night's festivities...

And now the brothers and I have watched Yes, Virginia (there is a Santa Claus) - adorable, Charlie Brown Christmas and some of The Santa Claus. Time to get some shut eye before Santa Claus comes to town!

On the running front: I scheduled a run date with my high school friend (and European travel buddy) Annie this morning. We did 6 together and I did another 3 on my own running to and from her house. It's so much more fun to run with other people!

Friday, December 23, 2011

What's Next?

So lately, I've felt unsure of 'what's next' as far as marathons or any other distances go. I signed up for the Hagg Lake 25K because I've heard it's a great place to run and a fun race.

I'm a 'bang for my buck' kind of runner so all the stars have to be aligned for me to sign up because otherwise, I'd be inclined to sign up for a race every other week or so. It has to sound fun, be in a good location/beautiful scenery and often not too expensive.

Well, last Sunday there was a $10 off event if you registered for the Eugene Marathon at our local running store. I'd been thinking I might run it legitimately this year, so I thought "heck, $80 is practically a bargain for a marathon." Yeah, marathons have distorted my thinking. After paying $110 for registrations in the past, $80 is nearly affordable...

Feb 19 - Hagg Lake 25K
April 29 - Eugene Marathon

What's in between? Probably a lot of miles, but not much of a plan. From here until Feb 19, I'll try to run more trails and hills and beyond that, more road and longer miles.

Oh, and lots of yoga. I've been slacking lately (but it's been okay since I'm not running as much), but I really want to get back to it in 2012. Plus, yoga is like fun forced stretching!

I'll be honest, after I signed up for my first half and then first full marathon, I've never really looked back.  It's hard to run a race and not look toward the future wondering which race to sign up for next. But I know this is just a stage in life - at some point, I'll be too busy to marathon as I please. For now, I'm appreciating the fact that I have the time and energy to train for these things.

Six marathons, 10 half marathons, three relays, one 50K, a few century rides, a sprint tri and a number of other races and here I am - happy, healthy and for the most part uninjured.

The last time I ran a 25K was the Shotgun Creek Trail Blast with Kristin in 2010. Unfortunately, I think Hagg Lake is going to be much colder and wetter.

Is anyone else running the Home for the Holidays Virtual 10K this weekend? I banged mine out as part of my farlek speed workout this morning and it was probably faster than if I'd just run a steady state 6.2 miler. Crazy how that works.

Results: 6.2 miles - 49:54 - and then I kept going for a bit more to hit 8 miles with my cool down. Great way to start the holiday weekend because I know there will be LOTS of sitting, eating, drinking and relaxing. That's okay, it's all about balance! I hope you're enjoying a joyous holiday weekend with family and friends. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No Rest for the Busy

Creative posts are lacking right now so why don't I catch you up on the happenings as of late?!

Friday night was cookie, beverage drinking and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation fun at my friend Jenn's. After Friday, I realized why we usually just lay low at the end of the week. I was exhausted and barely able to think straight during our baking madness.

We ended up making sugar cookies, gingerbread and chocolate crinkles. Unfortunately, none of them turned out great. Perhaps if it had not been Friday or if we had focused more on the baking and less on the sipping... ;) 

Saturday was trail running fun...

I headed out Mt. Pisgah, the location of a trail race that several friends were running. I needed an excuse to get my shoes a little muddy (ahem, Hagg Lake 25K in Feb) so I opted to run one of the loops the 50Kers were running. 9.3 miles later, my trail needs were met. 

There is something about trail running that makes me feel so at peace with my pace, my surroundings and the moment. Must. run. more. trails.

Saturday night, I got my Christmas present from the manfriend in the form of a nice dinner out. I much prefer a fun experience than something I don't necessarily NEED, unless of course it sparkles and shines. ;)

Sunday's workout - A Mini Triathlon! 

The plan: 30 min running, 30 min cycling (trainer), 30 min yoga

Actual: 34 min (4.25 miles) running, 30 min spinning, 25 min yoga for cyclists ( freebie) After spending some time cleaning the house (thank you, manfriend), I coaxed the man out for a run in the rain. It's funny, once you're wet you don't mind getting more wet.

Then we were off to Portland to send the manfriend to the midwest and hang out with my brother and his fiance. And take a walk through Peacock Lane for some Christmas light festivus.

And Monday, it was back to the cookie making grind. I kid, it's not that tough. Michelle and I made gingerbread cookies (w/ lemon icing), sugared pecan balls (A-mazing) and peppermint bark. So fun to break out of the usual cookie rut and try some new recipes.

And all this fun stuff left me exhausted by Monday night!

It's been a while since I took a total rest day. Because we were traveling and I took the day off work, it just made sense to take Monday as a total rest.

So often, I talk myself into even just a short workout, but sometimes it's better to JUST SAY NO. When life gets busy, it's okay to cut yourself some slack. One missed workout won't squash all the hard work you've put in this entire year.

What's on the tip top of your Christmas/wish list this year? Is anyone thinking of New Year's resolutions for 2012? 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Cookie Fun

Ho Ho Ho! Guess what time it is? Christmas cookie baking is just around the corner in a matter of hours. 

Over the last few years, my former coworker Jenn and I have baked cookies to give away, get into the holiday spirit and get our dose of December sugar in. 

Last year, we crammed a whole bunch of flour, butter, sugar, toppings, cookie cutters, mixers, rolling pins and more onto our tiny kitchen counters and got to work.

This year, the manfriend and I are heading to Jenn's to make a mess and have some fun. The manfriend has deemed himself the Official "Taste Tester" of the evening. Watch it, manfriend, I'm gunning to eat as many cookies as this stomach will hold (and it can hold a lot). 

Some things make the season feel "right" and baking and decorating cookies is one of them for me. I think I've purposely NOT been baking too many sweets in anticipation of Christmas cookie fun.  

What are your favorite holiday cookies? My favs include: gingerbread men (or any type of ginger molasses cookie), jam sandwich cookies and pb blossoms - duh.

Need some more cookie recipe ideas? Real Simple sent out a link to 50 easy Holiday & Christmas cookies this week. Happy weekend!

Good luck to anyone finishing up any shopping or holiday planning! I have a few gifts to wrap, but this year is a little more low key as I'm trying not to spend much $. During Christmas, I often find myself buying stuff just to buy it for others. Instead, I'm making fewer, more focused purchases and being okay with not giving everything I'd like to give.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Guessing Game

Can you name this squash/pumpkin? My mom gave it to me last week and I've never had one of these. 

Manfriend pretending to rip it apart with his bare hands. ;)

It looks like a pumpkin AND a squash. It has the seeds of a pumpkin, but it tastes like a squash. Quite the conundrum. I could look it up, but it's more fun to have you guys tell me what it is! 

After the manfriend cut it in half, I cut it into smaller pieces and roasted it at 400 deg. for about 40 min with olive oil, sea salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. It tastes good! I'll probably end up mixing it into a chili or soup. 

On another note, I just replaced my beloved Brooks Adrenalines with a new pair. Once you find a shoe you love, it's hard to switch it up. 

Over the last few weeks, I could tell my pair from just before the Victoria Marathon was nearly shot. I was trying to hold out until January and make do with the old ones and another pair of old New Balances, but I just couldn't. 

When I wear shoes that are too old, flat or narrow, my feet start hurting (my bunions start flaring up) and my knees twinge a little here and there. Well, those damn bunions showed their ugly face this weekend and I said ENOUGH! 

Sure, I'm $100 poorer, but good kicks are important when running is something you LOVE.  Now days, I end up replacing my shoes just about every three months - ugh. 

It's amazing how cushiony the new shoes feel each time you lace them up. Now if only they could stay comfy and clean forever!

How often do you replace your running/workout shoes? Do you replace them based on months, miles, feel, body aches? 

P.S. I don't recommend wearing Vibrams in 20 degree weather. I tried that this week on a walk with the dog and came back to the house nearly in tears. Toes. hurt. SO. bad.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Easy, Healthy, Fast

You may have heard about this little stuff called "Yumm Sauce" from Healthy Tipping Point or Peas and Thank You. There's a local franchise - Cafe Yumm - that makes these delicious rice and bean bowls with "yumm sauce" on top. 

Many people like this sauce. In fact, I took a huge bottle in my suitcase back to Nashville when I visited Kristin. 

From time to time, I remember to pull out the yumm bowl idea for dinner. It's not only fast and easy, but it's healthy too. And, it can easily be a vegan dish without adding cheese or sour cream/yogurt on top. 

Tonight's spin on the yuuuuumm bowl - brown rice, black beans, chopped onion, green bell pepper, sliced mushroom, a few dashes of taco seasoning, shredded cheese, salsa and plain yogurt on top. *I don't actually use or make the yumm sauce. 

But you can try making a vegan version of the sauce thanks to Mama Pea. I've made it a few times, but prefer it just for dipping veggies.

Want to make the original yumm bowl at home? Ingredients needed: brown rice, black beans, yumm sauce (optional), salsa, cheddar cheese (optional), diced tomatoes, avocado, sour cream or yogurt, black olives and a few sprigs of cilantro. Now stir and devour!

Now let's talk about saying YES and NO...

I thought it would be fun to talk a little about the commitments that come up this time of year and how we handle them. While it seems I have a few less parties and dinners to go to this year, there are still plenty of invites coming in from running adventures to birthday celebrations and holiday shenanigans.

A few years ago, I was coaching high school lacrosse, training for a marathon and working full time. And I took part in every celebration possible. Those few years burnt me out and I finally realized it was OKAY to say no.

With so many options and limited time, money and energy, I've realized people won't hate me because I don't come to something and I will actually be just fine as well. In fact, I found myself feeling more relaxed and happy.

By no means am I doing it "perfectly," but I feel a whole heck of a lot less stressed out than I once did. So on Sunday, I felt like I should go to a friend's birthday adventure (roller skating, laser tag, bowling, dinner) or head to Target, but instead I listened to my body.

After a long morning of running around a nearby lake and going out to breakfast, all I wanted to do was wear sweats, take a nap and do some baking. 

Fresh apples turned into apple crisp on Sunday!

Yes, I regretted not being a part of the birthday celebration, but I knew it was the best decision that night. For now, it's better for me to say YES! to the activities that are either a) sweat related (stress reducing) b) sound like a ton of fun OR c) don't cause more stress attending them vs. not.

And ultimately, laying around in sweats is something you just NEED once in a while.

My tips for managing the holiday stress: 
  • attend the events you want to
  • make time for the people who are most important in your life
  • don't overspend
  • eat healthy, satisfying meals
  • be flexible with your workout, change up your routine, try a new activity
  • light a candle, read a magazine, head to bed early

How are you doing with your holiday festivities and stress this time of year?