Friday, October 31, 2014

Austin Halloween Half Marathon Race Report

Saturday was the Austin Halloween Half marathon.  Last month, after I signed up for it, I made a trip to Spirit Halloween and got myself a costume.  I was thinking Dorothy or something Disney.  They had a Dorothy costume I really liked but not in my size and the plus-sized one was okay but I would have had to alter it so it would look good on me…and I’m not about to pay over $50 for something that I have to alter.  And the Disney costumes weren’t really to my liking.  So, I started perusing the wall of somewhat generic costumes for women.  I found a couple I liked and took them to the dressing room.  Two of them looked horrible on me and the third one, a steampunk girl, looked fabulous, so I got that one.  I got some red and black horizontally striped tights to wear with it.  I used a slim piece of elastic safety pinned to the hat to make sure I didn’t lose it while running and I was off! 

At the beginning of last month, you may recall, I ran the Frozen Hot Chocolate 10K.  As I was perusing the hashtag for the event on Instagram, there was a guy that had posted some pics from the race and I also noticed he likes the Green Bay Packers (I am a fan as well), so I followed him.  Since then, I’ve seen his race pics posted on his Instagram and knew from them that he lived in Texas.  Well, as I’m sitting in my car Saturday morning, wasting time until it’s time to go to the start line (I don’t like doing a lot of standing around before a race if I can avoid it…don’t want to wear out my legs before I even start running!) by looking at my Instagram feed.  Well, I see that this guy, Rob, had posted a pic of himself in a ninja body-morph suit and he had tagged that he was at the Cedar Park Center.  Wait a minute…that’s where I was!  So I responded to the pic that I was at the same place and he told me where he was and I went and met up with him!

It was still like 20 minutes before the race start so we just sat and chatted.  We were both surprised at the turnout.  There was not very many people at all.  Sure, this is the first year for this event, but really, a themed race that encourages costumes?  We both figured there’d be a better turnout.  (when I checked the results the other day there were 572 finishers)  As we made our way to the start line, he said he would start off with me and then he’d take off.  He runs waaaaay faster than me.  I think he said his half PR was somewhere in the 1:30-something range.  Wow!  My half PR is 2:28-something for an organized event and 2:24-something when I ran the 13.1 distance by myself. 

So, they called the start of the race and we were off.  Rob I could tell was used to going way faster.  I had originally planned to run this race at marathon pace (12:30 per mile) so I could get a feel for my marathon pace in a race setting.  However, while Rob was slowing way down to run with me, he wasn’t slowed down to the 12:30 I had planned to do.  We were going around 11:40 for the first few miles.  Rob said he’d run with me to the halfway point and then take off at his own pace and then wait for me at the finish so we could take a photo together.  So, around the halfway point, off he went and I turned on my music.  For about 2 miles, I ran solo until I caught up with him at a port-a-potty.  He was wearing that body-morph suit (and he had accidentally gotten it a size too small) and it was a real snug fit.  He was having issues getting redressed after using the facilities.  He caught back up to me about a half a mile after I passed him up.  I had been keeping up the faster pace after he left me, in fact I had gotten up to around 10:30 per mile.  So, when he rejoined me I said “I don’t want to jinx myself but if I keep this pace up, I’m going to PR.”  At that point, he said something along the lines of “well, in that case, I’ll stick with you and pace you to your PR!” 

At that moment, I really and truly felt like I could hold the pace for the remaining 2 miles.  However, about half a mile after I made my statement, I started slowing down a bit.  I managed to pick it back up a little and Rob did a great job of distracting me so I could pick it up.  The last mile was the worst.  I was just having a super rough time trying to keep up with Rob.  At one point, I thought I was going to throw up.  But, we made it.  I toughed it out.  My finish time was 2:25:51 per the results on their website.  My watch said 2:25:54.  This would have been a PR had it been an actual half marathon…but it wasn’t.  It was 12.85 miles…a full quarter of a mile shy.  So, obviously NOT a USATF certified course.  But, if I were to do the math for the remaining quarter mile as if I had ran it, then I’m pretty sure it would have still been a PR by a few seconds.  So, it’s not an official PR.  I’ll shoot for that next year.  Not at the Austin Half…no, that one is far too hilly.  It’ll have to be one of the others I plan to do.

Anyway, the photographer hasn’t posted the pictures yet, but when he does, I’ll make sure to share them with you.  For now, here’s the picture I took with Rob post-race plus my finisher’s selfie with my medal.

And here’s my official results per the website:
Overall: 200/572
Gender: 122/289
Age group: 33/36

My overall impressions of this race…I was disappointed when I got notification that they weren’t able to secure the Cedar Park Center for the expo (probably more likely that they weren’t able to get enough vendors to exhibit at the expo to make it worthwhile) and it was changed to packet pickup only at a local running store.  The next thing I was disappointed about was that they used generic RoadID bibs.  Ugh.  Seriously?  This is the only half marathon I’ve ran that did not have a bib that was customized for the event.  I emailed my complaint to their info email and was told that there had been a problem with the logistics (not sure how that makes sense because a problem with logistics implies that there was a problem in the product being delivered) and they weren’t able to do the custom bibs this year but that they would definitely have them next year.  And then, of course, I was not happy about the fact that the course was a full quarter mile shy of an actual half marathon distance).  Now let’s move on to the stuff I was happy about.  I LOVED the shirt.  The shirt, while simple, is one of my top 2 favorite race participant shirts.  My other favorite is the 2014 Austin 10/20 shirt.  I loved that the course wasn’t super hilly and was part way through a country setting so it was kinda pretty.  Definitely different scenery than I’m used to.  The water stops were every 2 miles as promised and as far as I know they didn’t have a problem with running out of water or Gatorade.  We were told there was GU at the midway point and I meant to look and grab one but totally forgot so I don’t know if they actually had them or not.  The finisher’s medal is pretty nice too.  Nice and shiny.

While the course is short, I would definitely do this race again next year if it happens.  But, like I said, the turnout was way less than I had expected, so it’s up in the air as to if it will happen again next year.  I really hope it does.  In fact, I already picked out what costume I want to run in.  And I will be buying it next month.  If this race doesn’t happen next year, that’s fine, I will find another Halloween race to participate in.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Friend Makin'

As usual, this is late.  I didn’t get to it before I went to work on Monday and then I worked a 16 hour shift on Monday AND on Tuesday as well.  So, I didn’t get on the computer at all after I left for work at 12:30pm on Monday until just now when I posted this.  In the next day or two, I’ll post my Halloween Half race report.  So look for that!

1. What is the hardest thing you have ever done?

losing weight.  this has been a huge struggle for me.  it has taken me well over 4 years to lose and regain and then relose the same 70 lbs.  in fact, last summer, I had made it to the 80 lbs lost mark but now I’m back to just 70 lost.  Losing weight does not come easily to me.  I lose motivation easily and I find it extremely difficult to control my addiction to food for more than a couple months at a time.  But, I love the person I have become.  I’m stronger, more self-confident, and more self-assured. If I hadn’t gotten extremely overweight and had to work to get back down to an acceptable for me weight (technically, at my goal weight, I’m still “medically” overweight and my BMI is also still in the overweight category), I wouldn’t appreciate myself the way I do.

2. If you are at a friend's or relative's house for dinner and you find a dead insect in your salad, what would you do?

I would either say something about it or I would just stop eating the salad and throw it away.
3. What was the best thing that happened to you this past week?
I ran a Halloween half marathon Saturday morning and ran in costume for the first time ever (it was fun despite the chaffing) and made a new friend!!!  we had connected on Instagram about 2 months ago and met in person at this race!

4. If you had this week over again what would you do differently?

honestly?  nothing.  This last week was a good one.

5. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about God?
I’d rather not answer this question.

6. What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
I don’t really eat weird things.  I’m not what you’d call an “adventurous eater.”    Well, I mean, I eat sushi, so I’ve eaten squid, I guess that’s kinda weird.  But it was delicious!  It was like butter flavored meat.

7. If you could ask Christ to change one problem in the world today, what would you like him to change?

I wouldn’t ask him to change anything, there’s nothing he could do about it without overriding people’s free will

8. What book, movie or video have you seen/read recently you would recommend? Why?

the movie Maleficent…it was amazing and I can’t wait for it to be on DVD so I can buy it and watch it again and again.  Book?  I always recommend the Shannara series by Terry Brooks.

9. If you had a time machine that would work only once, what point in the future or in history would you visit?
I would go way back in history and see what life was like in Sumeria and ancient Egypt and such

10. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Ireland, but if all goes well, I’m going there next fall.  So…china to run a marathon on the great wall!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What's Cookin' Sunday

Today, I came up with a fun name for my recipe sharing every Sunday (next week it'll be Monday because I'll be out of town on Sunday) is now called What's Cookin' Sunday!  I really like it, I think it has a really nice ring to it.

Anyway, today I decided to make another Indian dish, Beef Curry, and a spicy spaghetti squash with black beans recipe I found off Whole Foods' website.


• 2 lbs stew meat, cubed
• 1 tsp pepper
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tbsp ground cardamom
• 2 tbsp curry powder
• 1/4 tsp ground cloves
• 2 tsp garam masala
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 2 tbsp tomato paste
• 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped

• grab your slow cooker and add the stew meat to it.
• add in the cinnamon, curry powder, cloves, and cardamom.  stir well.
• add in the remaining ingredients and stir again to mix well.
• cover the slow cooker and allow to cook on high for 6 hours.
• serve with naan and/or over rice/quinoa.  (nutrition info does not include naan, rice or quinoa)


• 1 medium spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
• 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup chopped red onion
• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (I couldn't find a jalapeno at the store I went to so I got a serrano pepper instead)
• 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
• 1 cup cooked black beans
• 1/2 cup sweet corn, frozen or fresh
• 1 tsp chili powder
• 1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp lime juice
• 1 tsp fine sea salt
• 1/2 tsp black pepper

• preheat oven to 375°.  arrange squash in a large baking dish, cut-sides down.  pour 1/2 cup water into the dish and bake until just tender, 30-35 minutes.  rake with a fork to remove flesh in strands, leaving the shell intact for stuffing.  
• for the filling, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  add onion, jalapeno and bell pepper and cook for 2 minutes or until soft.  add beans, corn and chili powder; cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute longer.  add cooked squash, cilantro, lime juice and salt, cook 1 minute longer until heated through.
• fill squash halves with filling, mounding mixture in the center.

Small note here, the recipe from Whole Foods' website says this makes 4 servings, but I opted to make it 2 LARGE servings based on the nutrition facts because with 4 servings, it only has like 167 calories and for this to be a main dish for dinner, it should really be more than that.  Also, as I know at least a couple of my readers are vegetarian or vegan, this recipe is 100% vegan.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Injury Update

Due to the injury to my calf on Saturday, I had to nix some runs.  First, I only completed half of my planned 15 miles on Saturday for 7.5 miles.  Sunday’s run was supposed to have been 5 miles, Monday was supposed to be 9 miles and Tuesday was supposed to have been another 5.  I completely nixed Sunday’s and Monday’s runs and only ran 4 on Tuesday.  Sure I’m disappointed that I had to cut 22.5 miles from my training schedule, but I’m not going to be upset about it or dwell on it.  It’d be the running equivalent of crying over spilt milk.  It would do me no good.  I just have to accept that it happened and continue on.  Which is what I’m doing.  In fact, I redid my marathon training schedule to reflect the runs that I didn’t do and the different mileage.  You see, because I didn’t complete my 15 mile long run on Saturday, that set me back a little bit with my weekly long run progression.  So I had to make those adjustments as well.  No big deal really. 

So, instead of running 551.something miles during my 16 weeks of training, I’ll be running more like 523.15.  I’m cool with that.  Totally cool.

I wore a compression sleeve on my right calf from Saturday evening until Wednesday and I really believe that has helped.  I haven’t taken any of the prescribed pain meds since Saturday.  I mean, sure the doctor didn’t prescribe me anything major, just 600mg ibuprofen and some tramadol (I have no clue of the mg).  Also, I’ve only taken the ibuprofen…haven’t taken any of the tramadol.  The pain just hasn’t been that bad.

When I went for my 4 mile run Tuesday morning, my calf felt “tight” the entire time.  I’m sure I was limping just a little bit, especially toward the end of the run.  I made good time.  All my miles were between 11:10 and 11:30, so that’s good.  I made sure to focus on how my calf was feeling the entire run, which made the run “seem” a little longer than it was and “seem” like I was going slower than I was as well.  But, I wanted to make sure that the pain didn’t get worse.  I did find myself wishing that I could remember how it felt right before the “pop” happened on Saturday.  I know that it got super tight and then it happened.  Mostly, with the 4 miles I ran, I wanted to see how my calf would feel and, really, it felt mostly good, just tight.  And I think that tightness was due to the fact that I have been avoiding moving it since Saturday. 

Thursday, I ran 8 miles.  I’m hoping to be able to still do my half marathon Saturday.  The Halloween Half.  Really, though, I’ll do it anyway, even if I’m walking a majority of the race.  I’m one of those “dumb” runners that if I paid for my race entry, then dammit, I’m doing the race!  Unless it’s a 5K or something else that doesn’t give bling, then I might skip it if I’m injured.  But, my 8 miles went well on Thursday, just a sore muscle (the one I strained) for a few hours post-run, so I see no reason why I can’t do well on Saturday.  I have decided that I will run it at marathon goal pace, which is 12:30 min/mi.  That’s a good, conservative pace and I won’t be overexerting myself.  Also, it will be good to practice my marathon goal pace in a race setting for an extended distance.  It will help me know what to expect on how to start out with pacing myself in the actual marathon.  I’m just going to set my Garmin to show me my current pace for the entire race.

Something else I thought of in regards to the marathon…maybe I should invest in some really good, high quality, full-length (hip to ankle) compression running tights to wear when I run the marathon.  They would help decrease muscle soreness and speed up recovery time a little bit.  They would also come in handy on my longer long runs that I’ll be doing later next month.  Before those longer long runs, I’ll need to stock up on some ice (I’ll just mass-produce and then bag it from my fridge’s ice maker) so I can do ice baths after those longer long runs.

Also, as of yesterday's run, i'm at 93.1 miles for the month of October.  Sure, it pains me a little to think that if it weren't for my strained calf muscle I would be at 115.6 already, but whatever...spilled milk, right?

I picked up my packet for tomorrow's Halloween Half Marathon. 
Loooooooooove the shirt...however, extremely disappointed in the bib.
Half marathons should always have bibs that are customized to the event.
I haven't posted the countdown on here in a while, but, here it is...51 days and counting down!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Recipe Sharing

Today is Sunday, and if you've been paying attention the last few weeks, then you know what that's meal prep day!  This is in no way an original idea, LOADS of other people do their meal prep on Sunday.  It's very convenient for me.  I'm off on Saturdays and Sundays and most of what I do outside of my home with other people happens on Saturdays, so Sundays are all mine to do chores and whatever needs to be done.  Anyway, every week I try to prep at least 2 different dishes that yield at least 4 servings each.  This week, I chose Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplants and Mexican Corn Soup.  Each recipe makes 4 servings.  I had planned to prep some whole wheat pizza dough, but since I worked overtime on the night shift last night, I slept half the day away and didn't have time with all the housework that also needed to get done today.  But that's okay, I'll make it next weekend.

Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplants

• 2 eggplants
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 shallot
• 2 garlic cloves, chopped
• 2 roasted bell peppers, chopped
• 1 tomato, diced
• 1/4 cup chopped parsley
• 1 tsp dried basil
• salt and pepper to taste
• 4 oz low fat mozzarella cheese

• cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, leaving the skins intact
• chop the flesh into small pieces
• heat the oil in a skillet and stir in the shallot and garlic.  Saute for 2 minutes then add the chopped eggplants
• cook 5 additional minutes then remove from heat and stir in the bell peppers, tomato, parsley and basil
• season with salt and pepper then spoon the mixture into the eggplant skins
• top with mozzarella cheese and place the eggplant halves in a baking tray lined with parchment paper
• bake in the preheated oven at 350° for 20-30 minutes
• serve warm or chilled

Now, I have never roasted veggies before, let alone bell peppers.  So, I had to google how to do it.  I quartered my 2 bell peppers before I did my googling and discovered you're supposed to roast them whole.  Oops.  But, I continued on with it.  I heated the oven to 500°, arranged the pieces on a cookie tray lined with foil and placed them in the oven for 35 minutes, let them cool and then cut them into small pieces.  If you've never roasted veggies before either, then you should be warned that they will come out looking burnt (aka-charred) and this is perfectly fine.  That's how they're supposed to look.

For my friends and readers that eat a vegan or vegetarian diet, this recipe is vegan and I think you should give it a try!

Mexican Corn Soup

• 4 cups frozen corn
• 1 cup chicken broth
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 1/2 of a 4 oz can of diced green chile peppers
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp black pepper
• 2 cloves garlic (minced)
• 2 cups unsweetened original almond milk
• 1 cup chopped cooked chicken (boneless/skinless)
• 1 cup chopped tomato
• 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (4 oz)

• in a blender or food processor combine 2 cups of frozen corn (half of corn) and all the chicken broth.  cover and blend until smooth.
• in a large saucepan combine corn/broth puree, the remaining corn, chile peppers, dried oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic.  bring to boiling; reduce heat.  simmer very gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  add chicken, milk and tomatoes and simmer very gently for another 10 minutes.
• removed saucepan from heat.  stir in cheese (small amounts at a time) until completely melted.  if desired sprinkle each serving with fresh parsley for garnish.


Saturday morning I was set for my 15 mile long run.  I knew I wanted to start off slow so I could avoid what happened during the previous Saturday’s 14 miler where I bonked after mile 11 and then got a blister and ended slow as heck with 13 minute miles.  So, my plan for yesterday morning was to start slow and pick up the pace toward the end.  As I was running along, I was keeping the pace between 12:40 and 12:55.  As I passed the 4 mile mark, I came up with my plan of attack.  I would keep the pace I was running to the 5 mile mark then I would pick up the pace to around 12:20 per mile for the next 5 miles and then for the final 5 miles I would pick up the pace even more to around 11:45-11:50 per mile.

Well, that didn’t happen.  Why?  Because at about mile 4.9 I felt a “pop” in my right calf.  I immediately stopped.  There was one of those electrical boxes just off the sidewalk, so I sat on that and proceeded to massage the area where I felt the pop.  I then started running my thumb up and down on both legs in the same area and determined that there was no bump or bulge to be found.  I also determined that the pain was not on my Achilles tendon (thank goodness!!!).  As soon as I stopped, I said to myself “well, I’m not running 15 miles today.”  Surprisingly, I was not disappointed or upset.  I simply stated and accepted it as fact…and unavoidable and unchangeable fact. 

After massaging the area for a couple minutes, I determined I needed to start heading home so I could ice it.  I knew that if I walked that it would take forever to get home, so I decided (maybe unwisely) to run the rest of the way home.  I did a run-limp the whole 2.6 miles home.  I was cruising along at a good clip too…right at about 12 minutes per mile.  I just wanted to get home.  I did a trick I read that the elite runners do and I focused all my attention on the pain.  Mainly, I wanted to make sure it didn’t get worse.  If it got worse I would HAVE to stop and walk.  Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

I made it home.  I stretched and then got in the shower.  After my shower, I started with icing the area.  I did 20 minutes with the ice on, 20 with it off and then 20 on again.  That didn’t help with the pain at all, so I found my heating pad and wrapped that around my leg and then laid down to take a nap.  (I was working overtime on the night shift last night, so I needed to take a nap so I didn’t get tired at work.)  I woke up from my nap a few hours later and discovered that the heating pad hadn’t helped with the pain either.  I  had decided earlier that if it didn’t get better that I would go to urgent care. 

So, I went to urgent care and they actually said that since it was a soft tissue injury that they couldn’t really help me.  They only had xray and I would possibly need an ultrasound of the muscle/tendon to determine the actual problem.  So I left and headed to the ER.  I got to the ER and met with the doctor and explained to him what had happened.  He felt my leg.  Where the pop happened was tender to the touch, but he came to the same conclusion as me.  He felt no bump or bulge and said it was most likely just a strain of the calf muscle but said there was a chance that it could be a small tear of the muscle.  He did say that there was a good chance it would be fine within a few days to a week but cautioned that it could take 2 or 3 weeks.  

So, no running for me for the next few days.  *sigh*  I would like to say that I’m glad this happened now and not a week before my marathon.  I’m hoping to be running my Halloween half marathon this coming Saturday.  I don’t even care if I run super slow.  I just will feel so blessed if I can run it at all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Midweek Checkin

Last night, they were looking for some people to stay and work overtime on the night shift.  I had to think long and hard about it.  In fact, it was an hour and a half into my own shift before I made the decision to go ahead and stay.  I had no problem with the working of the extra shift.  What I had a problem with was that if I worked last night, that meant I wouldn’t be running this morning.  I had a “win” in that my supervisor let me take a slightly longer break so I could drive home and get my already prepared dinner and bring it back so I wouldn’t have to break my challenge and go get Taco Cabana or whatever to eat for dinner. 

I’m doing great on my challenge.  But I’m not going to actually post about it until the end of the month.  I’m pretty sure that I’m going to do my best to continue with the not eating restaurant and/or junk food after the end of this month.  I just feel so much better in so many ways.  My eating has been great and I’m really enjoying my food prep Sundays where I’m cooking multiple things.  I’m getting excited about cooking every Sunday and have already decided on what I’m going to cook this coming Sunday.

As I worked last night, even though I would have to back within 8 hours of leaving work, I toyed with the idea of doing my 4 mile run after work and before going to bed.  I decided not to.  However, I woke up over an hour and a half before my alarm was set to go off and could have stayed up and been fine (I slept great night before last).  So, I kinda wish that I had gone for that run after work.  Sigh…oh well.  And then I’m still pining over that canceled 3.3 mile run from earlier in the week.  So, right now, I’m toying with the idea of making tomorrow’s 5.7 mile run a 9 miler instead.  And then Friday, before Amanda picks me up to go to Leap of Heroes (this is a program where disabled war veterans are sponsored and get the opportunity to tandem sky dive…believe me, I will be writing a post about this!) at 7:30am Friday morning, I will do my 4 mile run.  I will have to wake up around 5:30am in order to do it and be ready by the time she gets there, but that’s okay.  And then, Saturday…15 miles!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Friend Making Monday

This weekend, I did some cooking.  I cooked 3 things.  First thing was a chuck roast in the crockpot so I can mix up my lunch sandwiches (I've been eating strictly almond butter and jelly on sprouted grain bread).  Now, I can also have slow cooker chuck roast with light mayo on sprouted grain bread with a small amount of sea salt for taste.  The next thing I made was some pineapple teriyaki pork chops.  They are sooooo good!  I got the recipe from my The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook.
The third thing I made was a salmon casserole (I posted this recipe yesterday).  Also very delicious.  I've already got 2 recipes picked out to make next weekend...and I'm pretty excited about them!

Saturday I ran a 14 mile training run.  That is a tie for my longest run ever.  Last time I ran this distance was September 9th 2013.  When I started running, it was raining and my pace was great!  I was in the mid 11 minute range.  YAY!  I held up this pace through mile 10.  By this point, it had stopped raining, so I had slowly started inching closer to the 12 minute mark.  In mile 11 is when the blister started and when I started slowing down.  By the end, I had hit the 13 minute mark.  Ugh.  This run started off so fantastic and ended so blah.  I'm not going to say "bad" because in my mind, no run is actually a bad run.  In reality, I should have actually monitored my pace at the beginning and kept myself at no faster than 12 minute miles.  I was just running by feel and I didn't FEEL fast (for me the mid-11's, while becoming my norm, are still considered "fast" by me for me).  My legs were so stiff and sore by the end of Saturday that I decided I would move Sunday's 3.3 miles to Monday.  When I woke up Sunday, I was so stiff everywhere.  I immediately decided to just cancel my 3.3 mile run and take 2 rest days.  I did go to the gym yesterday and do a little over 30 minutes of circuit training.  Today, I was going to go ride the stationary bike at the gym, but decided to just completely rest my legs today.  My legs feel good today and I'm itching/aching to run, so I know I'll be ready for tomorrow's 7 miles.
And now for some Friend Making Monday action...and I'm pretty excited about this one!  I wrote these questions.  I tried my best to make the questions as neutral as I could, but if you know me, you know I had running in mind when I wrote them.  I also did not go ahead and pre-write my answers to these questions.  I answered them this morning.  So, here we go!

Let's talk exercise

1. What is your favorite form of exercise and why?
running, of course!  haha!  i love running because it's like meditation for me.  i can just head out the door and bam, i'm in "the zone."  it relaxes me and reduces helps me sort out issues and come up with solutions to problems.  and it makes me feel i can do anything i put my mind to.

2. How did you get started with your favorite form of exercise?
originally, back when i was 18, i was in the Army and i ran all the time.  granted, the distances i ran were probably no more than 5 miles, but we still ran all the time.  back then, i ran about a 9 min mile.  then, i got really back stress fractures in my shins and stopped running.  i actually had a doctor's note that said i wasn't allowed to run.  anyway, fast forward to like 14 years later, i'm in my early mid-30's and i'm severely overweight.  i know that running is an excellent way to get healthy and lose weight.  and i've wanted to run again for a while at this point.  so, i go and get fitted for some running shoes and, at about 240 lbs, i start doing intervals on the treadmill a few times a week.  after a few weeks, the pain in my shins is so great that i believe i've refractured the stress fractures i had gotten there back in the Army (little did i know that once a stress fracture heals, the bone is actually stronger there than it was before the fracture).  so i went to the doctor.  he said it wasn't stress fractures but shin splints and to stay off the treadmill.  i'm not sure if he meant to stop running on the treadmill and go run outside or stop running altogether.  i took it to mean the second one and felt defeated.  i relegated my new expensive running shoes to be my walking shoes and i would go for 3-8 mile walks 3 times a week.  anyway, fast forward another year and a half and i hear about a company called Airrosti that specializes in soft tissue damage repair (this is what shin splints are).  i make an appointment and the doctor says my shin splints are some of the worst he's ever seen and immediately sets about smoothing the fascia on my shins.  holy heck was that painful.  he also had me bring in my running shoes and told me that the soles were completely broken down and i needed a new pair.  as part of my therapy and rehab for "fixing" my shin splints, he told me to run regularly.  usually, they "fix" you within 3 visits.  my shin splints were so bad, i needed a 4th visit.  anyway, the shin splints went away and only every now and then do i get shin aches...but even then, they only last for a mile or two and then they go away.  after getting my shin splints "fixed" i set about a couch to 5k program i just made up as i went.  i did all my intervals on the treadmill.  once i had run 3 miles without stopping on the treadmill, i switched to running outside and have only run on the treadmill when it was unsafe to run outside (read: icy).

3. What is your favorite thing about your favorite exercise?
it's an amazing release for me.  it clears my mind and it makes me feel strong and capable.

4. Does your favorite exercise offer any type of competition? If so have you taken part in one?
yes, there are a plethora of races ranging from fun run 1k's up to 100 mile ultra marathons.  i've ran numerous 5k's, 10k's, 8k's, a 15k, and 4 half marathons.  i've also participated in a few virtual races (you pay your registration fee...way cheaper than an organized race because there are no aid stations to man, no barriers to rent, no police officers to hire to guard the intersections for your safety, etc...and then you go out, run your chosen distance and then plug your time into their website and they send you your medal).  i have a current collection of 10 medals.  i'll be earning 3 more medals this year (1 virtual half marathon, 1 organized half marathon, and my first full marathon).
10 so far, will add at least 3 more before the end of the year
5. How old were you when you started your favorite form of exercise or how long have you been doing it for?
i was 35.  my "runniversary" is the 19th of this month...i will have been running for 2 years.  yay!  i don't really have anything spectacular planned, just a 5 mile training run.

6. Is there a form of exercise that you have never tried that you really want to? What and Why?

7. Do you plan vacations around your favorite exercise?
sort of.  i had planned a trip to visit my family in Oregon earlier this year.  i knew when i wanted to go (the first 2 weeks of June), so i set about finding a race that would get me some bling while i was there.  while i didn't plan the trip around the race, per se, as in it was the main point and everything else secondary.  but, i did plan how i spent my time during my 2 weeks in Oregon according to this half marathon.  in december, i have planned a weekend trip with my awesome friend Amanda to celebrate my birthday and for me to run my very first full marathon! 

8. Does your favorite exercise have it's own elites? Who are your favorites?
yes, there are a lot of elite runners.  lots of people to admire and look up to.  and i read Runner's World magazine all the time and they interview these elites frequently and they are awesome people and they are normal, relatable peoplethey have struggles just like we do, they just happen to be waaaaaay faster than i could ever hope to be.  the day i can do a 9 min mile and that be my normal average pace will be the day that i'm the happiest girl in the world.  anyway, i LOVE Shalane Flannagan.  she is simply amazing...and it helps that she trains in my homestate of Oregon, so it's like rooting for the home team, you know?

9. How does participating in your favorite exercise make you feel?
just plain amazing.  like my medal holder says, "anything is possible" just have to believe in yourself.  every time i finish a run that felt "bad" or "rough", i am proud of myself for not quitting.  no one is making me do this.  i'm not part of a team.  it's not life or death that i run.  this is something i CHOSE for myself.  i know by choosing to run that i am choosing a happier and healthier life for myself.  i feel strong thanks to my running in more than just a physical way.  running has helped me gain so much self confidence.

10. Do you see yourself doing this exercise for the rest of your life (or until you are physically able to)
YES!  i don't care if i'm 80 when i finally get my BQ, i will get it one day!  i definitely will not quit running until i am no longer physically able to.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Recipe Share: "No-Fuss" Salmon Casserole

The sodium content is pretty high for one serving, but, if you're like me and don't really consume all that much sodium, then you're still going to be under the 2300mg that is recommended you stay under each day.  And all that sodium really comes from the cream of celery soup...while 98% fat free, it is NOT low sodium.  Unfortunately, I didn't see any low sodium cream of celery soup. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

7 Things + A TMI Survey

7 things about myself:
• I love to run (duh)
• I love cats
• I’m a total nerd and love comics and video games, etc
• I was a vehicle mechanic in the US Army
• I made honor roll in high school
• I’ve never been to college
• I love doing crafts

TMI Survey
Here’s a little TMI about me:

1. What are you wearing?
At the very moment I’m typing up my answers to this, I’m at work, so I’m wearing my sheriff’s uniform…not very exciting

2. Ever been in love?
Yes…unfortunately.  I say that because it has never brought me anything but grief.

3. Ever had a terrible breakup?
yes, I’ve had a few.  The one that really messed me up on pretty much ever dating again was a guy I dated 4 years ago.  He was cheating on me over the internet with different women and my anxiety level was super high for the last couple months of the “relationship” as a result.  When we finally went our separate ways, it was after he had moved out of my apartment and basically right across the hall from me with the vow of us “working it out.”  Baloney.  He proceeded to move a 19 year old girl in and parade her in front of me for the next year and a half until he FINALLY moved out.  For that entire year and a half, I was in limbo.  I could not move on because every time I came out of my apt I saw his car, his motorcycle, her car, or him/them.  about 2 years ago, I “dated” a guy for a little over a month and when he broke up with me because I didn’t want children (he knew this week 1 and waited until week 6 to break up with me), he decided that while breaking up with me would be a great time to tell me, for the first time, that he loved me.  Douche.  Total douche.

4. How tall are you?

5. How much do you weigh?
I am in the process of losing weight, but at this time, I weigh 192.

6. Any tattoos?
currently, I have 37 with plans for many, many more. 

7. Any piercings?
I have 0g “holes” in my lobes, plus a regular earring piercing above those.  I’ve *had* many piercings in the past, but I’ve taken them all out (eyebrow, industrial, tragus, nostril, septum, tongue, snakebites, nipples and naval)

8. Favorite song?
A Horse With No Name by America

9. Quality you look for in a partner?
with all I’ve been through in the past, I would say honesty

10. Favorite quote?
this is a paraphrased quote by JFK: “we do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”  This is also one of my planned future tattoos

11. Favorite actor?
Morgan Freeman (favorite actress is Tilda Swinton)

12. Loud music or soft?
it really depends on what kind of music I’m listening to and what my mood is at the time.  Or, for instance, what situation I’m in.  I will listen to music louder while running during the day than I will if running at night

13. Where do you go when you’re sad?
running.  When I first learned of my grandpa’s health situation late last year, I couldn’t handle the grief, so I went for a run and then was able to think clearly and logically about it.  running is where I run through all my thoughts and just think. 

14. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
I can wake up, get dressed and be out the door in as little as 20 minutes.  However that rarely happens.  Especially with the diet I’m on right now.  There is so much food prep and not all can be done on the weekend…some has to be done the day I’m eating it, so it can take about an hour to do all that plus do my usual get ready for work stuff.  But, getting ready for work just involves throwing on my uniform and pulling my hair up…which is done very simply.  And I only wear makeup if I am going to a formal or semi-formal type event…so once, twice, maaaaaaybe three times a year

15. Ever been in a physical fight?
yes, I’ve been in a couple.  If you consider at work as well (I work in a jail), I’ve been quite a few “altercations” 

16. Turn on?
frankly, I don’t really have one anymore.  At least, nothing specific.  And, even if I did, I’ve been single for 4 years now so I wouldn’t remember what it is anyway

17. Turn off?
Smoking, shorter than me, shouting, obesity, laziness

18. Fears?
financial ruin, dogs not on leashes, serious injury prohibiting me from running, and gaining a lot of weight.  Also, spiders, heights and open bodies of water.

19. Last thing that made you cry?
some sappy video on facebook…haha!

20. Last time you said you loved someone?
no clue

21. Meaning behind your YouTube name?
Not applicable.

22. The relationship between you and the last person you texted?
we’re friends

23. Favorite food?
cheese, and anything involving cheese (queso, pizza, mac n cheese, etc).  really, honestly, most healthy food is yummy…if it’s made right, of course. 

24. Place you want to visit?
Ireland, Egypt, china, japan, and a cruise around the gulf of Mexico  

25. Do you have a crush?
yea, I have a few and none of them will pan out…and not because they may or may not be crushing me back, but because I am now a person with a commitment problem.

26. Last time you kissed someone?
pretty sure I kissed my cat the other day…not on the lips, on his forehead 

27. Last time you were insulted?
I wrote about it last week.  I received a fairly nasty message on facebook from some anonymous person that was too scared to use their real name.  it didn’t even affect me, other than I feel sorry for that person that they feel the need to say nasty things to other people in order to make themselves feel better.  I won’t even justify them by telling anyone what they said.  It really means nothing to me and I forget about it until and unless someone asks about it.

28. Favorite piece of jewelry?
my blue topaz and diamond set in 10K white gold ring.  I love it. it’s gorgeous.  It’s my favorite shape: triangle.  And it’s my birth stone.  And I get loads of compliments on it all the time!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Friend Making Monday

Over the past 7+ weeks that I’ve been engrossed in my marathon training, I have noticed great improvements in my running.  When I first started this training, my average mile times were 12:30 and UP.  I know that there were a couple or even a few runs where I was running over 13 minutes and super close to 14 minutes.  That’s basically just speedwalking.
Over the last almost 2 months now, I’ve noticed I feel stronger on more and more of my runs.  My average pace on my runs has been slowly getting faster and faster.  My average mile pace is now in the low 11 minute range.  That is AWESOME!  I’ve shaved off a minute to a minute and a half off my mile time…IN LESS THAN 2 MONTHS!!!  I’m really hoping that by this time next month, I’ll have my average mile pace down in the mid 10 minute range.  Here’s some stats from my first week of marathon training and the second is from the last week. 
this data is from Aug 21st
this is my amazing 12 mile run from sept 25th
this is today's run (oct 7th)
When I’m running at my new, faster average pace, I’m not feeling like I’m pushing myself all that much.  I mean, sure, in the later miles of the run I’m pushing myself to maintain the pace, but the first like 4 or so miles are pretty much effortless.  And then, some days are just awesome for me and the entire run feels completely effortless and no pushing of myself is needed.  I love those days.  Don’t get me wrong, I love every single run I do…I mean it.  Each and every one of them.  I may feel unmotivated to get out of bed and get going, but once I’m running, I’m in my own version of heaven.  Even when the going is a little rough and I have to push myself, I still love it.

And now for a little Friend Making Monday action (not on Monday…haha…par for the course with me).

1. If you had to be allergic to something, what would it be?

Junk food.
2. If you sat next to Jesus on a bus, what would you talk about?
I would ask him, “what did you REALLY tell your disciples and apostles?” and go from there.
3. If money and time were no object, what would you be doing right now?
Well, for starters, I’d be retired because I’d obviously have enough money to not work.  as far as what I would be doing with my time, I’d be traveling the world!
4. If you had one day to live over again, what day would that be?
I can’t really think of a day that I have already lived through that I would want to live over again, so I’m going to delve into my future and say I that the day I move into a house I bought would be a day I would want to live over again.
5. If you could eat your favorite food right now, what would it be?
Bacon macaroni and cheese…with extra cheese!
6. If you could learn any skill, what would it be?
I would love to be able to do sign language fluently, I know some basics but wish I knew more.  When I was in high school, I started taking some free once weekly evening classes, but I missed a class and then just stopped going.
7. If you were sent to live on a space station for three months, and could only take three personal items, what would they be?
My running scrapbook, my phone (solely so I can listen to the music and view the pictures on it), and my cats
8. If you could buy a car right no (money no object) what would it be?
I think I would have to go with a Maserati 
9. What's your favorite cartoon character and why?
Believe it or not, this was a hard question for me to answer.  But, I’m going to have to go with Dori from Finding Nemo…because she never gives up and is always positive…she forgets the negative and she tries new things and surprisingly, they work (ie-talking to the whale).
10. Does your name have a special meaning or were you named after someone special?
Sara means 'Princess' but apart from that no special reason for me being called Sara…well, and my parents thought it was pretty.  They were going to name me Mena, but changed their minds at the last minute.  Honestly, I wish they had gone with Mena.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Would You Rather

Last week I was feeling on the verge of "under the weather."  I just felt "off" all week.  It started on Sunday, but with nothing really specific.  Monday morning, I felt like someone had hit me in the stomach the day before and ran my 9 miles not knowing if I would throw up.  Tuesday and Wednesday were just mildly yucky feeling, nothing in particular really.  Thursday I had the most horrible migraine that of course led to nausea and light/sound sensitivity.  Friday I had a low grade fever and was very lethargic.  And yesterday (Saturday) I woke up feeling fine...finally!

Yesterday, I went to a scrimmage hockey game with my friend Amanda.  It's been a while since I went to a hockey game...I forgot how cold it is in there.  After the hockey game, we went to IKEA and I bought a silicone loaf "pan" and then promptly decided that today I would bake some zucchini bread.  After IKEA we went to the craft store and I got some another book of scrapbook background pages and some notepads that were cat themed.  Then, on the way back to my apartment, we made one last stop at Garden Ridge (they are having a huge clearance on everything in the store) because I wanted to see if they still had any large mirrors.  I want to be able to take full body selfies without the bathroom sink being in the picture (and of course, those aren't actually full body because I'm cut off just below the hips).  I got a 35x23.5 inch mirror for $14.99!!!  This mirror was regularly priced at $49.99.  NICE!!!  So, be expecting some full body pics in the future.

Something else I did yesterday was do some grocery shopping.  I got everything I need to make Bainghan Bharta (Indian eggplant curry), plus some lamb meat to throw in to make it a main dish instead of a side dish.  I sauteed up the onions, garlic and spices, then cubed the eggplant into tiny cubes and mixed everything together and set it in the refrigerator to set overnight like the recipe says to.
here's the recipe I used
While out shopping for everything I needed for the eggplant curry and for the zucchini bread, I stumbled upon an amazing deal.  You see, I've been wanting a second crockpot in case I want to cook 2 different things at the same time.  Also, my crockpot that I've had is ceramic and has been cracked ever since I first had it because immediately after using it for the first time, without letting it cool all the way, I put tap water in it to clean it and it cracked.  It doesn't leak, but really, it's only a matter of time.  So, anyway, I was in the kitchen gadgets section of the grocery store and was looking at their crockpots.  They had this Hamilton Beach
stovetop programmable crockpot.  It was regularly around $60 but they only had the display model left (so no box) and it was on clearance for $32.48.  On top of that, they had a coupon for $5 off any crockpot.  So, I got a $60 totally awesome crockpot for $27.48.  BOOM!  So, guess what I'm cooking my eggplant curry in right now?  Yep, the new crockpot.  It's awesome because you can set the time on it and it will shut off when the timer runs out.  YAY!
Oh, and it has 3 settings instead of the standard 2.  It has the standard High and Low, but it also has a Warm setting.  So, great for using for a spread where you want something to stay warm for a few hours, like queso or another dip at parties.

I am going to head back to the grocery store and get the makings for a skinny shrimp alfredo pasta bake.  I'm a cooking/baking fool today!  I'm really making an effort with the no restaurant food challenge.  Now, I do need to be honest.  I had some baked salmon with a dressing-less bean salad at IKEA yesterday, but it was very healthy and it was definitely something I could have made at home.  It came with a horseradish dip for the salmon and, while yummy, I preferred the salmon without it.

I just got done with a great 4 mile progressive run.  Now to stretch, hit the shower and go to the grocery store again!

And now for a little "would you rather" action!

1. Would you rather run a 5K or a marathon?
I love 5K’s…they’re fun, you can go all out running them without killing yourself and get a great time, and they don’t take much commitment training wise.  But, the main reason I love a 5K is they are runs that are usually a lot of fun to do.  My favorite 5K I’ve done so far is the Superhero 5K I did recently.  My second favorite was the Stand Up 5K from earlier this year when I got my 5K PR (I would have gotten an AG medal too if the race directors had done 5-year AG’s instead of 10-year ones).  I would say that I would rather run a marathon simply because it is something I really want to do and plan to do (on my birthday in December).  I will let you know after the marathon if it is something I will ever do again, though.  There’s a chance I won’t simply because of all the commitment that training for one requires.

2. Would you rather run a flat race in the heat or a hilly race in the cold?
Hilly race in the cold.  I hate running in the heat.  Hate. It.

3. Would you rather get new running shoes or a new running outfit?
Definitely new shoes.  I loooooooove running shoes.  I have loads of running outfits, so I don’t really need any more of those right now.  Haha.

4. Would you rather run a race without headphones or without a Garmin?
Without headphones.  I gotta have my Garmin and my data.  Just gotta.  I don’t need to look at it while I run my race, but I need it afterward so I have my data.

5. Would you rather run on the treadmill for an hour or in a circle around the same street for an hour?
After a little thought, I’m going to go with in a circle around the same street.  I really hate the treadmill.  Even if it’s the same scenery over and over again for an hour, it’s far preferable to the extreme boredom a treadmill subjects me to.

6. Would you rather run a Ragnar Relay or a marathon relay?
I’m going with Ragnar, hands down.  I would absolutely LOVE to run a Ragnar.  A large portion of the blogs I follow and read have either already done a Ragnar (or Ragnar-like…Hood-to-Coast, for instance) and I love reading their posts about the experience.  There’s so much teamwork between people that don’t know each other and it’s just awesome.

7. Would you rather come in 4th in the Olympics or 1st in the New York City Marathon?
I would rather be 1st in the NYC marathon.  I love the Olympics, but there’s just not the crowd support that there is for “regular” marathons with the signs and the people cheering you on and the cowbells and other noisemakers…no small children to give you a high-5 as you run by.  It’s all about the entire experience for me.

8. Would you rather give up running for 1 year to get a BQ (Boston Marathon qualifying time) or never BQ but run as much as you want?
Boston really is my dream.  It really is.  So I think I would have to make that sacrifice and not run for a year.  I could keep in shape in other ways…cycling, swimming, elliptical and, of course, strength training.

9. Would you rather run in an urban area or on a trail?
Urban area…for many reasons.  First, I’m a klutz and the likelihood of getting hurt on a trail run is just too great for me…otherwise I think I would enjoy it greatly.  Second, if I need help for some reason, it’s easier to find in an urban area.  Also, I can run in the dark in an urban area and be safe…you can’t really run a trail in the dark, even with a good headlamp, safely…in my opinion (that’s the opinion of a klutz, btw).

10. Would you rather have a headache during a run or a side stitch?
I think I’d rather have the headache.  A headache I can ignore.  A side stitch is sharp and is not something I get frequently (I get headaches somewhat often…I need to go to the doctor) so I wouldn’t be able to ignore it.

11. Would you rather run in a thunderstorm or a snowstorm?
Thunderstorm.  I have loved thunderstorms since I was little.  My parents used to let us stay up late and watch them out the dining room window.  And I ran in the rain for the first time ever a few weeks ago and it was a great experience.

12. Would you rather have a rest day on a work day or a day off?
A work day.  I don’t like not doing anything exercise wise for an entire day if I’m not working.  I do currently take one of my two running rest days on Saturdays.  So, strength training, yoga, swimming, cycling…something will get done.

13. Would you rather run just because or train for a race?
While I am actually enjoying training for my marathon, and it is motivating to train for a marathon, at the end of this week (week 7 of 16 in my marathon training), I am a little tired.  I’m not getting up so easily at 5:30 or 6:00 am anymore.  I mean, I haven’t skipped a run, but this week I did switch my Thursday long run (13.1 miles) with Friday’s shorter run (was scheduled to be 4 miles, but didn’t check my schedule before heading out and ran 5 instead…oops!).  I did that because Thursday was super humid and warm and a “cold” front came in Thursday night so it was nice and cool Friday morning for my 13.1 mile run. 

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