Sunday, June 28, 2015

Weekly Recap


So, last week I said something about how working out really is important to me, but that my recent lack of desire and motivation to actually get out the door to do the workouts (running or the gym) has been seriously lacking.  Therefore, it looks like I’m a liar…but I swear I’m not!!!  I promise that running is top priority to me and I do really love hitting the weights at the gym.  And, more recently, I really do enjoy the challenge of the stair climber.  I’m just in a slump/funk right now and it’s way more difficult for me to pull myself out of it than I thought it was going to be.  I hate this.  I seriously hate it.  I hate languishing in bed until it is far, far too late to run or go to the gym.  I hate lying in bed so long that my lower back is killing me.  I hate that I’m slacking off on my housework.  (Also, sorry for posting this a day late...again)
 
Some things I’ve made an effort with this week in regards to the slacking off I’ve been doing.  First, I try to wash my containers and dishes DAILY.  This is working out fantastically for me.  Even when I work a double shift, I still have 5 minutes to quickly wash them out and set them in the dishwasher to dry.  I love it.  I don’t have stuff accumulating in my sink that is going rancid and smelling horrible and attracting gnats into my apartment.  I am no longer feeling overwhelmed by my dishes.  I have no clue why I didn’t start doing this ages ago, but I’m on the bandwagon now! 
 
Well, let’s tackle the recap of how my week has gone.
 
• Saturday: I was going to run 7 or 10 miles before meeting a friend for lunch at a BBQ joint.  HOWEVER, that is not what happened.  I’m sure you saw that one coming.  I slept until it was literally time to get up, throw on a dress and head out the door to get to the restaurant on time.  I figured that since there was a 30%-ish chance of rain around 5 and 6pm that I could go run at that time before I had to start getting ready for work (overtime on the night shift on my day off!).  I had some errands to run and food prep to do before I could go out for a run.  When the time came for when I had hoped to get out and run, I wasn’t done with food prep and a couple other household things I needed to do, so even though I actually really, really wanted to go for a run, I wasn’t able to.
 
• Sunday: worked the night shift the previous night and then overtime on my own shift in the afternoon…no opportunity to exercise this day.
 
• Monday: I am so ridiculously happy to report that setting 3 alarms on my cellphone to go off 3 minutes apart (and repeat even more often than that if snoozed) worked.  I was out of bed at 7am and getting ready to make the drive to Ladybird Lake for my run.  I was thinking maybe I’d do 10 miles, but I had some meal prep I still needed to do since I worked overtime on the night shift on Saturday and on my own shift on Sunday.  So, there went my weekend, right?  So, I settled on 7.  Good thing, too, because it was just enough time to do my run, drive home, shower, do some work on my calf piece tattoo I’m working on, do meal prep, make my breakfast and get ready for work.  I think I left about 7 minutes later than I like to.  Success!  The run was a good one.  It was pretty humid, so another reason I was happy to settle on 7 miles instead of 10.  That 7 miles in super humidity kicked my behind. 

 
• Tuesday: I was going to do the same thing this day as I did on Monday with the 3 sets of alarms set for around 6:45am.  However, finishing up meal prep and some other things I needed to do after I got home from work Monday night took much longer than I was expecting them to and I didn’t get done until about 15 minutes after midnight.  I looked at the time and was like, yea, a 6:45am wake up followed by 24 hours of being awake after only 6 hours of sleep is not happening.  So, I reset the alarm for 8:45 and changed my plans to go to the gym.  I got up, got dressed, went to the store really quick to pick up some medication and grab the stuff to make more of that southwest chopped salad for my lunches and then headed to the gym and got it done!

 
• Wednesday: worked overtime the night before, no opportunity to exercise.
 
• Thursday: worked overtime the night before, no opportunity to exercise.
 
• Friday: nothing.  Just not feeling it.
 
I posted a blog Friday night about what is going on with me.  I’m hoping things will start to look up over the next month or two.  Hang in there with me, okay?  Remember, this blog isn’t just about running and/or weight loss, but it’s also about my life in general.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Refocusing & Taking a Break


This is something I’ve been struggling with forever.  Seriously.  I start a new assault on my unhealthy lifestyle and I say I’m going to eat right 80-90% of the time with only occasional cheat meals/days.  I say I’m going to exercise X amount of minutes/hours for X amount of days each week.  I say so many things.  I build myself up.  I think I’m going to do great and succeed.  And then life happens.  Why can’t I be consistent?  Why do I have to be such an emotional person?  Why do I have to be so weak when it comes to my emotions?  It is beyond annoying and beyond frustrating.  I don’t even know how to describe the level of disappointment I have in myself right now.
 
Something has been bothering me for the last couple/few months and I’ve just been kind of trying to push it to the side and ignore it and hoping it will just fade and go away.  But it hasn’t and doesn’t seem like it’s going to…not for a little while, anyway.  What am I talking about?  Remember me mentioning something here and/or there about the nagging feeling of a need of a break from running?  Yea, it’s apparently more than just a need for a break from running.  I seem to be actually depressed.  I hate this.  I take medication (this is no secret) to control my medication and 90%+ of the time I’m fabulous and beyond okay.  But, lately, not so much.  Little things are affecting me and I’m way more emotional than usual.  Sometimes the depression is more than the medication can control and I get depressed anyway.
 
My running friend Kirsten has told me a couple times that after we run the Orange Leaf Half Marathon next month I should take a break…FOR A MONTH!  Gasp!  A month?  I was completely resistant to taking a break at all longer than 5 days.  But, seeing as how this isn’t going away I need to do something.  So, I will play by feel as to how long of a break I will be taking, but I will be taking a break, but Kirsten has recommended 1-2 months.  I’m going to use this break to focus on other aspects of fitness.  I’ll hit the gym more often.  I’ll do some workout DVDs (like P90X, among others).  I’ll try to head out on the weekends for a long cycling trip.  Just different things.  I also am going to really try and focus on controlling my eating.  I know when I get depressed that my grasp of control on my eating suffers greatly.  I just need to get a handle on things because right now I don’t have one.
 
I’m getting in my own way here.  I need a break and I need to regroup.  But I’m afraid that if I take this break that I won’t be able to start again.  I’m afraid my registration fees for marathons I’ve already paid for will go to waste or that I’ll kill myself trying to run them when I’m not properly trained to run them.  Ugh.  Kirsten insists that I will be fine if I take a break, even if I take a 2 month break.  She says that I won’t hit my 4:20:00 time goal and I’m perfectly fine with that.  The South Padre Island Marathon (SPI Mara) that I’m doing in November I am doing because it goes from one end of South Padre Island to the other and it’s going to be a gorgeous run.  Also, SPI Mara has posted that there will be selfie spots set up along the route, so I plan to hit those.  I might even take my selfie stick!  Yea, probably not.  Haha.  Just regular selfies with my phone will be fine.  And then I’m doing the San Antonio Rock’n’Roll Marathon in December.  I have run the half marathon for this race before and it was hard.  Even if I had been properly trained before running it (I was NOT…had not run in basically 6 weeks prior to the race), it still wouldn’t have been an easy run for me.  I had no illusions that, even properly trained, I would hit my time goal at this race this year.  Next year I will seek to hit my time goals.  But, next year, I’m going to approach everything differently.  I’m going to spend the cooler months hitting the interval and fartlek sessions and hill repeats.  I’m considering joining a running group next year to help my training be more structured.  And I think running with a group, even if just once a week, will be highly beneficial.  There are a few groups I could go with, all with varying prices for membership.  OR, I could just do the Austin Runners Meetup group and actually start going to some of their runs.  I might try that one first as it’s free.
 
I’m just going to play the rest of this year by feel with my running.  I’ll take my break after Orange Leaf for a month, maybe 2, then get back into training.  And I’m going to take Kirsten’s advice on something else here.  When I start back up after my break, I’m going to run by TIME instead of distance for the first month…at least.  If I like it, then I’ll keep doing it that way.  If I don’t really like it, then after a month, I’ll go back to running by distance.  We shall see how it goes.
 
I’ve put a little thought into how I’m going to deal with this upcoming break from running.  As I said, I’m going to focus on other things during this time.  I have a friend that just bought himself a road bike.  I want to make him meet me for some cycling once a week.  I’d like to do like 10-15 miles when he and I meet up.  Longer, if I can talk him into it!  If he doesn’t want to go that far, then I’ll just have to ride more after he’s done for the day, or go for a second ride within the week.  I bought a Garmin for my bike a while back and have yet to use it even once!  So, I am looking forward to using it.
 
Something else I want to do is buy a pair of Hoka running shoes.  When I’m done with my break, I’d like to start up by trying out a different brand of shoes that I have heard LOTS of good things about from everyone I know that has run in them. 
 
I’ve decided the only time goal I’m going to worry about after Orange Leaf for the remainder of this year is my 5K goal time.  Other than that, everything else is in long-term goal status.  I eventually want to get my half marathon down to sub-2 hour, of course.  But my main time goal is to run a marathon in 4:20:00 or less by the end of 2016 (this was originally my goal for this year, however…things change) and then run a marathon in 3:40:00 by September 2017 to qualify to run Boston in 2018!!!  Other than that, it is going to be whatever it is going to be.  Am I right or am I right?  

Monday, June 22, 2015

What's Cookin'


This week, I made yet another version of my fruit salad and some shredded rotisserie chicken tacos with homemade guacamole and corn/black bean salsa.  I am still making and remaking that southwest chopped salad.  It is quick, easy, healthy and 100% yum-tastic.  Also, I have all the ingredients for the entire thing (salad AND dressing) memorized.  I see myself eating that salad for a couple more weeks before I try to find something else for my lunches.  And then I’ll probably try and find another salad to make.  Maybe an Asian style salad?  Or maybe I’ll make something I’ve made in the past again…not sure yet.  Anyway, let’s talk about what I made this week!
 

SARA’S FRUIT SALAD VERSION 3
 
Ingredients:
• 1 lb strawberries, cut into pieces
• 1 pint blueberries
• ½ cantaloupe, cut into pieces
• 1 can lite/no sugar added sliced peaches, drained & cut into pieces
• 1 can lite/no sugar added sliced pears, drained & cut into pieces
• 1 can Libby’s skinny pineapple tidbits, drained
• 3 plums, cut into pieces
• 5 oz cherries, pitted & cut into pieces
• 1 cup red grapes, cut in half
 
Add approx. 2 tbsp lemon juice, ½ to 1 tsp cinnamon, and 2 packets of sweet’n’low.  Mix until well coated with the cinnamon.

 
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mashing the avocados
add the spices, some lime juice and the minced onion and
you've got guacamole!

the salsa!
finished product
SHREDDED CHICKEN TACOS W/GUAC & CORN/BLACK BEAN SALSA
 
• 12 oz shredded rotisserie chicken
 
Ingredients for the salsa:
• 8 Santa Fe Tortilla Company tortillas
• 1 diced orange bell pepper
• 1 cup reduced sodium black beans, drained & rinsed
• 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
• ½ cup diced roma tomato
• ¼ cup diced red onion
• 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
• salt & pepper to taste
 
Ingredients for the guac:
• 4 medium-large ripe avocados
• 3 tbsp minced red onion
• 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• ½ tsp cumin
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 2 tsp lime juice
 
Directions:
• chop your veggies for the salsa and combine in a bowl with the oil, vinegar, and lime juice.  Season with the salt and pepper to taste.  Toss to coat.
• in a separate bowl, mash the avocados to desired consistency and season with cilantro, garlic poweder, cumin and sea salt.  Stir in your red onion and optional extras (diced tomato, diced jalapeños, etc).
• shred your ½ rotisserie chicken.
• warm your tortillas in the mircrowave or in a skillet and fill with the guac, salsa and chicken!
• this would also make a great taco bowl.  If you want to go that route, simply bake your tortillas into bowl shapes and fill!

I need to make a note here.  The ingredients for the guacamole provided actually makes 12 servings while the 12 oz of chicken is 4 servings and the full salsa recipe is only 8 servings.  Each serving of guacamole is a rounded 1/3 of a cup and each salsa serving is 1/3 cup.  I did the nutritional info based on each item individually.
guacamole info
salsa info
I used HEB (grocery store chain in Texas) original seasoned rotisserie chicken.
And then I use Santa Fe Tortilla Company Whole Wheat Tortillas...always.





Sunday, June 21, 2015

Weekly Recap



Sooooo…I got all busy and ran out of time and completely forgot to post this yesterday.  Sorry.  I just want to say something right now: I am NOT allowed to be lazy this week…AT ALL.


I have no overtime on the paycheck I received at the beginning of this week, so I have to wait (impatiently I might add) for the end of the month when I will have 5 shifts of overtime on my paycheck so that I can register for 3 races.  Yep, THREE!  The Austin Marathon, the 30th is the last day for the $100 early bird registration price.  The Fight Like A Girl 5K and the Run With The Heroes 5K.  When I register for the Austin Marathon, I will probably also be purchasing the collector’s 25th anniversary pendant.  It’s only $20, or $25, I  can’t remember.  Either way, it’s a good price and I want it.
 
This week’s food wasn’t too bad, but bad decisions were made.  I swear I really am trying to create a healthier relationship with food.  I’m getting there.  It’s just slow going.  Food addiction/eating disorders are not something that you can overcome/control overnight no matter how much I wish they were.  Part of my problem when I’m making these bad decisions is that it’s a lot of times happening on days where I don’t get much sleep because I’m working overtime shifts, so I am just so mentally exhausted and a little stressed that I turn to junk food for comfort.  I realize that I’m doing this, but I’m so tired and whatnot that I just don’t care at the time it’s happening.  I really need to work on that.
 
I also hope I’m starting to finally come out of the funk I’ve been in and that getting myself out of bed in the mornings for runs and the gym.  I just have to make it seem more important.  Maybe I should fake myself out and pretend that someone is depending on me to get up on time and show up so we can workout together?  I don’t know if that will work.
 
I need to get a new pair of shoes soon.  Probably next month sometime.  I’m thinking of giving Hokas a shot.  I hear lots of good things about them and, even though I love Mizuno, it wouldn’t hurt to at least try another brand of shoe.  Maybe I can be bi-shoeual…or would it be bi-shoe-brandual?  Hahaha!
 
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• Saturday: well…I PLANNED to get up and run, then I slept past the time to do that, so I changed my plan to going to the gym.  Slept through that time as well.  If I hadn’t been assigned to work overtime this day, I still could have gone to the gym, but I didn’t have time in the end.  Ugh.
 
• Sunday: if I had not had a “date” with my friend Kirsten to run, I would have turned off my alarm when it went off at 6:20am.  Shortly after my alarm went off, I got an alert about possible flash flooding in my area.  Right after that, Kirsten texted me (guessing she got the same alert) and said that we would just do loops in case it got dangerous and we needed to high tail it back to the cars.  We got to the park where we were meeting and it was barely raining, so we just went ahead as originally planned.  No loops.  This was a trial run for her to feel out how I run so she can adequately pace me for the half marathon next month.  We did 7 miles at an average 10:13 pace.  And that WITH about a 1 minute walk break in the final mile!  I felt like the smoker I USED to be.  My lungs were just getting their asses kicked.  My body was golden, though.  This was the first time I have ever run with another person outside of races.  I really liked it.  We’re going to run together again in a couple weeks.  And she gave me homework – run 4 to 5 miles, 1 mile easy warm-up, 2-3 miles at 9:55 pace, 1 mile easy cool down. 

• Monday: had my appointment for my physical at 7:30am and was out of there by 8:30.  Made it to Ladybird Lake parking area around 9.  I had to make a stop in search of Ziploc baggies because I forgot mine (phone and car key fob go in baggies to protect from sweat and rain).  However, apparently Whole Foods does not sell Ziploc baggies so I grabbed a couple produce bags instead.  Free…even better.  I briefly thought of just carrying my phone when I realized I’d forgotten my baggies but then I remembered my key fob.  Sure I could tuck it into my bra, but then the sweat would probably kill it…so I had to stop and get something.  Well, it’s a really good thing I did because even though I checked the weather before getting out of my car and running and it said just a 6% chance of rain, at mile 4.5 the skies opened up and it was pouring.  I don’t mind running in the rain at all, but I just wasn’t prepared for it this day.  If I had thought it would rain for sure, then I would have brought my earbuds instead of my RedFox Wireless headphones that aren’t waterproof.  But, it turned out okay.  I was soaked by the time I got done, but again, I don’t mind.  I love running in the rain.  I just prefer to know ahead of time that I’ll be running in the rain so I can prepare properly for it.

• Tuesday: I GOT UP AND WENT TO THE GYM!!!!!  What-what-what?!?!?!  Yep, it actually happened!  Sam (he works at my gym) asked me just where the heck have I been, that’s how long it’s been since I went to the gym.  I did my routine of like 96% of the strength training machines, which took 50 minutes.  I skipped the smith machine squats and lunges, though, since it has been so long since I was in the gym.  And then I hit the stair climber!!!  I was going to do 20 minutes but dang that thing is HARD so I barely made it 10 minutes.  Whatever, I got it done and I felt great afterward.  Also, boatloads of energy the rest of the day, which is good since I worked a double shift this day.

• Wednesday: I was so sore this day.  Almost every single muscle I worked in the gym on Tuesday was so very sore.  The only ones that weren’t super sore were my quads and hammies.  Guess I need to up the weight on those, huh?  I worked overtime Tuesday night, no workout this day. 
 
• Thursday: worked overtime again Wednesday night, so no workout again.
 
• Friday: I was supposed to meet a friend for breakfast and then go to the gym after that.  However, my friend canceled on me, so I set my alarm for a little later than I would have had to get up in order to have breakfast with him.  The alarm went off, I reset it.  The alarm went off again, I reset it again.  I swear that working out is important to me…it just definitely does not look that way lately.  Ugh.  I hate that.
 
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
 
So, I just realized that I have never told you guys what my routine at the gym is when I do strength training.  I’d like to take a moment and do just that.  I like to superset (go back and forth between 2 opposing exercises without a break between them).
 
I start with the chest fly/reverse fly machine. 
Then I move to the back extension.
Then I go to the bench press and lat pulldown machines.
Then I hit the ab twist machine.
Next up is the seated row and military press machines.
Then the bicep curl and either the tricep extension or tricep pushdown machine.
Then I get on the seated calf raise machine and do all 3 points of my calf muscles (toes regular, toes pointed in, toes pointed out).
Then I do the leg extension and leg curl machines.
Then I do the abductor and adductor machines (inner and outer thighs).
Then it’s the single leg kickback machine.
Bonus includes smith machine squats and lunges.
 
I do 3 sets of 13 reps for each exercise.  I like the last 2-3 to be an actual effort to finish.  If it’s not hard or challenging, you’re not going to see improvement (aka: no “pain,” no gains).
 
I’ve recently added the stair climber to the end of my strength training workouts just to round things off nicely and get that extra burn. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Decisions, Decisions

I keep you guys pretty updated with my weekly recaps.  I’ve been trying to be a little more detail oriented with how I’m feeling each day and what’s going on and all that jazz.  But, some of the stuff that goes on just doesn’t fit with being included in a weekly recap.  Sometimes you just gotta write a whole post all in and of itself to say what’s going on.
 
I work in law enforcement, however I am not a police officer.  I work in the jail run by my local sheriff’s office.  Every other year, my agency puts on a Basic Peace Officer’s Class (BPOC).  This is the class where you can earn your peace officer’s license.  This is the license you need, in the state of Texas at least (I have no idea how other states work with their police licensing), in order to be a police/patrol officer/detective/etc.  While I have no desire to actually do any of those positions, I would like to have my peace officer’s license.  It will help me out in so many other ways with my career and even in my regular daily life too.
 
The class put on by my agency next year runs from January 5th through November 11th.  EEEK!  That’s a really long time.  It’s also about 2 weeks longer than last year’s class was.  I’ve started the process to apply to be considered for the class.  But…yes there’s a big but here…I’m not entirely sure I want to do this.  At least, not this way.  Let me list out pros and cons for earning my peace officer’s license through my agency’s academy:
 
PROS:
• free, except for books, uniforms and other incidentals (I already own my own gun and intermediate weapons, so that’s a huge portion of what I would have to pay for taken off the table right there)
• done in less than one year
• doesn’t require I earn a separate college degree before I can take the peace officer’s licensing courses (like the local community college requires)
• excellent physical fitness program
• will help me totally rock the test for promotion
 
CONS:
• I have to work 40 hours a week AND go to school 24 hours a week…every week
• I will be tired all the time
• I will have to go to class 4 days a week for 10 months
• I won’t be able to participate in as many running events as I would like to because I simply won’t have the time to train
• not being able to run more than twice a week so I’d have to cram a long run (9+ miles) and a workout run (speedwork/hills) OR median distance (5-8 miles) run into just 2 days every week.
• there’s a chance I won’t be able to go to Oregon for a visit next year (not a big one, but there is a chance because I wouldn’t be able to go until thanksgiving/Christmas time and that’s a popular time for everyone to ask off from work for vacations…so my request for time off might not get approved)
• I have to put up with the wannabe military atmosphere they promote in the agency’s academy
• I’d have to shine my boots and I really, really suck at shining boots
• for the application process: I have to get all the “brass” to sign off on my application, all the way up to the Sheriff and that just kicks my anxiety into overdrive
• also for the application process: I have to do a resume…I haven’t done a resume in OVER 13 years.  I have no idea how to do one
• I won’t be able to work overtime while I’m going through the class
 
As you can clearly see, the cons are far more numerous than the pros are for me.  I have until the 15th of July to make my ultimate decision on whether or not I’m going to finish the application process or not.  Right now, I feel overwhelmed by everything and am really not sure I want to do it at all.  Part of me wants to really focus on promoting, promote, then go to the community college and earn a 2-year business management degree and then apply to their BPOC program.  As a veteran, I qualify for more grants to help pay for school.  So, really, right now that is looking like the much more pleasant option.  I have a LOT of thinking to do.  I’m going to wait about 2 weeks before I go to get the remainder of the signatures on my application.  I don’t want to waste their time by getting their signatures if I decide I’m not going to go through with it.  They have important administrative things to do and even though it would only take a couple minutes out of their morning to sign my application, I don’t want to do that if I’m going to bow out of the process.  I feel bad because I hyped myself up that I was going to do this and told everyone that I was for sure going to do this and my chain of command is all excited for me that I said I was going to do this…if I end up deciding against it, I am going to feel like I let them all down.  But, maybe they will have signed so many application papers that they’ll forget about me…bah, probably not…I make a habit of being friendly with my chain of command.  Ugh.  But, if I DO decide against it I can just say I put a lot of thought into it and that it just wasn’t the right decision for me to go forward with it at this time, but that I do still fully intend to get my peace officer’s license later down the road.
 
Okay, now that I’ve gone through the pros and cons of doing my agency’s BPOC, let me go through the pros and cons of doing it on my own through the local community college:
 
PROS:
• I can do it at my own pace
• I will be required to get a 2 year degree before I can attend their BPOC so I will end up getting a college degree in the process
• I am a military veteran so I’m eligible for more grants than the average person that will help pay my tuition and other fees
• I can keep up my training with running as I normally would do
• I can participate in all the running events I want/can afford
• no wannabe military atmosphere
• I can schedule breaks and semesters off so that I can take vacations I want to take when I want to take them without jeopardizing my performance in class
• I will not be overwhelmed by the too much at once phenomenon
 
CONS:
• I will have to pay for all the classes, books, and other supplies out of pocket
• it will take me a couple years, at least, to complete
• I will have to purchase the uniform that the college requires students to wear to their BPOC classes (if I went to my own agency’s BPOC I would just wear my work uniform)
• no physical fitness program that I am aware of unless I take phys ed classes on my own
• I would have to move because where I currently live is out of district for the local community college
• the community college BPOC program requires a higher score on the licensing exam than my agency does
 
The con list isn’t NEARLY as long for the doing it on my own option and the pros are better for this option than for the doing it through my agency’s academy.  I will close with saying that right now, I am about 75% against doing my agency’s BPOC program.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Running Attire

Recently, I’ve bought some new running clothes.  You may have noticed in my post-run selfies I post on the Facebook page for this blog and in my end of week recaps.  I’m trying to beef up my tank top collection so I have more variety in my outfits.  Also, maybe you’ve noticed, but I bought some SHORTS!  What-what-what?!?!?!  I have large, powerful thighs and they chafe, so I have avoided anything shorter than the spandex bike-style shorts that stop right above the knee for this very reason.  Last year I run a 5K in a running skirt and while it wasn’t horrible chafing, it was uncomfortable.
 
When I was in Oregon, I was wandering through the Walmart in my home town and stumbled upon these double-layer shorts in various colors.  The one that caught my eye was blue and neon yellow.  Hello Boston colors!!!  I had to have them.  So I bought them.  I ran my run down the highway in them, 8 miles, and after I got the under layer to quit riding up, it was smooth sailing and there was no chafing.  So, when I got back to Texas, I proceeded to go back to Walmart and buy a couple more pairs.  I got a green and neon orangeish-red pair, a dark pink/light pink pair.  And then they had another brand that was double-layer as well, so I got the blue and yellow pair and the orange and pink pair in that brand.  Also, I bought some just above the knee white spandex shorts so that I could get some of the regular running-style shorts and wear them and not worry about chafing. 
 
I notice I’m getting more comfortable with my body and wearing more…I don’t know if this is the right way to say this, but…revealing clothes when I run.  What I mean by that is, when I first started running I would wear running t-shirts…so they had sleeves…and the spandex shorts.  Then, I discovered running capris later that year and they came in all sorts of colors and patterns, so they were super fun to wear.  Then, last year, I started wearing more tank tops when the summer rolled around, no more t-shirts when it’s hot and/or humid out.  Now, this year, I’m going for the shorts and tank tops!  Oh, I also bought another running skirt!  It’s super cute.  It’s got layers and it’s blue and white striped.  If I can get my Half Fanatics Diva shirt (it’s blue and pink before my half marathon next month, I will wear the skirt (or the two-toned pink double layer shorts) with that shirt.  If I don’t have that shirt in time, then I will wear my Double Agent shirt and I don’t know what bottoms yet.  It’s a red and black shirt.  Maybe I’ll try to find a skirt to match?!?!?!  I’ll probably just try and find some shorts to match.
 
But, the point is, I’m getting more comfortable in my own skin and I feel more comfortable wearing less clothes that I have in the past. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

What I'm Going To Do Differently This Training Cycle

I touched on this a little bit when I wrote about the book I’m reading right now, Run Faster, the other day.  But, let me be a little more specific about how I’m going to make this training cycle different from last year’s.
 
First, I know going into this training cycle that running more than 4 days a week, for me, leads to injury.  Granted, I didn’t have any major injuries last training cycle, but there were a couple times I had to take a few days off from running completely and then I had to modify how I ran for a while after I started up again (well, I had to wear a compression sleeve on the calf I strained to keep from re-straining it).  When I cut my weekly runs from 5 down to 4, without losing too much mileage, I noticed a greater positive affect in my training.  I had that extra day of rest from running so I was going into my runs more rested than I was when I was running 5 days a week.  So, this training cycle, I’m STARTING at running 4 days a week. 
 
Second, and I’ve already sort of started doing this, I’ll be adding in hills.  Now, what do I mean by I’ve “sort of” started doing this already?  Well, I have a hilly route that I run on occasion…and, honestly, I try to make sure I run it at least once a week.  What will change when the training cycle starts?  I need to find a place where I can do actual hill repeats that’s not too far away from where I live so that I can do them before work.  There are some pretty good (read: steep) hills that are just 1 block long down near where I work, but I work about a 25 minute drive from where I live.  While doable, morning traffic could become an issue because I work in downtown Austin, TX and traffic gets crazy.  So, if I can find somewhere more convenient on all levels, that would be great.  I have a little over a month to find some more convenient hills to run repeats on.
 
Third, I want to implement actual, structured speed work.  I kind of do tempo and lactate threshold runs, but they just kind of happen because I’m feeling great that day so I push myself a little harder because I know I can handle it and not be overly fatigued or get injured as a result.  But nothing scheduled or planned in any way.  I do absolutely no fartleks or interval training of any sort.  This is the main thing I would like to add into my training.  I want to do 1 track session per week of intervals.  There is a school track that doesn’t have a fence around it that can be used by anyone during non-school hours/days.  The track is about a mile from my apartment complex.  So, I can jog to the track nice and easy to warm up, run my intervals for a couple/few miles, then job back home nice and easy to cool down.
 
Forth, I want to slow my long run down.  I have a habit of running my long runs at or near goal paces.  My running friend with way more running experience than me is always chastising me for this.  Everything I read tells me that this is not what I should be doing.  I should be running my long runs about a minute slower than goal pace.  So, I want to make an actual concerted effort to slow the heck down and take my long runs easier. 
 
Fifth, I want to do an actual, scheduled easy median-distance run.  By median-distance, I mean 6-10 miles.  That’s median for me, anyway.  (I am fully aware that is most likely a long run for a lot of people, so I’m not down playing anybody’s abilities, I hope you know that.)    By “easy,” I mean I want to just do an easy effort for the day I’m running it.  I don’t want to be fast.  I’m thinking like 30 seconds slower than goal pace?  I still have over a month before I will be nailing down an actual schedule of anything and starting it.  So, I have enough time to figure out how I want to run these median-distance easy runs. 
 
I’ll be aiming for 130-150 miles a month, just like I did last training cycle. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

What's Cookin'

This edition I will be offering up a second version of my fruit salad, a southwest chopped salad, and some healthy baked chicken chimichangas.

SARA'S FRUIT SALAD, VERSION #2

This week's version of my fruit salad has the following ingredients in it:
• 1 lb fresh strawberries, cut into pieces
• 1 pint fresh blueberries
• 1-6oz container fresh raspberries
• 1 mango, cut into pieces
• 2 large slightly green bananas, cut into slices
• about a cup seedless red grapes, cut in half
• about a cup seedless white grapes, cut in half
• 1 can lite/no sugar added sliced peaches, drained & cut into pieces
• 1 can lite/no sugar added sliced pears, drained & cut into pieces
• 1 can Libby's Skinny pineapple tidbits, drained
• approx 2 tbsp lemon juice
• 2 packets sweet'n'low
• 1 tsp cinnamon


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SOUTHWEST CHOPPED SALAD

I threw this together mid-week last week for my lunches because the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I had been eating for lunch most of the week were giving me MAJOR heartburn.  This was much better AND I was getting my veggies!

Ingredients:
• 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
• 1 can no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 large orange bell pepper
• 1 pint cherry/grape tomatoes
• 2 cups corn (fresh or frozen, thawed)
• 5 green onions

Dressing:
• 1 cup loosely packed cilantro, stems removed and roughly chopped
• 1/2 avocado
• 2 tbsp lime juice
• 1-2 cloves garlic
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1.5 tsp white wine vinegar
• 1/8 tsp sea salt

Directions:
• to make the dressing: puree all ingredients in a food processor/blender until smooth.  taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
• to make the salad: finely chop the romaine, bell pepper, tomatoes and green onions.  place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.  toss with the dressing and serve.
• optional: add some grilled chicken breast seasoned with a southwest lime marinade.  (this option is not included in the nutrition info provided)

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BAKED CHICKEN CHIMICHANGAS

Ingredients:
• 12 oz fat free cream cheese
• 12 oz habanero jack or pepperjack shredded cheese
• 1.5 tbsp taco seasoning
• 1.5 lb cooked chicken, shredded
• 10 Sante Fe Tortilla Company whole wheat tortillas
• 3/4 cup shredded 2% sharp cheddar cheese
• 10 tbsp light sour cream
• 10 tbsp salsa (I used ghost pepper salsa, but you can use whatever salsa best suits you)

Taco Seasoning:
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp chili powder
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1/2 tsp oregano

Directions:
• mix taco seasoning ingredients together.
• stir together the cream cheese, jack cheese, and taco seasoning.  fold in the chicken.  divide among the tortillas.  tuck in sides and roll up each tortilla.  lay seam-side down on a baking sheet.  spray tops of tortillas with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray.
• bake at 350° for 15 minutes.  turn the chimichangas over and bake an additional 15 minutes.
• garnish with the cheddar cheese, sour cream and salsa.

Servings are 2 chimichangas each.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Weekly Recap


I’m sure you noticed last week, I weighed myself and used my new Fat Loss Monitor (by Omron).  I ended up using it on the “normal” setting even though based on what their manual said I should have been using the “athlete” setting.  I just didn’t think that 27.something% was an accurate body fat reading for me.  I believe the 29.8% a lot more.  And it said my BMI was 29, which sounds about right to me.  My stats didn't change at all this week, so no point in reposting the same thing.
 
• Saturday: as I said I would, I went for a run in the evening.  I had said I wanted to do 7-10 miles.  I was just going to do an out-and-back.  I was going to go on the out until I felt I needed to turn around and then there you go.  However, I got to the 2.5 mile mark on my out and I was just feeling the heat something fierce.  So, I turned right instead of going back because I thought I might do a little extra, and I did.  I ended up with 5.5 miles.  Since I’m not going to be purchasing the 100 miles a month challenge buckles anymore, if I don’t hit 100 miles this month, I think I will let myself be okay with that.  When there was a breeze while I was running, it wasn’t too bad.  But, I did stop a few times to let my heartrate come back down.  And I was drinking water, water, water!  I also ran for the first time with my little toe spacer for my bunion.  I am pretty sure that previously, when I wore the shoes I wore on this run that that part of my foot would hurt more, like there wasn’t enough cushion, you know?  Well, this run, I didn’t have that feeling.  So, YAY!
• Sunday: I had a plan A and a plan B as far as running went this day and I did neither.  Oy.  I even came up with a plan C for the day of going to the gym.  Didn’t do that one either.  I ended up running errands, relaxing and cooking.
 
• Monday: I had a doctor’s appointment for a blood draw at 7:40am that put me halfway between my apartment and the Ladybird Lake hike/bike trail.  So, I got dressed in my running clothes and loaded up my running bag with everything I would need and went to my appointment.  Then, I drove to the lake trail.  I stopped at Einstein Bros Bagels on the way and got me a medium iced coffee and a strawberry-banana smoothie.  I drank most of the coffee pre-run and didn’t touch the smoothie until after.  It was getting WARM by the time I got done at 10am, so the smoothie still being cold was really nice post-run.  This lake trail has many different distance options with the bridges that cross the lake (it’s a river, technically).  You have a 3 mile, a 4 mile, a 7 mile and a 10 mile routes.  I knew I wanted to run the 7 mile route but told myself that if that felt like too much that I would just take the S. Congress bridge and do the 4 mile route instead.  But it was good and I ran the whole 7 I wanted to run.  It was a great run and a really nice change of scenery for me.
• Tuesday: no run today.  I slept very little Sunday night and had to get up so early Monday, that I just made up for the sleep I missed.  And, while I did have the TIME to go for a run when I got up, it was already almost 80° and I checked the hourly forecast and it was going to be 90° within an hour.  Nope, not gonna happen.  Not until I don’t have any choice…which will probably be in about a month.
FOOD NOTE: this was the first day I stuck to exactly what I had planned to eat and nothing more.  I’m honestly trying to break my food dependency issue.  It is most definitely not an easy thing to do.  I know from experience that it is FAR easier to not eat when I’m not hungry when I’m busy.  But when I’m not busy?  Yea, bingeing happens.
 
• Wednesday: I had my row test for work this day.  I was originally scheduled to row at 11:30, but I emailed the person in charge of scheduling and she said I could show up whenever and that they would take care of me.  YAY!  I showed up around 7:15, 15 minutes before the first scheduled time slot for testing.  I, of course, wore my heart rate monitor for the row test so that I could count it as a workout.  Haha!  I finished the 2000 meters in 8:40 minutes which, while it WAS my goal time, was not enough to hit 90% of my VO2max.  I only hit 86%.  Boo!  So, my goal next year is to be 20 lbs less AND hit at least 95%.  If I can hit 95% I will get 2 paid days off from work that don’t pull from my vacation or holiday time.  OH YEA!  After the row test, I drove down to Ladybird Lake hike/bike trail again and ran there.  7 miles again.  This time, though, I didn’t stop, I just pushed through and even though there was a 12 minute mile in there toward the end, I am super proud of this run. 

I worked overtime this day, so I was at work for 16 hours.  I knew about the overtime ahead of time so I was able to plan out my food and bring healthy food from home.  YAY!  So, this was day 2 of sticking to my eating plans!
 
• Thursday: I worked overtime Wednesday night, so no workout this day.
 
• Friday: I had planned to hit the gym this day, but I was still pretty tired because I had been awake for over 25 hours the previous day with doing my row test first thing, then running, then working a 16 hour shift at work.  So, I slept a little late and then I had to go to the store to get salad stuff because the PB&J sandwiches I’d been eating for lunch all week were giving me serious heartburn and I needed something else for lunch.  But, I completely stayed within my calories for the day and didn’t eat anything I “shouldn’t” have eaten.
 
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Okay, so, since September of last year, I have been purchasing 100 miles a month challenge buckles and making sure I hit 100 miles minimum each month.  Well, starting with this month, they changed the design of the buckle and I do NOT like it.  So, I won’t be buying into the challenge anymore.  However, that does not mean I’m just going to start slacking on my mileage…nope, not at all.  I have decided that THIS MONTH I will take it a little easy.  I’ll run whatever I run and just be happy with it.  But I will try to get as close to 100 as I can, but I’m not going to stress about hitting 100 this month.  Halfway through next month I start marathon training again.  But, I also need to have a minor elective day surgery done and I want to get that done as close to the start of my marathon training as possible so as not to set myself back too much, if at all, in my training.  I will have to take a week or so completely off from running after the surgery, so planning will need to happen.  But, once I start training for my next marathon, I will have no issues hitting 100+ miles a month.  About 2 months in, I should be averaging about 130 miles a month.

Friday, June 12, 2015

2015 Goal Review

Since it is now June and therefore halfway through the year, I thought it would be a great time to do an overview of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year.

• run at least 1000 miles
• continue with the 100 miles a month challenge (if I do this, I’ll log over 1200 miles)
• get back down to my goal weight
• run 2 more marathons before March 14th so I can earn Marathon Maniacs membership
• run 3 half marathons within a 90 period and earn Half Fanatics membership
• complete a sprint triathlon (maybe)
 
These are the goals I set for myself at the beginning of this year.  I would like to talk about how I’m doing with them. 
 
First, “run at least 1000 miles.”  So far this year, I have run 565.57 miles, so I’m well on my way to reaching and exceeding this goal.  However, that's really only an average of 87 miles per month, which if I continue at that rate, I will run approximately 1044 miles this year.  Good thing I've got marathon training on the horizon to help me make for sure that I will hit my goal, because really, this is a goal I was hoping to greatly exceed. 
 
Second, “continue with the 100 miles a month challenge.”  Well, I have consistently run a minimum of 100 miles every month this year.  I may not make it this month, however, because a) they changed the design of the buckle and I do not like it at all so I’m not going to pay $40 for something I don’t like the way it looks, b) I start marathon training middle of next month so I figure I should take it easy this month, and c) I’ve been fighting off the whole urge to take a break from running for a couple months now.  So, I’m just going to run what I feel like running on days I feel like running and see how it turns out.  I did write up a rough schedule for the month but haven’t been following it at all, haha.
 
Third, “get back down to my goal weight.”  Uh…yea.  This one is not going well at all.  I am only about 6 lbs less than I was at the beginning of the year.  I’ll get there, though.  I’m not going to give up.  I still want to be down to my goal weight by the end of this year.  I know I can do it, I just need to get a handle on my eating and work hard to develop a healthy relationship with food.
 
Fourth, “run 2 more marathons by March 14th so I can earn Marathon Maniacs membership.”  Nailed it!  I ran the Austin Marathon and the Army Marathon and got my MM status!  MM#10887 in the house!
 
Fifth, “run 3 half marathons within a 90 period and earn Half Fanatics membership.”  Nailed this one as well.  So, I am proudly Half Fanatic #11868!!!  This qualified me for the Double Agent membership as well!  WOOHOO!
 
And lastly, “complete a sprint triathlon.”  I think this one is not going to happen.  I have not done any swim training at all.  I haven’t been on my bicycle in well over a year.  And I haven’t even looking for one to sign up for.  I had listed it as a “maybe” anyway, knowing that there was a good chance it wouldn’t happen.  So, I’m not bent out of shape that this one isn’t going to happen.  I just figured I’d toss it in there and see what happened.
 
I would like to update this list a little by adding some items to it.  These will be for the remainder of 2015 and will spill over into 2016.  Here we go…
• run a 5K in 26:30 or faster
• run a 10K in less than an hour
• run a half marathon in 2:05:00 or faster
• run a marathon in 4:20:00 or faster
• run a 50K
• start riding my bike more often…well, really, at all since I haven’t rode it in over a year and a half…HA!
• replace the 100 miles in a month challenge buckles by running at least 1 virtual race each month
• seriously consider buying a Concept 2 rowing machine
 
I think this is a good list of updated goals.  I’m already within 45 seconds of the 5K goal and 51 seconds of the 10K goal.  Hopefully next month I’ll be within 5 minutes of my half marathon goal.
 
The possibility of buying a rowing machine is due to the physical readiness testing they are now doing at my job every year.  We were previously doing an obstacle course every year, but starting this year, we have to row 2000 meters as fast as we can.  If we can hit 90% of our calculated VO2max, then we get 8 hours paid time off.  If we can hit 95% or higher, we get 16 hours of paid time off.  On top of being able to use the rowing machine whenever I want, and especially when I literally don't have more than 10 minutes for a workout, it will be excellent cross training and will help me improve as a runner.  It will be later this year, like October-ish, before I will be able to afford to buy one, but I've put it on my "want" list.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Winter Vs Summer Running


This is the perfect time to discuss this, seeing as how summer is basically here and temps are rising.  For me, hands down, I much prefer winter running.  Sure, summer running is great because I get to wear shorts and a tank top to run in.  But I get dehydrated faster, even if I spend all my free, non-running time sucking down water in my attempts to make sure I’m properly hydrated.  Getting dehydrated faster means I have to carry more water with…or carry water at all!  I don’t get all thirsty in the winter when I’m running so unless I’m running more than 10 miles when it’s cold out, I don’t take water with me.  I just chug a 17 oz bottle of water before I head out the door and I’m good.  In the summer, I have to have water…lots of water…with me when I run.  I have a 2 liter hydration pack that I wear.  I have tendonitis issues in my left elbow, so I try not to carry a water bottle larger than one of the 17 oz bottles with me when I run.  So, on longer summer runs, I will wear my hydration pack AND carry a 17 oz bottle.
 
On top of having to carry water (or more water) on my runs during the summer, I also have to make sure I use my Body Glide as the risk of chafing greatly increases.  I like to wear tank tops in the summer and not all of my tanks are tech, so they absorb my sweat like it’s going out of style.  This is a recipe for chafing.  Also, even my tech tanks will chafe me…so that’s not even a guarantee if I wear one of them that I won’t chafe.
 
With winter running, I can sleep in and basically go run at whatever time of day I want.  With summer running, if I don’t want to die of heat stroke or pass out from heat exhaustion, I have to get up at like 5:30am, go do my run, get home and shower, then I can go back to sleep for an hour or two until it’s time to get up again and get ready for work.  Now, just because I’m getting up at 5:30am, at least an hour before the sun comes up, does NOT mean it’s all peachy-keen chill outside.  Nope.  This is central Texas, folks.  It’s still AT LEAST 80° outside at that time.  Oh and it’s usually so humid you can cut the air with a knife.  BUT!  Yes, there’s a but here…there IS an actual upside to getting up at this time to run.  You are not getting baked by the sun.  I would much rather slog through the humidity than get baked by the summer sun. 
 
Speaking of getting baked by the summer sun…my heart rate has a tendency to go up when I run in the hot sun.  This forces me to stop and rest at least once (depending on the distance of my run, it could be like 5 or 6 times) during my run to get my heart rate to go down so I can continue on with my run.  I HATE this.  Let me repeat myself here, I HATE this.  I hate stopping during a run no matter the reason.  I hate to stop to go to the bathroom.  I hate to stop for traffic lights.  But I’m totally cool with those things, even though I hate them.  I hate stopping to rest because it’s friggin’ hot even more.  I’m not “cool” (get it?) with stopping to rest because it’s too hot out.  I hate that. 
 
With that said, heat training is an actual, real thing.  It does teach your body to be more tolerant of extremes and will help you run better when temps are not so extreme because your tolerance will be up.  So, you will perform better in more temperate weather conditions.  The more you train in the heat, the more used to it your body becomes, so the less I’ll have to stop and rest.  I just have to deal with the stopping and resting for now until my body adjusts and increases its heat tolerance.
 
Also, I wish I could find a 3 liter hydration pack that didn’t include a huge backpack with it and didn’t cost a ridiculous amount of money.  That would help a LOT with my summer running.  If anyone knows where I can get a reasonably priced 3 liter hydration pack, please let me know.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What's Cookin'


This issue of What's Cookin' I've got a summery side dish/snack that the whole family will love and a creamy main dish for your dinners.

The other day while I was running, I randomly started craving fruit salad.  I didn't have time to go to the store and buy a bunch of fruit, come back home, cut it all up and properly sate my craving, so I just cracked open some no sugar added cans of fruit instead and put off making actual fruit salad for today and then I would be eating it all week!

SARA'S FRUIT SALAD

Now, I would like to say that you can basically use whatever fruits catch your fancy.  I will be honest here and tell you that I do use *some* canned fruits simply because those fruits are easier to work with when they're canned...in my experience.  These fruits are pears, peaches, and mandarin oranges.  I did also use canned pineapple this time.  When I use canned fruit, I *ALWAYS* go with the "light syrup," "lite," "no sugar added," etc options.  I drain all the juice out of the can and will rinse the fruit to remove as much unnecessary whatevers from the fruit as possible.  My fruit salads are like my spaghetti sauces...I never make exactly the same thing twice.  So, here I will give you a list of what I used for this batch of fruit salad.

Ingredients:
• 1 can lite/no sugar added pears, cut into small pieces
• 1 can lite/no sugar added peaches, cut into small pieces
• 1 can Libby Skinny chunk pineapple
• 1 can mandarin oranges in light syrup
• 3 kiwi fruit, cut into small pieces
• 3 plums, cut into small pieces
• up to 1 cup grapes, cut in half
• 1 pint blueberries
• 1 lb strawberries, cut into small pieces

I was also going to cut up 2 mangoes and add them, but what I already had was more than I was expecting to have, so I just set them aside and will eat them later.

Directions:
• mix all the fruit together
• sprinkle with 2 packets of your desired sweetener (sweet'n'low, truvia, splenda, etc)
• add about 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
• add 2 tbsp lemon juice
• stir to coat all fruit with lemon juice, sweetener and cinnamon

This amount of fruit made about 12 cups worth of fruit salad.  I divided this into six 2 cup portions.  A lot of food, not very many calories.
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CREAMY SHRIMP & MUSHROOM MIRACLE NOODLE PASTA

Ingredients:
• 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1.25 lb fresh shrimp
• 4 cloves garlic
• dried basil
• paprika
• crushed red pepper flakes
• 16oz sliced mushrooms
• 1.25 cups half & half
• 1 cup part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
• 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
• 5 packages of Miracle Noodles

Directions:
• heat a large skillet until hot and add 2 tbsp of olive oil and immediately add garlic and shrimp.  cook until pink, on medium-high heat.  flip the shrimp and then sprinkle with the basil, paprika and crushed red pepper.  cook for another 1-2 minutes, occasionally stirring, until shrimp is pink on all sides.  remove the shrimp from skillet and set aside.
• in the same skillet, add the sliced mushrooms.  add the other 2 tbsp olive oil.  cook on high heat for about 2 minutes, occasionally stirring, until mushrooms become soft and release juices.  salt midway through cooking.
• add the shrimp back into the skillet with the mushrooms.  immediately add the half & half and all the cheese.  bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts.  cover with lid and remove from heat.
• for each 7 oz package of Miracle Noodles, drain and rinse the noodles, place in a microwave safe container and microwave on high for 3 minutes, then rinse again.


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