Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chuck Norris Never Ran a Marathon

One of the nice things about being married to a Canadian is that we get to celebrate Thanksgiving...twice. Yum. For all of us Yankees out there that may not know, October is the month of Thankfulness for our friends up north. What this means for my family is that we get two really great meals and are extra thankful for that.

This year I had the pleasure of actually celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving in Canada. Although I have yet to understand the differences in the origins of the two different Thanksgivings, the idea is the same. Eat good food. Be thankful. This year we also got to include a nice run into the mix. The Victoria Marathon. 26.2 beautiful miles run mostly along the ocean shore.

It was a lazier start than normal with the race not beginning until 8:45 a.m. We were able to get up, get the kids ready for the day, eat breakfast, and head out the door where our chauffeur (AKA my father-in-law) was waiting to drive us to the starting line. As I was grabbing my last few things and heading out to the car I heard this crashing and banging sound coming down the stairs. I rushed in from the garage to see Kevin laying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs moaning. Uh-oh. With a quick inspection and no broken bones he decided he would be fine to continue on with the day's activities.

Just prior to the singing of "Oh Canada"
Let me just pause here for a moment and say that my husband is an animal. I can train and train and he always runs faster than me. After he ran The Leadville Trail 100 (a 100 mile trail run) in August, he has only run twice. Yep. Twice. With the lack of training and now blunt trauma injuries from falling down the stairs...today might be my day to beat him. My hopes weren't up too high, maybe just a little.

We made our traditional stop at the porta-potties to stand in line with all of the other people with nervous bladders and then we meandered towards the starting chute. Although it was a larger race than what we have been running lately (the last races have consisted of anywhere from 2-500 people...yes, I said 2...the world's smallest marathon), the starting line still had a casual feeling. As the singing of the national anthem began ("Oh Canada...." and that's where I'm out of words), I'm pretty sure I saw a gleam of national pride in Kevin's eyes. So excited to run in his motherland. I was excited too. I don't care what country I'm in. Then the count down, and then....the wheelchairs were off...and then another countdown and we were off after them.
The starting chute

If I will remember anything about this run it will be the handmade signs throughout the course. As I rounded the corner and started up the first gradual incline in town, there were a group of girls wildly cheering for the runners. One girl had a huge sign held way over her head that said, "You've got stamina. Call me." Another guy in town had a sign that read, "Worst Parade Ever." I would have to say that my favorite sign was one I saw on my way back into town that said, "Chuck Norris Never Ran a Marathon." I don't know why. Chuck jokes get me every time.

In the week leading up to this marathon I had been having some knee pain. I ended up taking an extra day off just to see if I could rest it enough so that it wouldn't bother me on race day. By mile three I realized that rest day didn't make much of a difference. In my head I just kept telling myself, "It's going to hurt whether you go fast or slow, so you should just go fast and get to the finish." This strategy worked for quite a few miles. I could definitely run on it, it just wasn't normal.

At mile 10.75 I saw the lead runner heading back towards the finish already. The guy was hauling to set a course record. Crazy Kenyans. I can only imagine what it feels like to run that fast for even one mile. As the course was an out-and-back it was fun watching people coming back after the turnaround. I kept my eye out for Kevin to see how far ahead of me he was. Finally I spotted him coming towards me. We whooped and high-fived and I'm pretty sure he muttered out an "Oh Schnapp" I'm pretty sure because he knew I had him in my sights. He was probably a mile in front of me with about 12 miles to go. It wasn't totally out of possibility.

There is a fine line of pre-race water intake. The normal rule is it's okay to drink water until an hour before start time and you should have had enough time to eliminate it all. Like I said, it's a fine line. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. For me, I feel like it's the hugest waste of time to stop at a honeyhut in the middle of a race. Seriously. For about 8 miles I ran with the debate going in my head of whether I would run raster if I stopped or if I should just push through to the end. With at least 10 miles left, I decided to stop.

When I started running again, my knee was hurting me enough that I had to change my gait. The rest of my body felt great. I never hit a wall. I had energy to spare. I felt like I could run forever...if it weren't for my knee. Since my right leg was fine, I decided that I would use it more and then run stiff-legged-like with my left leg. I'm sure I looked like a geriatric old man, but it mostly worked. My knee just didn't want to bend. I stopped and stretched. I ran some more. I stopped and stretched again. By this point I realized that my hopes of catching Kevin were long gone. I stopped four or five times to try and stretch it out, but nothing really helped so I gave up and just kept up my stiff leg run. I knew if I could put it out of my mind and distract myself with something else, it would help. Then the perfect thing came by to distract me. A very large thighed, hairy man, wearing the teeniest, tiniest, British flag shorts I have ever seen. (And I thought Texas flag shorts were obscene.) With every running step the flaps of his tiny little shorts would swish up revealing everything up to about his L2 vertebrae. They were short. After much giggling in my head like a small child, I decided I needed to pass this guy. I needed a distraction, but I didn't really want to follow him the rest of the way. I stepped it up again and moved on.

For a day that was supposed to be rainy and cold, it ended up being beautiful and sunny. I love running. I love it even more when the weather is perfect like that. It makes me a kind of happy that is hard to describe. I came to the top of what I later found out people were calling a "4 mile hill" (it was really more of a gradual incline) and we turned and started running back through the neighborhoods again. I had no idea where we were or if I had been there before, but people were cheering and yelling. You know you're getting close when the spectators start showing up in crowds. Finally one guy yelled out, "Just 1200 meters to the finish!" Wow, that would be amazing if I knew anything about the metric system. Sounds like he was pretty excited about that. I got excited too. Then another cluster of signs. Two ladies with signs that said, "Nice Legs" and "I like it hot and sweaty." Then 800 meters, 500 meters, finally I rounded the last corner and saw the finishers chute. I heard the yelling of my kids, "Go CUPCAKE!!" (oh yes, my bib name. Nothing makes you smile more than to hear people yell that in public). I waved at them. I had been looking forward to seeing them for a few hours now. Then I crossed the finish line where Kevin was standing triumphantly (or just normally, but in my head it was triumphantly since he beat me in yet another race). I got a handshake from the race director and was escorted down to where the food was. Canada really knows how to serve you food. Up to this point the Portland Marathon was holding the gold medal for the best after-race food, but Victoria really stepped it up a bit. I took piles of food, most of it for my faithful child spectators who really love that we run, mostly because they get to eat the goodies.

My chip time ended up being 4:11 and I found out from Kevin that he ended up only being 10 min ahead of me coming in at 4:01. It was closer than normal, but close is not the same. There's always next time I suppose. Although it was not the PR I was hoping for, it was yet another beautiful marathon. I loved running by the ocean in the sunshine. The food was great. The shirt was great. The people were great. A well put on race. Nicely done Canada.

So for this year's Canadian Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for legs that can run, kids that are fantastic, a husband who is healthy, family who are generous, and of course the great food that goes with all of that.



Finish Line
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving everyone.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Haulin Aspen Marathon 2011

I'm not much of a trail runner.  Ok, let's be honest, I've run on a trail probably twice in my life.  When my husband suggested a few months ago that we sign up for a trail marathon in Bend, OR I was excited to try something new. 

A little day-before-race silliness.
All summer I have been looking forward to this marathon for a few reasons.  1)  It's not often that I get to run with the man I love.  (aw..)  And by "run with" I am using this term loosely.  More like run a long ways behind, but in the same race.  He's speedy.  2)  I was excited to run on trails.  There's something about running in dirt or mud puddles that really makes my inner child delighted. 

Friday night as Kevin was packing his suitcase to leave the next morning, I started asking him questions about the marathon.  My summer has been zooming by so quickly that I hadn't had much time to look up information about the race.  Our conversation went something like this:

Me:  "I don't know much about this race.  I haven't gotten a single e-mail."
Kevin:  "You haven't? Not even a confirmation e-mail?"
Me:  "No.  You signed me up right?"
Kevin: "No.  I thought you signed yourself up." 

Uh-oh.  In the course of the next few min we realized that through miscommuncation, I had failed to sign myself up for the race...and it was full.  I was...sad.  Some might say I even got a little misty-eyed.  Yes, it's silly.  It's just a run....to some people.  I would like to blame my emotions on my deteriorating picture of health as I had been fighting sickness for the past few days, but in reality, I'm really just a nerd and like running that much.  That coupled with the excitement that I got to run with Kevin, which in the past three years has happened about twice, I was bummed. 

Without any hope at all, but not having anything to lose, I e-mailed the race director and then crawled into bed to sleep off my disappointment. 

The next morning to my surprise, I did have an e-mail from the race director saying to call her after 9 a.m.  Long story short, I explained my situation to her and she laughed and said that I could sign up and run.  Yay! Off to Bend we went. 

My other half and I. 
First of all, if you haven't been to Bend, Go.  It's beautiful.  There is so much to do there.  The outdoors seem to go on forever and have activities for every season.  After packet pickup Saturday, Kevin and I wandered around on some trails and put our feet in the river.  It was beautiful.  A nice afternoon spent without kids asking for snacks or changing diapers.  After a failed attempt at finding a place to eat in town, we decided to go back to where we were staying and cook up our own pasta. 

Sun morning I woke at 2 a.m. feverish, shaky, sick.  Ugh.  No bueno.  Having had sick kiddos at home the past week, I could have guessed this was coming, but was secretly hoping it would wait until after the marathon.  No such luck.  After all I had been through on my emotional roller coaster getting into this race though, there was no way I wasn't going to run it now.  I tossed and turned until Kevin woke up at 3 a.m. and then bolted out of bed to take some ibuprofen.  I got in a few more hours of sleep and then finally crawled out of bed at 5 a.m. dosing up on the ibuprofen again.  (I don't think this is recommended so don't try this at home.) 

The starting line.  The last time I saw him.
I have run two previous marathons before with a fever so I knew it was possible.  I want to say that I have felt worse when I ran the Houston Marathon, but it was really a toss up between the two.  Regardless, the sun was just peeking up above the horizon and I was excited to get started. 

The starting line was the usual group of men dressed in entirely too short shorts doing their dynamic stretching exercises that leave nothing to the imagination and women dressed in tiny bun-hugging outfits designed for a 9-year-old girl.  I love this sport.  Out here, anything goes. 

We collected at the starting line, AKA the place on the pavement they pointed to and told us to stand behind, and after a few instructions, we were off and running.  Out of the parking lot and across the street and...then we were stopped again.  Bottle-necked as we funneled onto the single-track trail.  Very quickly Kevin disappeared from my sight and I settled in at the pace of everyone else around me.  It was fun.  Running through the woods seeing a constant stream of people ahead and behind you all running at the same pace, dust flying in your face and mouth.  The soft padding of shoes hitting the ground all around you.  It was strangely peaceful to me.  I normally run with music and I did bring my phone and headphones with me on this run, but I thought I would run without them until I got to the point that I needed more motivation and then put my headphones in.  I never needed them. 
Part-way up the steepest hill. 

After the first three miles, the run starts the uphill climb that lasts for the next 10 miles.  I knew that my body was not feeling amazing, but I decided I would just run the best I could and make the most of it even if I wasn't lightning fast.  I dug in and plugged away at the hill.  It wasn't so bad.  It was definitely going up, but for the most part I could run from aid station to aid station.  After one of the aid stations there was a girl stopped to stretch and I yelled out (like a creeper I'm sure) "I like your skirt! What brand is that?" Have I mentioned I'm a total nerd.  She had the cutest patagonia running skirt.  I want one. 

If you could see through the sweat, the view was beautiful.
We turned off this dirt trail and onto a rock covered road that kept going up.  I could see up in front of me a man with walking sticks and a red backpack.  Warren Nelson.  I ran to catch up with him.  He had done the early start for the race so I knew he was up in front of me somewhere, but I was beginning to wonder if I would ever catch him.  He must have been cruising on that first part.  We chatted up past the next aid station and turned the corner and there was a hill.  I mean, we had been on a hill for the past 7 miles, but now is when the hill really began.  It was 2.8 miles of nice steep uphill.  We climbed 2500 feet of elevation which should have put us somewhere above 6000 feet.  I'm not sure if the elevation was getting to me or if it was just sickness, but I resorted to walking, the entire 2.8 miles up the hill.  When I did turn to look back it was beautiful.  I fumbled around to pull out my phone and take a picture and Warren was off like lightning.  I never caught him again until the top aid station.  He's an animal. 

WARNING:  If you're not comfortable with bodily functions, skip this next paragraph.
I'd like to take a minute and just throw out some talk on running etiquette.  Not speaking to anyone specific, but if by chance, you are climbing up a 2.8 mile hill and you have the need to alleviate some gas pressure from your body, please don't pass me and then promptly do it in front of me.  Especially if you feel like something is dying inside of you.  Because the chances are, if you feel that way, it likely smells that way.  And, when I'm gasping for air and all the air that I can breathe in at that moment is foul, well, it just doesn't make things pleasant.  I'm not asking you not to relieve yourself from your abdominal pressure, I'm simply suggesting that you either do it before you pass me, or step to the side.  

Single-track with a halo of dust.
I had been leap-frogging with Lisa (the girl with the cute skirt) for the last bit and she caught up to me again on the hill and we walked it together.  She entertained me with stories of her life and being a mom and we shared nutrition tips (one of hers was two Roctanes in a flask with a shot of vodka).  It passed the time.  She was fun.  Finally we hit the top aid station and turned off the jeep road back onto single-track.  It was beautiful.  We had thinned out enough by now that you could run at your own pace and in the silence of your own thoughts.  The sun was streaming through the trees and the dust that was flying up from the stomping of feet made a halo of light through the forest. 

After 13.1 miles of uphill.
The miles really clicked by without me noticing.  For the most part I felt much better than I had anticipated, whether it was the distraction of all there was to see or the dosing of the ibuprofen, it worked.  At least until mile 20.  Then bodyaches.  I am going to attribute them to being febrile and not to a lack of training.  I haven't run a marathon in a long time where my body hurt while I was running.  It was not pleasant.  I popped more ibuprofen (I don't think this is generally recommended) and hoped it would start working quickly.  Then I resorted to mind games.  It was like I was running with my daughter, Madison.  I picked an object and ran to it, further past it if I could, and then would walk again.  I did this walk-running for the next six miles.  I could feel my pulse beating in my head, but all I could think was the faster I ran, the sooner I would be done.  As much as I was enjoying the run, my body was failing me at this point.  Then finally I rounded the corner where I could see the finish line.  Only two more miles (because yes, you can see the finish line and then they send you out past it for two more miles.  Sneaky.)  People were cheering as I came running down the bank.  There's cheering and then there's my husband's cheering.  Very distinct difference.  He's always much more excited.  It's always very good to see him practically showered and napped from when he finished hours earlier (one day I might be able to keep up).  I mustered up a smile and shuffled past.  The last little bit was just an out and back on a paved road, coming back on a trail that parallels the road.  When I hit the turn around I saw that I was being chased down by a teetering 80-year-old man shuffling in a hunkered over stance.  Did I mention that I was really slow on this day?  Haha.  He smiled at me and I smiled back at him.  I want to be like that one day.  Chasing down the young ones with my wrinkly old body.  It's impressive. 

Warren coming in to finish.
Finally I rounded the bend and came in for a very anti-climatic finish.  Kevin was cheering loudly for me.  I like that.  I got my medal and went and found Kevin.  He had placed fourth in his age group.  I was pretty proud of him.  He always does so well.  We waited and watched Warren come in looking like a million bucks waving his poles everywhere like a rockstar.  My camera wouldn't load up fast enough to catch it so I just got a normal pic of him running past, but he did awesome. 
The only pic I could get.  Eating afterwards.

The good news from all of this, as Kevin pointed out, is that I did have a PR for a trail marathon.  Since it was my first one, I guess that gives me something to beat on my next trail marathon. (I think my final time was 5:14 or something like that.  I walked more during this marathon than I ever had.  Oh well.)   Even though I felt less than stellar, it was an extremely fun run and beautiful.  I absolutely loved running on the single track trails.  Yes, I fell in love with trail running.  I would definitely do this one again.

 Just 60 days until the next marathon.  The GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon.  Hopefully I can get in some good training between now and then and redeem myself from being so slow.  Fast or slow though, I always enjoy it.  It's always fun to me.  There's always something to learn about yourself out there and I like to make the most of it. 
Now back to my blanket, chicken soup, and cold medicine. 



Sunday, July 3, 2011

P90X

So I'm finally taking the plunge and going to do P90X.  My start date is July 5.  This coming Tuesday.  I have managed to recruit a few brave souls to join me for the next 90 days mostly to keep each other motivated or to have someone who understands our pain.  Whichever it may be.  If you are interested in joining our little group to have someone to keep you motivated please let me know.  It will be fun.  It will be painful.  It will be rewarding.  I'm excited.  Here's what my game plan is for taking on the next 90 days.

-I will be following the 90 day schedule that comes with P90X. 
-I will be logging those workouts into the WOWY gym.  (There is a chance you will be picked to win cash or prizes for doing this and since I usually log my workouts anyway, I may as well be doing this here.  http://www.teambeachbody.com/get-fit/supergym )
-For the nutrition part, I am tweaking the meal plan that comes with P90X to be vegan.  I will be writing these down weekly and will either e-mail them to my partners in crime or post them here.  I haven't decided which yet.  If you are interested in this let me know. 
-I am also going to be logging my actual intake calories into myfitnesspal.com

If you are interested in joining us in doing P90X and already own it, then log onto teambeachbody.com and you can sign up to have me as your free coach.  My coach name is: runfastcupcake.  If you don't already own P90X and are wanting to buy it, you can also buy it through me here:  www.beachbodycoach.com/RUNFASTCUPCAKE


I'm excited to start this. Here we go!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

10 a.m.

10 a.m. at the gym.  Anyone who frequents the gym knows what this golden hour brings.

Immodesty, flirtation, and....oldies. 

The group exercise room is packed full for the Silver Sneakers class and the pool is jamming out the tunes at decibels that I can hear even though my ears are filled with water and covered with a silicone swim cap.  The locker rooms transform into this place of complete nudity.  There is no use for a towel when you are 70+ years old.  This skin needs to air dry now.  It's a way of saying to me, "Enjoy it while you're young.  One day your body will droop and sag in ways that you can't even imagine."  Conversations about how ornery your husband is for not taking himself to the doctor or the news on the latest hip replacement float around the room.  All the while sitting naked on the benches, not even a towel to shield you from any microorganism that might be resting on that very used surface.  There must be an age at which modesty is not even taken into consideration.  I hope I never reach it.

The fashion at this hour is yet another thing to behold.  How long ago did you actually purchase that bathing suit?  You know that they can rot through and become mostly see-through?  Just checking. 

The hot tub is full of hunkered over men with hair that hasn't seen a color other than gray in a few decades.  The water aerobics class in full swing takes up the majority of the pool.  The teacher stands on deck making water exercise motions and everyone in the pool, some being held up with water flotation devices, are mimicking her the best that they can.  Arthritis overtakes some of them, angina for the others. 

Life has been long for most of them.  Each one of them having a story.  Each one of them used to be my age once.  Now here they are.  Possibly widowed.  One man putting his arm around two of the ladies and shouting out to his friend in the hot tub how he is the luckiest guy to be in the pool with two beautiful ladies.  Possibly still married.  Married so long that silence has become a form of communication. 

Here they are.  Making the best of what's left in life.  Meeting up with their friends at the gym every morning at 10 a.m.  Doing what they can to take care of their aging bodies. 

I silently swim in the one lane left open during water aerobics.  The waves of 30 people moving in time with music that was popular years before I was born splash over me.  I really like 10 a.m.  There is so much I can learn from them.  So many stories they have to tell.  So much life I have yet to know.  I put my head back in the water and keep swimming.  My stroke seems to keep time with "....sugar pie honey bunch....you know I love you..."  I smile. 

See you tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.   

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Recipe: Chana Dal with Hidden Spinach

Spinach.  One of the most delicious leafy greens on this planet.  Unfortunately for me my family does not agree with this statement.  I love it.  My family...well, they don't love it. 

On my last trip to Costco I splurged and bought an entire Costco-sized container of spinach knowing full well that I would be eating it all by myself.  That was until I invented a secret recipe weapon that hides the spinach so that no one knows it's in there.  Genius.  I know. 

My grandma bought me the Bob's Red Mill cookbook for Christmas and it is full of all sorts of unique and healthy recipes that seem fairly easy to make.  The last time I was at Bob's I bought a package of Chana Dal.  If you are anything like me then you might have seen these words on a menu in some Indian restaurant before, but not really known what it is.  Essentially it is a bean that looks like a split pea, but acts more like a garbanzo.  A great thing about this food is that it is low on the glycemic index which translates to keeping your blood sugar at more of an even level so you don't get the hunger spikes throughout the day. 

So I set out making the Bob's recipe.  Here is the original recipe. 

Chana Dal with Spinach

1 tsp veg oil
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion finely chopped
2 green chilies finely chopped
1/2 cup dried chana dal soaked in water for one hr and drained
1/4 tsp tumeric
salt to taste
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp coconut
1 bunch of spinach chopped
1 TB freshly squeezed lime juice

For a few reasons, I deviated from the recipe.  A) I have trouble following any recipe without improvising.  B)  I didn't have tumeric C) When I got done putting it all together it was not as saucy as I wanted it to be to go over rice.  So here is my modification of Bob's recipe. 

Chana Dal with HIDDEN spinach

1 tsp veg oil
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp dried mustard
1 onion chopped
2 cans of green chilies
1 cup dried chana dal soaked for an hour
salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 quart of tomatoes
2-4 TB of dried curry
A whole bunch of spinach chopped up as tiny as possible with my hand blender

I fried up the onions until brown and added the chilies in for a few min.  Then I added everything else in the pan and simmered for about 10 min.  Then I had to leave to take my daughter to gymnastics so I quickly threw it in the crock pot on high and left it for about an hour and 20 min.  When we got home it smelled delicious. 

To put on top, I made a dip that also had spinach in it.  I used a small amount of Vegenaise (dairy-free mayo) and blended up one medium sized tomato with another large bunch of spinach until it was like a dip.  I also used a little bit of vegetable salt and pepper.  Then with sliced lime to squeeze over top, sliced avocado, and rice to go underneath, dinner was ready. 

I waited until my family was eating and told me how good it was to let them on the secret of the spinach.  Even my daughter didn't cringe when I told her and she might have even taken seconds.  I would call that a success if I've ever had one.  Surprisingly it did taste very good, much better than I expected.  You never know when you make something up or try something new, but this one is good for a repeat I think. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tacoma City Marathon 2011

My husband signed up for the Tacoma City Marathon.  Not wanting to be left out, I signed up for it too.  I like running marathons.  It's 26.2 miles of  fun and challenge at the same time.  The most challenging part for me is trying to get in the long runs with two small people to take care of at home.  There's only a few days where I can escape for two or three hours at a time to run 12-18 miles, but I do my best and just try to have fun with it.  I know that the chances of me winning a marathon any time soon are very slim, so I may as well enjoy what I can do right? 

My pre-race drink I never drank.  It was chunky yogurt when I opened it.  Gross.
Race day is where all of the fun kicks in.  Not that I don't enjoy a good run by myself out in the middle of nowhere, but there is nothing like running with a diverse group of people to watch.  Now that is fun. 

The day started out early at 5:15 a.m. and foggy.  I quickly showered and put on my lucky spandex.  (How could spandex not be lucky?  Such a fun material.)  We ate quietly so as not to wake the children and then got out the door for our one hour drive.  (Don't worry, they had a babysitter)  It isn't very often that my husband and I get to run the same marathon.  Usually one of us is running and the other is cheering with the kids.  I like running with Kevin.  Well, let's be honest, I like running behind Kevin.  He's speedy.  But for the few minutes I get to spend with him waiting in the starting chute or seeing him cheer for me as I run through the finishers chute are fun. 

We got to the starting chute and nobody was there.  Uh-oh.  Cue nervousness.  Not nobody, but very few people were mingling about looking fit and athletic.  The smaller the marathon, the more nervous I get simply because I don't want to be last.  I don't want to get there when they are taking down the finish line because everyone else has already come through.  Yes, it makes me nervous.  I was hoping that wouldn't happen for me on this day. 

After multiple trips to the porta-potties for both of us (I have a nervous bladder) 7:30 approached and people started lining up close to the start.  A highschool version of the Star Spangled Banner was sung and with a countdown from 5 we were off and running. 

Kevin ran the first 0.25 with me and then took off to find his pace group.  I just focused on pacing myself and getting to the finish.  I didn't have high hopes knowing that I had only been able to put in two long runs beforehand.  I viewed this race more of a fitness test than anything and to peak out my running for my Ironman training.  The combination of a sunny clear day with Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Mountains in full sight definitely gave me something to smile about.  That and the man running in the tiny little bright yellow shorts in front of me gave me motivation to run faster.  (Runners seriously wear the most obscene clothing.) 

I had seen the profile of the course and knew that it was going to be hilly.  Around the 5K mark (and running uphill for a bit) a guy in front of me turns around and yells out, "Well, that's the first hill done!  The second one isn't as bad."  This led me to think that there were only two major hills to run.  Must be easier than I had first thought.

Nope. 

The next hill that I hit I thought, "Well, this must be the second hill."  Then the next one would be a little bit steeper and I thought, "Maybe this is the one that he was talking about."  That guy must have mistaken this race for something else, because there were definitely more hills that just two. 

The race itself wound about the city for awhile, back and forth on the streets, through alleys, through a park, most of the time I was incredibly confused where I was.  Then we finally headed out on the highway that lead out to Point Defiance which I knew would be a fun section.  On the highway out there running felt awesome.  I kept passing people on the hills when they would slow down or start walking.  I would motor past and yell out a "Good job!" (Yes, I'm always trying to motivate and encourage.)  Even though they were probably resenting me at that moment.  It's hard to dislike someone who is friendly so I tried my best to be friendly. 


I told myself at the beginning that I would not look at my Garmin except when it would alarm me at every mile with my pace alert.  By the 13.1 point I was averaging 8:40 and felt great.  Better than I ever had.  Out at Point Defiance there were some hills.  It was up and down, up and down and by mile 18 or 19 it was starting to wear on me.  That combined with watching people not following the course and instead cutting corners was a little bit discouraging, but I'm technical like that.  I like to know that I didn't cut through some parking lot to make it shorter for myself regardless of what other people do.  I came around the top of a hill and saw a steep descent followed by what appeared to be a San Francisco hill-like climb immediately afterward.  I inwardly groaned....and then was passed by a 70-year-old lady.  So I kept running.  I wanted to keep her in my sights.  My goal had been to run up all the hills and I had achieved that until towards the top of this hill in sight.  I walked.  Just for a minute.  I ate some jelly beans, took an endurolyte or two and then forced myself to keep chasing this lady. 

After about two miles I started feeling perky again and was able to pick things up again without the inward groaning.  For the rest of the race I had no idea where I was.  I am not familiar with Tacoma at all so I just followed the people in front of me and hoped I was going the right way.  The marathon was so small that there were times that I was running by myself and wondering if I was still on the course.  About mile 24 I had the privilege of running with Kobe Bryant.  Yes, the Kobe Bryant.  Well, he at least had the jersey and the Laker gloves and purple basketball shorts with black tights on underneath.  He was sweating like crazy.  I can't imagine running in that much clothing when it's 60 degrees out.  We chatted for a bit and then I wished him a good run and headed for the finish.  To keep myself positive, everyone that I passed that was cheering for me(since we were so spread out now they were literally cheering for each individual person) I would wave back and say "Thank you!" and to all of the police officers who were out there stopping traffic I would do the same.  I can appreciate a good spectator/volunteer.  It's a hard job to stand out there all day for no reason.  I've done it and know that it requires some serious snacks and race day planning.  Really.  If you need a spectator/crew, I make an awesome one.  I can send you references. 
Pretty sure he hates posed photos. :)

Finally, a man watching yelled out from his lawn chair "Just a mile and a half and it's all downhill!"  Yay.  I was ready  for some downhill.  He wasn't kidding about it either.  Probably the best finish to a marathon ever.  It was all downhill right into the chute.  I ran all by myself into the chute, waved at my husband who was already eating and resting his feet, and finished.

It was a lot of fun.  I would definitely do this race again.  I was able to come in 6th in my division and had a PR finishing time of 4:00:52 so I was happy with that.  There might be a little part of me that thinks there was possibly a way to knock off 53 seconds in the process to get a sub 4, but that's okay.  Spending the time to chit chat with Kobe as we ran was worth it I suppose. 

Definitely will do this one again.  It was small enough to not have to bump elbows with people the whole time and the price was cheaper than others in the area.  I was pleasantly surprised with how fun it was and how beautiful the course was.  I loved it. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

I love you??

Does anyone else find it highly ironic that we tell someone we love them by giving them a box of chocolates?  Or let our kids have "fun" by letting them gorge themselves on candy?  Or celebrate birthdays with cake and ice cream?  It's like we are saying, "I love you.  Here is a box of type 2 diabetes and childhood obesity.  Enjoy your shorter life!"  Isn't it backwards?   Shouldn't we be wanting more  for our loved ones and children? 

As I was gathering things for my kids' easter baskets today, wandering the isles of the store, I was overwhelmed with the amount of candy that were in the isles.  Isles and isles all devoted to sugary covered chickens and long-eared milk chocolate gangster bunnies (yes, dressed like Flavor Flav).  I tried to imagine how many people it would take to eat all of the goodies in the isle (and I am using the term 'goodies' very loosely here).  I pictured the giant dump trucks full of sugar that they dump out on The Biggest Loser to show how much sugar they ate in a year and it's gross.  Why is it that all holidays seem to revolve around food and candy. I would love to pull up a dump truck and fill it full of the Easter candies and then dump it out in the parking lot to see just how much sugar there is.  It might be a real eye-opener for some.  Others might just run in and grab free candy.  I don't know. 

I'm always looking to find a way to avoid the candy excitement of every holiday.  I'm always encouraging healthy eating for my kids and I know it pays off.  They eat so little candy that we still have Halloween leftovers sitting in the pantry.  It's not a priority in our home to eat sweets and junk.  If you don't buy it, then it's not there to eat. 

Back to Easter.  I have tried to think of a way to get past all of the Easter candy. I like being the Easter bunny.  I take my job semi-seriously.  I like hiding eggs and watching the kids find them.  It's silly.  In a few ways.  First that we think that bunnies lay eggs and second that we do this ritual of pretending that a giant bunny snuck into our houses while we were unaware to deposit candy filled eggs (that seem to look mysteriously like last years eggs) all while we were sleeping or gone from the house.  A tad bit creepy if you think about it.  This year I brainstormed with my husband to try and come up with some ideas that we can still have fun hiding eggs, but not give our kids diabetes. 

Here's what we came up with: 
1)  Toys.  I bought each kid a Playmobil set.  Lucky for me you have to assemble them so they have lots of little pieces that easily fit into plastic eggs. 
2)  Coupons:  i.e. A trip to the park.  A bike ride.  Reading a book together.  Bake night with mom (or dad I suppose).  A trip to the library.  Going to the swimming pool.  Activities that we can do together.  Kids love our TIME. 
3)  Carrots.  Okay, not really carrots.  I did think of that idea, but what kid wants to open up their Easter basket and have a bunch of carrots in there?  I did try to think of some treats that I could make at home though that I thought might be good.  Homemade fruit roll ups are a favorite of my kids.  They have no added sugar in them and it's still a fun treat. 

After a 3 mile run.  See? Exercise is fun!
That's all I could come up with for this year.  Toys and coupons.  I'm always looking for ideas.  I would love to hear the ways that other people get around candy at every holiday.  I've heard of some people who let their kids keep 10 pieces and then put the rest in a bag and leave it out at night and whatever fantasy creature they create comes and gets it in the night and they get a prize instead.  I've also heard of dentist offices who will take your kids' candy in exchange for a gift from their office.  I think that's a good idea too.  A part of me still wonders why we go and buy it in the first place then when we really don't want them to have it. 

Well, here's to a Happy Easter everyone!  I hope you find some healthy ways to celebrate.  Let your family know you love them by spending time with them doing something active.  That's one of the  best gifts to give. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"....Just workin' on my fitness." -Fergie

Insanity challenge update: 

Beginning the run
I'm into the first week of the second month and it is fun.  Yes...fun.  I like sweating.  I unfortunately did take an entire week off due to a bursitis in my knee.  I woke up with a sore spot one Saturday morning with a little bit of redness.  I thought I had hit it on something and bruised it so proceeded to go out for what I was hoping to be a 20 mile run.  Here's what it looked like at the beginning.  (Yes, I know I'm very pale.  I'm okay with that.) 




12 miles later

Two days later
   









 Needless to say, at the strong request of my husband I sought some advice from a medical professional to help me get back to doing the things I like doing.  This is saying a lot because I am not one to go to the doctor....Ever.  I already know what they are going to say and I don't want to give them $150 dollars to say it.  "Stop running. Take some ibuprofen."  Cha-ching. 

So one week off my feet seems to have done the trick.  Lucky for me that same week coincided with the week my bff from highschool flew out for a visit so I didn't feel as bad missing out on my workouts. 

Back to it then with Uncle Shaun.  I'm loving the longer workouts.  The first month left me wanting more at the end, but this month...it satisfies that want.  I'm usually laying on the floor mopping myself up with a towel by the end.  It's a good time. 

Quinoa: The Vegetarian's Complete Amino Acid

I'm a vegetarian.  No I don't eat fish.  No I don't just eat vegetables.  Yes, I get enough protein.

I'm happy to know that leading an active lifestyle and being a vegetarian can go hand-in-hand with each other.  Look at Dave Scott, six time Ironman Triathlon World Champion, Carl Lewis, track and field athlete who has 10 olympic medals and 10 world champion medals, Catherine Johnson, professional cyclist, and there are so many more.  You don't have to eat an animal to have high performance in sport.

One of my most favorite proteins as a vegetarian is quinoa.  This little morsel is packed with all 10 essential amino acids that our bodies need to build up the protein for our muscles, making it a complete amino acid for the vegetarian.  When I first bought a bag of quinoa I had no idea how to make it...so I boiled it in water and ate it.  While that was a good way to get it down, I have since figured out different ways to make it a little bit more exciting.  If you're like me and need some ideas to make this healthy food, then here is just one variation of a recipe that is quick and easy to make.

Quinoa Salad

1 1/2 cups of quinoa
2 cups water
2 TB vegetarian chicken broth seasoning


1/2 cup edamame
2 medium to large sized tomatoes
3 TB chopped fresh basil
2 cups of fresh spinach
1/4 yellow pepper chopped

Dressing:
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1 TB olive oil
1 TB vinegar
2 cloves of garlic

Bring the water to a boil.  Add in veg chicken seasoning.  Stir in Quinoa and let it cook until done.  Pull out and cool before adding to the salad.

Put together all of the rest of the salad ingredients in a bowl and mix.  Blend up garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice until there are no chunks of garlic left.  (Unless you like the chunks)  Pour over salad.  When the quinoa is cooled, add to the bowl and eat!

There are so many different ways to use quinoa.  You just have to be creative and look for some recipes.  I recently downloaded the free Epicurious app on my phone and they have 38 different recipes you can start with.   So delicious.

Want to know more about being a healthy balanced vegetarian?  This article is a good place to start. 

How do you make your quinoa? 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Living on a Prayer

"Ohhhhh....We're halfway there..."  Bon Jovi

Those lyrics have made me smile ever since the summer of 2007 when my friend Scott, Stephanie, and I were on a training ride on the Ironman Coeur d'Alene bike course.  When we got to the halfway point Scott always started shouting out this song, always cracking me up.  Needless to say, I can't help but to smile when I hear this song.

Flash forward to 2011.  I'm halfway there!  With the Insanity 60-day challenge that is.  I'm doing the recovery week with the Core Cardio & Balance.  I seem to be on track.  I haven't done my measurements yet, but I'm hoping for a change.  Last week when I weighed myself I had lost 5 lbs so that made me smile.  I finally broke through the point on the scale that I haven't been able to get through in about five years.  Something must be working.

Someone asked me if I thought it was the exercise or the Shakeology and to be honest, I'm pretty sure it's a combination of the two.  I will admit that I was a skeptic when it came to Shakeology.  I already consider myself a good eater.  I'm a vegetarian and make most of my food from scratch so I know what is in it.  We eat lots of fruits and veggies so I didn't honestly think that Shakeology would make a big difference for me, but it has.  I love this stuff.  I've been using it as a meal replacement and for only 150 calories (plus whatever fruit I put in it) it makes for a very low calorie healthy meal.  Not to mention I have more energy and my fingernails and hair are growing like crazy.  I think that's a sign of good things, although I do find it annoying to be cutting my nails so much.  Bleh.  I'm pretty sure I could go infomercial on this stuff, but I'll stop.  :) 

So bring on the last half of the challenge! I'm ready.  Now the real work begins.  I previewed one of next month's workouts the other day and just did the warm-up...it looks fun.  Yikes. :)  I love it when Uncle Shaun has me laying in a pool of my own sweat.  It's delightful.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Beginning

I get a lot of questions about fitness.  Although I know I don't know all there is to know about fitness, it is something that I'm passionate about and that I have put a lot of time in to.  For a long time I have thought about starting a blog with random tidbits of information, common questions that I get asked, so I can share some of the secrets there are to make you a better exerciser.  Hence, I now have a blog.  I'm not an expert in all areas, but I can share what I know in hopes that it will make you better at what you do too.

So you, like I, may be wondering, "Where in the world did this muffin top come from?"  Yes.  I have had that question every time I look in the mirror for the last year and a half ever since I had my son.  I don't think you can consider it "baby weight" after 18 months.  I now consider it my "lazy weight."  I have been toting around my "lazy weight" for the past 18 months wondering why it wasn't just falling off of me.  I run and run and run.  I bike and swim. Nothing.  Still, I have this extra weight clinging to me.

vlcsnap-486455.png Pictures, Images and Photos

I have never done an "exercise program" before.  Not one that is all videos and supplements and all of the hype that goes with it all.  When I first started hearing about the P90X I would roll my eyes and just wait for the day when the fad would become a fond memory like Billy Blanks Tae Bo of the 1990s.  (Yes, I loved him.  Did his video twice a day in highschool.)   Then finally, something clicked in me.  I kept hearing success story after success story.  After researching it and watching no less than 500 YouTube videos on the Insanity workouts, I caved.  I bought the Insanity program....and the Shakeology nutritional shake.  I figured if you want to see if the program actually works, then you at least have to try the whole sha-bang for the 60 days to see if the rumors are true.

That was the beginning for me.  The rest, as they say, is...well not quite history yet, but history in the making.  I'm three weeks into Insanity and loving every sweaty minute of it.  Am I seeing the numbers drop off on the scale yet?  Well, maybe a few, but the biggest thing I have noticed is that my running is getting faster.  I can run my miles at a pace that I haven't been able to hold before so that makes me happy.

So for what it's worth, here's my fitness blog.  If one person gets off the couch because of something that I say on here, then all of this typing is worth it to me.  ENJOY!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Before

There are many things I could be in this life.  A bodybuilder is likely not going to be one of them.  It's not that I wouldn't want to put on the muscle, it's the fact that I would have to pose in front of people wearing a $100 bedazzled g-string.  That's where I would start to hesitate.  Posing for pictures isn't my thing.  That being said, as part of the Insanity Challenge, if you take a before and after picture and send it in, you will receive.....a free T-SHIRT!  Yay!  I'm all about t-shirts.  Not just any t-shirt, but the ones that you can't just go out and buy.  Ones that you earn.  People sometimes ask why I do Ironman events and I will shoot back the answer, "For the t-shirt."  Really.  You can't just go and buy a t-shirt like that.  It's the earning of the t-shirt that brings the excitement of wearing the t-shirt.  So for what it's worth here are my BEFORE pictures.  

Front 
Side 
Back


 If there's one thing I know about before and after pictures, it's that in the before picture your face is supposed to be sad and you are supposed to be very pale.  In the after pictures you are overly excited and very tan.  I'm pretty sure I've got the pale part down, but I just can't take myself seriously enough to not make funny faces so I don't think my pictures will be showing up on any infomercial any time soon. 


Welcome to the pre-gun show. 

Start date:  February 15, 2011