Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Best Criminal Impersonation

Hey, did you guys know it was hot?  Seriously, breaking news. I'm so glad 6,431 of my friends posted it on Facebook JUST IN CASE I didn't realize it was over 100 degrees across most of the United States. I would have just gone on with my day not knowing that it was OMG SO HOT! Phew.

On Thursday I decided that I was stupid enough to brave the heat (102 degrees at 7pm) for a quick 2 mile social run that ended at a frozen yogurt place. Well, leave it to me to wait for a train to cross and be 10 minutes late. For all of you mathematicians out there, showing up even a few minutes late for a 2 mile run means you don't get in much of a workout. I ran 1.25 on the surface of the sun (ok, maybe it just FELT like the sun) and then cooled off with a richly deserved sweet treat with friends. On my way home I saw a ton of people running and my legs just wanted I did another 2 once I got home.

Friday I decided that maybe running over 100 degrees is stupid (for the record, it is indeed stupid) and went swimming at Chickamuaga Lake up in Chattanooga.

One of the benefits of living in the boonies is having plenty of natural, scenic destinations all around us. This was not one of them. It was refreshing, convenient and free, but it was not scenic. This pictures makes it look like it could almost be peaceful....

But I forgot to take a picture of the other side, which was a highway going over a very industrial looking bridge. Let's just say that National Geographic won't be out there snapping photos any time soon, mmkay?

Today was a running club event in Dalton that started with a 4 mile run on a pretty hilly loop. I got Tim to join me and it was a lot of fun, despite the heat. (I know, I know--I keep mentioning it too!) Post-run we put on these awesome orange vests and did our best criminal impersonations on the side of the road. The running club has an adopt-a-mile that they take care of so a bunch of us picked up trash. Tim tried to tell me that people driving by probably thought I was a really nice person who cared about the environment.

I told him that parents driving by were probably telling their kids, "See? That's what happens if you misbehave. You end up with the wrong crowd, get in trouble, and then spend your Saturdays picking up trash on the side of the road."

Later on it was time for my version of heaven - a cold frap from Starbucks, oatmeal with all the fixings, a good book and some outside reading time. Heavy traffic in the background not an ideal part of the scenario, but there you go.

Once the temps pass 100, are you hiding out in the air conditioning or embracing the heat outside?
If there is a large body of water available, then I'll head outside. Otherwise? Not a chance.

Do you like swimming for sport or for fun?
I know HOW to swim, and I've lived near oceans for a lot of my life so I feel very confident, but most of my swimming recently has been floating and the occasional doggie paddle. And I'm fine with that. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Back to Back Long Runs and Tasty Eats!

When I was in Florida over the weekend, I had every intention of doing a long run. In fact, I loudly proclaimed at dinner on Friday night that I was going to run 18 miles the next morning. I was awake, dressed and out of the house by 7, and at that point the sun was barely up.  Unfortunately, the heat and the humidity were awake. We're talking 80+ degrees and 99% humidity at 6:30 in the morning. Tim and I started running and immediately were SOAKED. One of the worst runs ever. I physically completed 7 miles, but so much walking happened that I'm loath to even call it running.

To make up for it, I figured some extra miles this week would cut it. Monday I ran 5 miles outside at 8 pm, and even at 90 degrees it felt amazing compared to Florida's humidity. Tuesday I ran 12 miles at an easy pace, and followed it up with 10 miles on Wednesday.

Was that stupid? Maybe. But I figure that running on really tired legs is good ultra training and good Hood to Coast training, so there you go.

I've had plenty of tasty food to get me through those extra miles, thankfully.  Before we left Florida my dad pulled some fresh crabs right out of the water and my brother boiled them up for us to take home. Paired with some corn on the cob, it was the perfect summer meal. We, uh....we ate a lot of crabs.

Plate #1

The remains!
I also tried feta cheese this weekend, which is something that I have always "hated". As far as I can tell, I probably had it once years ago, didn't like it and avoided it every since. Since we got back, I have put feta on EVERYTHING. I keep looking up recipes online to find new combinations. Feta on pizza? Check. Feta in omelets? Check.  Feta in salad? Check. Feta on watermelon? CHECK!

This is such an amazing combination of sweet and salty. I added some mint as well for a little freshness, but I honestly thought it was fine without. A squeeze of lime or lemon juice ties it all together nicely too, if you're so inclined.

The forecast here is still in the 100s everyday, so you would think I'd be sticking to my treadmill, right? I'm going a little crazy and have a 7pm run planned tonight with the running group (luckily it ends with frozen yogurt) and a 10k race lined up for Sunday morning. Hopefully I'll live through both.

Are you a fan of feta cheese? Favorite way to use it?
Now, I can't get enough of the stuff. Any neat ways to use it would be appreciated, although straight from the container works pretty well too!

Anyone racing this weekend? Are you avoiding running in the heat?
I have a feeling I'll be hitting the treadmill when it hits over 100 - I can't handle it and I just end up feeling really drained, even with plenty of hydration. Looking forward to running in Germany next week - the high where we're going is 65 degrees and the low is 55. Are you kidding me? Running weather just doesn't get any better than that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Big (Awesome) Redneck Vacation

This weekend Tim and I took an impromptu trip down to Florida to visit my Dad and my brother. In case you start imagining me laying on a sandy beach in Miami, try again. We headed to an area in Northern Florida where my dad grew up, which is beautiful but basically reclaimed swamp land. As in, back to the roots, in touch with "nature".

Really. The first thing that happened when we go there was a search for an alligator who managed to "escape" from the freshwater pool in the yard. Yes, my family keeps alligators (as long as they're "small" by some arbitrary standard) in the pool on occasion. No, I do not think that's normal. But we found him, took a pic and moved on. (And for the record, he's back in the swamp with his gator friends again, don't worry.)

Obviously I forgot to wear my alligator dress for the occasion....

The whole trip included plenty of seafood at hole in the wall places (which were fantastic, I'm not knocking them!) but one had a rather distinct interior decorating scheme. The idea was, I assume, to stuff and mount as many large animals as possible. This is just one picture, but imagine dead animals EVERYWHERE - including the menu. Some of the entrees included yak, bison, snake, get the idea. Luckily I proclaimed loudly that yak probably had gluten in it and I was off the hook and free to order some mussels instead.

Dead Animal Chic

My brother, me and my dad.
There was plenty of fishing on Tim's end...and I did lots of watching and criticizing. "Cast THAT way, honey!"

Tim fishing on our dock

But the real redneck fun was on Saturday - man, what a blast. We have some interesting family traditions, and we shared them at the birthday party of one of my dad's oldest friends. First up: the watermelon pinata. We always devise a new way to break open a watermelon in a fun way and eat it all by hand. Sometimes we poke a hole in the watermelon, hang it up and whack it with a bat. This time, we put the watermelon on the head of a weird Dracula-esque figure and the birthday boy got to whack it off the machete and then we all dug in. Yeah. Seriously. We do that.

Since no party would be complete without cake, we also got a little sheet cake to celebrate. We always have cake fights instead of eating it, and this was no exception. Candles were lit, the song was sung and then it was sliced nicely with a machete. (Yep, the machete was kind of a trend for the evening.) Then we ran around the yard in the rain and threw cake at each other until it was gone.

My dad on the prowl, and me in the background covered in cake!

Just in case you don't think cake fights, machetes and stuffed dead animals are redneck enough, did I mention the party was a keg party? In the rain? Which we arrived at by boat? Or that there was a pet peacock hanging out that squawked every time someone was too loud?

All in all, a pretty awesome weekend. The last couple of days have been spent catching up on work, but to top it off my computer is on the fritz. Luckily Tim shares!

Be you really like looking at people's vacation pictures?
In person, no. I always feel obligated to comment on every single one and it's exhausting. But I totally snoop on Facebook and enjoy seeing pictures of exotic places from the comfort of my couch.

Does taxidermy freak you out?
I don't like the idea of it, but we have had so many animal skins/stuffed animals/horns, etc. throughout my life I guess I'm used to it now. As a kid it would really creep me out though!  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I Love My Stick!

For a good 18 months, I've had a pretty solid affair with my foam roller. Pre-run, post-run, while I watch big blue foam roller wasn't far from my side. But then I started to get lazy. Using a foam roller is kind of exhausting, and spending 20 minutes a day on the floor means I get covered in cat scratches and fur.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to invest in the Stick...and the foam roller can suck it. Seriously, I traded up BIG TIME. Foam roller was the reliable middle aged man who was greying, and the Stick is the new hot stud with a six pack. He can do everything the middle aged guy can do, but better. Plus he fits into a suitcase. What more could you want out of a man muscle massager?

I got the cheapest one I could find online, and I'm pretty sure it's the travel version...but it's perfect to me. I don't know if I would want a bigger one, actually. (It's not the size that matters you guys!) I want to carve my initials and the stick's initials into a tree so our grandkids can see it one day.

On a completely unrelated note that has nothing to do with sticks....I live in the boonies. We have deer and snakes in our yard, drive 20 minutes away just to get to basic civilization and think Walmart is the big city. So it should not surprise you that we have a "pet" of sorts at our local gas station. Every time we pull up for gas, this groundhog/beaver (I obviously have no idea what it is) is waiting around hanging out. Today I finally got a picture of him, and let's just say he is NOT scared of humans.

Here is is gnawing on a chicken 18 inches away from me. He turned around, looked straight at me taking pictures, and then turned back to him gnawing. That's right, city dwellers. You might get Chinese delivery at 3 in the morning, but we have tame carnivorous groundhogs. So there.

Do you have a stick/foam roller? How often do you use it?
I try to use one or the other for ten minutes every day, but I don't always get around to it. I try to do it if I'm watching television, since I might as well do something productive.

Do you have any weird or wild animals where you live?
I think it's fair to say that yes, we most certainly do.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

7 Lovely Blog Posts

The very sweet and well-traveled Kyria over at the Travel Spot recently nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award. I'm flattered, but I don't think I can muster up another round of interesting facts about my less than interesting life. So instead of playing by the rules, I'm going to share seven interesting blog posts I have read lately. If you haven't seen any of them, check them out!

You got me. This is a pointless picture but I refuse to have a picture-less post!

1. The Help Post: This is written by Sierra at Posh Meets Pavement, and is a really interesting look about having "help" in the home. Sierra lives in South Africa and manages to gives readers a glimpse about what life is like for her there.

2.  Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race Recap: This post is written by a local runner in my area. While he is crazy fast and would be out of sight in mere seconds, I have run with his dad a few times! Cody just completed a local 60 mile race that takes place over three days (roughly 20 miles each day) and ended up 18th overall. Yeah, not too shabby.

3. Death Wish: You know every blogger with a pet or a small child has to do at least one post written from their point of view? Well, Kara did one too. But somehow it was more hilarious, less predictable and made me actually laugh out loud. (I refuse to say LOL).

4. It's Been a Great Year...UVM 2012 Recap: Julia from Pain, Pride and Perseverance recapped her fifth marathon (coming in with negative splits!) and talks about how much she has changed and grown since the same race last year. If you're training for a big race and need some inspiration, this is it!

5. Wear Your F***ing Helmet: Rose's post is part workout advice and part public service announcement. Plus, there are dirty jokes and even nudity. YES I SAID NUDITY.

6. Favorite Things Giveaway #1: Christina from The Athletarian is giving away Handful bras, protein powders, cute tank tops and weight lifting gloves. Check it out!

7. June's New To You Cross Training: Lisa always has pretty amazing workouts and runs, but this post was a really neat introduction to using kettle bells - something I am not familiar with but would love to try.

I guess I'm also supposed to tag people, but....I kind of already have, haven't I? Anyway, if you want to have this award, it's yours. You are welcome. And you totally deserved it.

Anyone have any blogs to share? Any interesting, funny or inspirational posts you have read (or written) lately? Link them up in the comments and share the love!

Monday, June 18, 2012

I Work Out

Feel free to hum that LMFAO song to yourself now. I am.

Ready for that obligatory recap? Awesome! Has anyone else noticed that I only post weekly workout recaps when I am proud of the workouts I've done? I just realized that, and it's not all productive except as a way to brag. So I guess I'm fine with it after all.

Monday: 5 miles of running, 12 miles of spinning
Tuesday: 3.5 miles of running, 45 minutes of weights
Wednesday: 8 miles of running
Thursday: 16.5 miles of spin
Friday: 15 miles of running
Saturday: REST DAY :)
Sunday: 4 miles of running, 45 minutes of weights

Totals: 35.3 miles of running, 28.5 miles of cycling, 90 minutes of weights

Verdict: Imagine me doing a little happy dance right now. Toss in an hour of yoga in there somewhere and this would qualify as my perfect week.

If you still have that LMFAO song stuck in your head, I really apologize. I started writing this post on Sunday and it's still stuck in my head 24 hours later, so at least I'm suffering right there with you.

I've been experimenting with some new soy and gluten-free meals the past few days. I had been buying frozen GF pizzas but they seem expensive ($7 for one serving) and they weren't even that great. So I bought a few frozen GF pizza bases to make my own.

I won't claim that this has anything on traditional wheat flour pizza crusts. BUT - it was hands down the best gluten free pizza I've eaten anywhere, including in restaurants that specialize in the stuff. The crust is doughy without crumbling apart, something that seems to be tough to recreate in GF foods. I topped this one with tomato sauce, onions, broccoli, ham, tomatoes and shredded mozzarella.

Obviously nothing pairs with pizza quite like beer. Or in this case, cider. I decided to try some naturally gluten free hard cider made from organic apple juice. (I bought it from Whole Foods - are you surprised? I checked next to the 24 packs of Miller Light at Walmart but I guess they were all out.) I ended up with Crispin - a brand I had never heard of.

It was...alright. It took about 5 sips to taste anything other than cold apple juice. It's definitely not comparable to beer. I would drink this instead of a cold beer at a picnic or a barbecue, because it's quite refreshing, but it's nothing spectacular.

Do you make your own pizza dough, use a premade base, buy the whole thing frozen or order in?
All of the above. I just started making my own dough recently, and Tim loves it. I haven't tried a GF homemade dough yet though. 

Are you a fan of hard cider?
I always associate cider with my grandad in England. I remember him drinking it when I was a kid. Cider has never been my first choice for an alcoholic drink, but it's not bad. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I Have Serious Bowling Skills

Since I had a busy (and fun) weekend planned, I figured I should try to knock out my long run on Friday morning. I did 15 miles on the treadmill, watched a gazillion cooking shows and finished the run with an intense craving for a bacon donut. Have I ever even had a bacon donut before? No. But those dang Food Network people make them sound good.

I thought I was a genius for just doing a long run on Friday before working, but then I remembered something. I had to work. Let's just say my body is more in the habit of eating and napping after long runs, so this was a slight adjustment.

At night Tim and I had plans to meet friends at Olive Garden in Chattanooga. For the record, they have gluten-free pasta! Also the record, I refuse to spend $20 for pasta with marinara sauce. I had some mussels and salad and was underwhelmed. And bitter. Why does anyone go to Olive Garden if not for the breadsticks?

The night was redeemed with good wine, great conversation and even some bowling.  You know what goes well with skinny jeans and a floral top? Old bowling shoes.

If that picture makes you think I was on drugs, you're wrong. I was, however, just a little tipsy. It seems as if wine has a strange effect on my bowling skills. I would go from two strikes in a row to a gutter ball and back again pretty quickly. In my book, if you don't use bumpers over the gutter you're practically a professional.

A bunch of pros
 More wine followed the bowling and we stayed over at a friend's place in Chattanooga to avoid having a long drive home at 2am. Yes, 2am. TWO O CLOCK IN THE MORNING. Tim and I realized that it was the latest we have been up in a good two years.

Since we were up so late at night, we slept in until the late hour of....7:30. You've got to be kidding me. I used to pride myself on the ability to sleep in until noon. Now I'm a failure. Our friends weren't up until 10, so a strange thing happened that morning. I was...hungry.

Hear me out. I work from home. I have no kids. I can be pretty selfish with scheduling most of the time. When I'm hungry, I eat food. Right away. I can't remember the last time I was hungry for more than a few minutes. Saturday morning I was STARVING and didn't eat for three or four hours....and I lived. Crazy.

More fun weekend happenings:
-Buying some gluten free cider to taste test
-Paying ridiculous amounts of money for lunch at Whole Foods
-Realizing that my frozen yogurt for dessert actually cost more than my lunch did (TOPPINGS ARE HEAVY!)
-Watching a rubber ducky race on the river in Chattanooga
-a great 4 mile group run with a pace of 8:29(!!!!)
-Starting book three in the Game of Thrones series

If this post is too long for you to read, I'd like to recap it for you:
Work is lame. Being hungry ≠ death. Wine is delicious. I'm super awesome at bowling when drunk. The end.

Do you ever find yourself starving or are you like me and keep snacks on hand at all times?
I never leave the house without food on me, unless we are actually driving to a restaurant. I guess since I work 14 feet from my kitchen, I just eat as soon as I get hungry.

What was the absolute best part of your weekend?
It's a tie. Good conversation with friends late Friday night and this morning's mostly female group run. All the dads were home enjoying Father's Day it seemed!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The White Girl's Fiesta

I've been to Mexico once or twice, but that doesn't mean I know a thing about Mexican cuisine. As a child and teenager staying in completely touristy Mexican resorts, I thought being adventurous meant switching between hard and soft tacos or stealing sips of someone's Corona. That whole story is an excuse for the "Mexican" dinner I made for some neighbors this evening.

It's not Mexican. It has salsa and cheese and tortillas, but it's not Mexican.

It was, however, pretty tasty. I started with a spicy tomato, cheese and spinach dip:

The dip was served with some garlic cilantro salsa and some fresh, homemade store-bought tortilla chips. I'm not kidding, that dip was incredible. I had to write the recipe down for someone and Tim requested I make it again soon. Like, tomorrow. The recipe I started with is HERE, but I made a lot of substitutions/changes to it so it looked more like this.

1 Jar of Salsa (16 ounces)
10 ounces of chopped frozen spinach
1 cup of milk
5 ounces of softened cream cheese
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
Splash of red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Just thaw out the spinach and drain it, and then toss everything into a dish and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Try not to exhaust yourselves with that extensive recipe, guys. Drink a beer while it bakes or something.

Everything else was make your own wraps. Whenever I cook for other people I like to make sure they can customize their meal the way they like it. Plus, now that I have some dietary restrictions I want to get to eat what I make without making everyone else suffer.

So tonight I baked up a big batch of spicy chicken and served that with bowls of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, chicken, salsa, sour cream (just kidding! It was Greek yogurt, but don't tell anyone) and a mix of warm corn and flour tortillas.

I take this same idea and apply it to other gatherings for baked potato bars, ice cream sundae bars or dinners where you top your own pizza with fresh ingredients. I think guests like it, but maybe they are just upset because they have to make it themselves. Could go either way.

The only sad part about the evening was that while everyone was able to dig into drinks like this:

I was forced to abstain. I can technically booze it up again, but still not with anything gluten-y. Rude. I saw an ad for gluten-free beer but somehow that seems just wrong.

Are you adventurous when it comes to ethnic cuisine?
It depends. In a new country I like to try things because I may never have the opportunity again, but at home it's pretty boring. Plus, it can be hard to find a lot of authentic ingredients here in rural Georgia.

Has anyone ever tried any gluten-free beers or have any recommendations?
Until I hear about something amazing (or halfway decent) I guess I'll stick to my wine....


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Weigh-In Wednesday (and Winners!)

Last week I was called out for my unattractive toes in the scale picture. I admit, they are not my best feature. I definitely thought about getting a pedicure this week, but then I didn't. No surprise there. The last time I got a pedicure or painted my nails was before my wedding - almost two years ago. Tim should just be happy I still brush my teeth.

So my weight went down a little, but I was eating the same calories and working out a little less. So....yeah. My only guess is that since I just found out about my wheat/soy allergies, I am dealing with less inflammation and water retention. I can get on board with that.

(Want to know why I'm posting random pictures of my weight? Read here.)

Before I forget, the winners of the 13.1 Race in Atlanta are: Julie F. and Kristin W. Congrats, ladies! You can thank for that. Send me an email and I'll send you your codes for free race entries. Everyone else who wants to run the race, use this code at checkout to save 10 bucks:


Now that that's out of the way, we can get to the good stuff. Please feel free to share your thought, opinions or questions about the following topic:

Does Pinterest Encourage Eating Disorders?

Having a blog and working from home on my computer SHOULD mean I'm totally aware of social media sites, but I'm still a little late to the party in most cases. I don't have a Twitter account or a Pinterest account. I can, however, see how addictive Pinterest can be. Twee little hipster photos, incredible recipes and 7 gazillion wedding ideas make for entertainment, I get it. And let's be honest, I'll probably have an account within the year. I yield easily to peer pressure.

The problem is that with over ten million users and a real visual appeal for young women, something helpful and entertaining can turn into a breeding ground for eating disorders and unhappiness with your own body. Take the following picture from Pinterest, for example. I think most people would say that this does cross the line and emphasizes weight loss above all else:

But what about these pictures? These are two screencaps of what you get when you type in "fitness inspiration" on Pinterest:

From what I understand, Pinterest (as well as Tumblr) have taken steps to eliminate material that promotes anorexia and disordered eating/thinking. But to someone with anorexia, wouldn't ALL of the above photos be just as dangerous?

My Thoughts: I don't love the recent increase of Pinterest fitness quotes/images floating around. I understand the message for most bloggers is fitness rather than skin and bones, but it's still valuing a certain look above all else. I don't think trying to get fit, trying to get to a healthy body weight or even trying to look good in a bikini is a bad thing. I just don't know if we need to put sexy images of women in with the message of health. Somehow I don't think charts that correlate obesity with high blood pressure would be as "pinnable" though, do you?

What are your thoughts? Love Pinterest, love fitness inspiration and hate this post? Tell me. Do you visit Pinterest but stick to DIY and food recipes? Do you think those struggling with eating disorders will suffer with or without Pinterest?

If you find this topic as interesting as I do, here are a few articles that cover the subject a little better from Salon and Jezebel.

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's Less Badass and More Salty

This morning I was reading the lovely Rose's blog and saw a workout she completed last week. She called it the "I'm Bored Workout," but I would prefer to call it the "I'm More Hardcore Than You Workout." At first I assumed she was crazy, but 20 seconds later I wanted to try it myself.

And then I remembered I was but a mere mortal. Her workout (here) is way more badass than mine, but I adjusted it slightly (read: made it easier and shorter) and it was still pretty intense. My revised version was as follows:

1 mile run (10:00 pace)
3 miles biking
2 mile run (8:57 pace)
6 miles biking
2 mile run (8:30 pace)
3 miles biking

Holy crap. That's a lot - especially for a Monday. We have some free trial to HBO for a couple of days so I watched most of a terrible movie during the workout and that made the time go by much faster.

Total: 5 miles of running in 44:50 and 12 miles of biking in 46 minutes.

Tim came home halfway through my workout tonight and brought a bag of salt and vinegar chips with him. I assume that if I workout for 90 minutes I need snacks midway, right? Salt + carbs = perfect for a sweaty workout. I officially don't mind if he interrupts my workouts as long as he brings snacks.

Since my legs now feel like lead, I'm sporting some serious compression gear.

I read this article a few days ago about compression gear and it got me all confused. I love compression socks and shorts. If you asked me, I would swear they work. I don't think they make me run faster or anything, but they help my legs to feel better after long runs or tough workouts. The article basically said that unless you're an elite athlete, compression gear is worthless. What do you think?

Do you ever eat unusual food during a workout?
I've eaten some different things for long runs if I'm out of chews or gels. Candy, chips, crackers, rice...anything with carbs normally. I probably didn't need a handful of chips for this workout, but...why not?

Do you swear by any compression gear? Or do you think it's all in your head?
Sometimes I think I can feel a difference in recovery with compression socks vs. without compression socks, but honestly it's not dramatic. They're really good at keeping my feet warm, though, and making me feel like a badass runner. So I'll keep wearing them. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Wait, I Have to Have a Reason?

I have a cool race picture and want to brag, so here we go.

Yes, that is the entire reason for this post. I could have hidden my reasons in some post about race mantras or recaps, but come on. I just wanted to brag a little about my strong finish. That's what blogging is for. Narcissists who need an ego boost.

Reason #367 that I loved my trail race yesterday: when I logged onto Facebook today, they had an album up of 400 race pictures from yesterday. Thank you very much! They had a picture of every single finisher, and then a bunch at the start and the awards. Also, I have reason to believe whoever was taking pictures thought Tim was a stud. There are SO MANY pictures of him running, frame by frame. Jealous, what? No way. Shut up.

Before the race Tim and I were chatting to some people from the local running group and someone snapped a pic. I love the photo bomb here - made better by the fact that the accidental walk-into-the-frame was done by none other than the guy who wins every single race in the area.

 He's only in high school, but he comes from a crazy running family. His little brother (maybe cousin?) is 12 and routinely kicks my butt. For reference, my official time yesterday was 28:06. The 12 year old came in with a 19:56 -on really hilly trail 5k. Unreal!

Because this is a random post of pictures, I have to share this one with you too. Anyone seen this before? Remember when it was really exciting to have a wireless phone because you didn't have to be connected to some giant handset? Well now you can pay extra for that giant handset to plug it into your little iPhone.

Seriously? That's $16. To make your hands-free phone a giant ugly contraption. Who buys this stuff?

Did you run as a child/teenager?
I did a little as a teenager, but mostly to get in shape for soccer season. For the record, it didn't help much. I was a terrible soccer player but the school was small enough that wanting to be on the team was enough to get you a spot.

How old were you when you got a cellphone?
I was 16 - and my boyfriend at the time bought it for me, not my parents. Such a rebel. I was definitely the last of all my friends to get a phone (this was in 2004).  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Grizzly Trail Run 5k Race Recap

Having a blog means it is nearly impossible to run a race "secretly". Usually I'm far too excited about an upcoming race not to share it on here, and -hello- gearing up for a race is fantastic blog fodder, is it not?

For this one, though, I kept mum. I wasn't registered for the Grizzly Trail Run, but I had my eye set on it. I've run the Raisin Woods Trails (where the race takes place) a few times, so I knew what to expect as far as the course was concerned. Plus, I've been feeling stronger and stronger and really wanted to put it to the test.

But, um....I was scared. I have had to say SO MANY times on this blog that I missed my goals, that I came in way over my anticipated times or that I felt like a failure. I just didn't want to go through it again, especially not for a 5k. So I kept it between me and Tim, and we were ready to race this morning at 8!

Scared and Sleepy

The course started with a 1/4 mile on slightly downhill gravel before the trails started, so I knew we had to get ahead there or deal with unending passing on the trail. Tim and I had plans to run apart, so he shot ahead on this portion. I was running below 7 minute miles here, so I can't even imagine how fast he was booking it. Once we turned onto the trail, I fell into a groove and began passing people - throughout the race, I passed about 20 people and only got passed by 2 guys - and never a woman. I can't lie - that felt amazing!

There were a couple of places where I had to walk, believe it or not. I can't believe that I walked TWICE during a 5k, but I don't know how I could have avoided it. No one in my vision was running the two steepest sections, so I did the same. I felt strong and graceful on the downhills, which I know made up for the uphills. Although the course was a trail and certainly challenging, I truly felt like there were more downhills than uphills. When does that happen, ever?!

The only problem during this race? I was freaking out about snakes. On Wednesday night I ran these exacts trails with Tim and leaped over what I thought was a giant root in the trail. I yelled back to him, "I totally thought that was a snake at first!" to which he replied, "That is a snake!" And then he was far less reckless than me and ran around it like a human who likes to live. No snakes today, but here's a picture of the same kind - taken an hour or two after the race in our yard.

Final time for the race is....I'm not sure. My Garmin says 28:46, but I think it was a little before that since I forgot to stop it. I'll say something like 28:15 for now, and come back and edit it when the results are posted. It wasn't fast enough to place in my age group (which is usually not too competitive) but I think I was one of the top 10-15 women, so I'm pretty excited about that. 9:06 pace on a trail is A-OK in my book any day of the week. It was a great morning.

*Edited to add: official time is 28:06. Wahoo!

Plus, I walked away with an incredibly large cotton shirt in a color I would never wear. And I won a door prize - a collapsible cooler. Tim and I first thought it was a hat box at first. I guess we don't bring our beer to picnics enough.

All in all - a huge success. I've been bouncing around on cloud nine all day today. I can't wait for the next run, the next race.

Before taking part in a race, its essential to always warm up correctly. A local sports injury clinic can provide you with advice on the correct warm up requirements depending on the type of exercise you are completing. For more information contact one of the private hospitals in Kent to arrange an appointment with a specialist.

What is your favorite race distance?
I think a half marathon is a great distance to race, but I haven't had a good one in a while so maybe that's changed! I will say that a trail race is my pick any day.

Have you ever won any great door prizes at a race?
I feel like I often end up with a door prize, but nothing amazing - small gift certificates, mugs, shirts, that kind of thing.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Weigh-In Wednesday

This post is a double whammy. First up: I'm going to show a picture of my scale every Wednesday. Why? Because I feel like it. Also, because people email me from time to time asking how I lost weight and then maintained it. And here's the thing - I haven't exactly maintained it. A year ago I was 117 pounds, today I'm, um...see the picture below. I don't mind the number now - it's in the healthy range for my height (5'4") and Tim doesn't grimace when he looks at me. So I'm happy.

The problem? I don't want anyone who reads my blog to read my little "weight loss journey" story and think I have been the same weight every day since then. It changes. It fluctuates. Life happens. So this is to track those changes and hopefully to help me maintain my weight. 6 pounds in over a year? No biggie. 6 pounds every year for the rest of my life? Not so awesome.

Because a post about JUST my weight would be incredibly dull even for me to read, I figured I would add a little "weigh-in" of my own - as in, my opinion about something. I hope you guys are interested in the same topics I am and I would love for you to share your two cents in the comments.

Should the military adjust their current health and fitness standards for new recruits?

Although sometimes I'm not as vocal about the military as a lot of Americans are, that doesn't mean I don't respect and appreciate the work and sacrifice that many make in order to protect the nation. In order to be accepted into various military branches, you first need to meet some basic health and fitness requirements.

For someone that is my age and gender (female & 24) I would need to adhere to the following:

Complete at least 17 push-ups
Complete at least 50 situps
Run 2 miles in 19:36 or less
Have a body fat percentage below 32 OR
Weigh between 110-145 pounds

*Edited to add: I failed to add an important piece of information here. The weight/body fat percentages are for a woman who is 5 feet, 4 inches (my current height). Obviously this amount will differ with different heights! 

(information from here and here)


As far as all the physical fitness requirements are concerned, I think they are fair. (Let me know if you think otherwise.) Strength and speed are important for those in the military and recruits can work toward these goals over time. Weight? Hmm....

I guess we're getting back to the issue of - can you be strong, healthy and overweight? How about strong, healthy and obese?

I have read several articles that show a large number of Americans are simply unfit for service because of their weight. Do you think this is fair? Do you think that the military should lower its standards?

My thoughts: I would actually be more interested in the strength and speed tests rather than the weight or body fat. After all, if someone can run a 5 minute mile and do 100 push-ups in a row, who am I to tell them that they are physically unfit to serve? Also, would a crazy strong (and lean) woman who weighs 109 pounds be TOO SMALL to serve? I don't know if I buy that. For the record, I know that some standards are necessary for those who work in submarines or planes - obviously, weight and height are important in these cases.

Add your thoughts and let me know what you think about this subject!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Free Half Marathon Entries!

Last March I ran in the Publix Atlanta Half Marathon and loved every minute of it.

Fine, I'm lying. The temperatures were hot that day, the course is challenging and full of hills and I may have wished once or twice that it was over. But guess what? That's what it feels like to push yourself. It is a rare day when someone says, "Wow! A PR - and I was barely working and just out for a stroll!" To earn those achievements, you have to push yourself.

Ready to push yourself? Win this giveaway and you can do it for. (Yes, I know you can just walk outside and run for free, but then you wouldn't get a cool medal or thousands of cheering fans, would you?)

The same group who organized and publicized the Publix Atlanta Half Marathon in March are leading the Allstate Life Insurance℠ Atlanta 13.1 Marathon®13.1 race. It will be in Atlanta, so prepare yourself for some hills. But also prepare yourself for a beautiful course, friendly volunteers and yummy snacks (and drinks) at the finish line - it's sponsored by Publix as well.

If you don't win, or you want to register a friend to join you, here are the details:

When: October 7th, 2012at 7:00am
Where: Start/Finish at Town Brookhaven in Atlanta, GA
Why: To have fun, push yourself and win some bling
Who: You, me and 5,000 of our best running buddies

Game? Sweet. Two winners will each win a FREE race entry to the Allstate Life Insurance℠ Atlanta 13.1 Marathon®. To enter, all you have to do is say something that you have to work hard for. Examples:

-I work hard to be this awesome every day. I eat awesome for breakfast.

-I pushed through pain and finished a marathon. Heck, maybe I pushed through pain to run my first mile.

Fact: It feels better if you sweat for it.

-I work hard to on long runs, on hilly routes and on new trails so I can kick ass at races like this.

If you don't win but want to join in on the fun, use this coupon code when you register for a $10 discount:


As always, I'll use this opportunity to trade free race entries for friends. You can like me on Facebook or visit the 13.1 Facebook page to stay updated. You could also go on Twitter, but since I don't "tweet" (is that what the kids are calling it?) that would just be for fun. Anything good over there, anyway? I'm too verbose to come up with anything interesting in 140 characters. Just kidding. I can't come up with anything good when I write 14,000 characters either.

Legal Nonsense: Two winners will be selected at random at midnight on Tuesday, June 12th and the winners announced the following day. Prizes for each include one free entry to the 13.1 Atlanta Half Marathon on October 7th, 2012. One comment will be counted as one entry. One entry per person. I was provided with free entry to this race. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I Thank the Queen for My Unofficial 5k PR

If you happen to be British, know someone who is British or happened to watch BBC America at all in the past two weeks, you probably know that today is the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. It is a huge celebration of her 60 years of reign in Great Britain. Tim is English, I'm half English, and for the last jubilee (10 years ago) I was in England and remember fondly all the celebrations that took place across the country.

So, obviously today I went running. For the Queen.

After yesterday's speedy-for-me 10k (in 57:58) I decided that I could hang with the faster runners at the Sunday morning group run. For the record, I can't. But Tim and I kept them in sight the whole time and in the process, I set a new (and completely unofficial) 5k PR. Just over 4 miles, and the splits were: 8:20, 8:33, 8:58, 8:59. Um, yeah. I haven't hit those times in roughly a gazillion years.
All day I have been elated. I thought yesterday might be a fluke, but it's official - I'm back. The iron is kicking in, the little stomach parasites are no longer able to call my guts their home and I feel freaking fantastic. Honestly, the ear to ear grin I have is probably starting to annoy Tim, but I don't care. It's like running and I were separated and living in different houses, staying together in name only and telling our kids that we were working things out. And then we got back together with a romantic weekend away and it feels like young love all over again.

This is what love looks like
 I may have taken that metaphor too far, and I apologize. Suffice it to say, I love running again.

My mood also may have been helped by the realization that I CAN eat chocolate, unlike I previously thought. I can't eat soy, and soy lecithin is in chocolate. I cried a little, but got over it. Today I was re-reading my allergen information and it clearly states at the bottom that soybean oil and soy lecithin are fine. So I celebrated with some Cadbury's...again, for the Queen.

I also baked some gluten-free scones this afternoon. So easy and so delicious. I haven't gotten the hang of using the various gluten free flour mixes yet, so instead I used a box mix and added butter, eggs and this chocolate/coffee/milk mixture that Tim drinks. They turned out amazingly and I actually felt good to do something sorta kinda British and enjoy a scone with a cup of tea this afternoon.

For the record, scones are not meant to be eaten plain. Ideally they are paired with clotted cream, but the next best thing? Butter and strawberry jam.

Are you a fan of scones? Have you made them yourself?
I love them so much! Usually I make them with dried fruits or nuts but this slightly sweeter batch was amazing too.

Anyone do anything special for the Queen's Jubilee?
If not, now is your chance to toss on that tiara and practice your queen wave. Don't lie, you've done it.