Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Facebook giveaway and Christmas Eve Traditions.

 It's been quite the week.... Preparing for holidays, lots of treats and trying to sneak in runs.  I'm on day 44 of my holiday running streak!  I am excited that I've made it this far, but it's still a battle to make time for even just a short mile every day.  We'll see what Christmas Day brings!

Christmas Eve has a new tradition of taking Squeakers and Bugaboo out in the double stroller to go look at lights in the neighborhood... and Maybe to work off the cookies Santa will be eating tonight.  We worse blinking holiday lights which, I'd like to think, helped us be more visible in the fog we are having tonight.  Good thing Santa has Rudolph... or he'd have a heckofa time in our area tonight!

On a side note, I wonder how this tradition will morph and change as the kiddos get too big to be hauled in a running stroller...

Other big news... A GIVEAWAY!!!

If you aren't already following me of Faceook, let me announce my big news!  Well, I think it's big.

My Facebook page reached (over) 1,000 likes!!!  So to celebrate, I'm having an "Ultimate Runner's Care Package" giveaway to start off someone's 2014 on the right foot.  Click here to check out my Facebook page.  While the giveaway is going on, it'll be pinned to the top of the page.  

For this giveaway, I've teamed up with "Hands Free living with Hips-sister", Fitsok, The RunnerBox and Glimmer Gear.   You won't want to miss this.... and for a limited time, Fitsok and Glimmer Gear are offering my readers a discount on some of their products.  

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Race Recap: Ugly Holiday Sweater Run and Walk

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Logo by: Andrea Schwoebel  (http://andreaschwoebel.com)
A friend from Moms RUN This Town posted on Facebook about a free 5k, and before she could say anything else about it.... she had me at "free".

The race is free, but asking for donations for the Ladybug CDH Foundation.  Participants could bring 100% cotton receiving blankets, socks or hats.  If it was easier, cutting a check for the foundation was acceptable (and appreciated) too!

The race was a small and intimate affair, but so much fun and highly recommended!!  I am bad at estimates, but I think there may have been about 50 people participating today.

As noted above, the Ladybug CDH Foundation was receiving the donations made by participants. Click on their name to go see their webpage what they are all about!  They hope to raise awareness about a birth defect called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia and raise money for research and treatment.
$110 was raised in cash/checks and the charity received 83 pairs of socks, 42 hats and 64 receiving blankets!  I don't know how that compares to last year, but I hope the race is growing and will continue to grow in participants.

The 5k (or one mile option) was an untimed fun run that was held at Summerlake Park.  The park was very beautiful with the light fog, frozen lakes and streams and water fowl in the area.  There is also a dog park with in the park and a very dog-friendly race for friendly dogs.

The course is pretty flat, with a mild incline at the end of the first mile (or just after starting your second loop of the park).

The events started with a costume contest before the actually running or walking... What would an "Ugly Holiday Sweater" theme race be without costumes?

As you can see below, I went all out in my "Ugly Sweater".  I didn't just put on a sweater I found and decorated... I dressed up as a sweater!  

Once again, I forgot to ask people for permission to post their pics on my blog, so you'll have to trust me that there were some really fantastic, fun and festive holiday sweaters there.  One of the participants wore a "top hat" that was a brick design  with black boots on the top like Santa's feet on his way down the chimney.  Then the sweater was green and done up like a tree.

Eggnog was donated by Alpenrose, coffee from Starbucks, bagels from Einstein Bagels and some pastries and holiday cookies that I believe were from a local grocery store.

There was also plenty of door prizes too.  And to get a door prize?  All you had to do was show up, receive your drawing ticket and hold on to half of it while the other half was placed into the basket for the drawing.

While runners and walkers made their journey to finish one loop or three, the race organizers taped the winning ticket to the items and you could check to see if you had a match.

A fresh cut holiday wreath was available, 13 gift certificates to Veggie grill, gift cards to local running stores (Foot Traffic and Pace Setter Athletic), and a free race entry to a local race (The Bald Peak Half).

(Pretty awesome!  My family scored two $10 veggie grill cards and my running partner/sole sister got $20 to the local "candy store"... okay, running store.)


In the top right picture, you can see the "bones' of the costume.  My husband constructed a large pvc pipe "hanger to hold the XL sweater coat and with some foam, a belt and suspenders, the contraption somehow stayed on and relatively pain-free.

The next two photos on the right column are me in the first test run.

The bottom, middle picture is my Squeakers and Bugaboo after the race, and heading home.  Squeakers is wearing wool pants made out of a shrunken, felted (and ugly) sweater.

The bottom left picture is my "bling" for my creative masterpiece.  :)  A trophy that has to be more than 3 ft tall.... though I haven't broken out the tape measure for it.

Bibs were also available for fun at the race, as well as a link provided before hand to print out.  I just love the logo of the runner in the detailed sweater she has on.   

Race bib by:  Andrea Schwoebel   (http://andreaschwoebel.com)

So, I hope I've convinced you to give this one a try next year.  If anything, it's untimed, so grab a group of your friends and wrap yourselves up in yarn and Christmas lights ( you could call your team "hot mess") and have some fun while helping out some babies.

You can't go wrong and will be glad you went.  

(Don't expect me to outdo myself on this year's costume.  I'll probably be wearing it until it starts to unravel.  And now I have Weezer "Undone" stuck in my head.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Conquering "The Blerch" or my negative self talk...

The online comic "The Oatmeal"  describes the arch nemesis "The Blerch" as a fat little cherub who follows the comic author when he runs.  It is a wretched lazy beast who tells the runner to slow down.  Just stop.  Time to walk.  Let's just go home.  Go home and take a nap, eat some pie, or do something generally non productive.  Since seeing the funny illustrations to this topic, it really has made the idea more relateable.

Who doesn't have a bad run now and then?  Who doesn't struggle with negative thoughts and self talk now and then?


Everyone struggles with it at some point, and if you honestly think you don't, then pat yourself on the back or push yourself a little bit farther because I'm pretty sure even gold medalist Olympians have interviews where they have struggles in their sport.

I am so struggling.

I struggle with not getting a run in while the sun is still up and the excuses set in to skip out on my run streak and not continue since I don't really have gear for running at night.

I struggle with just wanting to be lazy.  There are about a million other things I can think of to do than get in 30 minutes of cardio.

I'm struggling with me and feeling lethargic with the lack of sun and cold weather.

I struggle at times with depression.

Probably nothing in comparison with some of the challenges others face and still get a run in.  That frustrates me too.  I can run.  I have the ability to do it.  Some are unable to and would like to.  Some have serious challenges and still get it done without complaining!

I have to conquer this laziness.  This apathy I am drowning in and rise above it.

A friend of mine gave me an early Christmas gift... and I love it.  With my new "Blerch" running shirt, I headed out last night to get the run in that I didn't want to do.

With my flashlight in hand and my sweet family following in the near distance ogling at holiday lights, I went out and pounded the pavement for a ten minute mile.

Life really isn't all that bad.  I don't know why I have such a lazy streak lately that is so hard to kick!  I hate it!  But with the crisp air, beautiful fog and lovely holiday lights, I killed my mile with a pretty fast pace (for me).    I got my run in today this morning.  Now to just keep my momentum up.  (And egg nog consumption down.)

Do you believe in "the blerch"?  How do you overcome those negative thoughts?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Streak and Hedonic Hunger

Day 32 of my Holiday Running Streak complete.  (My goal is to run at least one mile every day until New Years Day...)

I'm not covering the distance I'd like to... but today I was not warm enough and was feeling a little heavy...

It was my favorite annual event today... the "Cookie Exchange".  Bake a dozen cookies for each participant and trade a dozen with everyone to take home some new tasty treats.... to give away, of course!  But there are plenty there to taste too.

So, being mindful of how much I consumed and "Hedonic Hunger"...  I ate one or two too many and really needed to hit the street, freezing rain or not.  This might be exactly why many sign up to do this run streak!  There are plenty of seasonal treats right now that are pretty tempting...

I love this cookie exchange!  Last year, I made a cardamom black pepper cookie with juniper berry icing and the year before was a persimmon cookie with orange glaze.  My favorite cookie will always be "Santa's Whiskers".  

Well, this year, I was lazy and did a known favorite of my husband's.

Chocolate Chip Bacon cookies.

 Recipe makes 3 dozen cookies.
 6 slices maple-cured bacon, chopped
 1 1/2 cups white sugar
 1 cup softened butter
 2 eggs
 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 2 cups all-purpose flour
 2/3 cup cocoa powder
 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble.
Beat the sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer in a large bowl until fluffy and smooth. Stir in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the chocolate chips and bacon. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Let stand 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy.  Maybe I'll look up my other cookie recipes for you in time before Christmas?

What are your favorite cookies?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Streak Day 30. The hardest mile ever... maybe the best one yet!

Day 30 of my holiday streak.  I wanted to give up this morning.  "Who cares?"  That voice keeps chanting in  my head.  "No.  Honestly.  Who Cares?  If you stop now and stop posting on your blog or facebook page that you are streaking... will anyone care?"    A much smaller voice reasoned "It's just a mile.  Go get it done and another day is in the books." 

Nope.  Not motivated.  

Then the even smaller voice of my 3 year old pierced through the argument in my head.

"Mama.  I want to run with you."

Time to lace up those shoes and get moving.  If there isn't many on the world wide web who "care" about my journey or my struggles through it... there certainly is someone outside of myself who does.  My children.  

I helped Bugaboo pick out some warm clothes and we powered through a mile.  An entire mile!  Together. 

My best little running partner...
It wasn't a miracle mile.  Actually I kept trying to bargain with her if I could turn around now and take her back home to her daddy so I could get my mile done.  Nope.  She wouldn't have it... and as cranky as I was becoming to just "hurry up"... I realized that I hadn't even wanted to run in the first place, and now she got me out there.  I wasn't going to kick her to the curb and tell her she couldn't be there with me.  What kind of example is that?  Yeah.  I like running-time to be "me time" to clear my head and think straight and piece together my sanity at times... but this was different.

Was it an awesome run?  No.
Was it fast and full of heart pumping endorphins and exhilarating?  No.

Not every run can be that.

Was it goofy, full of laughs and looking for "huge pine cones"?  Yes.


After a loooong 20 minute mile, we came inside to a nice cup of hot chocolate.  Well, Bugaboo had some.  I'm not having a sweet tooth right now so I'll keep the 100 calories I burned on the longest one mile ever and savor her happiness to bond on a run and snuggle up after.

"Where did the marshmallows go?"

Day 27 of the run streak in 17 degree weather.
Besides, Day 27 was my euphoric run.  Hold on to those... they just don't happen every day.  What fun would that be if they did? 

Any secrets to overcoming those negative thoughts or lack of motivation?  Share your secrets with me!  :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

25 things I've learned in 25 days of running. (My holiday running streak.)

I started my running streak on November 11th and today marks day 25!  I have to admit that I started early as kind of a "practice run" because I hadn't been running at all after my 15K race and was burnt out.  I didn't think I'd keep it up.  So... here's what I'm learning about myself and about running in general on this journey!

25.  I should probably foam roll daily.

24.  A hot shower feels really good after a cold run.
23.  I really have an amazing, supportive husband to watch the kids for me to sneak in those daily runs.
22.  I don't like to run with music anymore.  It's easier to hear my pace or how my feet are shuffling and to focus on what is going on around me. 
21.  I really can do this.  I'm on day 25!!!  I don't have to do a huge training run every time... Just a mile if that's all I have time or energy for.
20.  On day 20 I learned I can run a 10 minute mile!  Well.... 10:03.
19.  I can get into size 10 jeans!  When I started running in January, I was in "22W".  
18.  Those cute metaphors about falling 99 times and getting up 100 times do not explain how hard it really is to get back up after a fall!  I had to chant to myself  "Get up!" as I laid there looking up at the sky trying to figure out what happened to my great run. 
Day 16 of my running streak.  Everything is scabbing over nicely now!
17.  Sometimes you just have to sneak a run in while doing errands.  On day 21, as the family loaded up into the car to go to the Christmas tree lot... I ran ahead 2 miles before they came across me en route and picked me up. 

16.  I can beat my family the 2 miles or about 22 minutes it takes me to run to the grocery store.  It takes my husband that long to load two kids into the car before being able to get the car on the road...
15.  It feels good to get a charity mile in.  Go check out this app if you haven't yet.  It will help your motivation to run for others.  
14.  Wood bridges and docks covered in frost are very slick. Yikes!  I don't think I ever crossed one so early in the morning before this run streak.
13.  Get up early enough and there is an untouched world full of beauty and some wildlife.
Day 15-  3 blue Heron.  One in flight on the bottom, middle picture.
12.  And 7 days later, the same place at the same time can be just a freezing and rained out path.  But at least I got out there... right?

11.  Cat calls leave me on edge.  I really don't like them.  Can't a guy just holler "Good job!"

10.  Running everyday means a lot more laundry.
9.  Your socks don't have to match.
8.  This also made it obvious that I have plenty of running shirts but need more pants.
7.  It is easy to throw on a t-shirt to get a quick mile in, but it is uncomfortable to run in jeans, slacks, or yoga pants that were just "a little too big" when lounging around the house.  Baggy pants are no good.
6.  What feels like a SLOW warm up now, used to be my "full out" fast pace.  I'm improving!

5.  Cold ears hurt like an ice cream headache.
4.  It didn't take long to figure out where a mile landmark is in any direction of my front door.
3.  I'm not drinking nearly enough water in a day.  My goal is 90 oz. minimum.  I think I had a glass of water with my lunch today... maybe.
2.  Snot rockets are just gross.  No thank you.

And #1:
The digital "your speed" sign can register me!  9 MPH baby!  Yeah.  I should probably rely on my Garmin for more accurate pace readings... 

Any surprises or revelations you've come across because of running? 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Recap: Uberthons' Turkeython! My first Turkey Trot... or waddle.

I enjoyed my first turkey trot this year... and if You haven't done one of these yet, you've gotta give them a try.  There are tofurky is your thing, chances are you'll even find a tofurkey trot near you too.

I participated in the Uberthons Turkeython which was held at the local mall.  I'm pretty sure there were no shoppers that morning, and the ample parking was all racers and their friends and family to cheer them on.  

The race charity benefits a program also put on by Uberthons called the UberKids Enrichment program, which you can read more about by clicking here.  They were raising funds for scholarships for kids who would otherwise not be able to participate in that program.  Another aspect to the charity was kids participating in the kids' dash were encouraged to bring a new toy and/or tree ornament and kiddos could dash with the toy/ornament to place under the tree for the Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

The morning was a freezing 30 degrees Fahrenheit as runners did a 2.5K loop to warm up or stand about jumping in place to try to stay warm.  I wore my crazy turkey costume... and though you might think that would help provide some warmth... I started the race with a numb butt.  So., there ya go.  No extra insulation there with 11lbs of pillow fluff inside my fabric turkey.

 The course was a 2.5K lap around the parking perimeter of the local mall.  That was as close to a shopping center I wanted to be on Thanskgiving morning... but not everyone may feel the way i do about that.

There are events for everyone with a 2.5K run or walk, 5k run or walk and 10K run, along with a relay with 2-4 team members (for a 10K total distance).  Each lap was 2.5K, so for a 5K, run around twice and for the 10K I lapped the mall 4 times.  

The course is billed as relatively flat.  Let me tell you about that. My first 2.5K around, I noted one hill.  Okay, not so bad.  There is one uphill portion that is a little bit difficult, but I'm chugging right along... trying not to burn out with this huge turkey costume on.  On the way back to the start/finish to start my second loop, I thought there was a nice down hill portion.  Not too bad.

The second time around the 2.5K loop, I distinctly remember counting 4 hills. 4!  That's not very flat for a 2.5K.... then the third time on the loop, I decided that the whole thing was nothing but uphill.  But to clarify my bias, my suspenders on my turkey had come loose and I had to carry the damn thing.  I stopped and asked two seperate volunteers managing traffic on the road if they'd help me reclip it... but it just wasn't working out.

As I neared the finish line for the final loop, I ditched the turkey at the JC Penny store entrance and ran as fast as I could.  Literally.

I am proud that my 15 minute a mile pace last April has improved to about a 11:30 minute mile... but when my friend who had long finished her 10K saw me about to start my final loop, she asked if she could join me.   I was grateful for the company as my legs were wobbly like a thanksgiving jello mold and I wasn't sure if i was going to make it... Much less stay upright.  I had taken a spill two days before the race and had road rash on my knee, elbow and both palms.  I didn't want to biff it again.

Well, she wasn't going to let me take a leisurely stroll.  She kept just a step ahead of me, hollering back at me how many more minutes I was from the finish at this pace.  Okay.  That was helpful.  I can't keep this up for a lifetime, but i can keep doing this for one more minute and 28 more seconds.  We passed her husband who volunteered to take race photographs.  On that final loop, I didn't even look his way to smile... much less exert any extra energy to wave.  I asked between puffs if I threw up if we could slow down.  My friend said something about waiting to vomit after the finish line.
 She's a beast!  

Well, I ran a 10:52 minute mile for that final loop.  I'll take it.  :D  

As I crossed the finish line, she grabbed my turkey costume for me, so I got to carry him across the finish.  Poor thing missed out on 2.5K of the race, but he finished too.
If you are looking to do this event in the future, packet pick up was three days and open for 7 hours.  So it was relatively easy to beat the lines on race day to get your bib.

Uberthons also had a second bib that racers could write what they were thankful for and pin to their backs.  I enjoyed seeing the ones that I could as people passed me.

Race photos (as of this writing) are still being edited but will be offered for a reasonable price of $5.  It's 4 days post race, but it's also important to remember that the photographer is a volunteer with a full time job too.  (After volunteering at three different races, I have a totally new perspective how much a race is held together by volunteers.)

The crowd is HUGE and very friendly.  There were more than 1,200 participants. I did get pushed once by a "very serious" athlete who was probably pissed that this wide turkey butt was blocking his path to a PR... but I didn't stumble to the asphalt and scrape my knees, so no harm done.  My crazy swinging pilgrim's legs kicked a little girl as I passed and I apologized profusely to her... but I don't think she even noticed.  

The bling is not to be messed around with!  1/4" thick and very heavy, the medal is beautiful.  I also won a grey fleece blanket for my turkey getup.  :)

It was a great morning.  (And day 18 of my Holiday running streak!)

What did you do for Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 29, 2013

DIY riding costume... or "How to stuff a turkey costume for your turkey trot"

Eight days before my "Turkey Trot" race on Thanksgiving Morning... I got onto Google.  This is usually bad news for me, because I see some idea that I can't let go of and become obsessed.  

This time, I looked up "Turkey Trot Costumes" and scrolling through the images, it didn't take long to come across this beauty:

The website says it was the Turkey Trot from 2011 in Detroit... So, getting more specific in my Google search terms, I found a youtube video with the runner in action (which you can click here to see it, but you might want to fast forward to 4:25.)  and a blog about his costume!

After my detective work was done, I set to sketching and after two hours from the initial Google search, I had the head completed.  

Because I was in such a hurry, I didn't think this through in terms of blogging and didn't take many photos of the process to make this.  So, bare with me as I try to explain it...

I've made 90% of the costume with found objects in my random home.  I have lots of felt for all sorts of projects, so using some felt, some orange-ish 4-way stretch jersey material, a pool noodle, black pants, coat hangers and a pole I use in the garden for bean runners... I have my costume.  And a whole lot of pillow stuffing.  Some I had to pilfer from friends who had some old/extra pillows I could de fluff.  

First thing, my orange material was "tube shaped" like the material was meant to be sewn into a skirt.  So, I took the "waist" of the skirt-like tube and folded it down to the bottom and sewed the two together all the way around, except for a small hole to shove pillow stuffing and the pool noodle in.  

Next I cut an "x" in the crotch of some old black pants and sew the new opening around the doughnut-hole opening in the orange material.  This "x" has to be big enough to fit around the hole in the orange doughnut and big enough for me to jimmy on before a race.  :) 

Getting into this thing is a making for a bad video on youtube or something.  

Then next part, I had my husband place a tennis ball on the end of the "bean pole" so that if/when I tripped and fell over my costume, I wouldn't impale myself on the rod in the head.  Shove it in the turkey head, add stuffing and sew the neck shut and attach the pole through the "chest" of the orange doughnut and secure pole into the pool noodle with just about anything you can get to work...  We have a lot of hot glue, string and maybe even a little duct tape in the mix.  The tail is attached the same way, with some coat hangers within a couple of the feathers so that it didn't just flop down behind me and get dragged behind me on race day.  It did droop a little and I'll want to fix that somehow so I'm not irritating the serious racers around me when i run in it.

That's pretty much it.  Oh!  Except suspenders.  Suspenders are a must.  That is what I did purchase for the costume at the local thrift shop.  Attaching the suspenders to the orange doughnut, I had to be cautious stepping into the doughnut hole... not to get tangled in the suspender straps and hike the turkey butt up over my own.  That was a chore.  Most certainly something I needed help with.

I have very patient friends...

This is me taking the turkey out for a test spin.  It did great for those 2 test miles.

The reactions I got from witnesses of my test run would be a whole other blog entry...

On race day, I'd change how to get the tail to be a little more predictable and not so droopy and after 3 1/2 miles in it, my suspenders came loose.  I pestered two poor race volunteers at separate parts of the course to reach down into the "doughnut hole" and clip my suspenders.

I swear that isn't as naughty as it sounds.

After giving up on it working again,  I carried the turkey to the end/beginning of the race where I had one more loop to do.  I'll go into all of that when i get the race recap up... but for now, I think instead of suspenders that are removable with their clips... I'd sew in something much more permanent and no chance of snapping/breaking/coming undone.

Anyway.  I added some old back socks to the end of the pants for "boots" (with some white material from the old pillow for the "socks"), hot glued some painted cardboard on for buckles and used a black tech shirt and some white material for the pilgrim's shirt.

The hat is black poster board and a little bit of foam inside.  I hot glued a headband to it and it stayed on perfectly.  That's about all I can think of...  :)  I'll get the recap up soon and post a pic of it on race day.  I added a couple embellishments with jingle bells on the reins and black arm sleeves with white cuffs on my arms.

Did you do a "Turkey Trot"?  Do you ever run in costume?  DIY or store bought modified for running?

**I should add that this beast weighed 11lbs, so I'll probably want to figure out ways to lighten it up too**

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Weight weighing on my mind. (Reflecting on the last 12 months...)

Without a doubt, the year is drawing to a close, and as we think about what we are grateful for, turkeys and shopping for gifts... maybe you are even getting a jump start on New Year's resolutions?  I am thinking about the year that has gone by (and so quickly too).

I have never ever been one for resolutions... I mean, the whole point of them is to brag on Facebook how quickly you broke them.  Right?  That's what it seemed like to me.  I'm sure there is a statistic somewhere about how many of those resolutions are based on weight loss and how many of those hopes and goals are forgotten before June.  I wasn't going to do that.  So... why even make some silly promise to myself anyway?   

That was before I saw this picture:

The photo that "said it all" to me.
 This is Christmas Eve 2012.  We are arranging presents under the tree and last minute decorations before the kiddos go to bed and I gobble down all of the cookies left out for "the big guy" who sneaks into houses and leaves presents behind.  Unless you get coal.

I was in total shock!  That's what I look like?  Denial was not even the right word.  I was mortified and shocked and afraid.  How would I ever get to a healthy weight?  Depression set in and I felt hopeless. My stomach over hangs and spills into my lap!  my breasts sit on top of the shelf provided by my large stomach.  My legs look like huge rain barrels to me.

It shouldn't of been too much of a shock.  I had just had Squeakers and had "baby weight" to loose, but even my maternity pants weren't buttoning up.  This was November 2012.  One year ago I looked like this:
I'm so big, I couldn't even button my pants!
A friend had great success at Weight Watchers, and as a Christmas present, offered to pay for my first two months in the program.  I was so skeptical.  Assigning "points" to food and eating "whatever you want" as long as you stay within your assigned point values sounded fishy to me.  

So, you could eat all your daily value in peanut butter and chocolate cups and starve for the rest of the day, and still be following the program?  Well, if you want to simplify it that much.  I learned so much about myself and the program I was so willing to dismiss since my New Year's resolution to "loose the extra fat".  I joined Weight Watchers in January and  I started pounding the pavement, rain or shine.  Exercise and looking at my food choices and portion sizes is my only secret to my success.

Jan 2013 in the freezing rain.
I'm not perfect.  I still have so much more to learn.  For example, I still stress eat and turn to peanut butter and chocolate cups.  I also still think of myself as fat.  I do, actually have a few pounds to go before I'm with in the "healthy" range on my BMI chart... but more than that... I still purchase clothes that I think are going to be too small and skeptical about it and then find out that it is actually too big.  

But this is my journey.  I thought I'd share a little more about that, because sometimes I forget about it.  About how far I've come and I forget to celebrate my successes instead of seeing them as small milestones in a goal that I still have so very far to go on.

For every pound lost, there is a 4 pounds reduction from knee joint stress.  That is great news, because there was a point where i was not sure if I'd be able to grow old in a home that required the use of stairs.  I could get on the floor to play with my children, but then I'd have to crawl to a sturdy piece of furniture to pull myself up again.

So much has changed.  For that I'm so grateful.

I can run and play and keep up with my kids.  I started a local chapter of Moms RUN This Town and I've finished two half marathons (within a month of each other).  I've lost 66 pounds.  Here's to a good finish to the year, despite the temptations and treats... and to a healthy 2014!

What a year it has been!

Tell me about your goals (for the new year?) or how you started running.  :) 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Streaking through to the New Year!

Idly flipping through my Runner's World magazine while cross training on the stationary bike... I thought about my lack of motivation.  It was Sunday... my "long run" day.

However I was on day 15 of my "I can't seem to lace up my running shoes" streak. 

Then I came across an article about the holiday Running Streak to take place Thanksgiving day to New Years day.  Run every day for at least one mile.  Okay.  I can do that.  But I need to start now...

I have a 10K coming up on Thanksgiving Day to usher in the holiday and my first year of trying not to be a glutton.   I need to start training again!

So... today is day 2 of my run streak.  Yesterday was a slow and stiff one mile.  Today was an even slower three miles, but I think I'm getting my mojo back!

As you can see, my sweet Bugaboo wanted to run with me.  It has been even longer for her since she has been able to go for a ride.  And "Ludo" from our "Labyrinth" themed half marathon came with us.  This doll goes with us everywhere now... (he even has his own set of pajamas and clothes.)

So, you might just see more of "Ludo" on this run streak....

In the mean time, you might just find me on pintrest, drooling over pumpkin pie, eggnog, persimmon cookies, anything with chocolate in it, candied yams, homemade fudge and on and on.  This season is full of so many temptations that I usually walk out of it a full 20 lbs heavier.

What are you doing to stay healthy this holiday season?  Do you have any issues with food, over eating or lack of motivation to run or exercise?  ...My hibernation instinct is kicking in.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Overcoming my fears and traveling to volunteer...

Last week, I had the privilege of volunteering at the Silver Falls Half and Full Marathon!  This truly is a privilege as the race sells out in about ten minutes for the half and within a day (if not sooner) for the full.  Volunteers are a limited number and many would like the opportunity to go and help out and cheer on these amazing runners!  (...Not to mention get an entry into a future event for free.)
As you might have gathered from some of my other recaps, I'm a bling chaser.  I love that feeling of celebration a race brings for all that training and hard work and the token of accomplishment at a "well done" a fun finisher's medal can give hanging from your tired, aching neck.  

On my way to the race to start my volunteer shift, it occurred to me that I had no idea what the finisher's medal looked like, if it was "worth it" or if it was only available to finishers of the full and not the half... as I have goals on participating in next year's half.

So what was it that is drawing me to this race?  After reading some of the recaps of the amazing but challenging course, I'm not so sure how I'll fair.  Hills, mud, very cold rain, flooded trails, etc.  And amazing Oregon scenery.  Running behind waterfalls!  Look at the race photos on the website, they are ahh-mazing. 

Let me tell you a little about myself, what running has done to me and why I'm going after this race....

I'm an anxious person.  I am.  A wall flower even.  Driving far from home (over 30 miles) in a new area on roads I've never traveled on... scares the crap out of me.  Maybe literally.  So here I was, sitting in the driver's seat of my empty car driving 2 hours away from home for a race I wasn't even running.  

I was scared, but reveling in the new sense of adventure and being so proud of myself for this achievement, I could only blame one thing.  Running.

I really really want to be apart of this elite race that sells out so quickly.  I want to be apart of the pack that can say "I finished it."  "I survived the cold rain, the flooded creek, the crazy hill at mile 10 and the freezing temps.  My legs carried me, my training got me through and my spirit was ablaze and I could do it.  I did it."

But can I?  I have 12 months for doubt to set in and be fought off with cross training and building up some miles.

Any advice on trail running gear for the cold cold rain?  

I snapped a quick photo of the finish as I picked up any litter from the after party/recovery tent.  I got to help serve hot chili to the finishers and then scrubbed the dishes and helped break down "camp".  While cleaning up, the youngest finisher crossed the finish line at 5:56:49 for the FULL marathon.  His FIRST marathon.  His first half was at this event last year.  He is 11 years old!  WOW!

Everything is getting put away, but the beer tent is still open!  
 I think that nine out of ten runners told me "thank you" or "thank you for being here." which just gave me all those great warm fuzzies.  All I was doing was scrubbing pots and pans, how could that be helpful to their race?  But they walked past my sink and said it anyway.  :)

I think my volunteer supervisor said thank you to me more than 50 times.  Then, after the raffle and prizes for the finishers, the announcer called up all the volunteers and remaining finishers under the tent all clapped for us.  My wall flower tendency was in overdrive, but part of me was eating it up too.

Afterwards, the volunteers all received a tech shirt from the race.  I absolutely love it, though I feel like I still need to "earn it" by running the race.

Here is the finisher's medal, that also doubles as a bottle opener.  I asked a group warming up by the fire if they'd use it as a bottle opener after working so hard for it on the trail.  Without hesitation all of them said in unison "YES!"  Then someone dug out a bottle of beer in a near by cooler and showed us all how it worked.  

The welcoming fire place under the picnic area where food was served.  I was a wee bit grateful to be near the hot propane camp stoves with boiling pots of chili and the near by fire.  Temps were a November cold and the rain was also freezing.

Next year a ultra will also be offered in the line up.  This is going to be amazing. 

I need some serious tips on running in such cold and wet weather.  I'm a slow runner and going to be out there awhile.  Any advice is welcome!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Uberthons Halloweenathon all day event recap

Race Recap for Uberthons "Halloweenathon" on October 26th, 2013

It's October and this is my third race (in costume) in as many weeks.  I must be either crazy, or crazy for Halloween... or both?  This time, I went for a mermaid theme.  (I'll spare my poor husband of posting any photos of him in his mermaid costume on the world wide web. Last week I did the Labyrinth theme for 13.1 miles and a "sugar skull" the week before that for a zombie 5k.)

This race is the first time I volunteered with a race organization ever (joining in the fun at packet pickup and then in the kids' dash and 2pm race.), first time I ran a 15K race (9.3 miles) and first time I've ran at all since my half marathon last weekend.  

The race event had 4 main events throughout the day, a kids' dash and then an evening BBQ after the final event.  The events were meant to reach all fitness levels with an option to register as a walker or runner and to do a 5k distance, 10k or 15k.  

Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to do the 15k.  I was able to join some members from my Moms RUN This Town club.  
5K lap done... 2 more laps to go!
The course is a pretty little golf course outside of Portland, Or.  The 5k runners and walkers did one loop from start to finish, the 10k two laps and 15k three laps around the course.

Though I really have to admit that golf is not my thing, nor do I find a lot of beauty in short manicured grass, trees off to the edges of the greenway and one lake within view of the course.  Don't get me wrong!  It's a fun race... I just got bored after the first lap.  A friend who also ran the 15k (and took first in her age group!) had a great perspective on the looping race course.  The first lap helped her see how she was pacing herself, the second loop was her signal that she could "up the throttle" on her speed and the third loop was where she could cut loose and let it all go for the finish.   I think I'd have enjoyed it a little more if I had brought music to get lost in, but I really wanted to be able to hear if any runners behind me were trying to pass me on the narrow golf cart sidewalk.  

Besides a few bumbles with runners tripping over each other at the beginning, the 9am race seemed to go without a hitch!  The course was described as flat, but rolling hills is more accurate.  The course also involves some hairpin turns in 3 different "golf cart cul de sacs" and some paths that turn around and run parallel to other parts of the course.  This was a lot of fun to me, because friends whose pace was beyond me would holler and cheer as they saw me passing on the path further behind them.  One friend was doing her first 5k race ever and I was able to give her a high five as I passed her end of the path.  Once the runners behind her saw I was giving out high-fives, I was then cheering them on and others too.  I love that.  A race is a perfect opportunity to make new friends or at least help encourage each other.    

I ran in the 9am race, "Run for your Bones", with about 311 participants.  The next race started at 11am.  This was "The Zombie Shuffle" that was a fitness walkers' race.  Only about 7 participants signed up for that, so the family went home to have some lunch, layer up since we were freezing and then go back out for my volunteer shift and the Kids' Dash at 1pm.

The sun started to peek out behind the clouds, but it was still a chilly (and beautiful) day. 

My Bugaboo was very upset that she didn't get to run with me during my morning 15k, so she very happily joined the "5 yrs and under" kids' race.  This was a very short jaunt through the grass, where the participants would run to one of the race directors dressed as a skeleton and then circle back to me and some of my Moms RUN This Town friends for a ribbon of participation and a goodie bag full of halloween candy. 

Kids' Dash
After that, the older kids did a 1k run on the sidewalk.  Bugaboo watched the kids go past and asked if she could go too.  So, she got in two races in one day.  I think we both might need a lesson in injury prevention and the importance of not over doing it?  ;-) She did great. I'm so glad she had fun and love that this new activity to me is also something that is important to her.  

It is amazing what an impact my choice to exercise can have on my little girls.
Bugaboo finishing up the 1k race and claiming her ribbon.
After the Kids' Dash, the next race "Trick Or Treatathon" was scheduled to start at 2pm.

This race had about 96 participants. Some of them I recognized from past races and then putting their face together with a profile pic on a local race blog.  That's always exciting to make the match up.  But... you know how race day is a good day to make new friends?  I'm so shy I just let it go.  I cheered them on as they passed, and I hoped they raced well... but I didn't chat them up post race.  I did see the Candy Corn Witch from last week's race and she gave me a hug before she dashed off.  :)

After handing out water, directing finishers to get their awesome finisher's medal and dancing to the music at the finish for awhile, my volunteer shift was done.  We enjoyed some nachos at the free nacho bar inside the party tent and then went home to regroup, get a nap in for Squeakers and then enjoy one last race that evening with Uberthons!

Did I mention that besides a free nacho bar, the tent also had three massage beds where professionals could work out our kinks and knots and give us tips for stretches and home care?  

FANTASTIC!  A fast way to my heart, besides sweet race bling, is a massage.  Seriously.

The 6pm race was the "Monster Moon Run" that required a headlamp or flashlight. Glow sticks were available inside the party tent and costumes abounded with the participants in this event.  I love how creative people are!  About 130 participants joined in the final race, which was a 5k distance for runners and walkers.

Monster Moon Run
After this race, (which was MC'd by Miss Oregon,) participants could enjoy the free nacho bar or pay for a BBQ dinner by Famous Dave's.  We all enjoyed some warmth in the party tent and showed off our fantastic new bling.

I wore mine for the entire day.

Finishers are given a large medal casket that opens to reveal a skeleton inside holding a scroll listing the race distances.  The medal has 4 magnets to hold that casket shut, and it takes a little work to open it.  Once you are about to shut it, make sure your fingers are out of the way!  I pinched myself.  I may be a little accident prone...

This medal was fantastic, and as a total bling-chaser... it was the sole reason why I wanted to do this race.  But watching the different races throughout the day and seeing the different environments each race provided, I think it would be something fun worth doing again.  The 9am race seemed to be the biggest to me, with more chances to interact with other costumed runners, a festive environment with giving and getting cheers from each other... but the night run sounds like a lot of fun to me too.  That one has a lot of potential with volunteers on the course with glow sticks or something like that.

Do you join a race for the bling?  Tell me about your cool races, finisher's bling or halloween type runs! I'm a nut for halloween! 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Recipe: DIY fuel bars

I think Bugaboo could eat me out of house and home with her ferocity for Lara bars or Picky Bars and the cost to keep them in the house in ready supply.  So... why buy them (or any bar that hefts a heavy price) and why not make your own for a fraction of the cost?  Also, getting to control the ingredients and make fuel organic is a big bonus for me.  (Especially if I'm going to share them with my little running partners.)

 Bugaboo has named them "Running Cookies" because she only gets one when we are out on a run together.

Outrunning The Rain's "Running Cookies"
  • 1 Cup dry (old fashioned) oats
  • 2/3 Cup coconut flakes
  • 1/4 Cup Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder (or wheat germ or other dry ingredient of your choice)
  • 2 Tablespoons Chia seeds
  • 1/4 Cup cocoa powder (instant coffee might be a good substitute.)
  • 10 ounces Medjool dates (without pits)
  • 1/4 Cup dried fruit (such as cranberries or cherries... whatever you enjoy)
  • 1 Tablespoons coarse salt (or more. 2T will taste salty, but I use that much because I sweat a lot...  If you don't sweat much or don't want to taste salt, try just 1T.)
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut butter (I prefer crunchy, but creamy is fine.)
  • 1/3 Cup Honey
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
If your food processor won't be temperamental with you, throw the pit-free dates in and coarsely chop them up.  My ancient machine prefers I do that first before adding them into the mix.  

Mix dry ingredients with the dates and pulse together in food processor.  Then add in wet ingredients (p.b., honey and vanilla.) and mix together.

The mixture should be like a thick cookie dough.  (If it's too dry, the bars will fall apart on your run and you'll have a baggie full of crumbs.  If it's too wet, you'll have a gooey mess and be sucking the "fuel" off your fingers.  Eww.

Press the mixture into an 8x8 glass baking dish and refrigerate overnight.  I like to score the pressed mixture so that it's easier to cut the cold dough and pry out the bars for the next morning's run.

After they have refrigerated, store in air tight container in refrigerator.  I don't know how long you'd want to keep them around, but I usually eat mine up in about 2 weeks, depending on the miles covered in each week.  I like to eat one pre run and then again every 3 miles or every 30-40 minutes... which ever happens first, I suppose.)

It's a forgiving recipe that can have substitutions and lots of combinations, but this is the ratios that have worked for me and been easily transportable on a half marathon.  I put the bars in a zip lock baggie and carry them in my flip belt.

Mixture pressed into an 8x8 pan before being placed in the fridge. 

I hope you enjoy them!
Do you make your own fuel/running food?  I'd love to hear your recipes!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Run Like Hell (and then stop for the train!) half marathon recap (and update 10/21)

Dressing the family up as characters from Jim Henson's "Labyrinth"
October 20th has been a day that I've been looking forward to for a long time... When I started running seriously at the beginning of the year, I set my sights on running the Half at "Run Like Hell".  This race was my very first race experience ever as the 5k in 2011.  

It's a race for letting go of inhibitions and being silly in costume, grab a couple of free beers at the finish and kick back to listen to some local bands... but serious enough that runner's fight for their PRs and take their times seriously.  

Early morning fog giving the camera trouble
The weather had been very warm and favorable the last few days, but it's always a good idea to dress warmly when getting up before the sun.  Besides, we all know that there is ALWAYS a "chance" of rain...

We did escape the rain, but if runner's weren't wet from sweat, they surely were from the moisture in the fog.

Half marathoners getting ready to run in the fog
The course began in downtown Portland and wound it's way through some of the industrial parts and areas that made a small town girl like me feel like I was on the wrong side of the tracks.  When we literally crossed the tracks, we could forget the worries of city life and enjoy not having to worry too much about traffic on such an early Sunday morning.

A very polite Candy Corn Witch zoomed past me and chatted up the runners near her pace before she'd speed off again.  I later found out that she is a contributor on one of the blogs I've been following.  I met a celebrity and didn't know it until after the meeting!

We wound up some inclines, but i didn't think much of it... until I overheard runners asking each other "Is this the hill i keep hearing about?"  "Is this the hill everyone complains about?"  The Candy Corn Witch smiles and says "Nope!  That would be the hill around mile 5."

Mile 5.  No problem.

I was worried though.  I killed my hamstrings last week trying to survive a hoard of zombies...  and though the inclines leading up to this point didn't seem like too much work on my quads and hammys, I was loosing confidence.  

Something else giving me some unease was I felt naked and lost without my garmin.  This is stupid, I know... and a great opportunity for me to just feel my pace and trust the course... but what if I stopped for an injured runner or something... I'd like to... well, pause it to better know my running time.  Stupid and silly, I know.  But with the buildings and fog, it just wasn't gonna sync up.  

Mile 5 came upon us and I traveled up an incline that seemed unending.  And I didn't die.  I didn't have one foul thought or negative banter about it at all.  I just kept on going, concentrating on the sound my feet made when hitting the pavement and watching my surroundings.     

We traveled up Terwilliger under the canopy of trees on the side of the road and a forest below us.  It was beautiful, but the trees were wet from the fog and rained down their moisture on the runners below... reminding me of my costume choice for such an early morning, fall run.  Besides this set back, it really wasn't uncomfortable or cold.  Those arm warmers really did their job! 

Aid stations were about every 2-3 miles and accompanied by live bands playing music for us.  That was fun.  But by mile 7, my heel started to kill me.  I injured it back at a 5k in May and thought it was muscle strain... but with the ongoing pain going on so long and completely unbearable on this race, I've gone ahead and scheduled a dreaded doctor's appointment.  

I started to pay more attention to tired shuffling and making sure my foot was striking at the front and not heel striking.  i suppose it must have helped, because by mile 8 i was cheering the people I was passing and telling them we were on the home stretch.  

My garmin was useless accept to tell me what time it was, and I was certain it was failing me at that, because How could I be nearing mile 10 and still be under 2 hours?   

And then I saw a large group of people ahead... a cheering section?  No one is cheering... what the...

A train was slowly rambling it's way along the track... blocking our route to finish the race.  I had under a 5k left to get this thing done!  Don't get discouraged... take a deep breath...

"How long have you been here?'  I asked the first runner I saw at the back of the crowd.  
"Me?  30 minutes now."
My heart sank.  At this point, my character in her movie would shrilly holler "It's not fair!"

I wandered up to the volunteer standing on the concrete wall next to the road.  Just me looking up at him had him tell me "This is gonna take about an hour and 10 minutes."  An hour and ten minutes, from this very moment?  Subtracting the 30 minutes from the girl at the back?  Wha-?  I need more info than that... But I wasn't going to get it... so I fought back my tears of frustration as some cramps set in between my shoulder blades and started to use the concrete wall to stretch my quads, hamstrings and calves.

I remember someone asking me the time and I told them "ten o'clock" and then I remember her asking again and it was 10:15am.  Was I still going to be able to finish this before the roads were unblocked and opened to traffic?  

Soon after taking a mental note that it was 10:15 a.m., the train passed and we all took off even before the rail gate was fully extended.  We were told that the timing belt laid down before the train track would stop our timing chip and reactivate again on the other side of the track when we ran over it again.  

The timing mat was unplugged and laid off to the side, mostly out of the course.  I cursed out loud and tried again not to cry.  No garmin working.  Was my chip working?  Would the time be accurate? 

I was flying before this.  It was a PR, but by how much?

I tried to think of how "nice" it was to finish with everyone as one big group effort and see the speedy athletes finish that i would have missed out on since I'm not that speedy gazelle at the front of the pack.   I won't lie.  It was difficult to fight my way through the crowds again and  my muscles were cold and sore.  I can't even imagine what it must have been like for those who had been there longer than me.  

I crossed the finisher's line and was happy to see most of my friends who had ran the 10k still there waiting for me.  Most of the 5k runners were still out... their start time having been delayed by a whole hour.

There are some seriously negative comments on Terrapin Event's facebook page that has me questioning future races with them.  They may have no control over the trains and their schedule... I hear even the Portland Marathon can be stalled by trains... but it seems that they could post something to try and explain that to us or apologize or something.  Anything. 

I got my medal, and I am thrilled.  I know, bling chaser.  Did I mention it glows in the dark?  

Finisher's Medal
How cool is a finisher's medal that glows in the dark?


 While the 10k was finishing up, the 5k was free to go.  My husband, "The Goblin King", was asked by "The Dread Pirate Roberts" to take the kids away until "Princess Buttercup" returned from her race.

"The Dread Pirate Roberts" leaves his companions in the care of "The Goblin King"

 When I finished, everyone was already done, except The Dread Pirate Roberts who had such a late start.

We grabbed our grub and tried to warm up with a hot bowl of chill and I redeemed my two cups of free beer.  My "Princess Bride" friends won the group costume contest and a friend who ran the 10K won the "Best Unicorn" contest.

The party wound down pretty quickly, as I'm sure their rent on the square was beginning to end.  The food court started giving away as many bowls of chili as we wanted and having secured a table next to the beer garden, some very friendly unicorns started filling "our" table up with free beers.

All in all, it was fun... but I'm not too terribly sure if I'd do this race again.  It is sentimental because it was my very first race ever.  Since then, I've started taking running seriously, lost 60 lbs and looking at making my body stronger.

The train might not be their fault, and maybe many races deal with the train as an issue.... but now I'm seeing repeated complaints on social media about how Terrapin Events treats their volunteers.
"Happy 10th anniversary" Run Like Hell.  For 10 years, it seems like at least the public relations would be on top of addressing concerns with race hiccups or complaints about being mistreated.

(As of this writing, the results page says I've shaved 47 minutes off my fiasco of a first half last month.  That's amazing!  The chip timing company says I finished in 2 hours, 38 minutes and 5 sec.  My gun time, they claim, is 2 hours, 38 minutes and 43 seconds.  This is an edited lie, since I finished at 2:51:??.  I wish they didn't change the gun time to try and pretend like the train had never really happened.)

What would you do?  Run it again and the risk of trains be damned?  Or forget any seemingly unorganized race that presumably treats their volunteers badly?

(Update:  Terrapin Events issued a statement on their Facebook page and in an e-mail to participants that stated "Thank you all for participating in this year's 10th anniversry of the Run Like Hell half marathon. While a little chilly, overall the weather was great for running! It was so fun to see everyones costumes, especially those dressed up in groups! We will be posting some photos to Facebook over the next few days, so be sure to check to see if we have one of you! Also, feel free to post any photos you might have taken. 
We would like to take a minute to thank our volunteers! We really value their time and efforts in coming out to help. We truly couldn't have done this race without them. We would also like to thank Molly's Fund Fighting Lupus. As the beneficiary of this event they provide us with great support and we are able to donate to their great cause! Last, but not least we would like to thank our sponsors. Lagunitas provided plenty of excellent beer and Madison's Grillprovided that nice, hot soup to enjoy after the race!
We would like to appologize for the train delay. We understand that many of you were stopped for a very long time and how hard that is after already running 11 miles. We truly wish this wouldn't have happened, but there was nothing we could have done to prevent this or shorten the delay. While the City limits which roads we can use (why so many Portland races use Naito) we are going to try to avoid or reduce any rail crossings next year. ..."  
I think it's worth noting, since some races could chose not to address the issue(s) at all or ignoring anyone's complaints.  After sleeping on it and thinking it over, this isn't a race I'd want to miss.  Maybe any future delays by a train would just be part of the adventure of the whole experience.  One thing for sure though, I'm going to have to learn some tricks on getting a garmin to connect on foggy streets containing tall buildings... (If such a trick exists.)