Running the Bluegrass

After my 7-mile run on Saturday, I was inspired to commit to training for my second half marathon. I know seven miles is only half-way in a half marathon, but I came out of that run feeling confident like I could handle the training.

Earlier I had been contemplating running a half marathon at the end of March, versus one at the end of April. Then I was thinking about running both, as they fell 30 days from each other. Finally I decided that, no matter what, I was going to attempt to Run the Bluegrass!

RtB

I’ve been intrigued by this race for the past year, even before it was slated to be the newest Rock N Roll Series race, and then not. Now it’s back to being a local production. And to reward those who had originally signed up for the Rock N Roll race, they gave those runners the chance to let a friend sign-up using a $25 coupon. And through the wonders of Twitter, I found someone who still had a coupon to share. So I snatched it up and took the plunge.

And how can you say no to a race registration costing you a whopping $27?? That’s right! A race that was going to cost me $75 to sign up (that is, until 11:59 tonight, then it’s $10 more), ended up only costing me $27 ($25 + $2 processing fee) thanks to that coupon! (Here I thought the $25 coupon was $25 off.)

I’ve heard that the Run the Bluegrass is a hilly course, so I’ve been trying to incorporate more hill work and speed intervals on the treadmill, not to mention trying to find new routes to run to train on for my long runs. I’m hoping to try to get in one or two runs on the actual RtB course, as was suggested to me by a few veterans.

I’m still toying with the idea of the Derby Half Marathon at the end of April–a good friend is running in it and asked me to run with her. I’ve been told by other runners I could use the RtB as a training race and then aim to do my best in the Derby. The one thing that might stop me would be the cost, though now that I was able to use that coupon, that might be a moot point.

So if you’re looking for a race or two in Kentucky this spring, these are two definitely ones to check out!

So here we go…time to get back onto the training trail… (Whodathunk it??)

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OMG My Husband Baked: Healthy Banana Cookies

Over the weekend my husband and a friend decided they were going to create a healthy meal for me and another friend. Apparently John has been bitten by the health bug after a doctor visit, so I’m hoping he’ll infect M. (Hey, if I can’t do it, maybe he can!)

So John was in charge of the main meal and M the desert. I found M flipping through AllRecipes.com for healthy cookie recipes and he happened upon a banana cookie recipe. He read over the ingredients to me, and when he mentioned the 1/3 cup vegetable oil, I was pretty surprised that this “healthy” recipe called for so much oil. I recommended he give unsweetened applesauce a try (which we already had) and we made a few changes to make the recipe our own.

This is a sight you don't see everyday in my kitchen...sexy!

This is a sight you don’t see everyday in my kitchen…sexy!

If you see the original recipe, it called for pitted dates–I don’t have much experience with dates, but we decided to do without them. M went off to the grocery to buy the ingredients he wanted for the cookies, then set about creating his new, healthy, masterpiece.

M’s Healthy Banana Cookies

5 ripened bananas
2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small packed slivered almonds
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
Cinnamon to taste

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.) In a large bowl, mash the bananas (tip: squish them up while still in the peel, then unpeel and squish into the bowl), and combine all the ingredients. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes or so.
3.) Use a tablespoon and drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet (the mixture does not spread, so you can place them close together to fit more if you’d like).
4.) Bake 15-20 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown.

Letting the mixture sit, complete with dark chocolate chips--yum!

Letting the mixture sit, complete with dark chocolate chips–yum!

The texture is chewy, with the right amount of melty dark chocolate goodness (the chocolate chips were a last minute addition, as I had a little bit left in a bag). Next time we’ll probably try walnuts instead of almonds, and maybe cranberries or even give the dates a try.

The aren't the prettiest cookies, but they smell good and taste yummy.

The aren’t the prettiest cookies, but they smell good and taste yummy.

I’m excited to see what he’ll come up with next…I like the domestic side of him!

7 Scenic Miles

Yesterday morning I woke up early and drove to Midway to run with a running group for the first time. I discovered the LexRunLadies via Twitter. I had been thinking about joining a running group to help my training for upcoming half marathons. I’ve been getting bored with running, and I have been hoping that a change of scenery and a change of company might help things.

The weather was perfect running weather that you wouldn’t think you’d have for mid-January–60s and sunny. I could not believe that I was running in capris and a t-shirt!

This was the beautiful sunrise that greeted me in Midway before our run.

This was the beautiful sunrise that greeted me in Midway before our run.

We met in downtown Midway, Ky., (if you’re planning to visit Central Kentucky, I definitely recommend spending a day here) and decided which way to tackle the Iron Horse Half Marathon course (a race run in October). We then hit the road (after what I’ve heard is the customary group photo), with everyone running their pace and their distance. I went there with the goal of running 6-7 miles and judge how my legs felt on the rolling hills.

The LexRunLadies group for Saturday in Midway

The LexRunLadies group for Saturday in Midway

I started out running with a couple of people for the first two miles, but then found myself pulling away and running on my own in the middle of the lead pack. That was OK, though…I brought along my headphones and had them plugged into my IPhone so I had a little music. The scenery was beautiful, even with the fog and cloudy skies–Thoroughbred yearlings were out in the pastures feeling good. They’d inquisitively watch us for a while, then take off running, as if to show off their legs and speed. (I wish I had stopped to take photos of the yearlings running, but maybe next time!)

Once I noticed that I was at 3 miles, I saw the railroad tracks ahead of me, so I decided to push it up the last hill and run to the tracks before I turned around. That was perfect because it was 3.5 miles, so running back would make it a 7 mile run!

I felt pretty good throughout the run–my foot wasn’t bothering me and my IT band didn’t start bothering me until towards the end of my run (I couldn’t find my strap before I ran). My legs felt strong going up the hills.

When I finished, steam was coming off of me, but I felt great!

Total: 7.14 miles in 1:08:50
Mile 1 – 10:06
Mile 2 – 10:11
Mile 3 – 9:48
Mile 4 – 9:31
Mile 5 – 9:31
Mile 6 – 9:25
Mile 7 – 9:10

Afterwards some of the ladies and I headed to the Midway School Bakery to treat ourselves (you could smell the donuts as you ran back into town). I’ve had some of their stuff before at a local restaurant, but never been in the bakery. They had delicious items on the menu, but I was good and got the “Betty Ann Scone” (which was slightly sweet with apricots, dried cranberries, and white chocolate chips) and a sweet potato muffin for M and I to split when I got home. Both were heavenly!

So with this successful run, I think I’m going to take the leap and register for the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon this week. I was lucky to get a $25-off coupon for it, so why not register when it’ll only cost me $40 now?

Thanks to the LexRunLadies for being a fun group open to new people!

How were your weekend runs?

Marriage = A Built In Support Group

One of my “dirty little secrets” is that every once in a while I indulge myself in a little “Ice Loves Coco“. That’s right… Yes there are times that you’re just like: Really? But, when you watch the show, you see that they really do have a genuine love and respect for each other–an honest true love that everyone is looking for.

Anyway, during the last episode, Ice T says something about support groups. He said how you start life with your parents as your support system, then you’re single looking for that newest support. When you marry, you are your significant other’s support–you are each other’s support. It’s not just you any more, it’s the two of you…together.

It’s a hard concept to grasp, especially if you’ve spent quite a few years on your own. It’s hard to battle those urges of selfishness. There are times you just want to think about yourself, but you have to remember there’s someone else that is relying on you and leaning on any decision you make.

As a newlywed, you’re warned that the first year of marriage is the toughest, because you’re trying to readjust your lifestyle. But it’s even harder when you go through the struggles of unemployment.

It’s no secret that M lost his job two months before the wedding. Since then he’s applied for at least 100 jobs (including the 25 he’s applied for in the past two weeks). He’s had a few interviews, but nothing has come to fruition, except disappointment.

It’s hard to see your husband struggle with the thought that he isn’t the “bread-winner of the family” like most typical male heads of family are expected to be. You know his pride is bruised. You know his heart is breaking…and yours breaks right along with him. You try to offer encouragement, but you feel like your words can’t even make a tiny dent in what’s going on through their head.

So you try to take things in stride–allow them to cope in however they feel is best for them. You’re afraid he might be sensitive to requests or even the slight negative tone. So you walk on eggshells in your own home. And that’s not right…that’s not fair to you or your husband.

Times like unemployment is when you need your support system the most, even if you don’t think you do. And it’s not just your husband who needs the support, but you need the support from your husband as well. You need to know that you’re doing alright just trying to keep the house together, not to mention your marriage.

I don’t really know how you can show your support for each other, besides being there for them, talking with them, maybe trying to change the mood in the house every now and then with attempts at fun activities or just trying to get out of the house. Write them an encouraging note–remind him/her why you married them or that you’re here for them. Make a nice dinner at home–have a romantic evening planned at home (that way it’s free!) so it’s just the two of you (and NO technology). Small tokens and gestures can some times mean the most. But even just the time spent together can be a special one.

So don’t forget to build upon your support–it’s not just about you any more. Enjoy your marriage and your journey through life together, no matter the size or the number of bumps (or trenches) in the road.

There might be a long, bumpy road ahead of you, but with support from each other, you can make it through anything.

There might be a long, bumpy road ahead of you, but with support from each other, you can make it through anything.

Product Review: Chia & Fruit Clusters

Whenever I pop into a grocery store I tend to stop by the “health food” section to check out what deals they have on new and healthy treats. You always hear that eating healthy can be expensive, and when you’re looking at flax seed, chia seeds, soy bars, etc., those definitely are expensive.

I happened upon a new Dole product, from a line I’m assuming they’re starting up called NutritionPlus. Beside the granola there were bags of new Chia & Fruit Clusters. I’ve been wanting to try things with chia seeds, so I was intrigued.

Dole Nutrition Plus: Chia & Fruit Clusters

Dole Nutrition Plus: Chia & Fruit Clusters

I picked up a bag of the mixed berry flavor and read the stats: one serving size (12 clusters about the size of an inch in diameter) equals 120 calories, 22g of carbs, 4g dietary fiber, 2g protein, and 8g of sugar.

So why are chia seeds all the rage these days? They say they provide two times the omega-3s than walnuts, 26% more protein than an egg, three times more fiber than oatmeal. I’ve seen other bloggers add chia seeds to their morning yogurt and smoothies, which is what I’d like to do.

Since the bag was on sale (50 cents off, but still a bit of a cost considering there’s an estimated four servings a bag), I grabbed a bag to give it a try for my mid-morning snack.

The result? They’re pretty good. Tuesday I had 12 clusters after my clementine. They were nice little clusters to be able to grab one at a time and munch slowly while reading articles. They aren’t very sweet, which is fine–I’m trying to watch my sugar intake lately.

They also come in cranberry apple and tropical fruit–both flavors that I’d love to try.

So I think these would make nice little snacks, but if you’re watching your budget, there’s probably a recipe out there where you can make your own. (And when I find that recipe and try it, I’ll be sure to post it on here.)

Give them a try, then let me know what you think!

CrossFit Excitement

Last night M and I ate some Touchdown chili (new recipe for him) and cornbread to cheer our on Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish in the BCS National Championship Game. It wasn’t the prettiest best game, but we’re still proud of our team. They did deserve to be there. Go Irish!

Wish this photo didn't come out blurry, it's really cute of LaMesa, me, and M ready to scream "Go Irish!"

Wish this photo didn’t come out blurry, it’s really cute of LaMesa, me, and M ready to scream “Go Irish!”

Anyway, onto the topic at hand…

There are times I get bored and unmotivated with my workouts, especially in the winter when I’m on the treadmill a lot. And I love how CrossFit has different challenges daily and it’s CHALLENGING.

I’ve been really interested in trying CrossFit after reading about the adventures of Tina, Anne, and Clare in the box.

So last week the usual Living Social email showed up in my inbox. I always check them, but I rarely am able to really purchase anything from there besides coupons for restaurants. However, this time I was excited to see that email was for a voucher for Man O’War CrossFit!

So of course I bought the voucher–it’s for one month of open gym or 10 classes. It’s one of my 2013 goals to try the sport. Plus this box is just a mile from my house!

I’m going to call to make an appointment to meet with the trainer(s) hopefully this week so I can get started. I doubt I’ll be able to continue with CrossFit after I use up the voucher (it’s sooo expensive, which is why I’ve been waiting to try the sport). I’ll be chronicling my adventure on here, don’t worry!

Being the Biggest Loser–More of a Lifestyle, Not an Exercise

Sunday was the premiere of the 14th season of The Biggest Loser. I love this show–ever since M and I started dating, this has been the one show that we always make sure we watch together. It’s just so gosh-darn inspirational! I may not be as heavy as the contestants, but when you see people of their size do the exercises and be successful, you say to yourself “If they can do it, so can I!”

And it’s been inspirational for M, as well. The start of “The Biggest Loser” always seems to be the start of him being inspired to join me at the gym. I’m hoping that this year he sticks with it, though. I promise this time I won’t try to channel my inner Jillian… 😉

With this being the new year, of course you see lots of options for weight loss at the stores, online, and on the television. Many options promising quick results, but not many offer lifetime results. What’s going to show lifetime results is a change in your lifestyle–eating better and working out harder.

There’s no denying that my family all has problems with our weight. My brother-in-law has done many different diets to lose the weight–last year he lost close to 100 pounds just watching what he ate and starting to workout. My sister lost 50 pounds (even after two knee surgeries) in a year and is still working to lose more. And then there’s me–I lost about 25 pounds a couple years ago and it’s always been an up and down battle with 5-7 pounds. Right now, it’s up, but I’m going to work it back down and hopefully a little lower this year.

A healthy family is all I want for the new year.

A healthy family is all I want for the new year.

Over Christmas my mom, who suffers from so many ailments, including fibromyalgia, announced she will be having bariatric surgery in the next couple of months. While it was a bit of a shock, I’m hopeful that this will be the turning point for my mom, and my father’s, health. This surgery will make my parents change their diets and ways of eating, which is good. And I’m hoping that this surgery will help my mom regain better movement to be able to start walking better. And hopefully this surgery will help alleviate the pain from the fibromyalgia so she can live and enjoy life again, which means our family can live and enjoy life as they venture into their 40th year of marriage.

Though I do have a little concern over the surgery. I hope her doctor(s) will lay out very strict guidelines for before, and after, and maintenance that mom will follow. I’m going to try to learn more about the specific surgery she’s having, and when I learn more I hope to share it with you.

What have you done to make your lifestyle healthier? Do you have experience with bariatric surgery?

A Fun, Educational Weekend + New Year’s Clean Fest

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a dog agility training seminar in Southern Indiana. Agility seminars are usually pretty expensive to have a working spot in, but I was lucky that my parents paid for me to have a working spot on Friday and auditing spot on Saturday for my birthday present a couple months ago. So my friend, Merinda, and I packed up our pups and set out to learn so much. If you’re interested in learning more about dog agility, follow my training blog: Agility On Stumps.

This morning M and I went out to breakfast and then came home to tackle Christmas decorations and rearranging the living room. When we moved in together into the house we’re renting a few years ago, we basically combined all of our stuff–so we have two couches (which remarkably go well because mine’s blue and his is cream with blue accents), his old recliner and dining table set, my coffee table, etc. (We’d love to get some new furniture, but we want to wait until we buy a house of our own, which is now further from our sights with the job situation and uncertainty of where we’ll be settling now.)

The new living room layout will take some time to get used to, but it opens up the house so the dogs can play and just opens up the front part of the house. This setup should also allow plenty of space for me to do my yoga videos and hopefully M and I can get back to play with out Kinect and do the exercise games we got a while ago.

The new setup opens up the front of the house so much more.

The new setup opens up the front of the house so much more.

While we moved things around, M and I worked together to sweep, vacuum, dust, and mop (scrub) the living room. It was basically a New Year’s clean fest. It was nice to do some heavy duty cleaning together and it just makes things so much nicer around the house when everything’s clean. Next week we’re planning on tackling our spare bedroom, which became “wedding central” the months leading up to the wedding, and then has been a place for us to just put things to get them out of the way. I’ll be sure to take before and after photos of this project!

The afternoon was spent interviewing a source for a freelance article, cheering on the Colts  (who, unfortunately, lost to the Ravens in the Wildcard Game), and grocery shopping.

This will it’s back to the grind–working all five days! I was lucky to only work two days the past two weeks each, so to work five days will be hard! Haha But tomorrow night we’ll be cheering on the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish to a national championship against Alabama! Go irish!

Now I’m off to watch the premiere of The Biggest Loser–I love this show! What do you think of it?

Great Gym Expectations

I’m a gym rat. I love being in the gym. I loved it when I was going to the local YMCA, but I just couldn’t afford the membership fees anymore, so I moved to another gym where my husband (then fiancé) is a member. It was hard for me to make the switch, but I have learned to really enjoy this gym. It had it’s low points–equipment breaking down, crappy carpet, etc., and it just felt like it was going downhill.

Then a new company came along and purchased all of the UA gyms in the Lexington area. We were actually excited because we hoped this meant all the problems would be handled and the gym would start to be nicer.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case.

When you’re paying membership fees, plus bi-annual fees for better equipment and building maintenance, you expect that the money would be used for improvement. So it’s frustrating to go to the gym in the mornings to run with your two running buddies and out of the row of treadmills, we can’t find three that are together, or even with just one in the middle, that works.

Equally as frustrating is the constant search for the right dumbbells. It seems like there’s always a missing dumbbell or bar, and when I’ve asked the personal trainers if they knew where they are some either didn’t know, or they’d be in the personal training room.

Then there’s the matter of the temperature in the building. I can understand and appreciate the difficulty of heating and cooling a large building such as a full-service gym. But when the dressing rooms are in the 60s, and the general area is in the mid-70s, there’s something wrong. I don’t mind the coolness in the dressing room, but what I do mind is the mid-70s where I’m working out.

When you’re working at a high intensity, your body temperature goes up 20 more degrees. So essentially, if you’re working out at a high intensity like I do, it’s like you’re working out in the mid-90s! By the time I get one mile in on the treadmill, I’m already soaked with sweat. It makes my treadmill runs very uncomfortable.

Eenie-meanie-miney-mo... Which treadmill will work today? It's always a constant frustration when trying to get in a workout at my gym.

Eenie-meanie-miney-mo… Which treadmill will work today? It’s always a constant frustration when trying to get in a workout at my gym.

So what would my perfect gym have?

  • Regularly maintained, updated equipment, and I would ensure that my patrons would be updated regularly on new equipment or when broken equipment will be fixed.
  • Ensure that equipment is replaced on a regular schedule throughout the day, that way patrons will be able to find what they need for an efficient workout.
  • Work with an HVAC professional to figure out how to ensure consistent heating and cooling, and provide adequate air flow (fans on in the studios, ceiling fans throughout the main area). Keep the temperatures around the mid-60s or so.
  • Provide classes in the early morning hours. Some professionals would like to get their spinning in before work instead of after.
  • Bring in fitness professionals for special clinics and/or classes throughout the year to show some new moves or new workouts to inspire patrons.

Those are just a few things I’ve thought about. I’ve been frustrated with my gym a lot lately, but I didn’t want to mention it by name at this moment.

Getting in Those Food Groups

When it comes to healthy eating, it’s really important to keep in mind getting all of the nutrients from the food groups to feel full and satisfied.

Today’s Elf4Health Challenge was to eat at least three different food groups in every meal. It was actually a pretty simple challenge, but it still makes you think about what you’re planning to eat for every meal.

Here was my meal wrap-up:

Breakfast — scrambled eggs (one whole egg, one egg white) with salsa, whole wheat toast with peanut butter, and a glass of cold nonfat milk. (And an apple for my mid-morning snack.)

Lunch — sliced turkey sandwich with lowfat cheese on two slices of whole wheat bread, leftover carrots and potatoes from last night’s meal, and leftover fruit salad.

Dinner — taco salad with lean beef, lettuce, lowfat cheese, salsa, a small dollop of plain Greek yogurt in a baked whole wheat tortilla and mandarin oranges on the side.

Food Groups

It’s a great thing to try to remember! Get those meals in!