Sunday, November 28, 2010

One Week Later

Yes, I ran a half marathon a week ago today. Yes, I'm still stiff and sore. And yes, I've gotten two runs and a yoga class in this week. To some, that may not sound like a lot. Especially since my weekly mileage was a grand total of 4.1 miles. But to me, that's encouraging. With traveling, work, and a legit excuse not to run, I'm so glad I did anyway. It's perfectly acceptable to take a week off after an endurance event. I gave myself every permission to do just that. But I actually started to miss working out. It is my antidepressant, after all.

Before I sign up for my full marathon, I'm committed to getting into better running shape. I'm hoping to eliminate walking breaks, get better at stretching after every run, and doing a little bit of strength work every week. Thanks to all the pictures of me running last weekend, I've noticed that when I get tired, I have a pretty dramatic hip swing (hurting my IT band) and heel strike (cramping my hip flexors and hurting the hamstring tendons in the back of my knees). Stronger accessory muscles will improve my stride, my running efficiency, and eventually my speed!

From late March 2010 to September 26, 2010 I ran 200 miles. From September 26 to November 28, I ran 122 miles. Whew! That's quite an increase. I'm looking forward to working on running economy instead of increased mileage for a while.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Gobbled, and Now I'm Stuffed

Mom's Kitchen

Grandma's Kitchen

Lots of male cousins

Sweet girl

These ladies taught me how to cook

Thanksgiving Table

Lots of good food

Homemade Bread




The Girls

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What I love about winter

Last week was a cop-out. I declared "Winter Wonderland Wednesdays" and proceeded to hate on winter. Today, let me share some winter joy: I love winter accessories.

I never really got the whole jewelry thing down, and my favorite qualities in a purse have more to do with the functionality than the way it compliments my outfit. Accessorizing is an art that is lost to me March through October. But when winter comes, I am so excited to break out the hats, scarves, and gloves!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In Thanksgiving...

Has it really only been 2 days since the half marathon? I've received an unprecedented number of comments on my Gobbler Grind post regarding the runner needing resuscitation (no clue what I'm talking about? Read the comments on this post and this article). I'm so grateful to be part of a community of people who can spend months training for a race and abandon it all in favor of a fellow runner fighting for more than a PR... fighting for life instead.

Even though I still don't know this man's name, I do know he has plenty of people praying for him and anxiously awaiting any piece of good news regarding his recovery. I can only imagine that this desire is amplified 1000000000-fold in those close to him. Hopefully during the long days and nights in the hospital, it will somehow bring them some warmth this Thanksgiving to know that their loved one has touched the lives of many perfect strangers who headed out on a Sunday morning for a run and came home with a new outlook on life.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gobbler Grind 1/2 Marathon

It's been almost exactly a year since my friend Emily and I set out on a 2-3 mile run/walk in Omaha. We alternated running 1 minute and walking 1 minute.  Today, we ran our first 1/2 marathon! She got into Kansas City Saturday afternoon and my parents took Emily, Ross and I went out to lunch. Then Ross peer-pressured Emily and me into going to the Upper Crust for dessert, despite the fact that we were stuffed.

Emily and I then spent the rest of the afternoon picking up race packets and driving the race course.
Timing chip: time to make history!
This morning we got to the race start, waited in line for the porta-potties, snapped a few photos, and then, without further ado, the race began.

15 minute porta-potty line
Ross and me before the race
with Dad
with Mom

We had great spectators: my mom and dad, Ross, and Emily's mom were all cheering for us out on the course. Ross was a spectator extraordinaire, popping up in random places with his big smile and his purple TCU shirt (Emily and I are both Horned Frog alumni).

Nervous! I like how we each have one earbud in, too.

During the first 5k
The weather report kept changing the week before the race, but we ended up having great weather! 50-60 degrees and cloudy, but no rain. The only thing that could've been better was if the wind wasn't blowing at 15-20mph. But most of the time we were between enough tree cover it didn't matter. It did matter, though, between miles 6-8 when we were running uphill into a headwind.

Emily looking good after mile 6, when the uphills and headwind began
Happy to see Ross at the halfway point!
I took Cliff Shots around mile 4, mile 7.5, and mile 10. And I'm so glad I brought my water bottle because the water stops were few and far between. Mile 3-4 was rough for me because that's when we left the spectators and got on the trail. Reality sank in and I felt a little overwhelmed. It was so great to see Ross around mile 6.5 because I knew I was halfway done and I also needed a little boost headed into what I knew would be a tough few miles. It really wasn't that bad, though, because Ross kept popping up every 0.5-1 miles between miles 6.5 and 9. It made the time pass quickly.

Emily booking it.
Me finally headed into the downhill/tailwind portion!
When I hit mile 10, I felt pretty good and started to speed up. Some great songs came up on my iPod shuffle and the end was near. I may have sped up a little too soon, because by mile 11 my quads were complaining and my legs were getting pretty tired. I took it easy for 5 minutes and then started to psych myself up again.  

Then at mile 11.8, I just lost all my wind. A runner had collapsed and the paramedics were doing CPR. Chest compressions and everything. I wanted to throw up, cry, hyperventilate, and quit. I felt so superficial for worrying about my finish time and I just wanted to go find that man's family. I think the entire "pack" I was kind of running in felt the same way. Suddenly lots of people were walking.

But that last mile I realized the only way I could stop running was just push through to the end, so I did.
Emily's awesome finish
My finish. Sort of. Apparently I quit running at the marathon finish and not the half marathon finish. Lame.
I had a hard time pushing myself after seeing someone needing CPR and somehow, even though I only finished 2 hours ago, that's my most vivid memory from the race. When I did finish, everyone was congratulating me and was so excited and I just broke down. Not because I was so happy to be done or so overwhelmed with our accomplishment, but because it's all I had wanted to do since seeing that runner on the ground surrounded by paramedics.

I realize I have no control over that man's fate, and I'm not sure what the outcome was. All I can do right now is be so thankful that I am surrounded by such selfless people (standing outside for 2 1/2 hours on a cloudy, windy November morning is not most people's idea of a good time). Mom, Dad, Ross: I can't emphasize enough how thankful I am that you were there to cheer me on and I know that whatever I do, you'll be there to support me. I hope I am able to return the favor! And Emily, WE DID IT!

13.1 miles- conquered!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Almond Butter Banana Muffins

Fall Spice Almond Butter:
1 1/2 cup almonds
1 Tbs. maple syrup + 1/2 Tbs. maple syrup
1 Tbs. molasses
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of fine grain sea salt
1 tsp. canola oil

Dump almonds onto greased baking sheet and coat with 1 Tbs. maple syrup and 1 Tbs. molasses. Roast at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Then allow to cool on pan for 30 minutes.

Dump almonds into food processor and grind for 5-10 minutes, scraping sides down occasionally, until smooth (past the stage where it makes a large ball of "dough".) If it's not smooth yet, keep going. Every food processor is different.

Then add the remaining 1/2 Tbs. maple syrup, spice, vanilla, salt, and oil. Process again until you reach desired consistency. Makes about 3/4 cup of almond butter. Keep refrigerated and use on sandwiches, in oatmeal, etc. Or, use it to make these delicious muffins. (The almond butter recipe is my own. The muffin recipe is not.)

Almond Butter Banana Muffins:
1/2 cup almond butter (store bought is great, but it's fun to make your own)
3 Tbs. canola oil
2 large ripe bananas
1/4 cup (not packed) brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with paper liners (or spray two large loaf pans with nonstick baking spray.)  Place the bananas in the work bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the almond butter with the oil at medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Beat the mixture at medium speed for 2 minutes, and then beat in the brown sugar, honey, and the vanilla extract.

With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the banana puree, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Do not over-mix. 

Divide the batter almond the muffin cups, filling just over halfway. (This recipe made 18 muffins for me). Bake until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean, 15-16 minutes.  Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

I kept these out for a day or two, and put the rest in the freezer. They warm up nicely and make a great snack!

P.S. While I've been making a mess in the kitchen, Ross has been making a mess in the woodshop at school. Between work and homework, he somehow found time to make a desk for our office!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Winter Wonderland Wednesday

 It's currently 39 degrees out and there's a possibility of snow tonight. Winter weather has officially come to Kansas City.

Instead of dreading winter, I thought I'd practice embracing it this year. Last year was the worst winter KC has had in a long time. Combine that with the fact that I started night shift when we moved (I never saw the light of day) and the fact that I had grown used to warmer north Texas winters, and it was rough to say the least.

So for this first post, let me just get this out of the way. Here's what I hate about winter:

-Scraping my car off in the pre-dawn cold (I think this will be my least favorite part of day shift).

-The fact that my drive to work is just long enough that my car really only gets warm when I'm pulling into the parking lot at the hospital.

-Darkness. I hate the late sunrise and early sunset.

-Bad driving conditions. I love the freedom of driving, but I hate slush and my little car does too.

-The fact that it lasts way too long. The first snow is exciting. The holidays are happy. But below-freezing temperatures in February and snow in March should not be allowed.

-Cold. It doesn't take much to make me so cold that my nail beds actually turn blue.

-Dry skin. Winter + copious amounts of hand sanitizer and hand washing at work = unhappy skin and nails.

-Wind (and wind chill). Running outdoors is going to be a challenge this winter, but I don't have a gym membership so maybe this'll toughen me up (ha)!

I worked hard to get off antidepressants this spring, and I really want to stay off of them this winter. Hopefully weekly posts about the things I love about winter will keep me positive!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Know the Way You can Get

I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love:
Your face hardens,
Your sweet muscles cramp.

Children become concerned
About a strange look that appears in your eyes
Which even begins to worry your own mirror
And nose.

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness
And call an important conference in a tall tree.
They decide which secret code to chant
To help your mind and soul.

Even angels fear that brand of madness
That arrays itself against the world
And throws sharp stones and spears into
The innocent
And into one's self.

Oh I know the way you can get
If you have not been drinking Love:
You might rip apart
Every sentence your friends and teachers say,
Looking for hidden clauses.

You might weigh every word on a scale
Like a dead fish.

You might pull out a ruler to measure
From every angle in your darkness
The beautiful dimensions of a heart you once

I know the way you can get
If you have not had a drink from Love's

That is why all the Great Ones speak of
The vital need
To keep remembering God,

So you will come to know and see Him
As being so Playful
And Wanting,
Just Wanting to help.

That is why Hafiz says:
Bring your cup near me.
For all I care about
Is quenching your thirst for freedom!

All a Sane man can ever care about
Is giving Love!

From: "I Heard God Laughing - Renderings of Hafiz"
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Do you ever forget you're loved? I know I do. But even when I'm unlovable to anyone on Earth, it's reassuring to know that I serve a God who loves every fiber of my being even though I don't deserve it. And out of appreciation for that love, I can only extend it outward and forward and let those around me know that I love them.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Long Overdue

1. I got a long-overdue haircut (no pun intended) on Friday. I last got my hair cut at a cheap salon in May or June and literally came home in tears because I felt like I was donning a shredded, overgrown mullet. I went back and had the girl try to fix it for free, but it didn't really do any good. So I've been trying to grow it out and finally went to a new person at a new salon (loved her) to fix it. She cut about an inch off and when I go back in 6-8 weeks, we can finally even out all the layers left over from my attempt at saving money on a haircut.

2. Winter weather is here- a cold November fog has descended upon Kansas City and it rained most of Friday and Saturday. I knew 70 degrees and sunshine were too good to be true! Then again, it's starting to actually feel like Thanksgiving is approaching now. And *gulp* my half marathon.

3. New shoes! They say running shoes are good for 300-500 miles, and mine only have about 350-400 on them, but I'm having to lace them tighter and tighter, and I was getting weird leg/foot pains that I'd never felt before, so I figured it was time. I'm excited because I actually earned these shoes by running in my old ones!

Our insurance policy allows you to collect "points" for healthy activities, such as attending their annual health screening, getting a physical each year, visiting the dentist, and working out. With these points you can then buy gift cards to a bunch of different vendors. I diligently tracked every workout since January and cashed in on some points early. I bought an Amazon gift card and ordered my shoes online. This sounds risky, but I've been fitted in two different running shoe stores in two different states, and ended up with Adidas Supernovas both times. So I rolled with it and ordered the same shoe in the same size. Hopefully I'll break them in before the race.

4. Church. I don't even want to tell you how bad we've been about going to church since moving. Yes, one of both of us have been working a lot of Sundays, but we finally went this morning and decided to make it a priority. While it's no Christ Chapel (I know, I know, get over it already) I do really like Redeemer Fellowship by my hospital.

5. A real dinner at home. We now have a computer-free dining room table, but have yet to sit down to a real dinner at it. I fixed that tonight. Recipe to come!

Monday, November 8, 2010

What Running Means to Me

(Or, why I'm not running the Cowtown Marathon in February).

What running is:

2.) An encouragement. This is not to say that I expect to feel wonderful before, during, and after every run, but the good runs should at least outweigh the bad.

3.) A stress-reliever.

4.) Motivation. At age 25, I'm still young enough to strive for improved times and distances. Running is an activity that drives me toward new personal bests. Training for a race can help me push myself and realize that I'm stronger than I give myself credit for. Like I said, not every run is great, but every time I safely push myself through a bad run, I grow a little stronger mentally and physically.

5.) A reminder to exercise moderation in all things.

6.) A way for me to find a "new normal" that's more healthy and balanced than I have been in the past.

7.) Fun! A race, when you're adequately prepared, is a great celebration of training and hard work.

What running is not:

1.) Punishment. 

2.) A way to "make up" for eating too much the day before.

3.) An "excuse" to binge eat afterward.

4.) Another stressor.

5.) A way to measure myself against anyone else, for better or for worse.

For today's run, I had this quote in mind courtesy of Dale Carnegie: 
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. 
If you want to conquer fear, 
do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Last night, I had a really stressful dream in which I kept encountering hurdles that kept me from going on my 13 mile run today. But I did not sleep through my 7am alarm, I did not eat a 5 course breakfast, and there was no snow on the ground (thank goodness)! All of these things happened in my dream, but I woke up feeling okay and the weather was beautiful. I read that quote and realized I just needed to get out and do the darn thing, and I'd feel better about it.

13.1 miles later. (The layers are for my ice bath, not my run in the 60 degree sun!)
That ended up only being part way true. This was a long long run, mentally and physically. I don't doubt that I can finish the Gobbler Grind half marathon in 13 days, but I do have doubts that it's going to be an awesome celebration of my training like my 10k was in September. 

I've really only had 4 "long" runs (over 5 miles) since the 10k: an 8-miler, a 10-miler, a 12-miler, and today's 13.1 miles. I would say that's irresponsible of me, but for the most part my lack of long runs is not due to me just being lazy. Depending on the week, I've been out-of-town, almost-injured, moving, and dealing with asthma

I don't mean to list these as excuses, and I really don't see them as such. Since my goal in becoming a runner is to create a healthy, life-long habit, I have to accept that I'm not always going to run exactly what's on my training plan. In fact, given the circumstances, I'm pretty proud of myself! I have increased my weekly mileage slowly and steadily. I know I'm not over-training. Yet I don't sleep well at night, I don't recover quickly, and I feel like I'm getting slower. I don't know if it's the weather, the new apartment, or what, but my asthma has been getting worse again and it's time to pay a visit to the doctor and figure out what's going on.

I really didn't mean for this to be another self-indulgent post. I guess typing this out helps me organize my thoughts, though. Today's run was only 1 mile longer than last week's long run, but it took me 20 more minutes to finish! That's actually not bad considering I had to resort to a run 5 minutes/walk 5 minutes the last 5 miles because I couldn't catch my breath.

I still plan on running 26 miles to celebrate my 26th birthday! The race will probably just be closer to home and closer to my actual birthday. I need a few good months of healthy running before launching into a marathon training plan.

Something for me to think about: There once was a man who cried because he had no shoes, until he met a man who had no feet.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Better than Bottled

What am I talking about? Salad dressing, of course! I found this recipe on Angela's blog a while ago, and I've been using it for a few months. I altered it slightly, because the original was a little too vinegary for me. It's so easy, and one "batch" dresses 4-5 side-sized salads.

  • 2 Tbs. balsamic, white, or red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil 

Pour all ingredients into a plastic or glass jar, shake vigorously, and serve over your favorite salad. Leftovers can remain in the jar for a week or two.

Right now, I'm loving this over mixed greens with Field Roast Italian Grain Sausage (so much better than soy "sausages") and an apple or pear sliced on top.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Autocognition, Subliminal Messages, and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

I've been thinking a lot lately... about how I think. I haven't posted in a few days because my mom taught me, "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Obviously, I don't follow this rule most of the time. But I posted a quote the other day that said, "Change it or let it go. Complaining is a waste of energy" and I'm really trying to listen. I cannot control other people. I cannot control the weather or time's inevitable march into a colder, darker month. I cannot control the nonsensical layout of our new apartment's kitchen. Do I really need to whine about it and put another negative thought out there in the world?

There is some merit to "getting things off your shoulders," but where's the line between commiserating and straight out making other people miserable with my incessant whining? On the other hand, simply trying to, not complain out loud isn't doing me much good either. After all, who wants to be the silent person sulking in the corner? They may not be moaning and groaning, but you can tell they're not happy. (Why am I saying "they"? This has been me more often than not. I apologize to those of you who have witnessed this.) 

I think something more fundamental has to change. Once I've dug myself deep into the trenches of negative thinking, it's too late. Even if I hold it all in and remain silent, it's going to seep out around the edges. An individual's thought process is a messy place, but there are some messages that play over and over again, once we start to pay attention to them.

My thought reel looks something like this: "I'm so tired, I don't get enough sleep, I hate work, I need to take better care of myself, I think about myself too much, I love working out and eating right, I am too hard on my body, I don't push myself enough, I eat way too much, I don't fuel properly for longer runs, it takes me forever to recover from a hard workout, I'm not meant to be fast, I get bored too easily, I quit too easily, I'm too hard on myself..."

Just typing those out allows me to see the extremes I can sometimes think in. From the vocabulary (never, forever, way, too, don't, hate) to the actual messages I'm sending myself, (yes/no, do/don't, will/won't) I'm setting myself up for failure.

I even label myself. Depending who I'm with, I see myself as the messy one, the flaky one, the dumb one, the whiny one, the fake one, the self-absorbed one. Very few times in my life have I felt like the smart one, the pretty one, the gentle one, the genuine one. And usually when I do feel like that, it's a reflection of who I'm with more than anything. I want that to change. 

I want to be the kind of person you interact with and it improves your day. You know those people. The people who leave you feeling better about yourself than you did before they came by. These people are not self-serving and don't draw attention to themselves, but there's a magnetic pull toward them. People want to be around them. (Now as I type this, I'm wondering if the fact that I want to be this type of person precludes me from actually becoming this selfless person?)

My dad used to tell me that enough people in the world would say bad things about me that I shouldn't waste time saying bad things about myself. Then he'd stand up and try to make me say, "I'm smart, I'm good-looking, and gosh darn it, people like me!" I'd giggle and blow him off as my corny dad, but it turns out he's right.

I'm not saying mind over matter works all of the time. And I'm not claiming to actually have control over anything in my life. I'm simply going to try to think less negatively more positively from one minute to the next.  What are your thoughts? Any help would help! How do you balance humility vs. self-depreciation?

"If you keep on saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of becoming a prophet." -Isaac Bashevis Singer, Yiddish-American writer (1904-1991)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I refuse to believe that it's November. Instead, I'll share another fall-themed recipe. And the last baked good I made in our old apartment.

I said I'd never try to replicate Ross' mom's pumpkin bread, but I made this recipe last year from bits and pieces of various recipes, and I think it's different enough that I can make it without feeling bad.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

makes 36 muffins

1 c sugar
1 15oz can of pumpkin puree (not to be confused with canned pumpkin pie mix)
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c pumpkin spice pudding
2 eggs
2 c all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. cinnamon   
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1.5 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare pudding according to package directions.

This stuff is so good...
...I'll pretend I don't care that pumpkin isn't even an ingredient!
Combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, applesauce, pudding, and eggs, stirring well with whisk.

There's the real thing!

 Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with knife. Combine flour, spices, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl, stirring well. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold chocolate chips into batter.

Spoon batter into lined muffin pans* and bake for 20 minutes.

I love you, fall. Please don't leave me!

*Also makes 2 loaves of bread in 8 x 4 inch loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in pans on wire rack, then remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.