February 28, 2010

The Sunday Sampler - Health


Welcome to a new installment of The Sunday Sampler.  This is the day where I share my insights, thoughts, and opinions with you about different things in three categories: fitness (gear/clothing/accessories/etc.), parenthood, and health rotating each category each week.  I hope that makes sense! :)  
My hope is that I will be able to help you along your adventure just like so many others have helped me. So, let me know what you think!  I'd love to read about your perspectives on these things as well!  :) 

Health:

Flaxseeds

Originally I was supposed to post this last Sunday, but since I was in AZ I didn't have the opportunity to get it done.  But, I figured it's better late than never! 

Now, as runners and triathletes we all know about eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.  And, we definitely know about the importance of exercise (so much so that it can sometimes become obsessive!).  So, I'm not going to talk about diet and exercise.  I would, however, like to focus on something very simple that everyone can incorporate into their life that has some amazing benefits: flaxseeds.  
  
So, what are flaxseeds?  
Here is some info from www.whfoods.com
Flaxseeds are slightly larger than sesame seeds and have a hard shell that is smooth and shiny. Their color ranges from deep amber to reddish brown depending upon whether the flax is of the golden or brown variety.
Their flavor is warm and earthy with a subtly nutty edge. While unground flaxseeds feature a soft crunch, they are usually not consumed whole but rather ground since this allows for the enhancement of their nutrient absorption. Ground flaxseeds can have a relatively mealy texture with a potential hint of crunch depending upon how fine they are ground.

Why should we eat flaxseeds?  
Well, I'll tell you!  Here are some benefits:

  • Flaxseeds are rich in alpha linolinic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat 
  • They have anti-inflammatory benefits
    • The Omega-3 fats are used by the body to produce prostaglandins, which are anti-inflammatory hormone-like molecules, which can help reduce the inflammation that is a significant factor in conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, and osteoporosis.
  • They protect bone health
    • The ALA found in flaxseeds promotes bone health by helping to prevent excessive bone turnover-when consumption of foods rich in this omega-3 fat results in a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in the diet.
  • They protect against Heart disease, Cancer, and Diabetes
  • They help prevent and control high blood pressure
  • They provide comparable cholesterol-lowering benefits as Statin drugs
  • They are rich in beneficial fiber  

Some things to be aware of:
*  Flaxseeds can be bought whole or ground. However, if buy whole flaxseeds, always grind them first before eating them to enhance their digestibility and nutritional value

*  They need to be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place to keep them from spoiling.  I like to keep mine in the refrigerator.

*  If stored properly, ground flaxseeds can keep fresh for a few months.

*  If you add ground flaxseeds to meals when cooking, make sure to add them at the end of the process because they tend to thicken the liquids.

*  When you first begin to incorporate flaxseeds into your diet, make sure you start with a small amount such as 1 tsp.  Because flaxseeds are a great source of fiber, you can experience gas and bloating if you eat too much too soon!  

How to incorporate flaxseeds into your diet:
*  Add them to your smoothie
*  Add them to your cereal, oatmeal, cottage cheese, or yogurt
*  Add them when you bake muffins, cookies, scones, cakes, etc.
*  You can sprinkle them on veggies for a nutty flavor
*  Add them to pancake or waffle batter
*  You can use them instead of eggs in recipes (1egg = 1Tbl. flaxseed mixed with 3Tbl. water)


All in all, my family and I try to eat some flaxseeds every day.  I really think flaxseeds are something that everyone can incorporate into their diets.  And, with so many benefits why wouldn't you?  

So, do you eat flaxseeds?  If so, how do you eat them?  Do you have any favorite recipes to share?  


February 26, 2010

Trying to fit it in

Yesterday I was scheduled to run an easy 3 miles.  If it was spring (please come soon!) I would have loaded my boys into the jogger, ran around Wash park, and then let them play to their hearts delight.  But, we all know that it isn't spring yet, so I opted to run on the treadmill at home.  Some days I take my boys to the gym because they have a kids club there where they can play.  But, my youngest had the stomach flu this past weekend and has had a bad case of diarrhea (gross!) this whole week so dropping them off at kids club just wasn't an option. I didn't want to chance getting other kids sick, but I also didn't want to chance my son having an "accident" all down his pants, if you know what I mean.  So, the treadmill it was.

Now I know that the best time to run on the treadmill is while my little ones are sleeping.   But, sometimes it just doesn't happen.  Maybe it's because I had laundry to put away, or dishes to do, or things to organize, or blogs to read (ha ha).  If the run doesn't happen during nap I usually have two options to try to fit my run into my crazy day:  A) Try to run sometime before it's time to start dinner or B) Run after we put the boys to sleep.

Option B happens more often than not, but on some days I know that if I don't get the run done before dinner, it's just not going to happen.  Now, for the parents out there, you know that it's tough to workout while your kiddos are running around at the same time.  For me, it's because usually there's some sort of fight about someone not sharing some toy.  Or, there's the tattle telling and the whining.  Or, there's the throwing of the toy that ends up hitting the other on the head which inevitably leads to tears and time-outs and snuggles.

Yesterday however, I figured out how to get it done.  I put on one of the kiddos favorite shows, got them all settled with water and a snack, and started my run.  Yes, I had to watch episodes of Wonder Pets and Diego, but my boys were content and it gave me just enough time to get in my short run.  Now, I don't let my kids watch too much t.v., but I'm all for doing what you have to do.  Plus, an episode of Diego isn't going to hurt them.  If anything, they might actually pick up some Spanish!

I hope you all have a great weekend! :)    
  

February 24, 2010

Humpastry Day - Banana Bread

Banana Bread


For some reason, some of my bananas always get brown and overripe before my family and I can eat them. But, I always stick them in the freezer so I can use them for baking.  At any given time I usually have about 3-4 bananas in the freezer, so I guess it works out nicely for us.   Maybe I should buy less bananas, but then I wouldn't have any to make this yummy banana bread whenever I wanted it.  :)

As a side note, I just discovered that frozen bananas work great in smoothies!  They lend a great banana taste to the smoothie and I don't have to worry about adding ice because they're frozen and make the smoothie the perfect consistency.  Sorry about the smoothie tangent, now back to the bread.

My family really likes this bread because it has a nice flavor to it.  It's does not have a strong banana flavor like the banana bread slices you get from coffee shops or coffee carts.  I swear they  have to add some kind of extra banana flavor to get them to taste like that.  But, it's really yummy as a breakfast treat, especially when it's served alongside a fruit salad or a smoothie. You can toast it or eat it as is, and it's good with a little butter or plain.

Ingredients:
Makes 1 loaf
*  2/3C Turbinado/raw sugar
*  1/3C Canola oil
*  2 flax eggs (2Tbls ground flax mixed with 6Tbls. warm water)
*  1/4C vanilla yogurt (or unsweetened applesauce)
*  1tsp. vanilla extract
*  2 mashed bananas (thawed, if frozen)

*  3/4C whole wheat flour
*  3/4C whole wheat pastry flour
*  1tsp. baking powder
*  1/2tsp. baking soda
*  1/2tsp. salt
*  1Tbl. gluten

Directions:
I made mine in my bread maker, which is easy peasy.  But, I will give you regular directions too.

For the bread maker:
1.  Set bread maker to the "batter bread" program.
2.  Put all ingredients from sugar to bananas into the bread maker and push start.
3.  Meanwhile mix in a separate bowl all the ingredients from whole wheat flour to gluten.
4.  When the program is in the continuous knead cycle (when it starts spinning really fast), add the bowl of dry ingredients to the bread maker.
5.  Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and make sure everything gets mixed together.
6.  Close the lid and wait for it to be done!  See...easy peasy!

Regular directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Mix all ingredients from sugar to bananas together in a mixer.
3.  In a separate bowl mix all the ingredients from whole wheat flour to gluten.
4.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until just combined.
5.  Pour mixture into a slightly greased loaf pan.
6.  Bake for around 60 minutes, or until a knife/toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!  

February 22, 2010

My trip to AZ



A mountain right by my parent's house that we hike/run on

Sorry I've been MIA these last couple of days.  I actually went to AZ this weekend to visit my parents while my husband held down the fort here with our boys.  My mom had foot surgery a couple of weeks ago and my dad just had hip surgery, so I went there to help them out.  My goal was to cook them lots of meals to freeze, clean, and help them with whatever else they needed.  I got some things done, but I wish I could have done more.  The days just seemed to fly by and I just didn't have enough time (Plus I spent a couple hours with my sister-see below-that I could have spent with them).  We only get to see each other a couple times a year though, so I'm glad I was able to go and see them, even if it was for just a couple of days.  Plus, I got to see both of my sisters, my niece, and both of my nephews!        

The weather in AZ up until the weekend was in the mid 70's.  It has been really cold in Denver this winter, so I was excited about the thought of being in the warm sun.  When I got there however, it was raining and continued to rain off and on all weekend.  But, I'll take 50 degrees and rain over 20 degrees and snow any day!  Plus, I got to see one of AZ's famous "after rain" sunsets.  The picture doesn't really do it justice, but it was so beautiful.

Everything was so green and there were actually flowers blooming!  It really made me long for spring and wish that we didn't have 2 more months of winter to go.  The days are getting longer though, which is nice, so I know that spring will be here before I know it.  And, it will be filled with flowers, days in the park, and evening bike rides/runs.

My younger sister is training for a 1/2 marathon too and we had planned on doing a long run together on Sunday.  Our 1/2s are the same weekend, so we were both scheduled to run 8 miles.  It has been a long time since I have run with my sister and I was so excited about it.  In high school we both ran on the cross country team and there was always this unspoken competition between us.  In fact, when we did speed workouts we couldn't be in the same heat because it was just too much for us.  I know, I know, but we were only 16 and a little immature at the time! Ha ha.  

All through Saturday night it poured and poured and poured rain.  I kept waking up, hearing the rain, and thinking that we wouldn't be able to run because of the rain.  I didn't have any of my rain gear with me and she doesn't even own rain gear, so we would have had to cancel our run if it would have kept up.   But, the rain stopped, the clouds cleared, and it ended up being in the upper 50's Sunday morning when we were scheduled to do our run!  Woohoo!  I was so happy because I was really looking forward to running with my sister.  When I got to her house and saw her outfit we both started laughing because we were basically wearing the same thing!  Here is a before picture of us:
    That's right.  We were both wearing black capris, blue short sleeved shirts, and our bondi bands!  And, we didn't even plan it.  People that saw us running probably thought we were twins.  Ha ha.  :)

We drove to this great outdoor park/recreation center, made a bathroom stop, and started down the trail.  The trail was a multi-use trail that ran alongside a riverbed.  Our plan was to run 4 miles out and back.  Parts of the trail were flooded because of the rain, but it was an awesome trail for running.  My sister had a baby about 8 months ago and is just getting back into running, so I let her lead the pace.  We ran a little slower than my pace, but it was awesome. She kept apologizing for being slow and I just kept telling her that I didn't care and that she was doing amazing for the short time she's been running.  I was just so happy to be running with her!  We've come a long way since those cross country days.  We finished the run, gave each other high fives, and said a big "hooray!"  We'll be running our first marathon together this fall, the Denver Rock-n-Roll marathon, and it's going to be awesome running it together!  I can't wait! :)


Here we are sweaty and happy after finishing our run! :)

It was hard to say goodbye to my family, but I was anxious to get back home to my husband and boys.  When I got home, this is what greeted me:  Signs made by my husband and boys 





and flowers! :)  









I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family.      

February 18, 2010

CONTACT 140.6 challenge and a little bit of sunshine!

Sunshine Award!
First off, I want to thank Julie for tagging me with the Sunshine Award!  It completely made my day!  :)  



I'd like to pass along this Sunshine Award to those of you have given me a little sunshine in my blog life:  

CONTACT Cape Atlantic 140.6 Challenge
For those of you new to my blog, I entered a challenge to complete an Ironman distance triathlon in a month, spanning from Jan. 18th- Feb. 18th.  You can read more about it here. Well, I was a little worried earlier this month because of my never ending bronchitis, but I am happy to report that I did in fact complete the challenge!  Hooray!

*  2.4 mile swim - check
*  112 mile bike - check 
*  26.2 mile run - check

I am so glad that I decided to do this challenge.  It was just the motivation I needed to get back into training mode.  Now I can really focus on my half marathon training before I start my actual HIM training in March.  Yikes!  Where is the time going???

I hope you all have a great day! :)  

February 17, 2010

Humpastry Day - Pita Chips

Pita Chips


I don't know about all of you, but I went a little overboard with Valentine's treats.  We also got our order of Girl Scout cookies this week too.  I just can't say no to those little girls!  Needless to say, we ended up with 3 boxes of Girl Scout cookies and all but one box is gone....ughh.  So, I just couldn't stomach more sweets for Humpastry day.  Sorry!

Instead, I decided to make some pita chips.  If you have never made these before, they are super easy and pretty yummy too.  You can experiment with different spices and seasonings and make them any flavoring you like to match your meal.  I made these with a lentil, caramelized onion, and rice dish from  Veganomicon (one of my favorite cookbooks) and they were great with it.  You can also make these for tasty snacks.  Once baked, just store them in ziploc bags.

Ingredients:
Serves 2 adults and 2 kids
* 2 whole pita pockets (I used whole wheat)
*  Olive oil spray
*  Ground black pepper
*  Garlic salt
*  Dried basil
*  Dried chervil (if you don't have this, you can use parsley and tarragon)

*Note:  Here are some other seasonings that you could use: A) Garlic powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt  B) Lemon pepper, garlic powder, salt  C)  Garam Masala

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Cut a whole pita in half, then cut into 4 triangles.

3.  Open up the triangles and separate the pieces.









4.  Put the pieces on a cookie sheet.  Spray with olive oil, then sprinkle on the spices.  You can use more or less of the spices depending on what flavor you want.
5.  Lightly spray the triangles again so the spices really adhere to them.
6.  Bake for 5-6 minutes until lightly browned.  
*Note:  you really need to watch these carefully towards the end because they can burn really easily!
 You can see how they brown in this picture.  

Enjoy!  

February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day 5K - Race Report


Valentine's Day 5k 


Yesterday we got up around 6:45 with about 2 inches of snow on the ground, cloudy skies, and light snow still falling.  The race wasn't scheduled to start until 10AM.  So, because we were going to be running with our boys in the jogger we decided to wait and decide if we were going until closer to race time.  Slowly, but surely, the snow stopped falling and the sun started peaking out from the clouds, but it was COLD!  We decided to go to the race and just make the best of it!

Because we knew our boys would get cold sitting in the jogger, we gathered all sorts of things to ensure they would be warm and cozy.  We made a big thermos of hot chocolate for them to have once the race started.  We boiled some water and put it in two water bottles that we put on the side pouches next to them to act as heaters (this worked great by the way!).  We dressed them in thermal underwear, wool socks, snow bibs, snow jackets, gloves, and warm hats.  We also brought a big fleece blanket to drape over them in the stroller.  Last, but  not least, was the weather shield that goes over the stroller.  It is awesome because it protects them from the wind, snow, or rain.  Here is a picture of our boys in the jogger at the start of the race.
   So, you can't really see our boys, but you can see the blanket and the awesome weather shield!

The picture was taken on a sidewalk, so you can see how much snow there was. Just walking to the starting line my feet were already cold even though I had on my awesome Smartwool socks.  *Note: I guess regular running shoes are not meant to be worn in snow and slush.  The mesh at the top of the shoe that works so well at keeping your feet ventilated when they're hot completely backfires when there is wetness!  Luckily, the course wasn't this bad.  They attempted to plow the snow, but there was lots of slush and ice.  

We picked up our timing chips, attached our bibs, and waited at the back of the starting line.  With a double jogging stroller, we always try to stay towards the back.  I really had to use the bathroom, so I told my husband to just start when the gun went off and I would catch up to him.  There was a long line of people waiting and I soon realized why.  There were only 4 porta-potties!  Can you believe it?  Why can't race officials figure out that there needs to be more facilities for people!!

Anyways, as I was waiting in line the gun went off and everyone started running.  I watched as my husband took off.  Finally I was able to do my business and get on my way.  I didn't bring my Garmin with  me because we had timing chips and we were running with the stroller.  Plus, after running 7.9miles yesterday I just wanted a nice, easy run.  I did however start my Timex watch, just so I would know my time at the finish because I started late.  I'm so glad I did this by the way because I realized there was no starting line timing mat.  So, your recorded time is based on when the gun goes off, not when you actually cross the start line.  What's up with that??  What is even the point of having timing chips?  This was really my only gripe about the race.      

Shortly after I started I caught up to my husband.  He told me he had to use the bathroom (too much coffee!), so I took the jogger and kept running.  Unlike a lot of people I've met, I actually enjoy running with the jogger.  But, now that my boys are 2 1/2 and 4 1/2, I was pushing a lot of weight!!!  Luckily, the course is pretty flat and I felt great running!  I don't know what comes over me in a race, but I actually get pretty competitive.  It's hard for me to run nice and easy when I see all of these people in front of me.  When I run with my husband we run at a slower pace, but when it's just me I tend to push it.  Suddenly, I was passing people while pushing the jogger and it felt awesome!  A couple people made comments like, "good job momma" and "watch out, double load coming through," and I would smile, say thanks, and keep going. 

Around the 1 1/2 mile mark there is a hill on the course.  I was not looking forward to it, and my husband still hadn't caught up to us, so I knew I would have to push through it.  It was tough, but I did it!  Afterwards I was sucking wind, but the course turned flat again so I was able to regain control of my breath.  

Around the 2 1/2 mile mark my boys started dropping stuff out of the jogger.  I didn't notice, of course, but the people behind me kept yelling, "I think you dropped this" at which point I would stop, turn around, say a big "thank you," and grab whatever item had fallen.  All in all, my boys dropped a water bottle, one glove, and a snack trap.  At the last pick-up my husband finally caught up to us and took over pushing the jogger.  He was a little tired from having to run hard to catch up with us (oops..sorry!) that once he took the jogger, he slowed down.  He made a comment like, "Geez, you were flying!"  to which I responded, "Well, let's keep flying because we're almost done!"  I was partly kidding, but I wish I hadn't said that because he took off!  It took all I had to keep up with him.  My shins were burning and my legs were more tired then I realized from my long run yesterday.  We hit the 3 mile mark, turned, and sprinted to the finish line!  It was a great finish!  The clock said 30:03,  but according to my watch I did it in 28minutes!  Not too bad for running with a jogger and making a few unscheduled stops!  

We pulled off to the side, let the boys play in the snow, and took turns going around getting our goody bags and filling them with vendor stuff.  It was a small race, but we got some great things in the goody bag.  Here's a picture of some of the stuff.  I love sport beans, so I'm excited to try these new ones out.  Also, how cool is the hand sanitizer spray?  That will definitely come in handy!  

All in all, we had a good race!  It felt great to get outside and exercise on a day that we probably would have just stayed inside and vegged by the fire.  Our boys had a blast and stayed nice and warm the entire time!  
            Post-race picture of me and my boys

February 14, 2010

The Sunday Sampler


Welcome to the second installment of The Sunday Sampler.  This is the day where I share my insights, thoughts, and opinions with you about different things in three categories: fitness (gear/clothing/accessories/etc.), parenthood, and health rotating each category each week.  I hope that makes sense! :)  
My hope is that I will be able to help you along your adventure just like so many others have helped me. So, let me know what you think!  I'd love to read about your perspectives on these things as well!  :) 

Parenthood:
Finding the right balance


One thing I have noticed on a lot of the different blogs that I follow is the common feeling of guilt that many parents feel about not spending enough time with their children when they are training.  I admit that I have that same guilt, but I have also come to the realization that it is all about finding the right balance.    


My husband and I have always led an active lifestyle.  Before we had kids we loved to go hiking, camping, backpacking, and snowboarding.  We would do running races here and there and he would go mountain biking sometimes on the weekends.  It was always easy to fit fitness into our lives.  


When we had kids however, it changed.  Not in a bad way, but in a different way.  We had to adjust what fitness meant to us and find a way to make it work.  We couldn't go hiking with a newborn because of the altitude.  But, once he was old enough, we strapped him onto a backpack carrier and went on some short hikes.  


Backpacking/camping was no longer an option with an infant.  But, now that our boys are older (4 and 2) we have learned to enjoy car camping with them and exploring nature through their eyes.  We were able to find a nice balance by learning how to tweak the things we used to do such that our whole family could enjoy them.     


When I started training for triathlons 4 years ago though it was a whole other ballgame.  Basically we had to figure out how to fit work, dinner, fitness, and time with the kids all into the day.  It was tough!  But, my husband and I sat down and came up with a great schedule that would work for all of us.  I honestly didn't know how I would get all of my training in, but I got creative with when and where I did my workouts. 


It took me awhile to get over the guilt I felt about taking time away from my boys for myself, but I honestly believe that I am a better parent because of it.  Exercising pumps me full of happy endorphins that translate to a happier mommy. Now, I don't know about all of you, but when I go for a period of time without exercising I get really cranky.  I'm not talking about a little cranky either.  I start to lose my patience with my boys, I make snappy remarks, and just have a bad attitude most of the time.  Plus, I get really, really tired and I start not liking myself very much.  It's like my body needs to exercise to be happy.  When I exercise regularly I find that I have more patience, more energy to play, am a better listener, and have a more positive attitude in general.  


So, here are some things that work for us:
*Note:  it may seem like we spent a lot of money initially, but the benefit we have gotten from everything we bought has far outweighed the cost.   
1.  I get up early to get my swim workouts in (4:30AM - yikes!).  I finish my workout and am back home before my boys and husband even wake up.  Yes, sometimes I shut off my alarm and go back to sleep.  Yes, sometimes I am really tired from getting up early.  But, I love knowing that I finished a workout before most people even start their day.      


2.  We bought a bike trainer.  My husband does at least 1 century ride a year as well as other bike races, so we have both benefited from the trainer.  It's hard to get outside for a ride in the winter, so a trainer was a must for us.  Plus, I am able to get a bike workout done at night after we put the boys to sleep.  


3.  We bought a BOB Sport Utility jogging stroller.  This is awesome because we can include our boys when we go for a run or a race.  We usually do our run and then play at the park with them afterwards, which they love! 


4.  We bought a treadmill.  Yes, our gym has treadmills, but just like the trainer I'm able to do some of my run workouts while the boys are napping or at night after we put them to sleep. 


5.  The weekends are a little tricky.  Usually I have a long run on Saturday and a long bike ride on Sunday.  I used to feel really guilty about taking the time over the weekend for these workouts because the weekends are really the only time we get to be together.  But, my husband is very supportive and understanding.  We worked it out where I would do my long runs/bike rides either early in the morning or during their naps.  When they woke up he got to have one on one time with them, which he rarely gets to do.  He loved it and so did the boys.


6.  Our gym has something called "Kids Club."  It's a place where parents can drop off their kids while they workout in the gym.  The boys actually have lots of fun playing with other kids and toys.  They even ask to go there now! :)  This makes it really nice because I know they are having fun, which makes me feel less guilty about taking time for myself.       



Finding the right balance for us has taken time, and we are constantly changing to best meet our needs.  But, we are instilling a love of fitness and health into our boys because they see, first hand, how much we enjoy it.  They love to run, hike, climb, jump, and swim.  My oldest (4 1/2) likes to run "fast" and is constantly asking us to see how fast he can run.  It's so cute.  And, just the other day he told me that he wants to do a triathlon one day.  It made me so happy!  So, yes, we are taking time for ourselves, but in the end we're doing it for each other.  It's all about balance.  I hope you are able to find the right balance for yourself and your family.  It is not easy, but in the end, it is definitely worth it.

Oh, and here's another post from misszippy1's blog to check out about finding the right balance as well.         









  

February 13, 2010

Longer than expected

My half marathon plan called for a 6 mile run today.  Since it was really nice out today (43degrees and sunny) I decided to run outside.  Besides, the thought of running 6 miles on a treadmill just did not seem appealing!  My husband wanted to take our boys and dog to the dog park so I decided to meet them there.  One thing I love about where we live is that it is close to the Cherry Creek State Park.  It consists of this massive trail system that you can take all over the city.  I don't mind running on roads, but running on a trail, away from cars, traffic, and lots of noise is just awesome!  We estimated that it would probably be between 6-7 miles, exactly what I needed to run.  Perfect!

I got my tights on, a long sleeve wicking shirt, my running jacket, a new bondi band (yeah!), my ipod, Garmin, and Nathan handheld water bottle and was off.  It felt so good to run outside again. The temperature was perfect, the sun was shinning, and it was a little windy, but not too bad.  One thing I've realized is that I am always faster outside then I am on the treadmill.  And, when I try to run my normal outside pace on the treadmill it just seems so much harder.  Why is that?  Do any of your experience that too?

Anyways, according to the McMillan Running Calculator Chart I was supposed to be doing my long run around 8:50-9:00 pace, but my body really wanted to run faster.  When I felt like I was running at a good pace I would check my Garmin and I was always around 8:35.  I kept telling myself to SLOW down, but after awhile I just let my body dictate my pace instead of some chart and continued on my run.  And you know what?  I felt great!

I ran by lots of runners, giving them a little wave, and loved it when I got one back.  I've found that most runners are pretty friendly and will almost always give a little wave or nod back.  I think it's because we know what other runners are feeling and acknowledging each other helps us take comfort in knowing that we're not alone in our efforts.  Or, maybe people are just being nice. :)

As I was running I got to a point where I had to cross a road and continue South on the trail.  At this point I looked at my Garmin and realized I had already run 5.5 miles.  Uh-oh!  I knew at that moment that my run was going to be longer than I had expected.  I got a little nervous because I only had water with me and no nutrition (I thought I was only going to be running for around 45-50min, so I didn't feel the need to bring anything).  Plus, the longest I had run previous to this was 5 miles and I didn't want to overdo it.  But, I forged ahead and I still felt great.  I came to this bridge that I knew was only a short distance from the cut-off to the dog park and was so excited!  I took the cut-off and stopped to call my husband to see where they were.  Turns out they were only about 1/4 mile away, so I ran the rest of the way to meet them.  All in all, I ended up running 7.9 miles in a little over an hour!  Woohoo!

What a great start to the weekend!  My husband and I are running a race with our boys in the jogger tomorrow for the Valentine's Day 5K.  It should be a lot of fun!  That is, if we don't end up getting a lot of snow.  Right now the forecast calls for snow showers tomorrow A.M.  We have a cover that goes over the BOB to keep our boys warm and dry, but because they're just sitting there they get cold pretty quickly.  We're already planning to bring hot chocolate for them and those little hand warmers to help keep them warm.  We'll make the final call tomorrow morning on whether we'll all go or if just one of us will run.  But, do you think it would be selfish to still run with them?

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's weekend!        

February 10, 2010

Humpastry Day with a side of tempo!

Valentine's Day Cookies 
In honor of Valentine's Day, I decided to make some cookies with my boys.  They absolutely love making cookies and we actually have a lot of fun together!  Now that they're 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 they can actually do most of the steps.  They love using cookie cutters and decorating them with frosting and sprinkles.  Although, I think 70% of the frosting and sprinkles ends up in their bellies instead of on the cookies!  Ha ha!  I tried to make these "healthy," but let's be honest here, cookies with frosting are no where near healthy.  But it's o.k.  Sometimes you just have to make cookies because it's fun and just plain yummy!   Oh, and you don't have to worry about refrigerating the dough before using the cookie cutters.  This is great when you have two parents toddlers waiting for cookies! :)


Ingredients:
Makes between 1-2 dozen cookies depending on what size cookie cutters you use.

For the cookies:
 *  2C flour
Note:  I used a mix of 1C whole wheat pastry flour and 1C whole wheat flour.  You can use any combination of flour you feel like.  If you want a more "traditional" cookie cutter cookie, you might want to use a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat.
*  3/4C turbinado sugar
*  1tsp. baking powder
*  1/4C applesauce
*  1/2C canola oil
*  1Tbl. vanilla extract
*  1/2tsp. cinnamon

For the icing:
(Makes enough icing for 2 dozen cookies)
*  2C confectioners sugar
*  8-10tsp. soymilk (you can add more or less depending on how thick/runny you want the frosting to be)
*  6tsp. agave syrup
*  1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (you can also use almond extract for a different, but good flavor)


Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  In a mixing bowl, mix the applesauce, oil, and sugar together.
3.  In a separate bowl mix the flour(s), baking powder, and cinnamon.  Slowly add to the wet mixture until combined.
4.  Sprinkle a little flour on a clean surface.  Roll out the dough to a 1/4" thickness.
Note:  The dough may be a little crumbly, but will roll out fine for the cookie cutters.
5.  Cut out some cookies and place them on a cookie sheet.
6.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.
7.  Transfer to a cooling rack.






Enjoy! 







And, the side of tempo:
*Note to self, do not attempt a tempo run after eating 2 Valentine's day cookies! :)

 I am pretty new to tempo runs, so I found a general definition from running.about.com:

Definition: Tempo runs are runs that are done at a steady effort level, usually just a little slower than your 10K race pace. Tempo runs help you develop your anaerobic or lactate threshold, which is critical for running faster.

To do a tempo run, start your run with 5 to 10 minutes of easy running to warm up, then continue with 15 to 20 minutes of running about 10 seconds slower than your 10K pace. Finish with 5 to 10 minutes of cooling down. If you're not sure what your 10K pace is, run at a pace that feels "comfortably hard."


And here's some more info. on tempo runs that I got from runnersworld.com.
Why the Tempo Works...

Tempo running improves a crucial physiological variable for running success: our metabolic fitness. "Most runners have trained their cardiovascular system to deliver oxygen to the muscles," says exercise scientist Bill Pierce, chair of the health and exercise science department at Furman University in South Carolina, "but they haven't trained their bodies to use that oxygen once it arrives. Tempo runs do just that by teaching the body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently."

How? By increasing your lactate threshold (LT), or the point at which the body fatigues at a certain pace. During tempo runs, lactate and hydrogen ions--by-products of metabolism--are released into the muscles. The ions make the muscles acidic, eventually leading to fatigue. The better trained you become, the higher you push your "threshold," meaning your muscles become better at using these byproducts. The result is less-acidic muscles (that is, muscles that haven't reached their new "threshold"), so they keep on contracting, letting you run farther and faster. 


Tonight I was scheduled to do a 30min. tempo run and debated about doing it tomorrow instead because of the cookies, but figured I'd be alright.  For the most part I was fine, but burping up the taste of frosting is not the most pleasant thing to experience during a run.  Although, I guess it could have been much worse!
All in all, I think my tempo run went pretty good.  I did a 10min. warm-up, followed by 15min at around 7:28 pace, then a 5min. cool down.  It was pretty tough, and I had sweat pouring off of me, but it felt great and I felt FAST!   I can definitely see how doing tempo runs is going to help me meet my goal.  

Do any of you do tempo runs?  If so, do you think they have helped you become a faster runner?  

February 8, 2010

No Slackers Allowed!

I have been so focused on racking up the 112 miles for the Contact Cape Atlantic 140.6 challenge, that I've just been doing hour long trainer rides in the evenings.  As I'm sure you all know, that gets boring very quickly!  So, I decided to change things up and do a Spinervals workout tonight: Spinervals 1.0 No Slackers Allowed.

Can I just say that it was an awesome 45 minute workout, but it was tough!  One thing I liked about the workout was that it went through different interval sessions so I never got bored and the 45 minutes went by really quickly.  This was nothing like my regular trainer rides where I usually check my Garmin over and over again to see how much time has gone by only to find that I have only been riding for 10 minutes!

One thing I realized though is that I have definitely lost a lot of fitness since my HIM in October.  This is partly because it is winter and I haven't been able to ride outside, but if I'm honest with myself, it's because I just haven't been putting in the right kind of miles on the bike.  It is easy for me to just get on my trainer and ride for a set amount of time or distance without really pushing myself.  However, I know that I can't just "ride" if I want to get better. Doing this workout made me realize that I need to be doing more workouts of this intensity on a weekly basis to increase my bike fitness and get faster on the bike.  

In the end I racked up another 12 miles for the 140.6 challenge, which brings my total now up to 77 miles!  Woohoo!  With 10 days left in the challenge, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to do the last 35 miles, which makes me pretty happy! :)

Have any of you used the Spinervals workouts before?  If so, what do you think about them?  If not, are there other brands or bike workouts that you like?   

February 7, 2010

The Sunday Sampler

One thing I love about blogging is that I can gain perspectives on different things from so many different people.  Although I enjoy reading magazines and end up oogling over the latest and greatest gear, clothing, etc., that is reviewed in the magazine, sometimes I find it hard to really trust their opinions.  I mean, magazines make money by advertising and I'm sure the companies that put money into their magazines get reviewed highly...if you know what I mean.  That's what's so great about blogs!  I love reading "real people's" reviews about anything and everything and it has helped me make more informed decisions when I eventually go to buy a product.  I have also gained tons of tips that have helped me along the way.

So, I thought I would do a sort of "pay it forward" with my own blog.  I've decided to start a new Sunday post called, "The Sunday Sampler."  My plan is to share my insights, thoughts, and opinions with you about different things in three categories: fitness (gear/clothing/accessories/etc.), parenthood, and health rotating each category each week.  I hope that makes sense! :)  
My hope is that I will be able to help you along your adventure just like so many others have helped me. So, let me know what you think!  I'd love to read about your perspectives on these things as well!  :)        

Fitness:
Garmin Forerunner 305
Here is some general info. about the 305.  If you want to learn more about the 305, you can find lots of information on the Garmin site or on Amazon.com.
The Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS System combines form and function. This combination running partner and personal trainer is designed for athletes of all levels. It features a high-sensitivity GPS receiver, new courses feature, and robust ANT wireless heart rate monitor for optimal performance. The super-sensitive GPS tracks your every move, even working on tree-covered trails and near tall buildings. The heart device monitors your heart rate, speed, distance, pace and calories burned so you can train smarter, more effectively. These taskmasters will continually push you to do your personal best. Courses feature lets you download recorded courses and compete against previous workouts. Auto Pause pauses and resumes training timer. Lap Memory - 1,000 laps. Rechargeable internal lithium ion battery - lasts 10 hours (typical use). Waterproof - Submersible in one meter of water for up to 30 mins. Alerts - Time, distance, pace and heart rate. 

I bought my Garmin last Christmas when I decided to sign up for my first Half Ironman.  I wanted something that I could use in my training and racing.  I was new to following a "training" plan and was pretty much clueless about heart rate zones, pace, and cadence on a bike.  So I wanted something that would give me accurate heart rate data, speed, pace, GPS data, cadence, etc.  Bascially every type of data I would need for running and biking.  I already had an Ironman Timex that I used for swimming, so that wasn't a necessity for me.

Pros:
* It is super easy to use and set up.
* I was worried that it would be uncomfortable on my wrist, but it is actually pretty comfortable to wear.  I don't even notice it's there.
* You get instantaneous data during and after your workout.
* The display screen is clear and easy to read.
*  You can customize the data fields so it displays whatever you want (ex. pace, time, distance).
*  Uploading your data onto your PC is a cinch!
*  The heart rate strap is comfortable (see con below).

Cons:
* It is pretty chunky on my wrist.  I have pretty tiny wrists and the thing looks huge on me (see pic).  However, I don't mind it because the display is so easy to read.  I think if it were smaller I wouldn't be able to read it as easily while running and biking.  

*  In order to use it for racing I found I needed to buy the quick release kit which costs extra money.  I tried to just wear it on my wrist to get bike data, but it was difficult to read with my hands in the aero position.  The solution: get the quick release kit that attaches the 305 onto the bike where you can then release it and mount it on the quick release strap to run with.  I have used this setup in every triathlon and I love it!  

*  Acquiring the satellite feed can take time in some places, but the longest I've ever waited was a couple of minutes.

*  I wish the heart rate strap could be cinched a little smaller.  I actually had to cut and resew the strap to make it small enough to fit around my chest.

* The training center it comes with to upload your data is just alright.  The maps could be better, but it is great for storing your info.

*  In order to use it with your bike you have to buy the cadence sensor which again, costs more money.  However, if you don't want to mess with having another bike computer, then this is an awesome accessory.

All in all, the 305 has far exceeded my expectations!  I love my Garmin! It has really helped me improve my biking and running, and I can't imagine training without it!  I hope this review was helpful.


So, do you use a Garmin for training?  If so, how do you like it?  If not, what do you use?

February 4, 2010

Cape-Atlantic 140.6 challenge - half way point!

 I am officially half way through the CONTACT Cape-Atlantic 140.6 challenge.  For those of you new to my blog, you can read more about the challenge here.  Having bronchitis has really put a damper on my training.  I literally have not been able to to run for almost 3 weeks.  But, I finally went to the doctor on Tuesday where they did a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia.  Luckily, the x-ray came back normal..woohoo!  So, they gave me some meds. to help.  Prednisone, cough syrup with codine, and an inhaler.  So far it  has been helping a little bit, but my wet, mucusy cough (oh..it's so attractive..ha ha!) just won't go away.  The inhaler seemed to help after my trainer ride last night, so I'm going to test it out this evening with a nice, easy run.  I'm really worried about not being able to finish this challenge.  Plus, besides this challenge I'm also supposed to be training for my half marathon in April...ugghh!   Hopefully this will all clear up soon so I can get back to business.

Here are the numbers so far:
Run = 6.5 Miles (so pathetic...I know!)
Bike =  50 Miles
Swim = 2405 yards (also pretty pathetic!)


On another note, I went to an awesome Yoga class today at my gym.  I grabbed a class schedule during my last gym visit and realized they had a class from 11:45-12:45.  Perfect for me b/c I could eat a light lunch with my boys at 11, drop them off at kids club at the gym, enjoy yoga, then get back home in time for their naps at 1!

Now, I haven't been to a Yoga class for a long time.  I've been to classes at my gym before and they just haven't been that great.  I didn't want to waste my time going to another class that I didn't like.  But, I thought I'd try this one out b/c I've been wanting to get back into yoga again.  One good sign right away was that I got there at 11:30 (class starts at 11:45) and the room was almost already full.  Wow!  I panicked a little bit wondering where I wanted to go.  I hate being up front (I get very very self-conscience in group classes), and the back row was taken!  Then, I spotted a space in the middle row next to the wall...woohoo!  There was lovely soothing music playing in the background and the room was dimly lit when we started.  Can I just say that the class was awesome!  I loved the poses we did and some of them were pretty challenging.  I noticed right away that I felt stronger in my core and upper body.  I have really been trying to focus on strengthening my core and I could definitely tell that it has been working!  Hooray!

It was nice to "workout" in a different way.  I'm so used to running, biking, swimming, and lifting, that this was very refreshing and just what I needed.  So,  I am definitely going to try to make this a weekly class.

So, how about all of you?  Do any of you do Yoga or Pilates?  If so, how do you like it?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on it! :)  

February 3, 2010

Humpastry Day!

Sunflower Bread


I thought this bread turned out great!  It had a nice crunchy crust that wasn't too hard, and the inside was nice and soft.  I originally made this bread to go with some soup, but it was so yummy that we decided to eat the rest for breakfast this morning alongside a fruit salad.  We popped it in the toaster and topped it with some yummy stuff.  I thought it was really good with peanut butter and honey, but my two boys and husband loved it with Nutella!  Yum, yum, yum!  :)

Ingredients:
Makes 1 large loaf

*  1 1/4C plain soy milk
*  3Tbl. maple syrup
*  2Tbl. olive oil
*  1tsp. salt
*  3C whole wheat pastry flour
*  2Tbl. gluten
*  1/2C sunflower seeds
*  1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4tsp.)


Directions:
Note:  I used the dough cycle on my bread maker to make the dough before baking it in the oven, but if you don't have a bread maker it's still super easy to do.  I'm going to post the directions for making it with and without a bread maker.

*Without a bread maker:
1.  In a medium saucepan combine soy milk, maple syrup, oil, and salt.  Heat over low heat until lukewarm.  Remove from heat, stir in yeast, and set aside.
2.  In a large bowl combine flour and sunflower seeds.  Add the yeast mixture and mix well to combine.  Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.
3.  Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning dough to coat with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap/clean dish towel/cheese cloth and let rise for 1 hour.  Test dough by poking it with your finger.  If the indentation from your finger remains, you're good to go!

*With a bread maker:
(I absolutely love my bread maker!)
1.  Place the ingredients into your bread maker according to its directions.  Usually, you put the wet ingredients in first, followed by the salt, then the flour/sunflower seed mixture.  Make a small well in the flour and pour in the yeast.
2.  Set your bread maker to the dough cycle, press start, and let it do the work for you!

*At this point, the directions are the same for with/without a bread maker.
1.  Spread some cornmeal onto a baking sheet (I used my baking stone).  Take the dough, punch it down, and form it into a loaf.  Put the loaf onto the baking stone.
2.  Cover with plastic wrap/towel/cheese cloth and let rise again for 1 hour.  Note:  I ran out of time and only let it rise for about 40min.  It turned out great, but I think it really needs to rise the full hour!

3.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
4.  Uncover the loaf and bake until golden brown, about 40minutes.  During the last 20 minutes of baking, cover the bread loosely with foil.
5.  When it's done baking, move the loaf onto a wire rack to cool before slicing.
Enjoy! :)  

February 2, 2010

LOST=Happiness, Groundhog=Sadness

For those of you who are LOST fanatics, like me, you know how exciting today is!  The season premiere is finally here...hooray!

 I feel like bustin' into song... "I'm so excited, and I just can't help it.  I'm about to lose control and I think I like it, I like it."  Ha ha ha.  I have been a fan of LOST since day one and can't wait to see how the season ends!!


On another note:
 Punxsutawney Phil predicts 6 more weeks of winter
Six more weeks of winter...ugghh!  Although it hasn't been too bad here in CO this month I am so ready for Spring.  Bring on the long days, the warm & sunny days, and the days of being able to ride/run outside without having to wear a billion layers!  Oh how I hope Phil is wrong!
  

February 1, 2010

I'm back....sort of!

My bronchitis is definitely on the upswing...woohoo!  After 2 weeks I'd say it's about time!!  

I decided to go to the gym this morning for an early (4:30AM) pool workout followed by some strength training. I have to admit that when the alarm went off I laid in bed a little too long and almost fell back to sleep!  I know myself well enough that if I don't get out of bed within a couple of minutes of my alarm going off then I will inevitable fall back to sleep and I always wake up disappointed in myself. But this time I fought the urge to sleep!  I dragged myself into the other room to get dressed, forced down a granola bar (I usually have a banana before my swim workouts but we were all out), and drove to the gym.  To my surprise it was actually pretty busy...busier then I have ever seen it at 4:45 in the morning!

I got to the pool and was pleased to see that 2 of the 3 lanes were open..yeah!  I quickly got in the pool and started swimming.  It felt so great to be back in the water.  I've been working on my stroke and I think it's coming along because I just feel smoother in the water - ya know what I mean?  Before I was even done with my first 100, a guy got in the last open lane and an older woman came over and asked if she could share the lane with me.  Now, I don't know if other women share these thoughts, but as a women I find it really hard to share a lane with a guy...especially a bigger, muscular guy.  Maybe it's just my gym and the pool lanes are super narrow but whenever I share a lane with a guy I always feel like he's going to plow into me head on.  It really messes with my concentration and I end up screwing up my stroke and swimming like an idiot!  Do any of the other women out there ever feel that way or is it just me?  And, if you had a choice between sharing with a women and sharing with a guy, who would you choose?  Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against swimming with men, it just freaks me out a little bit!  It's definitely something I need to get over.

Anyways, when I looked up to say yes to the women I noticed who it was.  It was this lady that must be in her late 80's that is there almost every day of the week swimming.  She is seriously a swimming rock star! She doesn't swim very fast and has this really wide stroke, but she swims nonstop for forever!  I have been there several times for almost an hour and she just keeps swimming.  She is just a total inspiration!  I really hope that when I am her age I am still active like her!  I've always wanted to talk to her about it and tell her how inspirational she is, but she is all business once she enters the water.  I'm thinking she may have swam professionally when she was younger...maybe someday I'll find out!

All in all I had a great swim!  I didn't want to push myself knowing that I still have lung/coughing issues, so I ended up doing 12 x 100 repeats at a nice steady pace.  If I feel better this week I'm going to start doing actual workouts with drills and sets, but until then I just want to get in the water and swim!  Once my actual 70.3 training starts I know my days of "just swimming" will be few and far between!

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you have a great day! :)