Friday, September 17, 2010

By the numbers

Pre-workout fuel: Whole-wheat toast with Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams and sliced banana
Workout: Ran 5.02 miles in 45 minutes, 34 seconds; average pace, 9:04.

My bib number for Fort-4-Fitness. I got the info on the confirmation card that I received in the mail yesterday. I can't decide whether it's a good thing that my birth year is in there but it's there. The big ole "81."

The high temperature for next Saturday, the big day. Yep. I can now stalk the weather for the half-marathon. I'm telling you now - if Friday's rain forecast moves to Saturday, I'm whooping some butt.

Saturday's low temperature. Short sleeves or long sleeves? Decisions, decisions.

The number of calories in the bag of Raisinets that I ate yesterday instead of that scone. I figured 190 calories worth of my favorite candy (now in the dern vending machine at work - BASTARDS) is far better than the 400+ scone. Don't feel bad for the blueberry confection; I gave it to Mark.

The number of times this month that my average pace has been slower than 9:00 min/mile - including today's run. You wanna know what ... it felt mighty nice to run some slow miles in the beginning.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Three Things Thursday

Pre-workout fuel breakfast: Bowl of Kashi Island Vanilla with 1 cup milk and sliced banana
Workout: Walk with Denali and 20 minutes upper body with weights

1. Just because a big bowl of cereal sounds good before you start your planned session with Jillian Michaels/OnDemand doesn't mean it's a good idea. It's not. Your tummy is full, and the thought of working out is nauseating.

2. I was watching "The Doctors" this morning as I got ready for work - straightening my hair, drinking coffee, flossing my teeth. The show kind of irks me because I don't think it's really possible to give sound health advice to the masses. It's all quippy crap that you read in magazines like Prevention. It's not that the information is wrong. I guess it's just not new. Anyway, they were talking about 24 ways to improve your health in 24 hours. It's not all eat right, exercise more either. It's sleep this way -- not that way. Don't walk and text or you'll fall in a manhole. If you have to pee, pee. In the toilet, that is. Anyways, it got me thinking that there's more to take care of me than eating right and exercising. Like I need to get back on the teeth flossing bandwagon.

3. After lunch this morning, I stopped at Higher Grounds for a decaf coffee. For some reason, I felt inclined to order a blueberry scone. It can't be that bad ... or can it. Yeah, my little splurge is 400+ calories and still sitting on my desk. I haven't decided whether to eat it or take it home to Mark. So sad, little scone. You're so cute and tasty-looking.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tempo trials

Pre-workout fuel: Slice of whole-wheat toast with Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams
Workout: Ran 8.02 miles in 1 hour, 10 minutes and 52 seconds; average pace, 8:50.

I needed this run. My legs needed this run. My confidence needed this run. My head needed this run.

And somehow, on some level, I feel like I failed on all accounts.


I found myself a week ahead on the Runner's World sub-2:00 plan, and the details of a tempo/"quality" workout were going to be my responsibility. I decided that I wanted to do 8 miles with 6 miles at "tempo," with the tempo miles starting at a 9:00/mile pace and progressively getting faster so that last mile was about 8:30.

I set out about 6:30 a.m., and the air was crisp and the sky black. It felt good to feel alone, to feel my legs beneath my feet. I kept the pace reserved, comfortable and just let myself focus on breathing.

By the time I hit the mile mark, I started to wonder whether the Garmin was once again being attacked by gremlins. I struggled to keep an eye pace and my body gauge was so off. I thought I was going at a good clip and then the first tempo mile ticked off at 9:03.


"Mile 2," I thought to myself. "Let's get this around 8:52. 8:55."

I wanted to see those numbers on the display so I'd surge and pull back. Surge and pull back. Not what I was wanting to do. I wanted an even effort with gradual, steady improvement in pace.

Tempo mile No. 2 -- 8:50. No. 3? 8:53 -- too slow. No. 4 -- 8:40 ... too fast.

By this time, I was just frustrated. I felt tired, lost (mentally, that is) and wondering what the hell I was thinking when I set the goal of a sub-2:00 half marathon. Here I am. Struggling. Struggling at 5 miles. How am I going to do this for 13.1 miles?

When this negative self talk surfaces, I like to tell myself to shut up. Shut. The. Eff. Up. And get it together.

So I went. I pushed. I blocked everything else out. I tried to salvage what seemed like such a good plan gone wrong.

Tempo mile 5 -- 8:14.

S$%*! I wanted to negative split. How I'm going to run my seventh mile under 8:14?

I run like hell. Up a hill. Out of breath. Dodging a middle-schooler who left something in her mom's car. I remind myself that it's almost over. In 8:12, it is.

All that was left was a casual run home to cool down. And far too many thoughts. Many of which involved the word failure. While I got in the mileage and, for the most part, negative split the run, it wasn't easy-breezy, controlled and well paced. It was hard. It was uneven. It was salvaged (as opposed to executed). It was none of the things I want for race day.

I know it's easy for us all to be hard on ourselves especially if, personally, our head is not in the right place. It doesn't do us any good. Getting frustrated in the beginning only messed with my pacing, further exacerbating my mood and my pacing again. It's important that we remember there are bad runs. And good ones, too. Things don't always go according to plan. You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to be fast.

You just have to run.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Yeah ... I'm supposed to be sitting in some auditorium, listening to Sean Astin talk about acting and whatever else he is passionate. Instead, I'm sitting on the couch in too big PJs and trying to find something - anything - on TV.

Yes, there is a story about that. No, I'm not going to share it with you. What I can share with you is the show that provided a good hour of, uh, entertainment while I ate my dinner: "Thintervention" with Jackie Warner. It's sort of "Biggest Loser" meets the Jillian Michael's solo show that aired over the summer meets counseling session. The celeb trainer works with a group of eight overweight/obese Los Angeles residents to get healthy and lose weight as well as find out why they eat with the help of therapy.

I was mildly amused by the show, especially the Australian chick who likes to drink too much. Vodka for breakfast? Yes. Please! And the single cougar on the prowl in a sprawling house with a personal chef ... yeah, can I come live with you?

With these kinds of shows, in addition to tears and resistance, there's always great quips. But the cleverest of one liners aren't coming from Jackie Warner although I did appreciate: "You don't want to avoid the burn; you want to chase it down!" The "funniest" of lines are coming from the other contestants. About each other.

"One horrendous heterosexual who wants to get skinny so he can bang better-looking chicks." That's from the drunk lady. She had lots of negative things to say. Of course, one of the other guys had to liken her appearance to an orka. Touche ... I guess.

While it makes for good TV, I just found it disturbing that we can be so mean to each other. These people should understand, as obese people, what it's like to be called names. I remember what it was like to be called names, even from a young age and crossing the street. I think it was "whale" from a car driving by. The whispers from girls about my "shapely" back side. The negative comments seemed to come from everywhere - from my mom to boys - and each time it hurt me. They made me feel like less of a person.

Knowing how bad it feels to be called names, I couldn't help but wonder: Why are we so mean to each other? We should be supportive and kind. Empathetic. We should talk about people the way they want to be talked about. Doing otherwise really doesn't help the other person.

And it isn't that funny. At all.

Toe the line

Pre-workout fuel: Slice of whole-wheat toast with apple butter
Workout: Ran 4.29 miles in 38 minutes, 19 seconds; average pace, 8:56.

When it comes to running, sometimes the most important things are not the things you do on the road. It's the things you do before the run.

Like wash your Nike Tempo shorts.

And eat right.

Drink enough water.

Charge your Garmin.

Cut your toenails.

Yeah, I said it. Cut your toenails. If you think I'm joking, you can ask my third toe, which has a nice little cut on the right side from the nail of the fourth toe digging in.

I kind of felt like something was up with my right foot today and tried to lift my toes as I was running because, yeah, that's comfortable and going to make it better. I just figured something was stuck in the wrong spot. When I got home and took off my sock, it wasn't something "in the wrong spot." It was a straight up injury (or something a bit less melodramatic).

I tended to my wound, stretched, drank some DECAF coffee and got to trimming before hopping in the shower. I probably should have spent more time this morning doing all of the above but I needed to give my hair time to dry as we're going to a reception and speech-y thing with Sean Astin. You know the actor from "Lord of The Rings," "Rudy" and only my favoritest movie ever, "The Goonies." Gotta look good for Mikey! Good thing he won't be able to see my toes :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Another Meatless Monday success

Pumpkin enchiladas.

They just sound weird. Really weird. Pumpkin is for pies and cookies -- not for Mexican dishes. Yet when I saw the recipe over at Peanut Butter Fingers, I couldn't help but be intrigued ... and tempted.

Just one problem: Pumpkin is still nearly impossible to find. However, I did have half of a butternut squash in the fridge and have found the gourd to be a good sub for my fall favorite.

So yeah ... Butternut Squash Enchiladas ... yeah.

Hmmm .... hmmm ... mmm ... MMM ... GOOD!

While I don't have any photos to whet your palate, I can tell you that these were so good. Smoky, spicy and just the hint of sweetness from the squash ... very balanced Hearty, too.

Butternut Squash Enchiladas
Adapted from Peanut Butter Fingers

Small onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce
15 ounces roasted butternut squash, pureed
1 (15-ounce) can light red kidney beans
Handful cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
4 Smart & Delicious tortillas (La Tortilla Factory)
1/2 cup 2% cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a fairly decent-sized skillet, use either a drizzle of canola oil or a few sprays of non-stick spray to coat the pan. Add onions and garlic and saute until soft. Add enchilada sauce, then squash and stir until well combined. Add cilantro, cumin and chili powder; mix well. Add a thin layer of sauce to a 9x13 baking pan. Take a tortilla and add even amounts of kidney beans and the sauce mixture. Roll into a burrito and put it into the pan. Repeat with other tortillas. Top with the remainder of sauce and cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or so until the cheese is melted. Serve with 0% Greek yogurt or sour cream.

By the way, these reheat beautifully. I made them Sunday night to eat for lunch today -- and several other days this week -- and just microwaved one enchilada for about 1 minute, 30 seconds. (I often make a healthy batch-type recipe on Sundays to enjoy for lunch throughout the week. Just a Healthy Strides tip, from me to you.)

Crossed out

Pre-workout fuel: Slice of whole-wheat toast
Workout: 20 minutes upper body with weights; 15 minutes stretching; and 2.2-mile walk with Denali.

I'm not going to lie ... I was a bit disappointed this morning. I was walking Denali, just past the elementary school and noticed an adorable fifth-grade boy with fiery red hair. Wearing a bright yellow vest, he ushered across a fellow elementary school student. Me? No notice at all. Not even Denali got a glance. So much for the two of us crossing the street safely.

You see, I would often run by the school in the spring during my Flying Pig Training. There's a nice incline and it was the closest I could get to hill training here in the FW. Nearly once a week - sometimes more often if I included it on a walk -- I would pass the school. Each time I would pass, even if I was doing repeats, the fifth-grade crossing guards would stand in the middle of the street, with their little signs, and make sure I was safe. A bit weird and cute all at the same time.

So you see, I half-looked forward to my fellow ginger helping a girl out this morning. A return to routine. An act of chivalry. Instead, all I got was a half-decent walk that stretched out some semi-sore legs.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Snarkfest and celebration of the last long run

Pre-workout fuel: Slice of whole-wheat toast with Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams and sliced banana
Mid-workout fuel: Blueberry Roctane and Chocolate Gus
Workout: Ran 12.01 miles in 1 hour, 46 minutes and 26 seconds; average pace, 8:51.

To the person (who knows me) who asked me if I really did run all the way to her neighborhood, yes. Yes, I did. And I sort of wanted to die doing it.

To the woman who almost hit me today because red lights are apparently just a suggestion, why don't you find yourself at mile 10 of a 12-mile run and just the thought of stopping gives you a cramp. If you do that, then yes. Yes, you can roll through the light.

To my legs, which felt like 30 pound weights dangling from my torso, eff you and eff you. Just because we only ran one mile over 9 minutes doesn't mean you can crap out at mile 6 and barely move by mile 11.

To my husband, who gulped all of the water at mile 11, marriage is about caring and sharing. Especially when you have 22 ounces of water for two people and 12 miles.

To the people at Target who stared at me, in my compression socks, you can stare when your butt literally hurts from running 12 miles.

To Fort-4-Fitness, bring it on! My last long run is C-O-M-P-L-E-T-E and with just one more tough tempo run to go, I am ready for you. No pain, no gain.