Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday snapshots

134 Off for run No. 1. Don’t mind the crazy hair.

Getting ready for a second go …

Deciding that the swings are way more fun after a half-mile. Any guesses who made that decision?

158160161159Enjoying some Irish fare post-park: Lamb and Barley stew in a Guinness Bread Bowl and a Rueben 

100_2829 Fueled and ready to do some shopping at Sam’s Club. Laughing Cow Garlic & Herb wedges in bulk? Yes. Please!

164Sam’s Club steal: 16 ounces of vanilla extract for less than $7. I see some baking in my future.

165 Denali, unenthused with it all – even the diapers I got at Sam’s Club.

What does your weekend snapshot look like?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Three Things Thursday: That's new to me

“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.”
― Dave Barry

1. I did something Tuesday that, once upon a time, I only thought crazy people did: I ran twice in one day.

While I created my Martian half-marathon plan to include only three days of running as not to overwhelm me, I've been logging miles four days a week for more than a month. I like to run and I like that running more is making me stronger. However, this week was not looking good for my goal. I had two classes scheduled Wednesday, I'm trying out a new class Friday morning for work and I have Pump on Saturday. My only days to run were Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Period. (Incidentally, my run this morning didn't happen - thunderstorms and sleeping in happened.)

I could have just taken it for what it was, a busy week, but I decided to try something new - doubling up on runs. My first run was an easy morning run around the 'hood with Denali and Miles. Some people might call it a "junk miles" run but I think any time on your feet is a good thing.

I planned the second run to be after Miles went to bed but DST is wreaking havoc on our schedule. Mark agreed to put Boo Boo down and I took out Denali for a tempo effort. Five-minute warm-up, 30 minutes comfortably hard, 5-minute cooldown. It was tough, my pacing stunk and Denali was slow but I got it done and my average pace was 9:05.

2. My whole two-a-day thing continued Wednesday when I doubled up on classes at the gym where I take Body Pump. There was a boot camp-esque class, which I took the other week, and ... wait for it ... SPINNING.

I've never "spun" before but I have to say I liked it. It was challenging but you definitely get to control the workout with how much you turn up the dial and how much you put into it.

I guess I put a lot into it :)

Our ride was more of a strength ride with lots of hills and standing hills but I had fun. Spinning doesn't normally fit into my schedule but I think I might try to find a way a couple times a month.

3. And the other new thing this week? Oh, you know, just signing up for a marathon.

That's right. I'll be doing the Columbus Marathon in October. Yay ... I think.

I've actually been planning on doing this race for a while but finally bit the bullet and whipped out the credit card to register before fees went up. I'm equal parts excited and scared but, per Megan's advice on Twitter, I am going to skip the peeing of the pants and do a happy dance.

Side note: I've started a page with my upcoming races. You know, if you're interested.

Anything new with y'all?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese: A lesson in recipe makeovers

When I saw the recipe on BlogHer, there was no question in my mind that I had to make it.


The Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese recipe combined two of Mark's favorite things: all things Buffalo flavored and macaroni and cheese. I knew he would love it ... even if it didn't love my hips.

However, I'm not one to back down from a healthy eating challenge so I set out to make the dish my way.

My recipe makeover tips

1. The recipe calls for whole grain pasta, which seems inherently healthy. Any pasta, though, still packs a caloric punch - 200 calories per 2 ounce serving. I try to do my best to use less pasta than the recipe calls for and use a lower-calorie pasta, such as Ronzoni Smart Taste. I didn't have any on hand, so I used Ronzoni Garden Delight Rotini, which has a full serving of vegetables per 2 ounces.

2. Bulk up with vegetables. While I didn't do it here, I could have easily subbed out some of the pasta (maybe 2-3 ounces) and added grated carrot and sliced celery. After all, those taste fabulous with Buffalo recipes.

3. Use low-fat ingredients. Note: I didn't say fat-free. Fat-free products taste bad and are more processed than I care to know. By using low-fat cream cheese, I saved 480 calories for the recipe (60 calories per serving). I also used low-fat cheese but more on that to come.

4. Go lean. While the recipe doesn't call for a specific part of the chicken, I used shredded chicken breast only. (I like to buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts when they are on sale and cook 5 pounds or so in the slow cooker. I shred it and freeze it in 1-pound sections for such recipes/meals.) If a dish calls for beef, make sure to get ground sirloin and get a tenderloin for pork.

5. Less is less. The recipe called for 3 cups of cheese - on top of a brick of cream cheese. And while I love cheese, it seemed a bit excessive. I used 2 cups - 1.5 cups of 2% cheddar and .5 cup of part-skim mozzarella - and Mark didn't seem to mind.

6. DIY ingredients. I'll admit it: When I saw blue cheese dressing on the ingredient list, I added it to my grocery list without thought. I went to the dressing aisle, grabbed the first bottle I could and went on my merry way. However, had I made my own - like this Guiltless Blue Cheese Dressing - I would have saved 200 calories ... PER SERVING. Talk about awesome.

7. Cut the fat? A bread-crumb topping on mac and cheese is a must have for some but I don't really need it. I cut out 165 calories (20 per serving) by skipping it.

8. Reduce portion sizes. If all else fails, eat less. You could easily make this sans chicken and serve it as a side dish with your lean meat and veggie of choice. Calories are cut in half instantly!

By the way, the nutritionals on what I ate for dinner: 500 calories, 26 grams fat (dang store-bought dressing), 38 grams carbs and 24 grams protein

What are your tips for making over a recipe?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Running on Roctane

Guess who's now a track coach?

And if you guessed me, thanks but you're giving me too much credit. Mr. Speedy McSpeederson, otherwise known as Mark, has joined the coaching ranks at the middle school where he teaches. He'll be specializing in the "longer" distances - aka the 800.

It doesn't really matter much to you - or me, for that matter. I'm definitely not going to let him coach me. It only affects me inasmuch that I now have the lovely responsibility of going home at lunch to take out Denali. While it could be a bit cumbersome for many, I live close to work and it's nice to get out of the office for a half-hour (and maybe stop at the coffee shop for a nonfat latte).

It also doesn't hurt if you find a box addressed to you on your front porch when you return home at lunch.

When I originally saw the box on the front step, I thought it was my (and possibly your) hat from Running Warehouse. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw it was from one of my favorite companies, Gu.

I opened the box slowly, a bit unsure of its contents.

Thankfully, there was no crazy track coach inside who wanted to make me run intervals.

Just some water bottles and samples of the new Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Drink in Tropical Punch ... which made me want to go run intervals.

Exciting, right? It's like the gear fairy stopped by my house with a special prize. (By the way, gear fairy, my post-breast feeding boobs need extra small sports bras and I want more shorts.) Except not. I had actually won a Facebook thingy and this was my prize.

While I'm not one to incorporate sports drinks into my fueling, I'm definitely excited to give it a try. Especially as the weather warms and even a short run requires water.

I'm sure you'll be excited to try it, too. Expect a few of these packet so turn up in my giveaway package.

And, in case you were worried about me going back to work with terrible hair, I did notice that I looked like a hot mess and made an effort to remedy the situation.

New hair + mascara + lip balm. It always makes me feel polished.

What has surprised you lately?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Detour to higher mileage

It was a simple question: Had I eaten lunch yet? The answer should have been simple, as well. "Yes, I had eaten lunch," I said in reply to my friend's text.

But I had to add something on,something that made things a little more difficult.

"But," I told her, "I accidentally ran 11 miles this morning and who knows how hungry I'll be in an hour or so."

Then came a not-so-simple question: How do you accidentally run 11 miles?

1. You could be really bad at math. You could see that you have 5 miles on the schedule and run 5 miles but forget you have to get home, too. This was not the case but you could see how that could happen.

2. You could join a friend who is further along in her training plan and get so caught up in talking that you miss your turnaround. Again, not the case but easy enough.

3. You could be so in the moment, so in love with running that you miss your turnaround. While this has happened to me, coincidentally on the day I met Shalane Flanagan, I was not being moved by the spirit of Prefontaine.

No, I was being moved by the spirit of a moron. Myself being the moron.

I had 10 miles on schedule and, per the routine, Mark, Denali and Miles joined me for the first part. Mark has been steadily increasing his mileage of late and was ready to do 5 miles. Those 5 miles were lovely enough as we plodded along the greenway except for the "casual" reminders to Mark to slow the eff down.

Once I dropped them off (and grabbed my ear buds), I started to make my moron mistakes.

No. 1: Set off with no route in mind. Most of the time, I head north toward downtown for a nice out and back. When I realized that I would have to stop to cross the street, I turned left toward the park.

No. 2: When I got to the park, I realized that I didn't want to run it again and headed down a part of the trail that I frequent less often.

No. 3: When it was time to make my turnaround, I decided that I didn't want to do an out and back. Instead, I got off the trail and found myself smack dab in an unfamiliar (and less than upscale) neighborhood.

At this point, I tried to use my amazing sense of direction to figure out a way home. I went down a street. Dead end. I turned right. Dead end. I turned left. And ran and ran and ran. For a brief moment, I started to scope out houses where I could stop and ask for directions (or stop and ask to use a phone) but eventually I found myself at an intersection where a street name was known. I turned right and headed toward familiar territory.

I got home in decent time without feeling like doody just in time to realize that I made moron mistake No. 4: I did a long run and failed to wash my compression gear. I'll have that one to thank for this morning's sore quads.

Of course, I could play this off that I was feeling pretty good - and I was - and I thought it would be good to bump up mileage since I did a 10-miler two weeks ago - and it probably was. However, it's probably not so good to add on mileage because you refuse to plan ahead and toss common sense to the wind at the earliest point possible.

The only smart thing I did was happen upon a gas station to refill my bottle and wear my RoadID so that the police knew who I was when I collapsed after running in circles for 200 miles.