Friday, April 6, 2012

Change in plans

Bad news for JB - she can't take advantage of the Hero Rush entry. So we have a new winner ... ROBYN!


Email me at hlthystrides at gmail dot com, and we'll get you going.

***

I made a decision last week. A big decision ... or at least a medium-size decision. I was going to cut out the speed work and focus on miles. I was going to forgo faster for stronger (i.e. endurance).

And, this week, I've stuck to it.

Tuesday, Mark and I ran 3 miles. OK, so that's not really in line with racking up mileage but Mark wasn't into going farther and I was sore from Piloxing.

Stats: 3.00 miles, 29:07 (average pace, 9:42)

Wednesdays are "Mom Needs Alone Time" nights, and I took advantage of my free time by bringing my running clothes to work. I changed in the bathroom and set out for a portion of the trail that I used to run before we moved last year.

I'm not sure whether it was the sweet obituary of the dedicated runner or the perfect crisp, sunny weather but I was in this run. It wasn't perfect, physically, but I truly enjoyed every minute as I ran along the river. The trees were colorful - purple and white flowers - the grass was lush, and I could smell lilacs.

My focus wasn't on pace, and I just let myself do what felt good.

Stats: 6.01 miles, 57:52 (average pace, 9:37)

Today was it, the work morning where I had to stick to the plan of more miles. I told Mark we were doing 5 last night, and he decided that he was going to push me for the 5 miles. So much for no speed work.

Of course, when we woke up at 5:30, I don't think he was all excited about pushing me. Hmph. I think I ended up doing the pushing - stroller and pace. It was a hard run and a bit chillier than I would have liked for this time of year (33 degrees) but it was nice to get out and even nicer to know that Miles and I can hang for 5 miles.

Stats: 5.0 miles, 46:30 (average pace, 9:18)

My higher mileage plan will be on hiatus next week as I taper for the Martian Invasion half marathon but I was happy with my efforts. I hit 14 miles in three runs, which is a couple more than I had been doing. It's so rewarding to set a goal and see myself taking steps to meet it. Feeling pride in myself is so much better than a number on the scale or the MOTOACTV.

What goals have you set? How are you working toward them?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Can't we all be winners?

Drum roll, please ...

The winner of the Hero Rush giveaway is ... JB.


Email me at hlthystrides at gmail dot com and I'll get you hooked up!


For those of you who didn't win, no fear. I have something for you, too: a $10 discount for any 2012 Hero Rush event. Just enter "HealthyStrides10" at checkout.

***

And since I did something for you, I'm hoping you'll do something for me.

When I was in New Orleans at the RnR expo, I got up the guts to record an audition video for Team REFUEL. Team REFUEL is a group of athletes - some elite, some famous bloggers, some just everyday people - and they tout the benefits of chocolate milk as a recovery drink. If you didn't know, "low-fat chocolate milk contains the right mix of carbs and protein scientifically shown to help refuel muscles. Chocolate milk helps restore muscles quickly to their peak potential."

The video I made, no matter how awkward, cheesy and uncomfortable, is all I could - and can - do. Now, it's up to the masses to vote. Masses like you. You can vote for me daily HERE beginning at 8 p.m. today.

It would really mean a lot to me if you took the time to do so. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and racing are expensive. Too expensive for me and my family right now (but that's a topic for another day) and the grant money would help me immensely in working toward my goals.

A spring break, French style

 It's spring break around these parts.


No, not that kind of spring break.


More like this kind of spring break.

And while I do have to monitor my jealousy of Mark's video game-filled days, I have to say that I get my own free time since Mark is available to baby wrangle. Time in the morning to spend putting on makeup and straightening my hair. Time to pack a lunch filled with real food.


And time to make breakfast.


 Like French toast.


Lots and lots of French toast. Like this Strawberry-Banana stuffed number.

Strawberry-Banana Stuffed French Toast

2 eggs
1/3 cup egg whites
1/3 cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
8 slices bread
4 wedges Laughing Cow Strawberry Cream Cheese Spread
2 small bananas, sliced
Butter, syrup, etc.

Preheat skillet on medium heat with drizzle canola oil. In a shallow bowl, beat together eggs, egg whites, milk and almond extract. Dip bread in egg mixture, allowing it to soak about 15 minutes per side. Place bread in skillet and ... well ... cook it. I'm sure you all know how to make French toast.

Once the French toast is cooked, spread on the Laughing Cow Strawberry Cream Cheese Spread - one wedge each on four slices. Top with sliced bananas and another piece of French toast. Top with butter, syrup or whatever else you like to do.

Since I've had French toast a million times this week (it's Mark's favorite and we had the bread from the Nutri-Run), I've tried several versions. One with no banana, just the cream cheese - meh. The LC is good with stuff but has an odd taste on its own. Another, the best, was with no banana but all-fruit blackberry jam. So, so, so good.

What's your favorite kind of French toast? Have you tried the new Laughing Cow cream cheese?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Baby steps

Today is National Walking Day.

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So we walked.

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We walked to McDonald’s for coffee.

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We walked around the neighborhood.

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And another neighborhood.

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We walked until someone fell asleep in the stroller.

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We did it because it is National Walking Day, of course. It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that someone woke up at 4:30 a.m. and refused to go back down.

We covered just more than 2 miles during our little adventure. While I read a blog post recently where the writer said she didn’t consider walking exercise (for her, personally), I am in the “it all counts” corner. I think if you do something with the intention of moving your body for health benefits that it counts as exercise. If you go for a walk to burn calories, you exercised. If you walked down the street to deliver cupcakes to your neighbor, it might not count.

Not that it matters what I think. I am not an expert. The ones at the American Heart Association, the group behind National Walking Day, have this to say:

"There are countless physical activities out there, but walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all! It's the simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health.

Research has shown that the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:

  • Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improve blood lipid profile
  • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
  • Enhance mental well being
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes

What are your thoughts? Do you plan to take a few steps for National Walking Day?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

For the ages

I ran 3 miles this morning. I ran because I was going to have to take a shower anyway. I ran because I was hoping the child who kept me up from 2:30 to 4:30 a.m. would take a nap. I ran because I was supposed to.

So it was with a bit of serendipity that a friend emailed me the obituary of a man in Buffalo. As strange as we might be, we don't go around sharing obituaries from our hometown papers. What she sent me was more than that - it was a story.

It was a story that serves as a reminder about how truly great it is to move your body and be a part of the running community. It was a story of inspiration, life and, of course, death.

Henry Sypniewski was a runner for the ages

By Budd Bailey, News Sports Reporter at Buffalo News

Most runners are at least thinking about wrapping up the athletic portion of their lives at the age of 70. Henry Sypniewski was just getting started.

Sypniewski, who died Sunday night at the age of 93, had an absolutely unique career in his chosen sport. His name is scattered throughout the national record books for his achievements, having set several age-group records while running for more than two decades.

"I don't know how he did it at that age," said his wife, Helen. "Oh, how he loved running. You couldn't stop him, in all weather, no matter how he felt."

Sypniewski, of South Cheektowaga, fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II and worked as a machinist. He had boxed in his youth, and apparently needed an outlet for his competitive urges in retirement.

Sypniewski helped get recognition to runners of all ages.

"They never had age-group awards [for those] over 50," said Ted Sullivan of Williamsville when Sypniewski turned 90. "He wrote letters to all the race directors as he progressed along, and he brought all the old guys with him."

He was still writing those letters for his final years of running, complaining that it wasn't fair for him to compete against those comparative youngsters in an "80-and-above" age-group.

Sypniewski also was as tough as any runner in a given race. One time in his late 80s during the Shamrock Run, he took a nasty spill on a bridge that forced him to clean up some blood from his clothes after the finish. When asked about it, he simply said, "Aw, I'll get over it."

Sypniewski set American records for the fastest half-marathon by a 90-94 runner (3 hours, 3 minutes and 56 seconds), and at 15-kilometers by an 85-89 runner (57:33).

While health issues kept Sypniewski off the roads for the most part in the last several months, he still had two great performances left in him. At the national Masters 5-kilometer championship in Syracuse in October, Sypniewski covered the distance in 47:38. The old record was 1:01:07, meaning he broke the record for 93-year-olds by more than 13 minutes.

"They pleaded with me to come," Sypniewski said later. "When I got to the finish line, they were all cheering. I was dead tired, and I was sore."

"His 'peers' -- from former Olympians still in their 40's and 50's to gentlemen in their 80's hoping to still be competing in their 90's -- knew better than anyone else how remarkable his achievements were," said Dave Oja, director of the Syracuse Festival of Races.

Then Sypniewski topped himself about a month later, covering the 5K distance in 45:47 at the Bob Ivory Run. It was his last race.

Sypniewski, who died of stomach cancer according to Helen, received plenty of recognition and publicity for his achievements over the years. He always said that he hoped that it would inspire people to stay active.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

bbailey@buffnews.com

Monday, April 2, 2012

Truth.

I had a lunch date with two very handsome men today. I'd show you photos ... but a girl never kisses and tells. Nor does she feed someone a cottage cheese-guacamole mixture and document it. You just don't.

Anyway. I'm sitting at my desk, sipping a Diet Coke. The second of the day. It's the refill I made Man No. 1 get for me while I was changing Man No. 2's diaper.

Yes, it's that kind of day.

While I've never shied away from my love for aspartame and caffeine, the truth is that I should have at least a glass of water (or three) for every diet soda/coffee I drink.  I'm pretty sure that's why the folks at True Citrus sent me an email about April Truth's Day, which just happens to be today.

The first truth? Soda, even the diet kind, is filled with sugar, calories and chemicals. I could swap the pop for water or seltzer with True Lemon or another True Citrus flavor for a healthy all-natural diet beverage alternative.

 


Other suggestions for ways to trade an unhealthy habit for a healthy one:

· Switch out your morning coffee or afternoon Red Bull for hot water and True Lemon, which can help to cleanse your system, keeping it healthy and in balance.

· Ordering in or hitting the drive-through on your way home is convenient, but it’s not so easy on your waistline or your wallet; instead, institute at-home fast-food: stop by the supermarket and pick up True Lemon, a chicken and some veggies- throw them in the oven and you’ve got “True Lemon” Chicken.

· Snacking is a great way to maintain your energy throughout the day, but choose the wrong snack and it can cause your energy level to nosedive- spiff up your snacks by  swapping energy-zapping potato chips and candy bars for healthy snacks like apple slices and peanut butter or veggies and guacamole (sprinkle True Lemon on apples, avocados or any fruit to stop browning and add flavor!).

· Salt may be a treat for you taste buds, but it takes a toll on your health, so shake the salt habit and use True Lemon or True Lime on your popcorn or in your seasoning or marinade.

The best truth of all? True Citrus is offering two readers a chance to try the products. Each winner will receive a package including True Lemon, True Lime and True Orange for Cooking/Baking/Beverages (32 count), True Lemon, True Orange, True Lemonade and True Raspberry Lemonade 10 counts, True Grapefruit and 1 shaker each of True Lemon and True Lime.

To enter, answer this question in the comments: What bad habit would you like to swap on April Truth's Day?

Giveaway runs from April 2 to April 6, ending at midnight EST.   Entries after that will be considered null. The winner will be chosen via Random.org and will be announced Saturday, April 7. Winner is responsible for contacting me hlthystrides at gmail dot com by Monday, April 9, or a new winner will be chosen.

A Martian Invasion: 11.54 reasons to be excited

The last long run.

It's always the one that gives you headaches, makes you doubt months of training and has you wondering whether you just twisted your ankle on the twig the stroller kicked up.

Yesterday was that run. The run that should have scared me - especially since I went into it with no plan. With last week's 20K getting in my requisite 12-miler, I had no idea how long the run should be. I could do another 12 as it's normally what I do two weeks out. Mark suggested 10, though, and I unenthusiastically agreed. However, my awesome math skills while running (read: sarcasm) had me running 11.5. And it was 11.5 miles of confidence building for the race that's 12 days away.

And I couldn't be more excited. Here's why:

1. Mark and the boys ran 5.6 miles with me, and I I have to say they felt really good. I'm sure the weather helped - it was a perfect 40/45 degrees - but the pace was good yet restrained.

2. Even after I left Mark, the miles still felt good. I actually felt really good up until mile 9, when I had to take a detour to the Laundromat for a potty break.

3. I think I have my race day outfit figured out: tank top, Nike capris and Running Skirts arm warmers. The top half is subject to change based on weather but the Nike capris worked out really well.

4. I also have my fueling down. I think non-fruity flavors of gel work best for me so I'll be rocking the Chocolate Outrage and Peanut Butter Gus during the race.

5. There are other things figured out, as well. Cutting back on dairy is one. I think a cereal binge the night before the 20K gave me problems as did too much cheese on my fajitas Saturday. I'll also be avoiding beans (duh!) and high fiber breads.

6. I am unsure of a goal time for the race. Actually, my only goal is to feel like I did my best. However, my long runs of late have all been sub-10 minute pace. It's not where I used to be but I think a respectable time is in my future.

7. The race starts at 8:45, which will be perfect - not only because we'll get in just before the expo closes but because most have my long runs have started at this time.



8. I think being a part of a bigger race will help. I noticed that just seeing the turbo fast running store guys yesterday gave me a good surge of energy.

9. Mark and I are headed to the race ... wait for it ... sans baby. We've both had nights away from Miles but this will be the first time we've left him with someone else for the night. Nana and Papa are going to have a super good time :)

10. I saw a tweet from a super cool girl that mentioned her registering for the Martian 10K. Party in Dearborn!

11. I found a ton of Middle Eastern restaurants near the race. Hello, post-race lunch! (Note: I've had an obsession with Middle Eastern food since I went to Israel in 2001, and I don't get it very often.)

0.54. I logged nearly 100 miles last month, I've had a handful of 10+ mile runs and I hit several 20+ mile weeks. The training is there. Let's do this!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cruise to the Mediterranean

It was supposed to be a love tap. Instead, it was more of a punch to the bicep. A punch that had Mark grasping his arm in pain and trying not to scream as to not wake Miles.

Oops. My bad.

At least I made him a good dinner. Dinner totally makes up for punching your husband (and then laughing at him). Right? Right!

Greek Isles Pizza

(named as such because it just sounds jazzy)

Ingredients:

Whole wheat pizza crust
Olive oil
Oregano
1/4 to 1/3 cup hummus
3 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves
1 Roma tomato, sliced
1/4 red onion, sliced
8 ounce chicken breast, cooked and sliced
1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup reduced-fat feta cheese
Optional: sliced Kalamata olives
Cucumber sauce, for drizzling



For the crust: I follow this recipe but use 2 cups all purpose flour and 1.5 cups whole wheat flour. This recipe is, hands down, the best dough recipe I've made. It is equal parts chewy and crunchy, and I've never once effed it up.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dust a pizza pan with olive oil and cornmeal (helps with sticking) and stretch the dough to fit the pan. Brush the crust with olive oil and oregano; bake for 7 minutes. Cool slightly.

For the pizza: Once the crust has cooled slightly, use a spoon to spread hummus, starting from the center and moving outward. Top with spinach, tomato, onion and chicken. Sprinkle cheese on top and add sliced olives, if using.


Note: At this point, you can cover the pizza in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake. I made my pizza in the morning before work and baked it when I got home.

Bake for 10-15 minutes at 375 or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Slice pizza into eights and serve with cucumber sauce.

Nutritional stats, for one slice (without sauce): 212 calories, 6 grams fat, 25 grams carbohydrates and 14 grams protein.


This pizza is a bit higher in calories than a traditional pie because of the hummus but I cut down on the cheese to make up for it. And, to be honest, you won't even notice as there's so much flavor with the hummus, feta and cucumber sauce.

What's your favorite kind of pizza?