Friday, April 20, 2012

Love it or Leave it: April edition

Love it: A good deal. I had a bit of birthday money left so Miles and I did a little pre-work shopping at Marshall's. I was hoping to get a pair of capris for Body Pump but instead I got the cutest pair of Nike Tempo shorts ... for $14.99.

Aren't they cute?

I've been wanting another pair but couldn't decide among the 50 million I liked at Dick's this weekend. These fit the bill - and the budget. Now for a top to match ...

Leave it: nuun. I picked up a tube of strawberry lemonade nuun for the trip to Dearborn with much excitement. With so much buzz on Twitter and in the blogosphere, it just had to be good. Right? Right ... or not. Maybe it was the flavor I picked or maybe it's me but I just did not like it. I tried it once the night before the Martian and again this week before Wednesday's semi-long run. Both times, I had to choke it down - and that's only because I didn't want to waste it.

Love it: Try Chips. I discovered these at the Martian Invasion expo and, at first, I was a bit skeptical. It was being touted as a recovery alternative for endurance athletes but it seemed like nothing more than dried fruit - and I can get dried fruit anywhere. I also tend to be a bit hesitant when something is labeled as super charged or all natural energy, especially in terms of recovery. After all, I am a chocolate milk gal. Jackie, the Try Chips rep at the expo, said the snack is also good for pre- and mid-race fueling. It's like a triple threat.

With one bite of the Aspire, though, I was surprisingly delighted. The fruit is freeze-dried and it almost has an airy, fluffy quality. It was naturally sweet, had a great mix of flavors with the banana, apricot, sweet potato and matcha green tea and there's just 100 calories per package. I immediately bought a bag and ended up gobbling it up on the car ride home. I can't say that it helped me recover but it did help with the long run hunger!

I don't think they meant for me to wash it down with a Diet Coke but who do you think I am?

The best part, though? The note on the back of the bag. I don't remember what it said but it was pretty bad ass. Like they got people who think it's fun to run for hours.

Leave it: Green smoothies. I tried. I really tried but I just couldn't do it.

I made a mix of strawberries, pineapple, almond milk and spinach. At first, it was OK but after a few sips, I was done. Thankfully, someone else wasn't. Miles, who always wants what I have, loved it. I started feeding him with a spoon and as soon as he swallowed, he had his little mouth open like a baby bird. So cute.

I ended up freezing the rest of it in an ice cube tray, and I've been mixing it in Miles' morning cereal.

Love it: After "Surprise! It's summer!", we've been greeted with typical spring temps. I am a fan of anything in the 50s but the mornings are still chilly, and I have to spend 15 minutes bundling up Miles. This morning, it was near 60 and all I had to do was throw him in the stroller with a blanket (he had on a sleeper). I look forward to many more spring runs like this!

Leave it: People who don't claim prizes from giveaways. Folks, we have a new winner (in addition to ye11owbrickrd) in the True Citrus giveaway.

Joy, email me at hlthystrides at gmail dot com with your address and other contact info, and I'll get you hooked up.

What are you loving?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy meal

The moment I saw the recipe for BBQ Cheddar Chickpea Burgers on How Sweet It Is I knew I had to make them.

I'm not sure why - the only veggie burgers I've eaten have come from a box with the name Boca or Morningstar on it. I'll blame the combination of barbecue and cheddar, which are two things that never fail me. And Jessica's recipes. Her Cookie Dough Dip changed my life (and my ass).

I scheduled the burgers into my menu as quickly as I could, offering Mark a beef alternative. I was glad I did, too - I loved the burgers. Well, burger. I could only eat one and so I froze the rest for a future dinner or crumbled up and tossed in a wrap with broccoli slaw for lunch.

Just one problem: I forgot about them. I never crumbled them up for lunch and Mark hasn't had a meaty burger since. They might have been relegated to the depths of the deep freeze had I not made pizza for dinner on Tuesday.

"What the hell does pizza have to do with burgers?" you ask.  Nothing, really, except pizza is hard for babies to eat. Veggie burgers ... not so difficult.

I thawed out the burger - which was made with chickpeas, broccoli and cheese - warmed it up in a skillet and crumbled it for Miles, who ate it like a boss. Like a BOSS. With the addition of some cut up fresh mozzarella that I saved from the pizza, it was like he had his own little Happy Meal. Without the fries - and preservatives.

Now that Miles is eating 90 percent of what we do at a meal (and tries to eat the other 10 percent), I am really beginning to think more and more about what we, as a family, put in our bodies. I've always tried to provide a healthful, balanced meal but I'll admit that we ate (portioned) frozen french fries and processed light bread. I bought sauces that were on sale but don't always have the greatest ingredient list, and my "diet" foods are full of artificial chemicals.

You don't see those things on the menu chart from the doctor. And, to be honest, the chart is a very commercial guideline (featuring overly processed baby foods, including jarred meats - ick!) that offers little to no advice on what to feed your baby if you are doing baby led weaning, choosing a vegetarian lifestyle or are just finding a way to eat with two hands (only one of those we're doing). I've asked our doctor about what to feed him but the gist of the conversation was "common sense" and "you're doing a good job." There was no ideal menu or choice.

Of course, in my ideal world, Mark and I would introduce Miles to meals made with "whole" foods that are labeled organic and purchased at the fancy schmancy Fresh Market in town. While I'm dreaming, I'd also like it if we made more money, had no student debt and won the lottery.

I guess I'll have to settle on on making sure we always have a lean meat, colorful vegetable and healthy carb. I can also make more of my own food, such as breads, sauces and snacks, so that I know exactly what I'm giving him. And us.

 What are your tips for bringing up baby healthy?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Bottom's up

I didn't need a good race to tell me I was back. I already knew.

I knew it when I was trying on shoes last week at Old Navy.

Don't see what I'm talking about? Look a little closer.

The nail on my second is a lovely shade of black. A black toenail. I have one! And, I have to say, it complements those sassy wedges quite well :)

While this is not my first black nail, it's my first post-baby (who's tired of that phrase?) and it's an outward sign of all the miles I've put in the past few months. I shall wear it like a badge of honor.

Or until people tell me it's gross. Which happened today.

I guess it's ballet flats for me.

By the way, those cute shoes are also from Old Navy. I was lucky enough to score another Sample & Share opportunity via Crowdtap. This time around, I got a coupon for a free pair of shoes and a free bottom - plus coupons for three friends. It was a Bottoms Bonanza!

I took a few girls from work on our lunch break because shopping during lunch = Awesome.

Between the four of us, I think we tried on everything in the store. I tried a couple pairs of shorts but 9 times out of 10, I am not comfortable in them - even if the size on the tag was one I once envied.

A 5-inch inseam sounds long but I always feel like my butt is hanging out. Or, (as not evidenced) in this poorly taken photograph,  I feel like I'm wearing a diaper. Shame, the shorts were cute.

In the end, I felt most comfortable in a skirt - my go-to summer item. You get the cooling effect of shorts without fearing that your overexposed.

By the way, I do not recommend Vibrams with this skirt. I always try to take Tim Gunn's advice and make it work but I just couldn't. My 5-year-old aqua wedges from Target were a much better option - especially for work.

The Vibrams, I guess, I'll save for the weekend ... or casual Tuesday. 

Does anyone else have trouble dressing in anything other than running clothes? I used to consider myself a fashionista - or at least well-dressed - and now I find myself struggling to pick out more than Nike coordinates.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Room for improvement

Mark and I like vacations.

Vacations just don't like us.

No matter the trip - short or long, far or near - our jaunts always seemed to be a comedy of errors. Lost luggage, stomach bugs, canceled flights, stomach bugs, forgotten documents, stomach bugs. And our trip to Dearborn was no exception.

I had originally booked a room in the official race hotel but canceled it in a mental lapse/budget fury. While it was affordable, I was sure I could find something cheaper. And cheaper I found. I got a room at the Motown Inn in Lincoln Park for $39, plus taxes and fees - half of the Comfort Inn. The hotel was 2.5 stars on Hotwire, and the amenities included continental breakfast, a fitness room, pool and wireless internet.

Just one thing. I booked the room at Motown Inn and when I showed up, all the signage said Sleep Inn. I was panicked. While I have had luck with Hotwire, I feared that I had gotten duped. Either the address was wrong or the hotel didn't exist or ...

Or the Motown Inn bought the Sleep Inn building and is too cheap to get a sign. I figured that one out when I called the number on the itinerary from a street blocked off by a chain link fence.

But all was well with the world because we had a room. Room No. 319, in case you were interested. You weren't? I'm pretty sure the desk clerk thought you were because she announced it to the whole (albeit empty) lobby.

Room 319 was nice.

There was a TV. A cathode-ray TV. My grandma has nicer.

It had a view. Of train tracks and a highway.

The breakfast buffet, which the desk clerk waxed on about, featured sausage patties, egg patties and the high quality juice drink, Sunny D. In a jug.

Of course, those weren't my favorite features. No my favorite part was something a bit more special.

A dirty elevator? Nope not it.

My favorite part of our Motown experience was the accommodating desk clerk. When I inquired about a bar on site, she politely said that the hotel did not sell beer.

Emphasis on hotel.

The clerk did know of some guests who had alcohol. She could call around, she said. When I told her it wasn't necessary, she gave another solution. Apparently guests offer her alcohol at check in, which she politely refuses, but she was willing to accept on our behalf. When she had collected some beer, she would give us a ring.

Nice. Right? Right!

So the lesson in all of this: Staying at the race hotel is worth $40.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Beam me up: A race recap

I think aliens invaded my body.

I finished the Martian Invasion of Races half marathon in ... 2 hours, 27 seconds. That time was good enough for 38/151 in my age group and 763/1791 overall. To say I'm happy would be an understatement.

Note: I've tried to write a witty, inclusive recap without boring you with an unnecessarily long post. As evidenced by this note, I couldn't do it. Instead, I give you the highlights. 13.1 to be exact.

1. I think I created a new healthy living trend with my pre-race breakfast.

Instant oats with peanut butter and a quarter waffle on top. Who needs fancy granola and muffins when you can have a waffle? (Really, the breakfast at the hotel was very limited.)

2. I am super smart and read very well, and I drove Mark and I to the expo instead of the race start. I might have said a few curse words.

3. Once we got on track, we found ourselves caught in some crazy traffic. I was really afraid that I might not make it to the race in time. Eventually, I pulled over, hopped out and Mark went to find parking. (It took him 45 minutes.)

4. I got to the start with just enough time to hit up the port-o-potty, which had no toilet paper, and figure out the best place to join the crowd.

5. This race starts with an uphill. It's just mean.

6. I had no defined time goal. I just wanted to feel strong throughout the race and finish without puking. With that in mind, I tried to start conservatively and get a feel for the course.

7. About mile 2, I saw Megan in her sassy outfit running with her b/f so I sped up to act like a creeper and tap her on the shoulder. We briefly conversed, and I went on my way.

8. After a brief neighborhood tour, the course takes a turn into Hines Park for a lengthy out and back. It was quite beautiful.

9. I realized around mile 4 that I could be on pace to finish sub-2. I wasn't quite sure - math isn't my strong suit and math while running is impossible. I tried not to get too caught up as I hadn't planned to go sub-2 (though I dreamed about it many times). Instead, I repeated a new mantra, "Dig in, settle in."

10. I took a Gu around mile 5 but never took the second. I just couldn't stomach it. I guess that waffle was enough.

11. I got a wicked stitch around mile 8, just when I did during the 20K. Instead of letting it control me, I just breathed, dug deep and went.

12. The last couple miles were hard, and I really had to push myself to keep up the pace - even through some difficult sections of the course. There were two bridges that you could feel move beneath you as you got to the middle and some steep (but short) inclines as you hit some trailheads.

13. The weather was mid-50s and overcast for nearly the entire race but it did start to sprinkle toward the end. I just tried to push through to avoid (what I thought was) the impending storm.

13.1. I saw Mark just as I entered the homestretch. He asked how I was feeling. I said I wanted to die. I was tired and I knew the sub-2 was out of reach. I could have jogged it in but I pushed and crossed the line with a grunt of relief and smile.

Parting thoughts: For a moment, I'll admit, there was some disappointment that I wasn't 27 seconds faster - that I wasn't going to make a huge post-baby half marathon comeback. However, I'm not going to let 27 seconds take away from the race I ran. I am not going to play the what if game (what if I didn't walk through water stops, what if I took that second Gu, what if I went out harder). I ran faster and harder than I trained for, I pushed myself as best I could, I had a great mental game and I had a good time. In my mind, these are things that make a good race - not a 1:59:59.

Crap. I think I'm growing up as a runner. Damn motherhood changing my perspective.

Did you race this weekend? How did it go?