Friday, July 27, 2012

Food Friday: South of the border

Once upon a time, when not a lot of people read this blog, I made a summer barley salad. It wasn't anything remarkable so to speak but it was good - and a good way to use up the bounties of a prolific summer garden, which, incidentally, I did not have at the time.

And while my garden has yet to fill my fridge with zucchini and cucumbers, I found myself thinking of that salad as I wondered what to do with my beautiful squash. I ended up making Skinny Taste's Zucchini Tots (thumbs up from Mom and Miles) but still found myself thinking of barley ... and salad ... and barley and salad together.

I dug into the depths of my pantry and I pulled out the Ball jar full of barley. Sitting right next to it happened to be a can of black beans. I'm sure they were destined for greatness once upon a time but were now taking up quality shelf space.

Could I ... should I ... black beans in a barley salad?

The answer is yes. Definitely yes.

Joined with other fresh vegetables that you might be lucky enough to score at a farmers market, the black beans and barley came together for a flavorful, Mexican-inspired salad that could work well as a side or as a main course.

I made it in the beginning of the week and took it for lunch, serving it with a Golden Corn VitaTop though it would be nice with a tortilla soup, gazpacho or just some blue corn chips.

South of the Border Barley Salad

1 cup barley, uncooked
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
Pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup corn, frozen or off the cob
1 orange or yellow pepper, diced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)
1/2 red onion, diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 ripe avocado
Kosher salt
1/4 cup canola oil
Handful fresh cilantro, stems removed

Cook barley according to the package directions; cool. In a bowl, toss together barley, beans, tomatoes, corn, bell pepper, jalapeno and onion. In a blender, combine lime juice, vinegar, garlic, avocado and salt. Blend until all ingredients are combined. With the blender on, add the canola oil in a thin stream; add cilantro and process until the leaves are chopped but visible. Add the dressing to the salad and toss lightly. Refrigerate for an hour or until ready to serve.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Three Things Thursday: I love you, a bushel and a peck

"I love you, a bushel and a peck. A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck. A barrel in a heap and I'm talking in my sleep about you. Because I love you. A bushel and a peck."

My mom used to sing that song to me when I was a kid as I went to bed and, as I got older, on my voicemail in a purposefully awful voice for fun. Just "singing" the lyrics in my head makes me all warm and fuzzy.

Wait. Maybe it's the coffee and the chocolate mint VitaTop. Hmm.

I still like the song, and it astounded me that Mark never heard it as a kid. His parents may have taken him to Disney World (this girl has never been, by the way) but my mom sang me that song. Pat for the WIN!

1. Talking about the song might seem unlikely but I was singing it this week as I thought of you lovely readers. Your kind and MOTIVATING comments on my Marathon Monday post were just what I needed to see. Each one brought a smile to my face and encouraged me as I worked on my new training plan.

My new plan incorporates the quality runs of "Train Like a Mother" and the long run schedule of Hal Higdon's Novice 2 marathon schedule. It also factors in my plan to run the Indy Women's half marathon on Sept. 1 and my refusal to run more than 8 miles during the week. Hello, job. Hello, kid.

Here's what the next few weeks look like:

It's daunting but I'm hoping manageable. I'm also giving myself permission to drop down to four days, as Hal's plan dictates, to save my sanity.

2. I loved, loved, loved your emails for the Quorn giveaway. It was fun to see where a lot of y'all are from and also to read some of the more personal messages. I have sent out all but a few of the envelopes, and I think I still have five sets of coupons remaining. Email me at hlthystrides at gmail dot com if you want in.

3. OK. I only love you for two things. It's about all the love I can manage right now. Between the oppressive humidity returning and a teething baby, it's all I can do not to drink myself silly on the screened in porch.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The race on my Sunday

I am a godless woman.

A godless, godless woman who seemingly would run into the arms of Lucifer himself if she could just have one thing: a local race on a Sunday.

We have what I consider to be a thriving running community for the size city and part of the country I am in. You could race every weekend, multiple times, if you wanted to.

And Mark has been dying to do just one. He has increased his mileage this summer (training with me) and wants to test his speed at a 10K, preferably, or a 5K. When he shared this with me, I promised to be his Sherpa and baby wrangler. Miles and I would make signs, cheer and give sweaty kisses (Miles, not me).

Just one thing: It had to work around BODYPUMP.

BODYPUMP, though, is at 8:45 Saturday morning, thus ruling out most races. I have accepted that this new direction in my ... career? ... life? ... fitness? ... would affect my racing schedule but now it's affecting Mark's. And my fitness endeavors more than affect his life - they nearly dominate it the way they do mine. I owe him this 10K.

I am determined to find something for him that doesn't involve selling my soul or becoming a race director. (I'm saving the latter for a race with Team Sparkle skirts and girlfriends.)

The options:

Boring Runner's "Sweat Your Thorns Off" 5K. It is on a Saturday but you do it in your own time, and Mark could easily knock this out at 7 a.m. I've officially "registered" for this as it's free and will make me certifiably cool but it does lack the competitors within reach that drive Mark to run faster.

Put in some miles. Fort Wayne might be the city of churches but there might be some other places that aren't so holy. I found a couple of great races for September that would be a bit of a drive but are in places that we like to visit. I'm totally in love with this Tower Run 8K in Michigan City. It's an affordable race in a pretty area of Indiana, along the lake, and there's outlet shops and a casino to make it worth the trip. Just putting it out there.

Send Miles to Camp Grandma. Mark might have to sherpa himself but he could have his own race and I could do BODYPUMP, pick up Miles and treat my AG winner to breakfast.

Trade BODYPUMP classes. I'm filling in for the instructor next week, and I'm sure he'd be happy to take one for me, too.

RACECATION! While driving an hour or two for a race is one thing, a racecation is a whole other beast. It's more than likely not in the budget - especially as I'm drooling over the idea of running Portland next year - and we would have to do it before school starts. But it is an option. There's a good number of races in the Chicago area, and I would love to do something in Tennessee. (Hi, Michelle!)

Of course, there's always the "Who cares about you? I'm the runner in this family" option.

Hmm. So many choices, which one to choose ...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wild time

I'm not sure where I got the idea that doing things with my child would be fun. My grandma would say that it's because I watched too many soap operas as a teenager. I would like to argue that I'm a hopeless optimist ... even though I know that's a crack of bull.


Last night, Mark and Miles picked me up from work so that we could head to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo’s annual Zooau. The postcard advertised picnic fare, games, free rides and family fun.

Read: It advertised a meal that I did not have to cook and entertainment for my child that did not involve Elmo and his goldfish and his crayon.


The picnic fare turned out to be hot dogs and chips, which is great for families with children older than 2 but how the heck am I supposed to give Miles a bag of chips. Seriously.

IMG_0044My child did manage to take down the hot dog and part of his bun. He might have been holding out. Seeing as he is the brightest child this side of the Mississippi, he was able to read that we had frozen treat tickets.


Push-Ups are delicious. Because I said so.


After destroying Miles’ faith in humanity by taking away said deliciousness, we tried to navigate our way through the zoo to the log ride. Mark has been wanting to take our child on this ride since we got the membership and it was free. Free trumps rational thought when taking a tired, more than likely hungry baby on a ride that requires him to sit still.


The picture says it all. I’m tired, he’s irritated and we’re both wondering when the damn thing will end.

I praised grilled cheesus when it was over only to be frustrated by the throngs of folks wandering around like zombies in search of the nearest relief. Determined-to-leave moms be damned! We want misters!

As we walked to the car, I lamented to Mark that the Zooau was supposed to be this great thing we did as a family. It was supposed to be fun. We were supposed to be making memories. Instead, I was daring my husband to run over misguided youths with the stroller and kick people who stepped in our way. I wanted to toss the child in the trunk and see whether my Mazda lived up to the Zoom-Zoom hype.

I, of course, would never do the latter. Safety all the way. It is possible that I might “accidentally” clip a 10-year-old with a stroller if he was walking unaware around the zoo as he played with a PSP.

Notes for next year:

Only go to the Zooau if it is not 900 degrees.

Go at a weird time when there will be less people.

Bring actual sustenance, such as carrot sticks, fruit and Diet Coke.

Ride the ride first before anyone gets cranky.

Do not let apprehensive child touch blow-up hockey mascot as it will result in uncontrollable screaming.

Give the tickets (and the child) to the grandparents and meet girlfriends for margaritas.

Editor’s note: I guess it didn’t help my attitude toward people that I was suffering from painful bloat, which I’m attributing to an overpriced nutrition bar I purchased at the coffee shop in the morning. Shakelee’s Cinch, my stomach does not like you.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Marathon Monday: Interrupt this schedule

I am training for the Columbus Marathon and following the "Train Like A Mother" finish it plan. These posts document my training. 

This week, in running:

Monday: 3 miles + 8 strides (4.04 miles total)
Tuesday: 7 miles, negative split
Thursday: 6 miles, treadmill
Sunday: 9.23 miles

◊ ◊ ◊

Sunday mornings have been synonymous with long runs since I began training for any distance. If it was the first day of the week, or the seventh depending on how you look at, and I had just gotten out of bed, it would be a sure bet that I was prepping for my long run.

This week, though, was a little different. I was in Cincinnati with Miles, visiting friends and family; Mark stayed at home and enjoyed some well-earned child-free hours. As I was solo, though, getting in a long run would be tricky if near impossible and I didn't want to stress about getting it in. So I made the ill-fated decision to do it Sunday night.

I set off about 6:30 p.m., more than ready for some quiet even if it meant running 14 miles. I felt prepared, eating a light but carb-filled dinner and having focused on hydrating all day. However, I felt thirsty and hot almost immediately, and my legs were tired from Saturday's failed BODYPUMP taping and 7 hours in the car over the course of the weekend.

Without getting overly detailed, here's how the run went down and downhill quickly. I was tired by mile 2. I was already cutting the run short by mile 3. Mile 4, my intestines were churning. Mile 4.5, I thought I was going to throw up. Mile 4.75, I re-routed and wondered where I could stop off at to call Mark to come pick me up. Mile 5, I started crying. Mile 5.25 , I decided to not run the Columbus Marathon and drop down to the half.

Obviously, there might be some exaggeration in those markers but there it is not possible to over state my frustration with training. I am doing my best to get in the weekday workouts and am finding some success. My long runs, though, have been less than stellar and less than called for. I was supposed to run 12 in Colorado but ran 11. I ran 12 the next week but struggled. My 13-mile run last week was 12.1 and this week's 14-mile run was 9.

There is no doubt in my mind that the heat is playing a large role in my performance but I have seriously began to question whether I have a marathon in me and whether I even care if there is one in me. This training is no joke - it dominates my life and the lives of those around me and for a reason I'm not so sure of. Am I doing it because I want to? Am I doing it because I promised myself I would? Because I think it's the next step? Because I've committed to it so publicly?

I struggled to find that reason as I walked through the door defeated and teary. When Mark asked how it went, I told him that I was not running the marathon. It was decided. My husband, always finding the right words (except when I ask him if my bare abdomen running embarrasses him), told me that he thinks I'm awesome no matter what I do. He instructed to get out of my clothes, get something to drink and take a bath.

I came downstairs not a new one but a more centered one and picked up my laptop. There was a comment from a Daily Mile pal saying that she had similar thoughts during a marathon and not to give up. Funny how one person, one I don't even feel like I know, can change things.

I opened a new tab in Google Chrome and found myself typing in a familiar web address - I clicked on the tab for the Novice 2 marathon plan, and looked at the grid. The succession of long runs was almost identical to what I have done recently - 11-12-9. The next weeks are 14 and 15. His plan calls for just four days of week, with the longest midweek run at 8 miles. There is pace work but it's limited to one day a week.

Mr. Higdon got me thinking. Maybe the problem isn't with me and maybe the problem isn't "Train Like a Mother." Maybe it's the two of us together. It's quite possible that I'm struggling because I picked a plan that is just above my ability.

I do like parts of the #TLAM plan, especially the quality workouts, and I hate to abandon it. I stayed up late (for me) last night working to marry Dimity, Sara and Hal to come up with a plan that leaves me in a good spot but still challenges me. It might work. It might not.

Who knows.

What I do know is that I'm not giving up. Not yet.