Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sweat Your Thorns Off 5K: A mile by Miles report

Let's get a few things out of the way:

I live in Indiana where the only place you see cacti is on the window sill of a nursing home.

I don't have any thorns. And if I did, I'm not sure I would know how to sweat them off.

I only agreed to participate in the virtual Sweat Your Thorns Off 5K because I thought I would place in my age group. Mostly because I'd be the only one.

You usually come here to read about the things my mommy does but it's about time you hear from me. After reading race reports from Henry, she decided to give this blog over to me for a day so I could give you the real scoop. I think she's a giant copy cat but I'm not going to argue over details when I finally get permission to bang on the keyboard.

MahMAH as I like to call her (I'm an Italian at heart) had a 5-mile run scheduled, with three miles at tempo (whatever that means). She said it would be perfect the training run to use for the Sweat Your Thorns Off 5K, which is hosted by The Boring Runner. While she went to the bathroom 500 times, I got suited up. I decided to wear my anatomy pajamas from Old Navy so that the competition would be intimidated by my muscles. Do you see them? My muscles? (I also brought my steering wheel so I could switch gears if necessary.)

MahMAH insisted that we had to start out slow for the first mile to warm up. It took her 10 minutes to push me to the park. TEN minutes. I thought it was pretty boring so I kept my Maggie in and tried to ditch my foul mood.

When we got to the park, MahMAH stopped her watch, ending her workout on the MOTOACTV, and grabbed a drink of water. She's usually pretty nice about giving me a drink, too. Little does she know that it's all in an effort to be the next spokesmodel for Gu.

I got another drink as MahMAH started a new workout on the MOTOACTV and then I was off.

We (read: someone not as smart as me) decided to turn right into the park, which meant an uphill start along the golf course. MahMAH did her best to go fast while pushing me. I thought it was a fairly lame attempt - lamer than the kiddie coasters at the fair. After she got to a flat section, I could feel her going faster. I heard her say something about "7" but that wasn't the number of the day on "Sesame Street" so I'm not sure what she meant.

We picked up speed as we went down toward the trickling river, and it got to be fun. I spit out my Maggie so I could squeal with delight. Daddy thought I was asking for a drink so we stopped to get some water about a mile in. I've been to races with MahMAH and they have people to give you water, which is a pretty sweet deal, but there was no one there. Just the same Gu bottle in the back of the BOB. I was going to protest the race support but I saw the guy with three dogs. THREE. I want to go to his house.

After everyone got water, we were off and it felt like we were settling into a better pace. MahMAH ran the first mile in 8:14 and while I know I can go faster, it's a pretty tough pace for her. Just as the ride started to feel smooth, Denali had to stop to poop. I don't know why he doesn't wear a diaper like me. It makes things so much easier - you don't have to take breaks and the cleanup is a breeze. Or so I think.

Daddy offered to push me for a little bit so MahMAH could have a break. There were lots of people and dogs at the park to look at, and I had fun as Dad weaved in and out of the people. Hey! It was just like a real race.

Even though MahMAH was running without resistance, the second mile was slower - 8:27. I thought you were supposed to run races with negative splits (yeah, I know about those) so I told her to pick it up. We rounded through the park and because MahMAH is all about things being fair, she made Dad push me up the hills we did at the beginning of the race. If I thought they were running slow then ... let's just say it felt like a walk. And I can walk. Did you know that? I can. I can walk.

I am not sure how they managed it but we did the third mile in 8:21. I could tell that MahMAH was really tired at the end. She some times can really kick it but she didn't do it this time. Her pace for the last tenth (8:22) was slower than the third mile. No fun! 

When we were done with the race, we stopped for water. MahMAH was breathing really hard and was being stingy with the Gu bottle. I looked around and noticed that we weren't home. I started to cry - I wanted scrambled eggs! MahMAH said that we still had to run nine tenths of a mile to get home and finish her training. I thought that was weird. What's up with this whole Sweat Your Thorns Off thing if you don't get to be finished right away?

When we got home, I asked MahMAH where my medal was. After all, I ran a race. I am even sure I won - especially since the stroller crossed the finish line before she did. She said there aren't usually medals for 5K races and definitely not this one.

Seriously? Seriously! I knew there was one to be had, and I was going to get it. I climbed up the stairs (I got tricks - they're for kids) and went looking.

I found a handsome medal with some animals on it, and I decided that I liked it best. I am strong like bull. Or buffalo. Or cow. Cut me some slack, here, I just now figured out that a cat is not a dog.

The official results:

Friday, August 3, 2012

Food Friday: Squash that

It's true I was drinking.

I was tired, Miles was cranky and we were out in the yard for  "witching hour" play time. I was relaxing with a small glass of red, watching Miles watch the dog, when I decided to check on the garden.

The garden has been less than prolific this year (thanks, drought) but I've consistently had zucchini - two or three a week - and I knew I had three doing their thing. I didn't think any would be ready to pick but I like to  keep an eye on them.

Lo and behold, one of three seemingly doubled in size overnight. Not only was it ready to pick, it was ready to share. I'm pretty sure that one squash could feed the eight kids next door.

Or serve as a play thing for Miles. Whatev.

I'll admit that I'm a bit daunted by the giant squash but I will make use of it. Mel's Kitchen Cafe posted a recipe for Cheesy Zucchini Rice this week, and I had it bookmarked before the discovery. Served with a simple grilled chicken, it should make for an easy weeknight meal and a new way to eat one of my favorite vegetables.

It's a good vegetable to have as a favorite. Zucchini contains fiber; vitamins A, B, C and K; minerals maganese, magnesium, potassium, copper, phosphorus, zinc and calcium; protein; and omega-3 fatty acids. (Source). It's also low in calories and carbohydrates - 20 calories and 4.2 grams carbs for 1 cup.

Zucchini is great grilled or sauteed with onions and mushrooms but there are so many ways to prepare it. Here's how we've been enjoying our harvest (if you can call it that):

Skinny Taste's Zucchini Tots. These were a great way to get Miles to eat a vegetable that's not green beans or broccoli. And hey, I liked them, too.

Faux fried zucchini. The fried cheese booth at the big festival the other week had another offering: fried vegetables. While I'm not about to pass up my annual treat, I did decide to make the breaded bites myself.

healthy appetizer

Hummus plate. One of my favorite restaurants has an antipasto-like hummus plate with fresh vegetables, including raw zucchini. A plate with zucchini - raw or blanched - as well as carrots, red pepper strips, olives, hummus and feta is great to have out while you're making dinner or entertaining friends.

Zucchini bread. There's nothing new here. You can find a million and one recipes for zucchini bread and its muffin counterparts. But I ask you this: Have you ever made French toast with zucchini bread? If you haven't, I dare you to do it. I made this dish with a lower sugar, low fat zucchini bread and a batter made with egg whites, cinnamon and almond milk. Delish.

Need more ideas? I found this article on Grilled zucchini with herbs and cheese? Yes. Please.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

One year: Our family

Miles 1 Year

A few weeks ago, the lovely and talented Kelly Benton risked injury and arrest to take photos in celebration of Miles’ one-year birthday.

Miles 1 Year

The day was hot – still in the 90s when we shot at 6 p.m. – and the abandoned factory/brownfield proved less than ideal for shooting a 1-year-old.

Miles 1 Year

And then there’s the actual taking photos of a 1-year-old. It’s not like it was at 3 months when we could prop him in a bassinet and make a face to get him to smile. This kid is on the go, and he’s only stopping when it behooves him.

Miles 1 Year

I learned a long time ago, though, not to worry about whether Kelly would get the photo. Come tears or escape tactics, she always manages to capture the moment.

Miles 1 Year

At least at 1, you can bribe a child with a cracker to get a good photo.

Miles 1 Year

Sometimes two crackers and a hug.

Miles 1 YearMiles 1 Year

I am so thankful that Kelly caught those moments so that I can always remember what a fiery, determined child I have. One for whom I’m quite grateful – even on days when he wakes up at 5:30.

And because I can, a few more to celebrate my little boy.

Miles 1 YearMiles 1 YearMiles 1 YearMiles 1 YearMiles 1 YearMiles 1 Year


This isn’t usually my style but I wanted to share a story with you about a high school classmate. Her son, who is nearly 2, woke up one morning with fever and seizure like symptoms. A trip to the ER turned into months in the hospital and continued rehab. Caleb lost most of his developmental skills and the family still doesn’t know why. Our classmate who sells Mary Kay is donating all profits of sales through Sept. 15 to help raise money for the family. If you plan to buy a beauty product in the future, think of going to Jenny’s site for that purchase and mentioning Caleb in the comments.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dinner tonight: Any way you slice it

You know what’s a sure fire way to find meal inspiration?

manager special

The manager’s special section of the meat department.

I had been planning to make a Greek frittata for dinner one night this week but when I saw a package of Perdue Italian Turkey Sausage for less than $3, I knew I couldn’t pass it up.

Typically, I’d make a simple pasta dish with the turkey sausage or maybe even peppers and onions but I dared to be different. Or sort of different. I decided to make sloppy Joes.


Not just any sloppy Joes but Sloppy Pizza Joes. They have all your favorite pizza flavors but on a bun and with fewer calories.


Start by removing the sausage from the casings and cooking in a skillet over medium heat until no longer pink.


Meanwhile, chop a green pepper and half a red onion. If you are ambitious, chop 8 ounces of baby bella mushrooms. If you are not ambitious, buy the pre-sliced and open up the package.

When the sausage is finished cooking, remove from the skillet and drain on a paper towel. Add the onion, pepper and mushroom to the skillet and sauté until the onion is translucent and the mushrooms are soft. You might need to add a teaspoon of oil or a quarter-cup water to help things along.


When the veggies are soft, add the meat back to the skillet along with a  a 15-ounce jar of your favorite pizza sauce or 2 cups of homemade pizza sauce. Stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate all ingredients.


At this point, it is safe to pick up your toddler who is getting molars and perfecting the art of throwing a tantrum.

Allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes. At the 5-minute mark, add a handful or three of mini turkey pepperoni slices. Stir to incorporate and cook a minute longer to warm the pepperoni.

Serve on half a sandwich thin with mozzarella cheese as desired. Makes 5 servings.

Note: This would also be good with some sliced black olives but some people in my house (ahem, Mark) don’t like them.

Nutrition per serving: 338 calories, 16 grams fat, 19 grams carbs, 30 grams protein.


Sloppy Pizza Joes

1 package Italian Turkey Sausage (about a pound)

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, chopped

Water or oil as needed

1 (15-ounce) jar pizza sauce

2 ounces mini turkey pepperoni slices

2.5 slices mozzarella cheese

2.5 sandwich thins

Remove sausage from casings. Cook in a skillet over medium heat until no longer pink; remove from pan and drain on paper towel. Add chopped pepper, onion and mushrooms to skillet; cook until mushrooms are soft and onions are translucent – about 5 minutes. You may need to add water or oil to help the process. When the vegetables are finished cooking, add cooked sausage back to pan as well as jar of pizza sauce. Allow mixture to simmer for 5 minutes. Add pepperoni, stirring gently to heat through – about 1 minute. Serve meat, open-faced, on a sandwich thin and top with a half-slice cheese. Makes 5 servings.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Burn baby, burn

There are few things that would be meaner than:

a) telling me that I can't have a cup of coffee in the morning;

b) telling me that I cannot have a pet dolphin in my above ground pool;

c) telling me that not only can I not run, I can't walk either;

d) telling me that I can't eat within half-hour of getting up.

In preparation of this morning, I was told three of those. The other was a mandate from my parents. Actually ... one of them falls in both categories.

Bitches. All of them.

This morning, I went to Lutheran Hospital Weight Management Center to have my resting metabolic rate tested.

I had first heard that mere mortals could take part in such testing after reading a post from Racing With Babes. TMB had been trying to lose some stubborn pounds and despite a good diet and incredible training, the weight stayed around. She had her metabolism tested and found that she was not eating enough. She was, for all intents and purposes, starving her body.

The post really struck home. Despite efforts to lose the remainder of the Miles lbs., I have remained the same weight for months. I recognize that my diet could be better, cleaner, but I also know that I am eating well enough and sticking to a calorie range that should allow me to lose a half-pound a week In these efforts to regain my post-baby body, I had broken up with Weight Watchers, cheated on MyFitnessPal and lived as a single gal for brief periods.

I told the weight loss tools, "Yes, it is you" but maybe I should have said, "It's not you. It's me. Really." At least that's what I hoped when I discovered that the local hospital offers MedGem testing for a reasonable cost ($54).

About the test (source):
MedGem® is a small hand-held device that measures an individual’s resting metabolic rate through oxygen consumption. A person’s RMR is the amount of calories the body burns throughout the day in order to function properly. In essence, it is the minimum amount of calories a person needs to consume per day. Daily activities will lead to the body burning additional calories which are not included in the RMR results.
resting metabolic rate test

The test is relatively painless. A clip is placed on your nose and you breathe through a mouthpiece (new, out of a sealed bag if you are concerned about that sort of thing). You breathe into the machine normally for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the machine beeps. The data from the test is transmitted to the computer system and based on your height, weight, activity level and goals, an exercise physiologist will make suggestions for calorie intake and diet. The whole appointment takes about a half-hour.

So what were my results? A bit surprising but not; a bit disappointing except not.

My resting metabolic rate is 1,330 - meaning that if I sat all day long and did no exercise that I would need to eat 1,330 calories to maintain my weight. The number seems ridiculously low to me but the exercise physiologist assured me that it was not. In fact, by test standards, I have a high metabolism. I never thought anyone would ever say this about me. Ever. She said, though, that my high metabolism is more than likely a result of lean muscle tissue and my small build (again with a phrase I didn't think would describe me).

To lose those pesky 5 pounds that I want gone for the sake of vanity only, I would need to eat 1,300 to 1,500 calories a day. I've been eating between 1,600 and 2,000 calories a day and thought it was reasonable to lose weight on the lower end of that spectrum. However, I've merely been maintaining my weight. The exercise physiologist recommended that I stay on the high end of the budget given, given my activity level, and that I should strive to lose no more than a half-pound per week as to not affect my training. She also emphasized that my BMI and estimated body fat percentage were well with the healthy range.

I have to say that I was a bit surprised by the recommendations. Though the exercise physiologist recognized that I'm training for 5+ hours a week and maybe more intensely than the computer program could factor in, I don't think it's feasible nor safe for me to eat 1,300 calories a day. I eat about five to six times a day, and a budget of 1,300 calories would give me less than 225 calories per mini meal. That's a Clif bar - a pre-BODYPUMP snack on Saturdays. I think the 1,500 calories is feasible with careful planning and only on days when I'm running less.

My reaction to the results begs the question: Do I really want to do what's required to lose the weight? And, I'm a bit surprised to say, my answer is no. While I know I need to be mindful of sugar and there's room for improvement, my focus is on staying healthy and strong for the marathon. Not only that but I want to do that with joy. Food might not be the key to happiness but hunger sure doesn't make you feel good.

Part of me really thought that I would be told that I wasn't eating enough. It wouldn't be unfounded that  increasing my caloric budget would spike a sagging metabolism and melt off the weight. So much for that thought.

If there was a larger picture to be seen from the test, it's that you cannot take your activity level for granted. The exercise physiologist said that my metabolism is unlikely to change unless I start to eat without abandon or I stop moving entirely. And while I will see a change in a few years - the dreaded 35-40 range - I can combat it with exercising. However, exercise and, by proxy,  marathon training does not equal a free for all. Even with 5+ hours of vigorous exercise a week, low body fat and a high metabolism, I can't eat 3,000 calories a day.

And while I'm not going to be changing my diet of as drastically as I thought I might after the test, it really brought a renewed emphasis to the importance of eating well and exercise.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Marathon Monday: 30something

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

This week, in running: 

Monday: 3.05, easy
Wednesday: 6.25 miles, hills
Thursday: 3 miles, easy
Friday: 7.08 miles, easy
Sunday: 10.09 miles, long run

◊ ◊ ◊

I'm poised to do something this week that excites me beyond belief: Hit 30.

Thirty might be an an evil number, especially to anyone who is living on the edge of their 20s, but seeing as I'm now in my 30s, I've come to embrace the big 3-0. In fact, I'm chasing it.

In all my years of running - OK, three - I'm not sure that I've ever hit a 30-mile week more than once or twice and those were times when I was squeezing in training for my last-minute entry into the 2010 W.O.O.F.

I've been flirting with 30 miles for the past month of Columbus Marathon training - heck, Daily Mile even says that I hit one (I was off by less than a half mile and the site rounds up) - and last week, I was off by 0.57. I'm pretty sure I would have tacked on a half-mile yesterday had I known.

Running 30 miles in one week makes me weak in the knees (in a good way) just thinking about it, and I'm not really sure why. I tried searching for a reason as to why 30 miles a week is so fantastic beyond the simplicity of running but I came up short. There's no great switch that is flipped when you hit 30 miles nor do you start burning calories at an exponentially faster rate. You don't automatically run faster, and Nike doesn't give you a free pair of shoes for doing so.

And really, it's just something I should be doing - like taking a shower and pitting the cherries for freezing - no reason to get all "Celebrate me, beotches."  According to Runners World, 30 miles a week to 50 miles a week is what a runner (aka mortal) should log during marathon training. My lowest mileage thus far has been 25 miles, and I believe I top out about 40 miles.

For comparison, an elite should run 100 to 140 miles; Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan have been doing about 110-120 miles a week ahead of the London Olympics marathon.

I will add that increased mileage, so says Dr. Paul Williams, does have some "powerful benefits" according to a Wall Street Journal article. Increased mileage was shown in his studies to reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, glaucoma, diabetes and other diseases above and beyond that of those who meet minimum exercise requirements set forth by the American Council on Exercise.

Definitely things I've been worried about this training cycle.

So there you have it. Ramblings about 30 miles a week. We'll see if I'm so excited about actually completing it next Monday.

How is your running/training/summer going? Share. Pretty please with one of those cherries that I need to pit on top.

They've got mail

My BODYPUMP assessment DVD is in the mail. Like, with postage, slid through the slot and hopefully on its way to Lafayette, Indiana.

I honestly didn't think it would happen. And not in the "I can't believe I've come this far" sort of way that prompts people to comment about how awesome I am. No. I literally did not think that a DVD of me teaching would ever happen.

"Why?" you ask. Let me count the ways. There's ... ummm ... however many number I come up with until the end.

1. My first attempt at taping, July 7, failed because the digital point-and-shoot I was using stopped half-way through the ab track. Les Mills is very specific that the tape must be uncut and include the entire class, as well as 5 minutes before and 5 minutes after.

2. I had hoped to tape again July 14 but the gym was closed for the parade.

3. Taping rescheduled for July 21 but only three people attended class and Les Mills, again very specific, requires five people to attend a taping.

4. In a panic, I request to tape on Thursday, July 26 - two days before my DVD is due. Cory obliges me, and I procure a camera that Mark used to make a short film in his early 20s.

In case you are clamoring to see this film, you can't. There's all of 10 copies in the world, and we have two. Take that Disney vault!

5. Anyway, I get this camera. I thought it was digital but - ha! - it wasn't. It requires a mini DV, which by the glory of grilled cheesus, Best Buy still carries. Mark about cries in his French toast when he learns that he has to go to BB and spend $20 on three mini DVs because you can't just buy one.

6. I go in Thursday to tape. We have 4 people - including Cory. Sweet summer, please go away and bring back our regular class attendance. The gym manager pulls a cheerleading coach from her duties and makes her PUMP it up.

7. I tape and it's good - or good enough. I messed up the chest track and look like a buffoon doing propulsion lunges but I nailed most everything. Excited to transfer it to the computer and get going, I look in the box for the cable.

Wait. There's no cable. Shit, mothereffin shit.

I throw a tantrum and Mark comes up with a USB cable from the PS3 that fits. One thing: You can't transfer from the camera using the USB. You need a firewire cable.

8. My computer does not have a firewire hookup. Mark's Mac Book has a firewire but a different size. Mark drives a half-hour to his friend's house at 8:30 Thursday night to pick up a different firewire cable. It doesn't work.

9. Our friend Raul comes over to transfer it over to his computer because Raul knows stuff and has stuff and is currently on a week sabbatical between jobs. Raul figures it out but it takes about 10 years to transfer as the file is 15.5 GB. It doesn't finish until the Olympic opening ceremonies decided to rip out my heart and stomp on it.

10. Raul promised to come over Saturday morning to compress and rip the DVD so I could mail it before noon. Raul called at 1 p.m. It was finished at 6:30. (Note: I am not faulting him or complaining - he did me a favor and the time crunch was mine.)

But it was finished, and it's mailed, and they better damn well like it because I might slit my wrists if I get a resubmit (one of three grading options).

There is an upside, though: I learned things. How many things will discover at the end of this list.

1. Plan for mishaps. I should have tried taping during the week and not just on Saturday, when attendance is at its lowest.

2. Don't assume that because someone did something one way that you can do it, too. I thought that since Mark and his friends made the movie on his camera and made a DVD that I could. However, there is no computer genius in this girl where there is a computer genius in the friends group.

3. Taking the cheap way doesn't always work. I was trying to cut corners using a digital point-and-shoot and then a camera that someone had when it might have behooved me to go to the pawn shop and pick up an actual video camera at a decent price.

4. It's always good to have friends, especially friends who have a truck (for toting tillers from Do It Best and moving); friends who know computer shit; friends who have a car with a big trunk (for any bodies that you might stumble upon); and friends who are cheap (and have sizable reserves to bail your ass out).

I am lucky to have all four.