Thursday, August 9, 2012

Three Things Thursday: Thoughts on #TLAM

The moment I saw it on my boss's desk I knew it had to be mine. Maybe it was a guttural reaction - "Ooh, something pretty. Something bright. Me want. Me want right now." Or maybe it was because that over the past year, which has been spent running and mothering, I have found myself following all things Dimity and Sarah - their Twitter feeds, the Run Like a Mother Facebook page and listening to the podcasts.

I asked my boss if I could borrow it and took it back to my desk, where I thumbed through it periodically throughout the afternoon. I gave it back at the end of the day but longed to borrow it for, let's say, a more extended period of time. When the book was still there a couple weeks later (it was sent to the paper for review), I stealthily took it back to my desk where it would sit for several weeks. I'd read it as I had time, eating lunch and mapping out my training schedule.

Eventually, I knew I had to put it in the charity sale pile and get my own. Since then, the book has been a constant companion. I refer to it when planning my runs for the week and read it in bed before drifting off to sleep. (Yes, I've even slept with it under my pillow.) I'll open it up when I'm feeling less than enthusiastic about running and read the often hilarious stories of other mother runners or those of Sarah and Dimity themselves. I've even considered getting the Kindle edition just to have more convenient access.

It's official: I' a complete tool but what can I say, I enjoy "Train Like a Mother." Let's count the ways:

1. It's not all sunshine and rainbows. Yes, the overall purpose of the book is to encourage mother runners to train for and tackle a distance of their choosing and even challenge them to go farther. However, Dimity and Sarah realize that it's not easy, and they share personal stories of struggle and triumph.

2. You don't have to read the whole thing. Of course, you should but let's be honest, not all of us have time to sit and read a book. I've been reading Scott Jurek's "Eat & Run" for more than a month and the Kindle says I'm just 47 percent of the way through. (My slowness is not a testament to the quality of the book. I really like it but just haven't made time for it.) With "Train Like a Mother," you can pick it up, read a chapter and go back to it three weeks down the trail. You can also refer to specific sections in a time of need. Injured? Read that chapter. If your race is in a couple weeks, glance through the chapters on nutrition and race day.

3. The training plans. Duh. Even though I've made some adjustments, the core of my Columbus Marathon training schedule is from "Train Like a Mother." The plans offer a challenge to runners with even the "Finish It" options incorporating quality workouts. The quality workouts vary, too, which is nice. One week, it might be tempo. The next week might be hills. (Yay. Hills. No exclamation points here.) I particularly like the inclusion of shorter runs for a bit of mental break.

I will say that I was a bit disappointed at first with the plans because they didn't spell out to do strength training, and I had to figure out how to incorporate my BODYPUMP classes. However, after listening to an Another Mother Runner podcast, I was made hip to the strength training chapter (which is why you should make an effort to read the whole book). Not only do they include the benefits of resistance training, especially in regards to running, but there's a plan. Another plan, I tell you! It includes body-weight exercises such as tricep dips and push-ups as well as some wicked ab exercises.

Just take a look. (Please excuse the lame question at the end - no ab exercises are favorites.)

OK, I might not be such a great example but there's a video of the workout on Another Mother Runner with the genius behind the workout demonstrating.

Have you read "Train Like a Mother"? Do you want to? I'm feeling gifty today, and I will give away a copy of "Train Like a Mother" to one of you fine folks. There are no crazy rules for this, I guess, giveaway because I don't want to have any. And I'm in charge. Until Miles wakes up from his nap.

Leave a comment - any comment - and via random selection, I will pick a winner on Sunday. The lucky reader will be announced in my Marathon Monday post. Happy training!

 Winners have 72-hours from the announcement time to claim their prize by e-mailing me. Otherwise another entrant will be selected. The winning entrant must have followed the above listed guidelines, or else their entry will be invalid. Only U.S. readers may enter.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Life's a cup of cherries

I love cherries, and cherries love me. I can tell by the way they taste so good to me.

I love cherries, and they love me. I can tell by how the treat my body so well.

I love cherries, and they love me. I can tell by how many bags I buy of them.

I love cherries, and they hate me. I can tell by how much work they make for me.

I hate cherries, and they hate me. I can tell by the way I curse at them.

Cherry season could quite possibly be one of my favorite times a year, coming in behind my birthday and "Survivor" seasons. I get so infatuated with those little fruits that I often find myself buying giant bag after giant bag just because they are $1.98 a pound. I take them in plastic containers to work where I eat them in a not-so-daintily fashion, spitting the seeds into a Diet Coke can.

This year, though, I seemed to go crazier than normal, and I found myself with a good 3 pounds on their last leg. And I mean very last leg. It was do or die, and I did - standing over the kitchen sink, prepping the cherries for the freezer. The work was quite literally the pits, and I found myself resenting the fruit I used to love so much. I was quite certain that when I was finished with the cherries that I wouldn't touch one again for a very long time.

Good thing I thought of this mid-project.

A dessert for one, inspired by a favorite summer beverage - Cherry Limeade. The flavor of (over)ripe cherries is heightened by the lime, and a crisp topping not only adds texture but makes this it like a sinful dessert. Without the sin. Of course. Feel free to serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, freshly whipped cream or - gasp - ice cream.

Cherry-Lime Crisp for One

1 cup cherries, pitted
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 packet True Lime (or zest of a half lime)
1 packet of stevia
1/2 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon old-fashion oats
1/2 tablespoon flour
Pinch salt

Gently toss cherries with cornstarch, True Lime and stevia. Put the mixture in a mug and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for a minute to a minute and a half, until the cherries are bubbly.

Note: Start with a minute and increase time by 30 seconds until reaching the desired bubbliness. Failure to do so will cause an epic mess. Trust me.

Meanwhile, add butter and brown sugar to a skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Add oats, flour and salt to pan, stirring often, until the oats turn golden. Remove plastic from mug and top cherries with oat mixture. Microwave for an additional 30 seconds.

Allow cherry crisp to cool slightly. Top as desired and enjoy!

Stepping up to the podium

It's hard to hate on the Olympics.

The Games showcase amazing athletes, who put in the time and hard work to show us just what the human body is capable of. They provide hours upon hours of entertainment in the summer drought of network television. Our Redbox expenditures have dropped significantly, and Mark has stopped putting on headphones to watch "The Wire" on his laptop.

For all its good, though, I've found myself spouting obscenities on a regular basis as I watch the night-time network coverage. Maybe I'm a bitter old hag, jealous that I can't run a 50-second 400 but I'd like to think I have good reason to rant.

Ohmygod, the butt slapping. I do not get it. At all. It's one thing to give your partner a congratulatory high-five after winning a set but to slap her bum after every point is a bit excessive. And, in my world, you slap the butt then score - not the other way around.

Just jump. Swimming and diving are great, and as I see athletes take graceful, strong strokes, my body fills with envy. But - and this is a big but (and they do not lie) - I'm sick of the pool. I've seen so much swimming and diving that my hands are like raisins and my feet are shriveled. The only thing that made the coverage this week even remotely bearable was when a Chinese diver practically belly-flopped. I don't care who you are - that's funny.

Just say nay. I under stand there's some sport to horse jumping but I don't get the athleticism. Even more confusing is why I've been able to catch this on TV and not the women's triathlon. (Note: This comment also goes to shooting, archery and table tennis.)

The flip side. I love me some track and field. And I like swimming, diving, gymnastics and the other popular sports but it would be nice to see some prime-time coverage devoted to, let's say, weight lifting. And don't say it's because there's no drama - a German weightlifter dropped a 432-pound bar on his head. Sort of makes my 12 kilo bar at BODYPUMP look pathetic.

The editing. I'm an editor so I get it - you have to tell a story. It makes people feel warm and fuzzy. But let's cut to the chase - we all know that these events (for the most part) are not airing live. I don't need to see Gabby Douglas jumping in nervous anticipation; I want to see her jumping on the balance beam. Furthermore, these scenes, so to speak, only serve to let people who like to hear themselves talk, well, talk. If they knew any better, they'd get a blog.

Pageantry. I refrained from commenting on the Opening Ceremonies, mostly because my comments would not be family friendly. Even when talking about the random arrival of Lord Voldemort. Don't get me wrong - I like a good show - but the Olympics are about the athletes and it wouldn't hurt the IOC and planning committee to celebrate them a little bit. Preferably in a way where people shut the fig up.

Now excuse me, I have to step off the podium and practice my 400 meter hurdles.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Marathon Monday: Mind yourself

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: 5 miles, easy
Wednesday: 8 miles, easy
Friday: 4.8 miles, 3.1 at tempo (Sweat Your Thorns Off 5K)
Sunday: 12 miles, long run

It seems that the 30-mile week remains elusive. I was two-tenths of a mile off - again - all because I pushed too hard during Friday's tempo run/virtual race and couldn't eke out another 0.2. I think I might live.

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It's no secret that I've struggled so far in training. I've battled record-breaking heat, a busy schedule and a temperamental stomach. I've had to balance BODYPUMP training with higher mileage and figure out to keep Miles in for the ride.

The thorn in my side, though, has been none of those things. It has been me. I have been mentally weak and allowed myself to adopt a defeatist attitude. I have given up, dropping down to the half (unofficially, of course) more times than I count. The situation came to a head when I posted on the Run Like a Mother Facebook page, seeking advice as to when it's "OK" to drop down. I wanted permission to give up.

What I got was a smack on the bottom and incredible support from the Tribe (including the ever fabulous Bobbi).

In one day, they took me from dejected to determined: I was going to make that long run mine.

5 steps to making 12 miles your beyotch

By Healthy Strides

1. Get a new outfit. Miles and I went to Coldwater, Mich., to meet my college roomie for lunch and on the way home, we made a pit stop at the outlets*. I thought I might score some fall duds for him but instead I cleaned up at the Reebok store. A new sports bra, shorts and workout tank were mine. I was particularly enamored with the sports bra** - nearly fluorescent orange with a purple accent. The shorts, black with purple trim, matched and the idea of pairing it together got me excited. Embarrassingly so. I knew that this outfit would be enough to get me out the door under the worst of the conditions.

Ooh, can you sense the foreshadowing?

2. Pretend you are an Olympian. The women's marathon was airing live as I got ready for my long run, and my heart ached for Shalane and Kara as the rain rolled off their hats. Until I looked outside my own window. The lightning flashed and the rain teemed. Instead of staying inside, I put on my hat and imagined that I was running with Kara and Shalane. I would trade shorts for bikini briefs (and a case of Body Glide), and they would run 10-minute miles. We would chat like old friends, and they would invite me to live in Portland.

Yes, I am delirious ... or insanely optimistic. Regardless, my in-laws were recording the marathon (we don't have cable) and the promise of watching them give it their all gave me a boost.

3. Break up the run - literally. MY  MO for long runs post-baby has been to run a chunk by myself and 4 or so miles with the crew. For this run, we switched the plan - 4 miles solo, 4 miles with company, 4 miles solo. The idea was that I was never worried about running more than 4 miles at a time. The plan didn't work out so well - lightning+stroller = bad news - but I did three (different) 4-mile loops.

4. Give yourself an incentive. I've played around with my fueling a lot this training cycle, and I've settled on Swedish fish. Not only are they delicious and economical, they provide me with a little perk. Every 2 miles, I stop for water and two Swedish fish. Their delicious little faces are strangely motivating as is knowing when I can stop.

5. Master your fueling. OK, the Swedish fish. I know they are not the most traditional of fueling but I am convinced that switching to the candy the past two long runs has helped me stay "in" the runs. With traditional gels, you are slurping down 100 calories ever 45 minutes or so. They give your system a shock of energy. With the Swedish fish, I'm taking in about 40 calories every 20 minutes or 120 calories every hour - pretty close to what a gel would be. However, by taking in fewer calories more frequently, I am keeping my blood sugar and energy levels more stable. Or so I think. I have no documentation to prove this nor am I a sports physician. Again, with the delirium.

What are your tips to getting a hold of a long run?

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*I'm in trouble. The once desolate outlet is getting an Under Armor next month.

**Has anyone noticed how much Reebok has stepped up its game? I've never been a particular fan of Reebok but since the company began targeting CrossFit participants, the styles and colors have gotten a lot more fun. It took all I could to not max out my credit card.