Saturday, September 22, 2012

Turn the tide

The air is crisp. The leaves crunch beneath my feet as I run. The days are getting shorter.

It's official: Fall is here.

And by some stroke of luck or genius, the gym launched its Fall into Fitness campaign with a party for BODYPUMP 83 on the day that fall began.

In one word, 83 is awesome. I started on 81, which I have been doing for too long now, and it really had to grow on me. This release is challenging and fun, and it was love at first squat.

All three BP instructors were teaching at the launch, and I was responsible for chest, back, biceps and abs - all of which are killer.

Teaching on Saturdays is a bit lonely - it's just me and the classes are much smaller. It was so much fun to be team-teaching again and to be teaching to a packed house. The energy was incredible!

And, by the end, we were dripping in sweat. I guess we didn't fall into fitness - we dove in and swam into fitness. A  little story  for you: I almost did fall in the ab track. There's this really awesome rotating hover, and the floor was so wet from sweat that my feet slipped around. Gross yet awesome at the same time.

Afterward, I had treats and coffee waiting for everyone. I really wanted the launch to be special and encourage a sense of community, and there's no better way than with food. Healthy food that you can feel good about. I made pumpkin biscuits and some (sadly disappointing) apple chai muffins. The Keurig Vue was also on hand and a hot cup of coffee was nice to hold (and drink) on a rather blustery morning.

 A toast to fall and job well done!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Food Friday: Snack finds

I've been snacking. A lot lately, so it seems. And while I have my go-to snacks - sliced cucumbers, fresh fruit, 100-calorie packs of almonds - I've come across some new (to me) things that I thought I'd share.

Seapoint Farms Dry-Roasted Edamame,  Spicy Wasabi flavor. I first discovered dry-roasted edamame in a Go Picnic! pack but have since seen it at Marshall's and niche grocers. I love it as a salty snack alternative to nuts or crackers with a punch of protein. A quarter-cup serving has 130 calories, 4.5 grams of fat and 14 grams of protein. And if you get the Spicy Wasabi flavor, I promise you that it has enough POW! that you won't be going back for seconds. I am a wasabi lover - it's a good part of the reason I like sushi - and this did not disappoint. Some pieces can have more wasabi powder than others so if you have a sensitive tummy, I would go with the traditional flavor.

Yoplait Greek 100. Greek yogurt for a dairy free gal? I know, I know. The company had contacted me before my decision to limit my dairy so when it came to my door, I thought I should at least give it a try.

{what I love about it} It's only 100 calories, still thick like fuller fat Greek yogurts and just 2 Points Plus if you are following Weight Watchers. I had a hard time finding plan-friendly yogurts when I was regularly attending WW and it's even tougher with Points Plus. It's also a bit more affordable than some of the other brands such as Chobani and Fage.

{what I didn't like about it} It is sweet. Almost sickeningly sweet. So much so that I felt an insane sense of mother's guilt giving Miles bites of it. I will say that I had been accustomed to eating Fage 0%, which I get ridiculously cheap at my butcher, and has about 16 grams of sugar from fruit. Yoplait Greek 100 is sweetened with sucralose (brand name Splenda), which explains the sweetness.

Earl Grey Latte with soy. OK, it's not so much a snack as a beverage - sue me. I picked up one of these the other day at Starbucks, and I fell in love.

Since I got my Keurig Vue, I've been obsessed (to say the least) with coffee, and I'm trying to balance it with something I can pretend is a bit better for me. The tea latte is just that. I got mine unsweetened (later added stevia) and was singing its praises for the three-block drive to work as I listened to a podcast of "This American Life" (also an obsession). It is a bit of a calorie-buster at 140 for a tall but it's a nice treat.

Snack drawer. I made a pit stop at Target this week to replenish my snack drawer (that's my reason, and I'm sticking to it), and I picked up a few things for the afternoon munchies - mandarin oranges in light syrup, 100-calorie packs of raisins and Fiber One Strawberry PB&J bars.

And maybe some fun-size Snickers Almond. Maybe ...

Anything else you would add to the drawer? I may or may not need another reason to hit up the Target.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Three Things Thursday: I'm a Kenyan

I've been out on the trail, just working on my fitness, and this morning I saw all my hard work come to fruition.

I was running a large loop of the neighborhoods around me, when I glanced down at the MOTOACTV. To my shock, I was going at a 4:08 pace. That's running a minute per mile faster than any of those during the Olympic marathons and 9 seconds faster than the female record mile.

Of course, the MOTOACTV is a big, fat jerk (just like my husband) because not 10 minutes before it said I was running at a 24:XX pace.

Talk about running steady. That there pace is all over the place - just like the MOTOACTV.

1. This morning's run was supposed to be a 9-mile negative split outing (4, 4, 1) but I shortened it to 8 miles because running more than that on a Thursday seems ludicrous to me. My hope was to negative split the run 3, 3, 2 but, according to that fancy-schmancy watch, I did not. My splits: 8:06, 10:48, 10:27, 8:37, 9:19, 11:10, 10:37, 8:25. There's about three miles out of the eight that seem like they could be right.

I'll let you guess.

2. It's not far-fetched to think that if my pace was all over the place that there must have been something wrong with the satellites. Being as intelligent as I am, I am obviously right.

I just didn't know how right.


The top map is the MOTOACTV route and the bottom is what I mapped on Daily Mile. I'm not sure if you can tell but there are huge discrepancies in the routes. It's not like it had me running through yards rather than streets. Oh, no - I was running in areas I didn't even come close to and in a shape that nowhere resembles the route I did run.

As to be expected, again because I'm smart, there was a difference in mileage. The MOTOACTV said I ran 8 miles on the dot; Daily Mile, 8.41.

Shit. Much closer to that prescribed 9 than I'd like.

3. I got home from this epic outing about 15 minutes after Miles woke up. Mark was busy warming a banana muffin and topping it with peanut butter for the lil guy when I tried to give him a hug. No dice. I tried to hold Miles' hand; he clung to Mark's leg. For a good 15 minutes, my child would not let me near him.

And here, I thought I was doing something good as a mom by running early so I could spend the morning with him. So much for that good thought.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

{The obligatory early fall pumpkin post}

Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere. And not a bite to eat.

Aww, baby Miles!

I lied.

Big time.

Evidence: I am currently in the depths of an early fall pumpkin coma. Pumpkin oatmeal for breakfast, pumpkin pie sans crust after lunch. Pumpkin coffee mid-morning, with a taste of a pumpkin biscuit.

Yes, pumpkin biscuit.

I am hosting a Keurig Vue party via House Party this weekend, and I'm tying it together with the launch of BODYPUMP 83 at the gym. The theme is "Fall into Fitness - As Seasons Change, So Can You," and I've promised participants some healthy fall-inspired treats. There's going to be Chai-Spiced Apple Oatmeal Muffins and maybe some homemade granola in addition to what is now called a biscuit.

My original plan was to make a pumpkin scone, offering a lower-calorie alternative to Starbucks' 440-calorie behemoth, but what came out of the oven looked - and tasted more like a biscuit. Dense but flaky and not overwhelmingly sweet. Served with some cinnamon butter and maple syrup (and a cup of coffee), there's not much better on a crisp morning.

Pumpkin-Maple Biscuits

Adapted from

1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance or butter, cold
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup vanilla almond milk, divided
1 teaspoon maple extract
1 tablespoon turbanido or granulated sugar

In a bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt. Add Earth Balance or butter and, with a pastry blender or your fingers, cut or rub in until pea-size crumbs form.

In a small bowl, whisk pumpkin, 1/2 cup almond milk and maple extract until well blended. Add to flour mixture and stir just until dough is evenly moistened. Scrape onto a lightly floured board, turn over to coat, and gently knead just until dough comes together, 5 or 6 turns. Pat dough into an 8-inch round about 1 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or drinking glass, cut into circles. Gently fold together dough bits, forming new round and cut more biscuits. Be mindful not to overwork the dough.

Separate biscuits and place on a lightly buttered 12- by 15-inch baking sheet.* Brush lightly over tops of biscuits with remaining milk. In another small bowl, mix granulated sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over scones.

Bake at 375 degrees until scones are golden brown, 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack; serve warm or cool.

*At this point, if you want, you can put the biscuits in the freezer. To bake, remove tray from freezer, allowing biscuits to thaw as oven preheats. Bake as directed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ten for Tuesday

I like games.

I particularly like Scrabble and all things that try to be like Scrabble. Mostly because I can beat people but other games are fun, too. They take up time and, the good ones, use your mind.

Like this one: The 10-question game that began on Another Mother Runner, courtesy of Sarah.

1. Best run ever: The first time I ran 4 miles. I didn't have much confidence that I could complete the distance but a co-worker told me that if I could run 3 miles then I could run 4. While his words didn't convince me to register for the Galloping Gobbler, Mark and I set out for a 4-miler on Thanksgiving morning 2009. It felt terribly difficult but incredibly rewarding, and I'll never forget the sense of accomplishment I felt that day.

2. Three words that describe my running: Necessary. Rewarding. Sweaty.

3. My go-to running outfit: Anything that doesn't smell otherwise I'm not very particular. This summer, I've spent a lot of time in Nike Tempo shorts and a Handful bra.

4. Quirky habit while running: I don't have any. My running habits are perfectly normal. Except that I  have to run an even number. If I'm supposed to run 5 miles and the MOTOACTV says 4.93, I will run past my house and down the block to hit 5. I also must walk a block before starting my run.

5. Morning, midday, evening: When it fits in but preferably in the morning. I hate the feeling of having to fit in a run hang over my head. I'd rather get it done early and feel good all day. That said, I was a total lazeball this morning and had no desire to get in my 4 miles. I am bribing myself with a new "This American Life" podcast to go out tonight after BODYPUMP rehearsing.

6. I won't run when it's: Below 10 degrees. Single temperatures and me don't mix but otherwise I'm game.

7. Worst injury - and how I got over it: Injury: Pregnancy. Got over it: C-section. All glibness aside, I've been incredible blessed as a runner, and I have not sustained any serious injuries. I credit it to a fairly conservative approach, good shoes and lots of strength training. Oh, and lots of luck.

8. I felt most like a badass mother runner when: I did a 6.5-mile tempo run with the BOB. I was tired. I was cranky. And I was unenthusiastic. However, I somehow managed to push through all of that and channel my anger, achieving some respectable splits and learning that I don't have to limit myself as a mother runner.

9. Next race: Fort-4-Fitness 4-miler on Sept. 29 and then it's the Columbus Marathon on Oct. 21!

10. Potential running goal for 2013: PR the crap out of a spring half marathon. I'm thinking Carmel or Wisconsin. Or both. You know, because I like to double the fun.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Marathon Monday: My pace or yours

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

The week, in running:
Tuesday: 4 miles, easy (+stroller)
Wednesday: 4.5 miles, hilly-ish (+stroller)
Friday: 6 miles, tempo
Sunday: 14 miles, long run

◊ ◊ ◊

The sky was still dark and the green flashing light from my clip on LEDs broke the twilight. I headed north toward one of my favorite neighborhoods, which I only get to run stroller-free, as it was guaranteed to be safe and quiet. My legs, like the rest of me, were still tired. I glanced down at the MOTOACTV and grimaced when I saw that those tired legs were carrying me at a 10-something pace.

The 10-minute mile pace is somewhat of a benchmark for me, and it was such a big deal to me when I ran my first 9:xx mile. Later, I was happy to see paces only in the 9:xx range. When I returned from pregnancy, I made it my goal to see those numbers again.

But as I turned down the main drag, I resisted the urge to speed up. I was only 2 miles into a 14-mile run and if you can nearly poop yourself during a 5-miler, the distance is nothing to sneeze at. It deserves - no, it needs - respect. And it was that - "respect the distance" that looped in my mind as the 10 continued to pop on the screen, and I assured myself that it would all catch up later.

And it would. Because my husband is a big, fat jerk.

After 6 miles, I swung by the house to pick up Mark, who was waiting with Miles in the BOB and a leashed up Denali. We made our way down the block, heading to the park for our usual 4-mile loop.

"Take it easy on me, OK," requested Mark as he hadn't run in nearly two weeks.

Yeah. No problem. And I continued to slog down the street.

Just one thing: Mark didn't slog. After his legs loosened up a quarter-mile in, he made a silent choice to push the pace. He would later tell me it's because we have a 4-mile race in two weeks, and I needed to get ready. Get ready in the middle of  a 14-mile run.

Definitely something a jerk would think of.

Maybe it was the weather (a brisk low 50s) or the glories of the closest thing to fresh legs I've felt in weeks but I managed to sort of keep up. Sure, my labor was breathing and I felt a bit tired but I was hanging in there. It almost felt good. So much so that when Mark got to turn off after 4 miles, I felt like the effort was sustainable.

So I kept it up. Till I didn't have to anymore. And it was glorious.

I finished the 14 miles with nine at or below goal pace. I mean, you know, if I had a goal pace. Which I don't. Because I think the goal of a first marathon should be to finish.

Because I'm not a jerk like my husband.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Necessity breeds ingenuity

War is bad. Living through a war is even worse. Living through a war without coffee and bacon? Well, that sounds downright disparate.

My grandma discusses it as if it were just yesterday that Pearl Harbor was bombed and the men of her west-side Cincinnati neighborhood left on ships and boats for battlefronts in Europe and the Pacific. She talks about making first aid kits at the American Red Cross and her sister working in a factory, a real Rosie the Riveter. (More like Edna the Riveter but it doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?) She talks about getting letters from my grandpa with pieces cut out and visiting her future in-laws on Sunday afternoons.


And she talks about rations.

She is always quick to say that her family was almost lucky - it was just her parents, her sister and herself. There weren't a lot of mouths to feed. My grandpa's family was big with eight children, many of whom were still at home, and lots of boys. Their ration cards didn't go far, and my grandma's family often gave them cards for coffee and bacon so the boys would be well fed.

It's hard to imagine a time where you couldn't just go to the grocery and pick up a gallon of milk or dozen eggs because you felt like baking. And yet that's exactly what it was like during World War II. Instead of just taking up knitting (though I'm sure they did plenty of that), the ladies got creative. They found ways to make cakes and pies that didn't take away from the things soldiers needed.

Cakes made without butter, milk or eggs. Cakes with baking soda and vinegar for rising and vegetable oil to help bind the ingredients. A cake that has pumpkin for moistness and richness but because it's pumpkin latte season. In other words, a vegan cake before it was even remotely cool to be vegan.

In a different set of words, this cake is as crazy as the name implies but only because it allowed me to attend a party, bring the requested dessert and get lots of compliments without having to compromise my way of eating or bring something special just for me.

Crazy Pumpkin Spice Cake

Barely adapted from

For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1.5 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Maple-Cinnamon Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon maple extract
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a 10” bundt pan and set aside. In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until thoroughly combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on a cooling rack and allow the cake to stay in the pan for five minutes, then invert onto cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Once cool, put on a plate, blend the glaze ingredients together and pour over the cake.