Friday, September 28, 2012

Setting up Fort

If there was ever a race to be mine, it would be Fort-4-Fitness.

I ran my half-marathon PR there in 2010.

I puked my guts out at the finish last year, running the 4-mile event as my post-partum comeback.

Tomorrow, I will toe the line for a shot at redemption at the 4-miler.

I haven't talked much about the race because, well, it seems like small change when the Columbus Marathon is just 23 days away.

But that's not the only reason.

I signed up for the race under the naive notion that I would regain my speed (I use that term loosely) and maybe even get faster, which would set me up to {maybe} place. And in case I haven't mentioned it before, I'm not running at the paces I used to and the lofty goal I set is realistically out of reach.

Note: If you would like to whine some that I ran a 10K PR at 7 weeks pregnant at a pace I couldn't fathom now,  I can work on a post.

Regardless, Mark and I are planning to run quite aggressively, with my in-laws pushing Miles in the BOB for the same event. (His first race!!!) The goal, instead of a time one, is to leave it all out there on the course. The goal is to abandon fear and embrace the pain. The goal is to not stab Mark when he tells me I can, in fact, run faster.

And to not throw up with my medal on.

{And to finish in a fast enough time to teach BODYPUMP at 9 a.m.}

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Three Things Thursday: Work it out

I am a masochist. Or an exercise addict. Or a mom with a night free who wanted to do the most with the time she had.

You pick.

Last night, I had a plan. I was going to go home, run a few miles with Denali and head to a yoga studio that I had a Living Social deal for. I've been having scheduling classes with the studio and when I wasn't confirmed for the class by lunchtime Wednesday, I thought I'd make other plans.

First it was run and then Turbo Kick at the gym where I teach but the instructor was injured. Instead, TX was going to offer Zumba with my favorite gal. The plan became to run, hang out a bit and then go to Zumba  at 7:30. Well, then the gym posted on Facebook that the night's specialty class, which is before Zumba, was going to include running.

And well you see where this is going.

1. I came home from work to an empty house - Mark and Miles were at Camp Grandma - and quickly threw on some shorts, got Denali leashed up and headed out. I wanted to get two or three very slow miles in. The summer-like humidity helped me with that. We covered 2.6 miles at a 9:44 pace, and I still managed to be covered in sweat.

2. I got home, quickly changed shirts and was out the door for specialty class. I was a bit late - I blame a train - and found the class hanging out at the corner, where a trail starts. I parked and quickly ran over, only to find out that I wasn't going to stop running. The workout: Run or walk a half-mile; stop; do circuit one; run or walk a half mile; stop; do circuit two; hill sprints; jog back. It was a (very tough) class after this runner's heart - I was just disappointed that I didn't have my MOTOACTV to track the mileage. The best part of the class might have been the cat calls, though. The trail ran alongside a busy road and 5 minutes din't go by without being honked at.

3. I finished the class soaking wet - again - and tired but I was committed to doing Zumba. I hung out with the girls, picked up a couple weeks of subbing duties and caught my breath. Soon enough, it was time to dance. Let me tell you this: I forgot just how hard Zumba can be. Like any workout, you get out of it what you put in it but I struggled to keep up and, at the end, I definitely had to modify the movements to stay with the group.

It was fun, though, and a great change of pace. And something that is not going to happen very often. Three workouts, back-to-back, is just crazy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Core values

The sound of bacon sizzling crackled in the air, eggs cracked on the kitchen counter and grease popped in the cast iron skillet. Shouts of "Get out of here" and "Is it done yet?" filled the small galley kitchen of my childhood home.

Saturday morning breakfast was underway.

Nearly every weekend morning, my mom would make a big breakfast. It was her favorite meal and ours, as well, as we got the time to connect as a family after a busy week of sports practices, scout meetings and multiple jobs. It was also one of the regular occasions where I don't remember my family fighting. There would be any combination of fried eggs, bacon, sausage links, hash browns and, what I looked forward to the most, biscuits and sausage gravy.

No one made sausage gravy quite like my mom. It had just the right ratio of gravy to sausage and the sauce was white - not that gray you sometimes see at a restaurant. The sausage was definable, not overly crumbly and not too chunky either. The spice was nice, letting the flavor of the fresh-from-the-butcher, full-fat sausage shine through.

Even to this day, I have not found a gravy like the one I ate on so many Saturday mornings. While I have made many of my own versions, I know I didn't do it justice by trying to make it too healthy - skim milk, turkey sausage, low-calorie margarine.

So this morning, I didn't try. Even as I have thought about her breakfast specialty for days.

But I did make biscuits and gravy.

Pumpkin biscuits with apple gravy.

I had leftover Pumpkin Biscuits from the BODYPUMP launch, and I have been enjoying them since with Earth Balance and honey. But I wanted something more. Something different.

And that's when I began thinking of my mom's biscuits and gravy. I was sure the flavors of sage often found in sausage would complement the biscuits but I didn't feel like going to the store. And thus laziness breeds ingenuity.

Made with apples sauteed in Earth Balance, cinnamon, stevia and almond milk, the gravy is sweet and creamy. Perfect a top the soft pumpkin biscuit.

I enjoyed this for breakfast with a side of egg whites but I'm sure it would be nice with some whipped topping or ice cream for dessert.

Apple Gravy

2 teaspoons Earth Balance or butter
1 apple, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 packet stevia
1.5 teaspoons whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze

In a skillet over medium heat, melt Earth Balance. Add in chopped apple, cinnamon and stevia, cooking until the apples are soft; about 4 minutes. Sprinkle flour on apples, tossing to gently combine; cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in almond milk to prevent lumps. Cook over medium heat until the mixture bubbles; turn down heat and cook for 3 minutes more. Makes 2 servings.

Nutritional stats per serving: 111 calories, 7 grams of fat, 12 grams of fat and 2 grams of protein.

To cut down on the calories, use a light butter or margarine. Earth Balance, which I use because I'm dairy free, has 100 calories per serving - compared with 45 calories for a popular light margarine.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Marathon Monday: Wear it out

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:

Monday: 3 miles, easy (+stroller)
Tuesday: 3 miles, easy
Thursday: 8.4 miles, negative split
Friday: 5.35 miles, easy (+stroller)
Sunday: 20 miles, long run

◊ ◊ ◊ 

It had been (what seemed like) forever since I had seen my Victorious Secret teammate C so I couldn't have been more excited to see her at the BODYPUMP launch party.

We chatted about the upcoming Fort-4-Fitness race, the lake and Miles. We also talked about Columbus. C will be running the half, and I am doing the full. She asked about training, my long runs and, most importantly, gear.

"Do you have your outfit picked out?" she inquired excitedly.

Then ... the sound of silence. Seriously, you could hear plates dropping on the floor as I searched for an answer. It seems like I have so much time to plan what I'll be wearing in 27 days but the truth of the matter is that I should have tested out my marathon outfit during yesterday's long run. After all, you never try anything new on race day.

"Not sure yet," I finally dug up. "I keep thinking that I'll get something new."

That was the plan, in my head at least ... until our dishwasher, garage door and toilet all needed to be repaired in the same week. Add in a yearly vet visit + shots, and any money that could have gone to that brand new outfit has flitted away like my train of thought.

And that's fine. For one, I don't need a new outfit for every race. Two, I can assemble a cute look at little to no cost.

For yesterday's long run, I dug out my favorite Nike capris from last year, my RnR NOLA shirt and armwarmers from the HUFF. The outfit worked well during a chilly-ish start: it wasn't too hot and I was only a bit cold; there was no chafing; and I was able to ditch the armwarmers for the last few miles.

I can make the whole thing marathon special by picking up an Another Mother Runner shirt and swapping the HUFF warmers for the Running Skirt ones my BFF gave me for Christmas last year.

The bonus to the outfit is that I ran a strong half marathon in Dearborn in the capris and felt good during my long run. It's quite possible that Nike weaves good ju-ju into its clothes.

Of course, having all of this decided hasn't stopped me from planning imaginary outfits for the race - especially when Mark sets me loose in Dick's Sporting Goods so he can look at weapons. Outfits that would get me noticed.

I'm pretty sure this outfit was made for me ... not. I love Nike but I'm pretty sure my thighs would rub off if I attempted this. And, to add insult to injury, Mark didn't realize I was JOKING when I had this hanging from the cart. Does he even know me?

Nike Women's Twisted Running Capri and Pro-Fitted V-Neck Shirt

My running friends have always been happy when I wear brightly colored outfits that stand out. It makes it easier to spot me for cheering and photographing purposes! Orange is also a favorite color and the gray top is classic.

Nike Fast Pace Run Shirt, Twisted Running Capri and Dri-FIT Feather Lite Cap

OK, this might not stand out but the long-sleeve shirt is light weight and I think wearing a hat always makes you look bad ass. It's also the colors (orange and blue) of the Columbus Marathon.

Before I could do too much damage, Miles started checking out the Honey Stinger Waffles and chasing balls. The bouncy kind. The outfits went back on the rack and I went back to my marathon outfit. It's cute and practical, and it's special because it will take me across the finish line at the 26.2-mile mark.

Weigh in: Do you get a new look for a new race?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A cautionary tale on safety and fear

It's a rare occurrence that a headline makes me angry. Having spent nearly the first 10 years of my career as a copy editor, where one of my main duties was to write those headlines, I became kind of ... well ... numb to them. Unless there's a blatant spelling error or it doesn't fit the story (and appears in my section), no headline is likely to raise my eyebrow.

Except this one.

Of all the stories we've heard about concerning attacks on female runners, this one hit home. A woman who was "jogging" (don't get me started on that one) was attacked on the trail system on Saturday. The trail system that I regularly use.

Mother figgin shit heads.

I had heard a snippet of the story on the evening news and immediately went to the newspaper's website to check out the story. I had to know what happened.

Was she out at dark?
Was she on a secluded part of the trail?
Was she doing something wrong?

And before I answer the first two questions, I will answer the last. No. No, she was not doing anything that would seem outside the norm. She was running at 11 a.m. in an area that is not particularly isolated. In fact, it travels alongside a fairly busy road and it was a driver on that road who saw what was happening and intervened.

I can't imagine how this woman feels. To be so violated and scared during a time when she had a reasonable expectation to feel safe and happy. I say that because even though it wasn't me - it very well could have, I feel violated and fearful. The section of the trail where the attack occurred is one I'm familiar with, and I use it on a somewhat regular basis when I'm finishing up the last six miles or so or a long run. I would have been running it by myself and in the morning but, admittedly, quite a bit earlier.

In an instant, the uneasiness I felt about my long run today was no longer about the distance but my safety. No longer did I feel confident just winging it, and I wanted to avoid the connection sections of the trail that used to be blissfully lonely. After poring over the news,  Mark and I gave a second thought - and a fifth - to how my 20-mile run would play out.

Thought 1: I would carry my cellphone. I know a lot of people do this but it always seemed a bit unnecessary to me. I usually am within a mile of home at any given point and stick to fairly well-traveled areas. However, I learned that no place is safe.

Thought 2: I would plan each section of the route - turn-by-turn - and share the maps with Mark. Usually, I will tell him that I'm going to head to a certain neighborhood or toward downtown but he would now have the smarts (if needed) to drive around looking for me.

Thought 3: In addition to knowing the route, Mark also had a fairly specific time frame to expect me. I break up my long runs into three sections, running the first and last parts by myself. Mark knew that I would take 100 minutes to run the first part and about 60 minutes for the last but he was to give me a 5-minute cushion each time for pee breaks.

Thought 4: Maybe it's time to look into a defensive spray as Mark has periodically suggested. Alas, it is 8:30 on a Saturday night and I'm in my sweatpants and oversized hoodie. Make mental note and carry key between fingers to act as a weapon.

Thought 5: You can't live your life in fear but you can't live your life in ignorance. Be mindful of your surroundings.