Friday, February 15, 2013

Five things for Friday

I hate Valentine's Day.

There, I said it.

While society might tell me that as a woman - and a woman in love, at that - I am alone in this sentiment, I'm fairly certain that I'm not. The hoopla and anticipation always seem to lead to disappointment when the guy takes you to the wrong restaurant or your kid gets sick in the middle of the movie, requiring pickup, or your dog gets hit by a car. The cards are always far too cheesy for my cynical self and I firmly believe that the money would be better spent on an impromptu Starbucks delivery than something I feel inclined to throw away. And as far as the chocolates? Talk about mixed messages. We want to look hot and yet our husbands give us the means to put 10 pounds on our hips.

It's stupid. The whole dern holiday. And so I sort of hid from the world yesterday and moped in my cereal when Mark said we couldn't get Menchie's for dinner.

But anyway, a few things for the day since I skipped out on Three Things Thursday.

1. A guy loves it when you get his heart racing so I thought I would give Mark what he wanted yesterday. Well, sort of. His heart was racing - just not in the way he was expecting. I have something coming up that required me to put together a circuit workout, and I asked Mark if he would test it out with me. There were three circuits and three sets in each circuit. The sets were progressive so if you did squats in set one, you did sumo squats in set two and squats with leg raise in set three. It was tough and I (might have) laughed when Mark texted me this morning that the soreness was setting in.

2. While I sort of hate Valentine's Day, I do like to treat myself. I got an iced coffee at Starbucks, picked up the new Chobani pear yogurt at Target (YUM!) and finally figured out how to use my Amazon gift card. And talk about a gift to myself. I selected two eight-pound Reebok hex dumbbells and "The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises." I am oddly excited about these though part of it plays into that thing that required the circuit workout. (More later, I promise. Clue: Part of Make Shit Happen: 2013.)

3. My Pinterest obsession has gone from food to hair - but not hair in food. I've been pinning braids, and I can't wait till my hair is uber long to do some of them. In the mean time, I'm thinking of doing a different braid a day for a week. You know, for funsies.

4. For the first time in nearly a week, I slept through the night in my own bed. I've been waking up with coughing fits, prompting a trip downstairs to the couch. It was easier to prop myself up, and I didn't think it wise to wake up Miles at 2 a.m. with my hacking. Thankfully, something broke and I did OK. I'm hoping the upswing continues as I have 10 miles on deck on Sunday.

5. Congrats to Sarah, who won the SeabuckWonders Giveaway. And don't forget about the Alexia giveaway. If you haven't guessed, I have a whole slew of things to lined up.

Because I love you.

Unlike Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Things I've been eating + giveaway

I was feeling so proud of myself. I had reviewed two days of entries on MyFitnessPal, and I had noticed that it had been two days since I had eaten meat.

And I hadn't died. Shocking, I know.

Also shocking - I can be wrong but we'll get to that in a little bit but first, like any good eater, let's talk about breakfast.

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I was fortunate enough to receive a gracious and generous box of goodies from a blend, and it included rye bread from Liz's favorite bakery. I'm a German girl, through and through, and I have been finding any chance I can to eat it. Breakfasts have been a (whole) egg with cheese on rye toast and served with some kind of produce. Tuesday it was an orange; this morning, grilled zucchini.

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I'm making another go at a more substantial morning snack and, thanks to Bzz Agent, I'm trying out Kroger's yogurts - Greek, Greek Lite and CARBmaster. I prefer the Greek to Greek Lite but this particular morning I had the Lite pineapple mango with a bit of sliced banana and trail mix I found at Fresh Market. It was a great balance of protein plus carbs to hold me over to my lunch date.

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One thing: My lunch date got held up and I had to scrounge up a snack from a drawer. I'd like to say I picked the nuts but it was a handful of marshmallows and some raisins. However, I did not eat the lint roller. Win.

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Our big idea for the day was to find some Cajun- or Creole-inspired food to ring in Mardi Gras. We went to one of my favorite neighborhood places, and I got my even more favoritest salad - red beans and rice over lettuce with tomatoes and cheese - and gumbo. See, this is where I was wrong about the meat. Gumbo had chicken.

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And putting the fat in Fat Tuesday was a packi from a neighborhood bakery. Apple, if you are interested. I ate half to only feel sort of fat.

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I was feeling rather full and sick to be honest from the paczki that I didn't snack my way through the afternoon, saving room for dinner - blackened salmon po boys and Alexia Foods Multigrain Onion Rings.

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The onion rings were courtesy of Alexia, and I was excited to try a more nutrient-dense version of a favorite indulgence. They were crunchy, hearty and tasty.

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I had a post-dinner workout planned, and I grabbed a handful of candy. To power me through, of course.

The workout pretty much sucked - I blame the lingering illness. But the good news ... well, totally unrelated. Alexia Foods is offering one Healthy Strides reader a gourmet cooking prize-pack giveaway. The winner will receive an Alexia apron, Alexia kitchen timer and a coupon for a FREE Alexia Product 

You can also sign up to be part of the Alexia Ambassador Program for exclusive recipes, coupons, free gift cards and kitchen gear. Simply visit to begin earning points towards these prizes and more!

To enter, simply leave a comment telling me which Alexia Foods product you would select with the coupon.

 The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on Wednesday, Feb. 20. The winner will be selected at random and announced on the blog Thursday, Feb. 21. The winner will have 72 hours to claim her prize (by emailing hlthystrides at gmail dot com) or a new winner will be selected.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Spring Training: Week 6

Spring Training posts document my training for the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon on March 30 and my "A" race, the Wisconsin Marathon half, on May 4.

The week, in training:

Monday: 5 miles, treadmill
Tuesday: ZWOW 20 + 20 minutes of TurboFire
Wednesday: 4.64-mile run, outside
Thursday: ZWOW 7 + 5.32-mile run, outside
Friday: Rest
Saturday: BODYPUMP
Sunday: Rest (sick)

◊ ◊ ◊

It was another warmish winter day, one that made me long for the fake winter conditions of last year. It was mid-30s, clear and and the snow was all but melted. A February day I could not let slip by me - not without a run.

As Mark cleared up dinner, I threw on a pair of capris and my Brooks Nightlife half-zip. My Nikes were laced as dinosaurs took over the living room. I wrangled my watch from a pair of inquisitive hands and turned it on.

I was ready. And waiting.

At 6:55, those curious hands hugged me night-night. At 7 p.m., I was out the door, for a run. My reliable companion by my side.

Our run was nothing special. I wanted to do something "long-ish," enjoy the time on the pavement and log some exercise. I remember Denali was a bit sluggish, likely from a walk earlier that day and a lighter training schedule this winter. But he was happy to tag along and even happier to sprint to the finish.

It seems a bit odd to think that such an unremarkable outing - one I struggle to remember aside from MOTOACTV issues - will be my last with Denali for a while. Though my pooch seems to be improving at a rate far beyond our expectations, he is limited to leash-controlled bathroom breaks for seven days and subsequent exercise will likely be gentle and gradual.

When Mark and I were expecting the worse, one of my most selfish thoughts was: how can I run without Denali? I am a runner because of him. When he was an exuberant, enthusiastic puppy, I followed the Couch to 5K program because I wanted to be a good dog owner, exercising him regularly, and I figured it would be far less painful to run 3 miles in the cold than walk them. Since then, he has logged thousands of miles with me. I felt encouraged by him when I was pregnant and frustrated. I felt protected after an attack on the trail system. I am constantly inspired by his love for the run and willingness to take whatever he can get, when he can get it.

I plan many a runs when I can get him out for some exercise and I count on him for safety reasons. In fact, I am so accustomed to running with him that I often say "left" or "stop" out loud when turning corners or approaching an intersection even if I'm by myself.

And while many dogs can be a pain in the IT band to run with, Denali is an amazing athlete. He is focused, driven and well-behaved. He doesn't chase squirrels, bark at people or show aggression toward other dogs. In fact, I can count on one lobster claw how many problems he's caused on an outing and I would be lying if I gave him full blame for the incidents.

I already feel a bit lonely as I look at this week's weather forecast and mapping out the week's runs, knowing I'll be flying solo. But I know he'll be back in no time, and I'll have a renewed love of running with my pal.

P.S. Mark and I wanted to thank you for the kind words about Denali and the unkind words about the driver. I feel blessed and lucky to say that he is improving nearly every hour, and he is moving with little to no pain. Denali even wanted to go back to his routine of sitting in the yard, feeling the breeze blow through his fur as he stared at squirrels darting around the tree. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekend report: Good, Bad and Ugly

The weekend, from start to finish.

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I am sick. For the first time in ... I can' tell you when the last time I was sick. What began as that irksome pressure between the eyes snowballed into one of the worst weekends of recent memory.

Good. Mark and I had planned to celebrate Valentine's Day this weekend, making arrangements with my in-laws to keep Miles overnight. We might not have been able to execute our plans as intended but we did have a childless Saturday night and finished much of the painting we had hoped to do.

Bad. My cold started with sinus pressure that was annoying but not debilitating so I began my Saturday as planned with BODYPUMP. It was a small class but a class nonetheless. However, with each passing track, I felt worse. I was coughing as we stretched and struggled to find energy during the bigger tracks (lunges and shoulders). I still had hope that I could do the Fanny Freezer 5K for fun but once my butt hit he couch, I knew that it would be dumb. It was the first time I didn't do a race as planned (we were planning to do day-of registration) and I missed my chance to register for this year's points race. Neither are very big deals in retrospect.

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Ugly. I was hoping that my decision to take it easier on Saturday would mean that I could still head out for a few miles on Sunday. Denali was looking especially cute and eager that morning but I had to let him down. I just had a feeling that running would be just like BODYPUMP - I'd manage but feel 100 times worse upon completion. Mark and I finished up a few things and left to pick up Miles. As we were leaving, Denali took the chance to get in his own run and darted from the front door.

Denali has gotten loose before, and his MO is to run the neighborhood for an hour, hour and a half and return home. We always try to find him and yesterday was no different. I went after him and tried to lure him with the apple I was eating. In 10 minutes, though, he had disappeared into the maze of alleys and yards that is our neighborhood. We figured - wrong or right - that we might as well go get Miles and search upon return. (My in-laws live 1.5 miles away.) When we got home, our neighbor said he saw Denali poking around and tried to lure him with treats but to no avail. A few short minutes later, another neighbor told us he had spotted Denali and I left a crying Miles in the house (Mark was showering) and went to find him. I had a cookie and collar, hoping it would be enough to nab him. I closed in and my hopes were raised as he ran toward me. Denali took one sniff of the cookie mid-gallop and ran right past me. I went in pursuit but failed. I came home and a few minutes later, I spotted Denali again. This time, Mark went after him. The situation was nearly identical. Mark had a cookie and Denali had no use for it. He wanted to run. Mark was about a half-block behind, trying to close in.

And then it happened.

Denali ran into the street and was struck by a car. The driver didn't stop. Mark quickly caught up and some nearby residents helped Mark as Denali lie on the park strip. He was alive but in obvious pain and had some cuts on his face. A neighbor stopped and drove Mark and Denali home so we could get him to the emergency vet.

Denali is a tough dog and, as it turns out, had no broken bones. The most concerning result was a small lung puncture. We were told that he would either rapidly improve - or decline - in the 24 hours that followed depending on how his body healed. It was terrifying as his breathing became labored and then slowed. Mark and I really feared that we were watching our running partner, pal and loved one die.

I knew that it wouldn't be 24 hours that would make or break us - it would be the night. I slept with Denali in the living room and at 3:30 a.m., I got a sign. I was up for a bathroom break and he was ready for one, too. He was still irritable and I gave him water and food, which he gobbled up eagerly.

We're not out of the woods yet. He's still in pain - his front left leg was injured - but he's breathing. And that's all I will ask for.