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GETTING BACK ON TRACK WITH THE NEW YEAR


I already shared my Goals for 2013 with you guys in a post a couple of weeks ago but now that the new year is literally around the corner (tomorrow!) I wanted to talk about a couple of them again.

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Cleaning Up My Diet

The first goal that I am going to start thinking about is number 6 – but I’m going to be focusing on the “clean up my diet” aspect of it. Whole Foods is doing a 28-day challenge and Lynn and her husband have agree to do it with me.  I already eat really healthy but I think this will be a great way for me to clean up my diet a little more, and I always love a challenge! There are two programs that you can follow; the basic Health Starts Here program or the Engine 2 program.

The basic Health Starts Here program eliminates refined sugars, refined grains, added oils, dairy, and limits your meat consumption to 4 oz or less each day.

The Engine 2 program is the same as the above but completely eliminates all meat, dairy, and other animal products. There are two levels to this program – a gradual program that eases into it, or the jump-in-with-both-feet-all-at-once. All three of us are going to try to stick to the advanced Engine 2 plan.

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Engine2 1

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This should be easier for me than for them since I already don’t eat meat or dairy, but it is still going to be hard for me to completely cut out refined sugars and all added oils. There is oil in everything! I don’t know that I want to stick with the no-oil diet forever but I definitely want to give it a go for a solid 28 days. I want to be disciplined about it and I know that my body with definitely benefit from a month of a cleaner diet!

If anyone is interested in more information about this 28-Day challenge that Whole Foods is doing, email Dan Marek at Dan.Marek@wholefoods.com with the subject line “Add me to the list” and you’ll receive free emails throughout the program with tips, advice, recipes, weekly meal plans, etc. I’m really excited about this and am so glad that I have people doing it with me! It’s so much easier to stick with something new when you have a friend by your side.

The challenge doesn’t start until January 3rd but I’ve already received the email with the complete meal plan and recipes for the first week. I’m probably not going to follow the meal plans they send because I love to cook and create in the kitchen, but I’ll definitely make some of the recipes and share them with you guys. If you’re interested in the email they’ve already sent out with tips/recipes, let me know and I’ll send it to you. I’m also going to share some tips and notes about my progress here on the blog.

Run a Marathon

I tried to run again on Friday and only made it a third of a mile. My leg started bothering me almost immediately and I knew that it would be a better idea to just stop running than to push through and run a certain distance, just to aggravate the injury and prolong my recovery. So this was another long weekend of me not running at all. My original training plan had me running 16 miles this weekend, plus all of my other training runs that I’ve missed over the last week.

I have not made a decision yet at this point (and won’t until I’m able to run completely pain free) but it’s looking like I will not be running in the Austin Marathon in February. As sad as this makes me (and it does make me very, very sad) I know it is not the end of the world. There’s the Dallas Marathon in March that I can try for, or I can push it back even farther. My {tentative} plan at this point is to continue to not run for a couple more days but get in the gym and try to keep up with my fitness with the spin bike. Honestly, this is something that I should have been doing all along but haven’t been out of sheer laziness. Shame on me.

Hopefully I will be running again soon and my race schedule will look like this:

January 27th: Rogue 30k (18.6 miles) Rogue 10k: (6.2 miles)

February 17th: Austin Marathon (26.2 miles) Austin Half-Marathon (13.1 miles)

March 24: Dallas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon (26.2)

OR {if it takes longer for me to heal and I’m still not ready for a marathon at this point}

March 24th: Tall Texas Triathlon relay style with Ross and Lynn (13.1 miles)

June 2nd: Playtri Festival International Distance relay style triathlon with Ross and Lynn (6.2 miles)

Hopefully I’ll be able to pull off a better time at one of these half-marathons! But it’s not the end of the world if I don’t, I’ll just keep trying! I have the rest of my life to become a better runner and there’s no point in my stressing so much over it (which is easy for me to say right now when I’m not running and don’t know when my next race will be…).

Marry My Favorite Guy

This is coming up soon!

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I will probably have another wedding post later this week or sometime next week with some updates and maybe pictures too. Ross and I spent this past weekend with his family in Dallas and so of course there was wedding talk! Then he and I had our own wedding talk for about an hour and a half of our drive back to Austin last night. I have a bridesmaids DIY session this weekend so we can try and get some stuff done for the wedding, and them my dress should be here and ready for my first fitting around February 1st! EEEEKK! I’m so excited : )

And just for fun, here’s a picture that was taken of me and Ross (and Jacob) on New Year’s Day 2010.

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Ross isn’t allowed to shave his beard completely anymore because I think it makes him look too young. I like being with an older man : )

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MY HOLIDAYS WERE HAPPY


Sorry that I’ve been MIA for the last few days but I expect most of you didn’t even notice because you were busy spending time with your friends and loved ones (at least that’s what I hope).

I am very sad to report that in the last seven days I have only gone running once. The pain that I talked about in my last post was starting to seem like more than just a tight muscle so I took the advice of some doctor friends and also Ross’s advice and took some time off from running to let it heal. I didn’t run on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, and by Tuesday I was going stir crazy! I felt very lazy and was tired of being couped up so I laced up my running shoes and decided to see how I felt.

I ran for two miles and my leg never hurt but I was aware of the spot on my leg, like it was still bothered. Several hours after I had returned from my run it did start to hurt, so I iced it some more and decided to take another couple of days off from running. I didn’t run yesterday and I’m going to take today off too. Hopefully I will be able to run pain free on Friday and get back into running on a regular basis again.

I was supposed to run 12 miles this past weekend and that sure didn’t happen. I am scheduled to run 16 again this weekend but I don’t really see that happening either. Because of this leg issue (most likely a tendon or ligament) I have missed out on 33 miles of training over the last week so I don’t think it’s a smart idea to go from a week of nothing to 16 miles in one shot. I am not really sure what this is going to mean for my marathon training. I’m honestly trying not to think about it too much, but I think I’d rather just readjust my goal (i.e. throw all specific time goals out the window and hope to simply finish the race) rather than starting over and training for a different marathon just so I can achieve a certain time. We’ll see though.

Since I don’t really have anything running related to update you on, let me fill you in on all of the other things I’ve been doing! Friday night Ross and I went to his sister’s Christmas party at her new apartment. Ross and I have gotten into the habit of being homebodies (i.e. old people) so it was really nice to get out and be social. Meghan’s roommate and all of their friends are incredibly nice and we had a great time! It was after 1:00 by the time we got home and I was very glad I didn’t have to wake up early the next morning to run 12 miles!

Saturday Ross had to finish up some last minute Christmas shopping because he’s a bit of a procrastinator, then we headed home to prepare for the Christmas party that we were having. We had a party at our place last year that was a lot of fun so we wanted to have another one this year. All the dates earlier in the month stressed me out to think about so we went with the 22nd. This meant that a lot of our friends were unable to come because they were out of town but I really didn’t want to be stressed out trying to make it happen earlier in the month. Hopefully next year I can get my shit together a little sooner thereby allowing more of our friends to be able to join us. I make no promises though. 

There ended up being just six of us total – me and Ross, Hannah and her boyfriend Jordan, Lynn, and my friend Becca. I made some yummy snack food – vegan puff pastry taco bites, vegan BBQ pigs in a blanket, vegan queso, chips and salsa, vegan hot cocoa (and Baileys), and apple cider (and rum). Everyone loved the food, we did a little Chinese gift exchange, and then played Catch Phrase for a while. Super exciting party, huh? We were all rolling on the floor laughing  and all had a blast, so no judging. Hannah was a sweetheart (like always) and helped me clean up after everyone else had left! Somehow I ended up with no pictures of either party. Uh, sorry about that.

Sunday Lynn and I went to the gym and did some serious core work that left me sore for two days, followed up by some fun shopping (I got a new dress – originally $50 and I only paid $20!!).

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Later that evening we had my nephew’s birthday party to go to (Jacob turned six!) and then Meghan came back over to our house so the three of us could do stockings together since we wouldn’t be together for Christmas (she went to Dallas to be with their family and we stayed here and celebrated with mine. Ross and I switch between families every year).

I think Monday might have been my favorite day of the week. I know Christmas is supposed to be the center of the holiday greatness, but Christmas Eve was just so relaxing for me! I woke up at 6:00 and was wide awake but forced myself to stay in bed. Who gets up at 6:00 on their day off?? I waited and tried to get up when Ross got up for work around 7:15 but he told me I had to sleep in. As soon as he left I got out of bed – I was just too excited to sleep any longer! It was Christmas Eve, I had the day off and the house to myself, I had lots of cooking to do, and I was excited for our Christmas Eve festivities later that night.

I got up and made myself some blueberry pancakes and then made a quick loaf of beer bread just for fun (had to use up some of that Shine Cheer in our fridge). After that I took a break from the kitchen to ice my leg and watch The 10 Best Weddings of 2012 (three of which were vegan weddings!). Then I got back to cooking and made some breakfast tacos and homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning breakfast.

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Hannah came over around 1:00 and we sampled my cooking – delicious! – and I gave her a stocking filled with all kinds of cheesey things. Ross got home from work right around then and we packed up the car with all of our Christmas gifts and then headed over to Danny and Lisa’s house to continue my cooking and spend Christmas Eve with them. I always make apple pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas but I’m kind of getting tired of making pie. I make the crust from scratch which is really worth the effort, but for some reason I just didn’t feel like doing it this year. I just wanted to make/eat something different, so instead I made an apple crisp which I think turned out great!

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Not really the best picture of it, but I promise it tasted good!

Danny made some great vegetarian chili for dinner and then we gathered around the tree to all open the traditional Christmas Eve gift.

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After we all opened gifts I read The Night Before Christmas to the kids and then they were off to bed. Ross and I helped Danny and Lisa put together their gifts from Santa and let me tell you – that was a pain in the ass! Ryan got this Ninja Turtle truck that to be put together and included about 45 tiny stickers that had to be placed in just the right spot. Ugh.

Ross and I attended a candle light service at 10:30 pm and then headed back to our house. I decided to ice my leg once more before bed and ended up getting frost bite on my leg. Oops. It wasn’t too bad and Ross was night enough not to laugh at me. Finally we decided to try and get some sleep and I was not very successful with this. We got in bed around 12 I think it took me about an hour to fall asleep, and then I woke up at 2:45 completely convinced that I’d slept soundly and that it was time to get up and start our day. I continued to wake up every hour until my alarm finally went off at 6:30. I was just too excited to sleep!!

We made it back to Danny and Lisa’s house by 7:30 Christmas morning and we all opened stockings together and then dug into some good food for breakfast. Then it was time for PRESENTS! My family takes gift giving very seriously and we all spend a lot of money getting each other lots of presents. I absolutely love it! The adults have just as much fun, if not more, as the kids do!
vitamix

ROSS GOT ME A VITAMIX FOR CHRISTMAS!!!!

And my parents also got me a dutch oven, and Danny and Lisa got me a juicer (among other things)! I’ve never been so excited while opening Christmas presents! Unfortunately, all of my most exciting presents required that I be home in my own kitchen to enjoy them so the rest of my day was spent helping other people enjoy their presents. I did go for that quick two mile run in the new running socks that Ross got me, but I think my favorite part of the day was helping Jacob put together his Lego jet. He’s just turned six on Sunday and this is for ages 7-12, but barely needed my help putting that thing together! He’s such a little rockstar genius!

Yesterday is when I really got to enjoy my Christmas presents! I set them all up when I got home Christmas night but I’d eaten so much food that day that I really couldn’t justify using them. I did have to spend an hour rearranging my kitchen to make sure I had adequate counter space for all my new appliances. I still don’t know where I’m going to put that dutch oven… It’s still on the living room floor for now.

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Yesterday morning I made a carrot apple juice  to go with breakfast because those were the only fruits/veggie we had in the house and I was dying to use one of my gifts! On my way home from work yesterday I stopped at Natural Grocer and spent like $65 on produce! I got 2 kinds of kale, some lettuce, beets, oranges, 2 kinds of apples, mushrooms, celery, cilantro, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, an onion, swiss chard, spinach, more carrots… I think that’s it.

For dinner I made a tortilla soup with the Vitamix which was amazing. Not only did it taste great but it was seriously the easiest soup I’ve ever made. I added all the ingredients to the blender except the corn, avocado, cilantro and tomatoes and blended it for 5-7 minutes, until it was hot. Yes, the soup got HOT just by blending in the blender. Then I added the rest of the ingredients (corn was warmed in the microwave first) and pulsed to chop and mix them, and voila! Hot, healthy soup that took 10 minutes to make from start to finish.

For dessert I made Ross and I some juice – 5 kale leaves, 2 apples, 1 carrot, and 2 stalks of celery. Yum!

This morning I made good use of the appliances again. Juice – 6 kale leaves, 1/2 a cucumber, 1 stalk celery, 1 carrot, 1 apple, and a handful of spinach. Not as good as last night’s juice, but still good. The smoothie (which I’m drinking as I type this) was a bit more complicated because I put a lot of ingredients in my smoothies. 1 frozen banana, about 1 cup of frozen strawberries, 3/4 cup frozen blueberries, 1 tbsp ground flaxseed, 1 tbsp hemp protein powder, 1 tbsp cocoa nibs, 1 tsp chlorella, 1 tsp maca powder, 1 stevia packet, 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk. Delicious and nutritious!

Tonight I’m meeting Ross and Lynn at the gym right after work so Ross can get us set up with a new routine, then Lynn is coming over for a healthy Vitamix dinner with a juiced dessert! Hopefully today will be my last day off from running…

For those of you who have a Vitamix (or a Blentec or an Omega), here’s my tortilla soup recipe from last night. There’s a lot of ingredients but it really requires no prep work so it’s a super easy soup to make. This made just enough for 2 huge bowls of soup (I ate all of mine and then helped Ross eat his too).

Vitamix Tortilla Soup – makes 2 large bowls

2 cups vegetable broth

1 carrot

1 stalk of celery

1/2 zucchini

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 portabello mushroom

1 jalapeno, seeds removed (or not if you like things really spicy)

5 roma tomatoes cut into quarters (set aside 3 of the tomatoes to add at the end)

1/2 red bell pepper

*optional cube of vegan chicken flavoring

1 tsp taco seasoning

1/2 tsp cumin

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 avocado

1 cup frozen corn (warmed in microwave)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 lime, peeled

1. Place all of the ingredients into the Vitamix in the order listed, except 3 of the tomatoes, the corn, cilantro, avocado and lime.

2. Turn the Vitamix to variable 1, turn it on, quickly increase to variable 10, then flip to high (these instructions may be different depending on what type of high speed blender you have. Do not attempt this soup in a regular blender – the motor is not strong enough to handle it). Allow the soup to blend for 5-7 minutes, or until hot (you can touch the side of the container to feel how warm it is). Turn the dial back to the variable setting instead of high and turn the blender off.

3. Add the remaining ingredients, put the blender on variable 4, and turn on and off several times to pulse until the ingredients are chopped and mixed in.

4. Pour into bowls and enjoy, possibly topped with crumbled tortilla chips.

The next time I make this I am going to cook some soy curls in taco seasoning and add them to the mix at the end with the final ingredients. Tonight I think I’m making a carrot ginger lime soup from the cookbook that came with the vitamix! So excited!!

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SHOULD I RUN THROUGH THE PAIN?


My hope is that in a couple of days I will look back on this post and think, “Wow, I was definitely overreacting. There’s nothing wrong with me at all.” For now I’ll let you in on what’s going on.

On Monday I ran 6.5 miles — 1 mile warm up, 2 miles at marathon goal pace, 1/2 mile jog, 2 more miles and marathon GP, and 1 mile cool down. When I had around 1.5 miles left to go my lower calf started to hurt, kind of near my Achilles tendon, but higher and to the inside, like above my ankle. I just thought my muscles were tight because I’m running a little differently now to try and avoid toe blisters. I met up with Lynn at the gym later that night for our regularly scheduled workout and at first I tried to just push through the pain, thinking it was no big deal. But it really hurt anytime I had to balance on one leg and when I was having to step up with that leg. I modified my workouts to keep from aggravating it, Ross massaged it later (which hurt like hell), I took two days off from running, and I thought I was fine. It didn’t hurt at all after Monday night.

Last night I had another 6 mile run to do and I had completely forgotten that my leg had been bothering me a few days earlier, until I got about half of a mile in to my run. I pushed through until I got to mile 5 and then did a walking cool down instead of a jog. I worked out with Lynn right after my run and it was really hurting, worse than it had been on Monday. I adjusted the workout to avoid doing the things that caused the most pain, and hoped that it would be better this morning, just like last time.

Today I am not so lucky. It hurts. And it’s not the “I’m sore from a good workout” kind of hurt, it’s the “I’m wincing and holding my breath when I walk, stand from a sitting position, or climb up and down the stairs” kind of hurt.

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It hurts where the red lines are drawn on my leg. I talked to Ross about it today and he thinks it may have something to do with my over-pronating (he was very specific in telling me what he thought was wrong, but apparently I didn’t retain the information well enough to tell you about it). He suggests I try running on old shoes, which are made for those who over-pronate, because he thinks they might provide more support and stability to my feet/ankles/lower legs. When I bought my new shoes the people at Rogue Running said that they don’t really think that I over-pronate so I think they stuck me in some neutral shoes. He said running in my old shoes may not help today because I’m already sore, so if it hurts after the first mile or two then stop running and give it time to heal. But long-term he thinks that it might be a shoe/over-pronation problem. Ross is a corrective exercise specialist so I think I’ll take his advice and see what happens.

I REALLY don’t want to be injured. I have three races in the next three months that I’m planning to do (a 30K in January, a marathon in February, and a half-Ironman relay triathlon in March) and I don’t want some stupid leg pain getting in the way. I haven’t registered for any of them yet so I guess if I HAD do take some time off from running I could adjust my goals and shoot for a different races. But I’m really stubborn and I don’t want to do that. I’m also terrified of taking time off, losing my fitness, having to start back over, getting discouraged, becoming unmotivated, getting lazy, etc.

So please sent me nice pain-free thoughts over the next few days. Today I’m scheduled for a 4-mile easy run and I’m just going to play it by ear. It won’t be too big of a deal if I have to cut it short except that it will mean I probably shouldn’t do my 12-mile long run tomorrow. Ugh.

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SPICED BANANA BREAD RECIPE


For those of you who follow me on Facebook, I apologize for promising this recipe on Monday and then not delivering. I made this bread on Sunday night and the flavor was AMAZING, but it came out a little more dry than I like. Rather than posting a recipe and *hoping* that it would come out right for you I decided to take one for the team and make another loaf.

Hannah helped me make this bread last night and it turned out perfect! But you know what didn’t turn out perfect? The pictures I took of the bread. Seriously, every single picture I took turned out blurry. I picked out two that I’m going to share with you anyway, because what’s a recipe without a picture? It’s crap.

Spiced Banana Bread

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp allspice

¾ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cloves (I had whole ones and used my coffee grinder)

½ cup sugar

5 bananas, the browner the better

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup agave nectar or pure maple syrup

1/3 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1 tsp lemon juice

*additional cinnamon and sugar for topping the loaf

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray loaf pan and set aside.

2. Add the teaspoon of lemon juice to the milk and let it sit for a couple of minutes. This is how you make vegan buttermilk!

3. Add four of the bananas to a food processor or blender along with the vanilla extract and agave nectar and mix. Add the milk and mix again until smooth. Add the fifth banana to the mixture and pulse so that it still has some small chunks in it.

4. Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and stir with a large spoon.

5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

6. Pour into loaf pan and sprinkle with additional cinnamon and sugar (I like turbinado sugar for the top). Bake 40-55 minutes. I always check my bread starting at 40 minutes (if a toothpick comes out clean then it’s done) but usually have to keep cooking until closer to 55 minutes. I’d rather check it early a few times then let it cook too long and be too dry!

7. Immediately remove from loaf pan – you should be able to just tip it over and it will fall right out. Allow to cool 1-2 minutes on cooling rack before slicing. I like to eat mine immediately, slathered with butter!

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You can tell in this picture that the bread is moist and dense (as I think banana bread should be) but it’s not gooey at all. The toothpick should definitely come out clean, but be careful not to over cook it. If you don’t want your bread as moist then you can use three or four bananas instead of five, or cook it for another 5 minutes after the toothpick comes out clean the first time.

Here are the nutrition facts, assuming that you cut your loaf into 10 slices.

Spiced Banana Bread

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GOALS FOR 2013


Now is the time of year when people are starting to think about their New Year’s resolutions. I know this because they’re blogging about them already. I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions but I do like setting goals. New Years resolutions (at least for me) tend to be vague, or unrealistic, or lacking in support. My goals, on the other hand, are more thought-out and usually fall in to the S.M.A.R.T. category (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely).

While reading about a few other blogger’s goals for 2012 and whether or not they achieved them I was struck with the inspiration to start working on my own for 2013. I grabbed my iPad to start jotting them down as they came to me and this is what greeted me.

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Ross bought me my iPad for Christmas last year and left me this little note as a reminder for the rest of the year. Too bad this is the only time I’ve opened the Notes app since he gave it to me… Hopefully I did a good job of loving him all year without the reminder.

Before I started listing my goals I knew that I wanted them all to be specific goals; things that could be measured and that would be clear whether not it was accomplished. Past resolutions for me have been things like, “Floss my teeth more,” which is actually something that I still need to work on.  I never stick to this resolution because “more” can be just about anything. I currently floss my teeth about once a month (awful, I know) so as long as I do it 13 times instead of 12 the following year then I’m good, right? I’m not sure if my dentist hates me or loves me for keeping him busy.

I also decided that I wanted to have 12 goals for the year, to represent the 12 months of the year. I don’t have to accomplish one goal per month (too many of them are more long-term) but I felt like this was just a good number for me.

As I started jotting them down I realized that almost all my goals had to do with running or fitness. This is probably because I’d just finished reading a running blog talking about her goals for 2012 and 2013. I decided to put a little effort into coming up with a few goals that weren’t just fitness related, you know, to make me a more well-rounded person.

Here’s what I came up with:

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1. Run a marathon. I may not have needed to put this one on here because I already feel pretty committed to accomplishing it, but running a marathon is a big deal. It’s definitely a goal of mine and just because I’m sure I’m going to accomplish it doesn’t mean I should leave it off the list. So I added the little addendum – “and don’t be disappointed with the time.” I’m afraid that because I read so many running blogs written my much faster marathoners I’m going to be disappointed with my first marathon time. That’s stupid.

2. Run a sub-2:00 half-marathon. I don’t think that this is unrealistic for me and I know that I will feel amazing crossing the finish line and seeing 1:59:xx on the clock above me (or lower…?). I don’t have to accomplish this with the very next half-marathon that I run, but I will do it before 2013 is over.

3. Be able to do 25 real push-ups. For some reason being able to do push-ups is a real test of fitness for me. Right now I can do 20 push-ups, but not real ones. I mean I’m doing the correct motions, but I’m doing it on an elevated bar, not the ground. This makes it easier (but still not easy) and I honestly just don’t have the chest strength to do the real ones yet. I will though, you watch out.

4. PR at the Olympic distance triathlon with Ross and Lynn. For those of you who read this that aren’t runners, PR stands for Personal Record. Ross, Lynn, and I did an Olympic distance triathlon relay style back in October, and I was responsible for the running portion. I ran the 10K distance (6.2 miles) in 56:13, which is a pace of 9:04 per mile. Basically, I want to improve my 10K time and I don’t think that will be a problem. But I don’t want to do it on my own. I want to do with with Ross and Lynn on my team so I can make them proud too. This will also force us to sign up for another triathlon this year!

5. Volunteer for a race. There is a lot that goes into putting on a race, most of which I’m sure I’m not even aware of. I appreciate all that the race volunteers do to make races possible for us runners, so what better way to show my appreciation than to volunteer for other runners? I can’t think of one, short of writing them a check. I’m too broke for that though.

6. Get down to my “racing weight” – 125 lbs (i.e. clean up my diet). I plan on talking about this in a post all it’s own soon, but basically I want to clean up my diet. That’s not a goal that is really specific or measurable on it’s own, so I tacked it on to this one. I recently read about how being your “racing weight” can really improve your performance so I have a book on hold at the library so I can read more about it. Once I know more I’ll tell you more about it, and/or possibly adjust the goal once I have more information. In short, the goal is more about my body fat than weight. A good body fact percentage for me would be 17% (I’m currently 23.8%) and that would put me around 125 lbs.

NOTE: This is the point where I realized all my goals so far were fitness related. Let’s balance things out a bit.

7. Marry my favorite guy (without going Bridezilla on anyone). I don’t think I’ll have a problem meeting this one, but I thought I would include it for good measure. I don’t think there’s going to be any mind-changing or cold-feet problems for us but I still want it to be known that my goal is to be married to Ross by the end of April next year. Ideally, I’d like to do this while still being pleasant to be around and treating those who encounter me with respect. Feel free to call me out if you feel I’m behaving otherwise.

8. Go on at least one group run and/or join a running club. Aaaaaand I’m back to the fitness goals. I’ve heard all kinds of good things about running clubs and group runs, and I would really like to make some more running friends. Specifically, I would like to make more running friends who are interested in signing up for races with me!

9. Create at least one original recipe each month. I loooooove cooking and I have not been doing enough of it lately. I want to get more creative with my cooking, and also more consistent with tracking the recipes for the dishes that I make.

10. Spend time with my family once a month – Capertons, Gromes, and Lil Dix. I have a lot of family nearby – my parents live in south Austin, Danny and Lisa and the kids live in Pflugerville (which is actually closer to my house than my parents house is) and Ross’s sister lives in Austin, too. Sometimes we’ll go a couple of months without spending time with any of them and that is NOT acceptable to me anymore. I am going to make an effort to spend time with them once a month, preferably separately so I’m getting in quality time with each set.

11. Cross train once a week – preferably alternating spin and yoga. There is all kinds of evidence that supports cross training when you’re a runner, specifically yoga and cycling. Yoga is great for balance and core strength, and cycling is good for your hamstrings, which are good for running hills. These activities also help to keep you fit and active while giving your feet/knees, etc. a break from pounding the pavement.

12. Speak Ross’s love language three times a week. Have you read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages? I really recommend it. Ross and I both read it earlier this year and it helped us figure out how to love each other better. The premise is that there are five basic love languages and we don’t all speak the same one. That means things that make you feel loved by your significant other are not necessarily the same things that make them feel loved by you. My love language is acts of service; Ross’s is words of affirmation. We’re both terrible at speaking each other’s love language on a regular basis so it’s something that I really want to work on. Ideally, I would like to do something every day to speak his language but honestly doing it consistently three times a week is an improvement over what I’m doing now, so I’ll start there.

So those are my goals for 2013. I think they’re great and I know I’m going to be really proud of myself when I report back to you in a year that I achieved them all!

I’m really interested in what other people’s goals are so feel free to share yours with me. You’re also more likely to stick with a goal if you go public with it!

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16 GLORIOUS MILES


I started counting down to Saturday’s long run on Tuesday of last week. I had 16 miles on the training calendar for that day and I was kind of excited about it. 16 miles would be my longest run to date, and my two long runs leading up to that one really weren’t that great.

Two weeks ago I did 14.25 miles and I was miserable for the last 4 or so miles of the run. I was having chaffing problems, I had blisters on my toes, my feet and legs were tired, my mouth was dry, and I kept getting cramps in my side. When I finished the run I was glad that I had covered the distance but I was not really looking forward to my half-marathon the following weekend.

One week ago I ran the Decker Challenge Half-Marathon. I was not as miserable during this run as I had been the previous weekend, but I still finished feeling like I’d been run over by a large truck.

Half-Marathon6

A blister started surfacing around mile five and by the time I’d finished the race it took spanned the entire bottom of my big toe. This did not make for a strong finish to my race, but luckily that was the only lasting pain that I had. All my other aches and pains (which there were a lot of) were gone within a couple of hours. By Tuesday I could barely remember the pain at all.

This meant that even though my last two long runs were not what I would call enjoyable, I was genuinely looking forward to running 16 miles this Saturday. Ross said he was sure I’d be signing a different tune come the weekend, but despite his negativity realistic outlook, I was still excited about the run.

The thought of completing a 16 mile run was overwhelming in an awesome kind of way. To be able to say that I’d run 16 miles at once – that would be glorious! I knew I could do it and I couldn’t wait to get out there and show everyone else, too.

Saturday morning I got up at 6:00 so I could eat breakfast and let it settle before heading out on my run around 7-7:15. Ross and I were heading out of town later that day to attend my company Christmas party (5.5 hours away) and we wanted to leave town around 11:15 to make sure we got there with enough time to get ready. This meant I needed to head out on my run pretty early.

I popped out of bed at 6:00 and made a an 8-oz glass of Gatorade and piece of toasted sprouted whole grain bread, almond butter, and half a banana. I also made a smoothie with 1 cup of brewed green tea (refrigerated over night), 1.5 bananas, 2 dates, 1 tbsp ground flaxseed, 1 tsp coconut oil, and lots of frozen fruit. I tried to eat/drink this as quickly as I could so that it would have time to settle before I headed out.

For fuel on the run I made a 20-oz bottle of Gatorade to carry with me (and had more in the fridge to stay cold and refill with later) and I pinned a ziplock bag with dried pineapple to the side of my shorts. This turned out to be the perfect fuel for my run!

When I ran the 14.25 miles, I drank a homemade energy drink and ate a banana mid-run. I like the taste of the energy drink but it didn’t really work well for fueling my run. I’d like to play with it some more, see if I can get it right, but I didn’t have time for that last week so I just drank Gatorade since that’s what I’m used to.

I think I also needed more calories during my run, not just the banana mid-way, but I don’t really want to carry shot blocks or gels with me. I know that there are a lot of companies that make organic, vegan products, but they’re still a very processed form of fuel and I’d like to stay away from that. I read somewhere that dried pineapple is a good natural source of calories/energy during sports activities so I decided to give it a shot.

Ingredients listed on the bad: pineapple, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice. That sounds good to me! Store bough energy bites are also very gummy and can be difficult to chew while running Dried pineapple is very easy to chew, has a great flavor, and is the perfect amount of sweetness!

In a perfect world, on a 16 mile run I would run eight miles away from my house, turn around and then run eight miles back to my house. This isn’t realistic for a couple of reasons: 1) I always have to pee (and often times poop) during my long run so it’s nice to be able to come back to the house and take care of that, and 2) I simply cannot carry enough liquid/food with me on my run, and I don’t want to stop at a gas station to buy more along the way. That’s a waste of money and I like my Gatorade a little more watered down than how it’s sold in the bottle. Also, do gas stations sell dried pineapple?

Instead, what works for me is to split the run in to equal-ish legs that are each around an hour. On Saturday I did one out a back that was 6.38 miles, then an out and back in a different direction that was 5.5, and that put me back at the house for the last time with just over 4 miles to go.

The first time I got back to the house I peed, refilled my bottle with cold Gatorade from the fridge, and ate a huge handful of dried pineapple. I had been eating and drinking along my run too (a few chunks every mile or two) and so far I was feeling good! Six down, ten to go, and still feeling good!

I was nervous when I got to mile 8 because that’s when my 14-miler started to go downhill. Mile 8 came and went and I still felt good. The same went for miles 9 and 10. At this point I started to get a little tired, but nothing hurt and overall I was still feeling good.

The third leg of my run was the most difficult simply because I knew I only had four more miles to go. I was tired by mile 12 and wanted to stop, but again, nothing hurt. My legs still felt strong, I couldn’t sense any blisters anywhere, there wasn’t any chaffing, no side cramps… I felt as though I could definitely finish this run strong.

I made sure that I hit the 16 mile mark a couple minutes away from my house so that I had no choice but to do a cool-down walk before I got to my house and collapsed! I walked in the door after 3 hours and 1 minute and announced to Ross that I felt GREAT!

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I was so happy to have run so far and soooo happy that I wasn’t in pain! I had a huge smile on my face for the next two hours. It was fantastic!

There are a few reason that I think I felt so great after my run on Saturday.

1. I used body glide so there was no chaffing.

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2. My Gatorade wasn’t too sweet or too strong, so I was able to drink it continuously on my run and stay hydrated.

3. The pineapple was easy to take with me (pinned to my shorts) so I could have some every few miles during my run, so my energy level stayed fairly high.

4. While running I made sure to land mid-sole (almost flat footed). I’ve read over and over that it’s important for runners NOT to heel-strike or land heel-to-toe when running and to try and land mid-sole. I just went to the other extreme and have been running more or less on my toes. I think this is the cause of my poor blistering toes so I tried really hard not to do this on Saturday. I could definitely feel a difference in my calves for the first few miles, but that eventually got better and I avoided any blisters!

5. I tried Galloway’s run/walk method. I read Galloway’s Book on Running a couple of years ago when I first started running and learned about his run/walk method. Basically, you sprinkle in some walking during your running and this helps to keep your legs feeling fresh so you can finish strong. Under his training and using this method, runners have been able to run marathons in the 2:30s and break PRs that they’ve been striving for.

Even after I’d read good things about this method, I still couldn’t decide if I wanted to try it. It just felt wrong to walk when I was supposed to be running.

About a year and a half ago a friend of mine ran his first marathon and finished pretty strong, even running the second half faster than he ran the first half. He said that he did Galloway’s run/walk method of running for 4:30 and then walking for :30. He did this on his long runs and then did it during the actual marathon and felt great.

After I had such a bad long run on my own, and after feeling so tired and watching my pace get slower and slower during my half-marathon, I decided that I would try this run/walk thing. I made up my mind that I would run 1 mile, then walk for 30 seconds. If I didn’t like my results after this long run then I would never try it again. If it worked for me, then I would keep trying it for the long runs and possibly during the marathon, too.

I actually forgot that I was going to do the whole run/walk thing until I got to mile 2.35, so I walked for 30 seconds at that point and then resumed with walking for 30 second every time my RunKeeper app announced I’d completed another mile.

I loved it! I ended up taking 14 walking breaks total and still finished with an overall faster pace than I had during my 14.25 mile run. I never felt like I had to increase my speed to make up for the time lost walking; I just ran at a comfortable pace and was able to finish feeling strong! Here’s a comparisons of my mile splits for my 14.25 mile run with the only walk breaks coming at the end because I felt like I was dying, versus my 16 mile run with them happening regularly.

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I am definitely going to try the run/walk thing on all of my long runs (anything more than 12 miles) and possibly during the marathon as well. There’s a small part of me that feels like I’m cheating, but for now I can ignore that small part of me!

For the rest of my marathon training my long runs alternate like this: 16, 12, 16, 16, 12, 16, 12, 14, 5, 26.2!

I’m using the Hanson’s training method so my long run isn’t supposed to get over 16 miles, but I am pretty sure that my last 12 mile run is actually going to be replaced with an 18-mile practice race, but I’ll talk more about that later!

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WEDDING: 4 MONTHS TO GO


Just 4 months and 6 days until our wedding! I can’t believe it’s coming up so fast. When we first set a date I thought that an 11-month engagement would drag on, but now I feel like the big day is sneaking up on me and I’m not prepared!

Here’s what we’ve already got accomplished, the things that are works in progress, and what we still need to get taken care of:

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I hope you can read that okay. Clearly my to-do list is out of control and I really need to get on this wedding planning thing!

I’ve already written posts about the engagementthe venue, my dress and shoes, and the guestbook, but here’s an update of all the other stuff on my list, one by one. If you’re not interested in wedding talk, remember that all wedding posts have “wedding” in the title and you can just ignore them!

For the things we’ve already got taken care of: 

For the photographer we’re going with The Wedding Shoppe.

The flower girl is Ross’s niece, Kyra, who will be 4 by the time of the wedding and lives in Wisconsin.

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The ring bearers are my two nephews, Jacob (in red) who will be 6 in about a week, and Ryan who will be 5 a few weeks after the wedding.

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Ross has his groomsmen picked out (Nick, Chris “Country”, Daniel, his brother Ryan, and Jesse) and I’ve got my bridesmaids picked out (Hannah, Lynn, Lyndsey, Alex, and Ross’s sister Meghan).

Our guests list is HUGE – 192 people on the invite list (not counting any kids), and we’re expecting about 160 of them to attend! When we first got engaged lots of folks asked me how many people we were inviting to the wedding and I guessed that we’d have around 80 or so on the list. Ha!

Ross’s Aunt Vicki is a photographer and she offered to take our engagement photos this summer in Rockport. You can check out the album here, but be warned: she took a lot of pictures!

We ordered our Save the Dates through Wedding Paper Divas and sent them out back in September. We actually sent a few more out last week because we’d been waiting on some addresses, but I’m confident they’re all sent out now!

SAVE THE DATE SAVE THE DATEback

Lisa (pictured above with Jacob and Ryan) gave me the garter from her wedding, and it’s blue so I can use it as my something old or my something blue! Still gotta get my something new (does the dress count?) and my something borrowed (will probably be jewelry).

Ross purchased my engagement ring and wedding band as a set so we’ve had those since May. We purchased his wedding band at the beginning of November and it arrived a couple of weeks ago! I loved the process of us picking out his ring. I’m not exactly sure why, but it just melted my heart!

I fell in love with a cake topper I saw on Pinterest before we even got engaged and Ross’s mom bought it for us this summer!

Two of my best friends from college are going to co-officiate the ceremony for us. Here’s a picture of the three of us from college (May 2008).

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Elaine is ordained and working as the pastoral resident at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church in Dallas (don’t stalk her). Here’s a picture of us from her wedding in January 2010.

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John is a graduate of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and is in the process of becoming ordained. He is currently living in NYC and working with the Presbyterian church as an advocate for LGBTQ youth.

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Ross’s mom made us some awesome Mr. and Mrs. signs for our chairs at the reception!

Sandy has a great birdcage that we’re going to use to collect any cards we receive.

When Ross and I participated in the Triathlon with Lynn in October we received bug spray in our race swag bags. We’re totally using it for the wedding reception since there’s a great outdoor patio and we have plans to use it!

The things that are currently in the works:

We’re getting our wedding cake from Green Island Catering and our tasting will be sometime in January. Green Island is an all vegan catering company here in town and I’ve met the owner a couple of times at different vegan events.

We’re not doing a plated dinner, just lots of finger food (lots!). We’re getting some of it from Green Island Catering and some of it from Whole Foods.

Texas Old Town requires that you use a bartender from Texas Ritas if you’re going to have alcohol at your event, so we don’t have to think too hard about that, just get them booked six weeks before the wedding. We’re also going to have them provide a lemonade fountain and coffee.

Ross and I already picked out the ties for him and his groomsmen, and bought his suit, so now we just need the other guys to go and get theirs. Seeing him dressed in the suit he’ll be wearing when we get married definitely brought tears to my eyes! We picked out his suit the same say we got his wedding band, so it was a very emotional-in-a-good-way day for me.

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Ross’s mom is making our wedding invitations and the programs for the wedding. They’ve both been designed already (I love them!), we just need to finalize some details and get them printed.

We’ve started registering for gifts! We’ve got wedding registries started at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Amazon.com. We’re also going to register at Target, we’re just waiting until after the holidays to go to get that one done.

My bridesmaids and I have already started working on the centerpieces and some of the other decorations for the reception. I’m really excited about them! I might share pictures and a bit about the DIY process as we get more of them completed.

I started working on our wedding website, which honestly stresses me out a bit. It probably shouldn’t, but it does.

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My girls are already in the process of planning my bachelorette weekend!!!!

I started writing my vows. Ross hasn’t because we haven’t officially decided that we’re going to write our own vows. This conversation will happen soon, and we might be saying the same ones. We’ll see.

I’ve got the design for the boutonnieres, I just need to go buy the supplies and get them made! I’m really excited about these and I hope they turn out looking as good as I imagine!

If you’ve planned a wedding before and you know of something that I’m leaving off of my “to be completed” list, please let me know!! I’ll be back with more updates as they happen, at least for the big ones. Little stuff will wait until the “3-months to go” update.

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FEELING LAZY


I really want to share some posts about food on here soon, but I haven’t really been eating anything exciting lately. It’s been a lot of leftovers or other unexciting “meals.”

I got home for work yesterday and immediately left for my run. When I got home from running I only had about an hour before I needed to meet Lynn at the gym. I didn’t want to take the time to really cook anything because I wanted my food to have time to settle, so I ended up eating a big bowl of frozen peas (microwaved with salt) and a big bowl of oatmeal. They were both delicious, but not really anything worthy of sharing with you. I have high hopes for tonight though. A quick and easy soup for this cold weather we’ve been having!

Alright, now I have a question. For those of you who have run races before, do you ever feel really lazy afterwards? I don’t mean immediately afterwards, but later that night and possibly the next day too? This is something that’s happened to me with just about every race that I’ve run.

Races typically start very early in the morning, so you’re almost always done by lunch time. Once you finish you’re exhausted and you feel great (i.e. accomplished), but how do you feel later?

After a race I typically go home and spend the rest of the day just lounging around and eating, which is to be expected. However, this means that by the time bedtime rolls around I feel like a lazy slob and sometimes have to remind myself that I ran X number of miles that day and I am in no way lazy. Sometimes this lazy feeling trickles over into the next day too.

This happened to me last week/this week. I usually run 5 days a week (and by usually I mean I’ve run 5 days a week every week since August. That’s kind of a big deal for me. I’m not usually that consistent.) but last week I only ran 4 days. I could chalk it up to a pre-race taper week, but that’d be lying. It was really just a result of bad planning. I took my normal days off from running like I always do, forgetting that I wouldn’t have any time to run on Friday, so I ended up with 3 days off last week. Oops. I honestly felt really guilty about it, like that automatically makes me a bad runner for missing a day.

I was also carbo-loading last week, which I’ve never done before. I don’t think it’s really necessary for shorter races like 5Ks and 10Ks, and I’m not even really sure if it’s necessary for half-marathons. I’ve read a lot about it though and there are a lot of runners who do it, so I thought I would give it a shot. I love carbs!

I said this before in my race recap post, but I want to say it again. Carbo-loading is not increasing the number of calories you eat before a race, but rather increasing the percentage of your calories that come from carbohydrates instead of protein, fat, and fiberous veggies.

I started practicing increasing my carbs slowly throughout the week and really tried to make sure that’s the bulk of what I ate on Friday and Saturday. It was a lot of fun while I was eating but by the time Friday night rolled around (and I hadn’t run that day) I was feeling very heavy and lazy.

Saturday I went for an easy 5 mile run and tried to make sure I had a really big lunch (apparently lunch is more important the day before a race than dinner is).

I got up early on Sunday, started the race at 8:00 and was finished by 10:10 that morning. Ross and I stopped at Chipotle on the way home and then we commenced doing close to nothing the rest of the day. He did go for a bike ride for about and hour and a half, and I cleaned the house while he was gone, but with the exception of that one hour-and-a-half stretch of time, I did nothing except lay on the couch, nap on and off, and eat — from noon until I went to bed at 9:00.

By the time I was ready to call it a night I was feeling rather lazy. I had more or less done absolutely nothing for the past nine hours. I wasn’t sore from the race anymore (with the exception of my big toe) so it really felt as if I’d done nothing all day long.

Monday came and I was eating less carbs but I wasn’t able to get in my run because I had to work really late that day. When I got in bed I thought, “Oh my goodness, it’s been so long since I’ve run. I’ve really got to make sure I get out there tomorrow!” before remembering that I’d run a half-marathon the day before!

Lacing up my running shoes last night felt like something I hadn’t done in a really long time when in reality I’d only taken one day off from running.

Does this happen to anyone else? Do you ever feel lazy the day of or the day after running a race?

The good news is that I’m not sore from my race! That’s probably because I wasn’t running at my full potential, which I blame on the giant blister that took up my entire big toe and made every step I took miserable starting at mile 5.

More good news is that I have my next race picked out! No, it’s not the marathon in February. I’m still running the marathon but I’ve got my sights set on another race that’s taking place before that one!

I think I might be addicted to racing. I love the nervous feeling I get leading up to the race, I love standing at the starting line with all the other runners, I love seeing so many people out and being active (with a goal), and I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I cross the finish line.

I’ll save the new race details for another post, though. Tonight I’ve got a 4-mile tempo run on the training schedule. I’m supposed to run one easy mile for warm-up, four miles at goal marathon pace, and then another mile to cool down. I’m going to try something a little different during tonight’s run. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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WEDDING: THE GUEST BOOK


Ross and I put a lot of though into what we want to do for our guest book for the wedding. And by that I mean I put a lot of thought into it and Ross shot down most of the ideas that I came up with.

Those cute trees where each guest adds their painted thumb print to make all the leaves? Nope. He’s positive his grandma does not want to finger-paint at our wedding.

tree

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Then I came up with idea for everyone to sign a puzzle piece, and when we put it together there would be some picture or something on the back. Apparently that’s lame.

puzzle

I worked at Cafe Monet, a paint-your-own-pottery studio here in Austin, for almost eight years. What if we had everyone sign a large platter for us? Oh, but then what would we do with it? Silly me, that’s lame too.

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Then I got the idea to do different fill-in-the-blank pages. Each guest could pick out one or two different pages, fill them out, and we would put them together after the wedding to make a big memory book from them.

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fillinblank

Ross didn’t seem to hate this idea, and I thought the guests could have a lot of fun with it, so I tucked it away as a probably.

Then I read about a wedding where they had the guests sign a square of fabric and after the wedding they had a quilt made with all the squares. I really, really liked this idea, but I never suggested it to Ross.

Emilie & Gray's wedding, Emilie & Gray's wedding quilt2

I never suggested it because I came across another idea, which he loved, we ordered, and it arrived in the mail today!

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About a month ago I read about someone else ordering their guest book through Shutterfly and decided to check them out myself. I several hours inserting pictures and designing the different pages. I showed it to Ross and asked him what he thought and he said, “I like it, and I can tell that you love it, so let’s do it!” : )

There are many more pages to the book but I don’t want to show them all here. Any wedding guests who read the blog need to be surprised by a few things when they show up at the wedding!

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HALF-MARATHON RACE RESULTS


Wow. Where do I even begin with this race recap? I guess let’s start with the week leading up to the race. Because I was carbo-loading for the race, a lot of my dinners looked like this:

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Note about carbo-loading: you’re not supposed to eat more calories the week leading up to the race, just make sure a higher percentage of your calories are coming from carbs.

On Friday I went to Rogue Running to pick up my race packet!

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I love the shirts we got! They’re a technical fabric, which is great for wicking sweat away from your body. They’re a little shorter in torso length than I’d like, but I still think it’s pretty cool. I also got the 13.1 bumper sticker for my car and some Body Glide so I wouldn’t have a problem with chafing during the race.

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I knew that it was going to warm the morning of the race and all race registrants got 15-25% off anything we bought at Rogue Running that day, so I went ahead and invested in a nice running tank top. It’s a very light weight material, comfortable, and not too tight. I knew it would be a good idea to try it out on a run before race day, just in case, so I wore it on my easy Saturday run.

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It also matched the shorts I was planning on running in, which is a win in itself! (Please excuse the toothpaste on the mirror.)

After my run on Saturday I decided to make some potato bread (yummy carbs). I didn’t realize I was almost out of flour when I started making the recipe, so I used some whole wheat, all purpose, and buckwheat flour in the recipe. I also used my food processor to mix it instead of the dough hook it called for. It turned out okay and I plan on making it again.

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Sunday morning I woke up at 6:00. The race was scheduled to start at 8:00 and it was 20 minutes from our house. I wanted to be there by 7:15 so we planned to leave the house around 6:50. Waking up at 6:00 would give me plenty of time to make a huge smoothie for breakfast, get all my stuff together, and not feel stressed or rushed.

For my breakfast smoothie I used 1 cup of green tea and 1 cup of yerba mate (brewed the day before and left in the fridge overnight to chill), 2 whole bananas, some frozen strawberries and blueberries, 2 dates, 2 tbsp flax seed, 1 tsp coconut oil, and some stevia. This made enough for two smoothies, but I drank it all. I also made some Gatorade and drank that to make sure I was well hydrated and got plenty of electrolytes. I finished drinking everything by 6:30 so that I would have plenty of time to process it and wouldn’t have to pee during the race!

The night before I made some direct fuel energy bites from the Thrive book to eat during the race, and I also made some recovery pudding for me to eat after the race. 6:45 finally rolled around and I was ready to go!

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I wanted to drive to the race rather than let Ross drive because I thought it would help to calm my nerves some. I kept telling myself over and over, “You have nothing to be nervous about. You know you can run this distance, and the whole point of this race is to get an idea of what your pace should be for the marathon, so calm down!” That didn’t really help much though.

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We arrived at the race right when I wanted to and I peed three times before it started! While Ross and I were walking around waiting for the race to start we saw a lot of these shirts:

fueled by beef

And only one shirt like this: no-meat-athlete-sustainable-t-shirt

It made me really wish that I was running in a No Meat Athlete shirt, too! Maybe next time.

As it got closer to the race start I headed over to the starting line. I decided that I wanted to run with the 2:00 pace group to help me meet my goal. When I was at Rogue Running on Friday I talked with some people about running with a pace group and they really recommended it. They suggested that I start with the 2:10 pace group and stay with them for a mile or two, and then pick up my pace a little and finish with the 2:00 pace group. This was recommended to make sure I didn’t go out too fast and use up energy that I would need later in the race. I decided to just start with the 2:00 group and try to hold on!

Standing with my pace group before the gun went off I started to feel a little anxious. And what do I do when I feel anxious? I talk to strangers. This isn’t something that I make a habit of doing in my normal life, but there’s something about being there for a race, I just want to talk to people! The woman next to me had run this race the previous year and she confirmed that there are lots of hills! I looked around a bit and noticed a woman lined up without any shoes on. I had just read a blog the other day about a woman who ran a 5K barefoot, but I was still a little surprised to see someone lined up for a half-marathon with no shoes! (Note: Ross said she finished the whole race barefoot, about five minutes before I crossed the finish line).

As we were standing there waiting, lots of people were commenting on the weather and how warm it was. It was 72 degrees when we left the house at 6:45, and it was now 5 minutes until 8:00. I had no idea what the exact temperature was, but it was warm. And humid. I know that 75ish degrees is not hot, but when runners sign up for a race in December they expect it to be a little cooler. And runners like cool weather. We do not like humidity.

I forget if there was a gunshot, a horn, or if someone just yelled go, but something happened and we were off! As we were running I felt really good. I was happy to be in a pace group with people who had a similar finishing goals, and the pace felt great. When we passed the first mile marker I was really surprised because I didn’t feel like we’d been running that long!

The pace we were keeping felt really good. I was happy that I’d started out with this group because otherwise I fear I would have gone out too fast and hit a wall halfway into the race. At the pace we were going I felt like I could run all day! Remember, we’re still only two miles in when I’m thinking this…

There were hills. Lots and lots of hills. Luckily though, they weren’t really steep hills. They were long and steady, so even though they were a pain in the ass, none of them were real killers. The hill from my triathlon on October was much worse than any of the hills I encountered on this race!

It’s good that the hills weren’t too bad because the humidity was killer! Within the first two miles I was dripping with sweat! Running with a pace group didn’t help this aspect because we were all running a little closer to each other than we might have been otherwise. Lots and lots of body heat. Some people were running in the long-sleeved race shirts that we’d been given in our race packets, and they were all peeling them off before we got to the 2-mile clothing drop. Now there were lots of shirtless men and sports-bra clad women. I was very happy to have my lightweight tank!

I felt really great those first few miles. I was really confident that running with a pace group would give me the motivation to just stay on pace with them and be able to finish in two hours. When we got to the 3-mile marker, the time displayed was 9:45. I crossed the start about 15 seconds after the timer started, so I was doing just over 9:00 minute miles. I felt good.

Then mile five started and my feet started to hurt. Not the my-feet-are-tired-of-running kind of hurt that you can just ignore and push through, but the I’ve-got-some-serious-blisters-developing kind of hurt, where each time your foot hits the ground it stings. This was not a good sign. As the mile progressed, the pace group leader holding the 2:00 sign slowly started to get farther and farther away. When I crossed the half-way barrier in the race (at mile 6.55) they were completely out of my sight.

I didn’t feel like my pace had slowed significantly, so I knew I’d still be happy with my time, but I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to keep up with them. Somewhere around mile 8 or 8.5 I joined up with a man running in a yellow bike jersey and we stayed together for the rest of the race. I had seen me a few times throughout the race because we’d been keeping about the same pace, but now we were shoulder to shoulder, trying to make it up what he assured me was the last big hill of the race.

He asked if I had run this race before and I told him no, it was my first ever half-marathon. He told me that this was the last big hill and that I needed to save some energy later for the last bit of the race. This race is tricky and there’s a bit of flat ground and then just as your turn the corner for the last 1/2 mile of the race, it’s uphill from there. What kind of crappy race finishes on an up hill? I thanked him for letting me know!

Around mile 10 we turned a corner to see another big hill looming in front of us. “Ooops, I guess this is the last hill. Sorry about that!” The hills really weren’t as bad as I expected them to be, so I didn’t mind this last big one.

Throughout the race there were water stations every two miles. I carried a water bottle with me and rather than try and drink from a cup while running, or walk through the water stations, I unscrewed the lid to my bottle as I got close to the station and just poured a cup of Gatorade in and kept on running. This actually worked out really great!

My friend in the yellow jersey and I passed the 11-mile marker and I remember thinking, “Thank God!” and kept on pushing. My feet were really hurting at this point and I just wanted to stop. Luckily I didn’t have any problems with chafing during the race, and even though my feet were killing me I felt a lot better than I had on my long run last weekend.

When we got to the next water station, the woman who handed me Gatorade dumped a cup in for me as I poured mine in, so I got double on that stop. I was so happy at this point because I knew we were at the 12-mile water stop and we just had 1.1 miles left in the race! Every step I took brought me a little relief because we were getting closer and closer to the finish. We made our way over a few small rolling hills, and then around a corner. And then I saw it up ahead.

Not the finish line, but the 12-mile marker.

WHAT? We’ve already gotten to mile 12! What is this sign about?? Since the water stations were supposed to be every two miles, I assumed when we reached the last one that we were at mile 12. I was wrong. They put the last water station at mile 11.5 and the realization that I had to run another mile when I thought I was in the half-mile stretch to the finish mad me so sad. I knew I had it in me to run several more mile if I needed to, but mentally I just wanted to be done.

The guy in the yellow jersey and I started talking again. I mentioned that I had started with the 2:00 pace group but now was hoping to just finish before the 2:10 pace group. He said he’d started with 2:00 too, and that he wished he’d gone out slower so he could have finished stronger (yeah, me too!). He asked if the 2:10 group had passed us yet and I said, “No, they’re they people right behind us!” We both picked it up a little bit to make sure we stayed ahead of them.

The race started and finished at the Travis County Expo Center, and as we turned on to the premises at the end I kept thinking, “Where the fuck is the finish line?” We kept running though parking lots, making turns, going up more hills and I couldn’t figure out where the finish was. I could tell we were close and it was so frustrating to not be able to see the finish line.

When we had about 1/3 of a mile to go, the guy to the left of me (not my friend in the yellow jersey) stopped running and started walking. I patted him on the back and said, “Come on, man! We’re so close!” and he started running again. I know if I was that close I would want a little encouragement to keep running.

Finally we could see the finish line! The last 0.2 miles of the race were actually a light down hill so I picked up my pace and tried to finish with a little kick. As I got closer the the finish like I could see Lynn and Ross cheering for me! That brought a huge smile to my face. There’s nothing like seeing people you care about waiting for you at the finish line!

I finished the race in 2:09:45. When I crossed the finish line I was so happy that I had finished in less than 2:10! As soon as I stopped running the smile left my face though. Suddenly every part of my body hurt. I had blisters on the bottoms of my toes, which made walking incredible painful, and the rest of my body ached, especially my lower back. I walked around for a while trying to loosen up but I really felt like crap.

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I look a lot better in this picture than I felt! I met back up with Ross and Lynn and headed inside the expo center to get some post-race snacks. Luckily they had some chiropractors/sports medicine doctors inside giving free massages. I told one of them where I was sore and he had me lay down on the table. He said my lower back was sore because my hip flexors were tight and pulling my back inward. He called someone over to help him and they pressed and pulled and caused me a lot of pain, but when they were finished my back didn’t hurt anymore. It was amazing!

Ross and I found a spot on the floor so I could eat my recovery pudding. I forgot to bring a spoon so I had to use a torn paper cup to eat it. I’m sure I was quite the sight!

Honestly, I’m a little sad that I wasn’t able to push myself to finish in 2:00 like I had wanted. But I keep reminding myself that this was my first half-marathon and the whole point of it was to check my progress for the marathon in February.

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As soon as we got back to the car I put the 13.1 sticker on my car. I am so proud of that silly sticker!

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I really wish I would have taken their advice and started out slower (with the 2:10 group) so I had more energy left at the end of the race. Even so, I really think that I could have finished a little faster (maybe 2:05) if it weren’t for my feet. When I got home I soaked in a nice hot tub with 3 cups of Epsom salt to help relax my muscles. That helped my feet to feel a little better too, but this is still what my left big toe looked like before I went to bed last night:

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The crusty part at the bottom of my toe is a blister from a couple of weeks ago and didn’t affect yesterday’s race at all. But can you tell that the rest of my big toe is essentially one giant blister? It is NOT fun to walk.

Here are my results from the race:

Total time: 2:09:45

Overall pace: 9:50 per mile

Age rank: 26 out of 77 in my age group (33%)

Gender rank: 169 out of 529 women (32%)

Overall rank: 478 out of 1032 runners (46%)

I finished in the top 1/3 for my age and gender, and in the top half for all runners, so I’m happy with my results! : )

When I checked my facebook this morning I had a message from the guy who I patted on the back at the end of the race!

carl

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Overall, I’m really pleased that I finished the race and happy with my results! : )