Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Peanut Butter Banana Bliss

I'm starting to think short posts are the way to go. Who wants to read a novel (especially one I write)?

There's nothing too exciting going on this week. I'm just working, eating, and trying to stay injury-free for the big race...

oh yeah...about that...I strained my back this morning doing cleans during my endurance set. It's a re-strain (is that a real term?). I had a more serious strain before my first 1/2 marathon back in August of last year. The muscle has never been 100% since (before today I would have said it was 98%).

I see a lot of ice packs, stretching, and foam rolling in my future.

This is the most exciting part of my day:

4 tablespoons of PB2 and 3/4 of a small banana (the other quarter went straight in to my mouth). I love PB2 because it has a lot less calories and fat than regular peanut butter, but (almost) all of the flavor. Mix it with something else you love like banana (or jelly, chocolate, protein shake, etc.) and you'd never know the difference.

The cup may look almost empty, but I assure you it was over 1/2 full before I started diving in.

Mix your PB2 and water first, then add in chunks of banana and mash, mash, mash! I like mine warm - 25 seconds in the microwave.

WHEN oh WHEN would you ever eat 4 tablespoons of real peanut butter? Me? Only in my dreams... That's why I keep a jar of this good stuff at my desk.

Happy Hump Day!

What's your favorite thing to pair with Peanut Butter?

Do I have any fellow PB2 lovers out there?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

26.2 Marathon of Me!

I promised an update on this weekend's final LONG training run before the 26.2 with Donna race coming up in less than 4 short weeks! With getting Monday off form work in honor of MLK, I went in to the weekend a little nervous, but also fairly laid back about my long run. When I say laid back, I should probably specify that this only applies to when I would be doing my long run. I remained rigid about my pace goals. 9:40 per mile or better. Period.

My original thought was to run first thing Saturday morning - knock it out early then enjoy the rest of the weekend. But, I planned poorly on Friday and wound up not fueling properly for the next day's run (a protein shake for breakfast and lunch, roasted mushrooms for dinner does not a healthy girl make). I was feeling the effects of too few calories from the previous day on Saturday morning and decided to push the run back.

I fought myself about whether to do it Sunday (with help) or Monday (while I was home alone and Mike worked = no help) and finally landed on Sunday morning. Since it's not blistering hot here in Florida (for a few short weeks of the year), I decided to let myself wake up naturally instead of beat the sun. By 7:30 I was up, dressed, fueled, and ready to hit the pavement.

Even though I was running in daylight, I for some reason picked this fashionable color combo just so I would be sure to be seen by cars. Beauty before comfort? No, safety before beauty!

Roady wished me luck and I headed out the door.

My neighbor and fellow first-time-marathoner-to-be joined me for the first 12 miles before she had to stop to go to church. I let her know ahead of time about how I would be hard-headed about the pace for this final trial, and she did a great job of staying with me as we ran the first 12 miles at a 9:25-9:36 pace.

Like I planned for last week, I completed 2 laps of 6.5 miles each. We breezed through the first loop without stopping for water. On the second loop my buddy needed a quick potty break, so I knew we were running a little behind time. Lap 3 I was on my own and feeling strong. I finished the first 4 miles of the third loop (miles 13-17) around a 9:05 pace. I took a look at the actual time and saw that it was approaching 11:30 am, when I had asked Mike to meet me at the house so he could run or bike the final loop with me. I wound up cutting the third loop about a mile short in order to make it back in time, figuring it was better for him to bike an extra mile with me than be waiting for me to get started.

When I got back to the house, Mike was ready to go with his bike, his Pandora Reggae station playing, and some water bottles to bring on the trip. I was so thankful for the company, as I had 18.5 miles behind me and 7.5 more seemed ridiculous.

I don't know if it was the miles or having Mike there to be strong for me, but my pace really started to slow. I was tired and my hips were aching, but I should have been OK. I was mad at myself for slowing down. Right at the dreaded 21.5 mark the foot pain I've been managing for the past 2 weeks kicked in to high gear and my foot no longer wanted to support my weight. Reluctantly, I stopped to stretch my foot and roll my ankle. My average pace was creeping up and I was starting to lose hope. I kept going, knowing the pain would stop (or go numb) if I could just keep moving. Again I cried a little, not as bad as last time, but enough to get Mike's attention and make him start cheering and pepping me up.

I thought of you guys and asked him to take a picture for the bloooooog, even though I knew I would look disgusting and miserable. As you can tell, I was not feeling great anymore. When it was time to turn around, I got a little surge of energy and told myself "just get home, you just have to get home." 

The final 3 miles are a little blurry - literally. I put my head down and stared at my shadow on the pavement in front of me. I felt myself getting dizzy and foggy, and shook my head to wake myself back up. It was hard to focus. It felt like work just to look at the ground in front of me to make sure I wouldn't trip on anything. A little day dream about tripping and falling during the race managed to occupy a few minutes of the remaining miles.

As I approached my street (and the last 0.2 miles!) I saw my neighbor on her way back from church. She honked and cheered out the window, which gave me the boost I needed for those final steps.

When it was all over, I was very happy and very proud...but this is the closest thing to a smile I could come up with.

26.2 miles in 4 hours and 25 minutes. For my first marathon distance, I am pretty proud. I am, however, wondering and worried if the adrenaline from the crowd can really help me shave a whopping 10 minutes off that time on race day, in order for me to make my 4:15 goal.

On my Monday off, I took the pup to my training session with Tammy then for some well deserved play time at the dog park in Ponte Vedra. He loves to run free, swim, and fetch the ball.

Oh, and sniff everyone and make new friends.

Once his exercise was taken care of as well, we snuggled up on the couch until Mike got home from work. I had zero energy to go to the grocery store and plan for this week's breakfasts and lunches. Which is why today's lunch looks like this...

This is what $8 of organic strawberries looks like, eaten with a knife since I don't want to run downstairs to the cafe for a fork. Along with this is a homemade larabar and a glass of apple chai tea. Looks like I will need to pack in all my veggies and protein during dinner.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Week of Workouts

There seems to be a theme going around some blogs I'm reading this report on the past week of workouts. Now, I know I only have one reader so far (hi Sara!), ok, sometimes 2 (hi Mike!), but I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon anyway. After all  when you spend this much time exercising, it's nice to have someone to tell about it!

I'll start with Sunday, since last Saturday was my rest day.

1.25 mile run to the gym. 
60 minute Spin Class. 
1.25 mile run home (changed shoes), 
finished up with a 7.5 mile run along the beach for a total of 
10 miles

Personal Training with the best trainer ever - Tammy
3 Rounds of strength exercises: core, legs, arms 

4 Rounds of strength/endurance combo:
50 lb sled push
8 Single Arm Dumbbell Snatch
12 Box Jumps
(finished early so added an extra set of 12 SA dumbbell snatch on each arm)

Tuesdays and Thursdays I meet a friend from work at our office to run along the river before work. I like to go early to get a few extra miles in.
3 miles @ 9:05 pace
3 miles with my friend
We have started finishing up with 3 sets of 10 push ups

This is my 5:15 am training day with Tammy - this day was very shoulder heavy and hard!
3 Rounds Strength Set:
Front Squats 10 reps at 80 lbs
Cable Chest Press 10 reps at 40 lbs
Stability Ball Pass x 15

3 Rounds Strength/Endurance combo:
5 lb jump rope jump - 50 jumps
Push Press (upper only, no squat) 45 lbs x 15
Kettle Bell Swings 35 lbs x 15

I finished a little early so we worked on my pull ups, assisted with a band. 
3 rounds of 5 pull ups

Repeat of Tuesday's run. I was running a little behind, 
so I only got 2 miles in before meeting my friend for a total of
5 miles
3 sets of 10 push ups

Fridays are my only morning to go to the gym. I get there when their doors open at 5am (ran late this morning, got there at 5:10). I squeeze in as much as I can in 30 minutes then head home to get ready for work. Today was a repeat of an older workout with Tammy:
3 Rounds Strength Set:
Single Leg Bridge x 15
Overhead Squat 30 lbs x 12
Dumbbell Single Arm Row 25 lbs x 12

3 Rounds Strength/Endurance:
Thrusters (full, with squat) 45 lbs x 10
Burpees x 12
Sumo Dead Lift High Pull 45 lbs x 10
Box Jumps x 12

Extra set (2 rounds):
Stability Ball Ham Curl x 15
Renegade Push ups 15 lbs x 8
Stability ball tucks x 15
50 crunches
10 Push ups

I should probably mention that these workouts are all dreamed up and created by my fabulous trainer, not me. She gets all the credit, I am just the pawn that does her best to carry them out. We meet for 30 minutes twice a week. Is it expensive? Sure, but it's a good investment...the best kind you can make, in your health. 

Oh, that's right, we're still a day short. And it probably looks strange to be 4 weeks out from a marathon and only running 21 miles a week. That's because of this, tomorrow's workout:

26 mile run, 9:40 pace

You read that right, folks, I'm running my very own marathon of 1 tomorrow. This is my last long training run before the race, so my goal is to stay on race pace for as long as possible. After tomorrow I'll start tapering my runs to heal up for the big day. The plan is 4 laps of 6.5 miles per lap. This time I will be planning ahead to have support for the final lap. Any takers? (Mike??) I'm hoping to send you a good report on Monday!

Do you have a weekly workout schedule? How do you stay on track?

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

In: Chia seeds and Juicing; Out: Processed Foods

After a fun lunch out with my man and a glass of sangria, I snuggled up on Saturday night with my pup and my tablet to the documentary Hungry for Change. It's short and VERY worth the time. What really struck a chord with me is the discussion about how most of the "food" we eat today is not really food. It's not real. It may have come from real food at some point or it may have been created in a lab using chemicals. Regardless, it may be edible, but it is not food. 

This hour-ish documentary helped me really take a look at the amount of processed foods I eat. It's pretty sad. I focus so much on hitting my calorie, fat, carb, and protein goals for the day in my food log, that I often mistake (limited) quantity over quality. Last week I survived breakfast and lunch off of protein bars for all three days that I was in the office. I excused the behavior because I "didn't have time" to grocery shop, prep anything, or even run downstairs to the cafe for a salad or egg whites. Chemical and sugar filled protein bars it was. Did I hit my food log totals for the day? Yes, but if you read carefully enough the contents would be frightening. I am admittedly hooked on the faux chocolate and peanut butter combos that taste dangerously close to a candy bar. Now that I'm thinking about it, the whole concept of them is pretty gross. 

Here's how my workday looked on Wednesday:

That's a lot of bars and protein powder. Even the peach cup, in water, had splenda in it (yuck). More importantly than having a lot of processed foods in there, there is NO real food. 

After a quiet night with my tablet on Saturday, I woke up Sunday morning full of determination and inspiration. I headed to they gym for a 4 mile run and a 1 hour spin class. I finished up with some stability ball ham curls, push ups, and crunches, before heading over to the Fresh Market to stock my fridge for the week. 

(Side note...this was my first spin class and it was VERY tough! I was under prepared with no towel or water bottle. I was a sweaty mess and very sore afterwards. What a great alternative to running when my knees need a rest! I will definitely be going back!)

With the inspiring words from the previous night's documentary still fresh in my mind, I loaded up on organic veggies, fruits, and ground chia seeds. I didn't even glance at Fresh Market's irresistible bakery section and I left without a single processed item (excluding the chia seeds, which are cold milled and ground, but have no additional ingredients or preservatives). Oh...and $90 poorer, but it's worth it!

Let's start with these babies:

I've heard about chia seeds before, but never knew much about them. The documentary and my own side research taught me that these little gems are full of omega 3s, fiber, vitamins and protein. They are a great vegan alternative to eggs in baking, as they become a jelly or egg like consistency when water is added. Hungry for Change recommended pairing chia seeds or aloe vera with juicing, since juicing removes all fiber from the vegetables which can make it a little rough on the belly. I googled the aloe option and decided I'd start with chia seeds first. 

Monday morning, still inspired, I woke up a little early to attack my freshly stocked fridge. I measured out 2 tbsp of the chia seeds in to a mug then added enough water to cover the grounds plus a little more. I set this aside while I prepped my veggies for juice. By the time I turned back to the mixture, it had become the jelly like consistency as described. I was hoping to gulp it down quickly...

But the Jelly consistency made it quite a mouthful.

Please excuse the silly picture and poor picture quality...I'm still working on this photography thing, but I know no pictures = no readers. So I'm putting aside my critical eye (when it comes to pictures of myself) and including even the not-so-flattering shots.

Once this was down, it was time to move on to my juice! This juice had 1 peeled cucumber, 3 kale leaves, a bunch of leafy lettuce, a handful of cilantro, a handful of parsley, 2 celery sticks, 1 roma tomato, and 1 small apple (seeds removed due to arsenic content). 

The picture does not do this justice. It was A LOT of vegetables. Far more than I'd ever be able to eat in a day. All of this became about 900 ml of vitamin-packed juice!

I gulped down a few big sips then poured the rest in to a water bottle before heading off to work. For the most benefit, fresh juice should be consumed within the first 15 minutes, but for me there's no way all this could fit in my belly that quickly. I happily sipped on my delicious concoction until lunch time. The cilantro really added a fun kick, while the carrots and apple kept it sweet enough to cover the bitterness of the fresh kale. 

That was a great kick-start to my week, and it's been pretty easy to keep up. I wonder if I can get through the weekend on this new positive track? The rest of the day looked a little more like it should:

Ever so slightly high on the carbs, but since they were mostly from the juice I think that's OK. I ended my evening with a tough workout with my trainer and a good home-cooked meal (a healthy spin on Chinese food! There are a few tweaks I'll make next time so I'll post the recipe once I get it just right).

I want to talk more about my food log and daily nutritional goals, but that's a post for another day. For now I'm not making any grand announcements about how I'm throwing all processed foods from my diet and going on a raw food cleanse, but I am feeling great 3 days in and definitely will be making REAL food a bigger part of my daily intake (and less so of the uber-processed "health" foods).

Hope you all are having a great hump day! Before I go...someone wants to say hi...

Monday, January 7, 2013

23 Mile Challenge

As a follow up to last week's New Year's Kickoff, I want to finish telling you about my kick-start to the new year and new challenges. Last Saturday was my 23 mile training run in preparation for my upcoming marathon.

With the holidays, my weekday runs have suffered. I'm still working hard in the gym, but those 4 am runs have slipped by while I rest on my comfy TempurPedic snuggled up with this guy. 

I set my alarm for 3:45 am on Saturday, and got up and got ready knowing the challenge ahead....or so I thought. I have done a 20 mile run twice now, once with a friend and once solo. Both felt great and I even increased my speed when I went alone. I felt like this run would get me back on track and confident again about going in to the marathon.

In the days that approached, I did my usual prep work: checked the whether, mapped out my course options here, and tried to decide on a time. I knew I didn't want the run to eat up my whole weekend, but I was also enjoying sleeping in til 7 am over the break. To start before sunrise, or not?

Friday evening approached and the chance of morning rain was 80%. I wrote to my neighbor and occasional training partner to see if she was up for some crazy-early and probably wet morning pavement pounding. She was, so just like that I was locked in.

I set my alarm for 3:45, and headed to bed early. In the morning, I got up and felt like everything was right on track. I didn't even mind the light rain. The plan was to run an 8 mile loop first, then run 3 loops at 5 miles each. We stuffed my mailbox full of water and gels, and started the Garmin.

Loop 1: 8 miles, no problem. My partner's pace was a little behind my goal for the day, but I didn't mind since we were still in pitch black darkness. After 8 miles we took a quick water break and headed back out for our first 5 mile loop.

It was as if the sky opened up on this one. We ran through puddles and in to the wind. We were drenched head-to-toe, but still having fun. About 3.5 miles in (at 11.5 for the day) my partner's pace really slowed and she urged me to go ahead. The sun was still a good 20 minutes from showing up, so I decided to work on my pace. I ran ahead at my own pace for about 1/4 mile increments, then turned back to meet her. I did this about 3 times until she said she'd just meet me at the end of the loop.

We all have good running days and bad running days, so I knew how she was feeling. After finishing the loop (at 13 miles for the day) I decided to run the second loop backwards. I don't like taking breaks during runs, so I was worried about my legs cramping up while I waited for her to finish. I set out on the backwards loop and waved to her as she was finishing up her 13 miles, letting her know I'd see her again about 1/2 way through the next loop.

It was light enough outside at this point and the rain was easing up. I kept looking for my partner around every corner, but I never saw her. When I made it back to my mailbox at the end of the second 5 miler (at 18 miles for the day) I saw she had taken her cooler and water bottle. She must have gone home. My spirits dropped, both for her and for myself. My boyfriend's car was gone (he must have gone to the gym), so I knew I was on my own for the final 5.

I was envious, but also, determined. I was sad for her, because I knew she wanted to run the full distance today, but I knew how those bad running days felt and I know I will have one again soon. I decided that I just couldn't handle that same loop any longer. I needed a change of scenery if I was going to go this route alone.

Instead of south, I headed west, to they gym. If Mike was there, maybe I could finish up on the treadmill next to him or even talk him in to going on the road with me for the final few. It's just over 1 mile to the gym. I got there and the thought the treadmill would be unbearable. My spirits were down, my legs were tired and in pain, I needed these last 4 miles to fly by. I didn't see Mike's car in the parking lot, but heading further west meant a sketchy area with no one around for protection. I told myself I would beg and plead with my boyfriend to join me for the final miles if he was home when I got back. I weaved my way through some back streets (which turned out to be just as sketchy as heading west) hoping the mileage would pass, but by the time I got home I still was short...21 miles down, 2 to go.

Still no car back at my house. That was my last hope, the final two were all me. The bottoms of my feet were throbbing with every step, my knee felt tight and every muscle felt sore. My lower back felt weak and my still wet clothes were starting to get really uncomfortable.

I headed away from the house to a familiar 1 mile marker. Every step was a fight with my mind. I knew my body could do it, but my mind was weak and wanted to be done. I put my head down and turned my iPod up.

Carolina Girls came on next, and I immediately burst in to tears. This song always makes me think of my dad. I pictured him cheering for me at the sideline of the marathon just like he used to at soccer games. I could hear his voice in my head, and the sobbing continued.

I pretty quickly realized sobbing makes it VERY hard to breath while running, so I sucked it up and made myself stop. But even those few seconds made me feel so much better. A good cry is so necessary sometimes. Just then I looked up and saw the turning point approaching.

Once I turned around I knew what to do...turn off the music and start an inner song. To the beat of my steps, I said to myself "Just get home, just get home, just get home" over and over like a drum. It's a little trick I picked up in cross country back in high school. Usually I pick something more random and light-hearted (like Mary had a little lamb), but that day, "just getting home" was all I had left to do.

I did finally make it home, and the world did not end. I dragged myself up the stairs and in to the shower. With my hair still in a towel, I climbed in to bed. When Mike returned (he was at the gym! How did I miss him?) he showered up and took me to lunch. French fries, yes please! I think I earned them.

That was a REALLY long way of telling you that I completed my 23 mile training run, mostly alone and very much on pace (I made up some time from miles 12-18, then fell back in to a 10:20 pace for the last 5). Up until this run I had only heard about the mental wall that marathoners hit where it's a fight with your mind to keep moving.

Call me crazy, but I thought I wouldn't hit it. I now know there is a HUGE difference between 20 and 23 miles, and it's mostly in my head. My mind had me running through a lot of different things that day, but at the end of it all I was only one thing. Proud.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Welcoming Challenges in a New Year

Hi. Yes, I do still exist. I got a little...discouraged....distracted....both. I felt that I was my only reader and decided no one would really notice that I disappeared for two weeks.

I haven't been great about taking pictures...excuse #1. I am not doing anything interesting over the break...excuse #2. I have been eating A LOT of sweets, how can I write about being healthy?...excuse #3. Shall I continue?

Then I got a text from my trusty best friend who knows me so well:

"No new blog posts for you?"

Someone is reading! And even if it is just her and me, that's enough to wipe away any excuse not to post. Besides, for now, this is mostly for me. Maybe you'll start reading, maybe you won't. But what I know is that there are 4 blogs that I read religiously. I check them every morning and evening like clock work. If one of my favorites misses a few days in a row...I get discouraged and sometimes forget to come back to check the next day. With only 1 reader besides myself, I can't afford that now can I!?

So, instead of boring you with all the details of a Christmas/New Year's break filled with cookies, jogs, gym trips and movies, I'm going to be very Ekhart Tolle today and focus on the NOW. I listened to the audio book of the Power of Now a few years ago, and honestly, I just wasn't ready for it. I didn't completely buy in (and still don't), so i'm going to be somewhat in the now, and somewhat in the future.

After all, it is a new year. Aren't we all looking forward just a little more than normal this week? My new year's resolution was successful last year (make exercise a part of my daily life), so I'm going to keep that going and add on. I've learned that I enjoy having a goal to work towards. Even if the goal changes and evolves over time, I need to feel like I'm headed in a certain direction and checking off boxes as I go along that road.

I think I'm off to a good start. My marathon is 6.5 weeks away. I have a 15K planned for 3 weeks after the marathon, and I'm throwing around the idea of doing a sprint triathlon whit a friend this summer. (Better work on my swimming skills!) I've also signed up to start taking courses in March to become a health coach. I think this will force/will me away from my destructive sugar addiction.

My boyfriend greeted me this morning with a link to an article that is a bit harsh, but very true. I must preface this link by saying that I did not watch these videos (they were not permitted by my office internet) and I do not support the foul language (though sometimes you just have to say one of those dirty and perfectly expressive words). Open your mind, stop being so defensive, and give this article a shot.

6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person

Isn't becoming a better person what New Year's Resolutions are all about? Intrinsic vs extrinsic locus of control was one of the more fascinating subjects I recall from my psych studies. It's inevitable that we blame intrinsic causes for failure in others, and it is SO easy to blame extrinsic causes for our own failures. This year, in addition to my list of physical and educational endeavors, I will work on taking complete responsibility for my failures and successes.

Did you catch that last part? and successes. I will work, as we all should, on being a good adult - being accountable - doing what I say I'm going to do, when I say I'm going to do it, without complaining (thanks Dad) - as well as learning to be OK with a compliment and an accomplishment. Too often my kind-heated best friend and I almost give away our accomplishments to others, choosing humility over pride, and mostly just to make the complimenter feel better. Making others feel good is what makes us feel good. I will not change this, I think this is a good attribute. BUT, this year, i will learn to be thankful and proud of my accomplishments. I am working hard for them and it is OK if others notice that. I will stop tearing myself down. 

At the risk of rambling on too much longer and losing that 1 reader (hi Sara!) I have....I'm going to cut this in to two posts (the second part will be more uplifting, I promise) and end this with a ...

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! I wish you a wonderful year of enjoying the present, taking steps towards your goals, and finding the you that makes you happy!