Monday, August 31, 2009

Miscellaneous Monday Musings...

So today, Rick's friend came over. We have his motorcyle hostage in our garage. It didn't do anything to offend us, it was more a matter of the parts necessary to repair the bike were waiting for us as a gift when we got home from surgery on Friday. Needless to say, one day too late. Rick decided he could make his way to the garage and sit in a chair giving instruction to his friend. Not sure how it is going, they are still there now almost 7 hours later.

With the friend visiting, I felt I could leave Rick for a bit and go for a run. I assume if he needed anything or fell over, the friend would know what to do to get him back in the chair, right? I thought so too so off I went...

It turns out today was "State Prisoner Clean Up the Park Day" at Stone Mountain. I didn't see any advertisements for it or any sort of banners hung about in the park but I did notice quite a few squads of prisoners at various places along my run. They were trimming hedges, chopping on trees, etc. Interestingly enough, they provided an unintended motivation to keep running at several points. (Insert picture of screaming 8 year old - STRANGER DANGER, STRANGER DANGER). I am sure they were harmless. Let's face facts though, they are in prison for a reason and I wasn't about to be weed whacked to death by some disgruntled state prisoner who was tired of gardening and wanted to make a break for it while the guard watched from the comfort of the econoline van 25 yards away. It wasn't all that bad but I was a bit nervous to pass them. They were on either side of the sidewalk with the various gardening tools and I kind of had to run in between them. They did inspire me to keep running. There was no way I was strolling at a walking pace through that crowd. It was pretty funny. They were actually polite. They all stopped blowing the leaves and weed whacking while I went past. Just like any good landscaper.

I managed to get in 10 miles today. WOO HOO. I am back on track. With the 13 at Disney next week, I am officially back on the plan for Nike. Speaking of... I rarely run with my camera anymore but REALLY wish I had one today. I ran past a tiny older woman walking around the park today. Emblazoned on the back of her shirt "Autentic (nike swoosh) Apparel". I think the folks at Nike might need to use spell check. Either that or it was NOT "autentic". GASP.

I made a foray into healthy baking this weekend. I made some cookies which had no butter, no eggs, no flour and no sugar. Oh my. They were actually good. Well, not good in a Cookie Bake-Off winner sort of a way but good in a "if you have a taste for clif bars you will like them sort of way". I got the recipe from a blog a while ago and finally got around to making them. My apologies to the blog owner, I cannot remember which blog it was as I stalk so many of them...

If you are interested:

Chocolate Chip Trail Mix Cookies

(makes 2 dozen large cookies - somewhere around 165 calories, 22g carbs, 5g fat, 12g protein per cookie)

4 c oats
8 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 1/2 t salt
1.5 cups nuts & seed trail mix (I used planter's nuts seeds and raisins - 1 bag)
1/2 c raisins (next time I may try dried cherries or craisins)
1/2 c 60% cacoa ghiradelli chocolate chips
1/4 c honey
1 c maple syrup (the real stuff not aunt jemima here...) :)
2 t vanilla

Combine all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients and then incorporate into the dry ingredients. Stir until your arm gets tired and stir some more. I put in a little bit extra honey and maple syrup as the dough never got to a point where it would stick together. Keep stirring. Maybe use your hands. I did. It will be a bit crumbly but sticks together when you turn it out by whopping tablespoons onto a lightly sprayed baking sheet. I ended up kind of scooping them with a ice cream type scoop and then working them into balls. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Enjoy! I had one pre-run today and it worked out very well. This one is a keeper!

Last thing... over the past few times I have played tennis my elbow has been bothering me on my backhand. I waver between a one hand and two handed backhand so four years into my tennis career, I do both yet neither is great. So... pain in my elbow. I was thinking it was tennis elbow. Who doesn't have that, right? After being off tennis for a week, it hurts worse today. I am embarrassed to say that virtual farming may be the cause of my "tennis" elbow. Farmtown. I knew no good could come of it... What is so addictive about that game?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nothing like a little forced downtime to inspire you...

Ricks' surgery was yesterday afternoon. LATE yesterday afternoon. I felt for him. No eating after midnight. No water, no nothing. His surgery was at 3:30 pm. I can barely go 2 hours without some sort of snack. I am pretty sure I would have perished of starvation right there in the office. I spent the morning ferreting away food upstairs like Oliver Twist with a morsel of bread that he didn't want his cronies to see. I figured out of sight, out of mind on the food part for Rick.

As you might recall, his leg was looking a little something like this:

Now it looks a little something like this:

I love that they write on the leg to make sure the surgeon cuts on the correct one:

As with any good party, the guest always leaves with a goody bag. Rick's included the hardware he had been carrying around in his leg for the last couple of years. Not really as good as a girly bag or makeup samples but he was thrilled with the gift.

Rick has never been a fan of anesthesia as it always makes him pretty sick. Apparently, when you are a modern day Evel Knievel you have been under anesthesia more than most and know if it makes you sick. His anesthesiologist yesterday did an excellent job. He wasn't sick at all and really has felt pretty decent, all things considered, post surgery. I will say, they waste no time in kicking you out of the hospital. Rick was in surgery until 4:30. We were in the car on the way home at 5:45.

With all that waiting around (we arrived at the hospital at 12:30), I had PLENTY of time to catch up on magazines and plotting out my marathon training. For those of you doing the math, YES, I should have plotted this out weeks ago. Some of you probably don't even plot it out you just go with the flow. I am an organizer. If it isn't penciled in week by week in my calendar it does not exist. I may never reference the calendar again after the planning session but the fact that it was written down somewhere makes it real. Crazy, I know.

I do believe for the Disneyland half I just might qualify for one of those "Running Stupid" shirts. You might have seen them at the race expos. They say something like "Running Stupid: I didn't train for this race". I might not be that bad but I definitely don't have any long runs going into the race which is next weekend. Yikes.

My plan for Disneyland is to put it on cruise control and run/walk if I have to really slow it down. I am pretty sure I will be stopping for pictures with the Disney characters so there was not going to be a PR anyhow. On the bright side, after the hald next weekend, I should be able to catch up and be just about on track for the Nike Marathon in October. Both of these two races are "just for the experience" type races so as long as I finish, it is all good. :)

If any of you all are into magazines like I am, I have pretty much decided that Women's Running is probably the most useful to me. I can find good information that applies to me in most of the articles which is unusual to say for a magazine. It is an every other month read so you don't end up with a stack of them if you can't find the time to read on a regular basis. They are also the sponsor of the Women's Half in St. Petersburg in November.

I felt so much better leaving that hospital yesterday! I really got inspired by catching up on my reading and putting the plan in motion. Rick felt great and all was right with the world. Don't you love days like that where all the gunk that seemed to weigh on you is just washed away and your mojo returns?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Today's entry brought to you by Sofsole...

It all started with a big ole package of goodies that arrived at my doorstep courtesy of Sofsole. I knew a package was coming but had no idea there would be so many great things to try out!

The mission was to review the products. I was overjoyed when I opened the box! Tons of socks and two different inserts to try out. My orthopedic inserts sounded like they were enjoying their last few miles based on the amount of squeaking so the timing of the new inserts could not have been better!

The first insert I tried was the Airr. The Airr is billed as a performance insole with maximum air cushioning for high-impact activities. It also has a coolmax cover to help wick away moisture. I tried this for tennis first and it made the shoe a little too tight. I have since tried it in my running shoe which is a half size larger and LOVE it. I may trim the toe area of the insert and give it another try in my tennis shoes. I want to say it is slightly thicker than the custom insert which is why it may feel like a tighter fit in the shoe. The insert fits up to a size 11 so there is definitely ability to trim to fit. So back to the insert... In the running shoe, I could tell that it made a difference. It had a cushioned feel from the toes to the heels. In some inserts you predominantly feel the support in the arch. This one feels cushiony throughout the foot area which is nice.

In addition to the inserts I was given four different types of socks. I was given Coolmax Liner, Coolmax runner, Anti friction and multi sport liner. All are low cut socks, the coolmax runner has a cushion sole and the rest are thin socks.For those of you who aren't into having cotton in your socks, the multi sport liner and anti friction will be your new best friends. I have heard that staying away from cotton can help prevent blisters no the ends of your toes so I am anxious to try out that theory with these in my half marathon next week. Before trying these socks I was a fan of a more thick cushioned sock. After trying the thin socks, I might be a convert. They just felt lighter and more breathable on my feet. Maybe that is just because any less fabric in Atlanta in August is a good thing :)

The second insert I tried was a craft project of sorts. It only took about 3 minutes tops but well worth it. The Custom insert is heat moldable to your foot. If I had to choose one insert over the other, I think I would go with this one. Granted, it may be purely psychological but there is something about having it molded to my foot that made it seem like a better fit. Those of you who were with me through the stress fracture last year know that I had custom orthotics made by the doctor at that time. He did say that I could try an over the counter one to see if it worked but I went with the custom just because I was in a time crunch getting ready for Disney. So my little disclaimer would be if you are under medical care, you might want to ask first. I'm just sayin...

So these are the custom inserts aginst the lovely background of what appear to be filthy tennis shoes. I promise you they are not as filthy as they look. It might be time for a new pair anyhow.

I mentioned these were heat moldable, right? That step involves the oven. I know, it seems odd as visions of melting plastic dripping down your oven racks enters your mind. Trust me. It will be fine. You preheat the oven to a low temperature, I think it was either 225 or 250. Whiel you are doing that, trim the edges of the insert to fit your shoe. Pop the inserts in the oven for a couple of minutes (again, going from memory, check the directions obviously...). It looks like something like this. Weird, huh? Ignore the bits of burnt food in the bottom of the oven. Oven cleaning is not a high priority for me. Who has time when you are busy making inserts in your oven?

Grab some mitts and put the inserts in your shoes. Make sure you have thin socks on your feet and you stand there for 2 minutes to allow them to mold. I put off doing this for a bit because it seemed kind of involved (I did not really read the directions, just envisioned work). I could not have been more wrong. Easy Peasy.

After I "made" my inserts, I took them for a test run at Stone Mountain. My feet felt really good during the run. My legs were tired from a week of boot camp as per usual but - and this is the truth - my feet really felt good. Not tired or achy at all. All in all a miracle seeing as that day my IPOD battery was dead and I was running in silence which seems to exaggerate every ache and pain because you have not much else to pay attention to during the run. My feet felt great. I cna honestly say I would recommend either insert. I think for my training and the next few races, I am going to stick with the custom as it really felt good on my feet. Bonus - they don't squeak either!

Have a great Friday! Rick is having his surgery tomorrow. I think he is both excited and nervous. Glad to get the hardware out of his leg but nervous to go through the pain and rehab again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gettin' my run on...

Thanks to the lack of tennis today (see previous post), I was able to get a short run in at Stone Mountain. I was officially testing my sofsole inserts. I LOVE THEM but more on that in another post. I have been amiss in my training lately and was getting to the point of starting back at square one with my beloved Hal Higdon's plan. Admittedly, at this point my issue is mental. Well, it was until today. I have really felt off schedule most of this year. Particularly, post the Flying Pig. Mostly, I think time just gets away from me. I have grand plans of doing this or that and just can't manage to fit it all in. I need a day to sit down re-group and plan it all out. Can you tell I am a little Type A. Everything must be planned. The run today was great. I went low-key, nothing overly ambitious, in an attempt to get my mojo back. It worked. Five miles at Stone Mountain felt like nothing. I feel back in the swing. Whew. Disneyland here I come :)

In other news, today is Chasing the Kenyans' one year blogiversary. If you have never stopped by to read her news, today might be a good day. She is giving away GU goodies so you might want to check it out! Happy blogiversary!

Friday, August 21, 2009

of foam balls and Friday night beatdowns....

I received a flyer earlier this week about a foam ball tournament across town at the Midtown Athletic Club. (Think nerf-type ball as opposed to a regular tennis ball) It was a charity event, advertised as "great cardio" and "exciting matches". The flyer did not say it was a foamball tournament but the graphic on the flyer was a big foam ball. I thought it would be fun, different and a chance to see another tennis club so I plunked down my $45 (charity) and signed up.

I got an email about an hour later asking what level I played. The registration indicated there were two levels for singles, 3.5 and below and 4.0 and above. I thought it was odd ut then again, foamball, so maybe that evens the field a bit. I e-mailed back to say technically I was 3.0 but had just been bumped up to 3.5 with the end of season ratings. The reply comes back "can you play 4.0". Normally, I would NEVER EVER consider it but I know tournaments can be short players in one bracket or another so I told them I was pretty sure I would get squashed like a bug but since it is foam ball, I will give it a go. My assumption, as naive as it might have been, was that these are foam balls and I have more running speed than most so maybe it won't be the complete crush that it normally would be if I played a 4.0+ player.

After the email on Wednesday, I never heard back. I finally emailed this morning to ask if the tournament was still on and, if so, what time was my match. My first match was 6:30 tonight. They guaranteed 2 matches so if you lose in the first round you feed into the consolation. A little bit better than spending $45 for one match.

I leave work a bit early to make the hour+ drive over to Windy Hill. I pull in around 6:15. The club is very nice - indoor and outdoor courts, swimming pools, several floors. Nice. I make my way down the hall to the door leading to the courts and notice the draw. There is only one for singles. Four people total. OK, not the end of the world. I walk out and check in. The guy hands me the t-shirt (they said "gift bag" on the flyer... don't get me started on that as I do love gift bags and there was not one...). Strike one. As he hands me the shirt, he says "these are nice shirts, just ignore the first line on the shirt". I read the first line. 1st Annual Foam Ball Tournament. I think oh, maybe these are leftover from last year and this is the *2nd* annual event. LOL. My foam ball fun tournament fantasy went off like a puff of bug spray on a hot summer night. Strike two. I am still not deterred. I convince myself that maybe there are other innocent victims such as myself in the draw.

My opponent shows up. Marni was cute as a button and fairly young. As we are walking to the court, I feel obligated to tell her I thought this was a foamball tournament and this might not be much of a match for her. I asked her what level she played. She proceeds to tell me that she just moved here, was just getting started and didn't know her level. Brief moment of relief. Then she says, "yeah, I haven't played since I was a junior when I was 18". I said, "really, was that last year (laugh)". While I did think she was young, I thought mid to late 20s. She laughed as if to say, no you silly old lady. Then she says "no, I am 21, it was 3 years ago". CRAP. Strike three.

We proceed to warm up. Junior Marni does the little bouncy junior thing in between hitting. She has that perfect forehand, backhand, and serve that I can't return. Can we just say this was no fun AT ALL? All I can do is to try and relax and laugh it off. Lesson learned. I did manage to get 1 game off her in the second set of which I am quite proud. I am pretty sure only 1 or 2 games were anything other than 40-0. It was over fast. Not fast enough to suit my taste but pretty fast. I tried to maintain a good attitude but part of me was thinking the tournament director should have known better than to shove me in there knowing I was barely 3.5. He should have been up front and told me there were only a handful of players and given me a choice.

There is a consolation taking place tomorrow at 11:00. I let them know that I am really sorry but this was a big misunderstanding and I am not driving an hour out there for another beatdown. I really hate it for them because I know it means the other person won't get that 2nd match but they should have given me more information up front. Honestly, if it weren't so far I would suck it up and take the beating but there is no way I am driving 40 miles to kick my butt kicked. Again. Too bad, I am in a serious slump. I didn't need yet another match to chip away at the remnants of confidence I have in my game. I was actually excited about the foam ball thing. Just damn. On the bright side, I can get a much needed run in tomorrow!

Friday, August 7, 2009

A must read...

I don't know if any of you follow the blog "Fat Cyclist" but it is amazing and he is amazing. Susan, his wife, passed away earlier this week after a long and much chronicled fight against breast cancer. Through the site and his fundraising efforts, "Team Fatty" has raised over $500,000 as part of the Livestrong Challenge team. Truly an inspiring family.

Click here for the blog tribute to Susan Nelson.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It's a new dawn, it's a new day...

Today was a vacation day. The one purpose for this day was to get in a long run. As I looked out my window at work yesterday, all I could think was I really would like to be outside running. So I did what any normal person would do and asked for a last minute vacation day.

The plan was to get up early to avoid the heat and so that I did not sleep away the entire day. Lately, when I have been afforded the opportunity to wake up without the aid of an alarm clock, it is easily 12 or 13 hours after I went to sleep. Does anyone think I might be in a sleep deficit? Maybe... I had a few minor plans for the day, nothing overly scheduled. My big plans, you ask? Run 10 miles, buy some tomatoes at the neighborhood market, bake a pound cake for a tennis friend and possibly meet said friend for a late lunch.

I think I have mentioned my Mom issue before. Not to delve back into it but I am trying a tough love thing on her now. Along the lines of sometimes you just can't care enough to save someone who doesn't care enough to save themselves. She writes to me pretty much every day. Yesterday was a 10 pager. It kind of tweaked my mood about my vacation day. GRRRR... Well, it was either that or the avocados that I bought for guacamole weren't quite ripe anough and I tried to use them for guac anyhow. Just not the same. Bummer... Seriously, it is just one of those things where the other person just refuses to do even the simplest thing to help themself out of a situation. I feel a lot of guilt that I am not doing right by her but in the end she has to take some responsibility for herself. She is not incapacitated. That would be COMPLETELY different. I have decided I am not going to open the letters for a while. Maybe a couple of weeks for starters. We will see.

So I think subconsciously that tweaked my mood for the run although I didn't realize it until I got out there. I set my alarm clock for about 7:00 so I could get a reasonably early start. I ended up getting out to the Mountain about 9:00. I am so easily sidetracked in the morning. I head out on the path and am just not feeling it. You know how it is, I have read your blogs. Lord knows, it requires every ounce of mental fortitude to knock out 10 miles at Stone Mountain and today was not the day. Whenever this happens, immediately become some kind of split personality in the way I bargain with myself. Something like, "ok, so you aren't feeling it today, I will let you walk the uphills if you run the flats and the downhills". That worked for about 3.5 miles then I settled into a power walk. I kind of wish I had my heart rate monitor on as I would be interested to know my pace for those miles. As I approached the car at mile 5 for the second loop, it was the moment of truth. Get in the car and leave or keep going. I am a tough taskmaster. I convinced myself to keep going. There was almost no running in the second 5 miles, I just power walked and occasionally broke into a run on the downhills (I do love to fly down the hills). All in all, I turned a DNF into a finished-but-not-the-way-I-planned. For that, I am proud. My legs feel just about as tired as they would after a run and I didn't add that much time to the effort so I'll take an A+ for my ability to conquer my own attitude.

On my way home, I stopped at the local market, Always Fresh. It is the tiniest little shop with fresh vegetables for sale and they also have a little cafe. It is nothing fancy but I love the food. I rarely think of going there as they are only open until 4 or 5 and I just don't think of it on the weekend even though it is maybe 2 miles from my house. If the guy you have seen who sells produce out of the back of his pickup on the side of the road had a store this would be it. Very minimalist but great fresh veggies for sale. They also sell cakes from a local bakery and some jams and things but I go there for the tomatoes. In Georgia, ours are best in late July - early August. These are locally grown and NOT the flavorless ones you get in the grocery store. These are the kind you could eat on a sandwich with nothing else but bread and mayo. MMMMMMM. I brought these babies home with me...

Their cafe is really simple, just wooden tables covered in red checkered tablecloths. I am guessing they have a busy lunch business as they have added more tables since the last time I was there a year or so ago. It is southern style cooking and YUM-O. They have about 8 or 10 different veggie offerings and usually at least 2 meats in addition to soups, hamburgers and chicken salad sandwiches. Today's choices were meatloaf and baked chicken so I could not leave without grabbing lunch (so much for the lovely pre-packaged lunches but those were really for work anyhow, right?). I had yummy baked chicken, squash and green beans. Thankfully and surprisingly, their cornbread is not the best or I would have been in real trouble as I love good cornbread.

After that stop, I headed home to make my pound cake which turned out great if I do say so myself. For some reason, sometimes it burns ut today it was lovely which makes me happy as it was for a gift. If it was for me, well, I have no problem eating around the burned bits. :) Lunch plans were cancelled which is fine as I am enjoying getting things done around the house. Ahhhh... All in all, I'm feeling good. What a great day :)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Simplifying food...

Is it just me or does it seem like there is just not enough time in the day? I get up at 4:44 AM and don't get back to bed until 10:00 PM with most of that time spent at work, boot camp, running, tennis and other activities. Food is generally on the go and lets not even talk about the state of cleanliness at my house. It is in dire need of a deep clean!

I was doing great with nutrition for a while and then sometime around the Flying Pig Marathon just gradually fell off of the wagon. Perhaps it was boredom with clean eating and the lack of ice cream that this type of lifestyle provides or maybe more to do with the fact that no one was looking at my daily food journals anymore like they were during the February to April time frame. Isn't it sad that I can't just be accountable to myself, I need the fear of someone chastising me for eating too much of the wrong thing to keep me on track. I guess inside I am still a kid waiting to be scolded. HA.

I had been given the idea of preparing food in advance for the upcoming week while I was participating in the FLU class in February but was further inspired during boot camp a week or so ago. Admittedly, you hear these ideas and just think, "DUH - you needed someone to tell you this" but sometimes the most obvious things need to be pointed out. In the spring, I had gotten used to baking chicken on Sunday for the week. I really had not thought through it more than that, the chicken just went into a big container and I pulled it out for dinner preparing my veggies and rice each night. To take it one step further, why not just prepare it all on Sunday? That is what I am doing as we speak, er, write...

I have a bunch of entree sized Gladware that I am packaging up for a week of lunches. I think it is in my genetic code to be OK with eating the same thing every day (shout out to Dad...), so the same old, same old does not bother me at all. I am more about making sure it is easy and if that means I eat chicken, rice and green beans for the rest of my life well.... Of course I am varying the veggies but not too crazy, I mean choices can slow down the prep process :) Here are my lunhces in the making. I am quite proud of something so ridiculously simple. It literally took one hour to save me oodles of time throughout the week (and cash too from eating out).

Side note ... this gave me a wake up call on portion size. In looking at these containers, I thought that it would never be able to hold enough food for lunch. I dumped out one of the containers on a plate and it filled up the plate to the point where I thought it might be too much food. The eyes can be deceiving. I don't enjoy measuring everything but I can see where you could easily get off track or inadvertently take in more than you think by eyeballing portions.

Herb (boot camp guru), also mentioned that he makes breakfast in advance for the week. Basically he cooks up a large carton of the egg beaters and various veggies to make an omelet of sorts but he bakes it in a casserole in the oven. I did not do that this week but love the idea as breakfast on the run is particularly daunting. One, because it makes me late for work and when you work for the re-incarnation of Stalin, you don't want to be late and two, I have limited choices for healthy take out breakfast in my area. This week, I am going to go with Mix 1 protein shakes for breakfast.

Other food loves I have discovered that might make the nutirtion wagon more interesting are Rachel's Cottage Cheese and Fage yogurt. Rachel's has several varieties, some are more savory but I am a fruit and cottage cheese girl so love the one with the berries. mmmm....

I also was excited to find a 2% version of the Fage yogurt with cherries that tastes like cheesecake in a yogurt tub (I know.. right...). I think it is simply the consistency of the greek yogurt. It is much thicker than traditional yogurt and oh so good!

Finally, you might be saying to yourself, what got you back on the nutrition wagon? Well, I had pretty much succumbed to the dark side. Those scary inner aisles of the grocery store that they tell you to stay way from. It turns out that is where they store the cookies, doritos and ice cream. I was like Adam taking a bite of the forbidden fruit and before you know it I was feeling like a tub of goo. The aforementioned Herb was kind enough to measure my body fat for me on Friday. It was my own version of scared straight. According to my scale, I had gained 9 pounds since April. The thing of it is, I didn't look like I had gained 9 pounds so there is some fuzzy math there which makes sense scientifically but in the female mind, I still gained 9 pounds. Here is how it breaks down...

April 8, 2009
132 pounds
body fat 17.3
lean body mass 109 pounds

July 31, 2009
141 pounds
body fat 19.1
lean body mass 113 pounds

The way it was told to me was that "most men would kill for that kind of increase in lean body mass". In my mind all I see is, you gained 9 pounds. It is a conundrum. I am sure Herb is right, too bad the female mind doesn't think that way. Mentally, gaining is gaining whether it is lean body mass or fat although I suppose I would take the lean body mass over the fat given the choice. At any rate, I know I need to clean up my food act so here we go... I am excited to be set on the path again with some great ideas to make it simple. Ideas that I think even hubby would be willing to try.