Races: I Can’t Register for Just One

I had a pretty severe case of race brain this weekend.  It all started with Adam and his Freeze Your Thorns Off Virtual 5K on Saturday.  I had been looking forward to that for a little while because I haven’t run a 5K since last March.  I wanted to see how much, if any, improvement I had made since then.  And with all these 5K thoughts floating around, I just couldn’t get the Cupid’s Chase out of my head.  It’s a 5K about half an hour from here that I did last year but that I had sworn off this year because they had nearly doubled their registration fee.  (It went from $20 in 2011 to $35 this year.)  But, dangit, I just really wanted to do that race!  So Friday night I bit the bullet and registered.

Having an actual 5K race with real, live people in two weeks, that made me change my mind about “racing” the FYTO5K.  So I decided to just turn my missed track workout from Tuesday into sort of a 5K on Saturday.  I warmed up for one mile, then did 800s (well, mostly 800s…there was one 1200 and one 0.60 mile) with 400 recovery intervals for a total or 3.1 miles.  I felt pretty good about that because even with my recovery intervals, my 3.1 time was 27:59, which is only eight seconds slower than my 5K PR from last year.  So now I’m pretty excited about getting a new PR at the Cupid’s Chase in a couple of weeks!

Now, for me, when that race bug bites, I can’t stop at just one.  I’ve had my eye on an October half for a little while but have been unsure about whether or not I wanted to register yet.  Well, the fee was scheduled to increase by $15 on 2/1, and then I JUST SO HAPPENED to come across a $15 coupon code for registration, so I am now also registered for this!

Woot!  That’s sure to keep my butt moving this summer!
And then I remembered that the mortgage payment is due on the 1st, so I stopped while I was ahead.

Eleven Times Two

This week I have been jinxed lucky enough to be tagged TWICE for this latest meme.  First by Jenn  and then by Kate.

Here are the rules:
1.   Post these rules.
2.   You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3.   Answer the questions set for you.
4.   Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5.   Go to their bogs and tell them you’ve tagged them.
6.   No stuff in the tagging section about, “You are tagged if you’re reading this.”  You legitimately have to tag 11 people!

My 11 Random things:
1.    I have lived in West Tennessee all of my life.  In six different houses in three different counties (with four of those moves taking place between 2004 and 2007), but all in West TN.
2. . Even though I grew up in the south, I do not wear camouflage, hunt, fish, watch NASCAR, watch wrestling, go camping, take my truck mudding, or own a gun.
3.   I want a gun.
4.   Since going vegetarian, the thing I miss the most?  Pepperoni.  I still steal one or two off of my husband’s pizza.  Although I did just discover Yves meatless pepperoni slices at my grocery!  I bought some a couple of days ago and plan to make a pizza with them tonight.
5.   I kick ass at Wheel of Fortune.
6.   I was just nominated and voted into our county 911 Board of Directors.  I thought only old people were on the Board of Directors for anything.
7.   Kiwi makes my lips itch.
8.   I saw a live beaver for the first time recently.  I was running one of my usual routes and as I was crossing the bridge over the creek, something moving in the water caught my eye.  I stopped and watched a huge beaver work on his dam for several minutes.  I’ve looked for him every time I’ve run past that spot since but haven’t seen him again.
9.   D and I met through internet dating.
10. I have a Pit Bull and an American Bulldog (photos to the right) and take every opportunity I get to be a bully breed advocate.
11.  The oldest item of clothing that I own is a Bush concert t-shirt from 1997.  Rest assured that I do NOT wear it in public.  It’s just so soft and comfy to throw on at night after a shower when I’m just sitting around the house!    

Jenn’s 11 Questions
1.   When and why did you start blogging?     I started blogging in December of 2009.  I had just finished my first half-marathon and had been following a few running blogs for a little while.  I just thought it would be fun to have my own and hopefully make some connections and friends–which I have!

2.   Who is your fitness inspiration and/or what inspires you to work out?  My friend Michele was my original inspiration to start running.  It was while watching her train for her first marathon that I decided to train for a half.  When I made that decision, I was not a runner AT ALL.  Seriously, I started from zero.  And she still continuously inspires and motivates me.  🙂  Love that girl!

3.   Do you prefer working out alone or with someone?   I’ve never really had the opportunity to workout with someone else.  None of my local friends run, so all of my runs are solo.  I used to wish so hard for a running partner, but now I’ve learned to appreciate the solitude.

4.   Do you read labels at the grocery store?  If I’m buying something I’ve never shopped for, yes.  But I almost always remain loyal to brands I know.  I’ve read enough labels that I know which breads and BBQ sauces have HFCS and which ones don’t, which Worcestershire sauces are vegan and which ones aren’t… 

5.   What is your favorite food?  Food that someone else cooks.

6.   What has changed your life or shaped you to who you are today?  Everything.  Every decision I’ve made, every person I’ve met, every victory, every failure, every heartbreak… they all shape who we are as a person.

7.   What is the last thing you tried that was completely new to you?  Parsnips.

8.   What’s one goal you have achieved that you never thought you could?  Finishing a marathon.   I really shouldn’t say I NEVER thought I could, but I had some serious doubts while training on a bum knee.

9.   What’s your #1 goal for 2012?  To be a happier, less stressed version of me!  And to run a 2:0x half-marathon.

10.  What gets you through or cures a tough day?  My favorite way to unwind after a tough day is to go in our bedroom by myself (no husband, no animals) with a glass of wine, get in my rattiest pair of sweat pants, and lay in the bed watching All in the Family DVDs.

11.  Share the best piece of advice you could give someone (about life, fitness, blogging, you name it).    I heard this quote a while back, and it stuck with me.  I don’t remember it verbatim, but it was something like, “You wouldn’t care as much about what people thought of you if you realized how seldom they did.”

And Kate’s 11 Questions:
1.   Would you rather be told you could never run again for the rest of your life, or you have to wear the same outfit every single day for the rest of your life?  Actually if I would almost WELCOME the opportunity to wear the same thing every day.  So definitely that.

2.   What’s your favorite post-run indulgence?  Chocolate milk.  Yes, I’m gradually cutting out dairy, but right now I still drink a single serving of Horizon organic chocolate milk after my long run.

3.   What song gets you the most pumped up during a run?  I go through phases with this one.  Right now it’s Van Halen’s “Running with the Devil”, New Medicine’s “Race You to the Bottom,” and Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold”. 

4.   Favorite running movie?  I’ve never watched one.  Have no desire to, really.

5.   Have you ever peed yourself during a run?  No, not technically, but I did kind of make a mess when I stopped to squat once…

6.   If you could invite three people (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would it be?  My dearly departed grandmother,  because I miss her so much.  Daniel Tosh, because he’s effing awesome.  And Nancy Pelosi, so I could punch her in the throat.

7.   If you could trade lives with anybody for one day, who would you trade with?  Probably my husband.  Because from where I’m sitting, he looks like he’s got it made.  I mean, he’s got ME.

8.   If you had the ability to enact any law right now, what would it be?  I would pass a federal law that no state or local government could ever enact BSL (breed specific legislation).  If you don’t know what that is, it’s where they can make it illegal to own a specific breed of dog that they deem “dangerous.”  They do not take into account the dog’s history, personality, training or anything.  Pit bull?  BAM.  Gone.  Rottweiler?  BAM.  Gone.  They just rip families apart.  It’s utter bullshit, and it infuriates me.  Please, please, please, if you ever see anything about BSL on your ballot, voice your opinion.  And if you don’t have an opinion, voice mine.

9.   If you had $1 million to donate to any cause, which cause would you chose?  No doubt, hands down, animal rescue.

10.  Who inspires you?  Besides who we already discussed above, I’d have to say all of my vegan friends.

11.  Cats or dogs?  I love them both and have both in my home, but if I’m being honest I’m more drawn to dogs in general.

So there you go!  Now you know me like 33  times better! 

Now to pass it along, here are MY 11 Questions:

1.   What is the chore you most hate doing?
2.   Books:  Do you prefer e-readers or bound print?
3.   Have you been outside the continental 48 states?  Where?
4.   If you won an all-expense paid trip to anywhere in the world for one week, where would you go?
5.   Do you eat breakfast?
6.   What’s something that you are passionate about?
7.   Do you use coupons when you do your grocery shopping?
8.   If you were to go to the movies tonight, what would you see?
9.   Musicals?  Love ’em or hate ’em?
10. Do you have any live plants in your house?  (Please don’t answer that if they are illegal.)
11.  How many times a week do you eat out?

And my victims are:
1.    Kim #1
2.   Kim #2
3.   Funderson
4.   Jen
5.   Jessica
6.   Christy
7.   Kristi
8.   Abbi
9.   Laura
10.  Christy
11.  Stephanie

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand GO.

Three Reviews Thursday

1.   Several weeks ago, a rep from Zipfizz contacted me and asked if I would like to try their product and do a review.  Free stuff?  I believe I will.  From their web site:

Zipfizz is an all-natural, great tasting energy drink-mix powder 
that delivers a powerful charge of micronutrients to the body’s fuel 
system. It contains no ephedra or other artificial stimulants. Most 
people experience an immediate, revitalizing burst of energy after 
taking Zipfizz.

They sent me a water bottle with their logo on it as well as six tubes of their various flavors:  berry, citrus, grape, orange soda, pink lemonade, and their limited-edition orange cream.  I was really curious to try it because they claim that one serving contains 41,667% of your vitamin B12 RDA.  That’s like a WHOLE LOT MORE than a 5 Hour Energy Drink.  I was afraid this would have me bouncing off the walls
The flavors?  Not good at all.  The only other energy drink I’ve ever tried is 5 Hour, so that’s all I have to compare it too.  Now that doesn’t taste good at all either, but at least you can chug one shot pretty quickly and it’s over and done.  Not Zipfizz.  You have to mix one tube of powder with a whopping 18 oz of water.
The effects?  To be completely honest, I’m not sure.  The only time I ever drank it was in the afternoon before a run.  I had good runs with it, and I had bad runs with it.  But I have good runs and bad runs WITHOUT it, too, so I can’t say that it gave me any energy or performance boost.
Would I buy it?  No.
2.   Last week, PureFit contacted me and asked if I would be interested in trying their nutrition bars.  After reading about their product, I was more than happy to oblige.  Their products are vegan, gluten-free, and all natural with no hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, or trans fats.  I’m on board with that!
They sent me their sample kit containing one of each of their five flavors:  granola crunch, almond crunch, berry almond crunch, peanut butter crunch, and chocolate brownie.
The only ones I’ve tried so far are the berry almond crunch and the almond crunch, and I was pleasantly surprised with both.  I really liked the taste.  The only thing that I wasn’t 100% a fan of was something about the texture.  It was soft and gooey, and it had a pleasant chewy texture, but it felt kind of sticky going down.  I had to take a drink of water with almost every bite to help wash it down.

Would I buy them?  Most definitely.

3.   This third item wasn’t solicited in ANY WAY.  I happened upon it at Walmart last weekend and bought it myself.

I’ve used the Febreze Sport laundry additive for stinky technical gear and it worked really well, so I was hoping this stuff could help my shoes out.  Yeah, I said it–MY SHOES STINK.  Like yours don’t.  I squirted them down real good after I bought this Saturday afternoon and left them to dry.  I gave them a sniff Sunday morning and while they were definitely better, it still wasn’t quite pleasant, so I gave them a second dose.  After that, they passed the sniff test.  Until I put them back on Monday.  After wearing them for just a little while, the stank was right back.  I guess once something is so far gone, there’s just nothing that can be done anymore.  I think the shoes are goners.

Our Tiny Gym

Where membership is free and there’s no waiting for machines!

(If D gets in my way, I can just smack him.  That was frowned upon at my previous gym.)

This giant monstrosity is our new Bowflex Revolution.  Loving this!  I was always pretty self-conscious doing strength training at the gym.  I always felt like I was crashing some kind of frat party or something… damn bunch of pretty-boy muscle heads…

C.C. always “supervises” me.
I love that it stands up to take up less space.  Although that’s not really an issue for us right now, but it’s nice to know it’s an option.  And it DOES make vacuuming easier.  And it leaves plenty of floor space should I decide to take up pole dancing or karate.  Both viable options.
Bella and Harley suffer from a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out).

The Bowflex came with this awesome accessory rack (thank goodness–like we need more crap stacked in the floor).  And there in the corner is my new pride and joy–a Sunny Health & Fitness indoor cycle.  I could tell you all about it, but there’s no sense reinventing the wheel.  Janae just bought the same one and has already posted a full and very accurate review here.  Most definitely worth the money!

After laying down all that cash, I thought our gym was complete, but DUDE, we have GOT to get a TV for that room.  Music makes the time in the saddle tolerable, but the view kind of sucks.

And, who knows… if I happen to come across a good deal on a Craigslist treadmill…

Three Things Thursday

1.  I changed my hair color (yet again) at my appointment last week.  This is darker than it’s been in a few years.  I kinda dig it.

2.  I amuse myself way too much in a Dick’s dressing room.  My gift cards from Christmas were still burning a hole in my pocket, so I went shopping this weekend.  I found these on a clearance rack.  Under Armour capris for $19!  They were positively hideous!  I loved them!

BUT they only had them in a sz small, which enhanced the love handles a little too much for my liking.  Bummer.  But I did score three pair of Nike Tempo track shorts on clearance for like $12 each.  Plus have you heard of GeoQpons?  If you have a smart phone, download that app RIGHT THIS SECOND.  It’s free for Droid and iPhone.  They have electronic coupons for almost any store or restaurant you can think of.  You just pull it up on your phone and let them scan it or punch in the number at checkout.  I saved $20 on this one shopping trip alone.  (Not to mention all the $$$ I saved Christmas shopping at various stores, and I’ve used it once at TGIFridays.)

3.   After my long run fail this past weekend, I took two full rest days Monday and Tuesday and then NAILED my track workout on Wednesday.  I felt strong even at the finish.  So maybe that’s all it was.  (Side note:  I changed my intervals from the scheduled 7 x 400 to 3 x 800 with 400 recovery intervals.  WHOA.  Those are like TWICE as hard.)


4.  After said track workout, I lost my New Balance fleece headband/earwarmer thingie!  😦  I decided I didn’t need it and had my keys laying on it while I ran.  I could have sworn I had it in my hand when I got in the truck, but alas it was not there when I got home.  I went back to the school to see if I could find it on the ground anywhere, but it was nowhere to be found.  So I ordered this Brooks one from Road Runner Sports to replace it.  I hope I like it as much as I liked my old one!

Almond Milk – A "How-To" Post

I had a few people email and comment on my post couple of weeks ago asking about the almond milk, so I thought I’d do a followup post with more detail!

First of all, the WHY… I’m trying very hard to eliminate (or at least drastically cut back on) processed foods.  You wouldn’t think something like almond milk would have scary stuff in it, but look at the ingredients on a carton.  I don’t even know what some of those things are.  
(from http://www.bluediamond.com)
But the one in particular that jumps out at me is the carrageenan, which is used as a thickening agent.  While carrageenan is touted as being a “natural” ingredient (it comes from seaweed), it has been linked to a variety of cancers and GI ailments in numerous studies.  Ummmm…. No thanks.

The HOW was suuuuuuuuuuuuuuper easy.  You start by soaking one cup of raw almonds for several hours.  The recipe I used said to soak them overnight.  I put mine in water in the morning before I left for work with the intention of making the milk that evening.  I got distracted and ended up not making it, so I changed the water and put them back in the fridge and made it the next night.  All told, they were in the water for about 38 hours and it turned out just fine.

After they’ve soaked, then you wanna drain and rinse them off real good, and toss them into your blender.  The more powerful the blender, all the better off you’ll be.  Mine is a Dollar General special (because I’m classy like that and it would make my Dollar General toaster and coffee pot feel inadequate if I spent more than $10 on a blender).  Add just enough water to cover your nuts (hehe) and blend on high until they’re as broken up as you can possibly get them.  A good blender will result in a lot less pulp.

Now you just add another 4-5 cups of water (recipe calls for 6 cups total, my blender is maxed out at 1 cup of nuts and 5 cups of water), a teaspoon of coconut oil (I didn’t have any the first time I made this and didn’t miss it.), and whatever else your little heart desires to suit your taste… honey, agave, vanilla, dates…I used three dates just for some natural sweetness.  I plan on trying chocolate at some point too!  Your milk will have a pretty thin consistency (remember, we don’t have that nasty carrageenan in it to thicken it), but you can add other things to thicken it up a bit if you wish… banana, greek yogurt… That’s the best part of making this yourself–you can do whatever you want to it!

When you’ve got it blended till it just won’t blend anymore, it’s ready to strain.  I’ve read that you can use cheesecloth or a strainer or the like to strain, but I bought a nut milk sack (hehehehe) that’s made just for this purpose.  It was about $10 on Etsy.

Put your nut sack (hehehehehehehe) into a bowl and pour your milk out of the blender into the bowl.  Then you lift your nut sack out of the bowl and squeeze it (HEHEHEHEHEHHE) to extract as much milk as possible.

As for the pulp that you’re left with inside the sack, I didn’t know what to do with it when I made this the first time either, so I tossed it out.  I later learned that was a HUGE no-no.  It can be used for LOTS of stuff.  Just google it–I was amazed!  Granola, cookies, pesto… seriously.  TONS of possibilities.

And as for the cost…  Is it cheaper?  No.  At least it wasn’t for me.  The price of a 1/2 gallon of almond milk is approximately $3.  I bought a 4-cup bag of almonds for $7.  If you get 32 oz from 1 cup of almonds, that’s half of a half gallon, right?  So for $7 you’ll get 32 oz four times.  So $7 = 128 oz = 1 gallon.  That’s $3.50 for a half gallon instead of $3ish for store-bought.  Plus the cost of any extra ingredients you add in.  So it’s not MUCH more expensive (and you can probably make it for less by buying the almonds in bulk).  I just like knowing what’s in my milk!  🙂

High Hopes vs. Lead Legs

Every now and then I have a spectacular run.  A run during which I feel light and fast, and it’s these runs that keep me hopeful that I can meet my time goals this spring.

And then I have runs like today.  It was the perfect day for a run.  Sunny, 40 degrees, less wind than we’ve had the last few days…  I was feeling great (okay, honestly, I was feeling fat–the result of too much birthday celebration this week) and looking forward to getting out there for my 10 miles.
And that lasted all of about… oooooohhhhhhh two miles or so.
I wasn’t enjoying it.  I could feel my face getting sunburned.  My iPod wasn’t playing the right songs.  People driving by were staring at me.  The wind was blowing from every direction.  My right Yurbud wouldn’t stay in.  My hands were so swollen I could barely move my fingers.  And my legs… dear God, my legs weighed 400 pounds.  Each.
WTF is going on with me and my long runs lately???
12/10 – Great 8 miles
12/17 – AWESOME 8 miles
12/24 – No long run this week.  Way too many other more important things going on.
12/31 – Mediocre 9 miles
1/7 – Had my ass kicked by a hilly 10 miles
1/15 – Sucktastic attempt at 10 miles (but I waved my white flag after 8)
I know it’s been three weeks since I had a cutback week, but honestly my weekly mileage is low anyway.  Take this week for example:
last Sunday – 30 min spin + strength
Monday – easy 5
Tuesday – skipped the 7 x 400 I had on my schedule because it was my birthday
Wednesday – 30 min spin + strength
Thursday – tempo 5
Friday – rest
Saturday – rest 
Sunday – 8
See?  18 miles and I’m toast?  Even skipping my track workout on Tuesday?  I just honestly don’t get why my long runs have gone continuously downhill the last month, or why I’m sore tonight after only running 8 miles today.  I didn’t get sore after either of last two times I ran 8, or even 9.  Maybe I’m not fully recovered from last week?  I’m serious, y’all, that was one hilly bitch.  I was sore for two days afterwards, but I felt like Monday’s easy 5 shook out any residual soreness.  And I felt GREAT on Thursday’s tempo 5…
I honestly just don’t know.  If anyone has any suggestions, I’m more than happy to listen.  I’ve got high hopes for this spring, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get these legs to cooperate.

You Snooze, You Lose

Several weeks ago, I noticed that the Little Rock Half Marathon was very conveniently scheduled just two weeks before my A race, The Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon.

Little Rock is very conveniently located only three-ish hours from me.

My mother’s best friend very conveniently lives just outside of Little Rock and offered free room and board.

But still I went back and forth on whether or not I actually wanted to register.  Yesterday I decided that I did indeed want to.  So I sat down at my computer and clickity click click …

Well, damn.

Maybe I should amend my 2012 goals list to include “stop procrastinating” …

Tuesday Tidbits – So many things, so little time…

  • I went from having NOTHING to say over the summer to having SO MUCH to say now but never any time to say it!
  • I participated in a 10-mile race at Chickasaw State Park last weekend.  I usually do a race recap, but this was simply a training run for me.  It doesn’t even warrant a post of its own.  The only thing I have to say about this one is HOLY HILLY HELL.  My legs and glutes are STILL feeling the effects of that one.  Oh, and I did have a little bit of a breakthrough during this race.  I discovered that when one gets hot enough, one WILL take their shirt off and run in a sports bra and not give a FLYING RIP what anyone thinks.
  • D and I are flying through Weeds on Netflix.  AWESOME show.
  • I fell off the vegetarian wagon Friday night.  We were invited to a friend’s house for dinner, and there were ribs.  RIBS, Y’ALL.  Ribs that had been in the Big Green Egg since like 1:00 that afternoon.  Ribs that I was watching everyone else eat.  Ribs that were falling off the bone.  It was torture.  And I ultimately caved and ate the living shit out of some ribs.
  • Today is my 32nd birthday.  🙂  I hate when my birthday falls in the middle of the week!  I had planned on taking today off like I always do, but those plans fell through when HR scheduled my fill-in for out-of-town training this week.  BLAH.  This is the first time I’ve worked on my birthday since 2006.  Not that I had any plans or anything.  But that was kind of the point.  We’ll do something this weekend, although I have no idea what yet.  In the meantime, I’m gonna try to sweet-talk the hubs into a birthday massage tonight.  🙂  That man missed his calling.  He gives the best massages!
  • Over the weekend, I got online to register for the same Cupid’s Chase 5K that I ran last year.  And then I saw that the registration went from $20 in 2011 to $35 in 2012.  Seriously, a 75% increase????  And that’s if you pre-register!  If you register on race day, the fee is $50.  FOR A 5K.  (For a point of comparison, I paid $55 to run a half-marathon in the same city last year.)  I find that ridiculous, and I told them so.  Needless to say, I didn’t register.  I understand that it’s for a good cause, but come on.  Every 5K I’ve ever run is for a good cause (Lion’s Club, local high school track team, fundraisers for a specific family in need), and I’ve never paid over $20 for any of them.  If they’re trying to raise more money, it seems like this is a little counterproductive.  Seems to me like a fee that high will scare off more runners than it will entice.  It’s a total bummer, too.  I’ve really been looking forward to running that race again.  
  • There was a picture of the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon finisher’s medal posted on their facebook page yesterday.  I can’t wait to make it mine!  It doubles as a bottle opener and has a detachable pendant.  BRILLIANT!
  • I’m kind of obsessed with Chobani’s new flavor.  Who needs birthday cake???
  • Remember back when everyone was having problems with blogger deleting posts just being all wonky and stuff?  I never had any problems then, but blogger sure is pissing me off  now.  After  I hit the “publish post” button, it MIGHT publish within the next day or so.  It SHOWS as being published, but I had a sneaking suspicion that it wasn’t actually publishing, so I “followed” myself.  And sure enough, it’s not showing up in the news feed for seeeeeeeeeeveral hours.  I’ve got this one scheduled for 6:00 am Tuesday.  Let’s just all see together when it actually shows up, shall we?